14 April 2010

Dear Ed,

I am overwhelmed by gratitude towards You. I think I speak on behalf of all your students; there is obviously nothing more beautiful than to embody the Truth with one's being. You said You want an ashram in LA but You already have a virtual ashram with many students on the internet. Although there is something extra about meeting in the flesh, Your site allows Your teaching to reach a wider audience spread across the globe. And by it You are taking people to the other shore--- take Rajiv for example. The words You transmit through cyberspace are making Buddhas of us all!

There are questions as with every email. You will answer them with passionate equanimity because You are in the Place beyond time, where God's work manifests spontaneously as it should. The only wish now is to join You There in order that I may have no more questions and possibly begin to answer some that others may have.

"You can feel what it is like---at least for me---by sitting in Padmasana, and letting your consciousness leave your head and go down into your body into the belly. Focus your mind in your belly."

This passage from Dialogues has always stuck out to me the most because I know what you are describing. I once told you about the most powerful feeling I got through meditation, and that is the feeling of doing the practice described above. I had been doing it before I found you and your page although I don't know why. When I drop my mind into my belly, "I" merges with the Whole and there is no longer a mind to separate this from that. It is like You said: "Your body disappears and you are the world in total Samadhi." But then You say: "The Oneness is not real. You are merely observing the totality of Consciousness. But who observes? THAT is beyond Consciousness, prior to consciousness." It is not clear to me yet WHO it is that observes the Totality. You did say this chronologically prior to giving Rajiv the belly practice so maybe I am wrong to connect them in this way. But if the Totality is not real then what is the point of merging with it? Isn't that serving Maya, not Brahman?


Yes, Kevin, it is not clear to you yet, who observes. The dropping of the center of awareness into the belly temporarily destroys the mind, and YOU become identified with the totality of awareness. You become the wind, singing birds, passing clouds, etc. What this experience is giving you is a window into the constant experience of someone who has had an initial awakening, the experience of oneness. One becomes like empty space and contains all phenomena as well as the void. They interpenetrate: “Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form. Feeling, thought and consciousness are also like this.”[Heart Sutra]

Yet, this glimpse is brought on by a specific technique and does not last. I used to go into and emerge from this state 4-5 times a day, and me, as the sense of a personal self, always returned.

However, as self-inquiry persists, one day the mind becomes shattered when it discovers that the I-thought, though it exists, is not real. It is like an obscuring cloud—a cloud that is gone in the stomach technique. Then one is shocked to find there is no I-entity as an object. You don’t exist! When you don’t exist, the world also ceases to exist, just as there is no world in the stomach technique. With the stomach technique there is only You. You are all. But the stomach technique is temporary, first stage awakening is permanent.

Becoming one with the totality is an essential step. This is what Nisargadatta calls abiding in the I Am. But the stomach exercise is artificial. This is irony; becoming one with the I Am eventually leads to the transcendence of I Am.

The other thing is that I am taking the words used by Enlightened individuals to describe their awakening and contemplating them as koans. You will say that doing this only risks trapping the mind in a conceptual minefield but isn't the point of koan contemplation to shatter the mind through repeated blows? I have done this ever since I began practicing because I like it but if you tell me it is detrimental then I will stop. Earlier I was contemplating the following quote by Roslyn Moore who awoke during a retreat with Gangaji: 


Yes, avoid contemplating other’s awakening experience, it definitely will not help your own.  It will only hinder because the mind is looking for some key in someone else’s experience which diverts you from deep contemplation of your own. You need to reply only on yourself at this stage.

"The next two mornings when I woke up in the bedroom where I was sleeping in Berkeley, I was aware of the moment that my mind became activated, as if I were a mechanical toy that had been plugged in. Then, mysteriously and spontaneously, I was aware of waking up again, but now I was waking up from everything I thought. I expanded and KNEW this mind stream to be nothing more than a blip on a screen. Who I am is vast and unending space. Space filled with bed, birdsong, tree branches out my window, me. I see the open space and I see the forms which have emerged out of the space, but there is no real distinction between thing and non-thing. There truly is no separation. No aspect of "me" is in opposition to the emptiness which it is made from. I do not exist. More accurately, I am existence itself. I include everything I see and everything I don't see. I am not bound by the event of me. The event of me is infused with who I truly am." 
Reading this over and over and contemplating it as a koan, I found that a part of me believed what she said, maybe even understood it to some degree but the rest of me prohibited its REALIZATION. The only thing I can figure is that my ego or past conditioning is preventing higher understanding. So how do I weaken the bonds of my past conditioning? If You tell me it can be accomplished by focusing my mind in my belly then I will do that all day everyday. 


See, from hearing of her awakening, to then speculating why you can’t duplicate it merely by hearing it, you have concocted a whole theory of why you have not attained and now ask for advice on how to free yourself within the context of that theory you created about what is needed. Her experience and your dwelling on it is taking you away from contemplation and abidance in the self.

My last question pertains to the "dropping" of the conscious center to the belly that you describe. Does that dropping occur like a WHOOSH once and final opening a new stage, or does it describe the process of focusing the mind in the belly which is experienced every time I go from non-meditation into Samadhi on the world?


The stomach exercise is always temporary; it will not lead to liberation. It DOES give you a taste for first stage enlightenment.

At this point you need to drop the stomach dropping exercise and fall back into pure self-inquiry, which means abiding in the I-sense, as often and long as possible throughout the day. Both first and second stage awakening can be found this way. The stomach exercise is an interesting diversion that gives you a taste of enlightenment.

It seems what I should be doing is wall-sitting the belly practice (although I can do it anywhere provided I don't have to think). I want to mention that although I am becoming more confident I am still sometimes troubled by not knowing where I am going or if I am doing things right-- I always want the "bird's-eye" view of the Path although it is not possible. The only solution I have to that is to practice, for then the thought does not arise. 

Thank you, Ed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


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