31 May 2012

Dear Ed,

I have been "lurking" for several months, after watching a Satsang video on "Broken-ness." You played the "Jyoti Se Jyota" chant then [one of my very favorites] and as soon as my eyes closed, I dropped straight into the heart/void on the right. It was so deep, so fast, that it was shocking. This was a fairly potent sign, IMO. I was with Adi Da for 15 yrs ['76-'91] and a woman Guru, XXXXXXX  [mostly unknown] for the next 15 yrs.

Briefly, even since childhood there have been many Nirvikalpa samadhis, and three "major" awakening experiences [no capital "A".] The shortest was 5 mos, the longest a full yr. The re-veiling is like a steel trap on the open heart...devastating for a time. The last was in '04 and XXXXXXX announced to her small circle of devotees that, "V. is Awake." She was very happy, as was I obviously. We played in the seemingly bottomless depth of our new "relationship" of no-separation. [Her other devotees were left in varying stages of jealousy and terror.] As for "the awakening," the major problem was that there was a someone left over who supposedly awoke.

It took awhile to become obvious. When it did, XXXXXXX was first very sad...and then--a few months later--felt betrayed. Her other devotees were, need I say, ecstatic over "my" misfortune. 

It went from bad to worse. She let them vent on me, I was verbally abused, shunned, nearly spat on by one man, and her husband called me an "abomination," and then was given the OK by S to treat me as though I didn't exist [...it was called an "avoidance clause."]...AND we lived in the same house.
During the next six months [it was a long beating,] I was holding to the understanding which still remained...since even if it is not permanent, you are not exactly the same either. She, herself, eventually used intense shaming and humiliation in front of the whole group...it was not a spontaneous event, she had planned it as I later discovered... and my trust in her died that day. It was meant to humble me, but it FELT so scripted that something in me spontaneously recoiled. It is a very sad day when your trust in your Guru dies. I left two months later, and am not proud of some of the things I wrote to her. At the same time, I felt there was something about the bridge between us that had to be burned.

That was nearly 6 yrs ago. The "miscarried" awakening did leave a deeper awareness of Presence, a real yet still delicate grounding in the "I AM." I moved back to the SF Bay area, continuing to inquire. There have been nirvikalpas still, and a growing humility. I do not pretend to be Awake, nor do I feel like a failure. What I am is serious about this matter of living in the Natural State of Being that I have seen to be the True Reality. There is more work to do...I DO understand vasanas now!...and the mind cannot bring their demise. I have read all you have written...your expression of True Realization is so FULL, that my heart weeps for Joy. I am broken still but the deep love I will always have for my past Teachers has brought forgiveness, and that has brought a humility I've never had...so they did serve me. Because of them, Ed, I am ready for you. 

With love and respect, 

PS...this might interest you. XXXXXXX is/was friends with Sarada and Lakshmana. I met them in '92 at their home. [X had already visited them several times...I have a beautiful photo of X&S together the first time they met...and one of X/S/L also.] XXXXXXX bought Swami a little van so he could resume his daily circumambulations around Arunachala. X said he called her his "spiritual daughter." A couple of years later, XXXXXXX said I was her "spiritual daughter"...it was during my false-alarm Witness awakening. [I imagine she has taken it back though.] Sarada stopped communications with XXXXXXX some years back...as did Gangaji. XXXXXXX felt their awakenings were not as complete as Adi Da's or hers. My educated guess is that she conveyed that to them in some manner...not disrespectfully, but I know she wanted to serve their fullest Liberation [ie, Adi Da's 7th stage.] It may not have gone over too well. Anyway...just sharing a little history on our mutual "lineage" ;-) 

...If you feel that including this in the blog would be of use to "others," then please do so.

V. You and I need to talk about Da and his teachings.  There appeared to be so much concepts in him, especially regarding what his experiences meant.  Yes, the experiences of awakening are many, but more important is to recognize and know the knower.  The experiences of bliss and ecstasy are also near infinite. You appear to have already had those sorts of experiences and thus in a sense, your trip is already complete, because post those awakening experiences, there is a natural unfolding that has nothing to do with V. as a person, or anything you can practice.  I don't think you want to get rid of the person or personal, just the finitude and self-imposed limitations of that apparent person.

Nisargadatta on finding his true nature and the importance of the guru.

This comes from Chapter 64 of I Am That, page 300 and onwards in some editions. The topic was shown to me by Rajiv Kapur.

Maharaj: You have met many Saints ascetics, but a fully realized man, conscious of his divinity is hard to find. This Saints and yogis, by immense efforts and sacrifices, acquire many miraculous powers and could do much good in helping people and inspiring faith, yet it does not make them perfect. It is not a way to reality, but merely an enrichment of the false. All existences is in space and time, limited and temporary. He who experiences existence is also limited and temporary. I am not concerned with either what exists, or who exists, I take my stance beyond, wherein both and neither.

(Comment: Notice that Maharaj does not stop at "beingness" the bright and clear presence spoken of by the neoadvaitins as his final goal. He is entirely beyond both existence (beingness in the present) and non-existence, being THAT which knows both and is beyond both.)

Their knowledge is not enough; the knower must be known. The pundits and yogis may know many things, but of what use is mere knowledge if the self is not known? Without the knowledge of the knower, there can be no peace. How does one come to know the knower? I can only tell you what I know from my own experience. When I met my d find your real self."

I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence and what a difference it made and how soon. It took me only three years to realize my true nature. My guru died soon after I met him but it made no difference. I remember what he told me and persevered. The fruit of it is here, with me. I know myself as I am in reality. And neither the body, nor the mind, nor the mental faculties. I am beyond all these.

You must gain your own experience. Your custom is to deal with things, physical and mental. I am not a thing, nor are you. We are neither matter nor energy, neither body nor mind. Once you have a glimpse of your own being, you will not find me difficult to understand.

The way to truth lies through destruction of the false. To destroy the false, you must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these the idea that you are a body is the worst. With the body comes the world, and with the world--God, was supposed to have created the world and thus it starts--fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems--all to protect and support the child man, frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making. Realize that what you are cannot be born or die and with the fear all gone, all suffering ends.

What the mind invents, the mind destroys. But the real is, is not created and cannot be destroyed.

My guru,s words: "you are myself," are timelessly with me. In the beginning I had to fix my mind on them, but now it has become natural and easy. The point when the mind accepts the words of the guru and truly lives by them spontaneously and in every detail of daily life, is the threshold of realization. In a way, it is a salvation by faith, but the faith must be intense and lasting.

On the function of, meeting and trusting the guru:

Question: how does one find faith in a guru?

Maharaj: to find a guru and also to trust him is pure luck. It does not happen often.

Question: is it destiny that ordains?

Maharaj: Calling it destiny explains little. When it happens, you cannot say why it happens and you merely cover up your ignorance by calling it karma, grace or the will of God.

Question: Krishnamurti says that a guru is not needed.

Maharaj: somebody must tell you about the supreme reality and the way that leads to it. Krishnamurti is doing nothing else. In a way he is right--most of the so-called disciples do not trust their guru; they disobey them and finally abandon them. For such disciples it would have been infinitely better if they had no guru at all and just look within for guidance. To find a living guru is a rare opportunity and a great responsibility. One should not treat these matters lightly. You people are out to buy yourself heaven and you imagine that the guru will supply it for a price. You seek to strike a bargain by offering little but asking much. You cheat nobody except yourselves.

Question: you told a questioner that we are the same, that we are equals. I cannot believe it. Since I do not believe it, of what use is your statement to me?

Maharaj: your disbelief does not matter. My words are true and they will do their work. This is the beauty of the noble company of Satsang.

Question: Just sitting here can be considered spiritual practice?

Maharaj: Of course. The River of life is flowing. Some of the water is here, but so much of it has already reached its goal. You know only the present. I see much further into the past and future, into what you are what you can be. I cannot but see you as myself. It is in the very nature of love to see no difference.

Question: How can I come to see myself as you see me?

Maharaj: It is enough if you do not imagine yourself to be the body. It is the “I am the body idea” that is so calamitous. It blinds you completely to your real nature. Even for a moment do not think you are the body. Give yourself no name, no shape. In the darkness of the silence reality is found. Unselfish action, free from all concern with the body and its interests will carry you into the very heart of reality.

30 May 2012

In 1997 or 1998, I went to Korea, sponsored by a Korean Zen Master in Los Angeles, named Do Ahn Kim, abbot at Kwan Um Sah. I was introduced to the inner workings and power structure of Chogye Zen Buddhism in Seoul. I was "shopped"around by Do Ahn's brother, meeting all the high monks of the 6,000 temple order.

I did not have to do a thing.  I was treated as royalty, and the propaganda branch of the order at the link above, eventually made me the first American World Teacher of Chogye Buddhism, which authorized me to start a new branch of Chogye Buddhism in the U.S.  However, later I found out that this was really a titular post, and that all teachings were to be controlled in the background by Do Ahn Kim.  I did not know this when I was in Korea though.

In any event, being treated like a king, never having to carry money, I.D., or anything. Being treated like a dignitary had a profound effect on my psyche.  I felt happy all the time. Wherever I went I was honored and cared for.  I felt a profound relaxation as all details of everyday life were taken care of by others, and I just was guided from one venue to another to speak to groups or meet Chogye elders, including the ruling inner circle who wanted to emulate Soen Sahn Soen Sa's success in the U.S., but with someone more under their control.

I was totally at peace, smiling, happy, even when accidents occurred such as getting lost in downtown Seoul.

Here is the issue: When your life is easy, and people all around you idealize you, take care of you and your needs, and you have no real need to plan or take care of anything, except to show up when others take you somewhere, it is really, really easy to be happy, loving and benevolent.

And, when you are a major guru such as Muktananda, Osho, Ramana or many others, where you have a large inner group of "guru-taker-care-ofs" as an entourage, it is really easy to be continuously happy and benevolent.

And, surrounded by that culture which even creates an image for you of who you are, such as disciples did around Muktananda and Ramana, let alone Krishnamurti and the Dalai Lama, an image of affable and transcendent indifference is easy to maintain, and the myth of the transcendent guru is born.

Students coming from the outside are presented with a guru persona created by the guru's handlers and by their largely staged and handled public appearances, backed by their professional PR staffs and writers of books, bios, lessons, and organizational teachers.

At this point, few can really see who or what the teacher or guru is really like because you are immersed in a culture of adulation and prepared images, which are sort of like universal archetypes of the guru that even American's have, of a person who has "transcended" life, is all knowing, omniscient, an embodiment of all that is good, truth, and light.  Anyone who challenges this image in any way should beware.

The real guru only comes out in dealings with his entourage on a day by day basis, dealings the average person never knows about.  The guru image and persona is the only entity the vast majority of followers ever see.

If the guru begins to get unstable as did Osho, or scandals of one sort or another begin to arise, the real guru is taken underground and sort of disappears from public view, or moves out of the country as did Da Free John to Figi, or Osho disappearing by going silent.

The guru archetype is alive and well in most of us, the need for a father or god-like figure who is omniscient, who will love and protect us, and gradually reveal to us, what it is like to be beyond human, all-knowing and divine.

But you see, this is all projection and image, carefully managed by handlers, whether of Ramana, Muktananda, or as I did with Robert Adams.

It is the guru myth so carefully created and maintained, which is really the universal myth built into all of us of the "God-Man" or superman, that is precisely that which prevents us from becoming real, becoming enlightened and bereft of any illusion of superman-hood.

The true spiritual path consists of losing all of these images and just becoming more and more "unspecial," "unrealized," "unthinking," and "undreaming," and just becoming YOU as the sense of I-Am.

All the images are what make up the false self, the idealized and also the hated and buried images of ourselves carefully pushed out of consciousness.  Getting rid of these images, ideals, projections, and the attached emotions and thought processes, and really becoming you IS THE PROCESS OF BECOMING SELF-REALIZED.  One becomes more and more ordinary, dissolving all the "wrinkles" in everyday consciousness, such that the core experience of "I-ness" is recognized and revealed, and well as the secondary recognition that that I is both identical to what I "really" am, but at the same time, "I" am altogether entirely beyond it.

So, realize it is really, really easy for a guru (or anyone) to be, or at least appear happy when surrounded by handlers that make his or her day wrinkle-free, and if unhappiness or anger hit, they pass briefly and never escape from his inner circle.  Thus the image of the perfect god-man is created and maintained, and separately maintained by the guru culture.

Given that this is universally the case, one can easily see that the only people in the guru environment who can take advantage of the presence of the teacher, are for those close enough to see what he or she is really like.  This happens only to handlers around supremely popular gurus like Osho or Muktananda, (who themselves are often corrupted by the narcissism that their own culture has created by being part of an inner circle), or by being around a teacher who is relatively unknown, such as Robert during his life.

Even then, most who attended Satsang never saw Robert for who he was, they saw their projections, positive or negative, and when the positive projections were broken, they had two choices: cut and run, as did most, or stay because you loved or respected Robert, as did I.  Guess which of these two classes of people makes any "progress" in "lightening" themselves of false images, emotional baggage, and endarkening beliefs?

29 May 2012

Just step a little way out of accepted, conventional behaviors, and see what happens.  From the LA Times  Think also of Rosa Parks who refused to sit in the back of the bus.  Freedom in "everyday" life comes slowly and with pain.  Anyone who thinks we are "free" in American, or any other society, is demented. 

Bomb thrower in green taffeta
By Shawnda Westly
   FOR MOST GIRLS, prom is a rite of passage: the perfect dress, the prettiest corsage and the handsome date; it’s an experience they remember their entire lives.
   Twenty-five years ago, as a junior at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, my choice to go to the prom without a traditional date made the whole experience memorable for an entirely different set of reasons. It made me suddenly an outcast and a radical, a bomb thrower in a green taffeta dress.
   Three different boys asked me to the prom, but at the time, I didn’t have a steady boyfriend. So I chose not to waste the night on what would have been essentially a first date. Instead, I decided to go in a group with two of my girlfriends.
   When I tried to buy prom tickets, I learned the school was only selling tickets to couples, one boy and one girl. The activities director said three unattached girls could cause “jealousies” on the dance floor and fights would break out.
   At the time, I was an honors student, varsity tennis player and a fairly reserved, non-rebellious young woman. When the school administration denied us tickets just because we didn’t have male dates, it didn’t seem right. Why should I be kept from the junior-senior prom because I didn’t have a male escort? The policy made no sense, so I petitioned the school administration to change it.
   I never thought my request would land me on the front page of local papers, or on “The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.” I also never expected this very newspaper to editorialize in support of my stance.
   Nor did I expect the backlash. It was a stunning lesson for a 16-yearold: If you step even slightly out of line with tradition and acceptable norms, you will be punished. I saw firsthand that society doesn’t just promote its traditions; it does all it can to enforce them. The message from most students and parents was to do it their way or you can’t do it at all.
   At school, banners went up vilifying the “Stag Prom.” Walking through the halls, I was called “dyke” and “bitch.” Our phone rang off the hook with complaints. I received threatening letters, including a pornographic collage of pictures with cutout letters conveying a violent and salacious message I never even showed my parents.
   My friends backed out. But two others, Dana Sonksen and Steve Silverman, stepped up to join me.
   The constant bullying made me scared to go to school. Would a cheerleader yell profanities at me? Would another football player let me know he planned to slam dance into me? I kept my mouth shut, and I didn’t pick fights. Finally, the school administration decided to change the policy.
   Then the big day arrived, and something happened I never saw coming. A lesbian couple, both dressed in tuxedos, obviously romantically involved, walked into the dance. Everyone, even my friends and I, stared. One thing was for sure: The heat was off me. For breaking a bigger barrier, I assume the two of them endured enough hatred and bullying to make my troubles seem like a cakewalk.
   In a sense, what my enemies feared most came to pass: When you challenge convention, there’s a ripple effect. “Stag Prom” turned into “Gay Prom.” One freedom led to another. But I’m proud to say that Edison never looked back. The school survives, the prom survives, Huntington Beach survives — and so does freedom of choice.
   Not every school is Edison, though. Just a few weeks ago, in Philadelphia, Amanda Dougherty, 17, was told she couldn’t attend her prom at Archbishop John Carroll High School because her date suddenly had to back out. The archdiocese said in a statement that the school held other dances during the year that didn’t require dates but that prom was a “special social occasion.” According to Fox News, Dougherty found another date.
   The archdiocese was right, of course: Prom is a special occasion; it was for me 25 years ago. And like so many things in life, it’s one we all should have the right — with an opposite-sex date, same-sex date or no date at all — to experience and remember.
   SHAWNDA WESTLY is the executive director of the California Democratic Party.

28 May 2012

I have received some negative feedback regarding my previous two posts where I eschew interest in one’s everyday life. Some people want to eat their cake and have it too. In other words, they want to hang on to their pride in their accomplishments, their family, their children, their job, and especially on their thinking search for spiritual knowledge, as opposed to just looking into one's own awareness and searching for the I-sense. Some people just refuse to accept no mind, becoming dumb as a rock, becoming good for nothing as a way of life. There is too much pride in them for everything about them in this worldly life.

Some people feel that the purpose of spirituality is to enhance and make better their everyday worldly life, much like many Christian Street preachers who say that it is God's will that you be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. There are some spiritualities which are entirely directed to making your everyday life more productive and happy, like various forms of Japanese chanting Buddhism, such as the Soka Gakkai, where one chants for happiness or for things, as well as the Sedona release technique, where you learn to let go of things in order to get things.

Much of her Christianity is dedicated to securing the good life through prayer and tithing, sort of asking for a divine quid pro quo.

In any event, no matter what types of spirituality the average person practices or accepts, very few want their practices to interfere with their everyday family life and career. They want spirituality to enhance their everyday life and happiness and career goals. They want to let go of nothing. That is, they want to have their cake and eat it too without being bothered much by a need to walk the talk of surrender or letting go, and going within.

Therefore I want to read part of a talk by Siddharameshwar called "Give up the Addiction to Mundane Worldly Life," dated August 12, 1934:

The worst habit is that of mundane worldly life. It is called the "greatest addiction." By force of this addiction to worldly life, Paraatman is made to believe that He is an individual, and is compelled to live the worldly life as a prison. All bad habits can be dropped, but the addiction to mundane life is the most difficult to drop. The mundane worldly life is called the blind dark life. The greatest enticement of Illusion, Maya, is this mundane life. However great maybe one sorrow, this addiction cannot be dropped. One is greatly lucky if this addiction is dropped. There was only one person who condemns the worldly life, and that is the saint. Nobody else does that. One does not even think of leaving this worldly life, even if one suffers endless difficulties.

People try to strengthen their ties with others by speaking to them respectively and congratulating each other over small things. People compete with each other for earning more honors and status. In this way, they feel they are happy in life. They act as if this is a respectable bad habit.

The "God of Death" is happy to give you many kinds of bodies and various troubles. Know that the body is your enemy. Very few are those who have truly understood. Only those who are lucky enough to receive the blessings of the Guru, who is the Self, can escape from the illusion by right efforts. All others are bound to the treadmill of life in various incarnations, and they make houses of bodies of various shapes and duration.

Those who consider themselves as being very scholarly only raise many various doubts and lead quite a wrong way of spiritual life. They only end up unhappy and make others unhappy as well. The man who is extraordinarily clever and learned is truly of no use. He puts himself and others at a great loss. He suffers because of his own pride in knowledge and worldly attainments.

The things of this world that are cherished by people always breed fear. When some action is done after listening to the opinions of worldly people, it increases many kinds of fear. We get completely exhausted and trying to maintain those things that appear in the illusion, as those things are ultimately perishable.

In short, people are like donkeys. They never listen because they are heavily conditioned from birth. However, those of you who do listen to the guru will attain self-realization.

The same holds true for those possessed by various ideas, such as spiritual purity, either of themselves or the guru. Siddharameshwar says on page 156 Of the Master of Self-Realization, the following:

Once there was a disciple who although he had received instructions from his guru, had not given up his former attitude. He had a peculiar sense of cleanliness and purity. His concept was that in order to avoid the touch of the dirty earth, he climbed up a tree. He lived in a tree, drank only rainwater and continued to lead that the earth was in pure.

When his guru came to know of this, he went to see him. The disciple had become very famous. People have built quite a large round platform around tree that he lived in, and had made a lot of decorations. The disciple did not like to come down, because to him the earth was impure. When the Guru came to him, he said, "You come down." The disciples said, “I will not touch the earth.” The Guru asked him, “Where was he sitting,” and the disciple replied, “On a tree.”

With this the guru said, “The tree is part of the earth and you remain in the tree. The tree in the earth are not separate. You have separated them by your mind, but in reality, the tree cannot be separated from the earth. The tree is the offspring of the earth and therefore cannot be separated from it. You are smothered by your imaginary distinctions of pure and impure, and in this way you would have become very impure. I gave you mantra so you would become pure, in unity with the whole world, but you, by your imagination are holding onto ideas of separateness, purity and impurity. Because of that you have become impure. You are now unfit for the realization that there is nothing other than Brahman. This is why you have no self-knowledge and you will not be able to realize everything is only one absolute Brahman.”

As a disciple listen to this, he understood his following and with fear, he climbed down. The guru said, in order to wipe out your ego you have to live in a pig pen for six months.

Is this not the way of many religions, from the Christian devote flailing themselves to obtain purity, to the ten commandments, to the 500 vows of living made by a fully ordained Buddhistmonk, and by the million “shoulds of society” and religion we all live by?  Siddharameshwar clearly states all the spiritual and religious ideas separate us from the totality of life and the world by setting us apart, making some actions and ideals pure, good, or impure.
I do it myself.  I tell people not to eat meat.  But this is my own way.  It made me feel better about myself once I knew animals were not dying to keep me alive, and in a sense, I set myself apart by taking this stance. But it is a separation I can live with because I accept the goal of nonviolence. 

26 May 2012

Most of us begin our spiritual search early in life. Yet even if we started when we were 10 or 11, we were already well-indoctrinated by parents, culture and school into conventionality. We rapidly learned conventional speech and ways of questioning. We knew what kind of words and ideas were acceptable, and which were not. We learned political correctness. We knew what concepts, ideas and thought patterns, as well as behaviors were accepted by our parents, peers, and school, as well as what kinds of friends we should have.

By the time or 18, we are fully indoctrinated with a set of values concerning family, children, career, education, politics, consumer behaviors, and some variant of the "American dream," which we attempt to live out.

A few of us, even at an early age, see through these images, concepts and accepted behaviors, and see them as utterly arbitrary and "unreal." We become rebellious. We question religion, the politics our parents accepted, our political system, our capitalist economy, our ideas of God, Christ, and spiritual teacher in the form of the pastor, and begin exploring alternatives using our mind, because we are taught that the mind is the way to know truth and oneself.

When Plato talked about knowing one’s self, it was through reason and rationality, questioning accepted beliefs through use of thinking and the mind.  His was not knowing oneself as Ramana or Robert Adams talked about, as a direct experience of foundational states of consciousness.

Thus the first spiritual breakout for most of us is almost entirely of the mind. We explore Vedanta, Buddhism, mystical Christianity, Taoism, Sufism, depth psychology, psychoanalysis, bioenergetics, hatha yoga, and vegetarianism, in a vain attempt to cut an original path for our own truth.

But if we are smart enough, and self-aware enough, after a while we recognize we're still following our mind which is seeking freedom from the known by opening doors to new conceptual schemes, new behaviors, new religions, new spiritual teachers, and new politics, and we find we are not gaining freedom, but just changing our jail cells’ furniture. We recognize that the mind is not the tool by which we can find freedom. The mind can only find novelty and excitement, which gives an appearance of “new,” but there's no real living-transformation by adopting new sets of concepts. Indeed, there has only been a move to different rooms in the same conceptual prison, or even just changing the furniture.

Many people do this into their 50s and 60s before they recognize that the mind is not the way to freedom, that the mind only engages in concepts, and there are billions, and billions, and billions of concepts bandied about by philosophers, scientists, engineers, politicians, school teachers and spiritual teachers since time immemorial, and none of these conceptual structures yield freedom.

Eventually we run into spiritual teachers or teachings that say the mind is not the way, that "the way" lies in dropping the mind, or transcend mind, living in emptiness, or living in and from the heart.

Yet these are really two very different ways. One implies a search for ultimate truth lying outside of concepts, which involves an exploration of "beingness" with its containers of various types of Void and “states.” The other implies a path of love, loving one another, a guru, a spouse, lover, and ultimately loving one's own Self. Each path has its own separate pitfalls and difficulties, as well as milestones and potential progressions.

The search for truth, ultimate truth, within the various types of voids, and states of knowing and unknowing, can become very dry and easily stalled due to lack of motivation, and a drying out of the will to persevere. The other path, of love, can and will activate all kinds of emotional states which can be both enthralling, but also frightening and destructive, leading to all kinds of distracting stoppages.

The path of the void, or of seeking truth, generally leads one away from the world, while the path of love maintains that involvement in the world, so much so, that direct observation or realization of the Self may be delayed.

We also have to understand that the ties of the mind are very deep and subtle. We may free ourselves from fundamentalist Christianity, or fundamentalist Buddhism, or Muhammadanism, but we may not free ourselves from family values, where some variant of the American dream, including even the becoming an academic, or professional such as a doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, engineer, professor, or a professional questioner such as a scientist.

We deep down recognize that escape from the conventional often means ostracism and rejection by society and crowds of people, leading to a life living at the fringes of society. It is extremely hard to escape from family values and conventionality of behaviors and then to lead a life of luxury or ease. This deters many from really opting for an "authentic" lifestyle of living out of oneself as opposed to conventions.

Those whose behaviors fall outside of the norm are often shunned, because people find them embarrassing or challenging because they are caught still in conventionality.

Can you imagine inviting Nisargadatta to dinner with your conventional friends? How many would find his behaviors embarrassing, and thus reflecting poorly on you within your group of friends or family? Conventionality and properness, as well as propriety become stumbling blocks to freedom.

So, I have constantly taught people how to obtain freedom, either by going within and abiding in the I sense, or to question all of their assumptions concerning conventionality, conventional behaviors, conventional aspirations, the American dream, ideas of marriage, sex, family, material success, as well as all the ideas we have about gurus and spirituality.

Living from the heart, or living without the mind, requires dropping all conventionality, all concepts, and just being open to whatever is presenting itself to you in the moment. Any concept or idea will prevent you from seeing who you are as well as who is the "other."

(Note: Beware even of this, because this too is a concept, but one meant asa "pointer," to bring freedom.)

As Robert said, "your mind is not your friend." Yet most people accept spirituality as a progressive exploration of spiritual concepts, as opposed to dropping the mind and seeing oneself directly without the intervention of thinking, the mind or concepts.

I think it is relatively easy to drop the mind when it comes to our spiritual search. That is, through meditation and repetitive hearing that the mind is not the way, that through the mind one cannot find freedom, one gradually really begins to practice meditation and attains an empty mind rather quickly. 

However, my experience is that most people encapsulate this empty mind to a small part of their lives, and no-mind, becoming nothing, does not extend outwards to family or their everyday life, because it would cause problems. Becoming unconventional is risky. Even Robert held back some of his teachings about Consciousness, saying, “If I told them the entire truth, I would be stoned.”

It is if for some, their spiritual life is totally separated and disjointed from their everyday life. We may be very spiritual in our meditation and getting rid of spiritual concepts like karma, reincarnation, guru, the void, emptiness, the self, and yet very prosaic and conventional when it comes to pursuing our everyday life with our three children, worn-out marriage, and unexciting career as a doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, executive, editor, or teacher. There, we swallow our tongue so to speak, and accept this as the bed we made for ourselves, and continue to plug away, while finding more freedom through meditation and freedom from spiritual concepts, but carefully avoiding letting this freedom from spoiling our conventional life style.

When it comes to questions of breakup or divorce, quitting our jobs and starting a new career, dropping out of college, and just leaping into an unknown future, we find this is an entirely different and much larger ball of wax. 

The escape from the trap of spiritual teachings is entirely less traumatic than escaping from a dead marriage, a dead-end career that we have spent 20 years in, or even changing our politics from conservative to liberal, and actually making a commitment to getting involved there, or in animal rescue, or some other new endeavor entirely, because this involves actually walking the talk, as opposed to merely meditating and thinking about the talk. Actions speak much larger than words, concepts, or meditative peace.

I think all good teachers try to think of ways to get their students to break out of their conventionality as well as to experience one's own sense of self and to love oneself. Robert would "cook" us by creating real-life situations where our feelings would be hurt, or concepts about living would be challenged. Many people left him and the sangha rather than face these feelings. Few stayed to participate in their own deconstruction.

Other teachers, such as Siddharameshwar, focused only on meditation on the I-thought, or I-feeling, promoting a progressive penetration through the concepts of the mind, as well as other levels of mind, such that they found the void, or they found the Self.

But what then? Unless that discovery was applied to the student’s everyday life, they were still a very conventional person, leading a very conventional life, and therefore a very unfree life.

Unlike most spiritual teachers, I think it is just as important to escape from the conceptual conventionality of everyday life, family, career, politics, etc., and to go beyond them entirely, than it is to escape from the "spiritual" beliefs that we are human beings based in bodies and minds, as opposed to being something entirely beyond. As long as one has the conventional belief of being a human, in a body, in a career, one cannot possibly do the full escape into the unknown and into the Self.

Those teachers living outside of conventionality are often referred to as “avadhuts.” One very famous and recent avadhut was Rajneesh. In a sense, Nisargadatta was also an avadhut who challenged all of the students to shed all of their concepts, but who himself continued to lead a conventional life.

Personally, I feel that sarcasm, humor, especially dark humor or sarcastic humor, direct criticism, as well as courses and expositions that emphasize critical thinking, can be as helpful as long periods of dry meditation in freeing oneself from the conventional, whether of conventional religion, a conventional life, the American dream, political persuasions, or Facebook political correctness.

I think comedians like Lewis Black, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Jon Stuart, and many others, provide a bit of effective antidote to those immersed in the American dream, conventional religion, and conventional careers.

These men help deconstruct the conventionality we are immersed in, and helpless us breakout from imprisoning molds. Lewis Black states that his mother has a black belt in sarcasm, and his routines drip with such sarcasm, which can be utterly unfettering.

This is why I teach as I do, with heavy sarcasm and profanity. I desperately want people to break out of conventional mindsets and behaviors which they do not even see let alone recognize as a trap, a hindrance to freedom. This kind of freedom is far more important for the future of mankind, than for the isolated individual to gain complete release from the fetters of mind and flesh in a great Satori. When such one gains freedom and great enlightenment, he or she becomes freed, but then what? What about the rest of mankind? Are they not struggling under conventionality imposed by the Catholic Church, by born-again Christianity, by Christian morality, by Buddhist morality, by sharia law, by Jewish folklore in the form of the Old Testament, and all kinds of “political correctness?”

Is not a large portion of the population United States gripped by a very conservative mentality, supposedly Christian, but heavily subscribing to getting government out of welfare, child support, education, and healthcare, and turning all of these responsibilities over to the family or to "private enterprise," and companies with a profit motive? How do we help these people?

How do we help people who kill others, such as soldiers long indoctrinated by training and their governments into accepting killing for the sake of God and country, escape this mindset? How do we help butchers and slaughterhouse workers, as well as consumers to understand that killing sentient beings for meat, for other byproducts of their dead bodies, is repugnant and an offense to the self?

Personally, I think all these tools of humor, sarcasm, spiritual "cooking," as well as meditation and self inquiry, need to be applied to help as many people as possible escape from the traps of their minds, escape from peer pressure, escape from the American dream into a life of living from the heart, living from love and in love, and thereby finding freedom and happiness.

For this end I can see an integration of many tools of freedom in a sort of New University of Unlearning, where a whole community seeks freedom on every level, and in that freedom, they end up living from the heart and in love, and living daily in the ecstasy, relief, and silence that results from abandoning the mind and finding the heart. 

25 May 2012

Dear Ed,
While rereading some of your most recent responses on your blog, it dawned on me that Ed, the teacher, is such a misnomer.
It would be more true to say, Ed, the unteacher.
Most of us who have come to you are tired, worn, and weary from dragging around our conceptual baggage and the ideas that have sprung from them.
Even those of us, (this would not be me), who have somehow managed to escape the deep conditioning often associated with mainstream religions and have spent their years in the so-called 'spirituality' camp come heavily laden with their own conceptual baggage and ideas about what it means to be free.
You most definitely are a gift to us, but not as a teacher per se, but as an unteacher.
Everywhere I turn someone is offering, and most often without being asked, a new teaching or their interpretation of some teachings from those who once lived on this earth.
And what do you offer?  Nothing but an invitation to lighten the load and drop the accumulated baggage; nothing new, just a release of the old.
Isn't this really what freedom is about anyway?
I am forever indebted to you.

22 May 2012

Dear Ed,

Years ago, when I came to Buddhism, I was basically heartbroken because of my disappointing and painful experiences with this love business.

Not only romantic love, almost any kind of human love in me… there was always a painful awareness of the flipside of the coin – rejection, traumatic loss, abuse of trust, impermanence in general, all the feelings too strong to bear that are associated with it.

Thus I felt very much at home with traditional Buddhism, which at its core shuns human love and emotions as inevitably leading to suffering and being a hindrance to one’s spiritual progress.

Four years ago, when I met my girlfriend, I was very intent on becoming a monk and told her so from the beginning. We went through a lot of pain because of my inner conflict between somehow wanting to be in the world yet to be free from it’s painful side. I often left her alone and stayed at monasteries for weeks or even months at a time, leaving her with a lot of pain and uncertainty.

Then came a turning point in my practice, where I became so frightened with what I now think was just becoming more and more empty that I basically abandoned most of my Buddhist practice and became more laid back.

It took some time and twists and turns until I found my old zest for spirituality again – and then I found you.

You talked enough about emptiness that I could accept you as “the real deal”, yet you helped me to allow myself to be vulnerable and open to the world again.

I found many interesting things because of this…

The feeling which I call “I am” basically IS love. Holding on to it, I became so confident that now I can open up much more to the full range of my humanness, feelings and experiences whether pleasant or unpleasant. It’s not so bad after all. It’s as if as long as I know “I am”, nothing poses a serious threat.

Because you told me that my love for my girlfriend is not necessarily a hindrance to liberation I can feel it so much more and also show it to her – silly that it took your advice for that, isn’t it?

Really, that is something so beautiful and precious to me, and of course her also noticed it and reacts with even more love and devotion than she showed me before (which was an incredible amount already…)

I still feel much love for my last teacher, XXXX, and even though my path seems to have changed quite drastically, many things he speaks of and thought me have become my experience only now, after I basically turned away from him. I also feel that without the emptying process before, I could have never come to the understanding I have now.

Perhaps I don’t understand many things you teach yet, but I feel such gratitude and love for you already. Thank you so much.

I hope I can visit you one day… the sooner the better :)


19 May 2012

I get so many comments from folks telling me I totally do not understand Advaita, spirituality in general, awakening, Robert or Ramana, Nisargadatta, or anything else for that matter.

So many people seem to know Robert better than I did and they tell me so.

But very few were with Robert, maybe none that comment here.

Yes, Robert was not of this world. Even his wife Nicole said that even after knowing him for 40 years, she expected a flying saucer to land some day and take him away, back to “his” world.

I can attest to that.

But you have to understand Robert was also human.  He feared dentists. He spread rumors which constantly roiled his sangha.  He played tricks on people, and lots of other things.

So many people have concepts about gurus, what they are like, what they should be like, what powers they have, etc.  Every one of these images and concepts will prevent you from truly seeing and accepting the teacher for what he or she really is, and will prevent you, therefore, from seeing who you are, because the one discrimination begets the other.

Robert always denied he gave Shaktipat, but we could always feel the Shakti in his presence. The Shakti element was strong even as his body weakened.  He always denied he did anything energetically with his students, but we all felt the energy from him and in us. To this day I still feel it as a presence within me.

Robert was a vessel for Shakti.  It had its own will and way, he was not the doer and he knew it.

Some people think he could mind read them, that all gurus had that power.  He could not.

Many people in the Ramana Ashram believed that Ramana could teleport, because after everyone left the hall, some might come back and see that he had disappeared, when he had still been there only seconds before.

Ganeshan, Ramana’s nephew and Editor of the Mountain Path, told me that many believed that, but did not know that there was a hidden trap door near the couch where he lay, through which he exited and went to his room.

So strong is the need in many to idealize and worship someone who can “save” them from suffering and even from death, that they do not see the guru clearly.  So frightened are many that they need a savior to take away their human mortality and vulnerability.

Thus you find all the comments that Ed Muzika is all-too-human versus legends like Ramana or Robert, because they have to believe in a divine or demigod savior.

Even exceptionally brilliant people needed to worship gurus, such as Ken Wilber and his fixation on Da Free John, and oh so many on Osho or Ramana.

Guru worship starts from such an idealization viewpoint.  One thinks of the guru as savior and God incarnate because one projects that salvation need into a guru or series of gurus.

Then you gradually get to know what the teacher is really like, and with that a progressive disillusionment of that need to idealize and project.  If while Seeing the guru ever more clearly as both human and something else, by being with him or her, having projections and idealizations broken, and if then you still can accept and love your teacher, you will find you also see yourself ever more clearly, and accept yourself as he or she accepts you, and gradually you will love yourself as much or more than you ever loved the guru.

Truly, he or she is your mirror of how you see yourself, as well as of your Invisible.

Then one day your Self, drawn by your love and acceptance of both yourself and your teacher, will reveal itself totally to you.  Not in the small bits and pieces you have grown used to by practicing self-inquiry, or self-abidance, or guru-bhakti, but in a full, complete revelation of tremendous power and magnitude.

This is not to say there is just one awakening, this is just one of many awakenings that await the diligent student of him or herself.

Even Robert had a final awakening just months before he died.  I was not there with him in Sedona, but I was told this by Mary Skene, who moved to Sedona from LA, to be with him.  The great Zen master Joshu, said he had 17 great awakenings and thousands of small ones.  So you can never count your journey in life as completed no matter how finished you feel.

A true guru is an ordinary human being but in a most extraordinary way, and so are you if only you could stop to really investigate and to see yourself without judgment, condemnation, or excessive narcissism.

I see so many gurus in the current marketplace who appear so arrogant, self-centered and intellectual, and I can see why prospective students are wary of accepting any, and thus continue to worship some dead guru, such as Ramana, Nisargadatta, or Christ, but are then stuck in relationships where the idealisms and projections never collapse, except as life knocks that need out of them, rather than have a real relationship with a real person, where the deconstructions of your fantasies occur much more rapidly because of that relationship.

The same process holds true between human lovers. There is always a progressive disillusionment, narcissistic injuries, etc., and most such highly charged relationships break up before there is any real transformation. Then the search begins for a new lover, one who is not so imperfect as the last.  But the process is the same as with the guru.

Eventually you see the teacher for who he or she really is, and by that time, you see yourself for who you really are, a process of becoming both progressively more human, and less human at the same time.

18 May 2012

The Half Sit-up 

To achieve the half sit-up, you must begin with the intention of exercising your abs and promptly fall asleep midway through the task. This position is extremely advanced and not recommended for amateur sleepers.

17 May 2012

A Response to My Previous Post Below:

WOW!!! Once again you speak brutally honest and straight from the heart. These are things perhaps neither a hardcore "traditional advaitin" nor a "neo-advaitin" would understand or want to acknowledge. There are few wonderful facts that you are pointing to which a seeker and teacher may come across. I am completely in agreement with you about how most feel they "got it" just by reading Sri Ramana or Maharajs book--the awe that Advaita exhumes can often be very misleading. Its at a mental plane and you will see that how easily such people will trip off their "realisation" when faced with a real challenge. Without real penetration into the void and even deeper beyond it (where the world/I-ness/senses cease to exist) unless that state is truly witnessed, there is no real gain. Later Turiya and void of all voids (unknown) is known and goal is achieved (non dual state of Advaita).

Though I can understand why you say that traditional advaita or rather self-inquiry (Advaita is more like a goal while inquiry is still one of means like yoga, Bhakti or karma) seems dull as a practice because it underplays the personal love however in my experience it is not necessarily so. Atma -vichar merely emphasises attention to be paid to the I -sense but it is most unfortunate if there is no love between the student and teacher (even of a personal nature). Infact if it lacks a personal love and close proximity with the teacher most of them drift away from the goal. The reason is the Guru is one of most powerful instrument towards achieving the goal. A drift away from the Guru is a delay away from the goal. Ofcourse one can still keep practicing on its own and still get there but there will be no powerful medium of inspiration to guide.

Of course the teacher always points that the attention be paid to the Self within however such adherence also is only possible if there is love and surrender for the teacher. Most take the teachers words literally and fail to understand that the key to unlocking the door is through love of ones teachers. The one point that most miss is that Grace works through some form and channel. Even Sri Ramana who had no physical human Guru still needed Arunachala as his Guru. In the ultimate sense there is only the Self --of course. There is no Arunachala too. Sri Ramana knew that. Yet he too worshiped Arunachala --a outer form apart from the Self.

Much is transmitted through a physical Guru to his students on very subtle levels so being in the presence is definitely advantageous. Yet shaktipath is a mystery. It has its own intelligence. It is transformative for both the Guru and the student. The guru may seem to be a medium through which this Shakti works but he is unaware how this will actually work in him and his students. A guru is only an instrument of the Shakti and allows it to work in any capacity it deems fit. This is ofcourse only my experience.

You have your reasons and experience to emphasise a particular way. It's your choice and way. According to my experience you cannot advocate only one way to everybody. Each will find his own way whether Bhakti, Jnana, yoga or Zen. The personal love will automatically develop if its strong. 

14 May 2012

A New Way of Teaching

Again, I have been quiet for a while.  Now that I have read Siddharameshwar’s Master of Self-Realization, I am aware both of the strengths and weaknesses of the Advaita approach.

One strength is that it is a model that provides a complete ontology and epistemology about the human condition, focuses on what is important, which is self-realization versus other kinds of spiritual knowledge or of attaining siddhas, and provides the method of following or abiding in the I-sense, the I Am.

However, one weakness of Advaita (and Zen) is that it misses the human condition that still binds most seekers, and tries to cast it off rather than use it to energize awakening.  Traditional Advaita, at best, urges one to love one’s family and children, but to concentrate on the I-sense, follow it downwards into the depths of consciousness, to the deepest layer of consciousness, Turiya, and then even surpass that to utter silence, the Void of Voids.

The other even stronger weakness is that it is a simple-to-understand model with enormous power to gratify one’s thirst to know and to understand.  One reads Nisargadatta or Siddharameshwar, and immediately the mind halts and one feels awe. It is so easy to make the mind rest when it hears these deep truths.

Like Einstein’s General Theory, it is so beautiful, eloquent, and complete, one rests in a state of pure knowing.

Yet, this knowing is still of the mind.  It does not penetrate deeper into one’s consciousness to the deeper levels of Samadhi, or guide you through to the levels of knowing nothing, becoming nothing, wherein all knowledge is shed and you become simple and humble.

You see, the traditional Advaita is so powerful, just reading it generates profound states of understanding in some, with profound “opening” experiences, that one often feels they have gone all the way and have a complete understanding.  Very often they become very arrogant, filled with spiritual knowledge, which they begin to announce to everyone they know.

Thus is born the Facebook and other Internet gurus and also the guru-bashers, who smell the arrogance of knowledge, or the falseness of those who proclaim their utter purity and divine love.  One can feel that these teachers lack humility and a certain humanness and loudly proclaim an impersonal state, or of a divine and impersonal love for all.  One feels in their presence, the lack of the human touch, of mortality, and simple humility.  They are teachers, and everyone should listen to their truth, and believe their impersonal love is deep and true.

It is so hard for many to ever escape this trap of understanding and embodying an impersonal, universal love.

There is another way of teaching that I think is more powerful and without the weaknesses of Advaita.  I should also include Zen and Tibetan Buddhism with Advaita, because they beget similar problems as Advaita, and also miss the transforming power of human love.  You will not find love in Zen, believe me.

This other way is by direct transmission of transformative shakti, and also just being in the presence of the guru in Satsang and Darshan, being in the presence of truth and manifest love.

This is why I hung around gurus for many years, looking for truth in them which I felt I lacked.  This is why I spent 8 years with Robert, because I could feel it in him.  I felt his “beyond this worldliness,” and its draw was infinitely powerful.  To be around him and feel knowledge and knowingness drop away into the peaceful holding grace of nothingness brought such peace.  One can certainly feel the draw of the Great silence, the stateless state beyond even Turiya, which is the ground state of the Self, the feeling that core that penetrates through and permeates all other states of consciousness, like the waking, dream and sleep states, as well as the mind with all its knowing, and impulses, as well as the physical body, and even the awakening Shakti itself.

Yet, one always feels there is something lacking following this path, a feeling of love and the terrible power of love to twist and turn you into a thriving, flowering plant, or by its lack, into a shriveled leaf.  I am talking about human love, the love for another, which in its deepest form is really love of the Self, for itself, both in oneself, where the love arises and is felt, but also love for the Self that is felt and experienced in the “Other.”

I saw it in Robert. Robert was always seeking personal love because he said it grounded him and kept him in the world.  What he meant was that love of the self turned inward resulted in a Ramana, benevolent and impersonal, but love of the self turned outwards, brought a transformative power both to the guru and to those who loved him or her.

Yes, Robert loved me.  I could feel it all the time.  But he also sought the love of a woman to ground himself, to excite and energize that Self-layer of his, as well as energize the Self-knowing quality in the woman.  We men students were largely left out of the masculine/feminine transformation around Robert, and most felt the Void and beyond, which can become very, very dry.

I truly believe that one is OFTEN best served by having a guru of the opposite sex, for it can use human love as a transformative energy, a sort of conscious or unconscious Tantra.

I do not want to digress too much in this area, it is only an example of what I saw over 40 years of being around countless gurus: human love in all its forms is an essential part of the best sorts of transformation. It always will destroy the arrogance of knowledge that Advaita and Tibetan Buddhism can bring, as well as the Zen arrogance of knowing nothing.  Love, human love as between lovers, or the guru/chela, is humbling and transformative.

Therefore, I think there is a more powerful way of teaching than teaching Advaita or Zen or other forms of Buddhism, and that is direct transmission, outside of the teachings, through respect and love, mostly in silence, while being in the presence of the teacher—someone who has realized the Self.

I admit I totally pooh-poohed such a way of teaching in the past, because it lacked knowingness, understanding, and a method.  The only method was to be in the presence of the guru, and lacking that, of a highly evolved lover.

This is the model of Muktananda and currently, Amma, the hugging guru.

I saw Amma several times before I met Robert and felt nothing from her, but I saw the profound impact she had on many.  I dismissed her and her approach then as not for me.  Also, for me, Muktananda was the same:  a silly old man with no particular teachings, or anything else going for him, but who also had an enormous impact on thousands of students through his shakti.

But I see the trap of knowledge and knowingness so easily sprung on Advaita and Buddhist students, which I have seen at work in our own Sangha. Thus from now on, I will emphasize “Truth” less, and the need for love, both personal and impersonal, and for physical presence, more, much more.