Emotions on the spiritual journey (part2/2)

In the previous post, I mentioned the various types of emotions which came up for me during my journey. Here, I describe what challenges I noticed while dealing with them.

Unexpected intensity
What struck me was the unexpected intensity of these emotions. While before, my emotional state used to vary only little around a normal of relative calm with mental focus (the state of mind I entered when I was reading books or doing computer programming), on this journey I entered a rollercoaster of emotions with an intensity which I sometimes found hard to endure.

I remember one time when the feeling of guilt became so much that I felt strong nausea that I had to will myself to not feel this emotion any longer and direct my focus elsewhere even though I thought this might mean that I was evading or suppressing the emotion.

Labeling was not easy
When I felt an emotion, I sensed it in my body and then tried to name it.

However, it was not always easy to find a label.

Were my tears from sadness? Or from relief and from joy of coming Home? And if they came without a reason, did I cry because of something in my own life, or did I pick up on something much vaster which did not belong to me?

Were the slight tension and anxiety I felt on some mornings before getting up as sign that I was in fear and that something was wrong which I should look at more closely? Or was it just a sign of a feeling of anticipation, partly joyful and excited, but also alert and a bit tense, like one would maybe feel right before going on a travel adventure? I wondered whether I should meditate and try to breathe it away. Or should I rather take it as a signal that it was time to get up and tackle the issues of the dawning day.

When I felt very little motivation to do anything, was this a sign of depression? Or was it just a necessary pause between phases with high activity? (I eventually settled for the latter explanation).

And what was this strange, uncomfortable feeling which came up when I was confronted with difficult guidance? Was it guilt and remorse because I did not feel like obeying? Or was it reverence and submission toward the divine?

There was much confusion and lots of questions. I didn’t always find an answer. The emotions came, and with them, the thoughts and the confusion came. And later, the emotions vanished and the confusion about what had happened also lessened.

After all, maybe it was not always necessary to find out what it was that I felt and why I felt it.

Developing more sensitivity
Over time, I also found that I developed greater sensitivity for my emotions. After all, I had learned that inner peace was conducive to miracles while anger would cause trouble like burned out light bulbs, for example. So, I started to notice anything that felt off inside of me. Anything which was not inner peace and calm even if it wasn’t as obvious as strong anger.

And boy, were there a lot of different shades of emotions to discover. For example, the grumpiness in the mornings when I had to get up early. The boredom and annoyance which came up during repetitive easy tasks like putting the wet laundry on the laundry rack for drying. The uneasy feeling of saying ‘yes’ when I really wanted to say ‘no’. And feeling under pressure when I had to do many things within a tight time schedule.

These emotions were not as strong as anger, for example. But they were not inner peace and calm and therefore needed to be noticed.

Processing emotions
What I found particularly challenging was processing these emotions. Suppressing them was bad. I knew that. So, I thought, okay, I would just let them come up and feel them. But then I was in danger of drowning in them and that was bad, too.

Inner peace was the thing to strive for because that was where all the good thing happened. But when I went to inner peace prematurely while I still had anger and grief in me, would that not mean that I was about to suppress my emotions?

One possible solution was provided by methods which questioned the underlying thought. Is this thought which makes me angry or sad really true? Maybe the opposite is true (Byron Katie’s approach)? Or maybe the Holy Spirit can give me some guidance on how to see this differently (ACIM’s approach)? If I could only manage to see things differently, then I would not have to be angry or sad anymore. These methods were applicable in cases where there were underlying thoughts to the emotions.

But what if there were just the emotions and no previous thoughts, at least not on a conscious level, which seemed to have caused these emotions? What if there was just grief or anxiety coming up for no reason? Then the above mentioned methods of seeing things differently did not work. I had to find something else.

Here, I chose to feel the emotions and when I had enough and was fed up with it, then I would try to alleviate it by whatever worked best. Anger could be channeled into physical exercise like swimming or riding my bike, for example. And grief could be alleviated by keeping myself busy with practical everyday tasks.

Layers of emotions
I found out that when I stayed with my emotion of anger and released it, for example, that there was another emotion below it, which was sadness. And when I stayed with sadness and released it, there was another emotion below which was fear.

So, there were layers of emotion like in an onion. As if one emotion was covered by another and then by yet another. All because the initial emotion was too uncomfortable to feel so that I put another emotion on top of it which was still not happiness and bliss, but at least it was tastier than the initial emotion.

I found that remarkable and something to think about. Imagine, we do not only tend to evade the experience of uncomfortable emotions by using addictive behavior (like alcohol, drugs, chocolate, shopping, excessive physical activity, anything that will help us feel better). No, we can also numb uncomfortable feelings by putting another feeling on top of it. Anger felt much better to me than sadness or fear, for example. So, it was tempting to find someone else to be angry with instead of just staying with the initial emotion of fear or sadness.

To sum it up, a variety of emotions came up which were difficult to endure, sometimes hard to label, and not always easy to process.

Emotions on the spiritual journey (part 1/2)

What struck me particularly about my spiritual journey was the variety and intensity of emotions which came up. Sometimes the emotions were so strong that I thought I could no longer endure them. And at other times, I felt something but was not able to label the emotion.

Walking the winding road uphill on my journey, where every turn of the road represented a challenge I was facing at the time, I experienced many emotions and feeling states which are typical for challenging situations, especially helplessness and despair, overwhelm, anger, but I also experienced the feeling of strong intent and determination to deal with the external circumstances in order to improve them so that I could then change my emotional state. That was sometimes a successful approach, but not always. Sometimes, I had to find my inner peace first and then attend to the uncomfortable circumstances.

Along the journey, there was a feeling of homesickness. A strong yearning for that place of Home which is my birthright. After coming into contact with the inner peace from the Awareness Watching Awareness meditation, I felt like hanging out in that peace forever and not wanting to come back to engage with life. Somewhat like NDEers may experience a reluctance to come back into the body after they had been in the bliss of the unconditional love of heaven.

Then there was the collapse of meaning. My previously held goals, especially regarding work, were not valid anymore. And the 3d realm was not our real home anyway. So why should I bother to engage with anything here? What was the point? I sank into a calm and disengaged state with very little motivation to do anything. In addition, I was observing my body as if it was a space suit for interacting with this virtual reality game. Everything seemed distant and unreal.

Being in the witness place gave rise to suppressed stuff coming up which was mainly a feeling of strong guilt without any apparent cause.

Added to the mix of these unpleasant emotions was often a feeling of confusion. Was this normal? Does everyone on the path go through this? Why do I feel such a strong guilt without any discernible reason? How do I deal with these emotions?

But there were not only the unpleasant emotions mentioned above. There was also inner peace and joy found from looking back at awareness itself. There was awe, wonder, and gratitude for the synchronicities and little miracles which happened. I felt safe and supported, developed heightened intuition and also a greater sense of fearlessness when it came to setting boundaries.

So, for me this was definitely not a continuous climbing up the vibrational ladder as some texts about this journey would suggest. But it was a frequently changing mix of a wide variety of partly very intense emotional states. In my experience, it was definitely not just about peace and bliss.

The next post about this topic is here: Emotions on the spiritual journey (part 2/2)

What changes after awakening?

There are many things which change after awakening, but rather than mentioning them all in this post, I just want to talk about the root causes, which are A) awareness of connection between the inner and the outer world, and B) motivation for now.

I started to notice the connection between my inner world of thoughts and emotions and the outer world. Anger would cause weird things to happen while inner peace would allow for little miracles. This was an encouragement for me to watch my thoughts and emotions and to try not to sink into anger or sadness. This is an ongoing task.

The other thing which changed for me was the motivation why I would do things. Before I discovered the deep inner peace and joy of looking back at that which is looking – awareness itself – , I would search for fulfillment in the outer world. If only I could get this promotion at work or a cleaner and more ordered living room, then I would be happy. Like a child always needing the next toy to feel fulfilled, only to find it boring after two days already and then wishing the next thing. So, before awakening to the feeling of completeness and contentedness inside of me, I would try to get this from the outside.

I have to note, though, that not everything I did earlier was because of the motivation to fill an inner hole. Much of what I did (like dancing and Irish fiddle, for example) was because of the joy of expression and passion. But there were also other things that I did where the motivation was not pure joy and passion but was derived from this attempt to find fill the hole inside of me. It was like trying to regain the lost paradise, but doing so with the wrong means. Like looking for love in all the wrong places.

But after waking up to this place of inner peace and completeness inside of me, this motivation changed. Now there was peace, joy, and completeness inside of me. No more need to prove my worthiness to anyone by anything. That resulted in a drop of motivation to do anything. After all, the former motivation had fallen away. If I don’t have to prove to myself or anyone else anymore how smart or capable or whatever I am, then why would I need to take on challenging tasks at work? If I don’t believe anymore that a promotion and a pay raise would bring me happiness, then why would I still want to work my butt off?

Unfortunately, this lack of motivation was also present regarding the tasks I got from my guidance. If I was content with life as it was right now, why would I make an effort to write my journey down and share it? If I didn’t think that getting appreciation from others or becoming famous would make me any happier, then what was the point of coming out of hiding at all? Journaling for myself was so much easier than writing a coherent text for readers. And even though I very much enjoyed talking to open-minded colleagues at work one-on-one over lunch about my experiences, I dreaded the task of going public.

Then why did I start blogging at all? Because there was guidance which would give me a hard time when I did not follow. There were odd things happening like clogged drains and breathing trouble in my throat when I resisted. And I also experienced a very unpleasant feeling of guilt when I did not obey the guidance.

So, to sum it up, there was a newfound awareness of the connection between the inner and the outer world and also a difference in my motivation for doing things before awakening and after awakening. Before awakening, I chose what I did based on the thought, “I’m gonna go and get this or that because I assume that it will make me happy.” versus after awakening, happiness was already there. No need to chase anything. Here the motivation was more a yielding to guidance.

What is awakening?

At one point during the spiritual journey, there is an awakening. As mentioned in my previous post, it can come before or after a point of crisis and breakdown. (Not every crisis leads to an awakening, though.)

I want to talk about how I define awakening. For me, it meant becoming aware that there is something more than the visible and tangible 3-dimensional realm. I realized that there was an invisible force behind the scenes which was orchestrating events and guiding me.

It started out as slowly changing belief systems, like ‘angels do exist’, and ‘we still exist even after death’, and it culminated in the insight that I am consciousness which is another dimension and that my thoughts coupled with emotions are creative and can manifest events.

Before awakening, I thought that consciousness comes from the neurons in the brain. After awakening, I was aware that we are consciousness and that it is another dimension which embraces and permeates everything here in the 3-dimensional world. This is a shift in perception which is comparable in magnitude to the Copernican shift of world-view. This was my experience on my own journey. Other people may define it differently what awakening meant for them.

Awakening can happen in many different ways

There are many ways how awakening can happen. For me, it happened initially by reading stories about children who spontaneously remembered their past lives. That was when I first realized that we are consciousness which survives after death. And then this awakening developed over time with observations of synchronicities and during meditation. But for other people it has happened it different ways.

People can wake up via a Near Death Experience (NDE) or after having taken a psychoactive drug.
Or it can happen during meditation, maybe via a spontaneous out-of-body experience (OBE).
It can be a flash insight seemingly out of nowhere.

Some have reported a disastrous time of crisis where they reached the end of their rope. And just when they hit rock bottom, the voice of God or a spirit guide started to speak to them.

Awakening can be a sudden and fairly complete event or it can develop gradually over time.

Now, I want to share some metaphors about waking up.

Awakening is like waking up from the virtual reality game

Imagine you are playing a computer game with an artificial world and avatars running around. Maybe the game has virtual reality goggles which provides a very convincing experience that this whole thing is real. The game has a goal, like that the people in the game must achieve a mission, for example, to defeat someone or to build a city structure or something like that.

Being in the game means feeling as if we are the character in the game who is trying to accomplish a mission. Waking up from it means we recognize that we are not a character in the game but that we are more like the person sitting in front of the computer who is steering several characters and who has programmed the whole game.

Awakening is like seeing that we are the movie screen and not the movie character

This is a metaphor which was used by Ramana Maharshi. Before awakening, we think we are the characters in a movie. After awakening, we realize that we are that which is unchangeable, which is the movie screen. This points to the awareness in which everything happens.

For me, this revelation came in a flash insight where I felt myself as consciousness expanded like a balloon skin on which everything in my field of awareness appeared. Body, bed, pillow, and wall were all like painted on the inflated balloon skin.

Awakening is like stepping out of the timeline

Imagine an anthill, but a two-dimensional one. Something like these ant farms which can be bought online as educational toys for kids. These are narrow, transparent plastic containers which contain some substrate in which the ants can build their tunnels.

Each ant tunnel is like a timeline. An ant in the tunnel is like a human on their timeline. Behind them is the past. Before them is the unknown future. And they are moving slowly forward on their timeline and are only aware of their past in memory and their present. They are usually not aware of the other parallel ant tunnels.

In this metaphor, waking up would mean to step outside of the acrylic container and view the whole thing from the outside. The kid who watches from the outside what the ants in their tunnels are doing is aware of the future branch of a tunnel. The kid can also see other tunnels which are parallel to a specific tunnel.

Waking up is going to the timeless place inside of us which is awareness itself. The witness place or the void. Being in this place can sometimes give rise to dreams or flash insights about future events, for example.

All these examples above were meant to say that awakening was a shift of perception for me. It was not necessarily that anything inside my bubble of experience changed, at least not immediately. It was just that the way I in which I thought about what I saw had shifted.

The general trajectory of a spiritual journey

The previously described spiritual journey which was like going up and down a mountain is my own journey. Since everyone’s path is unique, your journey is probably different. But yet, there are certainly some aspects of the journey which are common for most travelers on that path. But what are these? Here, I attempt to describe this journey in the most general terms.

Coming into alignment

Imagine Source as an octopus with millions of arms. At the end of each arm, a string is attached with more or less slack. The string represents our connection to the divine. At the end of each string, there is a little puppet which represents our individual selves.

When there is a lot of slack in the string, then the little puppet has a lot of free will and does not feel the will of Source easily.

As the spiritual journey progresses, the little puppet wakes up to a pull from within, the pull from Source. The string becomes shorter and shorter.
When the string is fairly short, exercising free will becomes more and more difficult.

When the string length is down to zero, then there is no more free will, but always movement in alignment with divine will. In the literature, this has been termed the unitive state or human adulthood.

So, basically, the journey is about coming from ignorance of Source and free will to being in alignment with Source. (Credit for the metaphor of strings with less and less slack goes to one of the Raj channelings by Paul Tuttle).

The permanent falling away of the sense of a separate self

But coming into alignment with divine will is not the end of the journey. Eventually, the sense of a separate self falls away. We are not the separate person experiencing something out there. But as the outside reacts more and more to the inside (our thoughts and emotions) , the distinction between outside and inside fades. We come to see that we are the bubble of experience.

There is the drawing Inner Perspective by Ernst Mach which I want use to illustrate this.
In the picture, we see the room through Ernst Mach’s eyes. One can see part of his left eyebrow, nose, his hands, the rest of his body, and then the rest of the room.

This is similar to what we experience very day. In the 3d world, there is always a bubble of experience or a bubble of incoming physical sensations where our body is on one side of the bubble (and labeled as ‘me’), and the rest of the world on the other side of the bubble (and labeled as ‘not me’).

But what if inside and outside or ‘me’ and ‘not me’ cannot be so clearly distinguished? What if my intent and my thoughts can not only raise my arm but what if they can also influence the weather and summon useful things (like trashbags, for example)? And what if the time gap between the thought and its manifestation in the seemingly outer world gets smaller and smaller? Wouldn’t then our assumption about our reality break down that there is such a clear divide between what is ‘me’ and what is ‘not me’ ?

If the new me is much bigger than the older version of the little me, then what is it?

Out-of-body traveler Jurgen Ziewe described in his books and youtube videos that in the higher realms of consciousness the experience is one of being connected to the content of the bubble of experience.

I think that during the spiritual journey we will come to see ourselves as the entire bubble of experience. Or as Adyashanti once put it along these lines: The normal person looks into the mirror and says ‘That’s me.’ The enlightened one looks at the wall and says ‘That’s me’. (quoted from memory). ( but compare to Adyashanti’s awakening experience : https://realization.org/p/adyashanti/my-awakening.html)

I personally haven’t experienced this permanent shifting of the sense of self. So, what I wrote here is taken from the experience of others who have experienced enlightenment (like Bernadette Roberts, Suzanne Segal, and Adyashanti). But I had a short flash-insight about it where I felt like my consciousness was an inflated balloon skin and everything which appeared in my bubble of consciousness felt like it was painted on the skin of the balloon. It did not last long. But it changed my understanding of what I am in relation to the seemingly separate world out there.

Coming into alignment and the experience of crisis, breakdown, and breakthrough

The above description of the journey (separateness –> coming into alignment –> falling away of the sense of a separate self) is from a bird’s-eye view.

But what does it feel like from the human perspective? What happens in concrete terms for the little human self? And how does it feel for the person?

Well, for the human part (the little puppet on the end of the string), in the most general terms, the shortening of the string is experienced as a process of change. Something was there before, and then it falls away and is not there anymore. Instead, something new arrives. This can be a voluntary process or an involuntary one. The involuntary process probably feels more traumatic. During the process, on one hand, there is the challenge is to cope with the loss of what once was. And on the other hand, there is the challenge to welcome the new and to find and then follow the direction given by the current in the new phase of life.

Now, this sounds like any process of transformation, crisis, breakdown, breakthrough (here, I am thinking of events in life like burnout, job loss, divorce, illness, death of a loved one, midlife crisis). But if there has been an awakening to the spiritual dimension of life, then the new direction is hopefully not just another adventure in free will, but an alignment with the divine will of Source. For me, it felt like a journey of willfully going about my own goals in life to willingly complying with what spirit wanted me to do. From willfulness to willingness.

But there are several aspects of this journey which I think are probably relevant for most travelers on this path and at which we can look with a magnifying glass. That is what I want to discuss in the next posts on this blog.

From overwhelm to spirituality (part 1/4)

I was sitting on the sofa in my living room and staring at the incredibly messy shelf at the wall across from me. Amid the pile of toys on the floor, my two little children were engaged in one of their usual play fights. I was trying to relax, but my mind was as messy as the bookshelf and the floor.

My thoughts were constantly hovering between the need to clean up the mess, to discipline my children, or to get stuff done from my never ending four or five to-do lists. The stiffness, weakness, pain, and fatigue from the rheumatoid arthritis made it even worse.

Oh, how I craved an inner calm and relaxed feeling state of mind!

What hadn’t I tried during the last years in order to get a handle on this feeling of overwhelm. Getting organized better, like boxing up the toys from the floor and putting them away.

I had read through a pile of magazines about decorating the home, being sure that I would be able to feel calmer and more relaxed if only I managed to shape up my living room like in one of those beautiful pictures.

I had read Getting Things Done  by David Allen and also tried to apply the suggested process in order to get a handle on my to-do lists. Great book.

But somehow it all didn’t seem to work for me. All of it was only a superficial cure against the feeling of being overwhelmed by the excessive demands of life.

I was staring at the messy shelf when I suddenly realized,

‘Actually, I don’t want a nicer living room. What I really want is inner peace.’

Boooom! (Now imagine a stage with a lot of smoke and fireworks as the magician pulls a rabbit out of the hat).

“Here you are!“ said the universe the next day and led me to a website which had not only content about homeopathy (which was my passion at that time), but also articles about little children who started to talk spontaneously about their past life memories.

Past lives? Immediately, I was hooked.

In consider this the start of my spiritual journey around the end of 2006.

Urge to read

After that initial article on the internet, I wanted to know more and developed an urge to read.

The first spiritual book that I read was about reincarnation: Children’s Past Lives by Carol Bowman. That touched me deeply.

It shattered my worldview once again. I was lying in bed reading this book where little children of 3-4 years of age would tell out of the blue that they have lived another live before and who they were and how things were different back then.

I felt the floor shake under me, so dizzy did I feel. And initially, I became afraid as I realized that this world is not remotely what I thought it was.

We are not our body!

I always thought that the sense of ‘I’ and my thoughts were a result of the electrical signals in my brain. But, no!  It was the other way around.

If there was reincarnation, then that had to mean that I could exist independently of my body. And if neuroscience tried to find out how thoughts emerged from the brain, that was just as useless as trying to find out how the evening news were created by watching the electron streams in the TV. There was plenty of evidence, not only from investigation of reincarnation (e.g. by Ian Stevenson) but also from near-death experiences (NDE), that our consciousness existed independently of a brain.

In the following months, my interest in homeopathy suddenly dropped to zero and I read only books on spirituality. I devoured them. Even though my life was very busy with a job and my little kids, I found time to read many books. Early in the morning, in the bathroom even before breakfast, and late in the evening, I would find some time for reading.

The next subject on my reading list was channeled stuff:

Conversations with God by N. D. Walsch, The Seth Material by Jane Roberts, The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and A Course in Miracles  (ACIM).

That was my next aha moment:

There is a wise inner voice inside each of us.

And some are actually able to hear it! Wow, I wish I could hear that, too!

Actually, one day being able to hear the voice of inner guidance was a huge motivation for me on the spiritual path – besides the initial call for peace. I often felt that having to make an important decision was quite a burden, and I hoped that guidance of a wise inner voice would make life easier.

Later, I read The Enneagram by Rohr and Ebert which triggered another insight:

There is so much unconscious stuff in me of which I was not aware.

I found myself to be type 5 in the Enneagram (investigator, observer). That is someone who lives mainly in his head, likes theories, and in addition has an issue with loss of privacy. How the heck did they know that reading tons of non-fiction books is connected to a resistance of going public?  I had read various models of personality types, but by none of them did I feel as X-rayed as by the Enneagram.

Then in one of the books on esoteric knowledge and spirituality, I came upon the word ‘enlightenment’. What was that?

It sounded like the ultimate wisdom, the ultimate vantage point.

I asked myself and others how an enlightened one would deal with two fighting, disobedient children, a frequently occurring situation which was particularly stressful to me. Would this situation still stress me after enlightenment? Would I know better how to react?

I asked the question to some people on an email distribution list on the topic of spirituality. But nobody there could answer this question. So, I had to find out by myself.

I started to read anything about enlightenment that I could get my hands on. I wanted to find an answer to the following questions:

  • What is enlightenment?
  • What is the journey towards it like? What happens and what does it feel like?
  • What is life like for the enlightened one?

I devoured mainly autobiographies because I felt these would best answer my questions. Some of these books were my favorites. Among the ones that I read more than three times were the books by Jed McKenna, Bernadette Roberts, Suzanne Segal (Collision with the Infinite) Sally Bongers (Everyday Enlightenment), and books related to A Course in Miracles (ACIM) (by Gary Renard, and  Carrie Triffet).

In these books, I found many real life stories about the journey towards and after awakening and enlightenment.

The answers to my questions from reading these books were:

Enlightenment is the permanent shift of the self-perception from a separate body-mind to “all that is”. (This is not to be confused with mystical states of union with the divine that occur as a temporary peak experience   during meditation.)

The journey towards it is different for everyone, but there are some milestones and phases which are similar in most journeys.

There are many features that originate from that state where the separate self has fallen away, e.g. non-attachment, unconditional peace, acceptance, and knowing how to deal appropriately with each situation.

This was all theoretical book-knowledge just from reading, of course. However, the aha moment for me was:

If I assume that I am this body-mind with all its attributes and its history, then I am living in an illusion.

What fueled my search then from now on was not only the search for inner peace but also the search for truth.

If I am not this body-mind, then who or what am I?

Additionally, something else was a huge motivation for me: I wanted to avoid reincarnation at all costs.

After reading many texts on spirituality, my understanding was that we come into this world over and over again. Each time we forget that we are eternal spirit. We even forget our plans for this particular incarnation. The process of remembering our true nature usually involves getting through some difficult experiences which can be potentially traumatizing when they are not properly processed. That means lifetime after lifetime of forgetting and suffering. I wanted to know how do we get off the reincarnation wheel.

Having a body had been great for ballroom dancing. However, due to my painful rheumatic disease, I had come to conclude that incarnation sucks and that I should better avoid another life with a body in 3D space and time.

Where was the emergency exit from this illusion, dammit?

Even though this phase of discovery of another realm was mainly about reading material which shattered my former worldview, I did have the impression that the universe was sending me lessons. That means, things got down from the realm of mere book-knowledge to first-hand experience real fast.

At first, I had my doubts about it. Does life really conspire to send me learning experiences? But then these experiences became too frequent and too unlikely to ignore.


This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).


Insights from the spiritual journey

My spiritual journey has turned my worldview inside-out and upside-down. Here are my key insights:

1. Consciousness can exist without a body.
Before becoming aware that there is something more behind the 3D visible world, I grew up with a scientific, materialistic worldview. I assumed that consciousness was just a by-product of the activity in the brain. (I use consciousness and awareness interchangeably here.)

But then I read a lot of near-death experiences (NDEs) and reincarnation stories. Later I had some meditation experiences which involved the void. And that shifted my worldview. I am consciousness with some content in it. Even after leaving this body, I will be consciousness with something in it.

2. Consciousness is a higher dimension.
What do I mean by that? When we think of  life in a two-dimensional plane, for example (like in the book Flatland), then the higher dimension would be the third dimension which is perpendicular to that 2D plane.

And what characteristics does the 3rd dimension have compared to the 2D plane? It is at the same time everywhere inside  the 2D plane and also surrounding  it. It is above and below and inside the flat sheet of paper, for example.

Yet, even though it is everywhere, it cannot be detected easily  when one is a being which is living in the 2D land because the 3rd dimension is not a 2D thing.

Only its effects  can be felt in 2D land. In the book Flatland, there is a scene where the 3D sphere tries to convince a 2D being that it (-the sphere-) is real. After several fruitless attempts, it does so by punching it in the middle of its 2D-shape, something which is painful but seems supernatural enough to convince the 2D being.

For our 3D world it cannot be visualized that well, but I think of it as analogous. Consciousness is that which embraces all and permeates all.

The witnessing awareness is not just a silent and watching witness. The void (which I call the void because it is not in the realm of things and therefore we have no words for it)  is the potential before manifestation.

3. Everything is connected via consciousness.
As illustrated in the following picture, one 2D being (red triangle) would be able to make a connection to another 2D being (red square)  even if they are separated by a wall. The connection could simply go upwards and then downwards again, passing through the 3rd dimension.


Again, here in 3D land it cannot be visualized that well. But it works analogously. Telepathy or remote viewing are possible for some people because they can connect via consciousness. I have experienced getting messages from others in my dreams and also feeling the physical pain from from someone else in my own body. These messages were passed via consciousness.

Consciousness is one. There are not many single consciousnesses floating around. The many expressions of consciousness are more like branches of a single tree or arms of a single octopus. Individuated but not separate.

4. Thoughts create.
Some may think, ‘Duh, obvious, we have to think before we create something.’

But that is not what I mean.

I mean that thoughts, especially if coupled with emotions, can manifest stuff, literally (for an example, see post Can thoughts influence the weather?).

After I came upon that insight, I understood why it is important to learn to watch and control my thoughts, especially when the interval between thinking them and receiving the effects became shorter.

5. Inner peace is inside – and can cause miracles.
This could also be phrased as ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within.’

I used to unconsciously search happiness by rearranging things ‘out-there’.

But now my focus has turned to finding the inner peace first. (by turning the focus of attention back on awareness itself, see post Describing the ineffable)

It does not mean that I have to put up with whatever disagreeable circumstances are apparently ‘out-there’. I am not a doormat. (see post The riddle of acceptance)

But finding the inner peace inside first  does two things. A) I can hear guidance more easily when I am at peace. And B) inner peace is the place from which miracles tend to happen. So, even though I do not necessarily change things on the outside by my action, circumstances still change for my benefit (see posts The power of forgiveness and  The magic wand of inner peace)

The insight that inner peace can cause miracles is nothing new. The teachings of The Work by Byron Katie, Ho’oponopono (The World’s Most Unusual Therapist), and A Course in Miracles (ACIM), for example,  all use different approaches for dealing with upsetting situations, but they have in common that they all aim for inner peace when shit hits the fan.

6. There is a guiding force behind the veil.
I was raised partially on spiritual texts that talk about ‘We are consciousness. Everything happens in consciousness. Stay as the witness. Watch your thoughts float by. Detach.‘ and so on. These are important and useful practices.

But I don’t recall any mention of spirit guides, synchronicities, and a force behind the veil which guides us (see post, Coming out of hiding). (Well, there are some mentions, like once we realize what is going on, our head is already in the tiger’s mouth and it is too late. But that didn’t prepare me for my experiences.)

So, I was very surprised when I got clear directions as to where I had to go. Even though I was familiar with the phenomenon of channeling and that there is an inner voice which can tell us wisdom, I was not prepared that this inner voice would give me directions. And not just in a polite way like a sat nav would give them,  but it sounded more like a drill sergeant. Apparently consciousness is not just a silent witness, but it has a direction and a will to it. Once I had done the plunge into the void (awareness looking back at itself), it was like a new boss took over.

And resistance was futile (- surrender is still work in progress).


These insights represent what I have come with up to this point in my spiritual journey.

I did not mention every point in my worldview that has shifted. There is certainly more, for example, what about time?, what about free will?, and much more. But the ones mentioned above are the foundation.

For me, these insights are a shift in my worldview that is comparable in order of magnitude to a Copernican Revolution. What seems ‘out there’ is not really ‘out there’ as everything happens in consciousness and therefore happens in me. And reality (i.e. the ever changing content of consciousness) is more pliable than I had assumed before.

(Related post: 15 insights from the spiritual path)


This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).


A Selection of True Awakening Experiences Part II

I am grateful that I have been invited to Barbara Franken’s challenge to share our awakening experiences, Part II .
     Since I didn’t participate in the first part of the challenge, I start with a short description of my awakening journey.
      During a period of overwhelm, I realized that I wanted inner peace more than anything else and that all usual self-help methods had failed so far. This was the start of my journey in 2006.
      After that, the universe led me on a trail. I read a lot about NDEs and reincarnation stories, all of which was mind-blowing to me coming from a scientific background. Then I devoured channeled stuff about spiritual principles (we are consciousness; consciousness is one and creative), as well as A Course In Miracles (ACIM) which is a Jesus channeling about forgiveness. I also consumed many personal accounts of contemporary enlightened ones. I had become a hardcore spiritual seeker in the non-duality department, aiming for enlightenment.
      In 2009, I got my major ‘forgiveness opportunity’ where I could practice the principles of ACIM; I found myself in a situation where I felt exploited. This brought on the feeling of helplessness and huge anger attacks. For the coming years, it was my main challenge to deal with this anger.
      I never went to any spiritual meeting and never had a teacher (other than books and youtube videos). But the universe acted as my teacher, with stick and carrot. When I was off-path (i.e. angry), I got burned out light bulbs and all sorts of weird electrical behavior around me. When I was in inner peace, little wishes tended to be fulfilled in miraculous ways.
      Apart from this stick-versus-carrot-teaching, there were many experiences on the path which I interpreted as lessons. I started to realize that inner peace seems to be very much encouraged by the universe. It is not just another emotion, but it is Home. I found out by experience that thoughts coupled with emotion do manifest reality. Some dreams about the future  seemed to teach me that there is a timeless place in me which just knows the future. I was taught by experience that we are connected via consciousness.
      I went through a dark night of the soul and was forced to let go of the attachment to many parts of the former ‘me’.
      By focusing attention backwards at the ‘sense of I AM’, I found a place inside which is very peaceful. Staying in that peace inside granted access to a  new navigation mode. Wishing and allowing instead of striving and struggling. Learning to read the communication signs of the universe instead of relying on other people’s opinions and best-of-breed processes.
      I had some experiences that showed me  that I am consciousness and that the world is like painted on me.
      Access to the still small inner voice became clearer and offered me advice. I realized that divine guidance showed up in many different ways, via dreams, songs in the head, and patterns of events with literal or metaphorical meaning.
      Up to 2012, my path was characterized by the hunger for books about spiritual knowledge, the awe about all the formerly unseen realms, and also by the huge anger attacks (which lessened somewhat with the help of ACIM lessons).
      In 2012, something new happened. The inner voice asked me to share what I had experienced. But I did not feel ready for it nor entitled to do so. After all, I still have very much an ego and a self. How can I write when I am not enlightened yet? And I reacted with huge fear and panic to that request.
      Slowly and in baby steps, I went forward, sharing anonymously in a forum first. Then, end of 2014,  I started this WordPress blog (only upon request by the inner voice and only after much resistance and some health issues).
      2015 was about meeting fellow travelers on the spiritual journey. Oh, how many different paths there are! But I don’t seem to fit into any of them. Where do I turn when I have no clue about astrology, when I have a hard time appreciating poetry, when I am confused by lightworker lingo and Buddhist vocabulary as well? When I have no knowledge or desire to quote any of the philosophical ‘-isms’ out there. Can’t read auras. Can’t see ghosts. Haven’t had a spectacular Kundalini awakening. I am a mixed breed of everything and nothing.
      But in a dream I was encouraged to ‘just share my peanuts with fellow travelers’.
Where am I now?
      I find myself drawn to bloggers who share their spiritual journey, with all its ugly and beautiful aspects. I realized that despite all the differences of the various paths, the underlying subject is the desire to regain the lost paradise.
I have become more at ease with sharing on my blog and more spontaneous in commenting.  The community here with the large variety of spiritual bloggers is wonderful. Even though I don’t fit into any path or tradition in particular, I still can connect with many of you.
      Since I have decided to remove myself from the exploitative situation, the anger has lessened considerably. Anger and grief do still come up at times, but less frequently and less severely.
      Frequently, I wonder about the many different spiritual paths, their advantages and disadvantages. How come they eventually end up with the same insight, the falling away of the illusion of the separate self,  if they start out with  different belief systems? Are there common milestones for everyone on this spiritual journey? How to create a map for this uncharted terrain? How to use a common language?
       I am also wondering about my day job. Working in a corporate culture sometimes feels like a field study of the coping mechanisms for the illusion of separation. With detached amusement, I watch the rat race and sometimes wonder about the pointlessness of the human endeavors. I see the mechanisms of fear and all its ugly stepchildren. On the other hand, the universe does not make a distinction between private life and work, and therefore the dynamics of the single invisible hand of Source (e.g. synchronicities, miracles, ego-shredding dynamics) can be observed at my day job as well as in any other circumstances.
      After I had overcome this big hurdle of fear regarding blogging, I thought, ‘Now, I can relax.’ But I continue to get these little homework assignments from spirit (youtube video, maybe a Facebook page, prepare workshop about forms of divine guidance and more).  And I struggle with my resistance to each and every new request. Why isn’t blogging enough? I don’t want to have my lifestyle disrupted. Yes, I do like to talk about the spiritual journey one-on-one over lunch. But the thought of having to organize workshops, of traveling, and of marketing makes me cringe with fear. The inner discussion with my spirit guide about this topic would probably fill a book.
      I realize that this phase is about overcoming fear. Surrender is the way forward. And it is not a one time thing. It is a new surrender to every request from spirit.
      Sometimes I think that everything is perfect as it is and that my resistance is perfect, too. It is the only way I can get the full range of divine guidance, in dreams, signs, songs in the mind, etc.. Soft nudges as well as stern warnings and threats. Only this way I am well equipped enough to share about divine guidance.
      But often, the requests of the inner voice bother me. Then, I wonder whether Buddhists hear a still small voice of guidance, too. If not, maybe I should become Buddhist and tell the inner voice to shut up because it is just an illusion, hehe.
The next post in this blogging challenge is by Marga on http://lifeasimprov.com/ .

Describing the ineffable

It seems that everyone who has come upon the Source inside has to make an attempt, at least once, to describe the ineffable. Here is my attempt.

Before I start, here is a disclaimer. The ineffable cannot be described with words because it is outside of the 3D realm for which language was invented.

The book ‘Flatland’ presents a metaphor for this kind of communication problem. It is a story of a three-dimensional sphere trying to communicate with beings who live on a two-dimensional flat plane. The sphere is trying to wake the two-dimensional beings up to the fact that there is more to life than what they can perceive with their senses. As you can imagine, much confusion and frustration follow from that attempt.

The same confusion and frustration happen whenever someone tries to describe the ineffable within us. Names are given. Consciousness, awareness, Source, void, emptiness, fullness, blackness, light. Piles of books have been written on it in an attempt to describe that which cannot be described with words. Those who have met the Source in themselves will nod their head and say, “I know what they mean.” But those who have not yet come upon the divine in themselves will think, “What are they talking about? What a hell a lot of gibberish! Doesn’t make any sense.”

Then, why try to talk about it at all if any attempt is doomed from the beginning?

Because Source insists on it.

Content of awareness
As I am typing this, I am aware of my surroundings, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. A blue computer screen, black keyboard, green plants in the room, the view through my window, white sky today. The physical sensation of my body weight sitting on the chair, fingers touching the keyboard. A feeling of coldness in the fingers. The thought that the coldness could be alleviated by eating a warm meal. A gnawing feeling in the stomach. Another thought, ’Is it lunch time yet?’ Impatience arising. A mental vision of my spirit guide. These are all things I can turn my focus towards. The focus of my attention is like a flashlight that I can turn towards anything I choose. Right now it is focused on the battling thoughts ‘Let’s have lunch’ and ‘No, let’s get this post done before lunch.’

Apart from all these things, sensations, thoughts, emotions arising, there is something else. The ineffable. I can choose to turn the focus of my attention away from all the things I have mentioned before. Away from everything out there, away from any thought and any emotion. That does not mean that thoughts and emotions will just vanish while I do this. It just means I can choose to put the focus of my attention on something else.

Where to look
I turn the focus of my attention 180 degrees away from all the things I have mentioned before, like in a U-turn, and look directly back at that which is looking. I turn my awareness back towards awareness itself. I am putting the focus of my attention directly on the sense of I AM.

It is looking at that which is always there in the background, which is always the same for all times (explained in the video on www.justonelook.org as looking at what it feels like to be me; looking at the sense of me). If you prefer to read a book about this method, it is described in The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford as ‘Awareness Watching Awareness’ method.

[edit Feb 2020: How to find out what you should turn the focus of your attention to? Here is a short exercise:

Ask yourself what are you experiencing right now in this moment. Notice the sensations, thoughts, emotions.
Then in your mind go back to about a year ago. What did you experience back then?
Then go back to about ten years ago. Again, what was it like?
Then go back to a moment in your childhood. What was the experience like?

Pause and relax.

Now ask yourself: what was it that stayed the same throughout all these points in time?

That is the sense of ‘I AM’. That which is watching. Which is aware. This is always the same no matter how old we are. That is what I look back at in the 180 degree backwards looking meditation.]

I don’t need a special posture, a guided meditation with green meadows and a blue sky, or to count my breath, or to still my thoughts to find it. I turn my attention away from my body, away from my breath, away from my thoughts. Even away from any mental visions of my spirit guides.

Describing the ineffable
Okay, now the problems with describing the ineffable start. So, bear with me. What do we find when we turn awareness back on itself?

There is nothing there. Or rather, there is no thing there. What I am looking at is not something like my computer screen which one could look at with the eyes. It is not a physical sensation like the coldness in my fingers either. It is not a thought like ‘I am hungry. I want to go to lunch.’ Not an emotion like impatience or frustration as in ‘Why am I writing this? Probably just another useless attempt at describing the ineffable. Let’s have lunch…’ It is not a vision of an angel in my mind.

The eye does not see anything when the attention is turned 180 degrees backwards. Therefore, my mind labels it ‘blackness’ or ‘nothingness’ or ’void’.

That doesn’t sound very enticing, right? Why turn the attention inwards when there is nothing to be found?

Because this place is Home.

What it feels like
In the beginning of this practice, I experienced a lot of resistance for the first few weeks. This manifested as an itchy sensation over the whole body when I tried to look inwards. But I tried again and again. Eventually, staring back at the one who was looking gave rise to a sense of peace. Now, I have to resort to metaphors. In the beginning, it felt like the peace of a surface of a dark still lake. And when I rested there even longer, I got a sense of quiet joy streaming in. Like a small fountain in the heart area, always moving, flowing, inexhaustible.

I turn there in times of trouble and let myself be cradled in the peace and joy and the feeling that all will be okay.

During daily life, especially during routine activities, part of my attention is usually focused inwards. The peace, joy, and gratitude which come from resting in this looking-back-at-Source-place are unconditional. That means they are always there. Even if my fingers are cold and I am hungry. If there is a sudden shock or panic, I may lose the focus on this quiet background of peace, but I try to return to it as soon as possible.

The peace found inside has a magnetic pull to it. It pulls me inside because it feels so good to rest there.

There is a sense of completeness. Of needing nothing else to be happy. Nothing can reach this joy. No outer things like good food or enjoyable company or an expensive vacation.

The experience of this place is different for different people. Not everyone experiences peace and joy right away. For some, it may feel like a void, and not blissful at all, at first. Inner peace can feel weird. It can be experienced as boring. Or not feeling emotions if someone else suffers feels inhuman.
I have read a story by a woman who was in search of God. And then she was swallowed by this void at times and found it horrible. It took some time for her to realize that the void was answering her prayers, and eventually she was able to relax into it and feel the bliss.

What it is
Since this is so ridiculously easy to get there, I was tempted to think, “This can’t be it. No way. This was much too easy. Why should I be able to find it if others meditate their butt off for decades and still don’t find it?” It is easy to dismiss this place of inner peace and joy as ‘just another emotion’. But it is not. It is the connection to Source right inside of me. It is Home.

It is what we are. It is a higher dimension. Like what the 3D sphere is compared to the beings in 2D flatland, this space of awareness is for the content of awareness. It contains everything. It is not awareness arising from my brain, but it is the other way round. My brain is arising in awareness.

It is a place of singularity beyond duality. It embraces opposites. It is beyond the gnawing feeling of hunger in my stomach and beyond the pleasure of having a cup of creamy Belgian Chocolate ice cream.

This void or no-thing-ness is prior to thoughts. It is like pure potential from which thoughts can be born. It gives birth to thoughts and these turn into something solid.

It is the connection to the single guiding hand behind all the seemingly separate appearances. This is the force which orchestrates synchronicities.

The universe will put us to our knees just so that we can find this place of I AM. We are collectively suffering from a sense of mistaken identity. Looking for love in all the wrong places to fill the perceived hole inside of us. Trying to recreate the lost paradise by getting or rearranging things in the outer world. So, the usual path is that the sense of the wrong persona is stripped away, so that we may eventually come unto THAT which cannot be described with words but which is our true Home.

Turning the focus of attention back to awareness itself is remembering who I am. Or rather remembering what ‘I’ is.

It is the place from which guidance and intuition come. And it is the place of the magic wand. Little wishes tend to be fulfilled promptly when I am in this place of unconditional peace. It is just that I don’t have many wishes (except for lunch, maybe) when I am there because everything is well.
It is my life jacket in times of turmoil.

Risks and side effects
It is the connection to Source. At first, I thought, ‘How cool! Can’t you tell me the winning lottery numbers?’ But, no, connection to Source means that Source moves me. In my case, that means I get little homework assignments like ‘Start a blog! Contact this person! Learn to speak up!’ all of which force the little ‘me’ to get out of its comfort zone. (This should be in the fine print to be considered before one embarks on the spiritual journey.)

It feels so good and so complete that there may be little motivation left to do anything else. Why animate this meat suit again if this is not who I am anyway? Why bother with worldly concerns if nothing in the 3D world can give me this peace and joy?

Other risks and side effects of this journey are the deconstruction of the former sense of self and the ego’s reaction to that (see my post about the Dark Night of the Soul). It is all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’.

Oh, and yet another side effect of having found this place is writing a very long post with too many words about an ineffable topic which cannot be expressed with words in the first place.

But, waking up to this place of unconditional inner peace and joy inside is what we came here for, and that’s why it needs to be expressed even if though it is ineffable.

Divine communication devices: trucks

The universe uses whatever is available to communicate with us.  Here are three stories about truck inscriptions.

  1. When I was doing a lot of forgiveness work and reading a lot of ACIM (which is a Jesus channeling), I saw a truck saying, ‘Christ. Die erste Adresse für Umzüge’, which means ‘Christ. The first address when you are moving house‘. Moving my belief system from one set of beliefs to another also required Christ.
  2. In summer 2015, I had promised to write a draft for a course about many forms of divine guidance. When the deadline was approaching, I saw a truck with the inscription ‘www.nicht-bummeln.de’  
    (back then, this led to http://www.utke-transporte.de).
    ‘Nicht bummeln’ translates into ‘don’t dawdle’. I took the admonishment personally and wrote a large part of the draft on that same day.
    It is interesting to note that I never got this sort of push regarding my day job or household chores. Source seems to care more about waking up than about anything else.
  3. ‘I am so sad, I am really longing for someone to comfort me,’ I thought.
    The next day, I saw a truck  with the inscription ‘Trost Transport’ , which translates into ‘Solace Transport’. How nice! I can have a truck load of solace;-)

Behind the scences, there is an awesome orchestrating intelligence at work. It uses whatever it can get for communicating with us. And it definitely has a sense of humor.

Eventually, these synchronicities lead to the insight that we are not who we thought we were. But that we are consciousness which contains all. And that whatever is going on within the body-mind is mirrored in the seemingly outside world.