SELF & OTHER
Volume 3 Number 2 - Third/Fourth Quarter, 1995
Yogeshwar always used to say that "What is Life?" is a trick question. I never understood what he meant. "There is nothing to get," he said. Hmm. Then why bother asking? What kind of enlightenment experience could that be?
This May I went up to Bar Harbor, Maine, one of the two hot spots for east coast EI lovers, and took my first Intensive in 4 or 5 years, mastered by Paul Weiss. It was not long into Friday morning that I pronounced the question to be Plato's revenge': Of course there is nothing to get, the word life' is merely an abstraction from all of this stuff...chairs, people, trees, etc. There is no one thing, common to all of these which is life. I had no object to contemplate, I was dead in the water. So I began, with Paul's agreement to use, "What is this?"meaning all this of which I am awareas my real question, although we kept the traditional form of the question.
Actually, as the days went by and my experience of myself grew more stable within the practice of the technique, a beautiful change naturally occurred in my holding of the question. "So here I am," I would say, "this is me, now where am I? What is this place where I find myself to be? What is all this?"
It really does help to know who you are as a jumping off place for the other questions. This proved fruitful and I felt like I was making progress. (What a huge mistake that can be, but at least I had an object to contemplate!)
The Intensive was a wonderful clearing for me, issues with my wife Mira, issues with my mother, big issues about my body (bad health is such a great teacher!), and issues about sexuality (so what else is new?). Sexuality and love were very present for me. Because my relationship with Mira has not been very easy or gratifying lately, I experience a lot of sexual energy roving about, seeking somebody to love. Put that together with my pre-conceived ideas about all of us loving each otherthat somehow life is some kind of honey-dripping love affair among the godsand you have my picture: What is Life? Well, somehow when I get enlightened on this I will experience us all together in this mystical love-union and the hardness of rocks and walls will melt away into an illusory stage set for our love. Not.
All of this sort of expectation was the emotionally charged something which I took life to be. That is, I was indirectly experiencing life through all of that baggage (expectation and its concomitant disappointment). I was not really experiencing life as nothing at all, even though intellectually I was clear that "life" is just an abstraction. I still lived out of there being something hidden out there among the trees.
So, pursuing that wonderful love-stuff, I kept choosing to work with women, and I kept communicating how much I love women and I kept focusing energy there and hoping that somehow that beautiful contactand it certainly grew to be very beautiful by Sunday afternoonwould miraculously flip into the truth itself. By rest period on Sunday my heart was wide open and I could no longer avoid working with menthere were no women with whom I had not worked that day.
I sat down with a young man on his first Intensive. He had been struggling a lot. Paul had just spoken about not doing anything, nothing to do but surrender. I sat down, accepting this other who was suffering and unfortunately for me was not female. Fortunately in fact, for at this point I didn't expect anything more from men. Suddenly I noticed that I had no process left. This was not the suppressed state of "nothing coming up" which a lot of us experience in cycles on Intensives. Actually I was still conscious of lots that was happening, but I was not running any stuffthe process of my psychological unfoldment had completely run out of gas. This was so startling and absurd that I was reduced to tears of laughter and my partner and I shared a deep belly laugh. The energy started moving more fully through my body.
I tried to pull myself together to contemplate again, but I couldn't do it. It was ludicrous. No process, no contemplation. We laughed deeply together again. "Wait, I'm a master, I've really got to do this technique." And here an interesting thing happened: I watched myself try to contemplate. You know the tripI closed my eyes, centered myself, and kind of watched for something to present itself in the space of my openness. All an elaborate way - albeit seductively meditativeof doing my contemplation. When I saw myself doing this, I had to stop. I could no longer let myself try. I dropped it just like that, effortlessly. I could only be, could only watch life unfold moment by moment. No process, no contemplation.
Still, I had no answer to the question, "What is life?" I sat down with another man for the next exercise. I had no question. There was no more: "What is this place where I find myself ?" There was just me and all this. Nothing to get. The absurdity of it all kept coming up so strongly. I would wonder, "Is this an enlightenment experience?" Nothing had happened. I had got nothing. It was nothing like my clear who' and what' experiences of years gone by. And then I finally understood something else Yogeshwar often said: "Properly speaking, an enlightenment experience is not an experience." The truth comes to us through no process at all. It does not happen. I look, I see, I am, things change. I saw that my state was truly different, that my question was gone, my process was gone. There was nothing more to do.
The birds sing, the rain falls, the trees grow. I understand Zen poetry at a deeper level. The simplicity of each moment, of each entity as it arises, comes to fruition and passes away is so beautiful, so complete. All of our attempts to make something out of life, to layer meaning on top of it, are so petty and absurd. We tell so many stories about life, always interposing these stories between ourselves and the thing itself. Werner Erhardt's work includes a long discussion about life being "empty and meaningless." I get that more deeply now, but life is really very full, everywhere I look there is more and more of it, always and forever. And all our words about it are just stories. It is just so. There is nothing to get. It is all here for us in each moment.
Since the Intensive, life has been very different. I took a workshop on relationships the following weekend. The facilitator seemed (perhaps it was my projection) so bent on improving me! Ha! Each moment was so complete. The ladder of personal growth was thrown away, no more rungs to climb, no next step to take. Just be me, here, now.
Mira and I were able to communicate with a level of honesty and clarity which we had not shared in years. Out of my surrender to the way things are, instead of my insistence on getting life to work out, somehow our relationship has unfolded easily past our habitual stuck points. My body has had a chronic viral something or other for months. It still does. So what? It just is that way. The truth is more important than making it go away.
And outdoors, the birds sing, the rain falls. The wind gently moves the oaks. A squirrel wags his bushy tail, then chases after a bird on the other side of the tree. Rich beyond words. I have quite thoroughly fallen in love with nature.
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity.
John died pretty suddenly last spring. Dennis writes of an experience he had shortly thereafter.
John visited me last week, in the early morning just before 5 AM. My notes, while somewhat repetitive, do, however, reflect the way it all "came out" in the hour or so we spent together:
My first contract with John was in a dream. It was very far out. At the end of the dream, he wanted to be paid for the "session" (Im laughing). When I woke up, he was still there and when I asked him about this he said it was kind of a joke. However, outside the dream, he couldnt "say" things like that, but, inside the dream, it was a dream and anything could happen. It was also my trip as well. And where he is nowhe just "is".
He "says": Its time for us to grow. More than we were, but not more than we are. That the gateway is the heart. We are all gateways. Appropriateness: Different growth messages, appropriate for each of us. The rightness is about who we are at this time.
I am feeling John as both a presence and a long time friend and that it is appropriate that he contact me in this way. Im forming, "saying" a question, and an "answer" is already there for me. The contact is immediate/appropriate: Its time for us to grow. He says to ask Pat (Liles) about Neptune and my/the path.
The day before this contact, Pat said that she felt it was "about time" for John to make contact, that he must have processed enough stuff, and enough time had passed so that he should now be "ready". He said that the appearance is that hes been working on things and that its now okay for him to be here. But its not quite like that. Rather its about appropriate "insertion points". For us, it appears that theres been a passage of time so that he might be ready to be here, to be available. But, again, its not quite like that. It is about appropriateness, and this is the right time. Its just the right "point" in relation to his death and his life for contact to be made.
He said: I am. You are. And the context is appropriate. Then, he got into a God "thing". That God is all the faces. All the faces. All the appropriatenesses. All the gateways. All the above. Its all appropriate. God is.
I "see" the image of Life as a great river. Along its banks are little eddies in which things get trapped and spin about, bits of wood and leaves. Sometimes the eddies are stagnant and foul. They all depend on and relate to the river, but within these eddies, these little places, the river is often all but unseen, unfelt. These eddies are our little lives where we spin about in relation to each other. Fighting, processing, learning, doing, whatever. I then hear the word "Be", Im told to be bigger than Ive been, to grow up. I experience an elevator-like sensation where I am bigger! And I see that many of the things I am "dealing with" and "processing" are primarily designed by me and others to keep me in that little eddy, to keep me from seeing the river. That if I focus on the important and appropriate "stuff" in my life, on my path, and release the inappropriate, Ill have room to be, room to "grow" bigger, room to see the river of Life and draw from it, drink from it, as needed.
Again: Its about being and hes fine. Its also about the heart, about growing, about appropriateness. That I am, you are, God is. It sounds funny, but we have to become bigger than we were, not bigger than we are (not possible), and that who we are is constantly changing (becoming who we were). That we must continue to be bigger than that. Its a time to grow. Time to create this "net": a bigger than we (all) are (were) place that is who we will be when who we are is seemingly something different than it is now (though it never really is). Got that?
On Johns advice: Im letting go of the others who are seemingly (to me) displeased with me. In most cases I must "grow" past that. Just in time to leave things behind. Just like he left his body behind to go/grow beyond, to grow "bigger". For him, he says, it was death, he had to die. For me, it is what it is. But for all of us its time to grow beyond, become bigger, not to wallow. It has become inappropriate to wallow. Its much more appropriate to grow, and go beyond. To "allow" little deaths.
John said that he spoke to me, rather than to someone else, as others who have passed on have spoken to some "one" rather than some "other", because of the inherent appropriateness in the way things are, and the way things come down. That things fit and work in ways that are appropriate.
The storm is raging outside my window (real and figurative), the wind chimes are going crazy. My heart is full of peace, the calm within the storms center. Im feeling the importance of the heart. And the need to discover my true "voice". Yes, others seem to be in the way, but theyre not. I feel the strength and simplicity of who I am becoming (who I am). Key words for tonight:: I am, you are, God is. be, grow, bigger, appropriate, beyond. Leaving the inappropriatenesses behind, as in, "It was no longer appropriate for John to have a body." Nor is it appropriate for us to get hung up in the details of our lives.
Time to try to get some sleep. I will grow. I will go beyond the limitations that I have created, the eddies and pools beside the River of Life, and find new appropriateness. Or, maybe, just to be all that I am, which is to be appropriate in all that I do. Whew!
I was making coffee one morning recently, standing at the stove waiting for the water to boil. I had been in a quiet state since waking up. For the past week, I had awakened in contemplation. I had been working on "What is life?" in my sleep.
I was pouring water into the coffee filter, slowly, when I suddenly just wanted to know what life is, without any care whatsoever about what the "answer" would be. For a moment I was actually wide open. The quality of that state still rings in my nerve system. It was kind of like a crying out from deep inside, or a letting go. I get chills when I think of it, even now, weeks later.
You know how sometimes you decide in your mind to be open but nothing really happens. Its just a mental attitude you hold, along with all the other mental attitudes that are in there. Holding a mental attitude of openness is useless. In that moment, the openness was not a mental attitude. I was really open. That openness translated immediately to direct experience of this moment, of life. The enlightenment and that openness are the same. From an emptiness in me came a great filling up. I was flooded with pure experience, truth. There was just me and the Absolute, without any separation, just like they say in the books.
For a few moments I was in an unbearable ecstasy. I could not bear it. Something inside began shaking and, though it was an infinitely positive state, I couldnt stand it. It seemed to take me away from everything familiar and human, like a death, or going into isolation, or like being alone, yet I was more in touch with life and more blissful than at any other time. I cant explain it.
Right afterward, though, I felt REALLY GOOD.
I let go of something, that is for sure. I LOVE life. Im in touch with a precious and simple truth that makes everything sparkle.
Ive been experimenting with a contemplative practice you might want to try. Every night, during the quiet period just before sleep, I work on my enlightenment question. There is nothing to do thenjust go to sleepso I just gently hold the question. I dont push or anything like that. I dont do anything that will keep me from falling asleep. I just sort of sit in its lap. As a result, I often wake up with the question still there, as if I have been processing it all night.
Moria Merriweather (in response to an article in the last S&O)
I found your ideas about stupidity interesting. If I go along with your idea that stupidness is "not getting feedback", then I rapidly conclude that we live in a very stupid culture (or environment). What I mean by this is that I appear to be systematically separated from the effects of many of my daily actions. A few examples: consider buying food at a grocery store. I have little clue as to where or how the food was created, who created it, or what effects its creation had. Likewise, when I buy it, I have the clue about where my money goes, when I eat the food I may get some feedback about the effect on my body if Im paying attention. Often I dont notice anything. How about the package the food came in, which goes in the trash (or gets recycled). Where does it go? And what is the effect of it? Eventually Ill have some body wastes that Ill flush down the toilet, down the pipes that go wherever they go. I dont know where they go. I dont know what effect is created. Consider the work I do to support my life. I work for a big company. I know many of the direct effects I have on others around mebut in the grander scheme, Im extremely disconnected.
I do one tiny piece of the creation of a product. I have almost zero contact with the people who use the product. What effect do I have? Stupid me!
Im sure that you and I could make a list of hundreds of examples such as these. It seems to me that this "no feedback" is part of our high-tech compartmentalized worldbut it may also be how life is!
Im kind of amazed to notice that this "not knowing the effects" seems to me to be so deep and pervasive. No feedback! Stupid me!
Once there was a man who hated his own shadow. When he walked and found that his shadow was close behind him, he began to walk faster and faster. But the faster he moved, the closer his shadow came. So he ran like a madman, and in the end, he dropped dead. Those who do not understand the Tao are just like the man who hated his shadow. It is actually very easy to be rid of ones shadowjust rest under a tree. Just rest.
"Tell me what life is.", she said. I looked across the narrow space between us, found those eyes fixed upon me in a steady gaze, and let the question sink deeply into my mind. Life, my life, her life, every life, life itselfthe question seemed large and full and endless. I had come to another Annual Enlightenment Intensive , determined to work hard, insisting that this time Id directly experience the Truth.
"Tell me what life is." I had repeated this question to myself endlessly for two years; at intensives, at work, at odd, spare moments and at quiet times. I had meditated, read, talked it over with others. All I had were insights, failures, and speculation. "This time," I thought, "whatever it takes." I was tired of not knowing.
On the first day, I told stories about my life, talked about the meaning of life, dumped accumulated impressions, and tripped out on amazing phenomena. I rushed at life, relentlessly. By evening I had fought bravely, had magical experiences, and shot right by life without touching it much. The usual.
On the second day, the Issue appeared. I slowed down a bit, went back to the process. All day I tried to find a way around having to face the shame and embarrassment I felt about my life. I had done some "bad" things, and felt cut off, unworthy and unfit to join others in life. During the evening walk, I reached down and scooped up handfuls of dirt from the road, smearing it over my face to show how "unclean" I was.
On the morning of the third day, I walked slowly, my head hanging. I couldnt face it. I had to face it. I went in, and communicated everything as clearly and completely as I could. I thought everyone would hate me, but I wanted the Truth. Afterward, I went outside and saw the sun shining brightly. "The sun shines on everyone," I thought, "even me." I began to notice life all around me, large and small!
By the afternoon walk, I stepped out and looked at life. I looked at small twigs on the ground, got one twig first, then a few more. I walked down the road, and got the road, a person, a bird, a few birds, the ground, the sky. As I reached the hill leading down to the sea, I decided to get all of it, at once. I looked down and saw both of my teachers, one a dear friend, sitting side by side at the bridge. He looked up at me, right at that moment, and raised his hand with his thumb up, as if to say "Go for it!" Life came rushing in full and complete and boundless. The road, the sky, the people the ocean, the bridge, everything. All one. I began laughing, louder and harder and wilder as I walked down the hill. I passed some teenagers at the bridge, carrying a portable stereo, and I just looked right at them, laughing uncontrollably. I stumbled across the bridge, laughing, and other participants began laughing too. When I reached the other side, I doubled over and fell down, still laughing, overflowing with joy.
After a while, I got up and sat by the ocean, admiring the world, with no separation.
I have the infinite good fortune to have a connection with Shiva in the form of Haidakhan Baba (now out of body). In previous lives he was Haidakhan Baba (circa 1861, then in 1920, and again in the 70's). He is said to be the Mahavatar Babaji that Yogananda mentioned in his Autobiography of a Yogi. Before that he was Milarepa, before that Lakulish, and before that Shiva, the originator of the Sanatan Dharma (the Eternal Law).
He is very available. He comes when I ask. When he comes there is always a magic event. Sometimes these are smalllittle things that delight and uplift. Other times, there are important lessons. Lately, I have been with him often. This relationship has made me very aware of my limitations and has intensified my desire to be more true to my basic values.
The other day I was reading a book about the life of Haidakhan Baba, written by Radhe Shyam, one of his disciples. When I finished reading, I went to get a bookmark. I had been given some used library card-catalog cards from the nearby elementary school and there was a stack by the phone for messages. As I got up to get a card, I was aware of Babaji's presence and I thought, with some conviction, "The book citation on the card will be a message from the Guru." Over the years I had come to almost expect little tricks and delights from my dear astral friend. I had visualized taking the card off the bottom of the deck, but when I picked it up, my hand was "guided" to the top card instead. The citation was:
152,4 Odor, Ruth
ODO Glad / ill. by Nancy Inderieden. Childs World, c1979.
32 p.: ill. (some col.) (What does it mean?)
1. Happiness I. Inderieden, Nancy, ill.
Very Babaji-like. The title, "Glad", seemed to fit right in, as did "Child's World" (the title of a magazine, I guessed). "Ruth Odor" made me laugh. It was just like Babaji to tease like that.
Then this odd line, "(What does it mean?)". How did that get there, and just what does it mean?
Then my mind said, "This is just a coincidence." (I suppose doubt should spring upI'm beginning to sound like a nut case.)
Curious, I looked at the card that I had intended to pick first, the one on the bottom of the stack. It said, "1001 Riddles for Children". In this I found great delight and significance. It seemed to ring with Babaji energy and I felt a rush of love for life and for Babaji. I laughed and said out loud, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
Still curious, I glanced at the card under "Glad" and it was for another book by Ruth Odor. Its title: "Thanks".
Betrayal (OF be + trair fr. L. tradere fr. trans across + ducere to lead), is part of every act that is not a direct acceptance of another. It is the dark complement of light in the definition of guru, that which leads one from darkness into light. Betrayal, a seemingly dark prodding nuisance, hangs out at the threshold of evolutionary growth, disguising itself in order to keep the trolls, me and assorted others, from crossing the bridge. Not recognizing the true nature of betrayal means we get trollmates instead of bridge partners.
Understanding the underlying significance of betrayal is crucial in spiritual growth. Having preconceived ideas and expectations about how others or I 'should' be in a relationship limits my ability to act, usurps the freedom of others to act, and perpetuates the usual dark interpretation of betrayal.
If I treat one who betrays me with consummate respect, the act of betrayal of that individual will be the seed of a greater flowering of knowledge for me. (You already know all this, don't you?) If I act from my own inner truth and my actions are misunderstood as betrayal, by holding firm to my resolve and by allowing myself to be misunderstood, I will be led further into the light of knowledge. The act of betrayal becomes a supreme life teacher for me.
Jesus was betrayed by his closest disciples. He even thought he was betrayed by God in a dark moment on the cross. He was crucified because he betrayed the religious laws of his time. Throughout history betrayal has always been a pivotal experience.
Betrayal is resistance and opposition to one's desires. It permeates and distinctly characterizes every stage in life. It is crucial for growth, precipitating a crisis by revealing hidden desires. I have the power (as does everyone) to choose to 'cross over the bridge.' Not accepting another's choice leads to impasse; accepting another's choice opens the way for transformation.
In the diagram below seven levels of betrayal are defined and correlated with seven stages in life. In each stage a truth is revealed by the supreme teacher who illumines the path according to the needs of the aspirant. Perhaps defining life in terms of betrayal is a bit unorthodox or even harsh, but I invite you to consider it.
|Percentage Dark/Light||Levels of Betrayal||Stages in Life|
|Unconditionally accepting and being accepted by everyone||7||Perfected Individual|
|To show and be shown what is not at first obvious||6||Sage, teacher|
|To fail and be failed, to desert and be deserted in moment of need||5||Parents raising children|
|To seduce and be seduced, then abandon and be abandoned||4||Marriage partners|
|To lead and be led into error, sin, or danger (competition)||3||Sibling rivalry|
|To deliver and be delivered to an enemy by treachery (birth)||2||Dependent baby|
|Denying and being denied by everyone||1||Ignorance, not in life|
Description of the seven stages:
Stage 7: The supreme teacher fully realizes individuals potential.
Stage 6: The supreme teacher guides by impeccable self-inspection.
Stage 5: The supreme teacher dissolves dependency of the young by maturation.
Stage 4: The supreme teacher sustains through the torment of love-death..
Stage 3: The supreme teacher creates a bond with another in spite of separation.
Stage 2: The supreme teacher emerges with the spark of life.
Stage 1: The supreme teacher is the potential in total darkness.
Karel Edith Herrington
There were so many stimulating articles in Volume 2 # 3 of Self and Other that I wanted to respond to all of them. Yogeshwar Muni's "Final Word" was the first article I read in that issue and later when I read Edrid and Bill Savoie's comments about the benefits and "dangers" of Enlightenment Intensives I realized that part of my reaction to Yogeshwar's words fit that theme also. Similarly, these comments started in response to the "Final Word" and became comments on issues raised in many articles of Volume 2 # 3.
Of the techniques Yogeshwar mentioned in "Final Word" I have experienced: Clearing, Enlightenment Intensives, and relationship dyads. These techniques were introduced to me by Elena Diana. The first was Clearing and I took to it like a duck to water. Over the next few years Clearing Sessions were an important part of my life/growth/transformation. For decades before I had been involved with many growth processes and obtained benefits but not inspiration.
Clearing inspired/inspires me. I loved the Clearing sessions. And what I loved most, and was most astounded/astonished by, was the Magic. Over time I realized that shifts in my life were attributable to those sessions, but, like magic, any more detailed correlation was impossible. Equally impossible was any explanation of how/why the results occurred. Thus "magic". I noticed that a Clearing session would be intensely focused on one topic, and often no shifts seemed to occur in my life around that topic (a most frustrating experience for the mind and emotions), yet dramatic shifts would occur in my being and life around seemingly unrelated topics. Magic. This was the beginning of my understanding of letting go and trusting. Letting go of the form of the result. Trusting that results would occur. What results you might ask? Results of clarity, ease, flow, and mostly of understanding/ knowing. Prime desires of my Beingmy gut definition of Human Enlightenment, at least for me.
But that was only the beginning of the Magic. Through the experiences of these sessions I learned the value to self of being heard. The value to others of my listening to them. I absorbed the concepts of and feel for Listening. Listening with a capital L to denote listening in love from one's Being. It feels like I have far to go with implementing this in my daily interactions. However, it transformed my personal intimate life. I met Maurice two and a half years ago. From the beginning we made a commitment to truth in our relationship. From the beginning I practiced Listening. When he experienced the results, Maurice added Listening techniques to his already good listening skills. Our relationship began in Magic and continues to be magical, Being to Being, assisted by techniques such as Listening, for we are human and have our reactions, hurts, angers, etc. which we don't always express lovingly.
To me the essence of Clearing is this Listening. If you haven't already guessed, this is a tribute to, and a vote for, Clearing.
However, there were many techniques within Clearing that I have refused to participate in. Also for a long time I resisted Enlightenment Intensives. They seemed too rigid for my rebelliousness/insistence on form "in accordance to my feel of truth". When Elena offered the Gaia Intensive, an experimental Enlightenment Intensive with the focus on Gaia instead of self, another or life, I delved deeper into my willingness, desire, and ability to experience this Intensive. It was presented to me that the real sponsor of an Enlightenment Intensive is not the Master but Absolute Truth. Those "giving" the Intensive are in service to Truth, directed by Truth. I was willing to risk a "party" given by Truth, even if the rules seemed to my inner rebel to be fascist.
To further deal with my fears about my ability to go through an Intensive, I set strong intentions to know/experience Truth, and to be safe. Can one so "restrict" Truth? Perhaps it might slow my path but I believe it is possible to experience Truth in safety. In fact along these lines Paul Solomon in a lecture given at the Whole Life Expo in 1987 said of those in the darkness "if you turn on the light too quickly they shatter". And of course my idea of "safety" may not seem like such to others! So what is safety? What is too quickly? This is getting into the "cautions" or "dangers" raised by Edrid and Bill Savoie. The word "Intensive" is aptly chosen. It is Intense with a capital I. The word "Enlightenment" is also not lightly chosen. There is a saying that truth will set you free, and in that vein, Truth will set you free all the way to Enlightenment.
I have experienced two Intensives: the Gaia Intensive and later the same year (1993) the Annual Enlightenment Intensive . I came away thinking they were marvelous, wonderful, and intensely dangerous. Dangerous for those not prepared for that intensity. Dangerous for those not committed to Absolute Truth Now. But most of all dangerous for those without resources, such as tools or supporters, to help them afterwards to process and integrate their reactions to the experience.
What is the nature of these reactions? One experience I had gives a clue to one possible reaction. After a different kind of intensive, the ten day intensive given by Tony Robbins on Firewalking and Neurolinguistic Programming etc. I was "dysfunctional" for about one and a half or so years. Part of what he teaches is that if two or more deeply held values are incompatible the person uses a lot of energy attempting to resolve the inner conflict. After about a year of dysfunction following Tony's intensive it suddenly occurred to me that much of this dysfunction was due to my inner focus on processing internal value conflicts. At about that time I attended a reunion of intensive attendees. One woman looked like I felt. I made a point of talking to her and she told me that she had been undergoing feelings and experiences that made her dysfunctional and recently had realized that they were due to inner value conflicts! Conflicts we both had come to believe were between values we held before the intensive and values "instilled" during the intensive. After the realization of what was occurring we both made "progress" in resolving the conflicts and became more functional in life. Therefore being aware of the concept of conflicting values was a tool that assisted both of us in the integration into our lives of the intensive experiences. Awareness of this concept came from exploring alternative beliefs and ways of being.
My conscious opening to exploring alternative paths/beliefs started for me in 1977 when I began taking T'ai Chi Ch'uan classes. Later I explored many paths and in particular have been exposed to a large number of alternate concepts and ways of being by attending almost every day of every Whole Life Expo since about 1981. Therefore the number of tools for change that I have been exposed to is large. Not that I use even a fraction of what I know, or use them in any regular or effective way, but they are there if needed. In these explorations I've also seen a variety of paths to, and a variety of beliefs about Truth. Knowledge of this variety is for me another important tool that allows me to face Absolute Truth and deal with the aftermath.
Knowledge of a variety of concepts and ways of being are important tools for me and one of my most important tools is the tool of Intention. Intention as a focus for desire. Intention as a means of change. Intention as a path to Truth. In a way Enlightenment Intensives are a perfect form to strengthen the tool of Intention, because Intention as a tool is an important part of the contemplation. It begins "I intend..." This tool can also be used to assist integration. The first step is setting the intention, for example, how do you intent your life will be during and after an Enlightenment experience? The next step after intending is to notice how that intention has manifest. This step is similar to noticing the results of contemplation. After noticing how the intention manifests, I again set my intention.
Having attended only two Intensives I'm not as sure of their effect on my life as I am about the effects of Clearing. Yet like Clearing, Intensives seem magical. However this magic seems to have more risk. Perhaps magic for the advanced student of magic rather than the apprentice. Therefore it seems to me that for Enlightenment Intensives to be experienced "safely" they should be a post graduate course. If so what are the pre-requisites? As Edrid mentioned I believe one prerequisite is the desire and intention to know the Absolute Truth. However, this prerequisite selects mainly for interest. My postulate is that another pre-requisite might be to have sufficient resources to be able to safely integrate an Enlightenment/Truth experience. But who is to judge that "sufficiency"? What can be given to the potential participant for them to judge for themselves their willingness/ability to accept and manage the risks? Is that sufficient? Or, in this litigious society, does the staff of the Intensive also need some assurance of safety beyond intentions they set and beliefs they hold? Despite Paul Solomon's warning, shock treatment is a valid path to choose. However the value of the shock treatment is not always immediately apparent to the participant(s) and can also create ripples which involve others, some of whom may wish to follow a gentler path. On the other hand, there is also the belief that whatever happens at an Enlightenment Intensive is for a purpose and for the highest good of all.
In conclusion, based on my experiences, I was surprised that Yogeshwar Muni no longer recommends Clearing, and does recommend Enlightenment Intensives. Surprised, because for me Clearing is a gentle yet effective and powerful transformative tool, and although the Truths experienced and the skills in listening and intending attainable via Enlightenment Intensives are wonderful I'm not sure the potential "dangers" are worth it, at least for me. In addition Clearing seems to be a good tool for the apprentice, whereas Enlightenment Intensives may be a good tool for the advanced student of magic. That is the path I chose, first Clearing then Enlightenment Intensives. Perhaps it is simply a matter of the nature of one's goal(s) and of one's beliefs about the appropriate form(s) of the path(s) and the risks that are appropriate to take to achieve one's goal(s). Such values are based on personal cost/benefit ratio computations. Yet, despite what I've just said about the Enlightenment Intensives being too dangerous for my liking, I will probably take those risks again and attend more of them. As in the movie "The Baghdad Café" I'm hooked on Magic.
The Self is nothing else but the knowledge that "you are". Meditate on that principle by which you know "you are" and on account of which you experience that world. Meditate on this knowledge "you are", which is the Consciousness, and abide therein.
This is a short talk I gave during the wedding ceremony of my son, Aaron Riddle, and Betsy WebsterSeptember 16, 1995
Betsy and Aaron asked me to do a reading today. I looked for something to read, but I didnt find what I was looking for. Betsy said, "Not to worry, say anythingyou could even do an improvisational dance." Well, Im not about to do a dancedont worry. But I do want to talk for a few minutes about marriage and the marriage ceremony.
The marriage ceremony has been around a long timein every culture, all over the world. There must be something very basic about it or it wouldnt be so prevalent.
We get together as a group. We drop away all of our other concerns and preoccupations to focus on a single event. This focus illuminates the ceremony and brings us all together. There is a purpose to it. We create a special moment when the marriage actually takes place. It isnt just "sort of" getting married. It doesnt just slide by. It really happens.
Why do we go through all of this trouble? For many years Ive had the idea that if we ever opened our eyes to really see life, we would find that it is a miracle. And the most astonishing miracle of all is to find someone who can and will share the miracle with us. There is no life without othersit is empty.
We see, hear, and taste things; we have our thoughts and memories, or goals, our opinions. All these things occur within us. We have an interior where, for us, everything happens.
This is just "being alive." That we are alive is the simplest and most obvious thing. It needs no proofit is self-evident, the most basic thing. We all have this inside, this inner aspect. Religions call it the "soul" or "spirit" or the "being." We dont have to get mystical about it, though. It is just the fact that we are aware.
It is easy to be aware of our own inner life, but we sometimes forget that the other, all others, have their own inner experience as well. Being alone is just getting fully out of contact with that vital part of others.
The highest level of contact is falling in love. Your heart opens and there is no denial of lifes vital spark in the other. When this happens, the others well-being, the way it is for them, becomes as important or more important than your own. You dont have to force yourself into this attitude. Its just the way it is for youwithout even trying.
When this happens mutually, we have true love. It will have depth and it will last. The day-to-day ups and downs cant shake it. When two people look in each others eyes and know the other, and vow to keep knowing them, then the miracle of marriage occurs.
This is the miracle: that one life touches another one and finds union.
If we can do this deeply enough, then we experience the Sacred, the Divine, or Basic Truth.
I may not say all this in the same words you would use, but Im sure we all share the same sentiments: that we all love and support these two precious friends of ours, Aaron and Betsy, as they share their wedding vows today, and wish all blessings on them.
Thanks for listening.
My life was transformed May 21 at the Mount Baldy Intensive when a suggestion by Edrid midwifed a direct experience of "Who am I?" Edrid advised that, during walking, eating, and resting meditation, we relate our question to actual behavior. Thus, I asked myself silently, Who is walking? Who is drinking this tea? Who is going to sleep? Who is shaving?
I hit pay dirt with Who is shaving? at 9:45 AM the final day. My scream could be heard at the top and bottom of Mount Baldy. The truth is that Id been absent from myself for decades. While shaving, I suddenly experienced myself as present, actual, authentic, and indisputably real.
The important point is that the "I am I" event allowed the direct enlightenment experience to stick. Someone was home to welcome the exquisite Enlightenment visitor. Therefore, my life has continued to be revolutionized in every detail.
Like many others, Id been plagued with an over-attachment to my rational mind. Talking and Thinking Heads like me can achieve an enlightenment experience, yet within a half-hour, observe it vanishing into airy conceptualizations. For people addicted to mentalizing (what Edrid called "reifying"), converting the question into behavioral terms can be beneficial.
Who am I? and What am I? are easy to convert, whereas Life, Love, and Another require more imagination.
A second tactic greased the direct enlightenment experience at 1:45 that afternoon. Who am I? became dead. Nothing arose when I asked the question. No thoughts, no feelings, no sensations. Only blankness. At this point, my mind tempted me to abandon Who am I? Why not try a more interesting question? Im finished with this one! Why not a delightful control or escape or sexual fantasy?
I stayed with Who am I? because I realized that my self-referential minethe one with "me" in the centeris super-obsessive. After all, when I was three or four years old, certain attitudes became deeply rooted because they saved my life; they were appropriate for my particular four-year-old world. My childhood compensationsconfusion, self-doubt, fantasyshielded me from the adult world. Having kept me safe as a child, these wired-in "selves" insisted on continuing to protect me. Realizing how devoted these energies were, I repeatedly told them, OK, buddies, I know youre trying to help me, but I need to stay with "Who am I?" Please leave me alone for a while.
Thus I constantly returned to Who am I? even though it had burned itself out like last nights fireplace embers.
In the eye of the beholder
a moment occurs when night is broken
by the sudden splitting of the firmament
by a slash of lightening
and all around
the landscape is revealed
awareness briefly illuminated
by the truth of what is
when the night again closes about
a certainty remains
a knowing of the terrain
a way has come into being.
This is an enlightenment.
Sudden. Piercing. Ecstatic.
The truth, however, is not only to be found in the darkness
not only revealed
as a thunderous event
is neither so fickle nor so fixed
as to be found in A Way.
Even as a fog clears
Even as the slow rolling aside of turf
reveals the darkness and texture and smells of the soil beneath
and understanding resolves
from perception of grains and grit and pebbles and worm tracks
and root fibrils and insects and decay & renewal
and union with
the source of life.
Thus too may enlightenment occur
as Being finding a way.
Excerpt from Certain Trumpets by Gary Wills, as reviewed in Whole Earth Review, Winter 1995. (Submitted by Edrid.)
Though Pius XII was eighty-two and sickly, his death came as a surprise in 1958 When he died at his summer palace, Castel Gondolfo, the customary evisceration was delayed until the body was returned to Rome. As his cortege reached the popes Episcopal seat as bishop of Rome, the Lateran Basilica, a loud boom issued from the casketit was the popes body exploding. His personal physician (an ophthalmologist) had used an "experimental" embalmer, who worked to undo the damage that night. But the next day, when Piuss face was exposed, it was green, and the day after that his face developed dark blotches and a rotting odor spread from the casket.
In medieval times, all these signs would have proved that the devil had taken possession of the unfortunate cadaver. Even modern Rome is not entirely proof against superstition. The curial forces that wanted to celebrate Pius as a way of electing a conservative heir to his policies (perhaps Domenico Tardini) were thrown off their stride by these unsettling events. The sense of an ending, the need for a new beginning, made the conclave look for someone outside the tight Roman circle Pius had pulled around him. On the eleventh ballot Roncalli was chosen, as a man of amiable mien, one who could serve as a "transitional pope" until a younger man was groomed for the real leadership of the future.
The other was intense.
He leaned close,
and looked directly in my eyes.
He told of those he worked with:
Homelessness and poverty,
desperation, and despair
of the innocent and weak
each ghastly trap
he lovingly recounted,
until finally pronouncing:
"Completely without hope!"
And then I asked him gently,
How can there be no hope,
in every being
and every self.
When enlightenment is only
a single thought away.
He looked across the room
impatient as I spoke.
"Yeah," he said, "whatever."
He was the deadest man
I ever met.
by Japhy Riddle
© W. Somerset Maugham, 1943.
This is an excerpt from The Razors Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. In this excerpt, Maugham relates a conversation he had with Larry Darrell, whom he had known for twenty years. He met Larry by accident one afternoon on the streets of Paris. Maugham wrote this after talking to Larry all night, over coffee. The events Larry describe occurred a little more than two years before the conversation. (Submitted by Tony Levelle.)
Larry is speaking to Maugham:
"When Id been at the Ashrama just two years I went up to my forest retreat for a reason thatll make you smile. I wanted to spend my birthday there. I got there the day before. Next morning I awoke before dawn and I thought Id go and see the sunrise from the place Ive just told you about. I knew the way blindfolded. I sat down under a tree and waited. It was night still, but the stars were pale in the sky, and day was at hand. I had a strange feeling of suspense. So gradually that I was hardly aware of it, light began to filter through the darkness, slowly, like a mysterious figure slinking between the trees. I felt my heart beating as though at the approach of danger. The sun rose."
Larry paused and a rueful smile played on his lips.
"I have no descriptive talent, I dont know the words to paint a picture, I cant tell you, so as to make you see it, how grand the sight was that was displayed before me as the day broke in its splendor. Those mountains with their deep jungle, the mist still entangled in the treetops, and the bottomless lake far below me. The sun caught the lake through a cleft in the heights and it shone like burnished steel. I was ravished with the beauty of the world. Id never known such exaltation and such transcendent joy. I had a strange sensation, a tingling that arose in my feet and traveled up to my head, and I felt as though I were suddenly released from my body and as pure spirit partook of a loveliness I had never conceived. I had a sense that a knowledge more than human possessed me, so that everything that had been confused was clear and everything that had perplexed me was explained. I was so happy that it was pain and I struggled to release myself from it, for I felt that if it lasted a moment longer I should die; and yet it was such rapture that I was ready to die rather than forego it. How can I tell you what I felt? No words can tell the ecstasy of my bliss. When I came to myself I was exhausted and trembling. I fell asleep.
"It was high noon when I woke. I walked back to the bungalow, and I was so light at heart that it seemed to me that I hardly touched the ground. I made myself some food, gosh, I was hungry, and I lit my pipe."
Larry lit his pipe now.
"I dared not think that this was illumination, that I, Larry Darrell of Marvin, Illinois, had received when others striving for it for years, with austerity and mortification, still waited."
"What makes you think that it was anything more than a hypnotic condition induced by your state of mind combined with the solitude, the mystery of the dawn and the burnished steel of your lake?"
"Only my overwhelming sense of its reality. After all, it was an experience of the same order as mystics have had all over the world through the centuries. Brahmins in India, Sufis in Persia, Catholics in Spain, Protestants in New England; and so far as theyve been able to describe what defies description theyve described it in similar terms. Its impossible to deny the fact of its occurrence; the only difficulty is to explain it. If I was for a moment one with the Absolute or if it was an inrush from the subconscious of an affinity with the universal spirit which is latent in all of us, I wouldnt know."
Larry paused for an instant and threw me a quizzical glance.
"By the way, can you touch your little finger with your thumb?" he asked.
"Of course," I said with a laugh, proving it with the appropriate action.
"Are you aware that thats something that only man and the primates can do? Its because the thumb is opposable to the other digits that the hand is the admirable instrument it is. Isnt it possible that the opposable thumb, doubtless in a rudimentary form, was developed in the remote ancestor of man and the gorilla in certain individuals, and was a characteristic that only became common to all after innumerable generations? Isnt it at least possible that these experiences of oneness with Reality that so many diverse persons have had point to a development in the human consciousness of a sixth sense which in the far, far future will be common to all men so that they may have as direct a perception of the Absolute as we have now of the objects of senses?"
"And how would you expect that to affect them?" I asked.
"I can as little tell you that as the first creature that found it could touch its little finger with its thumb could have told you what infinite consequences were entailed in that insignificant action. So far as Im concerned, I can only tell you that the intense sense of peace, joy, and assurance that possessed me in that moment of rapture abides with me still and that the vision of the worlds beauty is as fresh and vivid now as when my eyes were first dazzled by it."
The fog is thick in this place
I have found
I cannot shout or wave it away
I sit waiting
which moves everything
It has moved onto the World Wide Web on the Internet. Its URL (Universal Resource Locator) is:
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This has been an amazing year for me. It has been a year of hard work and accomplishment. I have worked harder during this year than any time in my life. To show for it, I have a successful writing business and a new home. I have postponed the S&O for far to long and I apologize for that. But here it is and I hope it is worth the wait.
People came from all over the US and even "distant lands" to attend this years Annual Intensive at Isis Oasis in October. People could work on traditional questions (including :What is Love?"), and in addition, "What is the purpose of life?", and "What is death?" (The death question is very interesting. I hope others will pursue it.) It was a big Intensive50 participants. My heartfelt thanks to a wonderful staff: JLynn Berry, Edda Browne, Kalidasa, Lawrence Noyes, Pitaka, deodder Tony Levelle, and the cooks and staff at Isis Oasis. Thanks, too, to the participants, who put heart and soul on the line.
Lets give thanks to the continuing efforts of Osha Readerour Annual Intensive tradition continues. At the end of the Intensive, Osha was chosen as next years Master!
Self & Other is now on the Internet. Not much there yet, but you can find us at www.sandoth.com (sandoth = self and other). This is where to look for the latest information about Intensives. Most people have access to the net, either with their own computers, at work, or through a friend. Anyone can print the Intensive schedule and give it to others. MASTERS: Send me information about your Intensives and I will put them on the list.
Have a wonderful New Year!
© 1995 Ed Riddle (Edrid). Published by Self & Other, 508 Pope Street, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Phone: 415 328-4941.
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