29 February 2012

 One of the best books on self-inquiry.

The book on the left is a must read for anyone interested in self-inquiry.

If you read Robert or my posts or books on self-inquiry, you notice we talk only about the method:  how to practice self-inquiry and how to abide in the I Am. Part of the reason is not to contaminate or influence what you will find or your experiences.

This book talks about the all-important ontology of self, which is the philosophical explanation of the nature of consciousness as well as of awareness, which is only one aspect of consciousness.  It discusses in great detail the various levels of "bodies" found in the manifest world, from the gross physical body, to the subtle body of mind and intellect, to the causal body of the Void in its various aspects of experience and unknowingness, to finally, the underlying "supracausal" body, or Turiya.

This book is helpful for those people who "need to know" where they are going.  It provides an intellectual and expeeriential perspective to make the exploration less scary in anticipation, but also it offers the potential of taking something from your own exploration and adding his. However, this indeed is the almost universal teaching style of both East and West.

The book has several parts including a transcription by Nisargadatta of his teacher's talks during the 1930s after he took notes during lectures.  Basically, the major part of the book is his telling what his teacher said.

You will find this information embedded in many of Nisragadatta's books, but you will enjoy this book as the source for all his teachings can be found here.

The book is available through Amazon at the following link for $22.50:


As an example, from page 31:

Suppose we lose the concept of possession or the gross body, as well as the subtle body, and admit to the fact that the [mind/body] bundle belongs to a stranger [the I] Still, we must find the answer to the question "Who am I?" 

Let us now go over the definition of causal body. What is the causal body? As soon as we step in here, there is pitch darkness everywhere. Is it possible that this dark ignorance (representing both the unconscious and unknowing states) is the place of residence for this "I"? It surely seems this is his main headquarters. Ignorance seems to be the main property or quality that belongs to him. There is certainly some hope of finding the elusive "I" here.

There seems nothing that can be called "mine" in this place. Everything seems to be absolutely quiet. That "I" who loudly proclaims "I, I" so arrogantly in the gross and subtle bodies, seems to be totally silent here. The "I" seems to be playing hide and seek so that he does not get caught by the one who searches for it. In the causal body the "I" seems to have dug itself into a trench of darkness so that the one making the search might fall in, being forced in his search.

After stabilizing in this darkness of a causal body, and firmly planting one's feet. For some period of time, a voice is softly heard that says, "I am the witness of this." With this, there arises some courage offering the hope of catching the thief called "I." With the recognition of this voice who says it is the witness of the ignorance, there also comes a thought, "This thief is here somewhere. It may be here, or little bit further ahead, but he is witnessing the ignorance from somewhere nearby." Here the searching takes the form of watching persistently. The witnessing that is going on is happening from beyond the emptiness of the causal body, from position of the great causal body, or Turya state. When this is understood, the "I" is quickly overjoyed in finding himself. Who can describe that joy?

The one who says "I" is really the all-witnessing Brahman. It is he, who is of the nature of knowledge, of the sense of "I am." When this certainty is established, there arises wave after wave of bliss. 

Afterwards with this list ebbs away, look at the miracle that happens. One arrives at the recognition that, "I am not even of the nature of knowledge, for just as I am covered with ignorance, in the same way, I am covered with knowledge. I was not originally having any ignorance or knowledge. Ignorance and knowledge were born out of me, and were mistakenly taken to be me. With the aid of such deep thought, it can be seen that the rising of both ignorance and knowledge within, points to me as their creator. Therefore knowledge is my child, and I am a father, and as his father, I am prior to and different from that knowledge."

With this sequence of deep discriminative thought, dawns within the sense that "I am Brahman," or the Turya state, also starts ebbing away, only to finally be fully eradicated.

Then, "I" am absolutely naked, without any coverage whatsoever. There is no knowledge and no ignorance. Arriving here in this nakedness, it cannot be described as to who or what this "I," is. If you want a description of the "I" found here, you may utter any work found in any dictionary, but that is not "I." You may utter words and sentences to try to describe it, but those are not it. If you do not understand what is being told now, you must leave off words and concepts, and merge in deep silence, and see who "I" am.
I will continue to post and comment on material from this book, but I urge all of those who have asked questions about self-inquiry and self-abiding to buy the book.  This puts you a little ahead of the game, even though it will also color your future experiences and understanding.

However, the ultimate understanding that you are That which the principle that stands behind knowledge and ignorace, which together are the ground of beingness, is the ultimately liberating understanding.  Then you can let go of all seeking and knowing, just resting in your own self-nature bereft of thought.


28 February 2012

Lakshmi Is doing well now.  Gaining weight rapidly and has become triply affectionate since I feed her 3-4 times a day by her feeding tube.  She is very contented.  I did not place her on my chest.  She now climbs up to my face all the time, and just purrrs.

25 February 2012

Ecstatic Experiences, the I Am, and 
a Middle way to Awakening

I spent most of the evening last night with two friends, both students now in our tradition.

Both are “energy” workers, healers, and both are highly sensitive to the energies in their bodies, and the always-changing “colors” of their constant “I Am” experience.  Normally in such Darshan situations, I feel the intensity of energy experiences in myself, the feelings of bliss and love which gradually transform into ecstasy, which itself starts as a flowing energetic movement, to a stasis, a stillness.

Sometimes the ecstasies turn visible, the feeling itself become light, consciousness itself begins to shine in its own illumination.  Or sometimes, I feel deep within my sense of presence, an energy “dynamo” of light, like an intense column of light from beneath me to above me, passing through my presence into the Void above and below.

But last night, as each expressed their own experiences, I felt an arising of their bliss in me.  I was no longer the source, but I felt theirs too, and it vibrated within me, expanding and blowing up my experience.

One person, Marcus, talked of his new freedom and being now able to follow his own heart and experience great excitement and “fun” just being himself.  As he talked louder and faster, an ecstatic bliss arose in me and I shared his happiness, and became as if “drunk” with the arising ecstasy, becoming totally unfunctional, hardly able even to speak.  I was aware of myself smiling and moving my right hand in a spontaneous Mudra following his bliss.

The woman, Samantha, was more empty, even more ecstatic and simply quiet.  She too was overtaken by the bliss and an awareness of the Void that permeates all, which she called “impersonal love” for the source of everything, the Void or emptiness which we are at rest.  The man referred to her as his Shakti; she was the source and inspiration for him and in him for the arising of bliss and ecstasies.

Even while this was going on, in this three-way ecstatic state, we talked of the highest spiritual truths that we had discovered, he while leading an ashram for another bhakti-oriented teacher for many years, she in experiences with him and with her clients, and with me, and I with my experiences with my own beloveds and in Satsang.

We talked about how we were able to “intuit” or feel the presence of significant others over a great distance, especially those whom we love deeply.  But even those who are not usually so close to us, we can still feel their moods, distresses, or love and happiness, and this connection has been verified many, many times.  Thus we become clearly aware of the One-nature of the Self that operates through each of us within the container of the Void.

We also become aware that often we are “contaminated” by others with whom we are not in direct contact.  Sometimes it feels as if a strange mood overtakes us, one of having a sudden urge to read books on mysticism, such as Joseph Campbell, or of myths and archetypes.  Other times we feel a strange sense of distress with an intense urgency to understand or do something, that does not seem like us.  Later we find out that someone else we both know was experiencing that state with a first person urgency at exactly the same time.  Somehow we “feel” their states, even though we are rarely in direct contact, but only are exposed through a common relationship with a third person.  Again, we are all connected, and susceptible to “contamination” of moods and experiences of others through sort of “astral” connections and bondings.

After about an hour of this Darshan, of this spiritual meeting in truth with each other, we all sank entirely out of our minds and heads into a direct “heart” experience of each other and the world.

No more talking was necessary or desired. Words became funny things to be laughed at hysterically.  The world was ultrabright and vivid, and our bodies and sense of presence was filled with a palpable yet light sense of love and wellbeing, and a deep peace of resting in nothingness.

This is what I told them, “This is the state to be in, resting in one’s own sense of I Am or Self, living in the bliss of I Am, which dissolves into the incredible peace of the Void, realizing one’s own emptiness nature.  It is so incredibly easy to reach this state once you learn how to stop thinking and just let your center of awareness settle into your deep sense of presence, which usually—at first—feels identical with an inner, energetic  spiritual heart in the body.

Just shut up; stop asking questions and searching for answers to hypothetical spiritual questions about method or the ontology of consciousness.  Just get out of your head and settle into your heart.  Learn to follow your heart. Once you learn how, it is easy.  Just stay there as long and often as possible, and all spiritual questions and emotional/physical distresses will be resolved, by following and being in your heart.  No more books are necessary, no more seeking is necessary, no more methods or teachers are necessary. Just stay in and operate from your heart.  Eventually all your questions and problems will be answered and resolved by this inner working of consciousness.”

From this state true awakening will come.  This state is not awakening itself, but the place where the absolute meets manifestation. From this state, the Absolute in you will realize both the empty and ecstatic nature of all of manifestation, but that YOU are entirely beyond the manifest, beyond existence, the knower of knowing and also of unknowing, the container of all.

Then, with this certain knowing, you can return to the world of the ridiculous, the world of pain and pleasure, the world of suffering pain, but also of love and bliss; you can return in peace and acceptance.

Many people have experienced similar states and understanding in Satsang with me or in conversation, meditation, or in sharing our mutual presence. Yet, they are looking for something else.  Many students come with a head filled with ideas about what a guru is or their path is, and they miss this, they miss the ecstasies or the truths revealed by both what the ecstasies teach, and the revelations by consciousness to the Absolute in you what the true nature of consciousness is.

As the woman, Samantha, said to me. “People come filled with ideas, concepts and expectations, and entirely miss what they could receive in Satsang or in the Sangha.”  They miss because their minds tell them that this is not enough, it is to simple.  Or else they have ideas that the “ego” has to die, or be burnt out, etc., and they is only one way for them to do it.

Yes, there are many, many paths, like that of the true bhakti who loses himself, burns himself out in a dualistic worship and love for God or guru, and are finally felt and left as empty, humble and identical with emptiness itself. 

Or there is the way of the Jnani with meditative self-inquiry following the sense of I into the Void. The Jnana too is eventually left empty.  Or like most, there is the way of endless exploration within the deep fields of consciousness, the exploration of which is endless and exciting to the mind. But this path really has no end point unless and until the student sickens of endless experiences and understandings, and wishes to finish the journey with ultimate experiences and understandings.

Or, there is this simple middle way, finding one’s own sense of I Am and loving it, worshipping it, while loving God or another deeply, which excites and fills the I Am with love and ecstatic energies which makes ones spiritual practice all so easy compared to the dryness of the Jnani or the constant burning of the Bhakti.  The middle way of loving the I Am and loving another, and loving that other results in an explosive love within one’s own sense of presence. This is the easy way, the simple way, the way I learned from Robert and Nisargadatta.

The three of us are thinking of having a mini retreat to add sacred music, chanting, and meditation to the simple mutual Darshan experience we had with each other, and then at some point hold a retreat for our Sangha.  Marcus is a talented musician and singer, so that we will have live music and chanting as opposed to canned music and silently listening as we had at our former Satsangs.

The retreats probably will be held at Mt. Baldy Zen Center about 60 miles West of Los Angeles, high on the slopes of Mt. Baldy. The mountain  itself has three separate peaks, and the one that the Zen Center is located on is called “Thunder Mountain” because of the sound of the constant wind between the peaks.

Those who may be interested in sharing a retreat, please contact me.

21 February 2012

Below is a letter received by me from an "old timer" responding to a previous post on the guru/student relationship. Lauditory letters like this from sadhakas who have been close to a guru for many years and who have observed hundreds and maybe thousands of guru/teacher relationships are incredibly valuable.  It is easy for beginners to go overboard about a teacher--for a time--but someone who has lived in ashrams over a decade, and served a teacher all during that time--their feedback is precious.

Dear Ed,

I have read and re-read this document many times... I want to say thank you for taking the time to write this and make it available to all of us part of your Sangha in whatever way we engage in that Sangha.

Having lived in a spiritual community for 13 years that mainly focused on Bhakti, I can say that the traits of Self-inquiry, trust, devotion, maturity, and obedience are essential to maintaining a true and powerful transformational relationship with your growth, yourself, and the Master who is guiding that process. Honestly, Even in a committed, structured format the place was absolutely insane as the buried emotions, pain, hurt, and projections bubbled up in the presence of Truth ... For exactly the reasons that you have put forth...

Let us not forget that the student came to the Master. The Master did not come to the student. The student decided there was something that Master had to offer or else the student would never have been seeking in the first place and the Master could never have been revealed to the student.

"When the Student is ready, the Master appears... and when the student resists, the Master withdraws..."

I understand that the sacred transmission of darshan (often misunderstood) is a Divine initiator to any student who realizes its true nature. Over the years, I have found there are many who have unrealistic expectations about what the Guru is going to do for you. In my experience the Guru can only meet the student where the student chooses to be met.

Therefore that Guru/disciple relationship reflects the depth of that sincere open-hearted intention of the student and that determines what can actually be received and in what manner. In this way, the power to transform your life is, has, and will always be in the hands of the individual student... It is up to that individual student NOT the Guru to "make it happen.." for yourself.  If one focuses on the so-called unrefined traits, or human flaws of that Master then that is what will reveal itself... If one choose to focus on the keys, tools, the presence, and the darshan offered, that is what will be revealed.

The Guru is truly the ever-flowing river of Love constantly revealing itself in the infinite number of ways that the student will allow...

I want to personally express my gratitude to you Edji for offering me the tools, the darshan, and that unconditional love that has helped me to continue to experience the depth of myself in a profound manner that I did not think was possible. I want to thank you for being an awake voice in the midst of the illusion. I want to thank you for the inspiration of your presence, your honesty, your humanity, and your friendship, your patience, and your guidance.

Even in seeing your humanity, which has only made you more real to me, I have experienced the depth of your commitment to waking up, and your desire to assist me in that process... Thank you... 

18 February 2012

Love, Surrender and Awakening

Robert Adams tells of his awakening experience and what followed as below. After that I discuss what his story means to me based on my time with him and my own life since he left us.


When I had my spiritual awakening I was fourteen years old. This body was sitting in a classroom taking a math test. And all of a sudden I felt myself expanding. I never left my body, which proves that the body never existed to begin with. I felt the body expanding, and a brilliant light began to come out of my heart. I happened to see this light in all directions. I had peripheral vision, and this light was really my Self. It was not my body and the light. There were not two. There was this light that became brighter, and brighter and brighter, the light of a thousand suns. I thought I would be burnt to a crisp, but alas, I wasn't.

This brilliant light, which I was the center and also the circumference, expanded throughout the universe, and I was able to feel the planets, the stars, the galaxies,
as myself. And this light shone so bright, yet it was beautiful, it was bliss, it was ineffable, indescribable.

After a while the light began to fade away, and there was no darkness. There was just a place between light and darkness, the place beyond the light. You can call it the void, but it wasn't just a void. It was this pure awareness I always talk about. I was aware that I am that I am. I was aware of the whole universe at the same time. There was no time, there was no space, there was just the I am.

Then everything began to return to normal, so-to-speak. And I was able to feel, and understand, that all of the planets, the galaxies, the people, the trees, the flowers on this earth, everything, were myriads of energy, and I was in everything. I was the flower. I was the sky. I was the people. The I was everything. Everything was the I. The word I encompassed the whole universe.

Now here's the point I'm trying to make. I felt a love, a compassion, a humility, all at the same time, that was truly indescribable. It wasn't a love that you're aware of.  

Think of something that you really love, of someone that you really love with all your heart. Multiply this by a jillion million trillion, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. This particular love is like no thing that ever existed on this earth, consciously. There is nothing you can compare it with. It is beyond duality, beyond concepts, beyond words and thoughts. And since the I, which I was, was all-pervading, there was no other place for anything else to be. 

There was no room for anything, because there was no space, and no time. There was just the I am, ever present, self-existent. The love of everything was the love of the self.

This is why, in scripture, it tells you to love your brother, and your sister, to love everyone and everything under all circumstances. This love couldn't differentiate. It couldn't say, "You're good, so I love you. You're bad, so I don't love you." Everything was going on as myself. I realized I am the murderer, I am the saint, I am the so-called evil on this earth, I am the so called goodness of this earth. Everything was the self. And it was all a game. All of the energy particles changed from one thing to another thing. But the love never changed.

Another word for this love was compassion.  There was this fabulous, fantastic compassion. For everything! For everything was the self, the I am. There was no differentiation. There was not me, what you call me, and those things. There was only one expression, and that was consciousness.

Of course, I didn't understand all these words at that time. 

There were no words like I'm talking about now. I'm trying my best to speak intelligently and try to use words to explain what happened, but you can't. All the games that people are playing, and all the planets, throughout the universe, is really the self. It was all the self, and I realized that nothing else existed but the self. Yet all of these things, the multiplicities of planets, of galaxies, of people, of animals, were really the self. Again, there are no words to describe this. I felt and knew that these multiplicities do not exist. Things do not exist. Only the self existed, only consciousness, pure awareness.

Yet, at the same time, creation came into existence. And there's no creation. We cannot understand this in human form. As long as we're thinking with our brains it's incomprehensible, for how can they both be simultaneously creating each other? There was creation going on, and yet there was no creation at all! There was no creation taking place, and creation was taking place. Sounds like the thoughts of a mad man. And it seemed normal. There's absolutely nothing strange about this at all, being nothing and everything at the same time.

So this great compassion was there. Since I was everything, the compassion was for everything. No thing was excluded, for the things were really the self.

And then there was this fantastic humility. The love, compassion, and humility are all synonymous. I'm trying to break it down to make you understand, to an extent, what was going on. The humility was there not to change anything. Everything was right just the way it was. Planets were exploding, new planets were being born. Suns were evaporating, new suns were being born. From the suns the planets came, and then life began on the planets. All this was taking place instantaneously, at the same time. And yet nothing was taking place at all.

Therefore the humility is that everything was alright. There was nothing I had to change. There was nothing I had to correct. The people dying of cancer were in their right place where nobody dies, and there is no cancer. Wars, man's inhumanity to man, was all part of it. There cannot be a creation if there is not an opposite to good. In order to have a creation there has to be opposites. There has to be the bad guy and the good guy. I was able to understand all these things.

The next thing I remember is my teacher was shaking me. I was the only one left in the class, everybody had gone, the bell rang, and I had not even started the mathematics test. Of course I got a great big zero.

But those feelings and the understanding never left me. From that time on my whole life changed. I was no longer interested in school. I was no longer interested in the friends I had. I won't go on any more than that for now, as far as that's concerned.

The point I'm trying to make is this. If the end result of realization is love, compassion, and humility, what if we were able to develop these qualities now? Do you see what I'm getting at? If we are able to develop this love, this beautiful joyous love, for everything, without exception, without being judgmental, and we had a great compassion, for everything, without being judgmental.    

Then of course, there's humility. Humility means we don't have to try to straighten things out, to get even, to stick up for our rights, for there is no one really left to do that. If some of us were to work on those aspects, it would lift us up and make us free.

This is something for you to think about. We have to learn to leave the world alone. We become so involved in politics, in family life, in work and the rest of these things we're involved in, that we forget that we only have so many years left on this earth in the body. And what are we doing with all of the time we have? We're spending the time on things that do not really exist, things that make no sense.

Imagine you're in a play in the theater, and you're playing a role, and you're playing a part. All the time you're aware that you're playing a part. You're not really that person. It's only a part you're playing. In the same way you are now playing a part, but you have forgotten you're playing a part. 

You think your body, the way it looks, the way it appears, what it does, what it acquires, is real, and you put all your energy into the game of playing the part. This is indeed a waste of energy. If you'd only put your energy in finding the self, that you really never lost. And you can do this by developing the qualities of love, compassion and humility.

This is another method you have to work on. As you're working on self-inquiry, work on the love, work on compassion, work on humility. Do not just practice self-inquiry for a while, and then react negatively to the world, and have your feelings hurt. Be yourself.

Awaken from the dream. Refuse to play any longer. Look at yourself all day long. See the things that you do, the thoughts that you have, the feelings that you have. It makes no difference what situation you're going through. It makes no difference what's going on in your life. The only thing that matters is what's going on inside of you.

Karmically you are put on this earth as a body, to go through karmic experiences. Therefore, the experience you're going through is part of the maya, the karma. Do not reflect on these things. This is important. You have to drop this. Leave it alone. If you only knew that nothing can ever happen to you. There never was a time when you were born.

There will never be a time when you die. You have always lived. You are consciousness. You have always existed. Identify with your existence. Merge into the existence of nothingness. I tell you this again and again. Leave the world alone. Remember what I mean when I say to leave the world alone. I'm not saying that you should voluntarily, consciously, make a plan of how you're going to leave the world alone. You'll not be able to live up to it. By leaving the world alone I mean, entertain in your mind higher thoughts.

Always have in back of your mind, "I am not the body. I am not the doer. I am not the mind." Feel this. Feel it deeply. 

Do not feel good or bad about it. Do not try to prolong your life. It's a waste of energy. What you call your life will take care of itself. It knows what to do better than you do. 

We're very limited in our understanding about the body, or the affairs of the body, what's going on in the body. Do not try to do anything with your body. Your body will do whatever it came here to do. It knows what to do. Separate your-self from that. Of course, you may do this by inquiring, "To whom does the body come? Who has this body?" and remain in the silence.

Many of us here this evening are making tremendous progress. I've been talking to many of you who are really getting there. Of course, I use all these terms loosely. 

There's nowhere to get. But I have to talk to you this way, to remind you to leave yourself alone. I know some of you may be in pain sometimes, and you say, "Well I want to live a life free of pain, therefore I have to do things to myself so I don't feel that pain." This is really a mistake. If you could only realize who has the pain. To whom does the pain come? I have the pain. Then who am I? If I have the pain, it means that the person who is thinking these things does not have the pain, for it is I that has the pain. You are free of pain, for you are not the I-thought. Remember the I we're talking about now is the thought, the I-thought, that has the pain and the experience of being born, the experience of dying, the experience of having problems. This is the I-thought that has these things. Not you.

You have to vehemently make up your mind that the only thing that matters to you is to become free, liberated, and let go of all the other things that keep you bound. This is why you have to work with love, compassion and humility. For if this is the end result of awakening, if you do this first, the awakening will come faster.

Even while I'm talking to you, some of you are thinking about your body, you're thinking about the mind, you're thinking about your work. This is what keeps you back.  

Destroy the thoughts through self-inquiry. Become free. Do not fight. Do not fear. Observe, watch, look, but have no opinions for or against. Some people think if they act this way they will not be able to function in the world. You will function. Always remember, there's an appearance of the body, and the body came here to do certain things, and it's going to do those things. It has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Many times when I talk to you I have to keep from laughing, (laughter) explaining all these things, talking about all these things, when you're already free, and you already know these things. Sometimes we're pulled into the illusion. For there's really no thing.

When I talk of God we're speaking of nothingness. God is nothing. And that nothing is you. We get more deeply involved when we constantly study, when we constantly read about so many spiritual topics, we get more deeply involved in maya which prevents us from waking up.

Why can't you be yourself and wake up? Why do you have to go through all these things, and make me sit here talking to you like this? Just think what I could be doing if I didn't have to talk to you. I could be watching Tales From The Crypt. (Laughter)

Be your self. When you are yourself the thoughts come slowly to you until they cease. When the thoughts become slower and slower into your mind, and the thoughts begin to disappear, you automatically become loving, compassionate and you'll have humility. In other words, the faster you get rid of your thoughts, the faster these other things come, these other qualities. So it's a matter of stopping your thoughts. It is the thoughts that see everything in this world as good and bad, right and wrong. As the thoughts begin to subside, love comes by itself, compassion, humility come by themselves. So again, we have to stop thinking.


So, what was Robert’s awakening experience? What was it all about?

It was a brief, time-limited transcendental experience wherein Robert perceived himself to be, the sense of I, his sense of I am, to be pure consciousness, and that everything in the universe also was pure consciousness, and was him. In addition, he felt that that an essential characteristic of the I am, of consciousness, was love, a great love far beyond what humans feel towards each other. Along with this, he felt compassion for all sentient beings, for everything that is alive, as well as a great sense of humility.

Then he returned to normal consciousness, but with the belief and conviction that he was consciousness itself, and the basic nature of that consciousness was love, compassion and humility, and a total acceptance of the world when it was.

At the same time, the recognition that he was consciousness itself, the totality, relieved him of the illusion that he was bound by an individual body and mind.
Then Robert proposed one more step and suggests a method.

First, he suggests practicing self-inquiry onto the sense of I, looking ever more deeply into one's own sense of I, or I am. This is the classic self-inquiry process which is the mainstay of both the Ramana tradition of which Robert is a part of, but also of Nisargadatta Maharaj.

Then he states, the feeling that never left him subsequent to his awakening experience, was his deep love for everything and everyone, and a profound sense of humility, and a compassion for all living things.

Then Robert proposes, “What if we work on developing this compassion, this love, this humility here and now before the awakening experience?”

This would be an additional practice to self in query, of looking into that sense of I am gradually becoming that sense of I am in meditation and in everyday self-witnessing, self-awareness.

He says awakening will come more quickly this way. In a sense, he saying "him Fake it till you make it." That is, grab onto the lasting after-effects of the awakening experience. 

Deliberately cultivate being kind, develop love for another, feel love for another very deeply and totally and lose ourselves in love. Every day we should cultivate increasing compassion for all living things, for hungry animals, starving babies, towards trees, insects and even rocks and a running river. And at the same time, we lose our arrogance, wanting constantly to bow in complete surrender to one's beloveds, whomever or whatever they may be. We drop our knees in humility. We touch the feet of our beloved. We become like dust in service to those we love. And by such deliberate cultivation of love, humility, compassion and surrender, we build in us a receptivity is for the transcendental awakening experiences, which in a sense, really are no longer necessary because we are already living the fruit of awakening.

For this reason I emphasize loving one another as deeply, as extensively compassionately as possible, until our love for another is so intense and deep that naturally we drop our knees in deep humility surrender.

That is why I recommend human relationships so much, to practice increasing loving this in the most personal and powerful way to open us to the deepest love for sentience, surrender to the unfolding of consciousness in its own way and time. It is a way that the limited becomes the infinite.  

By practicing love, compassion, surrender and humility, we take on the cloak of God, until, as Nisargadatta puts it, the I Am, God, Consciousness loves you back and releases you.

Nisargadatta’s experience was similar. His guru toldhim he was not his body and he immediately accepted that.  With that conviction he concentrated on his sense of I Am less than three years and had a great awakening, but which is never described. 

What I would note though, is that Maharaj grabbed onto one fruit of the awakening experience, that he was not his body.  That conviction, along with focus on and love of the I Am, released him from suffering and distress and created one of the great Jnanis of our time.

15 February 2012

Lakshmi and I just after her feeding.  You can't hear her, but she is purring away. She feels no stress anymore.  No mouth pain, no cancer pain, and just constant gratitude.  

Lakshmi appears to be recovering nicely.   She is eating almost all her food on her own as opposed through the feeding tube.  Her gum inflammation appears way down.  Her feces are firming, and the irritable bowel disorder appears subsiding. Unfortunately her feeding tube is blocked, so I may have to take her in today.  We need to tube to administer all of her medications.  I'll try one more attempt this morning to unblock the tube.

She is back on my lap now purring just as before the surgery.

09 February 2012

The spiritual processes around a guru and ashram
A year ago I was watching a video of my friend Shankarananda with two other swamis from the Muktananda tradition, who had run ashrams for a number of years.  It was moderated by Andrew Cohen. Mostly the program addressed the personal difficulties the three had encountered running ashrams with a combined experience of over 90 years.
The uniform theme was that it was quite difficult. People in the Sangha always came to the ashram with tons of preconceptions about what spirituality was about, what and who the guru was and should be in terms of who or what he or she was supposed to be, and what he or she was supposed to deliver. These ideas and preconceptions varied widely, and did their own preconceptions about their own obligations to the teacher and the ashram.
One swami discussed his loneliness as he really had no one to talk to “at his level,” which to me sounded rather arrogant at the time.  Another talked about daggers coming at him from all directions, as chaotic battles and backstabbing were or could be breaking out at any time.  Another talked about how careful he had to be in every statement, every word, every facial expression for fear of causing someone an offence and starting some sort of buried seething or overt angry confrontation.
Most new arrivals did seem to have a similar idea though regarding the ideal guru as Ramana Maharshi or someone similar, benevolent, aloof yet loving, undisturbed by anything in life, a constant smile on his face, exuding shakti power that turned the ashram into a Shangri-La of bliss and ecstasy where everyone felt loved and accepted. Others had no fixed notions, but I remember I did.  I had never contemplated a Zen master or guru to be an ordinary mortal being with faults, maybe some insecurities, or having romantic relationships. I figured they had all totally gone beyond, as the “Gone, gone, gone away, gone away to the other shore” of the Heart Sutra predicted.
Then for each newcomer, gradually came the recognition that once again, they were just in a new group of ordinary people with faults and preconceptions, led not by the Son of God, but by a human being with irritating faults, perhaps too aloof, perhaps too personal, perhaps even-handed or not, and perhaps playing favorites.  That is, each week that passed, preconceptions were shed, or else the person left in disappointment or disgust.
Very few were entirely happy with the ashram situation.  They had expected something different, perhaps an easy road to awakening, held in stasis by the ecstatic presence of a divine guru.  Later, that same guru might appear to the newcomer to be a horrible, uncaring, self-centered lout that only cared about himself or the ashram, and not about them as people.
Others thrived in the ashram situation.  Personally, I loved them, from the many Zen centers and monasteries I lived in to the three Muktananda ashrams, to the Hari Krishna temples and compounds I visited.  There was something different about ashramites. They were not much involved in the world. Instead they were involved in going into themselves, practicing meditation or ecstatic chanting.
Many of these ashrams were remarkably stable, some not.  If there was an ashram where people lived together, the Sangha appeared more stable.  The people living there had each made some sort of commitment to the ashram just by leaving their former life and living there. One notable example is Leonard Cohen who left his celebrity life behind for long periods and moved to Mt. Baldy Zen Center and became a monk. Leonard found peace there and found a deeper sense of himself.
However, if the Sangha just met for Satsang once or twice a week at someone’s house or at a center of some sort, it tended to be unstable with a rapid turnover.  There is something about having made the commitment to live together that stabilizes the Sangha.
I was with Robert for 8 years, about 7 in Los Angeles.   Over those 8 years, maybe thousands of people came to sit in Satsang or have lunch with him and thousands more met him on the phone or had letter contact. Robert never had an ashram, we always met at someone else’s house.
Like clockwork, every year the Sangha would be torn apart by some inner conflict and entirely break up.  Every year we were forced to meet in a new house of a new student, because of an explosion of rampant jealousies, arguments, perceived slights and humiliations and perceived failures of Robert to be the perfect Ramana-guru; the Sangha would break up and half would leave without ever explaining why and we would start all over again somewhere else.
The central problem in Robert’s Sangha was Robert’s behaviors contrasted to his words in Satsang, and access and/or control over Robert and the direction of the Sangha. 
It seemed everyone wanted more access to Robert than they had, and there were many small cliques that wanted to control every aspect of the Sangha, from who was to transcribe Satsangs, who was to compose and edit Robert’s books, who was to tape record, who was to coordinate bringing food and deserts for Satsang and our bi-monthly parties, who was going to be spokesperson, what chants were to be played at Satsang, advertising, writing magazine articles, etc.  Everyone wanted to help and everyone had their own ideas of how something should be done.  There was not a lot of surrender to the way things were, nor was there much surrender to the totality of the ideal of the greater good of the community or Robert as a person.  Everyone just wanted to be closer to Robert, having his Darshan, his remarkable presence of peace, emptiness and utter acceptance, but is the larger sense, they did not want to pay the price of inner work, supporting the guru, and of surrender, which is the crux of the teacher/student relationship---at least for me.
But getting close to Robert was difficult.  His time was limited and he had a few close students he met with for lunch every week, which limited access to him except at Satsang. In such situation, cliques almost always form, although his closest students all really got along with him: Mary, Lee, Dana and I.
Unfortunately, many came to Robert, and attempting to get close, would try to “poison” Robert’s mind against one or another of us, or even set up a clique within the Sangha and approach Robert with some project or another in order to gain more access.
People would tell Robert that I was doing this or that, which was ruining Satsang and the Sangha, or that there was a new person who was to be carefully watched because they had a bad “vibe” or some other problem. Mary, lee and I were always targets of being bad-mouthed by each other, or by them telling Robert all about our faults in an attempt to get closer to him by pointing out how faulty we were compared to how “loyal,” “honest,” or loving they were.
Robert’s Sangha was often like the Vatican under the Borgias, with constant intrigue and behind the back bloodletting.  Generally, it ended up with many blaming Robert for being who he was and doing what he did.  Students never took responsibility for their own actions and emotions, and projected the whole mess onto Robert, or me, or Mary or someone else.
Over the 8 years I was with him, only four stayed with him to the end, Mary, Lee, and Dana.  Out of thousands, only 4 stayed.  Robert was always looking for the ones who stayed despite all the turmoil in the Sangha.
The same is true of all gurus.  Very few students stay long, and the closer you get to the teacher, the less likely you are to stay because others in the Sangha begin “disinformation” campaigns to advance their own agendas by disempowering someone else.
Strangely, I saw much less of this attitude in any Zen center or monastery.  With the zen masters, and in the 70s and 80s, we knew who was in charge.  The problem arose more with the Robert-led Sanghas of few rules, no shared living quarters and no set responsibilities.  Robert was not a disciplinarian, nor did he care much for the direction that the Sangha went.  That meant a very lose management style, leaving openings for people to come and go making suggestions or doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.
A lot of people become like love-starved little children, looking for recognition, a kind word or approval or from the Sangha itself, and more and more access to the teacher.
You see, often a new person comes with infinitely good intent, filled with a strong desire to know his or her self and truth, filled with devotion, and loyal to the entire process, but their own deep and personal needs got activated.  Then instead of using this as a perfect opportunity for self-inquiry, instead they get blown away by the intensity of their own needs as well as by whatever is the guru’s response, whether giving or withholding.  
This happens to every student at some point, and usually a multiple number of times, as happened to me with regard to Robert. While a few ask themselves these self-investigative questions, most remain focused on what they didn’t get from Robert or the Sangha.  Few went within themselves and ask what it was about Robert that pushed them to expect or demand this or that from the guru.  They did not ask, “What is it IN ME that needs to be stripped from ME, so I can feel open and loving toward my guru?” 
This is the sort of personal self-inquiry that every student needs to address at moments of a separation crisis.  “What is it in me that makes me feel Robert or Ed are failures as teachers? Why is it I do not trust the spiritual unfolding process?  What are/were my expectation and are they realistic, or are they childhood remnants that interfere with all my relations now?”
In many cases these are purely psychological questions pertaining to a perceived failure in a student’s relationship with the teacher, but they need to be resolved so that they can become empty enough to get emotionally close enough to the teacher to experience repeated glimpses of the infinite, of complete emptiness, of the divine being.
This is how the bond with the guru is cultivated and nourished.  This is the hard work.  It is easy to love the guru while we have an idealized image of him or her.  But when we get close to the guru, his clay feet are seen, and our many idealized projections of what the guru is, or should be, are shattered, and then the really hard work begins. 
This is the crux of the self-inquiry process.  The more we strip away our own resistances, the more open and accepting of ourselves and the guru we are.  And then the intimacy we so seek with our teacher and ultimately with our own Self is slowly revealed.  We can now taste the pure sense of I-AM.
On a parallel thread, there are those who by personality are “doers,” and gain recognition and gratification through doing and controlling, while others want to have nothing to do with this aspect of Satsang.  These others just want to work on themselves and have nothing to do with organizing Satsang.  They just want to come in peace, sit near the teacher, love the teacher, listen to his or her words, internalize them, feel ecstasy with the chanting and in meditation. It is these quiet people, these more shy and introverted people who really “progress” and work their way towards going free.
I am not saying the doers do not progress, for I was a chief doer with Robert and such activities stood me well over time, but the greatest progress happens after you surrender the doing to God, to Consciousness.  After three years with Robert, I stopped initiating anything on my own and just waited for Robert to direct me.  When Robert left Los Angeles, I stopped doing altogether and just rested in myself.
It is with some of these non-doing people that a teacher tends to spend more time, because he and they feel rapid changes taking place within them, away from the noise of the group. It is also with them that the teacher can be more of him or herself, in his own emptiness, acceptance and love, all held in silence. When some people discover how much time the teacher spends with these people compared with them, they again feel jealous.  This is especially the case for the type A doers who are making Satsang healthy and happening.  They feel cheated in a sense, they are doing so much for the teacher and the Sangha, but their teacher is spending more time for whatever reason, with someone else who is doing so little in comparison, in their minds and judgment.
You see, it is not a matter of how much time one spends in spiritual activities, but how much time one spends with the guru and within one’s own self, and you cannot trade activities to support the sangha with closeness to the teacher.  The openness of true surrender is felt by the teacher and automatically attracts him or her. True surrender lights a fire of devotion both in the student and the guru.
What I learned subsequently, but did not know at the time, I needed to better contain my relationships with students so that less was known generally about my relationship with each student.  However, the students themselves were always talking to each other about their own relationships with me and with others, so there was no real containing or isolation.
Relevant to this container concept, we need to be aware that none of us ever functions in isolation. If I feel anxious or depressed, just my bearing and presence causes those states to be communicated to others who are sensitive to me. This then “contaminates” their own state, which again becomes communicated to others in a ripple down effect.
Some spiritual people are very empathic. They become energy workers or Reikian therapists.  Some are almost telepathic. They can feel even well-hidden emotional states in others, and feel the incongruity of the hidden emotional state, such as hatred, as opposed to how a person expresses himself. The more meditation one does on one’s own sense of presence, on the I Am, the more sensitive some people get to these non-expressed emotional states and the energy-presence of others.
I am aggression avoidant.  I try to avoid conflict if possible and to smooth over buried conflicts with an attitude of “out of sight, out of mind.”  However, in such a situation, it will appear to empaths that their concerns and worries are not being addressed and that me, the blind teacher, is ignoring their very urgent intuition, while I appear to side with the person hiding hatred or ill-intent towards the others. In these situations, the empathic person feels unsafe and unprotected because the teacher has not even acknowledged the truth of what their intuition of danger tells them. In this capacity of ignoring their true intuitions, I failed many, many times.
Thus “reading” the minds and hearts of the Sangha members, above and beyond what they say and do becomes of utmost importance for a teacher, while learning how to deal with these situations becomes increasingly important in an ashram or Satsang setting. 
I must admit I have failed many times in my stumbling approach to running a benevolent Sangha, and often have relied on the advice of those I should have ignored.  It has been an intense learning experience.
I have since learned more about empathy as this ability has slowly increased in me during the past year.  In  fact, this talent can be honed and become a Siddhi, a power to be used for good or ill.
  When we are really closely attached and bonded, we can even feel the emotional states and energy states of those we love and are close to, over distances even when direct conversations or any communications for that matter, are not taking place. If a loved one is feeling sad, despairing, or radiantly happy, we can feel it.  If he or she is in a raging argument with their husband, wife or child, we can feel it, and sometimes feel these emotions as our own and wonder what brought these states on.  It can become really confusing for some—the origin or their mental and emotional states. 
One can actually “feel” on a deep, intuitive level, which some call the “astral level,” the ebbing and flowing of consciousness itself, as well as how that flow is affecting those we are close to, or the Satsang as a whole.  Becoming aware of these energies, flows, and impacts on those we love is really an incredibly interesting and exciting process taking place on the plane of the manifest. 
Robert certainly did not deny these levels existed, but only emphasized they should be ignored as irrelevant to one’s own liberation from the manifest world, and all these empathic events are related to the manifest world.
This increased empathy and awareness makes ashram living both easier and more difficult, because life is more subtle and nuanced, and we are more open and influenced by “invisible and unexpressed” affects and flows within consciousness.
The more personal the teacher is, the closer to his or her heart that he allows his students to come, the more intense will be the needs, jealousies and angers, as well as the intensity of love, that these relationships will ignite and sustain.  
When the guru is more distant and not so open, all the infighting goes on in the background, if it goes on at all, and few have any sense it is even happening except for a felt sense that a certain situation is odd.
The spiritual process is one of constant deconstructing of one’s ego and belief systems and a progressive surrender to the teacher, once you realize that you and the teacher are not separate from the overall process of consciousness “evolving” in and through you.  In fact, spiritual “progress” is surrendering to the process of losing what inhibits your awakening, and this is extremely painful and frightening, for example, to let go of your concept of the perfect guru, or how the spiritual process should look.
Many students want the teacher to create a situation where it is easy to wake up, but in fact, it is up to the student to do the work, to practice self-inquiry on why the feelings of wanting to run away are coming up.  “Why do they come to me,” one should ask.  Why am I so angry with the teacher? Why do I feel hatred towards X, Y and Z?  What is my part in all this?  Why do I believe X but not the teacher, or why do I believe the teacher and not X?
The source of the need to run away is in you, why do you run?  Can you just stay with the feelings and not run or not create stories to justify the urge to run or strike out?
You see, in our Sangha, like with Robert’s, or Ramana’s, or with Nisargadatta, most people are just passing through.  So don’t worry about what is wrong with the teacher or with the Sangha, because Consciousness is directing everything. You, Robert and I are just small cogs in an unlimited, infinite unfolding of consciousness, and all of our “huge” problems are not even pimples to God.
Yet, because of the apparent hugeness of our problems, we do not trust the unfolding process, and when our problems are not solved, we often fixate on the teacher’s failures that has caused us not to progress and go free. It becomes his fault, not ours or that of Consciousness itself; it becomes the Sangha’s fault, not ours or that of Consciousness itself, and the role assigned to us by the grand unfolding. We make up stories that block our own self-inquiry and deepening, then we run away from the cooking we ourselves are creating in association with God and guru.
The chaos and cooking people experienced at Robert’s Sangha had little to do with Robert. He was just the apparent figurehead. 
Only four stayed for the entire 8 years with Robert, and Robert was always looking for those who stayed by him, mostly the quiet ones, who spent much time looking into themselves, reading the transcripts, meditating, or wanting to spend time with the teacher, and surrendering to the process of the unfolding of consciousness through him or her, which the mind cannot see, but the heart can directly intuit, minute by minute.