Tag Archives: Experience

On Reincarnation

People usually assume that I believe in reincarnation. I don’t. I believe reincarnation is a hopeful thought that propagates itself through the noosphere, fuelled by the fear of disappearance of whatever people believe to be themselves.

Reincarnation presumes incarnation and excarnation of an individual spirit in a body. To me, there’s no sharp separation between the two. That is not to say that I don’t believe in ghosts, past life memories, visions of the future or out-of-body experiences, but I interpret them differently. My outlook on space, time and life differ, I believe, from the status quo of, let’s call it Western Reincarnation Theory. I think it’s an interesting topic, so I’ll try to explain my point of view here, starting with some examples.

Let’s start with ghosts, they’re one of the trickiest subjects. Haunted houses, dead people walking or even just the feeling that something heavy is trying to tell you something, but you can’t quite catch what it is. Some perceive it, others don’t. To me, ghosts are a charge, released by a living person during their lifetime. It can be mental, emotional or spiritual, so let’s just call it a psychosomatic charge. Imagine Lonely Jack, who constantly sits in his living room, complaining to himself about the woman he never had, the job he missed and the choices he never made. I believe this guy can leave a footprint on his living room for as long as he’s alive. Then, once he’s dead, new inhabitants could still perceive this footprint as a ghost.

Would that footprint be self-conscious? One might ask. My answer would be: only to the extent to which the complaining is self-conscious, which is not that much at all. I don’t believe that the charge is Lonely Jack himself, I’d say it’s what he’s left behind. Then again, I do believe it is possible to send extracts of awareness into, for example, the furniture we possess, and make it look back at you. Or at another, when you’re not around. We can charge our surroundings with thoughts the way our surroundings can charge us with thoughts. Thus, some parts of us can live on. If others interact with those they empower them, and the bits of us empower those who interact.

Another typical proof for reincarnation and the separation between body and soul is the memory of past lives. The reasoning: since I experienced being in the past, apparently “I” have lived past lives. I value the occurrence of such experiences, but they don’t necessarily point to reincarnation. I see them as bridges between eras. Between lives if you will. Like meeting someone in the tram, but different. Sometimes, psychosomatic charges find their way through “wormholes” in such a strength that they invoke the “I” sensation upon the perceiver. To me, they really are just messages from the past with relevance for the listener of today. Think about it this way: you were a different person as a kid, but the aspect of “I” hasn’t changed. Ask the oldest person you know about this, and he or she will tell you there’s no difference between being old and being young. Nevertheless, all molecules have alternated time after time, lessons have been learned and forgotten, and the body has evolved and worn out. Throughout a single lifetime, we are many different people, but we don’t perceive it that way. Then why is it so hard to believe that temporarily being a different person would feel differently than being yourself?

The topic of future visions is similar. I believe that the general consensus there is that they are impossible, yet if they occur, they pass through the spirit world , mediated by beings who reside there because they have reincarnated many times. I believe the moment or vision that is foreseen is simply very psychosomatically charged, and therefore radiates back in time. Perhaps the meaning gives the charge, and the need for meaning on the other side the attraction. Metaphysical pressure differences, so to speak.

Out of body experiences? To me they are instants of high psychosomatic charge in the body, where the mind bridges space in the same way as it could bridge time. The fact that the people see and hear things in this different space, I believe, is a way for the mind to accommodate itself when away from the body. But I still think the phenomenon is powered by the life force inside the body of the one who perceives it as “him or herself being out of his or her body”.

So, if not in life after death, what do I believe in? I believe that there’s only one core soul, which is hidden deep inside all of us. Time, space and basically all rules an limits we take for granted are expressions of that soul. I think it created them all for fun. So are our bodies. Without our bodies, we would just be that one soul, undivided and forever, free from the illusions of existence we’ve created all around us. We are borrowing our bodies, our spirits and our minds from this big shared illusion, and when we die we give what we borrowed back.

Don’t ask me how that would feel by the way, I wouldn’t know.

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Marrying words

It just dawned on me that words, in fact, are an experience. Rewind? Okay.

I am adjusting a scientific article on spiritual experiences in nature. One of the central problems is the definition of the word ‘spiritual’. It has so many meanings! It all depends on who describes it. Some authors have the courage to define it as something ‘non dual’. They say that within a spiritual experience, there is no connection between a person and God, because there is no distinction between them.

One can dismiss those words as elitary blah blah, but whoever does that ignores the fact that every word manifests itself as an experience to the one who uses it. He denies the experience of another. It is the same with words such as God or Allah. The user experiences them and they are therefore meaningful.

This is an essential insight for a frequent writer such as myself. It might be one of my core drives. Writing, for me is about letting go, about enjoying the ride. It’s about discovering my relationship to the words, separately and combined. And I invite you as a reader to do the same.

So how did I get entangled in this quest to pin down ‘spirituality’ as a truth seeker? It seems paradoxical to look for objectivity in a place where the topic cannot exist without the lived, personal world. But it’s a beautiful paradox, because the role of the truth seeker brings me to a new experience of the word ‘spiritual’. As a scientist, you have to believe that words have a certain objective meaning in order to create a valid story. Even if only temporary, you have to believe in order to be believed. In that sense, science is not more than a theatrical act, an impersonation of ‘the objective’. And by impersonating the objective, we get into a closer relationship with the word ‘objective’. A word that cannot exist outside of our experience of it.

The relation we ultimately have to our words defines our communication. The more we cling to the word, the more intimately we experience it and the harder we are willing to fight for it. It makes sense, because the way in which we experience our words makes us who we are.

Breathshake

In the series of new names for unspoken emotions, I´d like to discuss breathshake. Breathshake is what it sounds like, a deep shaking of the breath that interferes with the actual breathing. It comes together with a pulsating fear of the loss of life, possibly that fundamental one. In fact, I´d challenge you with the thought that breathshake is a pulsating appearance of life out of a state where it is not. Appearance of emotion too. It´s probably the most terrifying fast emotion I know.

The obvious pathway to the experience of breathshake is running out of air. You can do this by not stopping with breathing out, going very deep into the water or doing sports while breathing far below your natural rhythm. The first option is probably safest. In these cases, my diaphragm starts contracting and I have the sensation of being cut off. The thought “this situation is eternal” forces itself upon me. You could call it fear of death, but I think it is a fear of never getting access to life anymore. While silence is present, a feverish tingly cloud dwells up in my upper body. I feel sweat emerge from several spots. I sense that the feeling could subdue me from the back of my neck and shut off my awareness. It never has.

Lighter forms of breathshake can occur without that I run out of air. An interesting thing that can trigger this for me is the tought of not receiving attention from a person I love. It can also happen in conversations where I feel incapable of standing up for myself the way I think I deserve. It is as if the conversation partner suppresses my self-perceived value and does not recognize my true character, or whatever it is inside me that needs to be appreciated at that moment. The parallel with being cut off from oxygen is interesting, as if human attention also is a substance we need.

The pulsating character of breathshake delivers a remarkable alteration of states of mind which reveals parts of myself to me. Fuelled with panic, short, shallow gulps of breath try to resolve the feeling of sinking away into a swamp. That experience alternates a state of tranquility and acceptance, as if the end is already there. This tranquility eventually takes over and allows my breath to deepen again. All of it happens quite quickly.

Breathshake relativizes my concerns. It can release some tensions, but it also makes me aware of my incapacity to be fully in control of myself. I am aware again that somewhere deep inside me lingers a deep desire for taking part that can become stronger than myself. The thought is humbling, but slightly discomforting too.

Gutwrench

When I make up words for emotions, I look them up to see if they exist already. This one did. Not only is it slang for – apologies for the upcoming graphic in your head – large penis, it also has the meaning of emotional scattering, anxiety and despair, sometimes caused by uncomfortable images. Do take a moment to enjoy this inconvenient homonym for our brothers with whale-sized willies, then let’s move on to the emotion I’d like to discuss, shall we?

I considered deathsqueeze and lossgrip, but gutwrench works better for me, because I don’t think the the word should encompass it’s cause. It’s as if somewhere central below my navel, around the exglow area, an invisible hand grabs my intestines and suddenly wrenches them like a wet towel. It comes together with pulsating pulls at my adam’s apple and uncontrolled crying. Surrounding belly muscles contract as well. It draws my full attention to that inner spot, much like a 220 volt electric shock, if you ever had that.

Some clear triggers for this sensation are the death or the long-term departure of a person close to me, and the breakup of a relationship. In fact, looking closer, the trigger is usually a very specific, self-centered memory, such as that persons expression of appreciation for me, or the image of me staying behind on my own. I believe gutwrench has a lot to do with a turn of attention from something shared to something individual. I oversee the beauty of what is lost, wishing to be able to express that to the person, but I can’t, because he or she is gone. The hole that person left behind is painful and at the same time there’s new freedom. That realisation feels good for me, but it is a type of betrayal too. Everything is intensely happy, yet intensely sad.

Because this experience squeezes my being so tightly, the relaxation afterwards is very deep. As if some weight has truly disappeared, I see the world under a different light: more laid back than usual. I’m open for new things, ready and obliged to dive into new experiences, into new beings. Even though I went through gutwrench, I’m still here, and that knowledge has primordial power.

The word gutwrench existed as something negative. I understand it as a manifestation of a bond. How about you?

 

Exglow

I’m of the opinion that there are far too few words for the different kinds of feelings, sensations and emotions we go through. Why, for example, is there only one word for emotion, while it contains an entire world with subtle and vigorous differences? It’s weird, because emotions occupy a notable aspect of our existence.  By not naming them, we keep them covered under a surface where they stay until they are dug out by whoever finds the access.

The one I am going to discuss now is probably my favourite. I’ll call it exglow, but if you have a better word, feel free to use that one instead. I think, I hope that everyone experiences it once in a while. It’s a sudden, usually brief, very localized , but also very present sensation right below my belly button. It’s not a pressure, rather a release. It is about the size of a walnut, but with less defined contours.  Sometimes when it happens, it contracts my attention into some kind of light. I can see it, but not in a day-to-day-visual way. It seems, rather, that because the sensation is so strong, it temporarily blurs my sight, while my mind directs at the point it comes from. Very often, it feels like the start of something new. As if a seed  germinates. I don’t always notice a change afterwards, though.

At times, but not always, the feeling radiates through to my eyes, which then release a single tear, sometimes more. Other times, it causes a pressure somewhere above my belly button, could be anywhere. I seem to suppress it then, but I don’t know how. Or it doesn’t give a pressure, but it flows upwards along my chest and nipples towards my shoulders. Those are all effects of the feeling, though, not the feeling itself.

Several things trigger exglow in me. They all have to do with a shift. Films can do it, and more specifically, instances of breakthrough. It could be the infamous declaration of romantic love, but it can also happen during revolutionary breakthroughs, such as in the courtroom during Erin Brokovich or sometimes when I see the ‘I have a dream’ speech. More individual revelations do it too, for example in Blue Jasmine, and, very memorable, Doubt. If you’ve seen them, you’ll know which instants I mean. Revelations. One more side note: I if I watch the films again, I don’t necessarily feel exglow again. The surprise element plays an important role.

For me, exglow also occurs during empathic moments with friends, for some reason mostly with women. Sometimes the trigger is  a change in emotional charge between us, or sometimes either of us went through some personal transition. It can also happen when I’m looking into someone’s eyes, and I feel that person is looking back. I usually can’t invoke it though.

Once, during a dream, I felt it for the longest period I can remember. I was in a courtyard of a ruin and I saw a shiny object hover from the right side to the left. Much like a small star with a glow that was terracotta and green. The whole dream had those colours. I ran towards it, jumped into it and kind of merged with it. As we flew at bit further together, I felt exglow very vividly. It is one of the most beautiful dreams I had.

What I think is very remarkable, is that apparently for this emotion -if that’s what it is- it does not matter if the trigger is real. After all, it happens during films and dreams as lively as during real life events, or even if I just imagine those events, for example when I write. Still, it is a very physical sensation, and it can even motivate me to do certain things or ascribe a certain value to a relationship. Isn’t that interesting?

And it has a scary part too. If I am so easily moved by exglow, all you’d need to do to steer my life in a direction, is to give the suggestion that triggers it in me. Is that why we naturally keep people at a distance? I don’t know, but as I said, I think more openness about this topic wouldn’t hurt.

Orgelet

So two days just passed in which I was once again lost on big and smaller roads in France, carried along by well willing locals with their innate stories and perspectives, while I tried to shake off the worries and concerns of my little life in the Netherlands, meeting them all the more in their contrast with the nature and freedom I viewed from a very close distance.

It’s remarkable how differently time passes by when one hops from spot to spot. Is it a mind-set thing? With only three hours on the road, how many sites have passed by today that would totally be worth further examination? Have fragments of myself perhaps remained behind, still hovering around to perceive the local beauty? Have pieces of my soul remained in conversation with the beautiful people I’ve met along the way? Is there a realm somewhere, where what has happened is still taking place? Is that why all those lifetimes have passed since I left Barcelona? In this state, stronger than in others, the feeling seems so real…

In the same way in which this lifestyle is exhausting, it is extremely energizing. Massive amounts of inspiration get sucked through my existence like water through narrowing river banks. It is impossible to guide it all into shapes, yet I experience things vividly, and am right here to digest it all at once. I feel the space and the strength to accomplish anything I want, but the need to do little more than flow. But more than last time I travelled, I am carrying a burden. It is here with me, in between all beautiful voices. To survive in a Metropolitan world, you need to push things at the cost of others.

Was it a mistake to surrender to the city life? Or was the mistake,  that I chose to grow up? That I did not arrest time before my twenty-fifth? That I did not manage to place myself outside of the big bad wild West? Did not find the loophole?

Below a river

The Ebro Delta. We just had a delicious comida in a restaurant on poles in the sea. My aunt is driving her car, exited because with its far-stretching flatness, this landscape looks like her country of origin. With its palm trees, great egrets and temperatures of 30ºC and above, it looks a lot like Spain to me. Exactly as I want it to.

I consider taking a picture, but I don´t.  The inclination triggers a thought. Every person is a unique being with a unique path and unique experiences. I am now sitting here in the back of a car, perceiving a landscape in which people have grown up, raised their children and found their way back into the earth. By taking a picture, would I have overlooked them? Capturing this landscape would be a visual reference to my own passing through it, far less meaningful than theirs. Do I even have the right to claim this land and take it home?

And those who would see my picture stand even further from the place than I do. To them, It would likely just be another image that drifts by, along with an ever-increasing amount of others. It would instantly erase itself from their tiny memories and remain hidden in a dark corner of an enormous database of forgotten stuff. With what purpose?

Some people believe that humans are on earth to experience. Some say that these experiences are stored somewhere in a collective field of knowledge. The idea would explain our tendency to so carefully document the things we see and hear and think. You hear objections to that behaviour nowadays, but I don´t think it´s fundamentally bad.

And yet there is something tragic about it. However well we try to put the moments we experience in forms and works, there always are essential aspects that slip away. We can photograph, paint and write what we want, but the intangible besieges our existence, approaching us continuously from angles we instantly forget. On the plus side, perhaps this feeling helps us live with the fact that similarly to the pictures, words and ways we once so passionately held on to, one day we too will disappear.

Jobhunt mode

The computer drains me. I feel as if I have no space, as if a force tries to suffocate my spirit. I read at least a thousand tweets per day, looking out for that one job I can genuinely write an application letter for. A year and a half since I graduated. 2 Masters, four languages. Nothing fully paid so far.

I write about a letter per day now. I have to orient first, verify if I would want to do the job and be capable of filling the position. After writing I check the letter, then send it. Same story for the CV.

One rejection after the other, even at the most basic jobs. Am I doing something wrong? Lack of experience? Lack of guts? Wrong wording? Background too diverse? Not focussed enough on the job’s content? Wrong font? Lack of picture? Face too strange? Did I do the wrong studies? Am I not serious enough? Too arrogant? Too controversial? Is it because I don’t phone them with some smart question? Not enough initiative? Was I born on the wrong spot? Am I among the first to pay the punishment on behalf of the slave driving West?

In The Netherlands, there currently is one vacancy available for every fifth unemployed. Politicians call it a catastrophe. Ours has been called a wasted generation. We are supposedly not gaining enough self-confidence for the future job market, which puts us into a downward spiral. Some suggest our lives are already over.

So I read advise from the big professionals. Read about how other people, braver than me, start their own initiatives. I talk with others in the same situation. Help them where I can. Write my blog. Do some volunteer work. Garden. Apply some more. Get more rejections. Get stressed. Change the title of my folder from “jobhunt” into “jobsearch”. Relax again. Watch seasons pass.

If you’re out there, unemployed as I am, you are not alone. We should not panic even when people give us good advise. We shouldn’t try to run faster. It will scare them away.

I also have no clue what we should do. Enjoy life, I guess. Be creative in whichever way we can. Hope some will be lucky. “Stay positive”.

I honestly don’t know.

Thesis Spiritual Experiences in Nature

For those who are interested, I wrote a thesis in 2011 on spiritual experiences in natural areas in the Netherlands. I got an 8,5 for it. I have have written an abbreviated version for publication, but it was rejected for one or two good reasons and a whole list of quite silly ones. My intention remains to publish it when I have more time. Whenever that may be.

Here it is:

Havik2011ThesisSpiritNature

Joining forces

The trip to here was long but fun. A new meeting with Jordi, pizza in the dark, a tent in the forest and self made sounds at the shore. Our host family is a bunch of French loonatics with big hearts and today we slept on a cozy attick, barely bigger than the tent itself. Comawise.

At the start of this session, Mphathelene shared how her family sees her. As a demon. She’s one of the few who fight for sacred sites and values, in spite of christian propaganda. More of her kind parttake. The tears of some have brought the group closer together. Participants listen openly to one another. “I think fundamentalists do most of the harm.” Says Jessica from Massachusets. Jordi and I have had good fun trying to pronounce “Massachusets”. I challenge those present to love their enemies. It’s easy for me to say; I have no enemies, but some people close their eyes and do it briefly.

All people here – some from the remotest tribes – feel deep purpose in this gathering: to experience, share and cherish what is important for us in this life. As long as we focus on that, I don’t believe there is an enemy.