Thursday, March 23, 2023

Technologies of the Sacred

“The mystery, the essence of all life
is not separate from the silent openness
of simple listening.”

Toni Packer

    "Awe gives you this big picture, it makes you open up, it makes you creative, it makes you think outside of the box — everything we need in doing good work." Dacher Keltner PhD

     "Fear, suffering, and focus … enable adventurers to release hidden powers and access other realms of experiences. … extreme adventure is not only a spiritual search, but also a spiritual tool. And it is the same for all of us, adventurers or not. The hardest, most challenging experiences of our lives can enrich our existence, revealing our true identity, awakening us to a greater awareness of our own potential, and opening us to the infinite beauty of the universe.”
    Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008.

    “The importance of non-ordinary states of consciousness for ancient and aboriginal cultures is reflected in the amount of time and energy that the members of these human groups dedicated to the development of technologies of the sacred, various procedures capable of inducing them for ritual and spiritual purposes. These methods combine in various ways drumming and other forms of percussion, music, chanting, rhythmic dancing, changes of breathing, and cultivation of special forms of awareness. Extended social and sensory isolation, such as a stay in a cave, desert, arctic ice, or in high mountains, also play an important role as means of inducing this category of non-ordinary states. Extreme physiological interventions used for this purpose include fasting, sleep deprivation, dehydration, use of powerful laxatives and purgatives, and even infliction of severe pain, body mutilation, and massive bloodletting. By far the most effective tool for inducing healing and transformative non-ordinary states has been ritual use of psychedelic plants.
    Mainstream psychiatrists initially dismissed and even ridiculed native ritual events as products of primitive superstition based on ignorance and magical thinking. They relegated non-ordinary states of consciousness of any kind into the domain of psychopathology. This situation gradually changed in the course of the twentieth century, particularly in its second half, when Western scientists actually made some major contributions to the armamentarium of the technologies of the sacred. Clinical and experimental psychiatrists and psychologists had the opportunity to acquire firsthand experience with chemically pure psychedelic substances and with a variety of laboratory mind-altering procedures from sensory deprivation to biofeedback. They also witnessed the effect of non-ordinary states of consciousness in various forms of experiential therapeutic techniques using breathwork and bodywork, such as neo-Reichian approaches, Rebirthing, and Holotropic Breathwork. Those open-minded enough to take on the challenge of these revolutionary tools thus had a chance to discover their power and their great therapeutic potential.
    When we recognized the unique nature of this category of non-ordinary states of consciousness, we found it difficult to believe that contemporary psychiatry does not have a specific category and term for these theoretically and practically important experiences. Because we felt strongly that they deserve to be distinguished from altered states of consciousness and not be seen as manifestations of serious mental diseases, we started referring to them as holotropic. This composite word means literally ‘oriented toward wholeness’ or ‘moving toward wholeness.’
    The name holotropic suggests something that might come as a surprise to an average Westerner – that in our everyday state of consciousness we identify with only a small fraction of who we really are and do not experience the full extent of our being. Holotropic states of consciousness have the potential to help us recognize that we are not ‘skin-encapsulated egos’ – as British philosopher and writer Alan Watts called it – and that, in the last analysis, we are commensurate with the cosmic creative principle itself. Or that – using the statement by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French paleontologist and philosopher – ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings having human experiences.’
    This astonishing idea is not new. In the ancient Indian Upanishads, the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ is ‘Tat tvam asi.’ This succinct Sanskrit sentence means literally: ‘Thou art That,’ or ‘You are Godhead.’ It suggests that we are not namarupa – name and form (body/ego), but that our deepest identity is with a divine spark in our innermost being (Atman) that is ultimately identical with the supreme universal principle (Brahman). And Hinduism is not the only religion that has made this discovery. The revelation concerning the identity of the individual with the divine is the ultimate secret that lies at the mystical core of all great spiritual traditions. The name for this principle could thus be the Tao, Buddha, Cosmic Christ, Allah, Great Spirit, Sila, and many others. Holotropic experiences have the potential to help us discover our true identity and our cosmic status.

    Stanislav Grof, Christina Grof. “Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy.” State University of New York Press, 2010. 

    Psychiatrist Stan Grof (above) spent 50 years doing pioneering research on the use of entheogenic plant medicines (ayahuasca, psilocybin, peyote, etc.) and Holotropic Breathwork. Holotropic Breathwork, which uses circular breathing, music & bodywork, harnesses the intrinsic healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Grof's book explores the healing, transformative, & evolutionary potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness accessed through Holotropic Breathwork, and their great value as a source of new revolutionary data about consciousness, the human psyche, and the nature of reality

    One-day, experiential courses :


Saturday, March 11, 2023

What Does It Take?

Are we ready to lose EVERYTHING we can think of?
Yet it's only a matter of time that we DO.
So how do we BEST PREPARE?

      "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." Marcus Aurelius

     Many teachers have said that "meditation is learning to die before dying." In deep meditation we intentionally undergo "ego death" ie letting go of the "small self" - the reductionist model of who / what we imagined we were.

“Love says 'I am everything.'
Wisdom says 'I am nothing.'
Between the two, my life flows.” 

Nisargadatta Maharaj

    Without being mindful of death, whatever Dharma practices you take up will be merely superficial.” Milarepa, The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa


    During general anaesthesia for an operation, "I was just going through the feeling of the essence of loss of control, and tears washed down my face when I had to think about it. That this is the essence of dying, to just let go, to dive down without any ground under your feet. That this is to step out of control, like in death. If we let go of the rational control over our own consciousness, we can get somewhere that forms us and that also forms the universe. I acknowledge that this is, in my opinion, a very important state of mind, a very important process for us all.”  Beate M's Near-Death Experience:


    "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Matt. 27 Verses 45-46, Bible, King James Version 


    "And here I would advise a sort of intellectual humility. Near-death experiences are obviously deeply mysterious. Death has always been viewed as something holy by religions because it is deeply mysterious. Near-death experiences suggest at least that death isn’t just a flame of life that is slowly burning down, but that it is once again a phase of life that is of extreme importance for life as a whole. Even if you can’t see any of this from the outside, but for the ones who live through this process of dying from the inside, it is of extreme importance and a moment of clarity of the consciousness.” Near-Death Experiences and the Mysteries of Consciousness - Godehard Brüntrup in Conversation :

     "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." Marie Curie

      "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." Joseph Campbell

"I was born
when all I once feared
I could love.”

Rabia Basri

    "On the day her first book came out ― a new translation of 'Dark Night of the Soul' by Saint John of the Cross ― Mirabai Starr’s daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident. 'My spiritual life began the day my daughter died,' writes Mirabai. Even with decades of spiritual practice and a deep immersion in the greatest mystical texts, she found herself utterly unprepared for 'my most powerful catalyst for transformation, my fiercest and most compassionate teacher.'" Mirabai Starr "Caravan of No Despair : A Memoir of Loss and Transformation." Sounds True, 2015.

"All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well."  

Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416) English Christian mystic

    “So long as one is merely on the surface of things, they are always imperfect, unsatisfactory, incomplete. Penetrate into the substance and everything is perfect, complete, whole.” Philip Kapleau “The Zen of Living and Dying. A Practical and Spiritual Guide.” Shambhala, 1998.

    “I have watched people choose growth over fear as they navigated some of life’s most difficult transitions. I have seen how it is possible to approach the challenges of real life with openness & optimism – even with wisdom & joy.” Elizabeth Lesser. “Broken Open. How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow.” Villard, 2005. POWERFUL BOOK!

    Rapture is not a selfish emotion. It is pure gratitude, flowing freely through the body, heart, and soul. Gratitude for what? For breath, for colors, for music, for friendship, humor, weather, sleep, awareness. It is a willing engagement with the whole messy miracle of life.” Elizabeth Lesser. “Broken Open. How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow.” Villard, 2005.

    "I just had to keep going, even though the cockpit was shaking mightily just before breaking the sound barrier." Captain Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, first pilot to break the sound barrier

    On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.” Gregory S. Williams

All of our days,
a single drop of dew
from a slender leaf.

Chris Thorsen

    You needn’t worry about anything because this isn’t your real home. It’s just a temporary shelter. Everything there is, is preparing to disappear. If you look at it like that, your heart will be at ease.” Ajahn Chah, “Our Real Home” 

    Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute & passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.” Rainer Maria Rilke

    Especially if you fear death - and most of us do - I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful book - you will feel much better about death AND about life!: Bruce Greyson. “After. A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.” St. Martin’s, 2021.

    "The more you understand, the more you love; the more you
love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.” Thich Nhat Hanh

    The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘yes!’ to your adventure.” Joseph Campbell

 Bill Hicks, 1992 - "It's Just A Ride"
all over in 2 minutes :-) ! )

Friday, March 10, 2023

Of Two Minds

     Many are 'of two minds' about spirituality, awakening - actually about anything that involves stillness, silence, and meaningful depth. Many quickly label these: 'too serious,' 'depressing,' 'too deep,' 'too confusing,' 'unscientific,' 'an individual matter,' etc - whatever it takes to quickly change the subject to 'something lighter.' While these comments might be age-appropriate for teens, they are as likely to be voiced these days by those in their 70s

    “In the lives of children & adults, there is often little time and encouragement to be still and feel the deeper currents within & without. Our lives are shallower as a result."
    Tobin Hart. “The Secret Spiritual World of Children: The Breakthrough Discovery that Profoundly Alters our Conventional View of Children’s Mystical Experiences.” New World Library, 2003. POWERFUL BOOK imho

    Our strikingly shallow, materialist culture is driven by the endless, restless cycle of working & shopping, working & shopping... Stopping, or just slowing down to get our bearings, asking ourselves meaningful human questions: Who am I? What is life about? - in the short term - is BAD FOR BUSINESS! And sadly, materialist culture is itself SHORT TERM - unsustainable, as we're finally starting to notice.
time to pay very close attention to humanity's wisdom traditions (& far less attention to ads & frenzied shopping).

    "Compassion and love are not a luxury; they are essential to our existence. Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. We must learn to work not just for our own self, family, or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind." Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

    "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Antoinne de Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince"

    "In the midst of a conflict or frustration, in the middle of a hurried day, or as a regular ‘tune-in,’ you and I, and our children, too, can get a look from the heart by simply sitting quietly for a few moments, taking a deep breath, and gently bringing awareness to the area of the chest. There is often a felt shift involving a sense of tenderness, spaciousness, slowing down, and settling in. This process can change the scene that is in front of us or the one that is spinning in our mind. Few activities are so simple and powerfully beneficial, but so infrequently practiced.” Tobin Hart (from his book above)


    changing a habitual way of being is a huge challenge. Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither is calm. Rome wasn’t built with twigs; calm isn’t built with tips. It’s not that we can’t help ourselves: We can learn to maintain calm, to roll with change when change rolls in. We just have to acknowledge, even honor, the scale of the adventure before us. It requires nothing less than … allowing the mind to be rewired by mind training — by meditation. It untangles us. Gradually it replaces ancient patterned reactions with fresh & appropriate responses. This is why it’s called practice. It takes time and effort, but to an amazing extent we find ourselves helped.
    Practice changes our relationship to what would otherwise be upsetting. Facing change, we see how futile and painful it is to try to hold on to what is passing — which is everything. Compassion washes in with a kinder, truer understanding of why people do what they do (and that includes you). Things seem simpler, easier.
    The self-help mentality is a matter of shopping, accumulating tips. We don’t have to go shopping. We just need to sit back and let practice work on us. We don’t need tips; we need patience, we need equanimity. How to develop these qualities? I have a great tip for you: Meditate! Start now, continue forever!Amy Gross


“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep!

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!

People are going back & forth across the doorsill
where the two wolds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep!”

Jelaluddin Rumi -  The Breeze at Dawn


Thursday, March 2, 2023


Some remember & dramatically experience life as INFINITELY MORE than our tiny little concepts can possibly hold, as they AWAKEN, opening up to REALITY.
our ordinary mind (ego, left hemisphere) tries hard to convince us that it knows & can (or some day will) control everything. This ("promissory materialism") has slowly transformed into a secular belief system ("scientism") with much of the hubris, dogmatism & intolerance associated with theistic "religious exclusivism."
    Actual scientists
are usually surprisingly humble. The world's foremost expert in a very small area of knowledge, when asked about it will usually start by saying, "I don't know. There are four main hypotheses about this," then go on to succinctly summarize these, say that her team is investigating one of these, then finish by saying, "I don't know." This is a top expert truthfully expressing the humble limits of ordinary human knowledge - even about relatively simple "physical matter" we can all see & touch!
    “One of the key spiritual adventures of the last hundred years (is) that of fusing together the best of the Western philosophical & mystery traditions with the highest understanding of unity & divine identity of the East. This is an adventure that many of us believe provides the fuel for the next evolutionary stage of humanity and for the birth of a universal mysticism that can lead to a wholescale transformation of all forms of earth life.
Harvey, preface to Hermann Hesse. “The Seasons of the Soul: The Poetic Guidance and Spiritual Wisdom of Hermann Hesse.” North Atlantic Books, 2011.

    “To me a mystic is someone who is really after facts. And to me someone who really sincerely is after the facts, becomes a mystic sooner or later. Often people will say to me, ‘Oh I feel skeptical.’ And I say, ‘Wonderful, but be skeptical about your skepticism! And keep on being skeptical. Go all the way with your skepticism. Go right to the end, because when you come to the end, then there is the inner reality.”

    Peter Kingsley interviewed by
Adyashanti :

    "... among the earliest Greek philosophers were people who couldn’t have been more different, or more distant, from the curious & simple-minded rationalists they are made out in the West to be. They were extraordinarily powerful mystics who had the spiritual methods & meditation techniques needed not only to bring people to reality but to bring entire cultures into being."
    Peter Kingsley “A Book of Life.” Catafalque Press, 2021. POWERFUL BOOK
"We are stars wrapped in skin.
The light you are seeking
has always been within.” Rumi

    If we're being honest, most of us are far less open-minded than we claim or perhaps would like to be. We instinctively grip unexamined dogmas - religious or secular - like those drowning grip bits debris knowing that these won't help.

A Cup of Tea
, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

    The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’
    ‘Like this cup,’ Nan-in said, ‘you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?’
    “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” compiled by Paul Reps, Anchor Books, 1961.

    “We have our outer lives with their bumps & smoothnesses. Then we have our inner lives with their threads along which we guide and help, are helped and guided – the ties of love, the delicate threads that link and bind us.
    But behind our inner lives is the secret that lies hidden even from ourselves: the life that connects us straight to the root of our being.

    If something bursts in from another reality, that’s a regrettable embarrassment to recover from as quickly as possible; to rationalize away with our skillful choice of labels and words so we can keep clinging to the thread of what’s most familiar by breaking the thread of the sacred.
    And, of course, this is a problem for everyone without exception because we all need continuity so we at least can seem to function. But even those of us who think we’re most awake are so easily lulled asleep by the sweet lullaby of routine – never quite able to take the next steps 

    ... wisdom doesn’t come from building clever structures or thinking things up. It comes from being ground down, because the only way to get to the truth is to let yourself be cracked open so that the truth can get to you.
    Peter Kingsley “A Book of Life.” Catafalque Press, 2021.

    Contemplatives & mystics often point to the critical turning point in their practice when they finally, often (but not always) after utterly exhausting themselves through heroic efforts, they completely gave up the DIY project - when they finally "surrendered," "got out of my own way" or experienced "ego death." THIS is when we break through from the common shared self-concept / worldview "consentual reality" to what is real - "ultimate reality."

Surrender is the letting go & peeling away of identity or beliefs. In that process of letting go or peeling away, there’s a deeper relaxing that happens inside the body & nervous system. Surrender is a deep, deep relaxing of everything, acceptance of things in the moment - not adding to it, this feeling of deep resting. Sometimes, when things get really, really difficult, when you really don’t know what to do, and you’ve meditated and, you’re just really stuck, then there’s a deep resting, and I might call it surrender that you can do, but it has to be very real. It can’t be, ‘Well, now I’ll try the surrender thing.’ So you might say, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’ You might even ask for help. And you don’t even know what you’re asking help from. It’s better if you don’t know. You’re not asking of anything in particular, you’re just saying, I need help. I don’t know what to do.’ As soon as that is real, you have let go, you’ve surrendered. And you’re not trying so hard, not working so hard, and you’re not frustrated with it. And so it’s in that, ‘I just don’t know.’ This surrender really is an acceptance of everything just as it is. And you don’t know what to do next.” Lissa Friedman interview:

    I HIGHLY recommend listening to this 2-minute talk by Bill Hicks:  


LISTEN to "Joyride" (below):

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Children's Spiritual Wisdom

    We're born with unity consciousness - a natural sense of oneness with all that's around us - how one part of a healthy body relates to the rest of the body. Then by around age 2, we start learning that we are each unique, 'independent,' 'separate' individuals. Ideally, we develop a "quiet ego" - just enough sense / concept of a 'separate self' that we can set goals & accomplish tasks. A person with a quiet ego is aware that their concept of a 'separate self' is only an idea, and that in fact each of us, while unique, is as interdependent with all other living creatures & the entire cosmos, as each single cell in our body is both unique and intimately interdependent with the rest of our body. In other words, a quiet ego harmoniously coexists with unity consciousness, in a healthy, mutually supportive, nurturing relationship (similar to Iain McGilchrist's description of optimally-balanced harmonious functioning of the right- & left-hemispheres of the brain
, for various reasons such as early childhood trauma, the process goes too far, individuals develop a "noisy ego" and mistake the "self" for a completely separate, independent, 'solid identity' (instead of the constantly changing concept, which it actually is). This error results in an ongoing competitive / adversarial / predatory relationship with everyone & everything they perceive to be outside of "their self." A noisy ego is entirely egocentric (self-centered), with little or no memory of unity consciousness.
, due to ignorance & immaturity, are egocentric. A smaller proportion are more seriously afflicted. Narcissists & sociopaths can be highly intelligent, & occupy the highest offices of businesses & governments, yet to the degree to which they lack empathy, cause massive suffering for humans & other living creatures, & catastrophic environmental destruction.

    “Parents, teachers, and society as a whole are concerned with what our children know. However, how we know, not just what we know, is fundamental to the pursuit of wisdom. In the twelfth century, Saint Bonaventure wrote about three different ‘eyes of knowing’: the eye of the senses, the eye of reason, and the eye of contemplation.
    The contemplative mind offers a direct nonrational mode that complements the analytic. There is a long history of contemplative knowing. In the East, practices such as meditation, which were designed to open the contemplative, have endured for thousands of years. In the West, ancient philosophers such as Plotinus (third century AD) understood that the highest truths were revealed only through a contemplative state of mind. Nineteenth-century German philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche suggested that this nonrational mode is so important because it ‘opens the way to the Mothers of all Being, to the innermost heart of things.’
    In the West, however, the dominance of a largely Aristotelian emphasis in logic, the natural sciences, and theology beginning at least by the twelfth & thirteenth centuries pushed the contemplative out of favor. Today we often discount the direct knowing that emerges as an inner voice in favor of the measurable observation or logical deduction that science and reason value. Essentially, adult society has grown a cataract on the eye of contemplation – we have made it cloudy with mistrust. But the direct sight of contemplation is alive & well in most children, they are natural contemplatives.

    Wisdom is distinguished from bare intellect especially by the integration of the heart. … Wisdom is not just about what we know, but especially about how we live, how we embody knowledge & compassion in our lives and, as the great essayist and poet Emerson said, blend a sense of what is true with what is right. While this is often the daily challenge played out over the course of our lives, some children seem to have it all together remarkably well.
    The gateways to wisdom are diverse. Some children just seem to know, for others, inner comfort and counsel seem to come in the form of a helper. Spirit guides in the form of angels, saints, and ancestors have been part of every major sacred tradition. For example, there are 294 references to angels in the Bible. Animals, too, have been a common representation of spiritual energies and are featured in many religions. The animal is seen as a power, or ‘medicine,’ as Native Americans call it, which serves as a link, symbol, or totem between the invisible world and the physical one. When a shaman, for example, adopts the guise of an animal in a ceremony, he or she attempts to call forth those energies for the purpose of healing and guidance. The idea is that somehow the image, idea, or form of this animal embodies and represents certain qualities, they may be thought of as archetypes – primary forms or patterns deep in our shared consciousness. In most explanations of animal guides, you do not choose the animal, it chooses you – it pays you a visit. Native American elder Black Elk described a horse and an eagle that came in visions to him as a young boy and provided guidance. Contemporary author Ted Andrews told of a wolf from the spirit world that spoke to him when he was four years old.
    Adam, the family dog, had just died and Laura, seven, was having a very difficult time getting over the loss. She had really loved Adam and she didn’t know how to deal with losing him. According to her mother, ‘Laura was crying a lot about him and I just didn’t seem able to comfort her very well. We were driving in the car and Laura was talking a lot. I was tired and asked her to please just lie down and rest for a few minutes. Thankfully she did, and after about twenty minutes she sat up and said, ‘Mom, something wonderful happened: I left my body and went to talk with Adam. He told me that my being so upset about him dying was making it harder for him and if I really wanted to help him, I should send him love & light. So I did and it feels better.’ Laura paused and then added, ‘Adam said the reason he came to see me is that when somebody else close to me dies, I’ll know what to do.’
    A few weeks later, Laura’s aunt gave birth to a baby with a terrible illness. It was a very difficult situation for everyone. Laura insisted on visiting the baby in the hospital. Her mother said, ‘I wasn’t sure about this. Normally, given Laura’s emotionally charged personality, I would have expected her to fall apart, to be really hysterical, and I didn’t think this was what the family needed. But we went to the hospital, and in the middle of all this grief. Laura insisted on holding the dying baby. She was unbelievably calm and clear, she was not upset or crying, but was working hard to help this dying baby by sending him love and light. She helped all of us.’
    Two-year-old Alissa said that a dolphin would take her for rides on his back when he wanted to tell her something. Alissa’s mother described her introduction to her daughter’s special friend: ‘We were in our family room watching a dolphin video one evening. There were lots of dolphins in the scene, and suddenly Alissa ran up to me and said, ‘Mom, that looks just like Kiwa.’ I had no idea what she was talking about. I said, ‘Who’s Kiwa?’ ‘Kiwa is my dolphin,’ Alissa replied. ‘Well, how did you meet her?’ I asked. ‘Way back in Cincinnati. [They had moved recently from Cincinnati, however, Alissa had never physically been with a dolphin in Cincinnati.] I swim with him in the dolphin area. But I can’t stay in very long,’ Alissa explained. ‘When he needs to tell me something, he sees me on the beach and then he takes me. He lets me ride on his back.’
    At first, Alissa’s mom assumed this was a cute fantasy. It was not long before she saw that her daughter’s visits with Kiwa offered something more. ‘Kiwa tells me how to fix things. He told he how to fix Jane’s head,’ Alissa announced one day. Jane was a friend of her mother’s who suffered from migraine headaches. Her mom said, ‘I had never told Alissa about Jane’s headaches, and we had never talked about them at our house. I had no idea that Alissa had any idea of Jane’s problem until one day when Jane was over. Alissa was telling me that Kiwa had something to tell Jane. She wouldn’t tell me what Kiwa was telling her because, she said, ‘It isn’t for you, it’s for Jane.’ Finally Alissa walked up to Jane, touched her and whispered very gently in her ear, ‘Relax.’
    ‘This sounds pretty simple, but Jane experienced it as a profound event. She has great trouble relaxing, is really high strung, and doesn’t take the time to calm herself, to relax. It seemed that it was not just the words that moved her because somehow Jane felt a healing in that moment.’ This little two-year-old knew nothing about Jane’s migraines, yet she was able to offer a direct and healing prescription
intelligence is usually associated with an ability to identify or articulate complex patterns of thought, wisdom often emerges as an elegantly simple proposition. This is not simplicity born of ignorance, but a simplicity that is tuned into what is essential in life. It cuts through the cloud of complexity. Children often go right to the heart of an issue. They often recognize pain, injustice, & phoniness very quickly. Wisdom cuts to what is of importance, not through calculation or shrewdness, the deepest insights, the authentic revelation, the healing vision come more directly, as an intuition.”
    Tobin Hart. “The Secret Spiritual World of Children: The Breakthrough Discovery that Profoundly Alters our Conventional View of Children’s Mystical Experiences.” New World Library, 2003. Uniquely Important Book - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Helen Hamilton: Who I am - before & beyond all definitions & concepts

Sunday, February 19, 2023

One Flowing Stream

     Perhaps our most valuable asset is retaining into adulthood, some of the understanding we were all born with - a sense of our profound, deeply meaningful, loving connection with everyone & everything, called unity consciousness (among many other names).
    Too often, this gift starts being erased by the age of 2. “A child’s spiritual life can be ‘usurped,’ … impoverished until finally made void, simply by being ignored or belittled by parents who have themselves been wrought spiritually void in the same manner. And so it is we parents may remain unchanged by our children, thinking in our heads instead of our hearts lifelong, wherein life is hard indeed." Joseph Chilton Pearce, preface to Tobin Hart's book (below) .
    So we're born with a loving, allocentric & ecocentric orientation, which our materialistic, consumer society then quickly stunts into an egocentric, adversarial, meaningless neurosis. After carefully researching children's spiritual experiences, Tobin Hart wrote that we have MUCH to learn from children & our own childhood experiences
    Because "spirituality" is so emotionally-charged & divisive for many, I prefer a broad, inclusive definition: Spirituality involves any way at all, of relating to that which is perceived to be sacred, or set apart from the physical world, something metaphysical, something greater than just the mechanics.” David Rosmarin PhD

    To better understand children's spiritual experiences, we 1st need a brief overview of consciousness:

    “Many traditions describe two main aspects of the human: what we might call the ‘Big Self’ and the ‘small self.’ The small self is understood as the ego in Western psychology; in Buddhism this is called the ‘lesser self.’ We all have this self and it develops over time. But in the sacred traditions, the lesser self is not mistaken for our whole being. Rather than being directed by its fluctuations, worry, and grasping, we are told that we must learn to use this small self instead of being used by it.
    As a source of wise guidance and insight, Sri Aurobindo, the Indian sage, called the Big Self the ‘inner teacher.’ Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century Dominical priest, referred to the ‘inner man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of the ‘oversoul.’ Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli wrote about various dimensions of this Big Self as the ‘higher self,’ ‘transpersonal self,’ and the ‘universal self.’
    Around the end of the nineteenth century, American psychologist and philosopher William James likened consciousness to a flowing stream. Through the Big Self, in some moments children are able to tap the deeper currents in the stream. A simple map of this stream may be useful before we go further.
    The surface of our being is the small self, or ego. The small self helps us operate in the world – it assesses danger, worries about the past, and thinks about the future. The small self [gets entangled with] the internal dialogue [self-talk] that occupies so much of our daily existence. Do I like this? Why did I just say that? It also sees itself as separate from others and therefore often seeks fulfillment at the expense of others [adversarial].
    Beneath this surface lies the subconscious mind. Actions, thoughts, and feelings of the ego both influence and are influenced by the subconscious. If part of us makes a directive, the subconscious can follow. For example, we can drive a car without thinking of every arm motion necessary to turn the wheel, we brush our teeth without having to think through every step. The subconscious not only responds to the ego, it also affects it. We may have personal traits that are ‘hardwired’ from birth or we may have internalized the voices of a parent or the media, and these may shape our actions, feelings, and thoughts. Maybe these are the expectations of our family or the media about who we should be, what we should look like, and so forth.
    Dipping deeper into the subconscious, we could also think of perinatal experiences, for example a difficult birth, or karma, as Hindu tradition maintains, as expressing its influence through the subconscious. We are generally not fully aware of these, but they form a kind of programming that automatically influences our responses, for better or worse. A challenging situation may activate the programmed response in a child, such as ‘I can do this, I’m competent.’ Or, on the other hand, ‘I’m no good, I can’t handle this.’ Most approaches to psychotherapy are attempts at overcoming or recognizing this programming.
    The realm of the subconscious is not only individual – mine or yours – but it is also ours. The stream meets other streams. Individual subconscious currents intermingle and form a shared region of the subconscious. [The author’s young daughter] Haley [was able to communicate with the deceased singer & activist] Mahalia Jackson because her subconsciousness exists in this collective mind. You and I may have a feeling about a relative or close friend at a distance and then have our intuition confirmed. Insight from this level is often personal and personalized. For example, Mahalia spoke about her life specifically.
    Descending slightly further in the stream, the collective region also contains universal patterns or archetypes, as Carl Jung described. These ‘first patterns’ may be thought of as deep structures of human consciousness that form the internal architecture of the mind. Hints of this come in common images or concepts that emerge across cultures and time, such as the image of a circle representing wholeness or universal notions of roles like warrior or healer, which form a kind of template of human personality. Subconscious currents intermingle to form a shared subconscious. Streams flow, mingle, and merge.
    There is still more to who we are. Deeper into the stream is what we will call the superconscious. When our awareness opens to this level we may experience inspiration and universal insight, or feel wholeness and unity. This is deep into the Big Self, which is not neatly contained within an individual. The particularities of the superconscious often serve as a filter between the self and the superconscious, personalizing or coconstructing the forms or patterns that are recognized as safe friends. …
    We might recognize and describe the deepest currents and our most expanded awareness as [Self], Christ Consciousness, Buddha nature, Tao, oneness, God, void, cosmic consciousness, and so forth. John Steinbeck described this recognition of unity in his work The Grapes of Wrath: ‘Maybe a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big soul – the one big soul that belongs to ever’body.’ And physicist Erwin Schrodinger concluded, ‘Mind by its very nature is a singularte tantum. I should say: the overall number of minds is just one.’
    The task of spiritual development is regularly described as expanding our awareness in order to meet more of who we really are. The Christian Gnostic Gospels refer to this as revealing what truly exists. The Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff called this ‘waking up.’ We might say that ‘wisdom is the process by which we come to know that the limited thing we thought was our whole being is not.’ This implies that we grow in wisdom as we recognize, accept, and live from more of ourselves – recognizing our whole being and even the unity of all life – not just a limited ego. … this is not just about accepting our higher angels, but also about facing and integrating our shadows, all those aspects that we have not owned, we grow as we face our fears and limitations as well as our inspirations. This simple map gives an image of the depths of our inner nature and how we are simultaneously both separate and interconnected, as the sacred traditions often point out. While there may be different currents in a stream, ultimately the currents are all stream, all made of the same stuff, an undivided unity of consciousness.

    Tobin Hart. “The Secret Spiritual World of Children: The Breakthrough Discovery that Profoundly Alters our Conventional View of Children’s Mystical Experiences.” New World Library, 2003.

Angevine Lake, Nova Scotia