A Copernican shift in world view

It was a world view shattering insight for me that consciousness can exist independently of a functioning brain. This is becoming more widely accepted now.

“First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11144442/First-hint-of-life-after-death-in-biggest-ever-scientific-study.html

How can someone see and hear what is going on in the room when the brain doesn’t function anymore? Our current model does not account for this.

Whenever there is a discrepancy between the model and reality, it is always reality which wins. And it is the model which needs to be adjusted.

This leads to a Copernican shift in world view. Consciousness does not emerge from the brain. It must be the other way round. The brain emerges from consciousness.

Trying to understand how consciousness is created by the brain by studying the electric currents in the neurons is about as promising an endeavor as trying to figure out how the evening news is generated  by studying the flow of electrons in the TV.

10 ways to inner peace

  1. Know about the importance of inner peace
    Inner peace is not just another emotional state, but it is our real being. It is the place of power. Being there is like having a magic wand.
    Inner peace is the place from which knowing comes. Knowing how to act appropriately in a given situation.
  2. Desire peace
    As long as it feels good to succumb to anger, the desire for peace is not strong enough. But life will take care of this. Eventually, we will all have suffered enough, and then inner peace will become the highest priority.
  3. Clear the clutter and simplify your life
    Too much stuff, too many items on the to-do list, and too many responsibilities can feel overwhelming. A friend asked me how I can stay relatively relaxed. I replied that part of it is that I have a low maintenance life-style. I just don’t do a lot of things that women and mothers are supposed to do in our society. Of course, that raises some eyebrows every now and then. But, inner peace is more important to me than fulfilling norms of the society.
  4. Get enough sleep, exercise, walk in nature, breathe consciously
  5. Keep a journal
    Write down anything that is bothering you just to get it out of your system.
  6. Meditate
    My favorite method is turning the focus of attention 180 degrees backwards so that awareness looks at itself. No counting of breaths, no special posture, no visualization techniques. Can be done during sleepless nights lying in bed or during routine tasks like peeling carrots for dinner.
    (This method comes from the Dzogchen tradition, but the easiest explanation is here in this 4 min video http://www.justonelook.org)
  7. Forgive
    If shit hits the fan, my favorite method is ACIM style forgiveness.
    In case you get angry about a situation, turn within and ask for inner guidance. How can I see this differently?
    If I don’t hear any answer, I run through the following checklist:
    -) I don’t get upset because the me which is hurt is not the real me ( – like it would be stupid to get upset about losing in a board game of Parcheesi).
    -) I don’t get upset because the thought which leads to being upset is not true ( turn the thought around with The Work by Byron Katie)
    -) I don’t get upset because there is something good even in this seemingly bad situation ( – maybe the disturbing event or person is meant to mirror me in order to show me something? Maybe it is a reminder of lost peace? Or it has a metaphoric meaning?)
    -) I don’t get upset because I have created the upsetting event myself in the first place (via the power of my creative consciousness).
    -) I don’t get upset because I have planned this challenge before my incarnation and it serves the purpose that I shall remember who I am in truth. (See the great books  Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift by Robert Schwartz. I was surprised to find out why someone might plan to experience alcoholism for decades. I highly recommend these books in case you struggle with some major issue which makes you upset for several years.)
  8. Stop the thought spiral about past and future
    How to stop anger and regret about the past and worries about the future? Options are ACIM style forgiveness, meditation, or focussing the mind on the present or on some task (like mantras or a flow activity).
  9. Give up control
    Being a mother has taught me that I have no control over my children. I have no access to the switch in their head when it comes to whether they learn or whether they clean their room. I can’t turn a tulip into a rose and vice versa. I can only give them water and fertile soil. It’s useless to struggle and then beat myself up about my inability to control them.
  10. Wake up
    See that the separate personal self is an illusion in the first place.
    We are consciousness. Before birth, in the body, and after death, we are consciousness. There is always the ‘I Am’ with content. We are the ‘I Am’ with all its content: noise colors lights shadows sensations thoughts emotions (which are physical sensations in the body) memories (which are thoughts). But by putting the label on our body as ‘me’ and on the other person and the wall over there as ‘not me’, we have separated ourselves with the consequence of fear and guilt. The way back home is seeing through the illusion of these labels. ‘I’ is just a label for this particular body-mind appearing in consciousness and it is not more real than Santa Claus. (Book recommendation: Gateless Gatecrashers by I. Cuinaite and E. Nezhinsky)

On God’s short leash

Have you ever felt that the universe acts like a teacher?
I do. And I found that it can be a rather strict one.

On my journey, I was guided into inner peace. With stick and carrot.

When I was angry, weird things would happen. For example, light bulbs would suddenly burn out while I was in the room. Whereas, when I was in inner peace, miracles would happen, e.g. wishes would be fulfilled promptly.

It was as if there was a penalty for becoming angry. But, actually, it was guidance.

Later during the journey, I noticed that the reins became shorter and shorter.

At first, I only ran into trouble when I was angry.
But later, weird things would already happen when I was in slight stress.

One day, when I was in a little stressed and anxious mood about my to-do list, the automatic teller refused to give me money (- lately, I seem to have a weird relationship with electrical appliances).

And during the Christmas vacation 2014/15, I got some health issues (pain in my feet) just because I thought I deserved a break from posting on this blog. When I asked the inner voice about the pain, it replied ,
During this vacation, just blog once a day, and you’ll be fine.

Oookaaay…  That was guidance (- even though it felt like I was being blackmailed at the time). Eventually, I obeyed and the pain vanished.

That was the pattern of consequences:
At first, for anger. Then, for anxiousness. Later, even for laziness.

So, guidance became stricter and stricter, making sure I stayed in inner peace more and more. And making sure that I fulfilled whatever contract I had signed before incarnation (- darn, I wish I could remember what I promised in the fine print).

Have you experienced something similar? I’d love to read your stories.

Dark Night of the Soul

“Geez, I thought I signed up for peace. And now this!” I cried as I observed waves of uncomfortable emotions running through me. Layer after layer of anger, sadness, and guilt showed up. Some feelings I didn’t even know a name for. In an intensity I didn’t know I could endure.

Welcome to the Dark Night of the Soul.

In order to understand what is happening here, we have to zoom out a bit and look at some important milestones of the spiritual path.

  1. Start
    We usually start out by assuming that we are a body-mind. We end at our skin. Our life ends with the death of the body. And consciousness is just a by-product of the activity in the brain.
  2. On the way
    We turn within to open-space awareness and encounter the ‘void’, which is our Source.
  3. Goal
    Those who have travelled the path quite far, reach a permanent stage where they report that they are one with their surroundings. Adyashanti felt himself merging with the dresser drawer. Suzanne Segal drove in a car and said that she felt she was driving through herself as she was the surroundings. Bernadette Roberts wrote that seer, seeing, and seen are one. In short, eventually the separate self falls away and with it the subject-object relationship. We realize that we are consciousness which is beyond the 3D world and at the same time is the substratum of the visible world.

The spiritual path may start out as a path of self-improvement. Becoming a happier, more loving and caring, more peaceful version of ‘me’. But it is not about that.

Rather, the identity shift is what it’s all about.The rest is a by-product.

And that identity shift necessarily involves a letting go of the former self-image we have been so used to.

If we look at the path, there are (at least) three stages where it can become uncomfortable:
A) Pain of letting go of the former self-image
B) Fear of the void
C) Welling up of formerly unconscious emotions when we rest in awareness.
I’ll cover each one below with examples and possible remedies.

A)  The pain of letting go of the former self-image
Inherent in that identity shift of the spiritual path is a letting go of the former self-image. Letting go of the screen character of the computer game. Finding out that we have been sitting on the chair in front of the screen all the time.

How is that letting go accomplished?

We can either sit down with pen and paper and do a Spiritual Autolysis as described by Jed McKenna. Write down something that we think is true and then question it from every angle. Try again, until we find something that is absolutely true. This eventually boils down to answering the question ‘Who am I?’

For folks like me who prefer a less brainy approach, the universe has some wonderful methods of helping us to find those unconscious areas of the former self-image that we have to let go of. That is really the point: bringing the formerly unconscious attachments into consciousness. (And then letting them go.)

The universe’s ingenious approach:
tailor-made disturbances to the former self-image

We will be disturbed. Intentionally. Purposefully. For a good cause.

But the ego doesn’t like it. And then we experience the Dark Night (of the ego).

So, all these uncomfortable emotions like anger and grief are a by-product of the letting go of the former self-image. They are the ego’s temper tantrums when its toys are taken away.

Adyashanti was a competitive biker and was proud of being a super athlete. That was part of his self-definition.

How did the universe wean him from this self-image? By putting him to bed twice for several months with various illnesses.

After that, he finally got the message and said that it is hard to define yourself as a super athlete if you are as weak as a puppy.

Margot Ridler was a self-employed professional doing constellation work. After a spiritual flash insight about the emptiness of the self, she quit her constellation work practice and experienced a breakdown where she was about to be homeless and penniless. What followed was a surrender into the guiding arms of Source. Then, she experienced a period of traveling for several years where – one by one – all her former beliefs were stripped away and she learned to be guided by Source only. The experience was frightening but liberating.

(Here is a (20min) video of Margot Ridler where she compares her breakdown process with Adyashanti’s.)

My experience: A large part of my self-image was being a high achiever. I was studious and bookish. Good grades and prestigious scholarships all over my résumé, and with it much striving, perfectionism, and pride.

And what did the universe do to deconstruct this?

Well, today I find myself working in the corporate world with not a single promotion after more than 17 years. I’m being weaned from the need for appreciation and from the need to define myself as an achiever.

And that was not the only part of my self-image which I had to let go of. There was more. Each part got its own tailor-made demolition squad. For each part, I went through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) according to the model by Kübler-Ross.

That’s how it works. Whenever we have an attachment with the attitude “I bet that I must have this in order to be happy”, God says,
Wanna bet? I’ll take it away from you, and then you are invited to turn within and seek true happiness there.”

What helps during this phase is  knowing that this is part of the path. And then allowing it to happen. The more we resist the ripping away of the former self-image, the more painful it is going to be.

B) The fear of the void
Falling into the pit of the void can also become uncomfortable. By psychologists, this is pathologized as depersonalization/derealization disorder (DP/DR).

Suzanne Segal lost her former sense of self and spent ten years trying to understand the nature of her confusion and fear about this. None of the psychologists had any clue. Eventually, an Advaita teacher pointed out to her that she was just waking up to her true nature. That was a turning point.

Hans Burgschmidt lost his sense of self suddenly and was terrified by it.  Pilates, weight training, and yoga helped him feel grounded in his body again.
(http://www.psychologytomorrowmagazine.com/enlightenments-evil-twin/)

My experience: I was hanging out in ‘transcendence land’ for three months early in 2014. This felt peaceful, but unreal, lethargic, listless, and emotionally flat. What helped me was that the universe forced me back unto the stage of this play called ‘life’. I had to take care of a sick pet. And my inner voice urged me to invite a bunch of friends over.

What helps during this phase is very different for each seeker. Therefore, it would be best if everyone relies on his/her own inner guidance.

C) Welling up of formerly unconscious emotions
If we abide as the peaceful witness, as open-space awareness, then that is an invitation for formerly suppressed emotions (of this life or even of past-lives) to rise to the surface and enter our consciousness. As fellow blogger and spiritual seeker Susan once so aptly put it,

“Everything comes by to say ‘Hello’.”

Dr.Willoughby Britton, a clinical psychologist and neuroscience researcher, went on a meditation retreat. She reports,

“I thought that I had gone crazy. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I mean I really had no idea why I was suddenly having all these, like terror was big symptom of mine. And I found out much later that these were actually classic stages of meditation and I was woefully uninformed.”

After this experience, she became the most prominent researcher of the Dark Night phenomenon. She has found an amazing range of disturbing experiences due to meditation practices. These include headaches, nausea, muscle twitching, seeing light, concentration difficulties, anxiety, depression, an inability to socialize or to have a job or to take care of children, in severe cases lasting for years.

Dr. Britton is courageously speaking up about the Dark Night  even though critics have attempted to silence her (after all, mindfulness practices are popular in business nowadays; but the focus is on how to be a better version of one’s former self , and not about how to lose one’s self and find the truth of one’s real being.) Her website with more helpful resources is http://cheetahhouse.org/. (In case this site is down, you can also go to her facebook page for more information, https://www.facebook.com/Cheetah-House-108383069235890/  .)

What about help in this phase?

Many people feel already comfortable if they are reassured by a teacher that these experiences are normal and will subside over time.

For me, the most valuable advice was to let the emotions come up and to witness them. That is, don’t judge them, don’t suppress them, feel them fully,  but don’t get engaged too much in them. Afterwards, direct attention 180 degrees backwards to awareness itself – to our real being.

The fine line between feeling emotions fully and drowning in them too much was tricky for me (I had to rely on inner guidance, like dreams, that would tell me when I was off track). When this process was done, often layers of emotion were revealed, like in an onion. They came up, were felt fully, and then released.

It is important not to pathologize these experiences. I like to think of them as the healing of an infected wound with a splinter in it. Concealing it with a band-aid won’t heal it. Rather, there will be an immune reaction with inflammation and pus in order to remove the splinter and the dirt. This phase doesn’t look pretty. But that’s the nature of the healing process.

***

So, that’s the paradox of this journey. In order to find peace beyond understanding we must give up our illusions, our belief in separation, our attachment to our mistaken identity. And usually, this process entails some emotional turmoil.

Let me end with an ACIM quote:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.

Key ingredients of fast manifestation

Sometimes, a thought I have manifests really fast. So fast that I realized I need to watch my thoughts carefully because their results show up quite soon.
I have wondered about the key ingredients for fast manifestation and have come up with the following list:

  1. A Copernican shift in worldview
    The usual assumption is that consciousness arises from the brain. But that is not true.
    Rather, consciousness is what we are and the brain and everything else in the 3D reality arise from consciousness.
    Consciousness is one. There are not many soul-bubbles bouncing around randomly like molecules in a gas. It’s more like many branches of the same tree, or many arms of the same octopus. All is connected in consciousness. The illusion of the 3D world is the separateness of things.
    Why is that a key ingredient?
    Because the outside world shows up according to our belief systems. If we believe we are just a body-mind and all things out there are separate, then the universe will do us the favor and show up like this – as a hostile place. However, if we believe that everything is connected via consciousness, then the universe mirrors that belief system and shows up in a different way.
  2. Unconditional inner peace
    I found the peace that does not depend on anything outside by doing a 180 degree inward looking meditation. That is awareness looking directly back at itself.
    (https://karinfinger.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/inner-peace-our-real-being/)
  3. An unconflicted mind
    If  I have a deep wish, then I should not have a conflicting belief that says that I don’t deserve the fulfillment of the wish.
  4. Desire
    If a desire arises on top of that, then manifestation usually works fast. It can be a desire for the most mundane things (like french fries) or more complicated stuff.
    Since there is unconditional peace, the desire does not come from a needy ego place. There is no attitude like , “I insist that I must have this in order to be happy.”

Example:
I have written about a manifestation here:
(https://karinfinger.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-magic-wand-of-inner-peace/)

A word of caution:
At some point in the spiritual journey, this manifestation business seems to break down. Then we are asked to surrender the reins and turn inside and ask Source, “What do you want me to do?”
As an example, refer to the story of Margot Ridler. She went through a breakdown, from a self-employed professional to almost homeless and penniless. Although she is a well-educated and intelligent person, she was not able to even keep the job of a waitress. That was when she threw her hands up in the air and asked Source, “What do you want?” And that was a turning point in her life.
(http://www.thegreatestlieeverbelieved.com/rug-being-pulled.html)

 

Finding the inner teacher

Wouldn’t it be nice to always have access to higher guidance?

Ever since I read Conversations with God, by N.D. Walsch, I desired to be able to hear my wise inner voice, too.

The process is simple (but not easy):

  1. Ask
  2. Listen
  3. Learn to trust

The asking part is important. It is about a heartfelt urgent desire that I really want to know an answer to particular issue. And it is about posing a specific question. Like ‘How can I see the trouble with that person in another light?’

The listening part is important as well. Empty the mind and wait for an answer to arrive. The listening is like waiting for the thunder after one has seen the lightning. Full of attention and waiting. And, of course, full of expectation that the thunder will eventually be heard.

Learning to trust the inner teacher takes time. For me, it was crucial to have experiences where the inner voice told me things I could not have known by myself.

In the beginning, I found it most helpful to do this process with pen and paper. Somehow, typing at the computer did not work too well for me.

I would sit down, alone in a quiet room, and write down a question. Then I would close my eyes, let my mind go blank and wait for an answer to emerge as blocks of thought or as a voiceless voice. I wrote down whatever came up as an answer. Of course, I never knew whether this was my ego talking or the wise inner voice. But I would write it down anyway and then look at it later and see whether it makes any sense.

Sometimes, the answer would not come as an inner voiceless voice. Instead, I would get a dream or a song in my head. Guidance can come in many different forms.

Barriers to listening:

  1. Emotional turmoil
    It can be difficult to hear the inner voice if we are in a state of emotional turmoil. Therefore, it is important to learn to reach inner peace.
  2. Emptying the mind too much.
    Esther Hicks did that in the beginning before she began to channel Abraham. She let go of her thoughts the moment they emerged. However, Abraham wanted to communicate with her. Luckily, he found a way. He made her spell the answers with her nose by moving her head.
  3. Expecting a certain answer or fearing a certain answer.
    That point is important. Because the inner voice will often say things that are contrary to my normal understanding. Therefore, I want to stress that it is helpful be in a state of mind that accepts – or even invites – to have one’s world view shaken.

One word of caution:
Hearing this voice is one thing. Obeying it is a different matter.

And sometimes the voice can get pushy (for example, when it tells me how often I should write a blog post even though I have ‘more important’ things to do – like organizing my children’s birthdays ) .

Oh well, surrender seems to be an integral part of the journey.

Power of forgiveness and lost emails

Some years ago, our mail server was restructured. After that upgrade, my emails of the last 30 days were lost.

Fortunately, I had already read all of them and there were no action items left. But still, I wanted to keep them just for the record.

My initial reaction was self-righteous upset. “Oh boy, they messed it up!”

Of course, I asked whether the emails could be restored. But somehow that wasn’t  possible without unwanted side effects.

Then I became quiet.

A Course In Miracles (ACIM) teaches to turn within and ask, ‘How can I see this differently?’

Lately, that translates for me into, ‘How the heck have I manifested that one?’

Suddenly, it dawned on me.

This happened during a phase when I was decluttering my home. It was like a compulsive decluttering diarrhea where I thought about nothing else than getting rid of old stuff. For ten weeks in a row, I threw away stuff from all categories. Clothing, books, CDs, pots and pans, etc. .

The universe merely seemed to say, “You like to throw things away? Let me see how I can help you.”

And with a mischievous grin it cleaned away my emails, too.

I became quiet and didn’t get upset, knowing that I had called this issue into my experience.

Four weeks later and without any further action from my side, the lost emails suddenly reappeared.

***

Usual disclaimer:
ACIM style forgiveness is not about creating a better dream. Instead, it is about waking up to the fact that we have all created this ourselves. As a byproduct, the manifestation of the outer world can change.

Inner peace – our real being

Waking up is remembering our real being.

It is a journey into the unconditional inner peace that we are.

It is remembering who we were before we started playing
this game of I-am-separate.

But how can we remember?

What worked best for me was the 180 degree inward look. Awareness watching itself.

This is a Dzogchen meditation method. But the easiest description of this is in a short 4 min video on John Sherman’s website http://www.justonelook.org/.

Initially, my ego wouldn’t let me look inside. This manifested as an itching sensation over the whole body when I tried the exercise. But after trying for a few weeks,  that feeling subsided.

At first, there was deep peace. If I were to use a metaphor, I would compare it to a still, dark surface of a lake. Dark because of the lack of sensory input. And still because it was so peaceful and quiet.

Afterwards, quiet joy emerged. Again, if I had to use a metaphor, it felt like a small fountain. Always pouring forth. Always moving. Inexhaustible.

The remarkable thing about this joy was that it was not dependent on the outer circumstances. It was unconditional.

At first, I thought, ‘Yeah, nice. But that is just another emotional state.’ And I stopped practicing.

But then, I read, “No, no! It is not just another emotional state. It is our real being.”

Ah! THAT place is our real being. That place is where I can remember what I am.

Turning awareness back on itself and resting in there is like the prodigal son returning home to the father. The joy that is felt there is the joy of coming home.

 

The power of forgiveness

My wise inner voice urges me to share my spiritual journey. Yet, often I still recoil in fear from that task. (Somehow, I’m afraid they might still hunt witches in Europe.)

So, mid of October 2014, I manifested three opportunities for sharing and writing under my real name. But each time, I had second thoughts about it. And I would procrastinate.

And each time, something in my surroundings would mirror that hesitation.

Often, this sort of fear-based procrastination was mirrored by some clogged things. Oh, I didn’t know how many things there are in a household that can be clogged! Coffee machine, dishwasher, drain, toilet, shower head…
A year ago, I even had breathing issues  – a clogged throat chakra.

Two weeks ago, the drain in the bathroom sink was clogged. I do prefer a clogged drain over a clogged throat chakra, but it still sucks.

Shit!

I was aware immediately that I probably caused the clogging by my resistance to sharing under my real name.  I assumed that I would have to pour chemicals into it in order to fix the drain. How annoying! Sometimes, life on Earth sucks.

Then one evening, I confessed to my husband, “You know, the clogged drain is very likely caused by my refusal to respond to that newspaper call for readers’ experiences about spirituality.”

He listened patiently, probably not believing my theory. Then, he got up and went to the bathroom. “Honey, did you do something to the drain? It appears to be cleaned now.  I didn’t pour any chemicals into it. Did you?”

No, I didn’t either.

***

The power of forgiveness is that I come into alignment with my real being, i.e. that I find my inner peace even if faced with disturbing situations. As a result of that, the outer circumstances can change since they reflect my inner emotional state.

 

The magic wand of inner peace

I learned that choosing inner peace over anger brought a huge advantage. Not only did my light bulbs live longer (as I have described in the previous post), but little wishes seemed to be fulfilled promptly.

The trash bag story
Some years ago, when my little kids were out of the house for a week, I was cleaning out their rooms, collecting old toys that they would not need any more (- well, that I had decided they would not need any more).

I collected many small transparent trash bags full of old and broken toys. But the amount of toys was just too large for our garbage bin outside. So, I had to store the transparent trash bags in the basement.

Then I thought, ‘Oh, it would be sooo useful to have one of these really large heavy-duty drawstring trash bags, which are opaque, in order to hide the old toys, so that my children cannot see them when they come home.’ I was afraid they would l start lengthy discussions about whether these things can be thrown away or not.

That was just a thought. But we didn’t have any of these large opaque trash bags at that time and I did not consider buying any.

Two days later, when I got home from work, I saw some strange plastic lying in front of our garden door. I looked closer wondering what that was. And it was a large opaque drawstring trash bag, arriving just in time so I could continue with my toy-clearing work the next day.

Wow! I was sooo amazed at how this works. This sure seemed like a very strange synchronicity. Too strange to be just some random coincidence.

***

Over the years, there have been many such fast manifestations. They had some things in common. Always, the underlying feeling was one of inner peace. And on top of that inner peace, a desire occurred. A spontaneous thought like , ‘Oh, it would be sooo nice to have this now.’

The important point is that I didn’t make my inner peace dependent on the fulfillment of the wish. Rather, the inner peace was unconditional.

Choosing inner peace became important to me because it is like having a magic wand.