12 July 2012

I will be honest with you.  It is almost impossible to awaken.  The way can be so difficult, so filled with distractions, and our minds are designed to fight freedom.

Our identities are mostly complete by the age of seven.  The time between birth and seven creates the structure of our knowledge, our identities, and is made up of all the stories and fairy tales told to us at school and in our families.  Culture  forms our desires.  We live in these stories; they become us and our world.

We feel something is wrong with the world.  It is too ugly, too much pain, too many wars, too much killing, 10 billion animals killed each year just to feed Americans. We see increasingly corrupted politicians and businesses. We see everyone operates from a position of greed and poisonous reactivity.  And, we want out.  We  don’t want to live in this world.

This was Robert Adams struggle.  He did not fit; the world was too awful.

He struggled with this realization for over a year.  Then one day he had a great realization, a precursor to his awakening experience three years later.  He came to the realization that neither his body nor the world was real!  They were stories created by the mind that overlaid deeper layers of consciousness.  I really do not know what Robert did in those three years, whether he explored those layers or not.  But I do know he was a troubled boy.  He was hard to handle.  The conflicts he saw still tore him apart. And then he awakened at age 14.  You have to read his transcripts to find his expression of his awakening.

Most of us are also this way.  We feel something wrong.  Nothing seems right.  We start looking and searching for the truth of reality.  Mostly we read, then we learn about meditation, yoga, pranayama, karma yoga, chanting and gurus, and a few start a spiritual practice, and a very few become obsessed with finding truth. They are both the lucky ones and the cursed.

What is awakening?

You have to see that the definition varies from teacher to teacher based on their own experiences.  There are endless awakenings. Some find union with God by becoming empty, some find union by giving themselves away in love. Some become empty, some become fuill.  Some become humble and accepting, others become filled with driving energy to make the world better.  As the Zen master Joshu said, he had thousands of small awakenings and 17 mind-busting ones.

So what is awakening for me?  It is a gradual process of losing our minds and identities as humans, as small frail, mortal bodies, and becoming aware of deeper identities found in nothingness and love.  So at what point can we consider ourselves awakened?  This is for each to determine for themselves, and maybe as in the Great Tradition, search out masters for confirmation as did Robert over 17 years.  His constant sadhana was to travel from teacher to teacher to see, as he said, “If I had missed anything.” Robert even had an awakening experience at age 68, the year before he died. Notice, Robert did not start guru shopping until after he awakened, not before.

But what does it take to awaken?

First, it takes a burning desire to be free, immense energy, unstoppable energy, an energy that appears to tear the body apart, leaves it burning and sometimes leaves one desperate for relief from the energies.

It takes an immense will to escape from the illusion and to see the truth.

It takes an awakened intelligence so as to not be trapped by false teachings and false gurus, including our own delusions and preconceptions.

It takes a single-minded practice, such as some form of meditation or self-inquiry, or abiding in the I Am and learning to love the I Am, which is my way.

It really, really helps to be with a teacher who has had many awakening experiences, even if not the mythical,”Totally Enlightened” being.  To this I bring in the concept from self-psychology, which states you don’t have to have had perfect parents, or a perfect early environment in order to be a well-functioning human being.  You only have had to have a “Good Enough” mother and father, and a “good enough” environment.

The same with your teacher if you are lucky enough to be open to one. He or she only needs to be “good enough” for your place on your path and your needs.

You know, there are so many people steeped in positive thinking patterns which they accept as the way to truth, that they think everything is unfolding perfectly, and all teachers are equally good for whatever student they are with.  As some say, the entire universe is conspiring to wake each individual up. This is such Pollyanic nonsense. This is the way they wish it to be, because then everything is ok, from mass murders, wars, meat eating, plague and spiritual frauds. It just isn’t so.  You have to be careful in the spiritual marketplace as anywhere else, because frauds and deluded gurus are everywhere.  You have to be intelligent and sensitive to escape these traps.

Michael Langford wrote a book called, The Most Rapid and Direct Way to Eternal Bliss.  It is really a great book for those who are ready to drop everything and begin a life of endless meditation on self. But you have to trust him and his method, otherwise doubts will finally end this path for you.  But so very, very few will follow this path. Most will burn out before reaching the goal, or they will read another book that will change their mind, and they will begin a new practice.

Robert’s final advice to me was, “Persistence is everything.”  By that he means to gain awakening, and to build a sangha.  Persistence is everything.  Do not despair if you have not awakened after 20 years.  Just keep trying.  For those who persist, they tend, as the baseball player who practices eight hours a day, to get luckier and luckier so far as spiritual awakenings are concerned.


  1. Edji,

    I'm compelled to write after reading your post.

    You know something, you may not remember me but i came to the first satsang at your place in LA.

    I've been around since but without ever really being there. I couldn't. I didn't feel any trust... I mean, really; why and how could've I trusted you? Sure i felt amazing presence at the satsang but I was (and perhaps still am) way too loaded with ideas about .... you guessed it... 'Enlightenment' and 'Guru'.

    I can't help but feeling that you've described me in your last post (except the part about not liking to practice)... and reading a lot ...which i don't do. but still, what you say hits home... the part about looking for comfort, shopping in concepts... in hanging onto education because it's stimulating and because i seem to be okay at it... about not going after it (IT) 100%.

    Am i sallow? i don't think so even though i know that i kind of am. it's just that there is this feeling inside that there's so much more than the game of spirituality... that it's in me... that devotion and love for god... it's all there...

    listen, i hated you at one time for breaking all the rules. for being human and beyond at the same time. i know, i know... small-minded, idiotic on my part. so much resistance and anger because you challenged my status quo of the holy. but for some reason i'm embracing your teaching, i'm embracing you now, here, in Vietnam.

    Does this mean i'm moving home right now? what you say is true. being around the guru... that's where it's at. so what do i do? i've always not liked living in america. something about it... its conformism (funny enough... given my own hostility before directed towards your not playing by the rules); America's flashy materialism... i guess i never connected to anything real there. never found real family in that jungle. so i came to the jungle in vietnam, instead.

    i've gotten so good at living abroad. it's so easy. so what now?

    i don't know but for some reason i feel like i'm going to find a way to be around you... to sit with you... not say stupid things but just sit in your presence.

    hell who knows... we may even become good friends. i guess i have to let destiny take her course as she will.

    whatever that may be, destiny, i'm looking forward to seeing you.

    I'm sorry i wasn't prepared earlier. i know i made inroads and then ran away. things are different now. i don't expect these words to show this now, here; i just intend on letting the facts come to bring this about.

    i love the presence i feel here now, with you. thank you for supporting my growth. if it weren't for you i'd only have dry words from a book and black and white photos of Ramana. God how much better to have life - as in you -, a voice (yours, very real, at that) and the authenticity (yours, unapologetically real) to shake me awake and not to be a complacent ... book reader.

    here's looking at you, sir

    with love

  2. “Persistence is everything.” That says it for me.

    Even in the wasted years I never lost faith in the words of my guru. And how could I? Those 'small' awakenings had shown me that I was so much more than a body and a narrative.

    Said it before in response to your previous post. All it takes is a smidgen of willingness. To be wrong, to give it up, any and all of it. To suffer the "Long Dark Night of the Soul", not with any hope of reward or respite, but always knowing that this is not what I AM.

    Nature and the innocent affection of animals providing the only relief.

    And I was just too stubborn to die without having woken up to myself first. That seemed such a waste. Like dying without ever having lived.

    And I'm here to testify... 25 years of fruitless struggle, sometimes with zero commitment, sometimes too overwhelmed with lethargy (or underwhelmed with life) to get out of bed for weeks. Sometimes hiding in a bottle of booze, sometimes so angry that I just wanted to scratch the paint job of every expensive car I saw. And reading... LOTS of reading... Sort of the one guilty pleasure one can feel quite righteous about.

    Now? None of it ever happened. It was a dream. It didn't even happen to me. No-one sees that. They think they know who I am, even when I assure them they don't. It came in loud and clear one night, "They will. time will show", maybe it was you Edji? Maybe it was the voice of the Sat Guru? I see him everywhere now.

    All I know is I am not The Guru, he is all around me.

    And for the first time in my life I KNOW what to do! There's no indecision or debate, it's just obvious!

    Or perhaps my friends are right when they say I've gone a bit mad.

    Who knows? But I like it ;0)

  3. I see you, David, and I love you!


    May I ask who your Guru was?

    1. Sailor Bob Adamson, who spent 12 months with Sri Nisargadatta in the 70's around the time of Jean Dunn et al. Love you too SatGuru :0)

    2. David, you are a mad man now. Go for it friend.

    3. You are beautiful...


  4. Ed, thanks for the post. I find it deeply encouraging, and I could use some encouragement about now.

    You are good enough for me.

    Much Love

  5. Dear Ed, Thank you for your words of encouragement. I find it heartening to hear from your lips that it is almost impossible to awaken. Thanks for saying it as it is and thank God, because it is so damn hard sometimes. It's like riding a raindrop and hoping it reaches the ocean. I often daydream that people who have awakened are stunned that they never saw what was in front of their noses their whole life, that the truth is so glaringly obvious in giant neon lights all round them, all the time, but they missed it completely. I imagine that the truth is within and without me all the time but I am not tuned to that frequency and simply cannot see or feel it. It is everything, but "I" is a very deep and dark filter that will not let any of the light of truth through. I get glimpses, then the filter closes up quickly. I is protecting I. I can only understand what I creates. I know there is a place and time where the I exists before it had had time to create anything. I have to make friends with, understand and deeply love that "I am". I learn that "I am" doesn't exist either, yet I have to discover that for myself...............you couldn't make it up. If it was a movie plot no one would believe it was credible. A salmon has locked away deep somewhere the faint traces of the taste of the fresh water from where it was born and it journeys thousands of miles without a map back to that first home. it gets you thinking, its nearly impossible but not completely.

    1. Thanks for the open and honest reply. Yes, make friends with the I Am...it is your own self, the one you were before all the conditioning and programming began. That it ultimately is a dream too is completely irrelevant for now. Forget that and fall in love with your-self.

      It is also a bad dream that the "I" is an impenetrable, dark filter. You believe it is; you keep it alive and so it haunts you with great delight!!! Poke it in the eye and tell it to fuck-off. That may sound silly, but once you really start to woo your I Am, you will see what I mean. The Light will start shining through, and you will begin to fall hopelessly in Love.


    2. Yes. Utterly and hopelessly in Love! thank you V.

    3. Thanks Victoria for those words. Like most I have far too many concepts and ideas around awakening. Even though I have never really read books or sought teachers, certain ideas have drilled down into my mind and stamped themselves there. Abiding in I Am is such joy and if I had not filled my mind with nonsense it would be enough in itself. I take note of your words on this and forget ( in as much as I can) anything other than the I Am. Mike L

  6. thank you Ed to tell us reality without decorating her ! Like that we have to stop movies in the mind and it is a good thing . it seems like all travels to seek in all directions is only usefull to realise after how it is smooth and delicious to drop all that and only stay quiet, with only love in the heart and empty mind . Sorry for my english but i'll improve with you ! it is so beautiful to speak with you here !!! i am feeling at home and when i am reading your messages there is much love above my head ! it is delicious !!! coquelicot