Reflections related to transduality, duality and an integral view.

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Monday, January 31, 2005  
Ethics & Transdual View

Guidelines for views and behavior in spiritual traditions tends to...
  1. Reflect the views and behaviors of those who have awakened to a fully transdual experience of the world. What comes effortlessly and naturally from this view, is rigidified into guidelines and rules for those not yet there.

  2. And since they mirror what flows from a transdual experience, it aligns people with and prepares them for such an experience.
There is obviously a qualitative difference between what flows from a fully transdual world experience (internal and experiential), and what is followed as a rule (external and idea based). The first is more effortless and fluid. The other tends to be more effortfull and rigid.

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Friday, November 26, 2004  
Seeking What is Outside

Existence is always more than and different from our experience of it. Our maps and worldviews are always of limited use, and always ultimately wrong. They are born our of certain inner and outer situations, and when these situations change, the maps must change to still be of use to us.

Every experience, view, map and statement is limited. It draws a line and leaves something outside. And this needs to be actively brought into awareness to experience a more whole and nuanced view. Which again leaves something out. It is a continuous process.

This also highlights the importance of moving beyond an adversarial approach, both in our own life and as a society and culture. We all have a piece of the "truth". Our views are by necessity formed by our experiences, and - equally by necessity - different from each other. We have all experienced different aspects of the world. We all have valuable insights. And - with the right container - we can move beyond one-sidedness and into a richer and more whole view of the situation.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004  

Each piece of music has a very specific effect on the human mind and body. It reflects a certain experience (the one the composer was in when it was written/created) and also opens up for a similar experience in the listener.

Most stays within the limited personal, emotional realm. It can express/open up for a wide range of experiences, such as pleasure/delight, energy/focus, sentimentality (not grounded/resolved) or constriction (blockages).

And some goes far beyond the personal realm. This music opens up the heart and/or Big Mind, such as Allegri's Miserere, Rachmaninov's Vespers , the music of Sister Marie Keyrouz, and Bach's Art of Fugue.

08:43    (1) comments   

Friday, October 15, 2004  
Two Orientations

There seems to be two basic orientations... And both are expressed in all of our lives, in different ways.

Blind Duality

First is the one that emerges from and creates a sense of blind duality, and it can take two expressions:
  1. Separation - not unity

    We see separations and not the unity. We are caught up in a us vs. them view of the world.

    We apply this orientation towards the inner world: something is me (what supports and fits with my conscious identity), and something else is not me (that which I am not aware of, or that I am marginally aware of but does not support or fit with my conscious image of myself - the shadow).

    And we apply the orientation towards the outer world. My family is us, the community is them. Democrats are us, republicans are them. Freedom loving democratic people are us, terrorists are them. Humans are us, other species are them. Current human beings are us, future human beings are them. And we apply different guidelines for how we choose behaviors that impacts us and them.

    We are blindly caught up in the relative world, and have little interest in the absolute.

  2. Unity - not differentiation

    As infants, we (I assume) experience the world as a seamless whole, but we do so with very little conscious awareness. If we later on engage in blind unity (seeking the unity w/o the duality) it is usually in an altered state, or due to traumas. We seek to escape the relative world and seek the absolute. This may be expressed through addicitons, and there are elements of this approach in some spiritual traditions.
Additional thoughts
In both instances, we approach the world from a relatively rigid point of view. We embrace one end of the polarity (differentiation or unity) and discount the other. And we often justify this by creating or adopting elaborate ideologies that supports our orientation.


We can also embrace, explore and bring into awareness both ends of the duality/unity polarity.

We deepen our ability to discern and analyze, and experience ourselves as a separate individual able to function well in the world. We also deepen our experience of the seamless whole we are embedded in. There are no absolute boundaries.

In relationship to ourselves, we are oriented towards welcoming and bringing new aspects our ourselves into awareness. We experience all emerging phenomena as part of the same inner whole - emotions, thoughts, sensations, independent of their particular characteristics.

We also perceive all emerging phenomena as part of the same larger whole. Emotions, thoughts, sensations, clouds, mountains, living beings, plants - are all part of the same seamless whole. Expressions of one process.

And there is a multitude of tools to help us experience the world in this way. To help us experience the world more as it is: beyond dualities of existence/nonexistence, mind/matter, life/death, living/nonliving, humans/nonhumans, and beyond dualities in our perceptions of good/evil, right/wrong, desirable/nondesireable.

Through this, we open up for a spacious and rich experience of the world. We align ourselves more with ourselves and the larger whole. We are able to discern, analyze and choose decisive action, w/o being blinded by false impressions of separation.

Additional thoughts
Through becoming intimate with both the relative (differentiation, change) and absolute (unity, no change) aspects of the world, we gain a new perspective on both.

Some typical effects: We can more easily let go of attachments, althought they will still arise as before. We recognize everything in the outer world as also there in the inner.

We open up for a deeper and spontaneous sense of ...
  • Compassion
    We recognize in ourselves what we see in the other. We are all human beings with the same basic human needs. We are in the same boat. (This does of course not exclude assertive action when needed, but now it is not from blindness .)
  • Gratitude
    We experience a deep gratitude for being a small part of this infinetely large and rich world.
  • Humility
    We are an infinetely small part of an infinete world. Our perceptions and "understandings" are always incomplete and very limited.
Each of these opens our heart.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004  

to previous journaling...

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Monday, October 11, 2004  

There seems to be a trend in the evolution/development of consciousness (or rather how it is expressed)...
  1. Unconscious unity
    Matter, plants, most species in infancy and adulthood, human infants, etc.
  2. Conscious duality
    Children and some non-human species awakening into it, human adults refine it
  3. Conscious duality & conscious unity
    The experience of both deepened and embodied. A trans-dual awakening. This is expressed by some humans, and humanity may move into it more fully at some point if we are around long enough.
It is a process that is expressed on a macro-level (Universe, Earth and species as a whole) and a micro-level (individuals).

The Universe evolved/expressed consciousness, first a "sleeping" unity consciousness through matter and plants, then a half-awake duality through animals, and finally a more fully-awake transdual awareness through some human beings.

It seems that humanity as a whole has spent the last several millennia evolving and refining awareness of dualities, which has now reached a preliminary peak in the modern western mindset (people aware of differentiation, individuality and separation, and less aware of the unity). A coming phase in human evolution may be the natural unfolding of a more trans-dual awareness on a larger scale.

On an individual level, we need to explore and deepen our experience of the differentiation (and develop a personality able to function effectively in the world) as well as the unity - the seamless nature of existence. For me, I have found several approaches to be invaluable in this, for instance Zen, Big Mind, Breema and Process Work...

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Existence is set up as an endless series of polarities: existence/nonexistence, matter/mind, etc. And they are all expressions of that which is beyond and embraces all dualities.

We habitually tend to embrace one end of each polarity and reject (or regard with less fondness) the other end of the polarity. Through this, we are creating a fragmented experience of the world for ourselves. We see the poles, but not the polarities. We see the fragments, but not the whole.

A spiritual path is to go deeper into both ends of all polarities. We explore and deepen our experience of...
  • Our limited human animal nature (small mind) and our infinite nature (big mind). Through this, we experience the continuum they belong to.
  • Differentiation (duality) and unity (non-duality) . Through this, we move into trans-duality.
  • The "light" and "dark" aspects of ourselves. Embracing, relaxing into and bringing awareness into both, beyond notions of good and evil.
... by deepeining our experience of both ends of each polarity, we move into trans-duality.

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Saturday, October 02, 2004  
Causality & Synchronicity

The Universe is a seamless whole. It is one dynamic process, one movement.

And this movement is expressed in changes in all parts of the whole, in all phenomena.

We perceive these movements as (a) causality (one part "causing" a change in another part), and (b) synchronicities (acausal meaningful coinsidences).

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Sunday, August 08, 2004  
Big Mind & Death

In the Buddhist tradition, Big Mind (Existence, Spirit, God, etc) is beyond and embraces all polarities: existence/non-existence, matter/mind, duality/unity, and notions of good/evil etc.

It is one mind that is expressed in all phenomena, including in all beings with consciousness.

That means that there is no separate entity, no "I", that will be reincarnated. At the most, it is this stream of habits expressed in my life that will continue, expressed in another life/body.

What we see expressed in any person or phenomena is an expression of and aspect of the one mind. It is never "lost". There is no separation in time or space. Although it may certainly appear so to us.

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Breema : beyond dualitites

I have found Breema to be a wonderful way to deepen my connection to my body, and to explore the dance between the absolute (beyond dualities) and relative (dualitites/differentiation).

Here are some of its effects for me. Each come up now and then. Each is a direct experience. And each continually deepens...
  • Deepening connection with the body.
    Through bringing the mind (attention) to the body, feelings join.
  • Present
    When the mind/body/feelings are joined, I am present. There is no room for being lost in thought of past/future, or being caught up in reactive emotions (sympathies and antipathies).
  • No separation
    There is no separation among body/mind/feelings. There is also no separation between me and the other body. And no separation between me and the rest of the world. I experience it as a seamless whole.
  • Softening
    Rigid patterns and habits on many levels (mental/emotional/physical/behavior) decrystallize. There is a softening that allows me perspective and conscious choice.
  • Self-healing
    It opens up for the natural self-healing processes to take place, again on many levels (mental/emotional/physical/interpersonal). When I get out of my own way (let go of attachments to habits that produce/reflect imbalance), remarkable healing can take place.
  • Mutual support
    Giver and receiver both benefits. When I give, I benefit as much as (if not more) than when I receive. It goes beyond egotism (doing it for myself) and altruism (doing it for another).
  • Beyond doing/not doing
    It goes beyond doing and not doing. There is a sense of "nothing happens" (no effort, no willful action, no sense of separation). Yet, something does happen (bodies move, there are experiences).
  • Beyond simple/complex
    It goes beyond simplicity/complexity. It is simple. It is what is when there is no extra. When I get out of my own way. It is also immensely complex. An eternal and continuously deepening exploration.
  • Nine principles
    The nine principles are there effortlessly. And my experience with/understanding of them continues to deepen. It becomes simples, richer, and more encompassing.
  • Beyond dualities
    It goes beyond dualities: body/mind, self/other, self/world, egotism/altruism, doing/not doing, simple/complex, gentle/firm

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Tuesday, March 23, 2004  
Differently Transdual

There seems to be different flavors to the transdual experience. Here are three I am aware of now:

1. Big Mind work - which is a more mental/cognitive transdual experience. A facilitator will lead you into it through a series of questions, and it does mimick/mirror an awakened experience to a certain extent. This is a taste to help guide and motivate practice.

2. "Conventional" enlightenment - where the transdual experience is more full blown (including all levels of your being - body, emotional, mind).

3. Waking Down - where the transdual experience unfolds through the body, and is potentially more solidly grounded.

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Sunday, March 21, 2004  
Waking Down in Mutuality

I went to Portland this weekend for four days of activities with Saniel Bonder, the main/founding teacher for Waking Down in Mutuality.

It is difficult to talk concisely and clearly about as it is still quite new for me.

Some of the main impressions are: (a) The words and intentions are very familiar to me and close to my own. (b) The experience/process may still be quite different from what I have experienced before. (c) It can help deepen/embody other practices (spiritual and other). (d) It is something I would like to pursue (investigate/immerse myself in).

Some of the words/intentions that are close to my own:
(a) Enlightenment/awakening must be fully embodied and lived in everyday life, especially in real/authentic relationships.
(b) Awakening is only the beginning - the real work is in bringing it fully into our lives.
(c) Reality is a seamless whole (no separations), beyond and including/embracing all polarities.
(d) Going deep into the dual/transdual (relative/absolute) polarity. Deeply exploring and familiarizing oneself with differentiation (including individualization) on the one hand, and the seamless whole on the other, and exploring the dance of the relationships between the two. Deeply exploring the dance between the relative and absolute, and how to express/live it in life's many situations.
(e) The profound wisdom in matter and the processes of matter (in the body/Universe).
(f) Egotism and altruism is one. When we realize that the Universe is a seamless whole, our own happiness and fulfillment is dependent on living in a way that contributes to the happiness of others.
(g) Evolutionary perspective. Any spiritual practice must be appropriate to the people using it, and contemporary westerners have a different psychology than that of easterners centuries back. (i) The mind is of course the same, but the configuration of the psyche, as well as the social demands/pressures, are different. (ii) There is also seemingly an evolution in how mind is expressed, from a dreamlike state (pre-human), a partly awake and tribally oriented state, to the contemporary partly awake western state seeking individualization (obviously not the end if the process is allowed to continue). A more fully awake state has been available for millennia, has been expressed by individuals in many different traditions, and is in each case expressed through a pattern that matches the psychological configuration and social situation at the time.

And some that were a little different:
(a) Equalizing pressure. We are always equalizing/diffusing pressure, on all levels. Hungry > eat. Mind/body split > yoga/spiritual practice. Experience of individual/universe boundary > spiritual practice. We experience a need to equalize pressure, choose different strategies to do so, and can refine these strategies (to spend less effort, and so it works for everyone). This is very similar to Non-Violent Communication (NVC). The most obvious difference (which may be mostly on a terminology level) is that the pressures are in NVC identified as needs. In both cases there are two main aspects: (i) A differentiation between pressures (needs) and the strategies to equalize (meet) them. (ii) And an emphasis on choosing strategies to do so in a more efficient way. Or more precisely, to choose, develop and differentiate strategies and skills that will meet our own needs as well as that of others in a more satisfying way.
(b) The process unfolds from a chackra on the right side of the heart (pacemaker area). If this is indeed the case (and I have no reason to doubt it), it explains why the words are similar/identical to that of other approaches, while the experience may be quite different (more naturally embodied).

Some of my initial concerns:
(a) It springs out of Indian traditions, which I tend to avoid as they often seek transcendence. In this case, that is not true. They are very much focused on embodiment.
(b) Overgeneralizations. This is my main problem with the Waking Down process, and it has several aspects. (i) Saniel seems to speak from his own experience. This is from a more dualistic Indian spiritual tradition where they embrace one end of the polarity - the absolute - and apparently try to ignore the other - the relative (embodiment, fully lived human life etc). This is understandable and OK in itself, but he then overgeneralize and applies these statements to all eastern traditions. Many, if not most, of them (such as the Buddhists, Daoist, and tantric) strongly focus on embodiment, fully lived realization, relationships, living a full human life in realization etc. It seems quite imbalanced (is he trying to work through own wounds?) (ii) I also realize that while the words and intentions are similar between Waking Down and other (trans dual) Eastern traditions, the lived experience may be different (due to different processes). This does warrant some distinction, but not the way he is doing it.
(c) Saniel did not work with a teacher after his awakening, something that is recommended in most traditions to help the person clarify, refine and avoid pitfalls.

The real test of any path is the people, and in this case - they seem to have a very healthy approach (open, balanced, investigative, good sense of humor).

See more here


Thursday, March 11, 2004  

I went to a workshop and talk with Jungian analyst Michael Conforti today, and it reminded me of a core issue in my life right now.

When we have a calling, we are miserable if we don't follow it.

My calling is clearly a daily spiritual practice (Buddhism, Jes Bertelsen, with additions of Jung, Process Work, etc). When I lived it, in Norway through daily prayer and Tibetan practice, and in Utah living at Kanzeon Zen Center, I experienced enthusiasm, richness, compassion and a strong maturing process. I was in the process of becoming more fully human.

Leaving Kanzeon and Utah was a tremendeously difficult process. Every fiber in my body, and all my dreams, resisted it. Since leaving, in spite of many rewarding experiences and activities, I never felt an enthusiasm, passion and richness that is anywhere near that of the previous years of daily and focused spiritual practice. In spite of everything being "perfect" in an outward and superficial sense (very meaningful work, control of my own time, good relationship, and now beautiful house), I experience the torment that Conforti described as a symptom of not following one's calling.

I tried his recipe for finding one's calling: Look at the four most meaningful and memorable experiences in your life. When did you experience the most passion, enthusiasm and richness? For me, these all are connected to a spiritual life: 1. When I was a child, maybe about 5 years old, I was outside in the sunshine. I suddenly had a very strong memory of life before I was born. I remembered an overwhelming sense of Spirit, of communicating with and being in the same field as God. It was an immense sense of belonging, of being home. 2. Later, when I was 16 or 17 years old, I had a strong opening experience. I experienced Spirit or God in everything, throughout the universe, with no exceptions. Everything was Spirit, even that which we did not like as humans. 3. Living at Kanzeon, and in particular a meditation experience of my mind dropping the "center". The mind was a field with no center, expanding (or rather my experience of it expanded). 4. Relationships and conversations where I have experienced Spirit.

As long as I do not live my calling, it does not help to adjust the details of my life. They can make me more comfortable in the moment, but not relieve me of the torment of not living a fully spiritual life.

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Friday, January 02, 2004  

Working with the Shadow is one aspect of working with projections in general.

Everything we see in the outer world, is also there in the inner world - either as potentials or more unfolded and expressed. When we experience attraction or aversion towards anything in the outer world, it is a sign that we are not fully aware of those same qualities in ourselves.

Attraction and aversion are invaluable signposts showing the way towards a richer experience of ourselves, and deeper humanity.

A simple way of working with projections is to make it a habit of recognizing in ourselves what we see in others. To explore those qualities, and how they enrich our lives. We find a process where we continuously and gradually move beyond our (perceived) limitations and into new and richer terrain and opportunities. We slowly find a source of deeper empathy, and move beyond "us-them" to "we". Our world becomes larger and richer.

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Knowing how to recognize and work with the Shadow is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition to move beyond a blindly dualistic world experience.

And luckily, there is an easy (although not always simple) way of working with the Shadow: To make a habit of recognizing in ourselves any quality we see in the outer world that we experience aversion (and sometimes attraction) towards. The Shadow is those qualities in ourselves that are not compatible with our conscious self-image, formed by culture and experience.

Learning this process will help us always move beyond what we experience as ourselves, and experience ourselves in a richer way. What seemed useless and maybe dangerous, will become useful and valuable sources of energy and compassion. We become more fully human, recognizing in ourselves what we see in others. It opens up for more true empathy, and to more choices (we do not blindly react, but have more choices in how to respond). We move beyond blind duality, blind "us-them" perceptions, and into "we".

When we become comfortable with the Shadow (or rather the process of integrating Shadow aspects), we can see any quality in the outer world, or be called anything, and say "yes, that is true, I do have those qualities also in me", and be quite comfortable with it.

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Sunday, November 23, 2003  
Transdual Experience

Some notes on a transdual experience, from my own experience and that of others:

1. A transdual experience is within reach of everyone. Not everyone will experience it in a given lifetime, but it is always just a hairbreadth away from typical day-to-day awareness. Openings can occur through one or more of the following: (a) A regular and guided spiritual practice (prayer, meditation, yoga etc). (b) Drugs. Only some drugs, the setting must be right, and it tends to be somewhat out of control (not recommended, although it can be the beginning of a spiritual practice for some). (c) A luminous experiences triggered by nature, ritual, etc. Often something that opens for an experience of being a small part of an immensely large and beautiful whole.

2. A transdual experience can be integrated into day-to-day awareness through a regular and guided spiritual practice. The openings may be very strong, and difficult to ground in everyday life w/o the support of a daily practice and guidance of an experienced teacher.

3. It is trans-dual, beyond and integrating a dualistic experience. It integrates (a) oneness (all one, beyond dualities), and (b) differentiation (duality). Oneness w/o differentiation leads to an inability of choice and action (not grounded). Differentiation w/o oneness leads to blind attractions and aversions (not flexible). Both together leads to flexibility and choice.

4. It is the experience shared by saints, gurus and authentic teachers from all major (and many minor) spiritual traditions. Each expressed it in their own way depending on the situation (culture, existing spiritual traditions, what would be most useful for people to hear/learn, personal inclinations etc). It is shared by many more than these - only a few become (well known) teachers.

5. From a transdual perspective, it is really one mind - that reveals itself to itself through individuals. It can never be lost, never be stained. It is always there, although not always experienced consciously by individuals - and rarely or never fully and completely expressed in any individual's life.

6. From a transdual perspective, the world is beyond and embraces dualities: Existence and nonexistence, awareness and non-awareness, life and non-life, matter and spirit, mind and body, right and wrong. All these are expressions and born from what is beyond all dualities.

7. From a transdual view, the world is always more than and different from our experiences of it. (a) Everything is always in flux, nothing is fixed. There is nothing to hold onto. (b) We perceive only fragments and aspects of a much larger whole. Our ideas and views are always limited (and thus ultimately wrong). (c) The world is beyond duality. Words differentiate and can only express dualities (although poetry and seeming paradoxes can hint at the transdual).

8. A transdual experience has (at least) two major aspects: (a) Insight/mind and (b) compassion/heart. It leads to insights in the world and the human mind. It also leads to a spontaneous and naked gratitude and a compassion for all life.

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Saturday, August 02, 2003  

I saw the Matrix for the first time at Zen River in Holland. I was struck by how it matched not only the Buddhist philosophy (to be expected as it was intentional), but also the experience of Buddhist practice. Some parallels:

(a) Our "ordinary" experience of life is delusion. We experience separation where there is none, and fixedness where there is flux. Everything is in continual change. There is nothing to hold onto.

(b) Insight gives choice. When we realize the nature of our mind and the world, we have choice. We can choose to let go of suffering (pain will be there, but we can let go of suffering which we create by resisting). We can choose to stay with and hold uncomfortable situations. We can choose compassion and appropriate action where there was reflexive and habitual reactions. We can bend and break the rules.

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Friday, July 11, 2003  
Human Maturity

The first signs of human maturity comes when we...

(a) Extend our circle of considerations to all beings. When we see all life as ourselves (by recognizing in ourselves what we see in the other). When we treat others as we would want to be treated if we were in their situation.
(b) Experience reverence for all phenomena. It is all expression of the same whole. It is all a miracle. It is a tremendous miracle that anything at all exists.
(c) Experience the whole - beyond polarities. Directly perceive the whole that all phenomena and polarities are an intrinsic part and expression of.
(d) Can let go of specific ideas and see situations more as they are.
(e) Realize that what we see in the outer world is also there in the inner world. We perceive them through recognition. There is no absolute separation.
(f) Experience all phenomena as expressions of that which is beyond polarities (God, Spirit, the Absolute). Beyond polarities of existence and nonexistence, life and nonlife, matter and spirit. Beyond limited conceptions and ideas.
(g) When these realizations emerge organically from direct experience and practice. When they are naturally expressed as our true nature.
(h) Directly experience inner and outer phenomena as expressions of that beyond polarities and aspects of a seamless whole. Experiences, thoughts, emotions, ideas, the sky, a mountain, cities, stars, galaxies, wars, disease, happiness, delusion, enlightenment...
(i) Experience true humility - realizing that our experience is always limited. The world is always more and different from our experience of it.
(j) Experience true compassion - from recognizing in ourselves what we see in others. We are all in the same boat. We share this life together.
(k) Embark on a practice to explore the nature of the world and our mind - and realize that it is a practice with no end.
(l) Realize that all phenomena are expressions of that beyond and embracing all polarities (God, Spirit, the Absolute). I am not "I". No phenomenon is limited to what it may appear to be.
(m) Experience all as flux. There is nothing to hold on to but the change.
(n) Experience that nothing exists separately from anything else. It is all expressions of that beyond polarities. It is all part of a seamless whole.
(o) Enjoy life as it is. No need to add or subtract anything (and we cannot even if we tried).
(p) Experience life fully - letting go of fixed ideas of future and past, right and wrong.
(q) Live our life in service to the larger whole - to human society, Earth, all life. Realizing we are all expressions of the same whole, and that beyond polarities.
(r) Realize that all is perfect as is, and there is always much room for improvement.
(s) Realize that these realizations are natural expressions of the nature of all that is.
(t) Realize that realization is only the first step. Living it is the main work - and there is no end to bringing it more fully into our lives. We are always at our first step - in this and all we do.


Sunday, June 22, 2003  

It seems that our personal transformations often mirror our collective transformations. [...]

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Thursday, April 03, 2003  
Absolute & Relative

EarthLast night was the first class in a course on the Gaia theory (geophysiology) at ProtoTista.

A recurrent theme among the participants was the interplay between two perspectives: Seeing the Earth from the perspective of the Universe or the Earth as a whole, and seeing the Earth from the perspective of humans (one current aspect of the Earth). From the perspective of the Universe or the Earth as a whole, any changes are OK - everything is fine as it is. The Earth, as any system, is in continuous change and if current changes means that some species (including humans) goes extinct, that is fine. It will lead to something else and equally valuable as what has been before. On the other hand, changes that leads to suffering and possible extinction of species, especially for humans, are a disaster from a human perspective.

This is of course the interplay between the Absolute and the Relative, one of the central Buddhist teachings. From the perspective of the Absolute, all polarities are embraced, everything is part of a seamless whole, and everything is perfect as is. This is the transdual perspective. From the perspective of the Relative, there is a differentiation and there is much room for improvement. This is the dualistic perspective. Both are true and both offer essential insights.

Experiencing from only the Absolute perspective, we would not be able to differentiate between options and choices. We would be an idiot, although a happy idiot. Experiencing from only the Relative perspective, we think in us/them and either/or terms. We see the poles but not the polarity they are part of. We get caught up in the suffering of a blindly dualistic experience. Bringing in the Absolute gives us a light touch and space. Bringing in the Relative gives us differentiation and involvement.

Both are essential, and our experience of the two perspectives deepen through insights and experience (regular spiritual practice under guidance of an experienced teacher is invaluable.) Complexity theories and Buddhism has much in common, as reflected in the Gaia theory leading us to a glimpse of the interplay of the Absolute and the Relative.

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Thursday, January 02, 2003  
Visual Representations & Transdual View

Sleeping TwinsWhen I started painting and drawing in my mid-teens, I had a strong sense that the most powerful paintings were those that would embrace all polarities: Whole and detail, abstraction and the figurative, aesthetics and content, timelessness and reflecting our time, shading and color, line and tone, robustness and elegance.

When I later saw the paintings of Odd Nerdrum, I realized that this was finally a contemporary painter who beautifully and strongly expressed this transdual and embracing view. Some examples:

1. Whole and parts. There is a strong and organic whole, and an immense attention to details beautifully integrated the whole.
2. Figurative and abstraction. There is a naturalism that makes human bodies come alive, and an abstraction in composition and background that is comparable with that of the best abstract painters.
3. Color and Shade. Vibrant colors and immense attention to light and shade.
4. Aesthetics and content. Beauty and message are strongly present.
5. Matter and spirit. Bodies infused with a sense of the numinous.

Our relationship with polarities goes beyond art.

In our culture, we are trained to emphasize one end of a polarity and deemphasize the other. Sometimes we take it further, assign values and see one end as "good" and the other as "bad". We fracture our world that way, and remove ourselves further from the nature of ourselves, the Earth and the Universe.

Modern art often reflects this blindly dualistic view, embracing one end of a polarity and rejecting the other. The same can be seen throughout our civilization. It is a view that leads to a sense of constant conflict, and to choices made out of blind attractions and aversions. We keep distance to one end of the polarity and seek the other, which leads to a neurotic relationship with our world.

The alternative is to embrace polarities. To become intimate and familiar with both ends of polarities - as they are expressed in ourselves and the outer world. Through this, we are freed up to make more consious choices of what we want to express - based on what seems appropriate in the situation. We act less from habit and aversions or attractions, and more from awareness and choice.

The world is a seamless whole, embracing all polarities. Everything just is.

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