05 November 2011

Awakening Versus Liberation
Realizing Emptiness, Actualizing Emptiness

There is a well-known personality on Facebook named Tony O’Clery.  Tony is the bane of all Facebook gurus. He prides himself as being absolutely honest and straightforward with his critical assessments, stating none of these gurus are Muktis, those who are completely liberated, completely empty. He said no one should listen to Facebook gurus because the “true teachings” of fully liberated Muktis are always available in the writings of Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. For O’Clery, no teacher is valuable unless he is a Mukti, and the two Muktis he advocates are dead, therefore nothing more be said, and O’Clery appoints himself as their living spokesperson and virtual attack dog.
But what is O’Clery pointing to? For him there is no half measure. There is no value in any guru unless he or she has the supreme awakening that he attributes to Ramana or Nisargadatta. Everything and everyone else falls far short of his divine measuring stick. Of course, Tony never met either of these gurus in real life himself; his knowledge of them is entirely secondary and conceptual.
When I first started practicing Zen at Mount Baldy Zen Center, we would have four or five groups of sitting sessions a day, in groups of two or three 25 minute sessions.  We would have chanting twice a day, and a talk once a day by Sasaki Roshi.  After just a few days of intense sitting, I would go into Samadhi. First, my brain would become hard like a rock and no thinking could penetrate my brain. Then it felt as if my mind were sinking into my chest, and I was going unconscious. For a moment of unknown duration, I would feel as if I lost consciousness; then all of a sudden the mind would drop like a rock and dissipate entirely, revealing an entirely new world of oneness, with an intense clarity, with no thought, and no separation between me and any objects. I had literally become everything in my consciousness: the sound of an airplane passing in the sky, the call of a crow, the sound of the wind; my body had disappeared, and there was absolutely stillness everywhere. Every perception was intense and vivid. I had become the entire universe of my perception. My entire manifest world was now me, and I no longer had a body or mind. I had become everything.
This is Nirvakalpa samadhi, a temporary unicity state of mind where the thinking mind does not function, and no longer imposes an artificial order on the perceived universe. Instead, I became one with consciousness. In a sense, this is an awakening experience, this shows you what life is like without the mind, without the network of thought that shapes your perception. Nirvakalpa samadhi is the world as perceived by an infant, filled with awe and beauty, and newness.
It is said that one must practice Nirvakalpa Samadhis for many, many years until the state becomes permanent, the so-called Sahaja Samadhi, which supposedly was the final state that one achieves which identifies you as liberated, or a Mukti. Again, this is purely conceptual flowing from the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.
However, after experiencing this state literally thousands of times over the next few of years, I was deeply disappointed that I was still the same person after meditation was over. I was not transformed. I did not have any great knowledge. I did not feel any smarter. I did not feel enlightened. In fact, I felt like a failure because I had experienced all these Samadhis, but they have not convinced me that the world that they revealed was any more real than the everyday world I lived in.
Then in 1995 that had two awakening experiences described on the website wearesentience.com.
One day, looking within for the ‘I’ for the millionth time, I found there was no "I" anywhere. There was no me! There was no subjective entity inside that the word ‘I’ pointed to, or that the two words "Ed Muzika" pointed to. In fact there was no one home to watch the store so to speak. It was quite scary. All that there was, was emptiness inside; and without and I inside, there was no opposing "thou” outside. Again the distinction between inner and outer disappeared, and there was only one consciousness, and all the objects in my consciousness were actually formed by my mind which covered over that subjective reality I had perceived in Nirvakalpa Samadhis. Yet this, this awakening was different.  It was not just an experience, it was also a knowledge, a knowing that I, as a person, did not exist AS AN OBJECT of any sort, even in my own subjectivity!  That is, I was not in this world. I was not out of this world. I was the world!  This time, the experience gave me a knowing, a self-realization.
This again was a unicity experience of the disappearance of me, and the identification this time was not with the manifestation as before, but with the emptiness that contained all the manifestations.
Two weeks later I had a second experience where I suddenly witnessed that the states of consciousness come and go through me, and I felt that I existed separate from them and they did not touch me, whatever I was and I had no idea what was. That is, I realized that everything, everything in life, all the objects in the drama of the waking state, and the dream state, as well as the absolute dissolution of consciousness in the deep sleep state, were like clouds that pass through me or by me, and with which I temporarily identified, but my real identity had nothing to do with them.  That is, I now found I was not “of” this world; I was something entirely beyond this existence which flashed and changed so much. I was apart, solid, permanent and real. This was another self-realization.[1]
Robert accepted the second of these experiences as enlightenment. As he said, you're either awake or you're not. I was now awakened to the nature of mind and consciousness and the real me from which the world sprang, and I could now witness as “other.”
Yet, later, I was grabbed by a great depression after that awakening caused by Robert's death and the death of my favorite cat. That depression lasted for three years. You might also say my “self” was also dying, and that too caused a depression. So here I was, awakened but depressed. So what is the story here?
As you know for the last seven months or so instead of talking straight Advaita, I started talking about Bhakta, and the need for love to complete the journey back into humanity, the marketplace.
I talked about enlightenment as like reaching first and second base as in baseball, and the journey back as going home, filled with the drama of being human, facing your own vulnerability and brokenness, and this was essential for completion of the path.  My Zen teacher, Seung Sahn, referred to this with the metaphor of a circle.  180 degrees was reaching identification with the Void. The rest of the path was coming back to ordinary mind, going home to 360 degrees, which he referred to as a time of magic and highly unusual happenings.
A few days ago Janet Beier sent me the quote as follows by Ramana Maharshi. She had found confirmation of the spiritual path I am now teaching in Ramana’s own writings!

Question : What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa


Ramana Maharshi :The immersion of the mind in the Self, but without its
destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. In this state one is not freefrom vasanas[2] and so one does not therefore attain mukti. Only after thevasanas have been destroyed can one attain liberation.Question : When can one practice sahaja samadhi?

Ramana Maharshi : Even from the beginning. Even though one practices
kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted outthe vasanas one will not attain liberation.
Janet was quite excited by what she had found; it was a key! I listened and too saw the elegance with which Ramana laid out the path with utter simplicity and clarity.  Ramana had pointed out that there was a difference between someone who attained all of those Samadhis I had experienced at Mount Baldy which were temporary and did not touch me in the sense of transforming me into happiness and peace, and liberation.
But can we not take this even further? Even though Robert said you are either awake and are not, you are either enlightened or not, that does not mean there is no movement after awakening. To be truly liberated, to enter Mukti, and to be considered a Mukta, one must personally become completely empty, as empty as those states empty of self-reflection, self-awareness, that Nirvakalpa samadhi had revealed.
In other words, the Mount Baldy Samadhis, and the collapse of the conceptual self, the collapse of and seeing through the "I-thought" which collapses the external conceptual world around us, leaving once again unicity, were still just awakening experiences, and not final liberation.
Remember, after Robert had his awakening experiences and studied under several teachers including Ramana, he spent 17 years wandering through India, visiting many masters and teachers. As he stated, he wanted to make sure he missed nothing. Also in his life he got married and raised a family, raised many foster children. He worked as a handyman, and also as a spiritual teacher at various times in his life. But when I knew him, he had become completely empty, entirely done with the world. But he had not been through with the world for many, many years, otherwise he never would've become a householder, or ceaselessly sought after other masters to see if there was something left he had not mastered himself.
Awakening experiences collapse the world of concepts and of "egoic” self, revealing various kinds of emptiness. In a sense this turns on the light that shows us the rest of our path. The rest of our path is to empty ourselves of all of our vasanas, our ego needs, our imperfections, our brokenness, our tendencies, our dispositions, our memories, and reactiveness to external events.
Awakening is not just experiencing special states, or having a revelation of the nature of consciousness. These states and revelations really just show us the path to become empty of our personal selves, empty of all expectation, no longer reactive to external events, slights, personal injuries, hatreds, jealousies or hurts of thousand sorts. That is, I believe that most Advaita people who through self inquiry attain an awakening such as did I, or the Nirvakalpa experiences of Zen, still have a very long way to go to become liberated. This distinction is between awakening and liberation.
Janet had nailed it! The implications are enormous. The neo-Advaitins that fill Facebook and our current scourge on the religious landscape, advise only look into yourself and find that there is no I anywhere.  There's nothing more to do. No more seeking. No more effort. Everything is revealed. You are complete, perfect as you are.
No you are not! If you are lucky, very lucky, you had a real awakening experience that will change your life, and not just a conceptual understanding of no-self, because it is so easy to accept an understanding as awakening or liberation, when it is not; it is only another set of concepts, a new belief system which must be later dropped through a true experience of emptiness and unicity.
The reality of spiritual paths are they are more difficult than most people want to deal with.  It is so easy to quit once the full difficulty is understood, and accept nonduality as our reality as a belief with no further effort necessary.
I think that most people that follow the neo-Advaita credo accept the concept that they are complete as is, and they stop seeking, they stop doing spiritual effort, and believe there is nothing more to be said or done.
Yet, all the psychopathology is still there. All the buried hurts are still there. All the vulnerabilities are still there. All the neediness is still there. Very few of the neo-Advaitins talk about the effort to perfect one's emptiness through effort and confrontation, whether in psychotherapy, whether in relationships, or in further spiritual practices after that initial “awakening,” which may not be an awakening.  One may find out only years later that the supposed awakening was only a deeply accepted belief system.
I believe that what is revealed in various awakenings are different levels of Void or emptiness, both personal and transcendental, and the ontological place of those things that fill those differing voids, such as consciousness, one's sense of presence, the I am, as well as the entire manifest world. Our effort then is to expose and work through everything in our personality, consciousness and unconscious existence, until we as personalities, are as empty as the voids, and are as “pure” of presence as that revealed in our various Samadhis and ecstasies.
Let us say we've obtained an awakening. We attained identification with a certain kind of unicity, such as identification with the manifest world without the interference of mind, Nirvakalpa Samadhi, what then?
Well, it is really obvious: a world, a reality we did not know, the world of the child was revealed to us in Nirvakalpa samadhi, and it is a world without the interference of thinking. Our "identity" sinks into a deeper level of self where the mind is no longer predominant. In a sense we have transcended the mind by going deeper than the mind, going deeper into ourselves, into level of self that yogis call the subtle and causal bodies. Our task then is to bring this deeper level of self back into the marketplace, into our day-to-day lives in interactions with other people, and to have that child-nakedness confront the demons of the unconscious as they arise in interactions.
The very great Zen master Joshu was asked how many Satoris or awakenings had he had. Joshu responded that he had 17 great awakenings and thousands of minor awakenings. Joshu spent 60 years between the time of his first awakening and when he first accepted students. He spent 60 years after the first awakening, expanding and deepening it, and then bringing it into his personal life and returning to the world.
Take the example of Nisargadatta. He met his teacher in 1933 and had his awakening in 1936. He then traveled as a wandering monk for two years visiting many shrines, temples, and teachers across India, until he recognized there was no difference in his beingness no matter where he was. So he returned home to his home and business in 1938. Apparently he spend many years discussing all aspects of consciousness and the absolute with another disciple of his teacher, wherein they both worked out the concepts he put forward in the book “I Am That.” He did not accept any students for another 13 years, in 1951. You see, he was still maturing, learning, changing even though he had already a firm grasp on the absolute.
So all of the great ones had a post awakening sadhana, including Ramana Maharishi, who spent many years sitting alone in Samadhi before he ever accepted his first student.
Yet on Facebook we find teachers who have awakened months or year before, and are already teaching everyone, without a word about post-enlightenment sadhana, one's post awakening struggles and the need to expose and dissolve unconscious tendencies, developmental impasses, and all kinds of relationship issues which arise because of love for the other.
There is yet another key, as stated by Janet and with which I fully agree: the work on one's personal self, the working through the vasanas, all the anger, hurt, vulnerabilities, greediness, jealousies, tendencies, habits, that are rooted in our persona, is for most of us motivated solely by love, our love for beingness, whether in ourselves or in others. The more empty we become, we more we can see and “meet” ourselves in others; we see our own beingness in the eyes of the "other," whether that other be a person, an animal, or God. That same sentience, the sense of being subject, the Absolute, runs through all of us. We are One, one sentience with hundreds of billion sets of eyes.
That love for sentience, whether for ourselves or for others, is a liberating force that leads one both to find final liberation, and depending on the path, also to the initial awakening.
Bhaktis, such as the Sufis, from beginning to end, work with love and devotion to surrender themselves, to become more and more empty. They may have awakening experiences along the way which reveal to them how much more deeply they have to humble and empty themselves. It becomes clear to them, when they see the pristine clarity of what I call the breath of God in and around themselves and others, what they must do next to purify themselves, to become ever more empty of selfishness, and to become of service to others.
Love is the divine energy that ultimately propels most of us to liberation, as much as the love for knowledge drives others to Zen and Advaita-like awakenings.
O’Clery is absolutely wrong. Yes, one can get great teachings, great insights and great methods from Ramana and Nisargadatta, but the value of living guru cannot be denied. Every moment I was around Robert, I was feeling his emptiness, which penetrated my bones. It was an example of how I could and should be.  And as Robert admitted, he was always working on me, cooking me, putting me in situations where I felt uncomfortable, got angry or jealous, and exposed my "issues" to deal with them so they would not arise again. He was working on me to become personally more empty, more humble, more modest, more surrendered to him and life.
Yes, Robert was a Mukta, and it is solely God that operated through him so to speak, but that does not mean you need to be in the presence of a Mukta to awaken. One might say, as with parenting, a good-enough guru will do, one whose life reflects honor, integrity and truth. In fact, a deep and loving relationship with another, where both are willing and able to go deep, and who share a deep bond of love and deep trust, can do wonders in both cooking each other, and burning through vasanas in relatively short order. If one is open, honest, and courageous, almost every situation can help us become more pure, more like the breath of the divine.
Thus the love of a good enough guru, or of a “soulmate” is essential to galvanize one’s spiritual efforts and travel along one’s own path to completion.  Rarely is one’s love of a dead guru found in books, or for God, enough to keep us going, while a relationship with a guru or lover can take you all the way to awakening and beyond.
Using this model of the distinction between awakening and liberation, and rooting out the personal “issues” in our lives, we destroy the idea of the separation of Bhaki and Jnana.  One can be doing both, both the apparently preparatory work of purification, which is identical to the post-awakening work of rooting out vasanas.  This means that the methods of jnanis and bhaktis can be complementary, and not contradictory or mutually exclusive, or necessarily sequential.  A person can do meditation, chant ecstatic sacred chants, be a devotee of a guru or lover, have a family and children, seek God and knowledge all in the same breath.  One can seek and experience various Samadhis and transcendental states, even awaken, and still be engaged in clearing up vasanas either through meditation, burning at the feet of a guru or lover, or raising children and working a 9 to 5 job.3

However, I highly, highly recommend that when it comes to spirituality, you select one guru and one method as your focus, and all the rest will fall into place.  Otherwise, visiting many gurus, reading many books, and trying many practices will ONLY LEAD TO confusion and the dissipation of spiritual energy, Samadhi-power, will rob your endeavors of the energy necessary for liberation.
[1] It is clear that all spiritual paths are about “opening” our awareness to new experiences, which allow us to change that with which we identify. That is, I was able to identify myself, not just with my ordinary, pre-awakening everyday world, but also as the totality of manifestation and Oneness, and later as the totality of the emptiness that contained everything. Awakening allows us the options of changing that with which we identify as self.  The pre and post awakening paths also reveal, when love and ecstasy become strong enough, that we are not humans, we are love itself, God and Knowledge, not a body, not a mind.
[2]  Def. Vasanas: karmic residues, unconscious propensities, disposition, habit energy, thought, habit formation, habitual pattern, impression, imprint, inclination, inherent tendency,karmic impression, predispositions;mental imprint, negative psychic imprint, potentiality, predisposition, propensity. We should include here all the qualities and tendencies of the unconscious mind, developmental failures, childhood psychic injuries, etc.
3.  As Joan Burtner put it, "It is a process of realizing emptiness then becoming emptiness." And I could add, becoming empty personally, then realizing transcendental emptiness is part of that same equation. Either can come first; either can come second in an endless chain, until everything is seen as unreal and empty of self-existence except the self, the absolute, the witness, the subject, whatever name you give it. I like to call it the You of a different dimension.


  1. It's all there in Roberts satsangs just do a search for nirvakalpa samadhi or sahaja samadhi in the collected works. In fact Robert goes in depth into these especially in dialogue with satsangees. There are a number of references each explained in a different way.


  2. Dear Edji,

    Just to express myself,
    I love you and I hate you,
    I love you for you give me so much love,
    I hate you because you give me more then I can receive,
    Later this morning waking up after the intensive (night in europe) I feel exhausted,
    Don't ask me why..
    But after a shower and a coffee, in sitting meditation for 30 minutes immediately joy, rest and peace was there,
    So powerful, so deep relaxed, space and pranashakti,
    Everything else seems ridiculous,
    It was a pleasure being with you in the sangha,
    Your voice is so powerful and matured,
    So it doesn't really matter what you say :),
    Playing gossip with Tony O'Clery, it is just fun time,
    Therefore I also love to listen now and then to the Rumi poem you spoke, 'Looking for your face', that is so beautiful !
    Talking about vasana's, the past 6 months (with Renee and Tobias) seems to did more to me then the past 44 years before,
    Your being with me in the background makes it all possible,
    Exploring this Love within and without,
    Exploring the I am, this Love to be, it is a wonderful, passionate and finally joyful path,
    Thank you Edji for lightning this path,
    W'll go on, exited, padam, padam...
    Thanks to you Edji, thank you Rajiv, thank you Pradeep Apte and the lineage of saints and jnani's,
    I hope to find the courage to meet you soon again on skype,
    But it is all to much coocking to me,


    Ohm Namah Sadguru Parabrahman

  3. Ed, I have to join you but 100% in all what you said about Tony O’Clery. I had many fights & arguments with the guy that lead to a dead end, finally I deleted & blocked him. The guy had terrible experiences of betrayal & abuse with Satha Sai Baba after years & years of devotion which caused him great terror & fear & to protect himself of any similar experiences he read all the spiritual books in the world & memorized each word trying to figure out how would a Mukta be & behave so he wont fall for any frauds; by doing this he blocked everyone & caged his mind & heart by fear disguised as the all knowing.I in a certain period of my life went through the same dynamic & was turning to be someone controlled be fear & doubt yet the Master had changed this & I'm so grateful.

    I love your title "Awakening Versus Liberation" I met many awakened beings but liberated I have to say are very rare .....

    These days each one who under goes a self-experience is considered Liberated ... We can pick & choose from a wide selection of Gurus that can be found in spiritual hyper markets on the shelves. They come in every color, shape & form. Each Guru-Item holds a specific tag; we stay with them for a few days & we in return become also shelved next to them as the new born liberated guru.

    Nowadays' mantra for Liberation is: "Oh it is easy, You are all already THAT" repeat it for 48hrs & you are ready to rule the sad-sang circus.

    Yes the inner world doors of grace at this time are wide open unlike before where devotees had to practice for decades to attain the sought, but that doesn't mean a passing experience with a few memorized advaitic poems makes one Liberated.

    I still have to practice & I still long ... I still have to remain devoted to my master & I still have to honor the connection. I'm still in maya.


  4. Has there ever before been a Diamond Sutra with the clarity, honesty, value and brilliance of this one? No, not in my experience.

    Thank you, Edji for all you have done and are doing.

  5. Dearest Ed,

    First of all, let me say that yesterday was by far the 'best' day of my life, no kidding. I told you it that it does't take much to please me. LOL The treasures are still spilling out of this heart as I type.

    I agree with Jeff, this piece is so valuable, so brilliant. I remember reading this excerpt by Ramana a couple of years ago. Something rang deeply true about it then. It just made sense to me. Then I went on to read spiritual book after book, hear teacher after teacher, and this 'truth' never showed up anywhere else, except maybe with Gangaji. Thus I became convinced that all the 'vasanas' could be swept under the rug of 'witnessing'. It was a way of escape with a very short leash.

    I have been somewhat angry at having to go through this so-called human emptying without the aid of some 'momentous' initial awakening experience. It just didn't seem fair. It has often felt like I was having to traverse a vast forest with only the aid of a single candle, when I really wanted a fog light. I wanted to see where I was going 'before' I went, not 'as' I went. I see it differently now. I see that there is no 'right' order of things, no 'set' unfolding, no correct way to 'proceed'. It simply is at it is and as it is is perfect for me. It's really about surrender!!! And, there has been a 'momentous' awakening experience - the awakening of Love within this Heart. Nothing else could have unfolded without this. It is truly the 'driver'.

    I can see more clearly now that this Love will play any conceiveable role, wear any imagineable mask, go to any length, any depth, any height, in order to reach down into those places that do not yet know they are Love, that do not yet know that they are included in the ALL. And when the Heart is open, and Love touches the shut out, the forgotten, the resisted, the pushed aside aspects of our selves, the tears of healing and gratitude flow...the emptying has begun.

    With Deep Love and Gratitude,

  6. Edji,

    I keep reading and reading this paper. It is so good, so clear, so powerful. Finally you've brought to clarity the distinction between Neo-Advaita and the fully liberated ones. It was always bothering me but couldn't pinpoint it. Now it is spelled out. I am so happy, so happy. You have shown your depth and how much farther ahead you are from those on FB. I am sure now many would get it. Your Satsang will grow now. People will finally grasp that it is not as easy as the Neo claim it to be.

  7. Morning Ed,

    Just read your awakening vs liberation post from your meditation intensive. Wonderful.

    I loved the clarity for I feel it speaks to my typical roving unfulfillment, frustration, and resolve.

    As you know, I do not feel liberated yet I always feel I've clearly had experiences like what you express--the states/stages as well as the challenges that typically are not noticed or discussed. That is why I first contacted you so long ago. Beforehand the states... and explanations were not enough! could not be all, nor provided support or clarity why all this other confusion, challenge, and pain still swelled and broke over me.

    Was I true or a fraud, mirroring states but not deep enough or true enough, couldn't be cause Iater I still experienced x. I thought I must have no sense of physical being--at all times, deep bliss and assured compassion with right action in all situations. I did not. Not all the time. And I began to over analyze worry and became depressed.

    Just as you stated so much of, say, Zen is folklore, I have come to accept so much of teachings of gurus is, well, folklore, or at best powerful, but narrow path: no exposition or room for other experiences/paths. It is so easy to want to know and understand and insist Ramana's steps must be my own it is easy to forget there is no progression, no linear steps, no required stages, though it may appear so, though a guru may choose to instruct as so, though certain core experiences and understandings occur.

    Yes! These expansive consuming "unicity" moments once special become seen as another, albeit it more fundamental or foundational, passing movement.

    Yes, I feel the need to state, yes that is it! you put words to my frustration and at times alienation--that is my experience. Song birds do not magically land on my shoulder, anger does not just dissipate, abundance and good health do not gently support and nourish my pursuits. In general my body still seems to react--to a past, to conditioning, with preferences as gut reactions with strong emotions and guiding values and a real sense of self in a story--all the while clearly aware just layered, not linear thougths--occurring now, yet once seen already dead--lies that create self and a story of causal life. Paradox!

    All these years of practice of intense states of life changing awareness and the inevitable return to confusion and pain and back out a gain--only to see these states don't matter, no truth as the intensity and novelty dies down--seeing only their emptiness---how they seduce us to focus so we can see they remain empty without concepts too!

    Life just occurs but we sure can shackle onto our thoughts by trying to make sense of the past: All movement is the past--dead memory.

    Thank you Ed,

  8. What A "Beautiful" day !
    "Oh" Ed, such gratitude here for all you have given us.
    I read the above Awakening vs. Liberation over and over and over again,letting it take me deeper and deeper into "Love".
    You explained everything with such perfect divine clarity.
    Now to sit with this and let it soak into every fiber.
    I love you Ed Muzika !!
    Thank you
    Thank You

  9. Dear Edji,

    Wanted to share with you and the Sangha. Something became so much clearer today. I am not sure if I can articulate this new realization I had.
    It is about my practice. It is so obvious now what I have to do. This knowing brought me so much sense of peace and happiness.

    I was alone on the balcony, listening to the fountain, feeling the breeze, just being quiet - it was very peaceful and I started talking to God. I told Him how much I love Him. The longing was intense. And as you know in those moments the thought arose that it is He who is actually longing for me, calling me, talking to me. I was so grateful. I became happier. And I asked for more. I asked him to take everything. I longed for him so much. And the answer was - the longing is not deep enough. And it hit me.

    That was it. Bhai Sahib (Tweedie's guru) kept telling her if you were to want Him as you want to breath you'd realize Him in a second. That was the answer. I wanted so many things. I was so tired this morning, I wanted so badly to sleep, to be left alone, to do nothing. But my longing for Him - where was it in those moments. All my wants and desires ... it is the longing for God that has to be the strongest, the only one. This is the answer to my sadhana. I struggle with my 9-5 job, with my two kids, with my marriage, with you. I struggle and a lot of wants and desires spring from that but the longing for God has to be even stronger, the single one that matters. I need to surrender fully, what does it matter if I work, if I get enough sleep, if my kids don't give me any space for myself. None of this is important. Even if this body aches for rest, this psyche of mine screams for space, nothing matters. It is so clear now. All that I want doesn't matter but the longing for Him. This Longing for Him is Him calling me, loving me. The paradox is resolved. It became so clear how those who love Him become his servants, empty vessels. All my personal wants and desires have to be burned by this one and only one longing for the Beloved. Only the Longing for Him must remain. I will now serve my kids, my husband, you, everyone but the only thing I want is Him. My longing for the Beloved is the only thing that matters now. It is so clear Edji. I am ecstatic as I write this to you. It is so simple, so simple.

    Janet B.

  10. This vasanas thing:

    Robert used to use the metaphor of the electric fan that has been unplugged but continues to turn.

    Is this why realized beings such as Osho, Sai Baba, and Muktananda continued to behave in very human-like ways - by taking advantage of their devotees for sexual gratification, for example (allegedly)?

  11. Gary, this is a quite complicated subject. You are seeing and judging from the outside, and with a "standard" for guru-behavior in your mind. You might be surprised about both Robert's behaviors and gurus' unless you were there.

    I have never met a teacher who did not have sex with his students from maezumi, to any number of Advaita and Zen teachers. It is as common as eating. Also money. Teachers are supported by their students. That is what they do. They take care of their students' spiritual health and they take care of the teacher's worldly health. yet seen from the outside, it may appear that the teacher is taking advantage of the student financially if you don't know their relationship.

    That is, if you look for evil in any teacher you'll find it. If you look for love, you will also find that.

  12. How many oceans does a fish need to cross for the realization that it swims in water ?

    Beyond deep and shallow … this You are … eternally …!

  13. Ed, I've tried to dispense with my concept of what a guru should be (after you once accused me of living in a world of 'prissy conventionality'.) I accept that gurus are not necessarily saints.

    I try not to think about anything, anymore - but for some reason the subject of a guru's behaviour continues to interest/bother me. Maybe it's because I worry what my body would get up to if the 'I' was no longer there to restrain it. Would my behaviour degenerate, I wonder, with no one to 'mind the shop'.

    When I was younger I used to drink a lot, and was often horrified to find out things I had done the night before, which may have something to do with my concern.

    I'm probably talking bollocks.

    Anyway, thanks for your reply.

  14. Dearest Janet,
    While reading what you posted, this "huge" wave after wave after wave of Love entered my entire Being filling me up and then pouring out .

    Your words are mine as this is seen so very clearly now.
    Thank you so much for this post
    Love and Gratitude,
    Cynthia xxoo

  15. Going back to Ed's original post: maybe instead of debating whether or not a particular teacher is fully liberated, we should be more interested in how many of the teacher's students have gone free through practicing the given teaching? No way to accurately judge that I suppose. How many would be "enough"? Would "none" mean the teacher was not enlightened or liberated, or just that teaching is a much different thing than attaining freedom, and both are not always found in the same person.

  16. Thanks Edji..your writing in this article is so true .there is always continuous deepening that takes place even when one is near end of the lifetime even for great masters. this particular talk snippt taken from the book "consciousness and absolute" by Jean Dunn...here Nisargadatta Maharaj mention that today last traces of personality or individuality have left me.
    December 22, 1980
    Maharaj: Just now I was lying down in the waking state, but with no perceiving or receiving of
    any words, something like a prior-to-words state.
    Now the last traces of personality or individuality have left me. Last year I used to talk to
    people with a certain affection, but that is not available now. My dwelling place in the grosser
    world is gone now; presently it is in the subtler sphere, as in space.

  17. Actually Jeff, you should not be concerned even with this way of measuring teachers. Even on the guru rating websites, we only hear opinions.

    The only thing a seeker should be aware of is his or her own reaction to a teacher. I knew almost instantaneously that Robert was my teacher, and although I had doubts for 2-3 years, the doubts finally left me.

    I had many, many teachers and each affected me differently. The trouble comes when we try to decide based on some "objective measure," whether we should follow them or not.

    Your heart will tell you whether he or she is the teacher for you if you listen to it. And, you may change your mind after being with that teacher for a few years that it is time to move on.

    But choosing a teacher based on others' opinions, or the number of scandals he is involved in, whether he says the things that jive with your concepts, etc., is not the way to choose a teacher.

    Simply ask that question of your own heart. Is he or she the One? They go in grace with love and surrender.

  18. @ Gary: Edji’s advice is so true. Yet my experience, which I’ve shared with Edji, is that there was a strong resistance at first to really knowing in my heart that he was my teacher. I remember him saying at one point that one indication that someone is your teacher is if you keep showing up at satsang, which I had and have been. I just know I need to be there. That much I knew.

    There was still resistance, but one day about a week ago I determined to just sit with the resistance I was feeling and let it work through me. Whatever blockage was there seemed to be removed and I wrote to him about being my teacher. I have to admit, though, that there was still some shred of doubt.

    During the retreat this past Saturday, my doubt was removed. The profound experience of my heart opening more and releasing more of my fear allowed the flow of his love to flow through me, finally.

    About your concern about the behavior of gurus, I found a website that addresses this. I posted a link on this blog at the time because I thought it had a great discussion of the problem with the neo-Advaitans. Here’s what, the author (Timothy Conway) says (Randy said he met him and that he has a lot of integrity and likes him—his opinion, in any case):

    “Papaji himself says to David Godman, in Nothing Ever Happened (vol. 3, p. 359): ‘The power of the Self cannot work on an unreceptive mind.... Rain cannot make crops grow in a barren land.... If the mind is not free from all vasanas [selfish tendencies of desire, etc.], it will always reassert itself later.... If one who is not free from vasanas is pushed into having a direct experience [of the Self], that experience will not stay. The mind of such a person will eventually come back with all its former force.”

    I believe somewhere else on the blog he says that this was Osho’s problem—unresolved vasanas. Now, mind you, he’s not a great advocate of Papaji, and he has some things to say about that. But this sounds like a statement of truth to me. In light of Edji’s teaching on clearing the vasanas as an essential step toward final liberation, this seems right on. Seems to me that if the vasanas are removed or lessened, there would be no need to fear some weird and crazy shit erupting from the unconscious/subconscious if you happened to drink too much one night. Or at least nothing destructive or harmful to self or others.

    And that’s probably why you can’t judge a teacher based on certain behavior. Behavior itself is not always an indicator, but what’s motivating it. Personally, I don’t know if it’s ever appropriate for a teacher to have sex with his or her students for various reasons I don’t want to go into here.

    Conway’s viewpoint resonated with me, and I feel it to be true. See what it does for you.

    Much love,
    Janet C

  19. Cynthia,

    To feel such love - that is Grace.

    Janet B.

  20. Janet B., those were my exact thoughts when I read Cynthia's post. "To feel such Love - that is Grace."


  21. Enlightenment is to realize one's emptiness; Liberation is to actualize that emptiness. The way I see it, God, Consciousness, The Current that knows the Way, Love...whatever one calls it, has already prepared, moment by moment that environment that is suitable for this emptying process. If you need to be in a cave that's where you'll be. If you need to be taking care of children, that's what you'll do. If you need to work 9 to 5, that's what will happen. If you need total quiet all day long with no disturbances that's what you'll have. These are not obstacles...they are invitations to clear out those vasanas...become empty.


  22. I remembered something I had read about vasanas in Byron Katie's book "Losing the Moon" This is a short discourse between a Friend and Katie and will be noted as such. Katie is truly a Bhakta.

    Friend: Annamalia Swami, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, said, "Vasanas arise, catch your attention, and pull you outwards towards the world rather than inwards towards the Self."

    Katie: Vasanas are the world. The world is a reflection of the vasanas. The world cannot exist without them. It's a reflection of them.

    Friend: He suggest just ignoring all the vasanas that arise in the mind and to fix the attention on the Self. (my comment: I would say this would be a suitable practice for those who have few vasanas to empty out.)

    Katie: The guy's, you know, in my experience, absolutely totally accurate. And for me, to be still 43 years ago and ignore vasanas that arose in my mind and to try to fix it on the Self - I had not heard of such a suggestion. It just wasn't available to me. So for me to be still and ignore the vasanas - it would be like "yeah, sure" and give me so cocaine instead. Give me something that makes sense to me. To tell someone to be still, from where I came from, would be disrespectful. It would be to ask the impossible. So, I enter the vasana with total respect. Rather than saying go beyond the vasana, let's join the vasana. Let's understand the vasana. It makes sense to me because only Love heals in my experience. I can't just leave it out there and go to the Self. That is me I am leaving out there. So I came in as a reversal. I call this the re-entry. I'm in love with it. It would not think of not coming back to give itself a kiss - including it, merging with it, sexing with it, holding it, being it - all of it. Why should I want to ignore it or meditate it away? Just meet it head-on. Let me meet with understanding. Because after all these centuries it's pretty obvious it is not going away.

    Katie also says, "So, like Ramana holds that space of 'prior to', I am a lover of the vasana. Because it's the mirror image of myself. And myself is the 'prior to'. It just complicated itself. It lives full circle. I mean the no thing is no more or less than the apparent thing. And it's a total love affair."

    My comments: Katie is simply sharing a release technique, she terms it "loving what is", how silly to do other wise, yet we do.

    Dr. Hew Len's release technique, called 'ho'oponopono' is very similiar. It's also about loving what is and being 100% responsible for what I see, what I am experiencing, in a sense, my whole world. He suggests meeting whatever arises with these words, "I love you, I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you."

    Play with it, make it personal for you. Just to be able to greet whatever arises with "I Love You", and "Thank You" for giving me another chance to free you, is so powerful to me. And we free as often as is needed (some things require time and patience) until one day, there is total emptiness, anything can arise and it triggers nothing within us because there is nothing. Ah, Liberation!!!

    I hope this is helpful in some way.


  23. Joan,

    I love what you shared from Katie's book....

    Katie is a blessing to the world ....

    She made it very simple & easy to meet our identity structures that hinders us from the Truth ....

    She paved the way for me & still do when I'm stuck in a thought that irritates me ....

    Honestly her clarity I have not seen any match to it ...

    She is a living breathing Heart that walks the earth ....

    In honor & gratitude .....

  24. I think some teachings are sometimes spoken from a certain level of awareness and are so simplified that when one actually tries to put them into practice it soon becomes apparent that things are much deeper.  It’s a trap.
    Back when I was in college I tried the “I love myself” affirmations and the “loving what arises” technique.  That only caused more repression and inability to act out of my own sense of authenticity as I didn’t know if I should embrace and love a situation or I should simply feel the anger and disagreement, etc.   Then I went into psychoanalysis which I now believe comes much closer to what those teachings are really trying to convey.   The “I” is at the center of a mind which is a set of defenses and coping mechanisms.  How can the “I” love whatever arises when one of the main functions of the mind is to control or defend against what arises, to modulate, to assist, etc.  I think it is these defenses and projections that we need to work through to release much of our energy invested in the mind, working through the vasanas.  Only then the acceptance and love of what arises will automatically actualize.  In a deep relationship with a guru or a therapist one learns to love another and as trust is established one can truly begin to explore and learn about his/her mind and its defenses and projections.  The love for the guru will do that automatically. 
    At the end, perhaps when the mind is no longer in charge and has become the servant of the Self can one love what arises as there is no strong “I”, and it is the Self loving itself as it unfolds in its myriads of manifestations.

    Janet B.

  25. I hear ya Janet. Good points made here. But I think these simplified techniques certainly have their place. They are sort of like stepping stones or placebos so to speak for those who are not so intense in their spiritual practice, but are merely looking for a way to cope with the mess that life brings up as they inevitbaly move toward that 'end' that you mentioned, when the mind is no longer in charge and has become the servant of the Self.

    Sounds like it is not so much that the simplified approaches were ineffective you just were not in a place in those earlier years to see their effectiveness but you certainly see them now.


  26. @Janet C

    Thank you for your post. I'll read the link when I have time (it looks pretty dense).


    Are we to understand that all gurus with vasanas are not liberated - merely awakened? And how can we judge what constitutes a vasana? How can we know if a guru's action is a result of a vasana or an expression of the absolute?

  27. Gary, you are still seeking a myth, a perfect guru. In essence, I have tried to tell you the process of opening, awakening, realizing is endless. You don't need perfection in the guru, but to perfect yourself.

    When it came to selecting teachers, Robert said let your heart be your guide. You will choose the teacher best for you at the moment. As you change, maybe you will change gurus, or maybe you'll stay with one.

    I had endless numbers of teachers before I happened across Robert. Be courageous; don't fear making a mistake or you will only pick dead teachers who everyone agrees on, like Ramana.

    You see, many of the greatest teachers are invisible, as Robert was when I first came to him. He had maybe a half dozen people at Satsang at a time.

    Anyone who is open to God, sentience, love or wisdom can be a teacher for you. You recognize their divinity the moment you interact with them, and they may not be expressly teachers when you meet them. They are kind, open, and you feel their love for you when you look into their eyes. Their faces are open and you see at that moment, they are only for you. These are the people you want to hang around with.

  28. Joan,

    It was just my opinion. I know for Luise Hay it worked, she was cured of cancer just by repeating I love you. It didn't for me. Even psychoanalysis for 7 years didn't bring the relief I was looking for. Only with Ed where a lot of the work has been psychoanalytic I saw real results. But in truth, he is the only guru/therapist I really fell in love with. Freud emphasized that only after patients began to feel love that the real work has began and they started getting better. That was my process too. I now have deeper respect for Freud and know that he was right.


  29. Janet B,

    "Loving what is" is in other words surrendering to what is .... & Katie didn't just give the regular empty pointing to love what is without backing it up with her great method... Infact she gave the most powerful tool "the work" that I have come across which when done with a full heart one will automatically be the love & surrender even if one is in the very basic stage...

    The mind "I" can become Sattvic "Open & pure" during the journey it wont be all the time that contracted.... In my experience "the work" can save your money to being with a shrink & to release your master from so much nagging & complaining .... "the work" is a win win technique that can reach to an unimagined depth preparing the wayfarer to be taken fully by the Master....

    Thank you

  30. Right on, Janet. I understand and agree with everything you have said about the therapis or guru helping one learn how to love, and the necessity of becoming aware of our "attack dog", or "coping mechanism", the mind. To rein it in with love, yet as you said, it helps to know from which platform we are watching and loving that "I," while still not letting it run the show. And thanks Edji for your comments about a true teacher's openness, the love in their eyes which is apparent, their divinity, the fact they may not identify themselves as a teacher in that moment. Exactly! Thank you, Love,

  31. Janet, you said, " Freud emphasized that only after patients began to feel love that the real work has began and they started getting better. That was my process too. I now have deeper respect for Freud and know that he was right."

    Your experience mirrors my own Janet. Thanks for sharing.


  32. Faisal,

    I don't know 'the work' of Katie but you speak highly of it and I am glad you have felt it has transformed you.

    Janet B.

  33. Janet,

    I can see your point about the value in Freud and Psychoanalysis. However, would it be the analyst's responsibility then AND acting from a point of love to inform the client that it would be time to let go and move on, lest an unneeded dependency might seep into the relationship?(because wanting to leave such a relationship might prove such a tall order to many of us).


  34. Mark,

    This is a very complicated subject and when I studied psychoanalysis we had an entire class devoted to this topic. There were many views and positions. Honestly I really don't know. Depending on what the patient is looking for, some might need therapy until a symptom is removed (to Joan's point) while others look for deeper transformation. For the latter group Freud hypothesized that the treatment mirrors the developmental process - during the first two years one regresses to pre-verbal stages, then one goes through the Oedipal stage, etc. At my psychoanalytic school they believed it is for life. There is always more depths to be explored.

    But one thing I've always wondered with Ed's yogic powers I felt such movements of energies, my emotional blockages were unleashed, it became volcanic. I think the process is much faster than in a normal therapeutic setting. Tweedie spoke similarly of her journey with her guru in Daughter of Fire.

    Ramana also talks about spending time with the guru for at least 12 years. I really don't know.

    Sorry for monopolizing this thread, psychoanalysis is a passionate topic of mine.

    Janet B.

  35. Janet........

    It was passionate for me too(back in the days I was intermittently immersed in analytic oriented therapy as opposed to the traditional analysis), then later meditation/self inquiry just provided the finishing touch as it were.

    I liked what Ram Dass once said when asked about the difference. He said, "Therapy rearranges the furniture in the room for you but meditation will get you out of there."


  36. Dear Ed,

    Bhagavan Ramana is paradoxically taken by these people as their root- guru and authority!

    Yet Ramana said, "No one succeeds without effort. the successful few owe their success to their perseverance.."

    This is a quote from the 'Talks'; so nothing of this Poonja nonsense.

    If someone understands something about being he is far from being aware enough to live it every moment of his life, quite independent of all moods and states, isn't it so?

    The quotes i sent you a while ago i looked up because of a talk i had with Mooji last year
    when i met him accidentally on the road here in Tiruvannamalai. He is presenting himself as a 'Living Buddha';

    so i felt it appropiate to ask him if he is established in that awareness even during dream and deep sleep.

    He didn't even know about that teaching.....and asked me about quotes.

    I am happy to have been led to your teachings and enjoy your exchange with Rajiv very much.

    With love and gratitude,