Monthly Archives: April 2008

Lucid Dreaming: Entering Darkness

I’ve Noticed Shadows

I’m not familiar with the literature of lucid dreams, so I don’t know where this confession fits into it. I’m good at dreaming lucidly. But, like being awake, it is what it is and there is nothing I’m so interested in manifesting or changing.

However, I’ve noticed in dreams places of long and deep shadows. I’ve been meaning to walk into those dark places during a lucid dream. The other night I finally explored one of those deep, dark shadow places.

The Dream

I was in a garage — going somewhere, doing something — and I had just turned a corner. I looked behind me and saw not far away a long, deep, and very dark shadow area. Since I was lucid in the dream I thought what the heck and walked back into the shadow.

It was nothing more than a dark space in which I could not see! I walked back into the light in order to continue the dream.

The Nature of the Dark Place

However, the dark place was very peaceful too. It was the experience of awareness alone. Some people experience all their dreams from that place. It may be black as night, or have a cast of dark blue. It is the experience of awareness itself.

It seems that all dreams are edged by darkness. If you’ve never seen that darkness, I’m sure you sense it. That darkness marks the limit of the dream, the place where the play of inner light ends. So by all means, if you wish go beyond the world of the dream, look for the deep shadow area and enter it. This is not the Jungian shadow world. It has nothing to do with repression. It’s different, as explained below.

The End of the Dream Is Everywhere

What is the parallel in the waking world? What is the dark, deep, shadowy area of the world in which you are right now? How do you move beyond the everyday and into awareness itself?

That’s done by being aware that you are aware. That can also be done during a lucid dream, of course, at any point in any dream. That deep, dark shadow is everywhere. The end of the dream is everywhere, though it may be perceived as distant in some way.

The distance may be perceived as psychological, as something yet to be achieved. It may be felt as geographical, as being represented by a teacher who lives away from you. It may be physical in dream space, as the place of darkness I walked toward.

Clearly, distance isn’t real. If there is only awareness, there is no separation from it. There appears to be movement toward or away from awareness, but there isn’t any movement, just as in a dream nothing moves or fundamentally changes.

Do You Value the Dream or the Source of the Dream?

What’s important is what you value. If you value the dream and all the events occurring in them, then have fun. At least I am sure you will pay some attention to your pure existence or awareness. If you value awareness, then you will also be active in the dream world, but you will always know the dark, potent, wordless ground of reality.

This Darkness is Dark Because It Has Burned the Eyes That Would See The Light

Perhaps you are asking why darkness is used for the depiction of awareness and not light. This darkness is prior to the light. It is not the shadow side of Jungian psychology. It is not a shadow that hides repressed things.

The light of the dream comes out of this kind of darkness that I’m talking about. That’s how bright this darkness is. It is beyond seeing or knowing. There are no more eyes to be burned by this brightness. So it appears to be dark.

How To Discover That The Light Comes Out of The Darkness

If you doubt it, just enter that dark space in the lucid dream and then manifest a dream situation. You will see light form in the darkness and take whatever shape you want. Then you will get all caught up in the manufactured shapes. But if you remain lucid, you will see those shapes for what they are: absolutely nothing. But don’t let that keep you from enjoying that hot fudge sundae!

Reincarnation and Nonduality

Are you wondering about reincarnation and its place in the teaching of nonduality?

The teaching of Advaita Vedanta — also known simply as Advaita — is part of Hindu tradition. Advaita addresses your questions of karma and reincarnation. Dvaita means duality, and the ‘A’ prefix confers the ‘non’ portion. Advaita = Nonduality.

Advaita means nonduality, and nonduality means ‘not two.’ While things, events, phenomena appear to be separate, in reality there are not two — not separate — things.

Advaita is a tradition which takes the student through steps of knowledge leading to the full recognition of reality as nondual. Neither Advaita nor Buddhism nor other teachings in their advanced forms talk about reincarnation or soul development. Those experiences are not more special than other experiences. However, if questions about reincarnation are important to you, they need to be addressed.

In Advaita, one of the steps on the way to nondual understanding is the teaching of karma, free will, and reincarnation. This step is not the ultimate teaching of Advaita. The ultimate teaching is that there is only reality, God, Christ, Truth, The Eternal Self, The Kingdom of God, Oneness, or whatever you wish to call it.

It’s important to have a sense of the ultimate teaching while investigating your urgent questions, such as reincarnation.

One way of keeping the ultimate teaching present, is to resort to a metaphor.

View burning questions and intense emotions as the rising of waves in the ocean. Any wave can be tremendously awesome, hugely violent, or small and calmly gentle. Yet no wave is separate from the great, vast ocean. The ocean is the nondual self, the eternal Self, the real you. While Advaita teaches about the qualities of waves, the ultimate teaching is about the ocean itself.

I suggest that Advaita is the best context in which to pursue questions about reincarnation for one who senses nondual reality. If you wish to look into Advaita, begin at this page on Dennis Waite’s site. Also, Dennis’s books are the best guides to Advaita. In Back To The Truth he speaks specifically about reincarnation.

Chuck Hillig’s classic, Enlightenment for Beginners, brings reincarnation into the view of nondual reality. Chuck is a devotee of Ramana Maharshi, who is mentioned below.

Finally, note that the very same teacher of Advaita (or nonduality) will one moment explain reincarnation in detail and at the next moment deny there is such a thing as reincarnation.

Do not let the apparent contradiction confuse you. Do not be offended or insulted by any response. The teacher is speaking to different needs of different people. He is giving the answer that would best serve the specific student. Simply hone in on the response that is right for you and don’t worry about the rest, for now.

For example, look at this teaching from one of the great sages of Advaita, Ramana Maharshi.

Advaita requires that one know the source of questions about reincarnation. Until one is ready to approach that knowledge, and in order to stimulate curiosity about that knowledge, careful answers about reincarnation are given. So are answers given to questions about karma, free will, desire, creation, purpose, happiness, and the world in general.

Advaita is a full path to full knowledge of the Self.

Neo-Advaita? Well, that’s another story. Neo-Advaita is the confession, claim, report, or description of existence and reality from the point of view of one who has attained full knowledge of the Self. Some people are in such a disposition that they can hear one of these confessions and awaken to the full knowledge of Self. But many cannot. For those who cannot, the path of Advaita is available.

Attending to attention

When you’re writing, thinking, trying to state the way things are, try stopping for a second and turning to the fact that you are paying attention to what you are doing.

For a moment focus on the attention itself.

You may or may not find that an interesting step to take.

Leave a comment and let me know whether turning toward attention has done anything for you.

Valuing Awareness

My attentional thrust as a kid was such that awareness was valued over all. In many ways I was lost in it. I used to be able to look at a very small thing, such as a pebble on the ground or that was part of an earthen wall, and the pebble seemed very important, like more of a friend than any friend, more of a parent than any parent.

I had rapport with small things. I would pick up bees and play with them. The big world of careers, human entanglements, and all the associated comings and goings, didn’t interest me too much.

As I entered my thirties or forties, I could no longer look at a pebble and recognize awareness. Everything had become that recognized awareness.

There’s a big difference between seeing awareness in a pebble and seeing nothing but awareness wherever you look. The limitation of this relationship is that … it’s a relationship. It is a higher form of duality, a lower form of nonduality.

There’s an even bigger difference between recognizing nothing but awareness and awareness itself. The death of the seer of awareness means what? Awareness. That and nothing else. Now there is no pebble and nowhere to look. You can’t pick up little bees anymore. Why? Even if a photograph is taken of you picking up a bee, now it is not done by you.

There is no difference between your fingers and a stone on the ground in the Himalayas, in the sense that they are contents made of the same stuff and exist only in what appears to be a container known as the universe. The contents and the container are very flimsy. The atmosphere in which they flicker momentarily and beautifully, like northern lights, is awareness.

How is this little telling about awareness made practical? It comes down to valuing awareness. Very simple. Value awareness, your being, you being-ness.

I confess this as a valuer of awareness and a witness to what that valuing sets in motion from an attentional point of view.

As far as how you value awareness, you have to be able to intuit that already. Just sit, be still, and realize you are aware, you exist. Respect and value it. Do that as often and as deeply as you can.

Books and teachers? They can serve as guides. However, trust yourself first and last, and somewhere in between let the books and teachers fall.

And if you try to pick up a bee, you may get stung, if it is not meant for you to do naturally.

The Nonduality Game and How To Situate Yourself Within It

The non-duality game is all about knowing, developing, and promoting your niche within nondual spirituality. What I want to talk about is situating yourself within the game. I’m going to use the board game analogy, where you have a plain board and glued on top of it a printed sheet containing spaces within which the mechanics of the game play out.

Nondual spirituality comes in two varieties. One kind is essentially silence. Since this kind of silence is neither empty nor full, there are no words to describe it. If it was empty or full, it could be described because those qualities are known to everyone. The silent kind is like the board of a board game prior to the gluing on of the wonderful world of the game.

The second variety of nondual spirituality, then, is the colorful world of the game. It’s very busy. A roll of the dice and men move from square to square, cards are picked, spinners are spun. This is the game of nonduality. This is where I am right now.

You cannot play the game unless you have a leg in both worlds: one leg in the silent, pure game board prior to the gluing on of the game, and another leg on the printed sheet that goes on top of the plain and untainted board.

That’s your starting position. The only thing that changes is the weight you put on each leg. There’s a time to be fully involved in the game and a time to withdraw.

The bottom line in the nonduality game is to find a unique place on the thin printed game sheet that is glued onto the clear, perfect, unstained board right beneath it, without ever fully leaving one or the other. If you become lost in one or the other, you’re out. Go sit on the couch and watch Oprah.

Ashes and Snow: a few comments

If you’ve never seen or heard of Ashes and Snow, it is unlike any other kind of gallery / show / event / museum you have probably ever seen. It’s all those things.

Read about it here.

The amazing art is spiritual in itself, if I’m a judge, and I’m not a great judge of art. It’s not spiritual in the sense of a guru uttering truths. It is spirituality associated with a fusion of artistic creation and nature.

It is probably easier to enjoy the videos, which links are found at the link above, at home rather than at the show.

Within the art exhibition itself there are kids running around, people coming and going, there were no comfortable seats, just tree stumps to sit on. Maybe you’re thirsty. Maybe you have to go to the bathroom. Maybe someone in your family or group is restless. Plus there’s all the other stuff you want to see, so you get a little antsy and want to move on.

Ashes and Snow is meant to be moved through slowly, like snow falling, ashes shifting, elephants stepping forward through water.

Your eyes are drawn everywhere since the overall architecture is part of the whole experience. So it was hard to totally absorb the movies. Yeah, better to watch them on YouTube. But don’t miss this Ashes and Snow if it appears near you. Right now it’s in Mexico City. I saw the exhibition in Santa Monica.

To me it was an art show taken to an extraordinary height involving architecture, interior design, largeness, exotic, artful, absorbing atmosphere. It was poetic, arty, and other worldly. There wasn’t much to say about it afterward. The gift shop was impressive too.

See Ashes and Snow if you can. If you have definite plans to see it, avoid the websites and videos and enter the experience fresh as you can. That’s what I did. I was walking along the Santa Monica beach and there it was. I had no idea what it was. I bought a ticket, went in, and found myself in a separate world I would never have imagined.