When Awareness plays as a separate self

One vase, two profiles?

All perspective

In the last week–for two full days–Awareness decided to play as a separate self again.  The “I” seemingly forgot everything and slipped into a dream of itself.  It thought it was a separate person in a separate body with a separate mind and separate feelings making separate choices and doing separate actions.

Oh how that little self suffered when it forgot!  The contraction of identifying as a separate self–with thoughts and feelings fused as an identity–can feel so excruciating.  Unlike the wide-open radiant sense of inclusiveness there is a sense of tightness, obligation, worry.  There is a horrible conviction that one must make the right decision, do the right thing, act in a right way, save oneself.  The little self actually contracted into thinking she was in control and needed to–well, she wasn’t sure what she needed to do.  She just wanted to get away from the contraction of her little self and didn’t know how.  So she kept struggling to regain balance, to regain the Absolute knowing.  To fix herself.

After two days of chaotic feelings and thoughts, Awareness seemingly decided to remember itself.  To awaken from the dream of the separate self once again.  It sat on the couch and prompted the small self to look around…to truly see.  Was there a separate self here?  (The separate self shouted YES!  What the heck could you possibly mean?)  Is there a separate doer here?  (The separate self said:  Are you insane?  Of course I’m the doer. Who else is the doer except this person in this body?)

The separate self literally could not see or remember anything other than its own perspective.  I remember thinking that Awareness was literally crazy with its prompts and inquiries.  That there was no other way of viewing reality than as a person in a separate body with separate thoughts and feelings.  This feeling was absolutely sure.  It was as if I had never heard of absolute awareness before, and it was totally impossible to imagine or reach.

I continued to sit on the couch, looking, looking, peering around the edges of the small self who was so conflicted and contracted.  About twenty minutes in physical time passed.  And then–all contractions ceased.  It was utterly clear once again!  Oh my stars.  Only freedom.  No boundaries.  No exclusivity.  No separate self.  No terrible obligation or decisions to be made (or not made). Now contractions could rise and fall naturally and easily without resistance, without identification.

Simply this Oneness.  The little Kathy felt embarrassed.  Really?  How could I fall head-long into this game yet again?  And yet it was seen clearly that it was only awareness playing, playing, playing, no need to fuss.

It’s Awareness choosing to play–a simple thing, really.  And Awareness choosing to return to itself.  This seeing relaxes the body/mind so fully and deeply. And the whole world arises in itself, as it always has.




Who thinks?


A thought arises–any thought–and the perspective of an individual self nods and thinks, “That thought is mine.”

Obviously, the seemingly-separate individual self thinks the thought appeared in the brain attached to the neck attached to my two waggling arms and these sturdy long legs. The person has been conditioned since wee babyhood to equate thoughts to a personal self.

To our seemingly-separate self the idea that thoughts are “common domain” of the flow of life seems bizarre, unreal, absolutely untrue.  To even contemplate that thoughts are not attached to the body/mind reeks of heresy!  No, no, no, my individual separate self proclaims–my thoughts are obviously mine because…well, because my friend Susan isn’t thinking the same thing.  She’s obviously got her thoughts and I’ve got mine.  End of story.

One vase, two profiles?


When and if the perspective of a separate self falls away, for a moment, hour, day or lifetime, a different perspective appears.  In this viewpoint exists only Flow, or Source, or Oneness, or God, or Life, or All, or Whatever-the-heck-you-call-it-because-it-doesn’t-have-a-name-and-can’t-be-defined-by-words.

When everything reveals itself to be One, who’s thinking?  Where do thoughts come from?  Suddenly it’s crystal clear that thoughts are the domain of the One.  Thoughts arise from the field.  Thoughts are common property, somehow channeled into this constantly-changing moment.

A thought now arises and one realizes it’s not personal.  It’s part of the flotsam and jetsam of the brain, the field, the One.  It’s not seen as particularly “true”.  It could be utilized by the flow in the next moment, or it could be discarded.

A thought appears:  I want to read this blog.  Did you think it? Or did it just appear in consciousness, in flow?  The “I” rushes in to claim it so often.  It says–I thought, I decided, I read.  But what if it’s just consciousness that decided?  The flow moved toward the blog.  You’re here reading because that’s where the the river flowed around the bend and paused here just for an instant…

Doesn’t it become harder to judge one’s neighbor with this realization?  Doesn’t it become almost impossible?



Does it matter if anyone shares your spiritual perspective?

Our creations

Many faces

Does it matter if your best friend understands or cares about your spiritual viewpoint (or lack thereof?)  Does it matter one iota if your husband or wife understands he/she is not a separate self?  Do you ever need to convince a single other person about the validity of your worldview (or non-existence thereof?)

I don’t know about you, but most of my friends do not care at ALL about non-duality or non-separation or Oneness or whatever.  Some of them seem politely interested.  Some of them are even intrigued.  But on a fierce and passionate search to discover THE TRUTH?  I think not.  Believing it’s even possible? Wanting to think about it or live it 24/7?  Nahhh.

And how many people have you met who have sought and sought and sought and sought and sought until giving up in exhaustion before realizing THE TRUTHLESS TRUTH which existed all along?  Have you met one person?  Six?  A baker’s dozen?

More importantly, does it matter?

My husband has five percent interest in discussing spirituality.  A very few friends exist with a moment-to-moment understanding of flowing as the river of life.  A handful of friends like to ponder spirituality, what makes the personal self tick, the meaning of the Universe.

And isn’t it all fun to ponder this and that?  To dissect the motives and actions and thoughts and intentions of the separate self?  It can be a blast doing that for most of this lifetime.  There’s always the possibility that we’ll figure ourselves out and finally be happy and content and peaceful and satisfied, right?

Or one can simply jump off the wheel of self altogether, the mandala of spirituality or philosophy or psychology.  What’s left after the jump?  Anything one can discuss with another living soul as you free-fall without a net?

Years ago I talked about spirituality with every Tammy, Dianne and Harriet. Every Tom, Dick and Harry.  You want to talk about Native American spirituality?  Kundalini energy?  Buddhist meditation?  C’mon, friend, let’s GO!

(This blog is really the only quiet corner of Universe where these typing fingers decide to share about “spirituality” any more…although the word spirituality does not begin to describe what *simply is*.)  And perhaps they only type because someone may be suffering, may feel a passionate desire to KNOW THE TRUTH, thereby starting the endless seeking…which eventually may lead to giving up…catapulting one into the endless now…which has always existed as the only truth, always available, always present, always whole.

But does it matter if your significant other or best friend cares about non-duality?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.  (Excuse that dualistic pronouncement, but does it really matter one iota?)

Everyone believes what they believes, inspired by what inspires.  I used to think it was important to be surrounded by friends with similar interests and spiritual inclinations.  But isn’t life more exciting with simply everyone and everything appearing with their own seemingly separate views and likes and dislikes?

Everyone is the Absolute appearing as a temporary separate self, an illusion, a trick of Maya with her twinkling wink.

Everyone reflecting a different diamond reflection of the whole.  You, and you, and you, spinning into existence and out again.



Simply here once again



Don’t we just laugh at ourselves, these strange seemingly-solid creatures who change our minds again and again and again?

One minute we’re coming and the next we’re leaving.  One minute we’re writing and the next we’re swearing never to write again.  One minute we’re attempting to hold together a solid sense of self and the next…well, does it matter any more?

We’re Life.

We’re Life moving, changing, dancing, singing, drinking tea, making mistakes, laughing, frowning, feeling deep-down pain or embarrassment, skipping, wielding a cane, tasting an oh-so-delicious banana split.

We’re LIFE!  This is amazing when you start to grok it with your whole being.

Within Life, thoughts come and go.  Within Life, feelings arise and fall away.  Within Life, actions appear.  Choosing appears.  Decisions happen.

But who is this phantom Chooser, Doer, Decision-maker?  I used to think it was me.  A thought appeared in the brain and a mini-me existing inside this head would ponder all the alternatives.  Should I, shouldn’t I?  Yes, no or maybe so?  An endless cycle of trying-to-figure it out ensued.

Then a decision appeared and a thought accompanied it, “I decided to write a blog again!” or “I will never write a blog here again!” and the inner-me ascertained so certainly, “I made that decision, of course I did.”

It’s the way separate selves view themselves.  As somehow apart from the river of life, as somehow independent creatures making independent decisions.

How interesting to discover that in direct experience (without the reference of the mind) it doesn’t appear to happen that way.  Thoughts arise.  Feelings appear.  And yet no doer or thinker or chooser or decider can be located.  Look inside, right now, and see, if you’re inclined.  (If you’re not inclined, never-you-mind, because are you choosing that either?)

It’s such a relief to drop away from all that sense of responsibility and to discover that something already exists prior to the separate decision-maker.  Something that can be so fully trusted and allowed and embraced.  Something that IS in every single waltz and tango and goodbye and hug and weeping tears.  Something that has never deserted us since the moment we birthed unto the planet, and maybe before, and always after.

I stand in awe and prickling tears before this truth–which can never be fully explained or made into an object–and who knows which way the river flows now and now and now again?






Your very self

Your very self

Sometimes I feel so lonely, like a birch tree etched against gray skies, so very alone.  This passion that excites my soul like excited chickadee chirping refuses expression, except in the next devouring of sunflower seed or hawk shadow overhead.

Sometimes I feel so very alone, so sheered by wind and ice and howling coyotes.  Eaten alive by life’s constant changing weather, devoured by the next fragile moment. I’m scattered white bones on the landscape of your memory, and not even that.

How do you explain to anyone that you don’t really exist?  Or that you exist in every snow shower, every sullen black cloud, every blast of sun in the heavens?  How do you explain that you’re as human and churlish as everyone at times, snarling at life, and the next moment the divine gleams out your eyes and you’re gone, gone, gone?

You try to explain yourself and the wolves eat your words as they leave your lips.  Not that, not that, not that, the chickadees sing.  Followed by the eagle who tips his white tail and soars:  Yes that, yes that, yes that!

People think you’re yesterday’s memory.  They think they know you, based on stories of yesteryear, of two hours ago.  You weep in your coffee, lost, confused, empty.  The next moment it’s bliss: such a java buzz. Throw the currency of both in the river–neither matter.  Both matter exquisitely.

I know nothing.  I don’t exist.  I’m lost, I’m found.  The “I” jumps off the cliff and finds her love in the deep, deep sea.  The “I” is as ordinary as salt, ant, invoice, masking tape.

I’m lonely and filled to the brim with whatever comes next, even when that next turning arrives as a knife, a crushed finger, your puzzled scorn, your sweet song.

How can you explain this to anyone, let alone yourself?  It’s a lonely business, this inability to carve love messages in the oak tree of your desire.

And yet–here’s the heart, my dear.  It’s beating for you.


What does it feel like when identified as a separate self?



Since it can be so fascinating to attempt to describe what it feels like when one realizes Oneness, let’s go in the opposite direction.

What does it feel like when I’m identified as a separate self?

  1.  It feels like I’m a person in a separate body with separate thoughts and separate feelings.
  2.  It feels like I am the thinker.  A thought flits through the brain and it seems to come from me.
  3. It feels like the sensations which arise are actually mine. They hurt, they please.  They are joyful or angry or sad. And they seem to be mine.
  4. The focus is on the individual.  The barn across the street is something other. So is the dog and my best friend and enemy.  Shapes and forms seem to divide the world into me and otherness.
  5. Wants and aversions arise.  A strong inner energy dictates life along these lines.  Addictions or compulsions often appear.
  6. Issues of control occur regularly.  The separate self thinks it can dictate reality.  Or, conversely, it feels helpless because it can’t quit an addictive habit.  It’s all about attempting to control what arises.
  7. Much of attention identifies with thoughts.  The thought-world is perceived as real.  Awareness of the now comes and goes.  Much of attention relates to the dream-world of mental and emotional activity.
  8. One argues with reality.  Thoughts delineate and attempt to disparage other thoughts.  Things are labeled “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad”.
  9. Love, when it arises, often associates with how it relates to the separate self.  Love is not unconditional.  It seems connected to preconceived perceptions.  It is not universal.
  10. A lot of energy is spent propping up and defending the individual.  It’s easy to feel threatened.  Fear operates often as a background software operating system, sometimes not even consciously.
  11. Doing seems very important.  Not-doing often appears as a threat, an empty hole into which one might disappear.
  12. Life sometimes seems a series of problems which must be solved through thought.  Emotions are seen as reliable indicators of what to do next.  Emotions are sometimes perceived to be what one actually is.
  13. Being is seen as nothing important.  It is often not even noticed.
  14. Drama periodically reigns, either internally or externally.  Emotional, mental and physical pain may arise.  Great delight and happiness also arises, although it’s often attached to an external stimuli.  Something often appears to cause to the joy.
  15. It seems necessary to fix oneself, to make oneself more acceptable to self or others.
  16. One tells a lot of stories about oneself and actually believes them.

Just noticing today how I feel when identified as a separate self. Even though intellectually I might remember or recognize Oneness, it’s still not available as a moment-to-moment recognition. It is available when the I remembers to look. Then it sees that it’s immediate, always here, never inaccessible.

Diamond of who we are

Who we are

Who we are

It’s possible for Life to lead a mining expedition into the heart of ourselves.  We travel deep, deep, deep into the caverns of our interiors to discover what we truly are.  At the base, at the very apex of ourselves, we may realize our essence.  Then we climb back out of the cave into the light of day to walk as what’s been revealed.

What exists at our apex, that which is both the deepest and the highest?  (And, some might smile and add: it’s completely available at our shallowest and lowest, as well.)  Peace.  Well-being.  Love.  Joy.  Completeness.  Fullness.  Enough-ness. Diversity and Oneness co-existing in a single dance.

Everything for which we’ve been searching our entire life (and that includes the happiness which seems to result from a chocolate chip cookie) shines within us.  Always.  It’s never left. Never dearly departed.  Always the light which shines in any seeming darkness of any shadowed moment.  It’s with us in tears.  With us in death.  With us eternally, endlessly, ever-present.

But is the journey over when one discovers the peace, the light?  For some rare birds, perhaps it is.  Life illuminates itself, and the person Knows.  The force of the dynamite explosion destroys the ego-self and reveals the diamond within.  (Think of Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie and their deep dark repressed energy which apparently provided enough fuel to blow their former worlds to smithereens.)

Those of us without dynamite still might discover the diamond of ourselves, but parts of the personality might remain intact. (By personality, I mean the both the image of self and the ego-apparatus of desire and aversion which fuels us humans and keeps us securely in our character roles.)

Both the quest into the mountain and the walk back into one’s life often involves the same clearing and polishing motion. The diamond is obscured by dirt and rough surfaces.  The One has also been hidden by ego-self.  So the polishing involves bringing trapped or unconscious energy to the air and releasing it.  Don Juan, in Carlos Castaneda books calls this “recapitulation”.  He utilized a breathing/remembering technique to release the energy which binds the small self.  Hundreds of other techniques abound, as spiritual adepts describe what has worked best for them.

What is the separate self except energy compressed by beliefs?  We humans are bundles of tight beliefs, spinning ourselves into existence with every breath.  If the beliefs are penetrated, they might reveal themselves to be untrue, empty, not in alignment with the diamond at the depth.

So our journey both into and out of the mountain involves utilizing awareness to see through the imaginary character Life has so painstakingly created and cultivated. It’s also revealed that Life itself is the one seeing through its own patterns, the divine polisher of its own diamond!

So does it all “end” when one discovers what one truly is?  So many miners say no.  It’s just a beginning.  So many patterns and beliefs and desires and fears still beg to be seen, to be penetrated, to be revealed as shams, as charlatans, as something other than peace and joy.  Every day brings a new opportunity to see through.

This “seeing through” can be revealed instantly, but often takes multiple seeings.  The self/ego wants to remain unseen.  It utilizes cunning means and tricks to keep itself intact.  It uses the fuel of desires and fears to further cement itself. Any time we react to cravings and contractions without awareness we continue the belief that there is an “I” who desires or fears.

“Seeing through” often involves a combination of body, mind and spirit. It is an effortless noticing, not an egoistic effort-full doing creating more karma. (In fact, when the doing comes from ego/self, it’s usually simply another desire/belief which reveals itself to be simply more suffering.)  It includes sitting with raw physical/emotional sensations without our ego story, as well as allowing insight to penetrate the pattern.  One truly must eventually see that the belief or pattern is NOT who one is.  When that is deeply known, the pattern releases itself.

The dirt around the diamond falls away.

What exists–always, evermore–shines brighter than one could ever imagine.