30 October 2011

Here is my own truth

I had my first two awakenings in 1995 wherein I saw the emptiness and illusion of self, and that the world was a creation of mind.  I identified with the emptiness, the space that contained all. There was nothing left to do so far as seeking was concerned.  I also saw that what I was in the deepest sense was even beyond consciousness, that it was the movement of the "I Am" sense that created the manifest world.

In retrospect I see that there was some movement to return to the marketplace that began in 2003.  Before that, I realized I had nothing to say, there was no truth, all knowledge was empty and illusory, including even this knowledge.

Nisargadatta said in I Am That:

You are giving a certain date to your realization. ... What happened?

Maharaj: The mind ceased producing events. The ancient and ceaseless search stopped - I wanted nothing, expected nothing - accepted nothing as my own. There was no `me' left to strive for. Even the bare `I am' faded away. The other thing that I noticed was that I lost all my habitual certainties. Earlier I was sure of so many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by not knowing, because all my knowledge was false. My not knowing was in itself knowledge of the fact that all knowledge is ignorance, that `I do not know' is the only true statement the mind can make.--Nisargadatta

 So, what to say about nothingness and not knowing? For ten years I couldn't say anything. Now I have something to say about it.  Give up all concepts and dive within the emptiness one finds inside. Stay there, as dumb as a rock, and it becomes illumined by the light of consciousness. It took me 15 years to learn to say this.

But you see, this realization, for most, requires a final return to the marketplace wherein one’s inner mess, one’s inner brokenness is released over and over until our humanness is as empty as the Void we received upon first realization.

Soen Sah Nim called it the path from emptiness back to ordinary mind, from 180 degrees back to 0, or 360 degrees. It is filled with drama and magic he said.  In my own experience, it is a movement of love and acceptance, both of my own inner brokenness and mess, and of others.  But the problem is finding that driver that will make it happen: Love!  Only intense love for another and for one’s own self will automatically cause you to go deep.  Once this intense love grabs you, you are helpless.  However, at some point most find a way to jump off this path because it is so painful and intense.  But a few, with great courage remain on it to the end, where their personal inner emptiness now matches the great Void revealed to them many years before.

The way of the Bhakti is entirely devoted to exploring this level of puking one’s guts out so to speak in order to reach emptiness with many milestones along the way, and in the end, they arrive at the same truth as Advaita, being empty and receptive to everything and everyone, completely humbled.  Those who seek the advaita way, or neo advaita really don’t want to hear this, but this path is so much easier after becoming established in the Void first, because you know where you are going then on a human level.

The path of the Bhakti, difficult as it is, also reveals experiences of love, bliss, ecstasy and surrender that make the path itself its own end. All along the way after the first awakening, even in the midst of tremendous upheavals from the unconsciousness, there is a growing sense of rightness and happiness, with increasing love and bliss that makes the journey tolerable.

Life, in the end, becomes service to others in the way he or she feels most compelled to give. 

One of the most dramatic accounts of this journey to No-Self is given by Bernadette Roberts in her three books. She talks of moving from being an ordinary person, consumed by love of Christ, to experiences of oneness and ecstasy, then the movement towards complete emptiness, nothingness, or as she called it, the Void of Voids.  The first part of her journey was purely Bhakti, the second, Adaita or Zen-like, and as she put it, hell. Her pain came from the loss of the love and bliss she had so loved.


  1. Dear Ed,

    Thanks for speaking so simply and from the heart about your own experience. For 23 years I have been lucky enough to have a wife I can give this love and devotion to. Sometimes I feel like I am beginning to love her as much as I love myself. It is both inspiring and frightning to be so known by another and to see sometimes that she is not another embodiment of me but that I am another embodiment of her. I am an occasional reader here and I thank you.

  2. Hello, Ed.

    You said you are a friend of Bernadette, so I´d like to have your view on her journey.

    Some years ago I read one of her books, and even though her experience seems quite usual (first, oneness and bliss. After that, the encounter with nothingness), she refers to it as unique in the history of spirituality, no matter if we talk about mystical Christianity, Buddhism, Vedanta,etc.

    She concedes that Meister Eckhart has probably spoken about the same thing (in my opinion, there´s no doubt about it) but that´s all.

    I find it strange, because her account of her spiritual journey looks identical to any other mystic´s relate.

    What can you say about it?

    Thanks, Ed.

  3. Dearest Ed,

    It seems that I am constitutionally wired for the Bhakti/Sufi path. What a shock this has been for me in many ways.

    As you know, one of my concerns with surrendering or diving deep into the play of emotions, feelings, ie the inner brokenness (like I have a choice) was that the knowledge (Jnana) aspect would be neglected, plus I was so afraid. The Bhakta path, while producing lots of energies in other ways can be exhausting. I did not see how the two could possibly co-exist and deepen simultaneously. You assured me that one would not suffer at the expense of the other. So far this is holding true.

    If anything, and this is such a mystery to me, being open to feel deeply, accept and explore my own inner brokenness has also brought about a deepening of knowledge.
    Days may appear to be consumed in intense emotional drama, leaving me in utter despair at times. I am sure during these periods that clarity will never come again...and then it does and its even deeper.

    Finding the driver (LOVE) to make all of this happen is so crucial. I would say, impossible without it.


  4. I do not think there is any generic path with identical experiences, to which she fits a mold. For example, for me the emptiness, no-self, oneness experiences came first. Then someone saw the love in me, which I did not feel, and brought it out. This has been my path ever since, 100% opposite of Bernadette, and more like that of the zen master returning to the marketplace. Happy, joyous, not like the Buddhist Arhat ideal or resting in Nirvana.