The Creepy Guy In The Van

The Van In The Wilderness

The Van In The Wilderness

BEND, OR—One of the reasons van dwelling isn’t more popular is because of the Creepy-Guy-In-The-Van syndrome.

Sitting in my van, typing away on the computer, I glanced up to catch a young mother looking over at me. She instinctively reached for her child’s hand and my mind said, “She thinks I’m the creepy guy in the van,” and I felt The Contraction as the me-thing hardened up. Yuck.

Self centered thoughts, what a pain in my ass.

The chipmunks and the cardinal-like bird taught me that all animals have a primitive sense of self—that evolution rewards self-preservation. Likewise, evolution rewards animals that don’t stand out from the herd—that aren’t too different from the other members of their species. What self-respecting seagull wants to mate with that nut case Jonathan who is always out perfecting his useless acrobatics skills while the rest of us are flocking around doing the-very-important-but-not-really-examined-seagull-stuff? Who’d mate with a weirdo like that?

Evolution rewards the herd. It rewards conformists. (Today’s contrary view: This morning’s post by Seth Godin. Today’s sad supporting evidence: This morning’s news of a crowd watching a murder in a McDonalds.)

Just like self preservation is hard-wired into our brains, I’m pretty sure that social conformity is too.

I’m pretty sure the question, “What do they think of me?” (in some instinctual primitive form), is physically wired into our brains and there’s not a damn thing we can do about our minds asking us this question (no matter how subtly) over and over and over whenever it sees we are around others.

Damn hard-wired mind, what a pain in my ass.

Maybe that’s why solitude is so attractive to the spiritual seeker. It makes their life easier. It makes the Emptiness—the Vastness that lies below all the noise of the ego—much more easily accessed.

Anti-social people seek to repress the instinctual query What do people think of me?, creating (I’m guessing here) an inner conflict which manifests as anger and cynicism toward their fellow man.

But the authentic spiritual seeker—in her quest to understand her true nature—can’t afford inner conflict or self deception. In the pursuit of spiritual truth, she can’t afford to repress or deny the question, What do people think of me?. So what is she to do?

The Frog Master knows:

You are not your thoughts. You are not in control of your thoughts. There is no need to take thoughts seriously. There is no need to feel responsible for them. Your thoughts are not you.

Put another way—and as ironic as it sounds—you could say that your thoughts are not your thoughts. Thoughts are just a bunch of instinctual noise in your head.

I still take thoughts too seriously sometimes. I still contract when my mind says that someone else’s mind is telling them that I am the creepy guy in the van. Damn hard-wired mind… pain in my ass. But I’m trying, Ringo, I’m trying real hard to be the Frog Master.

The Subtle Senses Of Self

The Many States of Being

The Many States of Being

SOMEWHERE IN THE SIERRAS, CA—Some thoughts I’m fleshing out. Hopefully this will be enough theory for awhile. Sorry for the long posts.

Instinctual self: Our genetically hardwired sense of self responsible for self/species preservation.

Ego: The imaginary self consisting of a persistent belief that we are our thoughts, past memories, and current roles.

Mortal self: The body, thoughts, emotions, and experience.

Soul self: Consciousness which transcends the body, but is still individualized.

Radiant Self: Consciousness still separate from the surroundings, but with a powerful sense of Love (TaoGodHer as other) flowing through you and into everything you see or experience.

Emptiness Self: The pure Witness when the sense of separation from the surroundings vanishes. Everything feels as one/you/consciousness.

Witness, Transcendent Self or just Self (capital S): When the ego is dropped, that which is experiencing events.

Personal self or just self (small s): Any combination of the above selves which you identify with.

No Self: When the Witness is no longer identified with. Clunky phrasing, but to say something like “when you no longer identify with the Witness,” is completely contrary to the experience. Everything is One Thing (nondual), and there is no “you.”

A couple key points:

  • Self is all about identity… who or what you believe yourself to be. Not rationally, but experientially.
  • Self seems to fall into one of three broad categories: Ego (me, me, me), Transcendent (I Am), No Self (???). Hat tip to Adyashanti.
  • Most people’s personal self is the ego.
  • Mortal and Soul selves are more individual based (solid self boundaries), and thus most egos identify with a combination of these.
  • Radiant and Emptiness selves are ethereal based (subtle self boundaries) and thus most people who have “woken up” tend to identify with a combination of these.
  • Though Emptiness and No Self seem to be the same, Emptiness still has a subtle sense of identity (the Witness).
  • The instinctual self has a great influence on pulling the “self center” temporarily lower (toward Mortal).
  • TaoGodHer (the nondual Intelligence), subtly pulls the “self center” higher (toward Her).
  • My experience of No Self is limited, but the instinctual self seems to affect the No Self too—it contracts the identity into one of the lower self stages because of having a physical body.
  • I have yet to identify with the ego (imaginary self) since “waking up” back in 2009. However, I often (inadvertently) contract (solidify/harden) to the Mortal and Soul levels. In other words, I no longer experience myself to be my thoughts or my history or the roles I participate in, yet I still sometimes take thoughts seriously (Mortal) or see myself as an immortal individual (Soul).
  • When I talk about the Wayne-thing (or the me-me-me), I’m talking about my Mortal self and/or instinctual self (thoughts and/or self-concerns). For most people, the Me-thing is their ego (imaginary self).

This all came about because of two “knots” I was contemplating on my birthday:

  • Knot 1: Why does my sense of self, which tends to be centered in Radiance, shift between the other levels (Mortal, Soul, Radiance Emptiness)? Insight/Whisper: The shifting of the me-center is influenced in an upward direction by a “Divine pull” (TaoGodHer) and a downward direction by the instinctual self. Not like a tug-of-war pull, but more like a unified, yin/yang, moon/ocean, tidal-like experience… a flowing.
  • Knot 2: Why do I need to identify with anything? Almost identical to the box technique mentioned here (“Right now, do I need the ego?”), but on the next level up (not ego to Witness, but Witness to No Self).

As I said, I’m still fleshing this stuff out so it’s all a bit rough, and quite honestly I’m about sick of it (I’m much happier just living it rather than explaining it), but I wanted to post it somewhere so you guys’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about when I use that little four-letter word self.

Thanks for putting up with me (whoever that me is). 🙂

The Lie Of Abiding Nondual Awareness

A Stream In The Forest

A Stream In The Forest

SOMEWHERE HIGH IN THE SIERRAS, CA—I sat on a rock in a stream in a high mountain forest and—as is my birthday tradition—contemplated the knots in my life and what I was going to do about them.

On one of the banks, two chipmunks scurried about, darting in and out of the rocks, courting and playing and chasing each other. A bird, darker in color but similar in shape to a cardinal, flitted among the branches above, gathering twigs for a nest.

I raised my arms to stretch stiff muscles and instantly the chipmunks disappeared into a hole and the bird shot off into the air and in response She whispered, “Even animals have self-consciousness.”

I was surprised by this. Not Her whispers, but Her words: “Even animals have self-consciousness.”

I’ve occasionally mentioned something I call the self-contraction—how sometimes I get pulled out of the Vastness into my little me-me-me self. I’ve often said it is simply conditioning—like an old habit that is hard to break. Conditioning is what practically every spiritual teacher calls it.

But Her whispers indicate otherwise.

I’ve been wrong in calling it conditioning—like it is something that can be overcome with a little more practice. The self-contraction is not a conditioned habit that can be broken—it is a core and ancient part of our genetic code.

Chipmunks and cardinal-like birds flee when they sense danger. They have an instinctual sense of self-preservation—a very primitive sense of self… a sense of “me” separate from everything else. If they didn’t have this me-me-me instinct, they’d be eaten by the first predator that came along and their genes wouldn’t have gotten passed on.

Chipmunks and cardinal-like birds have a primitive sense of self. All animals do.

It’s not conditioning that causes the self-contraction. It’s instinct.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to identify with the self-contraction—that’s really what enlightenment is—but enlightened or not, the self-contraction never goes away. It’s a part of—literally—life.

Which leads me to one of the most common myths about enlightenment…

Some (enlightened) spiritual teachers say they live in “abiding nondual awareness.” I’ve always had doubts about claims like that. Now I know why.

Self-consciousness is instinctual. The self-contraction (self separate from other… ie: duality) is a part of the genetic nature of all sentient creatures. Abiding nondual awareness doesn’t exist.

Temporary nondual awareness exists (I refer to it as Emptiness).

Integrated dual/nondual awareness exists (the Unity/Separation Paradox).

But abiding nondual awareness doesn’t exist—it can’t as long as you have a physical body with its genetically encoded sense of a separate self.

The, dare I say, lie of abiding nondual awareness kind of explains why most nondual teachers don’t blog about their day-to-day lives—it would be evident that their nondual awareness isn’t abiding.

(Note: I will be happy to retract this, hell, I’d love to retract this, if someone can prove—not assert, but prove—otherwise.)

Theories And Scars

Camp at Roosevelt Lake.

Camp at Roosevelt Lake

YUMA, AZ—It’s been forty days (and forty nights) since I last posted. I’ve learned much about myself and about the rig and about the life of a drifter—of being a creative and a mystic and man in this world but not of it.

I’ve spent time in intimate communion with forests and deserts and rivers and lakes.

I’ve spent brutally cold nights high on evergreen mountains—and hot dry dusty days low on barren desert floors.

I’ve been practicing and contemplating and even (the last week or so) socializing.

A smart man has theories. A wise man has scars.

I’ve discovered five simple properties of Consciousness—and that at our core all of us are identical.

I’ve lived and learned from the mysterious guidance which arises through the surrender of my personal will.

I’ve allowed the daily and ongoing synchronicities to strengthen my faith and guide my path and my steps and my direction.

I’ve looked deeply into quantum theory and the mind and God Herself and found three common threads—patterns and states of being—which have led me to start calling the vast intelligence and love behind it all—the Source, the Divine, and the Lover—as TaoGodHer.

But most importantly what I’ve learned in those last forty days and forty nights is this:

I’ve learned how to love everyone and everything.

The Look

Toward The Horizon

Toward The Horizon

GULF BREEZE, FL—I’ve been feeling oddly disconnected—adrift, directionless, aimless. I’m not working on anything solid, so no project, either of my own or in the consulting department, is occupying my mind.

And yet this state is not bothering me, nor is it even disconcerting. The Radiance flowing through Emptiness doesn’t have a personal agenda, so I’m just following the flow of Life, without self-concern or self interest—with only minor adjustments as Her whispers dictate.

For example, the other night I sat at a bar and had dinner and as the bartender was clearing my place, he asked if I wanted another beer and I said, “I don’t know,” and I pulled out a coin. “Heads is Yes, tails is No,” and I flipped the coin and everyone at the bar watched with fascination and it came up tails and I said, “No” and the bartender smiled and all the bar patrons chuckled and thought I was crazy.

And yet, as I was leaving, as I met their gaze, they seemed confused, seemed conflicted, because on each and every one of their faces, they had that look, a look I’ve come to know so well.

It’s a look which seems to say, “Maybe he’s not crazy. Maybe he’s not crazy at all.”

My Private Forest

My Camp in a Clearing in an Experimental Forest

My Camp in a Clearing in an Experimental Forest

EXPERIMENTAL TREE FARM, LA—After uploading the last post, the air temperature dropped as a cold front moved in and I suddenly felt it was time to move on. I looked over the eastward route I had planned and noticed for the first time that the route abutted a small “state forest” for a few miles and I felt that twinge so I took heed and decided to check it out.

As I pulled in, a sign said it was an experimental tree farm and two guys waved me down and told me it wasn’t open to the public, that it was part of an LSU forestry program, but we got talking about the rig and how I had built it out and was just traveling here and there and I explained I was looking for a place to camp for the night and they were nice guys and they softened and they said they were the only two employees here, so go ahead, the forest is yours.

I’m not able to describe how I (She/We) chose this place or just what the “twinge” is. Not intuition, not a gut feeling, but almost a certainty—a sense of sureness or rightness.

Her whispers are quiet and subtle, but they’re there, and often at the time they mean nothing to me, so they take a measure of faith.

It’s good practice this Radiance and Emptiness functioning through this Soul and Mortal—it’s a little scary, but it’s cool too. Experiences like this act as confirmation that I’m on the right track.

Plus I scored an entire forest all to myself for the night, which is pretty freakin’ awesome.

I Don’t Know Where The River Flows

The Fallen Leaf

The Fallen Leaf

BOGUE CHITTO STATE PARK, LA—I sat on a railing, on a boardwalk, overlooking a pond and watched leaves fall from the trees into the water. The wind, striking them, scoots them about like tiny sailboats—guiding them along their destiny.

I have been contemplating and practicing the words I read a few days ago, written by the 13th century mystic Meister Eckhart:

When we go out of ourselves through obedience and strip ourselves of what is ours, then God must enter into us; for when someone wills nothing for themselves, then God must will on their behalf just as he does for himself.

I don’t know where it’s all leading, I don’t know where the currents are taking me. I am a man of faith, but it’s difficult to relinquish all control.

I don’t know where the River flows… but then, neither does the snowy white pelican.

The Lesson of Water

The Classroom

The Classroom

OLD RIVER LOCK, LA—I sit in my chair, high on a bluff, smoking one of my father’s old cigars. It’s been years since I smoked and I’m surprised at how good it tastes with afternoon coffee.

Down below, in the muddy river of a branch of the Mississippi, a curve in the bank creates a disturbance in the water and logs and branches, once flowing freely, get caught in a sort of limbo.

Feeling the force of the river moving rapidly by, they helplessly turn and swirl and bump into each other—mired in a circular whirling slow moving maelstrom of clutter and debris.

Further out, a snowy white pelican—aware of the dangers of mindless drifting—floats effortlessly on the current. One with the River, but separate.

The logs bump and rub and turn and swirl and gain no ground, but the pelican, content and at ease, is soon lost from sight.

I sit on the bluff, high above the water…

and watch this…

and learn.

Emptiness and Radiance and Soul and Mortal.

One but Separate.

The Mindless Maelstrom

The Mindless Maelstrom

The Answer To Questions Unknown

The Forgotten

The Forgotten

ROCKY SPRINGS CG, MS—Somewhere in the woods, the crows caw to each other, speaking in a language that only they understand. High in the trees, the squirrels scamper on thin and fragile branches, risking their lives to gather nuts not yet fallen. The sky is clear and the air is cold and Winter is coming.

Yesterday, after writing the last post, I closed my laptop and headed southwest along the Natchez Trace and found myself at a small free campground.

There is no internet signal here. No way to know how the last post affected the audience. No way to be influenced by commenters or any response by Adyashanti to my query—a question, which when clarified, could be stated as: What is the proper way to integrate Emptiness into the World?

This morning, I awoke to the vision of a Pendulum—and an answer.

After finishing this post, I’ll drive to a spot where there is an internet signal and uploaded it. This blog is about transparency—about truth as I live it unvarnished—so before I read any emails or comments that may affect my current thoughts, I’ll present what I have concluded, just as I experienced it, and just as it was written.

For the last few years I have been using Emptiness to “ground” myself—to enter it, to find stillness and openness and peace. But in there, with no boundaries and no self, I could find no motivation, no meaning, no landmarks. Nothing to help me function in the world, so I would contract back to the Radiance level, to a point I could operate from.

But that isn’t integration, it’s navigation—navigating the levels of Self—of God—to operate from a point that made sense.

And it worked for me for the last few years.

But lately it has been gnawing at me. It was the question, not yet formed, that was at the core of this mysterious post.

This morning I awoke to the vision of a Pendulum and in a split-second I had an insight—an understanding.

Imagine a pendulum where the top of the string represents Emptiness and the weight at the bottom is the physical body. The proper way to integrate (the answer) is to reside in Emptiness (the highest point), and to bring Radiance up the string, for Radiance is the Life Force, and to bring the Soul up the string, for Soul provides purpose, and finally to bring the Mortal up the string, for the Mortal provides drive.

But down at the bottom of the string—the weight of the Pendulum—lies the physical body, the vehicle used to function in the world.

Back in late 2009, when I first woke up, I tried to function from the highest level, the top of the string, but I was still “driving around” like I use to function in my previous life… abruptly charging about here and there and trying to get my way and to accomplish goals.

Now image the weight at the bottom of the Pendulum—my physical, incarnate life—and the effect on the weight when the string above is moved about so abruptly and erratically.

That flinging about created all the trials and tribulations that I experienced in 2010.

When God sneezes, hurricanes blow.

So I learned to adapt, to listen to Her whispers—the movement that arises in Emptiness and is heard in Radiance—but, because I didn’t recognize the truth of the Pendulum, I simply retreated down the string (from Emptiness to Radiance) in order to minimize the effects of the movement on the weight of my incarnate life. To minimize the swinging of the Pendulum.

This was the easiest way to adapt to Emptiness—and as I said, it worked for me up until now—but it was backwards.

In that split second vision of the Pendulum, this is what I saw: When God coughs, the Earth shakes.

At the top, there must be a harmony with all the levels.

I believe my practice is this:

Live from Emptiness and bring all the lower levels up into it. Bring harmony to them by letting the Emptiness and the Light suffuse them. To live with compassion for the incarnates selves that swing about as a direct result of the actions from above.

When God smiles, the Sun shines.

I have to learn to be gentle.

An Experiment And A Possible Mistake

The Empty Await

The Empty Await

CLINTON, MS—I signed up with a course with Adyashanti called “Experiencing No-Self” which is about adapting to life after awakening.

Last night was the first video and, as with most teachers, he uses a different terminology for similar terms: His Transcendence is my Radiance, his No-Self is my Emptiness, his Infinite is my Her.

While last night’s video was mostly a clarification of his terms, one of the things that “twerked” me during the video was maybe I’ve been integrating Emptiness and Radiance backwards.

I’ve often said that in Emptiness, there is no reason to do anything—there is no motivation—since in Emptiness (no boundaries, no “you”), everything, being one, feels the same. Nothing needs to be done.

So in order to operate in the world, I have always “dropped back” into Radiance, and used the portal like a car to drive about in the world. This allows the She/We/I to function in everyday life. (Note: Before Emptiness, the portal is “you,” after Emptiness, the portal is just a mental contraction.)

But…

The “twerk” I felt was maybe what I should do (at least it’s something I’m going to experiment with) is from within Emptiness bring Radiance—less the portal—into the Emptiness. From a very theoretical point, this would translate into letting the Light/God/Her be the motivation. To let Her run everything. No Wayne-thing (portal/ego-tool), just pure Intuition/Whispers/Surrender.

I mean really, why not?

I’ve only been playing with it for a few hours, but it feels a lot like what I used to call (back in 2009) the Enlightenment of Oneness but with a much stronger Divine component inspiring action/direction.

Rather than, “doing what She says” (as has been my current form of integration), it feels more like, “riding the winds.”

My mind says, “Don’t post this yet,” (I had written Adyashanti a question about the flip/flopping), “wait to see what he says first,” but screw it, that’s just mental fear.

If anything, I expect this experiment will reveal any residual ego-knots—knots which could probably use a good massage.