16 November 2018


Most people get into spirituality because of emotional issues: depression; grief; great fear or anxiety of no known origin; boredom; relationship problems; obsessive-compulsive stress; thwarted ambitions, etc.  Rather than working directly with the emotional issues, most seek a way around these problems seeking peace, serenity, self-realization—whatever that may be, or enlightenment—ditto.  They pursue peace by listening to teacher who say the world is not real, even your body doesn’t exist, and for some, those words give peace.

 Advaita used in this way is sort of a rescue spirituality. It, along with Buddhism, teaches either that the personal and maybe even the transcendent self, either does not exist, or it must be “disappeared” or transcended by practice, either of self-inquiry, quieting the mind, or dwelling in silence.  This is why many people find Robert Adams’ words so soothing because he said, “You do not exist; the world is a dream; your body does not exist.”  He would also say, “The mind is not your friend; pay it no heed.”  Or, he would say, there are no problems; problems flow from the viewpoint ot the mind.  By this he meant all problems, in your personal life and in the world. 

On first hearing that, the listener first feels shock at the radical nature of the assertion that our reality is not real, including emotional problems, depression, fear, and that there is nothing wrong in the world.  Thus the listeners put efforts into ignoring the emotional turmoil that brought them to Robert or Buddhism in the first place.  In fact, this is what Buddha was all about:  finding a way to end suffering.  Buddhism takes you out of the pain of life.  It even ignores the joy and bliss that can be felt, because all such good is temporary and ends in loss of joy.

 Later, as they go deeper into his teachings, they realize what he meant is that our logical, linear, and sequential minds build a conceptual map of our unorganized external reality by isolating objects and processes out of ever-changing and chaotic external sensory patterns.  Our left brained minds create chairs, houses, cars, people, relationships that have a reality and stability given to them by unchanging words and concepts.  It is the thinking left brain that also creates the problems, the “ought to,” moral judgments, and many negative emotions and self-talk.

 Robert’s teachings were aimed at taking our attention away from the  mind and thinking, and then expanded into a right brained awareness of identification with the totality of consciousness itself.

 These deeper teachings allow us to let go of concepts altogether, and say, “The only truth is that there is no truth, and beware even of this truth.”   Now we can let go of our linear minds and sink our awareness into our bodies, especially into our hearts where we learn to live by our “hearts’” awareness of the external and internal sensory patterns.  The awareness energies drop out of our heads into our bodies and a new world of unity consciousness is revealed, composed of great space, emptiness, openness of heart to others and to love.  The experience is of great relief and expansion of self.  Our center of awareness is no longer restricted to our heads and throats.  We are now everywhere and yet nowhere, because we are not localized in any way. 

 We may also feel very stupid because we no longer “understand” anything.  All concepts just escape us.  All attempts at reasoning or logical deduction end in laughter as we realize how ridiculous, constrictive, and conventional all this thinking is.  The left-brained mind sort of drops away.  Still, after awhile, we find it is necessary to allow it to return in order to better function in the world; yet we realize that this mundane world we return to is always contained within a much larger world of emptiness, space, openness, love, and ever changing patterns of energy and movement.

 Now we no longer need spiritual teachings such as Advaita, Buddhism, Christianity because we have transcended the world with a new global awareness.

 Yet, if the emotional problems that brought us into spirituality have not been resolved before awakening to the new openness of realization, we will be dragged back into the mundane linear world over and over until we experience and resolve these issues.  Some call this shadow work, giving it a name and a Jungian mythological concept, a sort of enemy, a thing, that we have to tame or eliminate, when really it is but a larger or smaller set of emotional, mood, or self-talk processes that we have to “absorb” or assimilate into our larger persona through feeling them long enough to absorb them.

 One of the best “spiritual” things that happened to me was that after 9 years of immersion in Zen, I got into psychotherapy on a two-times per week basis, which lasted eight years. There I learned the rudiments of dealing with emotions, because even after I left therapy and two years later after meeting Robert Adams, I was still dealing with emotions of deep origin and relationship problems many years later.

 Let me tell you, it is so easy to be a Zen master or supposedly enlightened “master” of some other tradition, and not have worked with one’s emotional issues and developmental bypasses, and thus still act in harmful ways with others.  But it was not until I fell in love with one of my female students that the last round of dealing with them led to my deepest and most profound awakening because of a continuously unfolding emotional maturation that followed out of that love.

 From this love came humility, grace, and a sense of complete surrender to the life force within me.  I can now “look” and continuously “feel” that life force within, permeating my entire body, and feel it rushing outwards into the world as translucent energy and white light, which is closely bound to my sense of heart and love.  It continuously fills my sense of being alive in the world, my sense of presence as a sentient being.  I can identify with this light, love, and energy which is a most magical sense of the divine within, or I can choose to identify with nothing at all and just rest.  But watching the unfolding manifestation of the life force within is really all that I want to do, just as Ramana said narrating his death experience:

‘I’ (awareness of the life force within) was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body was centred on that ‘I’.

From that moment onwards the ‘I’ or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death had vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like the various notes of music, but the ‘I’ continued like the fundamental sruti note  that underlies and blends with all the other notes. Whether the body was engaged in talking, reading, or anything else, I was still centred on ‘I’. Previous to that crisis I had no clear perception of my Self and was not consciously attracted to it. I felt no perceptible or direct interest in it, much less any inclination to dwell permanently in it.

(Editor: ‘I’ here should be taken as awareness of one’s essential self as spirit, including awareness of “lifeness” or the life force ever flowing from the experientially emptiness within one’s body, filling the body and the space around it with a sense of presence, or being alive, otherwise known as the sense of being.)

It is the sense of identification which must be watched and understood. It is the source of all bindings, of all felt limitation. The pre-spiritual man identifies himself as a man, a body, a name, a job, etc., and he (or she) lives in a mundane world sort of as a robot, repeating the mistakes learned from parents and friends while growing up. Later, he or she discover the world of unity, of spaciousness, and can identify with that, and later, with either. 

Even later, he or she discovers that Bhaktic path of love and of returning to the body, or being re-incarnated.  Love brings us back into the body we left when we began to live by the rule of thought and convention.  Love makes us feel our bodies, because love is a feeling that permeates every cell of our bodies.  It also teaches us that there are others out there who we can love, desire, want to mate with, to build a family.   

Remember, after his awakening, Robert Adams married, had two daughters, and raised a lot of foster children.  Behind all of his stillness and silence, lay a heart fully open to others.  He also traveled the world for twenty years to see if his spiritual awakening was complete. But all the time he watched that light and dynamic energy inside. Once you experience it, it holds endless fascination for you, and since it is an energetic process, the presence of a guru, such as Robert, aids in awakening awareness of the life force, the divine, in you, which is the same in everyone.

 And, if the love is deep enough, surrendered enough, total enough, it guides through the complexities necessary to discover the divine within ourselves, God in us.

 This then is truly total enlightenment, not only discovering space and emptiness, as well as the universal truth that mind creates a false reality, but also our essential nature is found through love and surrender to the God within another, and also within ourselves.  This spirituality is relational, it accepts the separate existence of others, but also the worship of the same life force in them that is also within our own self.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your post greatly Ed, thank you for sharing your learnings and experiences.
    I too share your observation (along with Robert's) of recognizing the the artificial left-brain world of words, concepts, linear thinking, and narratives (personal and societal).
    Is it fair to say the right-brain world is one of perceptions and sensations and unconscious functions, ie the parallel awareness that constitute what we demodulate as "our" "body"?
    I ask because I wonder if the right-brain also must be transcended to "see" from the perspective of impersonal awareness and shakti. Nisrgadatta often said seeing through the body-concept (ie right brain perception) was the hardest, and I wonder if this is what he meant?
    I am curious (and appreciative) of your perspective on this.
    Thanks Ed.
    Blessing, Jeff.