07 November 2014

                           Devotional Advaita

     Knowing Your Self as the Absolute and as a                      Divine Incarnation of Spirit

The way of devotional Advaita adds Tantra to the lifelessness that Self-Inquiry can be.  Our way adds love of others and of our own Self—at all levels—to emotionless self-inquiry.  It is not a path of resting in the moment, in Nowness, Beingness, or the present, as taught by so many superficial teachers, for that is just resting in the unchanging container or background aspect of Consciousness, which is space, Emptiness, the Void and watching what arises from the Void and disappears into the Void.

Devotional Advaita is a method of turning within with the intent of finding the I Am sensation, staying with it, sinking ever deeper into it, identifying with it, and loving it until it decides to reveal itself to you, the seeker, as your own deepest Self, as existence, knowledge, and bliss. It is an inward going with a full acceptance of and love for all that is found within, no matter how frightening, boring, or depressing the experience at first blush appears to be. We find that when we are open to all experience, all emotions, and allow them into our most intimate selves, a miracle occurs: the energy of those experiences is added to the self, and our deeper nature begins to emerge. When we are open to all inner negativity, fear, shifting boundaries, unstable body and world perceptions, we find the flip side of that negativity is bliss, happiness, and growth.

About the Void: Buddhists love the Void.  All objects, all phenomena, originate from the Void and return to the Void, and are temporary, insubstantial and in a sense, considered not real because of impermanence.  So they seek the unchanging in the Void. For them the Void is Emptiness, and forms come from Emptiness and disappear into Emptiness, so the only ‘real’ is that perceived Emptiness of inner space.

(We need to watch that Emptiness for a long while to truly discover its nature.  It has several aspects.  One is space, a vision-like perception of space, a vacuum, a container of experience.  But that space can be dark or lighted and translucent.  When translucent we can clearly see all inner objects, such as thoughts, images, and body parts from the inside.  Besides that, the advanced meditator finds that inner space filled with sentience, a sense of being or knowing that gives that space life.  Thoughts can actually be viewed as objects floating in this space, and can be followed as they appear from and disappear into the emptiness.  However, such a lighted, sentient Void is purely an inner visual phenomena, and never reveals the totality of what lies within.  Emotions cannot be seen, nor our inner organs, nor our body boundaries, nor muscle sensations, nor taste, smell, or sound.  Thus the inner vision with which we can watch the Void reveals only visual characteristics of the Void, and certain types of objects within the Void.)

Some others, like Nisargadatta, find the unchanging not in the Void, but in the Unmanifest Witness, for whom the Void itself is just an object of perception, a part of our entire experience, and which acts as the container of all inner experience.  This ultimate Witness cannot be witnessed by itself.  If we try to see it, it recedes. We cannot make an object of the subject. This Witness is pure observer of both the inner subjective space and also the outer objective space of the world which we also perceive.

The Void is the inner space of the meditator, the sense of Emptiness that is experienced after months or years of meditation. At a deeper level, we discover the Unmanifest Witness who cannot be seen.  It is the ultimate subject of all experience and which itself is beyond experience and is thus the ultimate mystery.  You can only Be the Unmanifest Witness, you cannot see it or know it directly in any way. You can only be it and from there recognize you are apart from what is experienced.

Already, this truth is beyond comprehension of most seekers.  To know this as Truth, the meditator must have thoroughly explored his or her inner world including the Void, and turned its initial darkness into light, and be able to perceive the energetic presence within it that gives it life by having developed both inner seeing and inner feeling.

Unless you have discovered for yourself you own inner world of thoughts, images, emotions, body sensations, and inner energies, as well as the Void within which all of the above are experienced, you cannot understand what I am saying here.

Everyone has this Void, but it takes searching to “look” and “feel” into it before it reveals its secrets, which also means you will encounter all the objects and experiences of your inner world in a new way: as direct perception either of a visual or of a tactile, feeling nature. Those who have not experienced the Void in its totality as the lighted container of all internal experience and energetic presence cannot understand what I say here.  For them, this is only hearsay.  Without this direct experience, anyone we would talk to would either think we are crazy, or would dismiss our offered understandings as idiosyncratic to us and not applicable to them, or they would believe we have experienced something they have not, and trusting our experience, look for it in themselves.

Given the latter, someone who trusts all this is true, the question arises, “How do we find it and explore this Emptiness?”

First, one needs to “look” within, with a visual sense which is located in the eye area for most people.  Imaginatively we turn our attention inwards, maybe towards the Third Eye, the Ajna Chakra, or into our heart area.  Most people will “see” only darkness at first.  They will not see emptiness, or thoughts, or images, just darkness like night.  But if you persist, you will always begin to see light or lights.  This is the nature of attention: it brings energy and illumination to whatever is focused on.

For example, if you focus your energy on your right index finger, after a minute or so it will start to tingle and you will feel energy like electricity there.  The same holds true when you “look” into your inner darkness: light will begin to appear and begin to illuminate your inner world.

In my own case, this started as being aware of a small blue light in the area of the Third Eye 47 years ago, between my eyes, about an inch above the brow-line, and an inch or so inside my skull.

Being constantly aware of that blue light, it transformed over time into a clear light that expanded to include my entire head, then gradually expanded downwards and outwards through the technique of focusing my attention on the boundary of the lighted Void and “pushing” the light envelope deeper into the darkness. 

Thus I became aware of the “The Light of Consciousness,” as well as the infinite size of the inner, Manifest Void, the subjective spacial container within which all internal phenomena occur, from thinking, to emotions, to the inner perception of one’s body, to the Subtle Body energies, alternatively called “prana,”  “chi,” “Meridian Energies,” etc..

You will discover that all inner experiences—everything—is permeated by this inner space, a lighted space, such that all inner phenomena begin to appear hollow, like a hologram: appearances without solid substance.

Later, one will discover that this experience of lighted inner Space begins to feel exactly like the visible external space we live our lives in, and at some point, for the meditator, the distinction disappears altogether, the boundary between inner and outer experience and objects disappears altogether, living then in an unboundaried universe of emptiness populated by changing appearances, whether inner objects, or the objects of the external world.

This is what many teachers refer to as Unity Consciousness where the boundary between the inner world and outer world disappears. This is the basic no-boundary experience.

Then, for a time, even the formerly substantial external world objects and events themselves become like holograms, permeated by external emptiness.

At this point we can fully understand the Heart Sutra which states: Form is emptiness, Emptiness is Form; feeling, thought, and Consciousness itself are also like this.”  All appearances, inner and subjective, as well as all outer and objective, are permeated by “Space,” an Emptiness that permeates and contains everything.

Now, again, unless this has been your continuous experience for some time, you cannot understand what I say except as hearsay, which you can accept or deny.

(The Heart Sutra should become a focus for your any inner exploration. Though its insights are largely confined to the results of visual inner exploration, understanding the message of the Heart Sutra is extremely important to understanding the message of Buddhism and Advaita.  It is not the totality of what Devotional Advaita teaches, but it is almost one half of what we teach.  Devotional Advaita does not objectify emotions or energies as does the Heart Sutra, allowing us, as also the I Am, the Manifest Self, to experience emotions and energies, and its own Self from the “inside,” as subject, close to our feeling heart. See the long endnote below[i].)

I am saying this is or will be the inner experience of anyone who meditates diligently for three to five years with a meditation that consists only of looking inwards, looking to “see” what is there. (Going inside and “feeling” what is there is an entirely different experience, but necessary for complete Self-Realization.)

The problem with this path of inner-looking, which is one specific sort of self-inquiry, is that abiding in the inner emptiness has a drying effect.  Emotions become objects.  The inner stirring of energies that can bring incredible bliss, are just neutral processes to be observed by the Witness.

The Witness indentifies more and more with the inner emptiness which does allow the meditator achieve a place of safety beyond the touch of existence, but does so at the cost of his or her humanity.  One is at peace for no disturbing emotions and even physical pain can touch this person; but this person is dead to his or her humanity, and has become a walking dead of a different sort. The Witness is entirely beyond appearances, while the Void is the seen Emptiness that permeates all experiences.

At this point one can have one or two kinds of awakening experiences, the first of which I already described: (1) the disappearance of the belief of a separate individual self because one experiences unity consciousness of no-boundaries, a complete identification with the inner and outer lighted Voids in a complete no-self-consciousness unity of inner world and the outer world. Or, (2) one can become aware that there is an ultimate witness, the one who is watching the internal and external worlds, and who has been watching the process of the expanding light of inner awareness illuminating inner space.

(There is a danger at this point with discovering and playing with an infinite regression of Witnesses.  And, there are many levels of witnessing.)

That is, we as the Witness are aware of ourselves as observing the whole phenomenal process, but hard as we may try, we cannot “see’ that Witness (ourselves as subject).  We cannot turn around and see the witnessing Self; it recedes into the Void the more we watch it.

However, sufficient awareness of our self as Witness can lead to identification with the Witness, the observer, and begin “seeing” the total separation of itself from Consciousness, from both the inner and outer worlds.  In this experience, you don’t see or experience that Witness, you are it, and when you are it, you experience and know you are separate from the witnessed Consciousness. You have identified with the unknowable Witness, the Unmanifest subject of everything by being it.

In the latter state, the meditator watches the comings and goings of entire states of Consciousness itself, which are experienced as external events that come towards the Witness, but does not “touch it,” and then leaves the Witness, and the Witness feels unaffected by these comings and goings.  This is what Nisargadatta called the Witness, Parabrahman, the Absolute, entirely beyond Consciousness, in a different dimension so-to-speak, the Unmanifest, the Unknowable subject.

It is this experience and understanding that Robert Adams recognized in me as enlightenment: the complete freedom and rest from anything that happens in the world, in Consciousness.

This is also Nisargadatta’s final truth of abiding in the Witness, Parabrahman, ignoring both Consciousness and the world, denying them because they were impermanent and changing images and phenomena that were not self-created or sustained.

As I said, there is a danger here because identifying with either the inner Emptiness, the Void, which is the Manifest Emptiness, or with the separate Witness of everything including the Void and also the outer world container of space, leads to a drying up of the human self, the personal self begins to die.  One is sustained in an inner peace of aloofness, space, and light, which has a high degree of knowledge about reality (apparently), and a high degree of autonomy from desires, emotional storms, emotions themselves, fear of death, fear of the unknown, etc.  One is in a self-contained cocoon of illumined awareness. Peace, clarity, stillness, silence.

To me this is entirely a mistake. To me, this is only half of the entire inward-going spiritual path.  One also needs to discover the real Self (or I) within the Manifest, within one’s own Consciousness, which I call the divine within, or meeting God.  This is a movement within what could be called an “incarnational concept of spirituality,” a spirituality of all sentient beings as being given life by the divine, by sentience and Energy, Shakti, Consciousness.  In this understanding, we as seekers realize the Manifest Self as Atman, the individual God/soul.

This Manifest Self is most easily found through love, love either for one’s own inner experience, or extreme and likely romantic love for another, which lights up and explodes the world-experience of one’s own Subtle Body and its energies, which awakens the seeker to the larger world of feeling, emotions, energies, feeling the body in a new way.

This is where Tantra enters our path.  We use emotions and love to power our inner search, bringing it energy, pure power, and life. All the entities, objects, and experiences of the Subtle Body, such as emotions, physical energies, Subtle Body energies, bliss, anger, fear, and depression can be used to power our ability to go into deeper Self levels, revealing a huge “river” of bliss that underlies all intense mood or emotional states.  Underlying deep depression is bliss.  Underlying deep despair, is bliss.  Underlying rage is bliss, and we can use all intense emotions to find our bliss core.

Through growing love of another, and love for one’s own subjective innerness, not the Void so much (but it is still there), but what is happening in the Void--one’s emotions, body feelings, Kundalini, sexuality, moods, and images--one gradually comes to know all aspects of one’s deeper, experiential Self. The so-called True ‘I’ of Ramana, the place where the divine enters our lives as a Presence within, never seen before, beyond anything experienced before in any way.

(I need to repeat this for clarity: one becomes aware of experiences of Self that underlie the experience of the Nowness, Beingness, and Presence described by the neo-Advaitins.  They deny the existence of deeper levels of Consciousness, and the search for them is considered a useless waste of time and a creator of suffering. The neo-Advaitins go only skin-deep into Self-Inquiry.  So much lies outside their experience and grasp.  By neo-Advaitins I mean Ramesh Balsekar, Mooji, Papaji, Sailor Bob, Tony Parsons, Bentinho Massaro, Francis Lucille, Eckhart Tolle, Gangaji, etc.)

This deeper awareness also includes the world of psychological experience and understanding, of Kriyas, of inner flows of energies experienced as inner rivers of light, electricity-like energies, colors, eroticism, body vibrations, burning, ecstasy and bliss, but mostly, it consists of meeting our True Self in all its majesty and light.

This is also the world of the Christian mystic and Sufi.

For me, my awakening to the inner, Manifest Self was the most sublime, passionate and alive set of spiritual experiences I ever had, and the final realization of the Manifest Self, the Atman, God-within, was truly the real life-changer as opposed to the enlightenment of Robert Adams or Nisargadatta with an identification with the ultimate Witness (there are many witness levels to be found as one will discover over the years of meditation and self-exploration), or Parabrahman, and far, far beyond the identification of self with Emptiness or the Void of the Buddhists.

I have described these experiences of finding the inner Self many times, but really it is impossible to put in words much of what happens and happened to me, for there are no words that fit a description of the direct experience of Atman.  It is beyond anything in normal human experience.

But I can beat around the bush a bit to describe the initial realization themselves that happened as a result of love and then the loss of that love object.

I will call the woman I loved Eva who lived a thousand miles away.

When she and I were in almost constant communication with each other, such intense love created in both of us many psychic and energetic experiences experiences that are difficult to describe.

When we expressed our love verbally, our hearts exploded with inner energy.  At first I experienced love as a “river” or stream of light, usually white light, sometimes other colors, ascending from my belly into my heart.  The bliss I felt was extreme.

I felt the energy arise into my heart then expand outwards to my arms, hands, head and face, then flow outwards to my Beloved a thousand miles away.

Over time, the experiences became more intense and deeper. 

The streams of energies arising within became more powerful, larger and more gripping as my entire body became a conductor for more powerful energies flowing upwards and outwards.  Energies swirled through my body in colored streams in various channels and patterns, with attending bliss and ecstasies, but always with increasing love and a sense of surrendering my life to Eva and to an unseen divinity--God. In other words, I felt the presence of an all-powerful “Other” somewhere in the background, unseen, but waiting, waiting.

Also, many, many times while on line with her or on the phone, I felt the descent of the Grace of God, experienced as a supreme combination of gratitude to have such love in my life, and with complete surrender to the extent I just wanted to be at the feet of the divine, which I experienced to be in Eva and also in the unseen Other. We both felt this; we just wanted to fall to the ground and serve as a footstool for the divine, or ground to nothing as the dirt beneath my Beloved’s feet in the form of the Other, who began to take many forms in my visions.

Often I experienced this Grace as the descent of golden light from above, God’s Grace, causing me to literally fall to my knees in gratitude and surrender to God and Eva as His (or Her) incarnation in the flesh.

We both felt the same thing: Golden light, surrender, feeling cleaned of all guilt and sin, feeling utterly humble, utterly at rest, held by the Grace of God in perfect peace while all the time in great ecstasy, bliss, with rivers of energies of various colors and flow patterns enlivening my body. And always with great, great love.

Now there were many experiences that I know opened portals to the Self showing itself to me, and one of them was the experience of incredible overwhelming love for Eva, of such intensity that I could talk about it with her and she with I, and both in both of us, the love was so powerful that we had no choice but to identify with it.  My love for her was so intense and powerful, yet looking within, I saw (recognized) that that intense love feeling was me.  Eva was only the trigger. I was the lover and the love was so intense, I became that love.  I was love itself.  This identification with love began occurring a few months before my Self-Realization experience.

I am certain that the intensity of my love for Eva and recognizing that that love was my own creation and thus was me, was crucial in the following experience of the Self revealing itself to me as the human subject who no longer identified with my body.

To make a long story short, Eva often broke off our relationship because she felt conflicted loving both her husband and me. She felt incredible love for me and experienced that love as autonomous and prolonged orgasms which gave me deep power of feeling I had made her happy.  I had given happiness to someone.

The breakups were accompanied by huge bouts of rage on her part, and sudden disappearances on her part lasting a few hours to a few days.

At one point after Eva disappeared for a week, I began to feel one day upon awakening, a deep happiness despite her being gone.  Throughout the day I felt an expectation that something great was about to happen, and also the arising of energies deep within my gut.

Over the next few hours after awakening, the happiness and joy increased, as well as a sense of the tremendous energy stirring in my gut.  It seemed to follow the course of arising energy that I had felt a thousand times before: straight up from the gut into my heart center, as a rising of a massive river of intense white light almost as thick as my body, with a brilliant white light of millions of candlepower, with incredibly powerful energy and love arising with unstoppable force from within creating a stunned awe.

I was in total, mind-numbing bliss and I think I was not even breathing.  All that there was, was brilliant white light, bliss, and a Life Force of such power that it had to be God, it could not possibly be from me because it was so powerful.

I fell to the ground, unable, unwilling to move for fear of ruining the experience of His company and Grace. I worshiped at his feet, though no feet were seen, in complete surrender and His acceptance of my surrender.

This experience lasted for an unknown time for I was oblivious to the world around me and any passage of time.  But gradually an intuition about the experience and about God forced itself forward as overwhelming truth: this God experience of the Other was really my experience of my own Self.  God was Self, Atman, the divine, in the form of the Life Force, of Sentience, manifesting in me, and showing itself to me, the human identity, the human personality, announcing that I was not alone; God, as sentience, as the Life Force, was in me, was me, supported me, loved me.

That is, I owned the experience of God, the Omnipotent Other, as my own Self.

This experience and the enormous after-effects lasted several days, but one thing never left me after that first experience, and that was the sure knowledge about knowledge itself, knowledge of the Manifest Self, and knowledge of the Witness. 

I was the knowledge of my own existence as a sentient life form.  I was God incarnated in a physical body, and an energy body often called the Subtle Body, also the Causal Body of awareness without anything to be aware of, and then the disappearance of even that awareness with the subsequent realization of myself as that which knew of both existence and non-existence, of awareness and not awareness, of the Knowledge of both the Manifest phenomena external world, and also the Manifest inner world including the Void, and everything contained in the Void, and also the Knowledge of this ultimate Witness, who also was me. I was also the human identity pervaded by all these other identifications that were all entirely beyond the mundane existence of day to day living.

This total experience of Self-Realization occurred five more times over the next few months, each time differently, each time revealing a deeper understanding, and each time leaving a residual and growing continuous experience of an indescribable experience of Self within.

Four years passed in this Self-absorption, of an unending fixation on that in me which I called either God or Self. After four years of constant abiding in this Self, all divisions, all separations, all explanations, all disappeared into a continuous experience of Self within, the divine aspect, the energy, the knowingness, the love, the human aspect, the Void, the Absolute, were all me!!

After four years of exploring all the aspects of this Self-Realization, of rapt fixation on that inner Self, loving it, exploring it, I finally felt at rest about knowing who and what I was at and on all levels of experience, from my body and humanity, to that inner Self, to the Void, space, Nothingness and beyond Nothingness, beyond the Void to the Unmanifest: they were all me; they were all aspects of me, both the Manifest and the Unmanifest. I was Satchitananda, awareness of my own existence, knowledge of who and what I am, and great joy sometimes manifest as bliss, no matter what situation I was in, or what positive or negative emotions arose, and they continued to arise with power for a long time, showing with ever more certainty, the underlying power and bliss of God.

At this point, the inner path began to disappear and I was left only with an outer path: returning to the world, to ordinary mind, love and devotion for others, and a deep desire to help all beings, saving them from suffering, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Thus began a new kind of search for knowledge, which is a search for ways to help others, either teaching them how to discover their lost humanity and emotions, or to heal their bodies from physical disease and suffering through energetic healing, and to use psychic powers to change the world, to help others to the most effective ways of discovering their own Self.

Now this is the path I took because of my relationship with Robert Adams and many previous years of Zen practice.  For me it was a direct line to the Unmanifest Witness via a long time spent exploring Emptiness, the Void.  Then later I was awakened by love to the Subtle Body, bliss, and Self Realization of the Manifest Self.

One does not have to follow my path as I led it.  Instead, one can follow a path of loving self-inquiry, going inside, locating one’s sense of existence which I call the I Am sensation, abiding there through accepting and loving it and through loving others, as loving them teaches us that they are only triggers of our love and not the love itself.  You are the love itself.  That is your nature.  And it is only by witnessing that extreme love in your own self that you begin to realize that that love is you; it is your creation, not the man, woman, or guru you love.

This is the path Nisargadatta took and is also the path his teacher, Siddharameshwar, recommended: a path of guru-worship, love, devotion, which allows you to see clearly that love and devotion in yourself, and with which at some point you begin to identify as your deeper self, which finally gives way to a Self-Realization set of experiences such as I and Nisargadatta had which gives you knowledge and bliss, which then much later transforms into an identification with the Witness, who is apart from all existence and is the Absolute observer, Parabrahman as opposed to the Atman.

On this path of devotional self-inquiry, the Atman is always available to you, even after your primary identification may no longer stay with it.  But if you travel the path from the beginning that assumes no self, individual or divine, like most of Buddhism and the neo-Advaitins, you may never encounter or experience Self-Realization of the Manifest Self because you do not believe that any self exists.  This kind of realization is totally lost as you can wander in the Void or stay in the Absolute forever, until your body dies, and not progress one inch.

(I have to say here that I believe very few neo-Advaitins have ever truly had a sustained experience of Emptiness or the Void which is the foundation of all true awakenings.  Instead, they have a deep insight into the nature of language as not really representing existence in any way, and thus the idea of self or I is exactly like this: only an idea with no referent. For them “awakening” is merely a deep insight about the emptiness of language which they then expand to an emptiness of all inner and outer objects as an understanding.  But I doubt they have experienced the Void as interpenetrating and containing everything. Their “awakening” is only of understanding, and only mind deep, which is not very deep.  There are many deeper levels of Consciousness that they have not touched.)

In the end, I wish for you all to become both a loving saint, and an impersonal Jnani, folded into one, with both sets of Self-Realization: realization as the Manifest Self, the I-Am sensation followed backwards and downwards into the deepest level of Consciousness, Turiya, which permeates and supports the other bodies, such as the Causal, Subtle, and physical, and also interpenetrates the sleep, waking, and dream states.  Turiya is the unifying process that brings the entire Manifest experience together.

Beyond Turiya is the Unmanifest Witness for both Ramana and Nisargadatta. Eventually, one will also see/feel/know that the Unmanifest, Parabrahman is also one with Atman as the divine incarnation of you.  By feeling both experiences at the same time, for a prolonged period of time, you realize that the Manifest Self and the Unmanifest Witness are each the flip side of each other. You hold both in hand simultaneously, just as previously you held bliss and joy side-by-side with depression and grief.

At this point, Self-Exploration is complete, and you reenter the world of mankind with primarily an ordinary-mind experience of the world, but also the constant accompaniment of the experience of the divine sentience within that is also you—your source and sustenance. Of course, if you are so driven, you can continue to explore within on ways of using energies and psychic powers to change the world.  These energies are also continuously available to you if you pay them attention. In the end, Nisargadatta chose not to.


Describing my experience of Self is very difficult for there are no words for this experience in ordinary discourse.  But I will try my best to give you some sense of it.

First and foremost, the experience has three major components: (1) unshakable knowledge and (2) a continuous awareness that I exist, that I Am, and (3) a sense of rest, completion of my life that manifests as joy. Knowledge, Existence, and Bliss, Satchitananda is what I am.

While I had spent my entire life gathering knowledge, it had been about things, objects, or concepts such as mathematics, economic theory, then philosophy and spirituality.  When I began that search inwards for myself, all that accumulation got in the way, but it gradually fell away.

For many years as a Zen monk and afterwards with Robert Adams and Jean Dunn, I knew nothing.  I understood nothing.  Emptiness was everywhere, yet I could not understand the Heart Sutra which was about the mutual interpenetration of forms and emptiness.

I would read spiritual material and not understand a thing.  I felt all that I read was just too wordy, conceptual, and academic.  I felt all those of whom I read, really did not really experience themselves.  They just seemed to be talking about the Self, emptiness, the Void, etc., in an abstract way that did not touch me. Nothing much touched me at all. I was in emptiness.

I felt dumb as a rock, surrounded by many Zen masters, teachers such as Muktananda, Dhyan Yogi, the Dalai Lama, Trungpa, Robert Adams, Jean Dunn, reading Ramana and Nisargadatta, and never understanding any of it because what they said were just empty words to me.  I did not have an experience of Self.  I did not know what that word meant.

This knowing nothing phase lasted from the time I left the secular world in 1967 even through the time of my first awakening to Unity Consciousness and to the Witness in 1995, and afterwards.  I knew nothing.

I knew nothing because my Self was not involved.  I did not know who or what I was except as the Void and that which knew the Void, but this knowledge did not touch my heart’s core, my essence.  It was basically a visual-knowing of phenomena as opposed to knowing with a grounding in feeling, the physical and the energy body.

Without a grounding in the knowingness of these physical and energy bodies, knowledge has no power and is not convincing. These bodies are incredibly important to recognizing both Truth and Self, and those who deny the existence of the world or of Self may never open to that experience and may forever be lost to it.

Real, powerful, self-validating knowing requires a groundedness in physicality and energy, in feeling, emotion, and most importantly, in love.

So, when the Self announced itself to me, as me and as God in a kind of mutual symbiosis, the experience was so grounding, so present, so certain, that from that moment on I knew that I was, that I existed, and I existed as something I had never experienced before.  I was the Life Force.  I was energy.  I was love.  I was my physical body, but also something much more.  I was the spirit that coexisted and permeated with my body, independent of the body, yet attached to it very strongly. I identified with the essence of the mystery that was me. I had followed the I Am sensation all the way to its source, which Nisargadatta and Ramana called Turiya, the fourth state which penetrates and permeates all other states of Consciousness, like waking, sleep, and dream states.

My identity had shifted from an identification with emptiness, the container of experience, and with the Witness, to the new experience of myself as sentience, Consciousness, and energy of a magnitude of power and presence I thought was impossible to experience.

After those six experiences of the arising of Self from within, feeling the energy and light of my God-self (Atman), from those experiences onwards, I always was aware of my presence as an energy being, spirit, or presence with such an overwhelming sense of really knowing ALL THAT IS WORTH KNOWING.  I finally knew the Self. From that moment onwards I was complete.  The sense of knowing was so powerful it was as if I had become knowingness itself, knowledge itself, just as previously I had known myself as love itself, and before that, as Emptiness, the Void, and the Witness beyond all.

That is why I speak with such self-assurance, because I know who and what I am.  I feel the full force of my own knowingness and presence at all times.

As to that actual experience, it is hard to put in words.  Usually I feel myself as my body and as a sense of presence within the physical body extending outwards into the world as an energetic presence.  But the sense of knowing is so powerful, it is like having an entirely new way of sensing both myself and the world.  It is like adding a 6th or 7th sense to hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, seeing, etc.  It is a direct knowingness of both myself and the world outside of the mind or senses physical senses.

My energy body knows the world in an entirely different way, through my heart’s location and sensing.  My energy body reaches out in various ways into the world and into others, such as by what feels like sentient tenacles emerging from my heart extending to objects and people in the world around me, gently feeling their presence and being.

Now I am everything.  I am my physical body, my sense of an energetic presence, I am the circulating energies, I am also all the emotions that arise from my gut, I am also the Void, the empty container of all internal and external experience, as well as the impersonal Witness watching everything. What a discovery!  How different and exciting life becomes as I become a conduit for a continuous unfolding of the Life Force within interacting with the world.

All emotions that make me human are still with me.  None are suppressed anymore.  Sadness is experienced when a friend or pet dies, depression, fear, etc., but always with the clear knowing that joy and bliss lie at the base of all powerful emotions.  Strong emotions were there precisely to direct my attention to my underlying bliss and joy nature by accepting and loving those emotions. I identified with and owned those emotions, adding them to me.


As I stated before, my discovery of the Manifest Self, and I feel the easiest path for most people, is through love.  However, as the experience of the Self initially is both visual and also visceral, it requires an openness to feeling, feeling the inside of the body, feeling the circulating energies, feeling love, feeling loss, feeling fear, and feeling bliss as well as the new sense of what I might call Knowingness.

Therefore the methods of self-inquiry set forth by Ramana, or Robert Adams, or even the Zen masters such as Bassui have to be changed, and an emphasis put on learning how to feel all that which had been suppressed before, by conditioning, learning, society, or sheer lack of attention to the inner world.

Therefore, rather than just trying to find the source of the I-thought as recommended by Robert and Ramana, I suggest:

Look inward towards your heart area and see if you can find any light in the darkness if darkness is what you see.  At the same time, try to feel the point within where you know you exist, where you know I Am.

Often it is experienced as a small electric spark in the heart area, and sometimes as an energetic presence.

Continue to look for it and continue to feel for it.  The looking will bring light and clarity of vision to your inner world exposing the Void, while your awareness of the spark of existence will grow over time into a sense of presence—your sense of presence as an energy being.

The following is very important.  Listen to a lot of sacred music, Kirtans and Bhajans such as from Yogananda, Muktananda, Nisargadatta, Shanti Mandir, Krishna Das and many others.

Many can be found upon entering our Satsang site http://satsangwithedji.weebly.com, and enter using the password  “edji.”  The chants are at the bottom of the page.

Listening to the chants will still your mind and awaken your heart.

Continue to look and feel within for the Self, the sense of existence, the spark of life energy until you find it.

Read Nisargadatta’s short book describing his search entitled Self Knowledge and Self-Realization  found on my website, http://wearesentience.com, and the progression of his search, finding love and devotion and finally his experience of Self which he called finding Baby Krishna which became for him became an immersion in Krishna Consciousness (Turiya).

Find someone to love, whether human, a cat, God or Guru.  This really, really helps.  Through increasing love and devotion to another, the energies and sense of one’s own presence becomes activated.  When the love is strong enough you can begin to experience yourself as love itself, not as being a human being. The identity shifts temporarily to love itself as opposed to being a body/mind.

About this time, all kinds of new emotions and experiences can begin to be felt, long suppressed emotions, such as fear, jealousy, depression, anxiety, love, joy, and especially eroticism.  The body reawakens to all of its sexuality.  Women may begin to experience spontaneous orgasms and re-awakened sexuality, while men usually just pump up to a continuous sense of arousal.  This is the body awakening to internal energies.

Whatever arises from within, whether depression or orgasms and bliss, do not resist them.  View them, feel them, accept them, and then love them.  Invite them into your heart.  Welcome them.  If you fear them, or feel yourself resisting them, go into the fear or resistance in the same way, with an all-accepting, open-hearted interest in experiencing them and what they are telling you about yourself and about the feelings you fear.  They are another gate, the gate of exploring resistances.

If you notice a quickening of these experiences at some point, the arising of hugely negative emotions, great fear, crushing body sensations, physical burning from the newly released energies, disappearing boundaries, disappearing into the Void, and experiences felt to be too much to handle, lie down or go to an easy chair and sit quietly.  Then relax as much as possible.  Watch the fear or the burning, or the depression.  Then from your heart reach out and touch the edges of whatever is felt to be overwhelming.  Touch it.  Watch it, feel it slowly approach you one inch at a time as you let it into your heart.

Gradually it will take you over.  Love it.  Accept it and join with it.  Become it; identify with it. Soon it will pass through and then you will experience an overwhelming bliss that underlies all such powerful experiences.

Remember, this is an inward going search of and for the Self.  Most people begin to feel dysfunctional at some point and even fear that dysfunctionality itself.  But that fear should be handled in the same way: quiet acceptance, touching, inviting it into your heart and loving it.

Also, you will become aware that you who are looking within for the I Am is different from the I Am that is being sought.  For the time being, ignore that Witness and just stay with the I Am feeling.  Let it grow and come forth into manifestation.  The Witness will become your focus later, after you find the Manifest Self, for it is the Unmanifest Self, the Noumenal you. But residing in the Manifest Self, Turiya, fills you with love, energy, joy, and deep understanding.  Stay there for a while; it is a wonderful marinade for your spiritual cooking.

The whole process of going inwards is one of discovery of formerly hidden elements of your own self, physical (experiencing the body in all your organs and Chakras), the inner Emptiness or Void, the energetic body, the experience of Self-Realization where it all comes together, the coming and going of the waking, sleep and dream states, along with joining with the Witness.  One after another it is a progressive expansion of inner and later outer awareness of new aspects of oneself and identification with that new experience as being you.  Love is you.  The Void is you. The body is you.  The energies are you. The emotions and the permeable boundaries are you. And most of all, the Self is you; its experience brings everything together. You are also the impersonal Witness.  All these things are you, and you will have the choice of which to identify with.

At the end of his life, when dying from a painful cancer, Nisargadatta deliberately chose to disidentify with Consciousness.  He said if Consciousness decided to feel his body’s pain; that was its choice. But for himself, he decided to ignore Consciousness and identify with the watcher.  He “walked away” from all that he had previously identified with, and that becomes your ability too: to pick and choose what you identify with, or to totally relax and to identify with whatever arose.

Actually, this inward going spiritual search is far more complicated than I have written about above, with so many twists and turns it can never be explained in detail, especially since no two people will walk exactly the same path. That is why it is important to have a teacher that knows at least one way to the Self and knows many of the avenues, rooms, and corners of his or her own internal world.


At this point I want to state my gratitude to two women: Eva who helped me to Self-Realization, and to the one I call the Seer, who showed me the way to better experience and understand the energies and powers within, and all the Manifest worlds without, subtle worlds beyond ours but which touch us. 

To both these women I owe undying gratitude and wish them the best.

[i]                                      The Heart Sutra

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva,
when deeply practicing prajna-paramita,
clearly saw that the five skandhas are all empty,
and was saved from all suffering and distress.

form is no different to emptiness,
emptiness no different to form.

That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness, form.

Sensations, perceptions, impressions, and consciousness
are also like this.

all things and phenomena are marked by emptiness;
they are neither appearing nor disappearing,
neither impure nor pure,
neither increasing nor decreasing.

Therefore, in emptiness,
no forms, no sensations, perceptions, impressions, or consciousness;
no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind;

no sights, sounds, odors, tastes, objects of touch, objects of mind;
no realm of sight up to no realm of consciousness;

no ignorance and no end of ignorance,
up to no aging and death,
and no end of aging and death;

no suffering, accumulation, cessation, or path;
no wisdom and no attainment.

With nothing to attain,
rely on prajna-paramita,
and their minds are without hindrance.

They are without hindrance,
and thus without fear.

Far apart from all confused dreams,
they dwell in nirvana.

All buddhas of the past, present and future
rely on prajna-paramita,
and attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

Therefore, know that prajna-paramita
is the great transcendent mantra,
the great bright mantra,
the supreme mantra,
the unequalled balanced mantra,
that can eliminate all suffering,
and is real, not false.

So proclaim the prajna-paramita mantra,
proclaim the mantra that says:

gate, gate,
bodhi, svaha!

The Heart Sutra of Prajna.

Notice that the emphasis is on Emptiness; objects, emotions, feelings, as well as the senses themselves are relatively unimportant compared to the Void.  Self, the subject, either of the transcendental sort as the Unmanifest Witness or the Manifest Self of Atman are neither mentioned or denied.
It is that time of month again when donations are requested to keep this blog, the wearesentience.com website, our Sangha and Sunday Satsangs going, as well as to support my taking care of feral cats.  Go to the Paypal button on this blog and please share what you can. Finances are tight everywhere--I understand that.  But give whatever you can.  Please!


  1. What an amazing post, Ed. All I can say is, "Thank you."

  2. Great post Ed! And I certainly do or have a comprehension and experience of most what you are describing and yet I have never been a 'formal' meditator... All I have ever done is tried to abide in that sense of "I Am" (with many sojourns back into the egoic, just to try my luck once again!). I've had that 'blue light' experience dismissed by teachers, including your old friend Swami Shankarananda, as mere distraction and have thus regarded it as such, and no harm done.
    I'm so very close some days and as far away as ever on others, but I've got absolutely nothing better to do and so I shall persist.
    Thanks for a great post (and great clarification, I finally feel as if we have common ground and that I understand what you're on about). I wish I had your erudition, but then I don't have to do I? I've got you to express it for me. And when I say "I", you know who I mean ;)

  3. it is so helpful to have this great clarifying explanation you won't find in any scriptures or other places. i don't know why but mind drops resistance when it sees a clear 'map'.

  4. This is very very good introduction. I always like summaries. Hope that the book will be written in this manner.

    Young Havel - Daniel Buchert

  5. Amazing post! I continue to be so impressed by your total grasp of the pitfalls of buddhism and other similar emptiness based approaches. And your writing is so clear.

    I practiced thervada, mahayana, and vajrayana buddism for too long. Vajrayana is the closest to what you are saying here but in comes with a lot of tibetan cultural baggage, not necessary for practice. I dont think many of the current exponents are fully realized either.

    As part of this practice I had a realization where I became the void, totally vacuous and without any human or feeling of a living entity. It was like deep space, zero warmth, zero gravity, cold and chilling, devoid of humanity or life. It was not a place of life. I realized later it may have been temporary part of the mansion (as you say) but it convinced my heart that this void is not a place I want to reside. It was not the space of sentience as you put it. It was more like Shiva without Shakti. I think the danger is that buddhism can drive you to that place. Unless the realization comes with sat/chit/ananda it could be a trap. The heart sutra reminds me of that place.

    I found the heart by inner feeling as you state above. Inner sensing of energies, shakti, kriyas, etc where the byproduct of the inner feeling of the heart. Inner feeling of the heart is like bhakti without an object as the heart can only be the basis or subject. All of which you have stated very clearly.

    Ed, I have read and studied Jung, Buddhism, Kashmiri Shaivism, Vedanta, various psychologies to try to understand what "I" was "experiencing". None of these truly captured it all and where partial understandings or where not well transmitted by existing exponents/teachers. I feel you have captured it all for me and I thank you very much for it. You will be getting my donation soon!


    1. Thank you so much Bob. I am going through a period now of trying to see my path as a teacher. What to do?

      These are advanced teaching for the many like you, who have struggled long and hard, through Emptiness, loss of Self, regainingof Self, and need support and confirmation that their being out of step with all others is really being in step with truth.

      But, as a teacher, it is not working for me. I don't know how to reach the rare one's like you.

      For example, in the last 3 days I have left four posts on this blog, with 4 facebook posts that the video and teachings are on the blog. On FB, maybe I get 6-7 likes and three or four comments. I get 1/3 the donations I got three years ago andI cannot even help other feral cat managers with food and medication anymore.

      The only people that comment seem to be 8-10 of my Satsang students.

      I have been doing this not for 8 years. I don't even have one student in LA, let alone a venue where I can be close to students, really teach meditation, etc.

      This is all going to die with me. So, what to do? How do I reach the thousands of people like yourself that do understand what I say, and that the path is laid out clearly?

      Marketing is everything, because God is not doing his part.

      I am quite close to dropping out of the teaching business. I need to radically reevaluate my approach to teaching.

    2. I don't think this teaching will die with you Ed. Like many other spiritual teachers, rock musicians and other artists, dying can be a great career move. Look at the current popularity of Robert Adams' teachings. When he was alive, hardly anyone even had heard of him. You, as the embodiment of the I Am that I am, are largely responsible for the widespread dissemination of his work and you can trust that 'The current that knows the way' will disseminate your teachingequally. As Robert always said, don't worry about conditions. You are heard and will continue to be so for as long as there are people on this path... I know this.

  6. Ed, I know you feel the mortal vehicle is aging. I feel it too. Makes one wonder what our role will be in life given all the effort and intensity that was put into this level understanding. I feel very alone with my understanding which is why I am so enthusiastic about what you have done.

    It would be nice to be a "dharma bearer" inherited from a living tradition with students passed on to you. I am convinced that such a process is not conducive to real understanding and tends to fall into mere tradition without any core or inherent life and meaning. The existing groups appear to just maintain themselves and don't want to be disturbed. I can see from your teaching, shaking things up (illusion busting) is your method. And that is how it should be. Most are not looking for that. Removing illusion is the basis of growth and it is painful as you know.

    You said that there are "thousands like me" out there. I cannot confirm that. I don't know if there are a lot of people ready for this teaching. Its possible that many that are don't know where to look for help and may not know anything about Advaita, Buddhism, etc. God, the Self, can't be so cruel as to abandon everyone with a sincere search as people will be driven by the Self to get free. Also, from the limited time I have spent in buddhist sanghas I am not convinced there are a lot of people looking to have their world shaken up. Life is pretty tough now and many want to be consoled.

    I have consoled myself with the following idea that comes from several places but I mostly am effected by what Ramakrishna said on this. He cried in loneliness hoping for good company that would understand his realization and that he could teach and carry on his teaching. For many years he cried in anguish about having to deal with worldly people when he wanted the pure souls to plant the seed of his understanding. He cried to the mother. She gave him the understanding that the students he would eventually get were already chosen for him. There would not be many. He only got a handful of very ripe souls and some not so ripe. Look what happened after that!

    So, I think you are chosen to do this work. You must do it. whether or not people come around now. They might later. Perhaps an appropriate sacrifice must be make before it happens. Perhaps there is more to realize. One can't know. If you have 10-20 sincere souls you are doing very good. It only takes one to get it down deep (think Vivekananda). Also, Ramana never tried to expound a teaching and look what happened and how many people he effected with silence, no marketing.

    You have to do what you are given to do by the Self.

    It would be a real shame if you fully stopped teaching. I am not sure you could do that anyway. You are stuck in this like the rest of us! Just throw it all into the Self and let God figure it out for you. That is the only real help you can get.