29 November 2011

Love in the Ashram--A Dialogue
In response to Muzika’s post Hindering Concepts in Spirituality and on the path.  http://www.facebook.com/edwardmuzika/posts/2502788382313
Critic 1:
That's all very well, but what you fail to mention is the pain caused to partners or husbands or wives when they find out their significant other has been screwing around in the name of enlightenment. Don't they count?

It's hard to keep affairs secret and people aren't blind to these things. It usually all comes out in the end.

I understand your concern, but life is messy. Sure they count, but to what extent 'must' they count? To the detriment of closing down one's own heart to Love? I don't think so.

Why must we see it as screwing around in the name of enlightenment? Why not admit that we cannot tell our hearts who to love and when to love. 

Critic 2
Ed, what are you doing?  Grow up so your students can grow up too.
Critic 3
"Sure they count, but to what extent 'must' they count?"

To the extent that they're sentient beings who feel pain - much like Ed's cats. 

We may not be able to control our hearts, but I would have thought exercising some restraint over our bodies to avoid hurting others would be a virtue - another concept, I suppose. Sigh.

"life is messy. Sure they count, but to what extent 'must' they count? To the detriment of closing down one's own heart to Love? I don't think so."

A little bit selfish, perhaps. Then again, if I ever get caught with my trousers down, I'll be sure to quote your comments to my wife. I'm sure she'll understand.
To some of you, when you hear someone follows no rules but only his or her heart, you think the worst. Others when they hear this, hear truth. What makes the former think that the heart does not have its own rules, the consequences of is less suffering, not more?

When you go deep and find both your emptiness and presence, you are transformed. You seek only justice and compassion. Such a heart does not go out in fake crazy wisdom, willy-nilly destroying marriages and societies for fun.

A freed heart is a kinder and more compassionate heart than the average person can imagine. Some are so sensitized to pain they see only a devil.
You see, this is what freedom is about, learning to escape from concepts, all concepts, including those of Nisargadtta, or Ramana, or mine. I just ask you to look at your concepts, including the "forever" contract marriage is supposed to be, as well as the supposed to's of the guru/student relationship. This brings into question the whole concept of what is enlightenment and the enlightened state, and especially, what was Ramana's subjectivity like, and how is that relevant to me?

I am saying Ramana was the perfect Ramana, and you have to become the perfect you, and that happens only when you get rid of all concepts and live as you.

I am asking you to look at all these concepts in yourself.
You keep talking about escaping from concepts, but there is more than that. Please go deeper. One needs to polish the mirror of his Heart. Otherwise much suffering is caused in the name of enlightenment. This is where the working through the vasanas comes into play. 
Now this is a real sangha! To even be discussing this!
Edji had the guts to dive into this issue. it's a tough topic and he knew it. to me it's all part of this new path for edji. to be more involved in humanity, human emotions, all the messiness.
He could have said nothing and stayed in a nice, sterile, holy silence, but he spoke. People's hearts are broken every day, not just when their spouse cheats! We're attached to our t.v.s, cars, friends, pets, spirituality... attachment and pain are this illusory life. The ONLY solution is to transcend and then all is well.

Muzika 3
People go to an ashram for a number of reasons. Some attend programs purely for social purposes or curiosity, especially if the ashram has an associated restaurant. 

Or they go for the teachings, and really don't care about the teacher at all.

For others, they come because it is their tradition, and they go out of habit, like to church for most Americans.

A considerably smaller number come to an ashram because they are lonely or are looking for a love relationship with ashramites or other program attendees.

Lastly, a small number come looking for the love of God or the guru. If these people are in a relationship at all, they are not happy. Some have been married in a dead relationship for 10 or 20 years. Some are suicidal from the boredom and deadness. They are already dying.

It is to these that love comes almost unbidden. They are ready, open receptive.

The other partner in the marriage may be dead also, and his/her spouse becoming alive, enlivens them too. For the first time they may be feeling feelings of jealousy, rage, fear and threat.

They too are waking up in pain and rage, but they are feeling something new and are being enlivened to a degree.

As a previous poster said, this happens every day everywhere, but at least one person of the dead couple is coming alive and possibly the other.

The idea set forth by critics, is if anyone feels pain, the actions of the spouse and teacher/other attendee are immoral, bad because the husband, wife, kids are hurt.

Yet how many bad marriages, dead marriages, angry marriages are kept alive "for the children?"

To feel real feelings for the first time in 20 years, painful or not, happens to all the parties involved.

You assume there are sexual relations. There do not have to be for a spouse to feel jealousy and hurt. All that has to happen is a teacher and attendee or ashramite have love in their hearts for another, and the other spouse or partner feels like they are being cheated on. However, this kind of love is not controllable except by repression. The actions can be controlled of course.

But the critics always jump to the worst case scenario of the perverted, out of control guru is wrong having ANY impact on a spouse other than to solidify the marriage.

However, that love-hungry, dying spouse would have found love elsewhere, or locked himself/herself into a room alone looking for God within and still be lost to that relationship.
Muzika 4
You have to understand also, that the spiritual love that arises between two people at an ashram, two attendees, or the teacher and an ashramite or attendee has the potential of being a life-shattering love affair, not the tawdry thing critics are talking about. It is an affair of the heart. Sex need not come, and in fact may ruin the love relationship.

The love is so explosive, overwhelming and is completely transformative. One day you are plodding along, and the next you are afire with love that burns deeply, burns your concepts of decorum, of proper behavior, of life, God, the path--all get burnt.

One is carried away for hours or days at a time in an absorption of the beloved. The love turns into bliss, the bliss to ecstasy, and the ecstasy to samadhi.

You recognize this is not human love, it is a gift from God. You can feel the person over long distances, when they are awake, asleep or thinking of you. You feel their presence within you. Your own sense of presence expands as love permeates your beingness, and the "I-Am" is invigorated and expanded. You life changes 100%.

This is not a small and tawdry thing as critics wish to paint it because they have never experienced this deep, passionate and all-consuming love which takes one beyond into complete emptiness by burning away "impurities."

Even then, even within the grips o such love, either person is fully capable of making decisions about their other relationships, including marriage and children.

The so-called abuses one hears about are not between mature grownups, to whom the love of God has come, but, let us say immature people, ordinary people having ordinary affairs driven by sex. This is not the case as I described above.

Just as an opinion, I believe a marriage license should be for the most, three years and renewable every two or three years. This gets rid of the awful "moral" burden of "Til death do us part."

The first three years would be a test period to see if you do want to remain together and perhaps raise a family.

But my interest is not in family values as a lot of critics have as a hidden agenda, but in awakening from this dream of life, especially the dead lives of the conventional.
My husband read this post and the comments last night, came into my room and to tell me that he was in agreement with the first poster and that he was appalled at my repsonse to it. And why wouldn't he be? He is the "you have a contract" man. For the life of me I can't understand why that contract is more important than my happiness, more important than my growth and maturation, more important than the call of my own heart. He doesn't give a damn about the fact that I have been dying a slow death in a 27 year old marriage. 

Finally I have the guts to be honest with my heart, to let my own heart have a voice. It's not what he wants to hear and by all indication, it's not what some of you want to hear either.

Some think that it is the sole duty as a sentient being to not inflict pain on another sentient being. What about the pain I am and have been inflicting on myself while I have been trying to 'not' cause another pain? At what point does my heart matter? Or, does it ever matter? Do I cling to 'never hurt another' at the expense of my hearts calling and quest to grow, mature and experience Love for the first time in my life? Who orders these movements? 

I didn't ask for Love outside of the marriage, as a matter of fact, I have begged God to help me be to love my husband for 27 years and have been almost paralyzed by guilt that I never could, that it never happened.

Only when you've lived your whole life without Love and then it finds you will you have any idea as to what I am talking about. 

Why do we assume that to experience freedom - or to live without concepts will automatically result in all sorts of undesirable and pain inflicting actions? This way of thinking is just another subtle way that the mind maintains it apparent rule. 

Why don't we try it first, give it all up, give up all the concepts as Ed had repeatedly challenged us to do and then see if we turn into human beings who look for every opportunity to cause hurt and pain to others. 

Ed, thanks for your last post above.
I "fully" understand ALL you have put down here and am SO in agreement with everything you have said.

I know that things come "to us for us" and if only we were willing to examine the content of our own hearts and not point fingers ..I'm saying go deep within to see this cause of suffering .

It is so shallow for anonymous to ask "what about the pain caused to the other" Is there "Pain?" You bet ! But dive deep within to see the cause of this pain!! Our responsibility is to drop all assumptions ..especially the ones pertainting to others and be responsible for whats going on inside our own heart.
With deep gratitude and Love and a heart filled with thanks for being so free and bold to express this Ed

27 November 2011

Live Satsang In Los Angeles Tentatively Scheduled for Saturday, January 14, 2012

It will also be transmitted live on the Internet via U Stream
Who is Edji?

Keeping your eyes closed, look into yourself. Imagine your vision is turned inward, into your body.
What do you see?
Do you see emptiness?
Do you see light? The light of consciousness?
Do you feel your own sense of presence in that vacuum inside? Your own life force—the ‘I Am’?
Can you find an ‘I?’ The one that says “I ate lunch,” or “I hate you,” or “I love you?”
Can you find that “I”?
If you can, tell me about it—I have never found it. There ain’t no ‘I.’ And yet, we are still here.  Witness to the world; to consciousness.  What a paradox.
That chanting was something else… mind-blowing. I think I am going to convert, and become a follower of… what’s-his-name [Krishna Das.]
Shit, with that kind of chanting, who needs anything else? 
Except Lakshmi, here.  [Speaking to his cat] Hi, Lakshmi!
You know, Robert used to say, all the time, “Who am I?”  Referring to himself, and how other people saw him.
And you know, he used to say, “I am who you think I am, or what you think I am.”  He recognised that people never saw the world, and we never see each other. We see through the concepts with the mind. Mental concepts. We do not see the world as children, or as babies do.  We see through a maze, and a network, of concepts.
Besides the concepts we see—of a chair and of a cat; of a computer and lights—there are other processes that take place when we see somebody else.  For example, projections. A lot of stuff that we do not see in ourselves we project into another person. 
Sometimes for safekeeping.   Sometimes we do not allow ourselves to feel our love, for one reason or another, because it was stifled when we were young—whatever the reason—so we project it somewhere, into somebody we think is safe. Then we yearn for that person, for our own love back.
Sometimes we project rage, because we do not want to be known as rage-full. So somebody else becomes the holder of our rage, and we avoid them like the plague. The same with any other feeling… envy; jealousy. We project in the other person, and we see it there, in them—and not in ourselves.
And then there is that process called “projective identification.” We see it in the other person, and it allows us to see it in ourselves. We want to be with that person so we can see our own love, and all of our other feelings—the affects like jealousy, hatred, anger. We get to re-own portions of ourselves, the emotional parts of us as humans.
So, there are two processes.
We see the world through mental concepts—like Robert was looked at, as a “guru”—and we have concepts about what a guru is. A guru is this. A guru is that. A guru is a vessel of God. A guru is all good. A guru never swears. A guru is never angry. He has non-attached love for everybody. He is perfect. He never makes a mistake.
True, that is me. I have to accept the label.  [Laughs]
But also then, there are the projections. Maybe a guru is safe to project love into; or anger, because that is a special category.
The third process that comes up when we deal with somebody else is our own repressions. The more we love someone, the more the flipside begins to appear.
Not right away. Usually, we know in relationships—love relationships—the first 3 to 6 months are A-OK.
Then the shit hits the fan. All the negative stuff comes up: jealousy, envy, rage. You name it.  Hatred.  A lot of people refer to this as “shadow work,” in psychoanalysis. You work on the dark side of yourself. [Chuckles]  And boy, some of you have real dark sides!   Unlike me of course (laughs).
And Robert—he was perfect. We are perfect.  
[The rhetorical device of sarcasm is being employed here—proofreader’s note]
So, when Robert was saying “I am whatever you think I am,” he was talking about all of those processes. Seeing Robert as the guru—whatever that meant for you.
Projecting into him whatever you thought you needed, or were trying to hide from yourself, or trying to put into him for safekeeping.  Or trying to project into him—you could see it in him and then find it in yourself, where otherwise you would not have been able to find it—projective identification.
And then, the process of bonding, with love. The relationship gets deeper and deeper. You get more and more trusting.
You know, the first three dates you are out with somebody, you do not say “You’re fucking nuts!” You hold that back for a few months, until you know they are hooked. Then you can start feeding out all the bad shit. You walk on eggshells, until maybe month six, after you have moved in together. It is a little harder to get out of that relationship right away. That is when the zingers start coming out—control.  The jealousy; the envy; the bickering; the fighting over little things—who is in control.
Before that, you are so gracious, so very gracious. [In fawning voice]  “Oh you do this, you can do that. What do you want me to do for you?” So sweet, so loving. And then, in month seven or month eight, the shit comes out.
So—who is Ed Muzika?  Since there are, maybe, thirty people out there looking at me [in the Internet satsang,] there are thirty views of Ed Muzika, I am sure. And for some of you who are more schizophrenic, there may be two or three simultaneous views of who Ed Muzika is.  Including me!
In an effort for clarification I am going to tell you how I see myself, so that we can all get on the same page.  Because, who better than me can tell who I am? Being the guru, I must be truthful at all times, right? Isn’t that part of it? [Laughs] I must be honest.  I must have great insight. And I am closer to me than anybody else here. So let’s all coordinate around my concept of me, and we will all be on the same page in the future, with no conflict. Okay?
When I look within me—let us start the inside first—I see emptiness; and it is filled with light—the light of consciousness. The emptiness is everywhere. It starts inside my body. It contains my heart, my head, the bottom of my body, my legs. It stretches out, and goes into space around me. It is dark, but it is also lighted.
I feel very peaceful and very happy, very loving, especially after that wonderful chanting. I feel a little bit of muscle tension in my back, because of the way I am sitting… but essentially, that is how I see myself from the outside.
Some of you can feel that. You tell me that you can feel the emptiness in me. You are actually feeling the emptiness in you. It resonates.
But if I look at myself objectively, like I am looking at this picture here—and this is where we have to coordinate—I see a very handsome man with glasses.  About 30 years old, 6 feet 8; about 200 pounds; 20 inch biceps; a heart of gold. Profanity never goes through these lips. Sarcasm never passes these lips.
Look how gentle he is with animals. He is such a lover. Never cross, never angry. Just like Robert. A paragon—a veritable Ramana.
Okay, now we have that down. [Laughs]
Now you understand, it is all bullshit! This is all bullshit—the way we see each other—we never really see each other until we have known each other for a couple of years, and even then we persist in not knowing the other person.
Also, you change in relationships. What was positive one month, is negative the next month. What is seen one month is not seen the next month. And with somebody like Robert, you could be with him for 9 or 10 years, and still be learning what emptiness is like, because the emptiness gets deeper, and deeper, and deeper.
Well, at least Lakshmi likes me.
Now, who are you?
Who are you?
If you look inside yourself, is that how you find out who you are? If you close your eyes and look inside, what you see there—is that real? That emptiness?  Or is the world revealed to you when your eyes are open? Is that real?
You know, my first realisation, and that now shared by every neo-advaitin under the moon… I looked into me and found no ‘I,’ and that collapsed the mental structure; and there was only oneness.
The inside space was the same as the outside space. The inside space that contained the emotions such as love, anger, and all the thinking and concepts, was exactly the same as the room full of objects that surrounded me—but my mind had imposed order and form on that external room. I no longer saw it as an infant would—just a blur of colours and intensity, and infants are like this—[demonstrates an awed, wide-eyed infant looking around]—and we are not.
You know, we see.  We relate to it. Our mind has imposed order on it. You can always tell an enlightened person—they go like [demonstrates wide-eyed look.] Big eyes.  Like Robert.
Just kidding. Another concept!
But just because we do not find an ‘I’ when we look inside of ourselves [the typical neo-advaitin proof of Self-realization— accepting what Nisargadatta summarizes literally, but ignoring the long, detailed practice and successive states he also describes]… Does anybody really expect to find an ‘I?’
That finding “us” is that easy? That you just look inside of yourself for 30 seconds—in your imagination, because you have no eyes inside, there is no organ of inner seeing there, it is all done in the imagination! —‘I,’ in my imagination, look into where my body might be, if my eyes were open, and I had some internal vision.
But these eyes can only see that cat’s face [referring to huge cat’s face printed on his sweatshirt.] So in my imagination I turn my attention inward, and see that emptiness inside—and I look around, and in that presence, in that emptiness, I see no ‘I.’ I can find no ‘I.’
Well, shit! Who said the ‘I’ exists as a form; or an entity? People talk about an’ ego, and I guess people expect to find an ego when they look inside, associated with the ‘I.’
But what is the ego?
Is it the ‘I?’ So, I cannot find an ‘I.’  ‘I’ is just a word.
There is no ‘I’ when I look inside—and yet, I can see you. I can have emotions towards you. I can tell you to Go to hell! Eat my dust! Or, Read page 39. I can interrelate with you. I can eat dinner with you.  Watch you on a computer monitor.  Talk to you. But what is that entity that is doing that? I do not see an ‘I,’ but ‘I’ am still doing this.
Just because there is no ‘I,’ does not mean that there is no-one there. Your presence is there. Your intelligence is there. Your body is there. Your mind is there. Your emotions are there. Your intuition is there.
But you cannot see it.
You can feel your emotions. You can feel your body. You can reach and touch your nose… cover your eyes, and you cannot see any more. You begin to put together a concept of a body-mind.  But it is still a concept.
The reality is that you cannot be known, from the inside, that easily at all.
You cannot do psychoanalysis by yourself, using some technique that you learn from some guru on Facebook—whether it is Byron Katie, who reverses your concepts; or some other stage magic where somebody takes you through a process, like the Lester Levenson release technique from Sedona, where you get rid of emotions or wants or desires by “releasing” them.
That is only the surface. That is only what stuff comes up to the surface of the mind; your attention in the now.
But to get to the deeper levels—what is in the unconscious—you need dreams, you need interpretations, intense dream work to uncover the unconsciousness, the id, so to speak, and the superego. They all come out in relationships, and have to be interpreted.
That is the way you learn. You cannot do it by yourself—you can to a limited degree, but you have to be very smart, like Freud was. Generally you have to be in psychoanalysis for a long period of time to have the unconscious and all the conflicts revealed to you.
But all of this stuff comes out in relationship, anyway. Usually, at an unconscious level, you act out all of the stuff that is hidden. That is one way of bringing it to the surface: in a relationship. A relationship, like with a therapist. You love the therapist and all this stuff starts coming out. And it is interpreted, and held, and talked about ad infinitum, and it is integrated into your personality, and all that stuff.
This is the Sufi way, also—the way of working through affects, and relationships. Or another way would be rooting out vasanas, the inherent tendencies we have as a body-mind—whether they are genetic or buried unconscious stuff; or the archetypes of Jung.
The depths of the mind are infinite. You can sit and meditate and go deep, deep and find various levels of mind that the ordinary person has never even dreamed of—the subtle body, the body of imagination, where you look inside yourself and you have this imagination of inner space. And it is all in the imagination.
The imagination creates everything, either in the external world or the internal world. That is called the “subtle body.” This is where most of us live when we are not in the external world—in our daydreams, our dreams, our internal conversations we have with other people.
I should have said that to Suzie or This is what I think about Ralph.  Or, What an asshole this guy is.
And it is all the inner talk that goes on, as we analyse our feelings and we analyse other people. It is all kind of a private little ballpark we are in. There is nobody else around there: just us. And we are playing with all of our inner concepts.
Going deeper, you go into the “causal body.” The causal body is where you lose consciousness; and you lose awareness. Not only do you become dumb as a rock, you become unconscious as a rock. You become ignorant. All the knowledge goes. There is no knowledge anymore. No awareness.
There are other levels of mind—all of this is standard stuff in Ramana, and in Nisargadatta. You just have to read further into it, if you are interested in going deeper into the different levels of the mind. But I am just trying to say, it is not all revealed just by looking inside of yourself and finding no ‘I.’ That is only the tip of the iceberg.
Actually, the ‘I Am’—that is an experience that Nisargadatta talks about—that is our sense of presence, our sense of being alive—this gets expanded the more we interact with each other in a positive way.
The more we can love another—the more we can love the guru, the more we can love the student, the more you can love your wife, or husband, or boyfriend, or girlfriend—it pumps up that sense of presence. It puts love in there that brings that sense of presence alive; and that sense of presence becomes everything. It becomes the entire ballpark.
The sense of presence grows. Our happiness grows along with it. The love grows. We begin to feel love flowing like a river through us, from our guts, and through our hearts, out through our heads and face, through our hands and fingers into the external world, into somebody else.
You become very sensitive of that person. You can even determine when that person is awake, or asleep. Just the presences become interpenetrated. A lot of people are developing these skills in our own satsang.
Our own sangha [Buddhist word for spiritual community,] I should say.
Such a mystery all this is.
And what do you mean by “release,” and “enlightenment?” What do those concepts mean to you? These are biggies. What does Mamaji [Jo-Ann Chinn, organizer of satsang] mean when she is going to be “released,” when she “gets away from all this?”
Does she think that all of a sudden she is going to be dead, and there is nothing more to do, and it is ultimate rest? Or, is she just not going to give a shit? Or is something else going to happen? Is her mind going to drop away? What happens if her mind drops away?
So many concepts, about enlightenment and awakening. That is what I tried to illuminate in other talks, is the kind of bullshit there is about awakening, and enlightenment, and liberation.
These are all just words. It is just getting to know yourself.  Firsthand; without the intermediation of mental concepts. To know yourself directly.  Without the concepts.
Now, some people, when the first awakening comes—even just seeing that there is no ‘I’—it is an extraordinary experience. Some people are just shattered, and it takes them years to get themselves together, like U.G. Krishnamurti. He went through huge transformations, physiologically.
Some people—it is no big thing; and their life begins to change slowly. It is so different for so many people—depending on how long they have looked; what their personality makeup is; the intensity of their practice… so many things. It can be like a big explosion, or it can be like Yeah, I guess so. Right. There is no ‘I.’ So?  So what?
But then, even after seeing that, we have to go deep—dive into ourselves, time after time after time; and be in relationship time after time after time—to watch all the stuff come up and integrate all of that stuff that we growingly are.
The more we meditate the more empty we feel; but the more we are in relationship, the more stuff that comes up that we have to deal with. But because we are so much emptiness, it is so much easier to deal with than before you have discovered emptiness.
You know, we think we are getting freer and freer of concepts, don’t we? You come to satsang every week. I tell you about concepts. I tell you to screw the concepts, to get rid of them. But we have so many, don’t we?
Matthew is too smart, so he has a lot of them, too.
Robert used to say, “You know, Ed, I wonder why you are not enlightened yet.” And then he said, “I finally figured it out! You’re too smart.” [Laughs] Because you have to become dumb like a rock, and it was hard for me to become dumb like a rock. Because I prided myself on my intelligence and my thinking.
Like Joan does.
Like Mamaji does.
Like Edji does.
So, let’s go into some really, really, really uncomfortable concepts.
Really uncomfortable concepts:  Sex and the guru. Love and the guru. Love in a spousal relationship. Do you want to go there? How many are going to get pissed off, and know they are going to get pissed off, no matter what is said? Raise your hand. How many have this concept so close to their heart?
You know, I think it was 7812 years ago, all males got together at a big convention, and they created this idea, forevermore, of marriage and faithfulness for their wives: Thou shalt not have love for any other male once you tie the knot. That is cheating.
However, gurus, about 500 years ago, had our own convention—and we said, Cheating is okay. We looked back to our examples of Krishna, who had 100 gopis [cow-herding women] around him at all times, who were madly in love with him, and he was madly in love with them, except for the chief gopi, the one he really loved—Radha—who belonged to another man. And that was a constant strain, between her familiar obligations, and her heart, and their love for each other.
Then there is Shiva and Shakti—the lord of the universe with his consort, the divine energy, the feminine energy.
Constant sex.
Take a look at all of the gurus of our time—Maezumi Roshi, Sasaki Roshi, Muktananda. Over and over and over again, they are having sex with their students. Married students, unmarried; boys, girls; elephants, dogs, cats. I mean, they are very liberated people.  [Laughs]
And then other people say, “My God! Those gurus are awful. You stay away from them, because all they want to do is get the girls in bed, and take the money from the rich guys.” This is one set of concepts of the guru.
The other set of concepts of the guru is, The guru is chaste. He is like Ramana Maharshi—or at least the idea we have of Ramana Maharshi, because none of us knew Ramana Maharshi. We have second-hand stories about Ramana Maharshi. But supposedly, since the time of Ramana, he has become the stand-in and the ideal of the perfect guru.
But what about the Sufis?
What about other cultures?
It is in America that there is such a fear of gurus, and the impact that a guru or a spiritual teacher will have on their poor flock. Like they are mindless, and they are easily and manipulated and controlled, and the guru has this absolute power over them. But then… look at our senate!  Our president. Shit! Gurus do little damage, compared with what those guys are doing.
So look at that concept of faithfulness—that once a woman or a man ties the knot and makes those marriage vows before God, they are never, ever, ever, ever to change their mind.
They are not allowed to grow. They are not allowed to mature. They are not allowed to change their mind. They are not allowed to love another.
To love another in one’s heart is cheating. It is adultery in the mind. That was one of the concepts they came up with in that meeting of men, 8000 years ago. Then Moses came along and changed it to just adultery—which was physical adultery; and he did not say cheating in the mind, or just thinking about it, was a sin either.
That came later. That came with—what was the name of that king?—King James. Just having the thought of cheating, of loving, of lust, was itself a big sin that would kill you [laughs,] send you to hell.
[Sighs]  What do you think?
Maezumi Roshi had affairs with many of his students, and he said because he could. Women were there, and they were available, and they gave themselves. They were willing participants. There was no 12 year olds there, or 14 year olds like with Muktananda; supposedly. Even that we do not know is true, or what was going on in that relationship.
Then we see through the eyes of the ordinary people out there, that are not in spirituality, that are not used to all kinds of ways of growing, and developing. They see a love relationship with the guru as an affair, just like anybody else.
They do not realise that the care that I had, the love I had for Robert was transformative. If I had a female guru, I probably would have had erotic fantasies with her, too.
It is love that drives our whole search for freedom; for knowledge; for love of the other; for acceptance; for being seen; for approval.
And, as I have really found out, we do not choose who we love.
Even though we may have chosen who we love 30 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 2 years ago—that does not mean we can choose who we love now. The love can come out.
Even if there is no infidelity in the relationship, love for others can come out. It cannot be stopped; especially once you are on the spiritual path. It comes out more and more.
It gets deeper and deeper until you become love itself, and just the appearance of someone who is very open in front of you can elicit a kind of love reaction—a strong love reaction. Pretty soon, you are cheating on yourself. 
If you love yourself, how can you not love everyone, to a degree?
So, how does this concept grab you? The guru and love.
A lot of people are struggling with that.  Not only in this sangha, but in every sangha, everywhere. The same thing with anybody—any males, any females in a committed relationship. What about feelings outside of that relationship; as opposed to just actions outside of that, like infidelity?
But just having love relationships, loving someone deeply—and the spouse getting insanely jealous, insanely controlling.  Or just insane.
What do you think?

26 November 2011

What is spirituality, and what about Sex and the Guru and other other issues that screw up our paths?

In the early 1970s I studied Zen with several Zen masters, including Maezumi Roshi and Sasaki Roshi.

During one talk one frozen winter morning at Mt. Baldy, Sasaki said, “You all want enlightenment, but you have to realize after awhile enlightenment can be boring.”  He then went on to say how you have to bring enlightenment back into everyday life.
As I had not awakened at the time, his talk had no impact on me. I wanted to awakening, whatever that was, and I had no clue.
Eight years later I was teaching a course at UCLA’s Extension and Zen and psychology, and Maezumi Roshi spoke as a guest speaker. Someone asked him, “What is Zen?” Maezumi paused  5 or 6 seconds, then threw his arms out wide and proclaimed loudly, “Zen is breath!  Zen is being present here and now in everyday life!” 
As I had not awakened at the time, I dismissed this as the testimony of someone who had not awakened. I judged him as defective because I thought enlightenment was everything, and everyday life was something I wanted to leave behind.
To me, at the time, awakening was something extraordinary that happened to you which totally transformed you into something superhuman, having acquired some transcendental state of non-attached wisdom and bliss, such that any intrusion from everyday life would simply be a contamination.
In the early 1990s when I was with my greatest teacher, Robert Adams, often people would ask him how he saw the world, what was his subjective experience? They would ask, “Is it all Oneness, do you only see the Void, are you in ecstasy all the time, etc.?”
Robert replied, “I see the world much as you do.  If I did not, I could not function in the world.  The only difference is that I know that everything is Consciousness.  I am Consciousness, you are consciousness, the trees and sky are consciousness.”  He went on the explain he knew the objects in consciousness were not real, because they came and went and did not stay, only consciousness stayed, only consciousness was real.
I was not awake at the time, and therefore this talk was also lost on me.  As long as you identify yourself with your body, the concept of Universal Consciousness just does not make sense; you have not experienced one-consciousness yet.
During the 1970s, Zen was most popular. There were at least a dozen famous Zen masters in the US, and most of them became embroiled in scandals about them having sex with their students. I never saw the point of these scandals and never had the viewpoint that the poor female or male students were vulnerable and confused, therefore any sex was exactly on the same order as child abuse.  I really couldn’t see that, for really, who is not vulnerable to love which can come from any direction unexpectedly? Why should love or sex be controlled?  I just did not see it.
But the big argument back then was that a spiritual teacher had the same sort of moral and ethical obligations of a psychotherapist or a lawyer with all sorts of exclusions, preclusions, and confidentiality.  I really never bought that idea back then even when I was a newby, figuring what did sex have to do with awakening?  It was like eating, a natural function of the body, and of love.  We don’t think of restrictions on love and sex in everyday life except for whether you were in an exclusive relationship or not, but if not, why all the concepts that sex between teacher and student was wrong?  I saw students and teachers as equals, as consenting adults, not as God and mortal, or therapist and analysand.
Yes, Maezumi got into trouble regarding sex with his students, and I think was divorced twice in very public circumstances.
Yet, he was very open all the time, talking publically about his failures as perceived by others, and also by himself.  He felt shame for drinking too much, being caught too many times in sexual relations with students, etc.  But he was extremely open about his problems, to everyone.
To me he once confided, even when I was a student of his, “Why me? Why do I get all the criticism (about his sexual affairs)? Look at Sasaki!  He is ten times worse than me, and no one criticizes him.”  It is true, everyone knew about Sasaki’s affairs, but his impish personality allowed him to get away with it without criticism.
As a little known footnote, Robert was frequently asked about sex and vegetarianism. Robert was a lifelong Vegan since the age of 11, and this is one of the few rules of living Robert suggested we live by. Yet when asked about sex, Robert said there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, problems often arose in our sangha about Robert’s relations with some of his female students for one reason or another, and we were often forced to change the venue of our satsang meetings because someone or another got upset about his actions.  Robert didn’t care who came and went to his satsangs, he was only interested who stayed with him no matter what he did.
This area exposes the issue of trust and surrender, which I will not discuss here, but will at a different time. This is still an area filled with opinions and judgmentalism, but once you find your teacher, even if he/she is not your final teacher, learning to trust and surrender is incredibly important and necessary.  Those who never learn to trust or surrender to a teacher, have a very difficult time making any progress, as their minds are always judging, judging, judging and remaining in control.
You see, sex was only one issue around which every teacher was criticized and found wanting in some way or another back in the 1970s, and I suppose even now because the concept of therapist/analysand was used by westerners as the proper boundaries and judgmental framework for the teacher/student, guru/chela relationships.
At that time little was understood about the nature of Eastern spirituality and the inevitable opening of the heart to long buried emotions, including love, jealousy, anger, and the more refined states of bliss and ecstasy that develop out of love, yet the western mind needed to have a framework imposed in order for the busy mind to judge everything.  They imposed old rules on a new type of relationship.
Other issues arose such as money, donations, volunteering time and energy for the sake of the sangha, teacher and teachings.  Everywhere apparent abuses were found, because the western model of charging for everything was not used, but instead the eastern concept of the teacher taking care of the student’s spiritual development, and the student’s duty was taking care of the teacher’s worldy needs.  Many opined that teachers were taking advantage of the students.  Again, to me these were consenting adults, and often the giving by the students had so many strings attached, it was more like a conditional loan based on a 40 page contract.
Then, in 1995 I had my first awakening experiences and everything changed.  I withdrew from life, I didn’t care about the world anymore.  I just kept looking inside myself finding a stillness and quietness everywhere—the peaceful void, as well as the great void, which I ultimately was, but which could not be perceived or experienced, because it was I.  For years I withdrew and abided in emptiness. I was happy, peaceful, and I began teaching others that the world was illusion, go within to find your true nature.
But after 16 years, Consciousness threw me a hardball. Consciousness sent me someone to love.  I was opened like a tin can and flooded by emotions. I was flooded by love, love long buried and unfelt manifested all the time. Other feeling arose, jealousy, anger, fear, etc., and overwhelming positive energies that permeated my entire being.  I was filled with joy all the time.  Even when depression or a sense of desolation broke through into awareness, there was still an underlying happiness and contentment.  Energies coursed both through my body and through my larger sense of presence.
In the words of Muktananda, “I had come alive.”
Yes, emotions were there, huge, positive and negative, but they were tame and mild things compared to my experiences of 20 years before when emotions could tear me apart. Emptiness, the Void, and an energized sense of presence contained everything. Emotions just arose and passed away without blockage---not an instantaneous transformation, but one that occurred over six or eight months or so.
This is when I began to make everything personal again.  It is as if my personality had become reborn, re-energized. Rather than just watching emotions pass through me, joy pass through me, jealousy pass through me, love pass through me, they became mine and I owned them.  Everything became personal.  Everything became more real, more immediate, more alive.
But more than that, every idea I had ever had about the nature of the spiritual adventure and path dropped away. I no longer had any ideas or judgments about it.  I was completely open to what was happening in the moment to everything arising within myself and between me and my beloved, including the experience there was no difference between us. There is no difference between me and all of you out there. No difference whatsoever.  I love you all as myself.
I am free to be ordinary and not locked into the notion of always being in an ecstatic Samadhi, or focused just on the Void, either the Void I experience, or the Void that I am which can’t be experienced in the conventional way.
I am now also free to die, to let the body drop away without regret, for every moment I live my life with no set of rules other than to follow my heart and intuition at every moment.
This is what I try to teach all of you. Drop all of your ideas about what awakening is like, what the teacher/student relation is supposed to be, what duties you still have post-awakening, post awakening paths and problems, etc. All these things will happen to you, awakening, bliss, love, etc., the more quickly you drop your wondering what it is and just focus and seeing and enjoying yourselves and others to whom you relate.  Mind, opinions, theories, judgments, and self-checking are the way the mind prevents your freedom.
The post awakening path really is to become you, just the way you were before awakening, but enjoying yourself fully and completely.  There are no faults, no mistakes.  You are fine the way you are with all the emotions that might arise, including guilt, anger, jealousy and even hatred, because the emotions that arise are now tame and calm affairs compared to your experience 20 years before. The feelings are welcomed as signs of life.  Love is welcomed and readily expressed.
You have now found the path for the rest of your life: becoming the most incredible you possible, not someone else’s idea of enlightenment or proper relationships.  You have become liberated to be become yourself fully, to be equally comfortable and identified with the void, love, sadness, depression, bliss, ecstasy or even desolation. You fear nothing, not love nor loss of love, not emotions nor loss of emotions, not life nor the loss of life.  All phenomena come and go and you welcome them with joy and see them pass with joy.  You are free, but not like Ramana in a peaceful withdrawal, but even while fully embracing ordinary life, just as Maezumi told my class by throwing his arms open and exposing his heart, just breathing is joy, is Zen, is life!