Those of you who have read some of my earlier posts will recall that I used to work as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. I moved into this field after my first glimpses of the Truth. During this time, I was reading Tao Te Ching and books on Zen. One book I read was ‘Big Heart, Big Mind’ by Dennis Merzel. Merzel was a Zen teacher who had developed a process to give insight into Oneness and Universal Consciousness. This process was actually a slightly Zen-oriented psychotherapeutic technique that sought to explore the various ‘parts’ or ‘voices’ of an individual’s personality that may be in conflict with each other. In recognising these parts and their different agendas but their shared positive intention for the individual, the theory was that some sense of integration would be achieved. What Merzel did was to move through these personal/separate voices but also explore that part of an individual that was beyond the separate self – i.e. Big Heart, Big Mind.
I was working with clients who had everyday worries and problems which were usually fear based and located in time – be it the past or the future. Although I was still yet to have the biggest ‘shift’ of all myself, I had a sense that right now all is fine. It is only the mind fleeing ‘now’ and making a run for the past or future that creates the existence of a problem with psychological and emotional suffering. I wanted a way to contextualise this suffering for the individual within the realm of the infinite and by doing so, diminish and to some extent trivialise what was being experiences as all-consuming. So, I occasionally used a very condensed version of the Big Mind process that I brought into therapy sessions. I didn’t overtly use hypnosis but the client usually ended up in a trance-like state.
I’ll illustrate this process with an example dialogue below. You will see the progression through increasingly less ‘personal’ and less ‘separate’ perceptual positions. You will recall from my recent posts that I have been attempting to convey the idea that the ‘I’ that I now feel I am, post-realisation, is the ‘I’ that is the universal ‘I’. When Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the Life’, he was talking from the place of the universal ‘I’. When he said ‘the kingdom of God is within you’, he was telling his disciples that they too were the universal ‘I’.
Anyway, back to the example dialogue…
I would like to speak to the Controller.
OK. Yes, this is this controller.
Can you tell me what the controller’s job is?
I control everything. I like to make sure everything is just right for John.
What is your ultimate purpose?
To protect John from things, to keep him safe, to keep him alive.
Where are you, what are your physical limits?
I am inside John’s head. Well, in his mind.
OK. So, what scares you?
The unexpected. New things. Speed. Other people.
What reassures you?
Being indoors. Being in the driving seat.
OK, thank you Controller. Can I now speak to the Critic?
Critic, what is your purpose?
To keep John from letting himself and others down.
Yes, to judge others so John feels good about himself.
How do you keep him from letting himself down?
By telling him that he should do better, that he can do better.
What do you fear?
John becoming complacent.
How do you perform your role?
I bother John by continually telling him that he is not good enough, that he could do better.
Will you die?
Yes, when he dies.
And so on…
This process goes on through a variety of voices – the believer, the non-believer etc. Most of these voices reside in the mind. They all have a positive intention for John but they are all the cause of constant mental noise and the identification with these voices – the belief in what they say as truth – is what causes suffering.
Next, we would work with the seeking mind, This voice typically wanted to obtain everything for the individual but this usually boiled up to seeking love, freedom and peace (hey, that could be a great name for a blog!).
We would then move on to the non-seeking mind. A typical dialogue would be as follows:
So, non-seeking mind. What is your role?
I don’t really have one. I am content with everything already. I have enough already.
What do you do for John?
I try to keep the other parts of John’s mind from constantly searching for something. He is already complete. He doesn’t need anything else.
A leap is then made from the personal to the trans-personal and the therapist asks to speak to Big Heart, Big Mind.
Are you there Big Heart, Big Mind?
Where are you?
I am everywhere. I am within John but also looking at John on the planet Earth from high up in space. I feel as if I am the universe,
What is your purpose?
I have no purpose other than to simply be. All things happen just as they happen and that’s just fine.
What do you fear?
I fear nothing. I am all things. To fear them would be to fear myself.
What do you want for John?
To stop thinking that all those voices are right. They mean well but they don’t speak the truth.
What do you see when you look at the planet, look at John?
I see him and everyone else worrying about the most inconsequential of things! Why do people hurt each other so much? It’s ridiculous.
Do you have an end? Will you die?
No. Never. How could I die? I am eternal.
Usually, when speaking from the place of Big Heart, Big Mind, there is a recognition of the transpersonal, the sense of the universal ‘I’. At this point, there was a palpable change in the individual. I would ask what message the Big Heart wanted to send down to the individual, any words of guidance or reassurance. Love was usually the key message conveyed to the individual.
I’m not endorsing this process nor am I saying that sensing the place of Big Mind or Big Heart is the same as awakening. It does, however, represent another way to convey to readers the sense of universal ‘I’ that resides in all things, is infinite and eternal but can be sensed within our own body.
I’d appreciate any comments you may have on this post.
My son and I went to watch ‘The Hobbit’ yesterday. We watched the 3D ‘High Frame Rate’ (HFR) version. For those of you that have not heard about HFR, the movie has been filmed at 48 frames per second (or the digital equivalent) rather than 24 frames per second which has been the standard for many years. Effectively, this means that the moving picture is made up of twice as many ‘still’ images as usual. Apparently, special cameras were required and it is a ground-breaking movie in this regard. I found the experience very strange and whilst watching it, realised that it really is a great metaphor for the experiencing of life and the shift that happens upon awakening to ‘life as it truly is’. I’ll explain more…
Many people are used to watching films and getting ‘lost’ in them and being deeply affected by the events and characters. People cry when they watch the actor pretending to cry about the loss of their pretend father (who is also acting!). This identification with the events taking place on the screen can be very intense and real. I always struggled a little bit to connect with films in this way. I found it very difficult to ignore the screen that separated me from the events occurring in front of me. Consequently, I have rarely been frightened by scary movies and rarely affected emotionally by sad films.
Watching the Hobbit gave me an even greater sense of distance from the on-screen events. The quality of the images was incredible. So much so that it looked like a movie set (which it was of-course). The wigs and prosthetics looked like, well, wigs and prosthetic noses. I could tell the difference in the quality of light between the indoor shots and studio shots. The sets looked new – even those that were supposed to look old. It was so clear and perfect an image that it lost the ‘filmic’ quality that I have grown so used to over the years. Also, the 3D effect – whilst so much more impressive that the days of red and green coloured glasses – still feels like layers of flat images so the background does look behind the foreground but both appear flat.
So why is this relevant?
Well, as you can tell, I found the experience slightly unnatural. It felt ‘fake’ – which of course it is but it was more obviously fake in 3D and high frame rate. Prior to my ‘shift’, I felt ‘lost in life’ and more or less fully identified with the events unfolding in the same way people get ‘lost in a film’ and identify and are emotionally affected by what is unfolding in their field of perception. Since early 2012, the screen on which life is projected feels like a screen and what is being perceived feels so obviously just a perceiving of life unfolding as it happens. Not a moment went by watching the film in this new format where it didn’t feel obviously ‘fake’. It led me to look around the cinema at the people eating their popcorn and nachos. I realised that I had the same feeling looking off-screen as I had looking on-screen. Slightly detached and continuously aware of the projected nature of life.
After my ‘shift’, I emailed Rick at batgap.com and asked him to forward an email on to Natalie Gray who had been interviewed by Rick recently at that time. Natalie kindly sent me a link to an interview with Suzanne Segal who wrote ‘Collisions with the Infinite’. She had had a spontaneous awakening and really struggled with the integration of it. What really stood out for me was the sense of depersonalisation she felt… as if she was an observer on life rather than fully ‘in it’. I too had to come to terms with this and my description of the movie last night illustrates this sense. This could be interpreted as being separate from life but it is not, it is recognising that life unfolding is experienced ‘here’, through sensory perception. All that is perceived is perceived from the perceptual position of ‘oneness’ rather than from the perceptual position of a separate, local self.
I sent an email to a gentleman called Ian over the weekend who had sent me a comment having read a post on my blog. Ian has asked for clarification over a statement I had made –
"The oneness that I truly am that called the 'separate me' home is that which is now speaking to that within you that is either already home or wants the 'separate you' to come home."
I tried to explain the sense of now living from a different perceptual position – the position of oneness rather than separateness. I also acknowledged my use of dualistic language i.e. a thorn to remove a thorn.
My reply to Ian was as follows -
"What I came to know is that I am not 'Paul', local, limited and separate. I am already an expression of the wondrous, miraculous essence of God/Consciousness. Following the big shift last year, I read The Bible. I noticed that Jesus speaks from two places - as a man and as the Divine. As a man he says 'not my will by thy will be done'. He is talking to God from the place of limited, local separateness. He often talks from the position of God - a different voice altogether - when he asks people to follow him. He is being a proxy God... not because he is special (although the selective editing by the Church has made it that way). He then tells his disciples 'The Kingdom of Heaven Is within you' - telling them they are both man and 'That' which is Divine.
So, my sense of 'I' - who I am - is as an expression of Oneness and from that place, I am home. If we agree for now that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you too (and in all things) then I am talking to that place in you that is already home... and nothing stands in your way if you truly feel that place in you that is more than the separate person. From the position of the separate person, you will never feel home.
I talk about the big I and little I. I still have a little I... the ego does what it does but my sense of 'I' is the big 'I'. Presumably you are sensing 'I' as the little I but not truly feeling that you are ALREADY the big I, we all are, all things are... that is why we are one."
So – to tie this all together. Watching a film and knowing that it is a film (and I mean knowing at a deep level – helped in this case by a new modern and very different format) is precisely how life is now experienced. I have a sense or a knowing that the ‘I’ that I really am is perceiving this. The little ‘I’ (Paul, ‘me’) is not the eyes through which ‘This’ is all seen. How does one obtain such a perceptual shift? I have no idea on that one I'm afraid but this fundamental Truth is the truth that permeates all of the world's religions. This truth may have been obscured somewhat in all but the more esoteric versions of the religions but it we look in those text
Hmmm … not sure this captures what I thought it might but it’s the best I can do with words.
Comments welcome, as always.
Traffic to this blog has increased ten-fold in recent days thanks to the interest of people with sites that possess a far greater reach than me. I am so thrilled that people are relating to what I have written
My initial goal was to help with the integration of this for myself... It's not always been easy and I am still 'in the closet' (as it were) as I have everyday work and family life to be a part of and this is not easy to explain to anyone!!!
I also wished that I may be able to reach one person along the way. I am not here to give hope or promises for awakening or any methods or practices that people should follow. Not do I intend to criticise any other path. I want to describe the living of This from the place of intimate and personal experience and a deep sense of knowing/gnosis. I'm thrilled that this had reached people and touched something in some of you. I have also been delighted to exchange personal emails to expand upon certain aspects. What an incredible privilege.
This blog has turned into more than I could ever imagine. Recent interest is very humbling. It continues to be an outlet for me to express in words that which is felt so warmly and intimately. This is, at times, my prayer or meditation practice. It brings me close to God to write these words.
For someone that has never written, it is also amazing to observe the creative process.I have recently reread my posts and am staggered that this is coming out of me. I recall very little of what I write and have rarely reread apart from to look for typos.
Thank you all for your support. I welcome all comments and messages.
'G' sent me an email enquiring what practices I followed which led to my realisation (or clear-seeing – or whatever term we may wish to use).
The simple answer is none.
I was never a seeker as such. I took an interest in Zen for many years following my first glimpse of the true nature of reality. These early experiences are detailed in my first posts on this site. Preceding these first glimpses, there was no practice at all and no interest in anything of a spiritual nature. Following these first glimpses, I began to have an appreciation of Zen and the concept of there being something more. I described these first glimpses as being what I imagine people felt when they ‘found God’. My only preparation and practice that I can really identify is having an unhappy youth and medicating myself with drink and drugs to the point of having a total breakdown. It was at the low point of my life that I saw the sky, the birds and the trees entirely differently. I didn’t at that time have a vocabulary to describe these glimpses but I an now say that I saw outside of my body as entirely connected and one with my mind-body – a non-dual experiencing of life.
I don’t recommend anyone follow this route (!) nor do I think that it is the only way to experience a shift. I am not one of these people that criticise spiritual practice or seeking but I do believe that things just happen when they happen for complex and wonderfully unknown (and unknowable) reasons.
The latest stage of my ‘shift’ – and the one that has remained with me intimately during every moment of my life now (although I am not arrogant enough to suggest that I am complete in any way…. we never truly ‘arrive’!) was prefaced by a long period of physical pain. It interests me that my earlier glimpses were prefaced by emotional pain – there seems (in my own experience) to be a low point that shocks the mind-body into clearer seeing. Why this is, I can only surmise.
Apologies that this is not more prescriptive. I have been determined that I would not (and actually could not) offer solutions, prescriptions or panaceas but simply describe how things are experienced from where I am. Please feel free to correspond further and ask as many questions as you wish. The recent increase in website visits following Jerry’s link, and the questions that have come from you has drawn me back. I want this site to be a dialogue rather than a monologue and will continue to write all the time there is an urge within me and a desire from others.
Thank you to Jerry Katz for posting a link to my website on the Yahoo non-dual discussion group – it is high praise indeed from such a great exponent of the non-dual Truth.
Per previous posts, I have been very quiet of late as I feel that writing something just for the sake of it would be to miss the point somewhat. Following the post by Jerry, I had an interesting email from ‘Q’ who posed the question as to whether we who have seen the Truth of life as it truly is are perhaps in some way deceiving ourselves or conceited in some way? It’s a very good point. What better way for the ego to feel a sense of self-aggrandisement than to feel superior to the ‘asleep majority’ out there! I think it is natural that the ego will try to get it on the game when the mind-body undergoes a shift like this – the ego will find every way it can to reinforce the sense of separate and superior self. After realisation, the ego will still do what the ego does. I think the romanticised view that a person ceases to be a person is just that – a romanticised, idealised view. We hear the phrase ego-death but the ego does not die - in my opinion – it just stops running the show as there is almost a more clear-seeing eye that observes and perceives and the dance of the ego as it observes and perceives all ‘things’ – as manifestations of the One, experienced at zero distance to oneself and in no way separate from oneself!
So, Q, in response to your question, yes, I think that the ego will get a slice of the action post-realisation but in recognising that we are not our ego but are that which perceives the dance of the ego, we remain still and One with what truly is.
So, here’s the story….
After being hit by a thunderbolt of seeing and knowing ‘life as it truly is’ earlier this year, my ability to be a normal person simply disintegrated. Virtually every moment of every day was a moment of being aware, completely aware, of my oneness with all around me. I experienced long periods of bliss and a sense of being in communion with divinity. For the ‘seeker’, what happened to me is that which is sought – to experience life without a sense of separation. Following this, I had a deep urge to understand what had happened to me and sought both the great teachings and modern teachers able to capture ‘this’ in words. Next came an apparent need to communicate with others – that I was free from the illusion of separation and that this provided hope for all.
Then came a huge and abrupt change. Illness is often a punctuating moment in one’s life. I faced my own mortality and was completely at peace with whatever would come my way. My cardiologist was bemused by my apparent lack of attachment or sense of clinging to life.
Next came peace and quiet and a real sense of integration of this realisation into everyday life. I am not currently reading any spiritual books or listening to any spiritual podcasts. I am experiencing life intimately – enjoying my family and the world I come into contact with. No longer is there the overwhelming and striking obviousness of how incredible ‘this’ is. I am pleased about this. It was exhausting to be like a child seeing things for the first time for so many months. I am now like a child that has grown accustomed and acclimatised to the new world in which he or she lives. The human mind is programmed to notice difference. The shift that took place is now normalising and my mind is adjusting to it.
The reason for telling you this is to show you that awakening to ‘this’ takes many forms. It changes form and all the forms it takes are merely transitions. There is no end, no destination. Life just continues to unfold and it is wonderful.
I will continue to write from time to time. Thank you for reading.
It is now so apparent that words can never come close to explaining This.
After my 'shift' earlier this year, I wanted to read all that the great teachers had to say, to listen to all of the interviews with modern day non-dual teachers. My mind needed a vocabulary for what had come to be known. It found a vocabulary or a model for This but that vocabulary and model is not This! I
Next, there was a need to express this - to get it out there. It was like a pressure cooker. I felt as it I had to honour the beauty of 'That which we are by pointing to it and perhaps touching one person in the process or helping just one person to recognise the Truth in the way I have recognised it .
Next came sharing. Sharing of your comments on this blog and your tweets and retweets on twitter. Thank you all.
Following my period of silence, an amazing thing happened. I came to understand that the Oneness I had a sense of existed in far deeper ways than I had ever expected. Love really is infinite and cannot be bound by time or space. I now know this to be true.
Now has come silence. Silence is all I have. Everything comes out of this silence. I understand why monastic orders sit in silence to be close to God. It makes complete sense.
Where do we go from here? What else need be said? Well, I will start by telling those we love just how wonderful they are. You, dear reader, are also wonderful, beautiful... a miracle. If we can see this in the world around us, we therefore see it in God, in ourselves and in all things. I loveyou
I may write more if it arises. Until then, silence and peace.
This present moment will never happen again. It is unique in its unfolding, manifesting from a incomprehensible, infinitely varied and overwhelmingly creative life force.
You do not need religion to pray to the essence of This which we ultimately all are. That which we all truly are does not need your thanks or recognition and it will not respond to requests or pleas. It will continue to unfold life though you and all manifestations of itself in form. Prayer is not about what the little 'me' can get from the big 'I'. There is no distinction, no little 'me'. We are all one big 'I'.
Prayer and meditation is a moment to be one with That which we truly are. It is a moment to be in this moment with this moment! It is a moment to be in communion with God, to be in the Now, to be One with what is. It is a moment to accept All exactly as it is. Jesus put it beautifully -
Be still and know what I am God.
Be still for a moment today. Be one with the 'I'. Know God.
Firstly, apologies for being quiet lately - there have been many distractions. All is well health-wise but a few unanswered questions remain which will be answered in the coming days. I'm home again and enjoying being with my my beautiful family.
The experience of hospitals, CT scans, medication, doctors and all the other comings and goings is a beautiful reminder that life moves through me rather than me moving through it. All these events simply unfold in the present moment and are felt to be experienced by the sense perceptions of this mind-body. Add in the mind's ability to remember and imagine then the unfolding events become part of a narrative about 'me'. I don't move through life - it moves through me. I don't live my life (i.e. I don't design or control all the events that unfold) - life lives itself through me. This body isn't 'mine', it's a body created out of the creative potentiality of Universal Consciousness and it will one day expire in its current form. In fact, it's form is constantly changing - cells dying and being created. This body is not 'me';, it is able to experience a slice of experience only. What I truly am is far greater than that narrow slice of experience.
This last few weeks has deepened further my joy at the Oneness that this all is. Life is beautiful and it moves through us all in its own way. Embracing this 'is-ness' and letting go of resistance to the unfolding Life that moves through us is to be at peace with all.
Finally, I encourage you to check out http://spiritualityandthecity.wordpress.com/
A beautiful blog by a beautiful person. Caro, Thank you for your kindness and for your incredible Love.
I've had an interesting few weeks due to an ongoing health situation. The problem is manifesting as episodes of angina chest pain, elevated heart rate and blood pressure spikes plus night sweats and a few other odd things. Tests have ruled out any heart problem so it seems other strange things may be at work within my body, Specifically, it is suspected that a problem with my adrenal glands may be the problem - probably a tumor. So, more tests and a CT scan ahead.
When the episodes take place (usually at night) It's a bit uncomfortable (aka very painful!) but, like all of life, these situations have so much to teach, Firstly, there is absolutely no point worrying about any of this. If the tumor releasing adrenaline is going to develop into a hypertensive crisis and kill me, there is nothing that I can do to stop this by worrying or playing out scenarios in my head. Dying suddenly is a possible (but unlikely)outcome if it is a tumor but I do not fear death. As Ramana Maharshi said to his devotees who were upset at the prospect of his impending death 'where could I possibly go?'. I feel like that. I have experienced great joy and periods of bliss this week since being in hospital and am still largely without mental noise. Life goes on unfolding irrespective of us worrying about it. Another lesson I have been remonded of this week (as if we need reminding) is about the impermanence of the physical body and all things. This body that Consciousness is living through here right now is not invincible. It will pack up when it is time. It is a limited and local vessel through which Life is expressed. When it is ready to curl up and die, it will do so. In the meantime, it is a creation of infinite complexity and wonder - yet another irrefutable demonstration of Life in it's infinite variety and creativity.
I have considered the impact my death would have on my wife and young family. It would undoubtedly be tough for them but mentally playing this out also seldom comes to mind and whenit does, it does not stick. I am just lviing each moment and Life is sublime. For each moment that this body works, Life is wonderful. When it stops working, some new wonderful processes begin to start and back into the void I will return - back to where I have been since the beginning of this, and since what came before.
The events of recent weeks have really confirmed what a huge shift has happened. My life in this body has become largely irrelevant. The 'I' that I am truly am is more than this body although it includes this body. I am so thrilled to not be stuck in fear anymore. Wow. Thank you God.
That's it for now. Appreciate any comments if you have any...
Love Freedom Peace to you all.
PS - Great to seesome inspiring tweets from Caro yesterday (who kindly reads my blog). Deeply joyful and blissful events were taking place there and a complete sense of unity with 'all of this', It was wonderful to watch it unfold. This seeing of 'life as it truly is' is our birthright. It is who we are. Amen.