Although I’ve read some religious texts and mythology, I’ve eschewed ‘gathering signposts’ or adding ‘volumes to my arrogance…ignorance’ as Robert would say—this is one of his statements that resonated with me and made me laugh. So, I could never be a credible teacher in this area…and, alas, I cannot teach what I do not know. So, I’ll do my best to answer the questions you have…but I do not possess the ‘lingo’…and when I try to express any of this in words….I literally feel as if I’ve fallen off the world with no point of reference.
I have no formal training in meditation other than I’ve always been comfortable in silence and stillness; at the side of a babbling brook or alone; I never understood why folks would be un-nerved by it and felt they had to ‘fill the air-waves’ with chatter, loud music or drinking.
Currently, I do not attribute my ‘state of neutrality’ to working with this text---it came over time as I let things go, as I accepted ‘what is’ and persevered to remain in the moment.
The text I’ve been working with is The Collected Works of Robert Adams (967pdf). The transcripts of all his Satsangs with you, and others. Later, when I began to listen to the audio recordings….I hear your voice from time to time, and you have a wonderful, heartening laugh.
As I worked my way through this text over 8 months, I was not able to read it quickly to gain an overview. It pulled me in, and it seemed irreverent to move so quickly…so, I slowed down. .. a great deal. The pace varied by the degree of ‘resonance’ I felt with the particular transcript/or written session. I stayed with the printed transcript alone, for the first 6 months…because I am more of a visual learner; verbal learning only reinforces the topic or opens it for my heart to grab onto it in a different way…to see/know it at another level…or to see another facet.
As for my practice and what inner state it yields—I’ll do my best to describe.
I wake quickly. I practiced watching for the gap. Shortly I was able to awaken without mindedness or thoughts and I would repeat a few ‘I, Am’ breaths and then just dwell in the stillness that arose. It is peaceful, quiet with a hint of warmth/welcoming. It is devoid of all else. Depending upon how early I awoke, I would remain in this state for 1-2 hours, or until my kitty-guru would fetch me. Through breakfast—I would remain in this state while being present with my feline guru and celebrating the morning. Once chores were accomplished, I would pick up reading the text where I left off the previous day. I spent every day, 1-4 hours working with the text. I would read a paragraph, reflect…absorb. The stillness would carry throughout the day.
In the evening, I would repeat the ‘I, Am’ breaths a few times, enter the same peaceful state and stay there for an hour or so. I would then retire, and as I did so, I would reflect/recite…the 4 principles of self-realization of noble wisdom. I am not a creature of habit, actually I love variety (not a rut) and so this was not a mechanical recitation. I worked to find the words…then to cast away the language for a a knowing as my heart would absorb or embrace something to the ‘core’. Once I felt this, I would change it to reflecting on something that had seem foreign to me…something that I had gained intellectually from the text but did not have a ‘knowing’ of within my heart…or this ‘I am-ness’. Over time, as programs/concepts/attachments became recognized…and then fell away with mental/emotional detachment from witnessing…the “I am-ness’ moved to an experience with the same presence or feeling….but to something no longer named…just pointed to. It moved from the ‘neti, neti’…what I am not….to ‘out beyond all that I know…sense…feel…any concept….I am THAT.” No labeling….no images…no concepts…no mind.
Once I completed this review of the text, I would look over certain areas I had marked and reflect upon them. If there were a ‘reaction’ to the dialog or question from a devotee, I would probe the reaction through self-inquiry…looking for the root. I then began to retire with listening to Satsang audible sessions on my ipod. Often 5 – 30 a night, depending on wakefulness. I repeat the sessions, let’s say July 1992 for 3-4 nights. At this point, when I can nearly repeat it…or anticipate it, I then move onto the next month/set of recordings. Even when I listen to the same talks repetitively, I never start in the same place or with the same talk. I keep mashing or mixing it up.
I do this every day ---I abide in the principles, I-am-ness, stillness nearly throughout the day. It takes an exceptional event to react/pull me out of this state. Even in these exceptional circumstances, there was a stillness and clarity from which came the right action….however, if there were gripping emotions that I experienced…or went into…and then witnessed ‘ to whom do these come….they come to me…who is this little me…this I that has these emotions…what is the Source this I?” Never answering any of these …reflecting in stillness….it dissipates the emotion. Sometimes I would take the path of self-inquiry, sometimes I would go into the feeling…dive deep into it… to feel every iota of it; this type of ‘diving’ usually only was needed once….then witnessing, self-inquiry…shining that light on it …evaporated it instantly.
There are no labels…polarities…when everything is awash in this neutrality. There is no thing…no sound…no images…no geometrical shapes…nothing comes to senses or mind. Nothing that anyone else describes or experiences, at least that I’ve read to date (I don’t go looking for these, but run across them in reading). For lack of a better analogy, it’s like a cool, foggy, overcast day….beautiful, still and peaceful in its own right; but not the brilliant, sunny, sparkling aliveness of a sunny day with dazzling warmth and vitality. It’s peaceful and still but without the pervading bliss, joy, warmth and enveloping love that I felt the oneness with in my death experience.
Now after leaving the text alone – I am reviewing the passages that I marked…approximately 60’ish that I want to reflect on and ensure that they are heart-felt and not an intellectual learning or concept.
When I’m not working in my career, I fill the background with either silence or devotional music. I had an extensive library of Gregorian chant that I’ve now complimented with your recommendations (Shankarananda, Muktananda, et cetera). I do not know the words…which keeps my mind out of it…I just allow my Self to BE the music….or to appreciate/attentively listen to the artistry without interpretation.
My final comment, is that I have experienced a different ‘I am-ness’…than all of what I’ve described. I had attended a silent group that gets together around the work of Lester Levenson. The only verbal communication is a showing of a video or audio session from one of his Sedona retreats/teachings. The material was not new to me…but I did experience a higher energy level. Maybe 20 minutes into the silence I was moved to turn my ipod to a particular song and to just let it repeat. The experience made me feel as if the music lifted me to a higher plane…where I was ‘in’ the music and visualizing the masters that have been important to me….and me with them. The silent period lasted for about an hour (I’m told) but I was oblivious. I came back about ½ hour after everyone had left…having missed all of the chatting as everyone departed. I was so energized by the experience---it had left me feeling as though I was the center of a brilliant, whirling galaxy. Everything seemed different…amplified…but the feeling was enveloping….safe…positive….welcoming…brilliant. It was still no where near the magnitude of my previous experience, but it was beyond the ‘zone of neutrality’ in a way. I know I had to walk to my car…but I wasn’t….it was happening…but it wasn’t the focus…I was still enveloped in the experience. But there was a side-effect. I had no awareness of it, until I went to answer the host’s question….”we didn’t disturb you, but WHERE were YOU?” I went to answer but physically couldn’t answer, I couldn’t speak. I could hear…although distantly…what I would have said in reply …but I couldn’t form the words…. I waved him off…pointed to my watch (pure improvisation) and bustled off. I had to change my plans for the day. I texted changes to folks on my phone and then headed for a quiet place of tall redwoods where I could sit undisturbed. I went back into the experience, but it was not as deep. I totally lost track of time. 6 Hours later I realized it was getting dark and I was cold. When I arrived home, I could speak but with brevity… but it was like I was somewhere else. My guests thought I was toying with them for the evening…but it was all I could muster. The situation required that I contribute to the conversation that evening, but it was mostly through presence and listening. It’s been 2 years since this experience and I’ve not experienced anything like it’s depth or side-effect since. I don’t know if it is relevant—but…there it is. The experience did make me cautious about where/when I sought this depth.
I hope this helps—I’m not sure if I’ve elucidated my inner state but I have provided some construct to the practice. I’m still a ‘working stiff’ myself….but I’ve found that if I start and end the waking day with ‘practice’….it carries me through most of the rest. It helps to set the framework for my ‘waking day’ and keeps me grounded or centered on what’s most important to me.
Thank you for reading it---I will endeavor to answer any questions and will gratefully accept any guidance or insight you can provide.
Grateful that you are here for the rest of us,
I listen and hear you are practicing almost perfectly, and you are going into a state beyond consciousness, or at least beyond waking and sleep consciousness. But are you aware that the waking and sleep states come to you, are added to you and do not touch you?
I hear despite these profound states you are looking to recreate permanently an experience that lasted about two years after your near death, and the failure to recreate the intensity of that experience is the cause now of a degree of unhappiness. It is possible that the desiring-anticipation of that state recurring is a subtle sabotage.
Robert used to say a time comes when the bliss is no longer wanted or needed, that the silence gives everything. And it sounds like you have entered Turiya and can abide there with regularity.
Are you happy now or are you waiting for something else?
Think about this for a while before answering.
For a more blissful experiences, the body has to be energized somewhat. I don't know the state of your physical body now, but perhaps some exercise.
Also, I would avoid doing anything except self-inquiry: isolating the feeling 'I am' and plunging into it. Forget thoughts and feelings. They are not important. Don't do the I am breathing exercise for a while, nor reading Robert's talks. Just focus on I Am. Fall back into it; watch it; become it; play with it as you were doing.
Then tell me what happens. I am very interested.
You have nothing to fear. You are like a golf ball rolling around the hole before dropping in. I don't know you well enough yet to say other than what I have.
You are doing everything right, just keep going with the above adjustments.