04 November 2009

In 1968 I had completed Master’s work in Public Management at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. I had gone to Detroit and studied Economics as a Ph.D. candidate at Wayne State University. I had also been working as a demographer for the County Cleveland was located in, and at TALUS, Detroit’s seven year land use study.

I was sick of it. The County didn’t care about accuracy, only lying statistics that supported their claim for federal money. I saw economic theory was mostly empty words and unverifiable concepts—useless. (I am still a Keynsian however.)

I had gotten my BA in philosophy and had always been interested since age 11 in just two topics: ontology and epistemology. That is, what exists and how do we know? Hume and Kant were my Western philosophy mentors, while Ramana and Phillip Kapleau were my Eastern philosophy mentors. I had read Kapleau’s Three Pillars of Zen a half dozen times and Ramana’s “Who Am I” many more times than that. I still had no clue as to the nature of knowledge or existence and was mostly focused on the best way to practice self-inquiry.
One day, sitting by a window in an office in Cleveland after having performed population projections for 88 municipalities, and having heard one too many lies, I saw several sailboats floating by on Lake Erie. At that moment, I knew I could not put up with the farce any longer. My life was a waste. The world seemed totally out of whack and most people were in lock step with this out of whackness. I just didn’t fit. So, I decided to chuck everything and leave on a spiritual odyssey.

I took three books: Three Pillars of Zen, the Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi and The Practice of Zen by Garma C.C. Chang. All three books focused on how to practice self-inquiry.

Subsequently I got a job on several huge Great Lakes oar boats carrying taconite (iron ore) between Minnesota and Cleveland. Later, I took off and flew to visit my brother near Tucson and spent several months living in a small tent deep in the Sonoran Desert, all the while trying to figure out how best to practice self-inquiry.

I found this sort of searching useless. There were too many distractions, especially for an untrained, unstable mind. So I moved to Rochester New York to study with Phillip Kapleau, and later, to Mt. Baldy in Southern California to study under Zen master Sasaki Roshi.

It wasn’t until I made the commitment to study under a master that my meditation became focused and revealed results. Kapleau's Zendo was fantastic.

I talk about this in more detail on the website:  http://itisnotreal.com.

Anyway, I practiced self-inquiry off and on for 25 years before I had my first awakening as to a true understanding of ‘I’. I describe this as my shower experience on that website. 

It took me 25 years to fully comprehend what the I-thought meant. (I am more than a bit dimwitted.) What kept me so long is that I spent so much time immersed in the “more real I,” the background consciousness that Langford talks about, that I ignored the I-thought, seeing that the 'I'-thought itself had no substance. But I was still searching for a referent for that I-thought, an entity that the I-thought was associated with. I had thought that some day while immersed in that vast internal emptiness of self-illumined awareness, I would find the true subject. 

Intuitively, even then, I recognized that that consciousness itself was not me either even during and after complete unity experiences with that background consciousness. The emptiness was still an experience.

It was through all those early years of intense practice, sometimes sitting in meditation 10-12 hours a day for years that I experienced all the Kundalini nonsense and all the variable states of consciousness which entirely inhibited true understanding. It is so, so easy to get lost in experiences and understandings.

Finally, a few weeks after Robert Adams left Los Angeles and moved to Sedona I had my first awakening experience, which was to clearly see that the ‘I thought’ had no referent. It did not point to any internal entity. I also saw that the I-thought itself had no substance. It sometimes could be seen to appear like the visual floaters some nearsighted people have, like little transparent clouds floating into and out of emptiness. At other times, the ‘I thought’ (and other thoughts) appeared to be more like focusing mechanisms that aimed attention around in various ways, forming reality by "bending" emptiness into a form. I had focused for years on the emptiness, the awareness that contained everything, and was self-illumined, the light of consciousness, and had ignored the I-thought itself, and failed to see the import of all the preconceptions and false existences contained in the I-thought.

What was different about the shower experience, was that the sense of presence was gone. I was totally empty of presence, of I Am. There was just a vast space of consciousness, with no inner or outer, and no sense of existence of me.

That day in 1995, I finally saw, apprehended, understood, was blown away by the sudden understanding that emptiness was all that there was: emptiness was all that existed.  Eternal, vast space, self-illumined, permeating everything and filled with illusory conceptual forms, and I felt then that I was that. I saw that the I-thought had no referent. There was no I entity that the ‘I thought’ pointed to. There was no Ed Muzika. There was only space, disparate thoughts loosely connected with each other in a network of thought, and the ‘I-thought’ was simply another percept floating around in inner emptiness. No I was there; only emptiness existed and I was that.

Then I saw one other thing deeply: the ‘I-thought’ was what I had considered “subjective,” while all other thoughts were “objective.” That is, I had taken the I-thought as being me, the subject, inside my skin so to speak, and all other thoughts and concepts, such as of world, chair, map, food, other people, were “objective,” and outside of my skin.

When I saw the ‘I-thought’ was unreal, empty, I saw all other words and concepts were also empty. Immediately the world ceased to exist. By that, I mean I understood (Actually, it was more like an experience than an understanding.) nothing in the world that I saw was real; it was created by thought which made an object out of what is, within an unformed matrix of a vast, self-illumined emptiness which was all that is. There was just one emptiness, pervading all, with no inside or outside and I identified with that.

This is exactly Ramana’s initial experience: the “I-thought’ didn’t exist as an entity. It was empty, and with that insight, the whole world is found not to exist as we have always assumed it existed, as real, external objects.

All that there is, is the vast emptiness of consciousness, populated by forms which have no inherent existence except as concepts within consciousness.

However, I was later to see that this was only a partial awakening. 

I also saw the beginning of understanding that that this emptiness--consciousness--also was not me, it was still an object. I was witnessing it. The ‘I thought’ was even less me, because it sprang out of the emptiness-void, and disappeared back into it.

Later I discovered that this understanding acquired in waking consciousness, was only true about the waking consciousness. Ramana had not yet gone far enough in his initial awakening (at least according to how he explained it), just as I had not.

One has to see that the waking consciousness itself—the entirety of existence—is unreal, and that waking consciousness, as are the sleep and dream states, are added onto the deepest sense of me as witness.

You-me, the "Real" you and me, lie entirely beyond consciousness of the world, entirely beyond existence. You might say our true nature lies in an entirely different dimension from all observables, including the world, our minds, our dreams and various states of consciousness, and even the emptiness and the void; all are observables and we are beyond them. We are beyond everything, unborn and unwitting witnesses of all that is, which is merely fantasy stuff, making up the play of consciousness. 

Robert used to start every other Satsang by saying, "You are not real; you do not exist; you are nothing." Everyone laughed at Satsang--except me, I didn't find it funny, but true. Most everyone there had no idea that he was telling them they were beyond existence.

Not only do you need to give up identification with the world and the mind, but also emptiness--the self-illumined void consciousness.

When I announced this understanding to Robert he said I got it. After being with him for seven years I had gotten it. Robert had years earlier told me the real secret, which is that even consciousness does not exist in the sense it had no reality apart from the other-dimensional subject, the witness of all, about whom nothing can be known or said. 

You can only BE the witness, who everyone is already, but do not recognize it because they identify with the body or mind or other elements in consciousness.

This is so momentous of an understanding that it is difficult to convey no matter how hard I try, because I am talking in concepts, or pointers, and no one ever knows another’s subjectivity and conceptual matrix.

Each of us is a pseudo-person in a pseudo reality until we see through that I-thought network/matrix. That matrix can be relatively similar to the matrix of others in so far as each of us has common upbringings. But if education and life experiences are too different, truly understanding another’s world and knowing how to make a transformative impression on that person’s subjectivity is virtually impossible.

My body is now just two years younger than Robert’s when he died. I feel a weight of time pressing. My health is not good at times. I want as much as possible to make Robert and the understanding he gave me more available to the world.

I have noticed that the quality of questions and seekers now contacting me is far more spiritually “mature” than two years ago. There are more and more people who are “getting it” or on the verge of getting it, and by getting it, I mean going all the way beyond consciousness.

Therefore, I have decided to start teaching in earnest, which may or may not mean Satsang in Los Angeles, but definitely does mean I am going to attempt to clear up all doubts of anyone who has them by making a detailed exposition and explanation of at least (initially) three texts that I consider the key to getting it. The three are: The Path of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part 1 by Sadhu Om and Michael James; Prior to Consciousness, edited by Jean Dunn, and the Nisargadatta Gita by Pradeep Apte. Later I might add some of Robert’s talks.

These expositions will come in the form of lessons covering a chapter or so of each text at a time. Maybe there will be a video post on Facebook or something like it.

Anyway, I’ll start in a couple of weeks. My mother is ill in Phoenix and I’ll be there for a while and will start when I return.


  1. Hi yesterday I listened to your audio of robert adams on the consciousness of awareness which pushed me a long way into really permanently realizing the absolute Truth I already know but now abided in more. I even posted this in my journal here http://www.tagged.com/machielovic

    Thanks for creating your sites I will be going there and here a lot and am very interested in an online part of your lessons!

  2. thank you for sharing love in every expression....