What is the spiritual path from beginning to end? What are the key points along the journey? How does one measure progress? What is the spiritual process? How does one know where one is at? How does one orient oneself on the Way? What are the guidelines?
My own experiences have led me to conclude that there are three main aspects to the spiritual path: Self-Awareness, Self-Realization and Enlightenment. I see the process as a progression from initial experiences of Self-Awareness, onward to a definitive experience of Self-Realization and finally an abiding awareness of Enlightenment or of a direct knowing of the intrinsically "Enlightened" nature of Awareness. These three aspects of the process, journey or path seem to spell out the whole spiritual way. It is not to say that processes of psychological purification, transformation and development through the kundalini process are not integral to the path but that part of the journey is addressed through a physics of psychology perspective or discussion. My interest here is what happens or is experienced directly in Awareness.
The spiritual path does not truly begin until one has experienced some major or minor spiritual breakthrough in the form of a distinct taste of Self-Awareness. When I say Self-Awareness what I mean is Awareness of the True Self. This bears no relation to the popular psychological term of "self-awareness." This is a very different type of knowing, where for some period of time Awareness is experienced in and of itself. The true experience of Self-Awareness is of an Awareness of Self that is distinguished from any form of sensory or psychological awareness. This type of Self-Awareness is unlike any of the usual forms of "consciousness" or "self-consciousness" that consist of any variety of focused awareness. It is a different awareness of Self entirely and it is the first step towards Self-Realization.
After some number of experiences of Self-Awareness comes a radically "new" experience. This experience might be after the first time that one comes to Self-Awareness or it may come after some number of experiences or just through a particularly deep or striking experience of Self-Awareness. This is the moment of Self-Realization, a moment that is brief and yet timeless and eternal. There is the immediate direct knowledge of "I AM THAT I AM" or the knowing that "I always was, always am and always will be!" There is no question or doubt, given that it is directly perceived as an irrefutable fact. One knows that "This is Who and What I really Am, Love, Light, Bliss, just pure, clear Space, Eternally Free!" This is a sense of what Self-Realization is but...it happens in Awareness, not in thought. The first step toward Enlightenment is Self-Realization.
The end state is the beginning. What is generally called Enlightenment is not some HIGH and HOLY, "Greater Understanding," given that it is only an abiding and continuous Awareness of Self or of Self-Awareness. Their are two keys to this abiding Self-Awareness: 1. Self-Realization, and, 2. Enlightenment Methodology. The basic principle of any Enlightenment Methodology is the practice of defocusing or displacing the focus of awareness away from the physical body and/or the psyche. This is not meant to be a "spaced-out" awareness nor is it intended to become an "out-of-body" experience. The aim or goal of this approach is to shift the focus of awareness, not to create or maintain some artificial state of body or of mind. The practical application of this methodology is spelled out clearly in many different ways throughout this blog. So, we return to the beginning point, practice or experience of Self-Awareness, which is achieved through defocused or displaced awareness.
Knowledge is power; methodology is practice!
For a variety of videos useful to understanding the principles and practices of an Enlightenment Methodology, visit my vlog at:
I felt the need to write this post due to something that I have encountered on many occasions and thus have thought about for some time. It is the notion that Enlightenment is the answer or the solution to all problems. I DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS PERSPECTIVE! It is a view that is not only naive but that is the purest form of wishful thinking.
I want to share two points that sum up what I am getting at:
1. Enlightenment is not a solution for ALL problems.
2. Enlightenment is not necessarily something that everyone can or will realize.
These two FACTS leave us with two conclusions:
1. That we must create distinct solutions for EACH of our collective challenges.
2. That we must formulate non-religious paths, systems or ethical/moral codes based on the principle of mutual respect.
We cannot solve scientific or technological questions through meditation but rather through research and development. We cannot solve social, economic or political problems through prayer but rather through collaborative creation that is results-oriented. We cannot solve psychological problems through mere talk-therapy but rather through complete healing systems that address the roots of the issue. We cannot expect Enlightenment to solve our problems! We must work together to solve our individual and our collective problems.
We cannot beg the wealthy, the politician's or the religious for solutions to the problems THAT THEY CREATED! We are the solution. We must utilize the Internet and the whole range of technological possibilities to improve the lives of all beings on this Earth. There is a solution for every problem but NOT a single solution for EVERY problem. We must approach ALL of our challenges with a fresh mind-set that is open to creative solutions that are arrived at through global collaboration. Guess what! We have the technology available to do this today and it is what we are utilizing right now, i.e., the Internet.
Here are the steps:
1. Avail yourself of the best information that is accessible through the Internet.
2. Contribute your best ideas, knowledge or insights to the Internet through blogs, videos, forums or whatever.
3. Communicate with individuals or groups who share your interests, concerns and/or your particular emphasis.
4. Assess the whole range of issues, problems or challenges.
5. Pick one problem.
6. Collaborate with others to create real solutions for that one specific problem.
7. Form groups that are local and/or that are global to get the intended or desired results.
A Summary of the Most Salient Practical Principles of this Blog
In modern spiritual circles there seems to be a recurring question, concern or theme regarding Self-Realization or Enlightenment. What I have observed, heard or read over and over again is something along the following lines, "yes...I know what Enlightenment is but how do you experience it,""what is the method for Self-Realization," or "what must I do to become Enlightened." Each of these questions is valid and all such queries need to be addressed in a serious manner and in a considerate fashion. Those "teachers" who are unable to and/or who cannot or will not answer such questions need to discontinue spiritual teaching. The purpose of this entire blog has been to address, explore and answer precisely these questions.
I will state it simply and directly: Yes, there is a methodology for
Self-Realization/Enlightenment that can be described simply and clearly that anyone can practice achieving consistent results. All that is required is proper understanding and correct application. It is possible in some rare cases for "psychic energy" blockages and/or "kundalini" experiences to create problems but in most cases I doubt that this is a real factor or consideration. In this post I will summarize all of the key points that are necessary to understand and all of the methods that one can practice to understand and to experience Self-Realization/Enlightenment.
1. Self-Realization is achieved through a process of coming to an awareness of Awareness.
2. Enlightenment is Realized as Awareness is displaced away from the physical body and removed outside of the human psyche.
3. The displacement of awareness from the physical body and psyche is accomplished through a defocusing of awareness.
4. Awareness may be in two distinct states: Focused or Unfocused.
5. Focused awareness includes objects, whether psychological or sensory and results in the creation and maintenance of specific, localized psychological positions.
6. Unfocused awareness is objectless being synonymous with the Enlightened or the Awakened state of Awareness.
7. Defocused awareness is a transitional awareness that brings awareness from a state of Focused awareness to one of Unfocused Objectless Awareness.
1. There are three ways of defocusing awareness: through Awareness; through Space; through Oneness.
2. There are nine methods for defocusing awareness: Going Backward; Turning Inward; Dropping Everything; Expanding Outward; Filling Space; Letting Go; Merging With; Going Between; Getting Behind.
3. Defocusing awareness through Awareness is practiced by the methods of Going Backward, Turning Inward and Dropping Everything.
4. Defocusing awareness through Space is practiced with the methods of Expanding Outward, Filling Space and Letting Go.
5. Defocusing awareness through Oneness is practiced by the methods of Merging With, Going Between and Getting Behind.
6. The aim or goal for all methods of defocusing awareness is Unfocused Objectless Awareness.
7. There is only one way to realize Enlightenment/Self-Realization and it is through the defocusing of awareness.
1. Going Backward - An awareness that is focusing is "going forward" and an awareness that is defocusing is going backward. To go backward in awareness is akin to moving or stepping away from your body or your mind with your awareness. One can almost think of it as pushing one's awareness backward or inwardly behind one's back. Awareness is Infinite, so it is possible to move awareness Infinitely Inward or Infinitely Backward. The end that is reached is both Final and it is Endless, Total and Infinite. Continue going backward with awareness.
2. Turning Inward - A focused awareness is "turned outward" and a defocused awareness is inward turned. This approach is like going backward but one is doing more than that as one is turning awareness 180 degrees. You are pushing, pulling or driving your awareness completely internally toward your Absolute Center. You must push all the way through to the "end." Turn your focus from your periphery to your Center. Disregard all pathways but the inward, internal and interior. Go into your Awareness.
3. Dropping Everything - This is complete, utter, total, surrender. It is releasing everything and holding Nothing. It is being left only with the Emptiness that fills Everything. You are dropping your body and your mind for Light and for Bliss. Losing nothing to gain everything. Don't pick and choose, just drop the entirety of your life, body, energy, psyche, everything without consideration or discrimination. You are holding an empty point in Space, just let it go! You cannot grasp, nor can you hold onto a small or even a vast volume of Space. Drop everything but Space Itself.
4. Expanding Outward - Your awareness is unlimited in all directions. Your body does not limit or define your awareness. Your psyche does not circumscribe your awareness. Your awareness is already everywhere, you just need to expand it a little to perceive this Fact. Expand your awareness in whatever direction you like, this is not an OBE, it is the natural state of Awareness. If you can see it, you already are it! Spread your awareness out into everything. Whenever and wherever your body moves, open your awareness omni-directionally. Reach out into Space with your awareness continually.
5. Filling Space - You fill all of Space or rather you are Space. Extend your awareness to fill the room your body is in or the location where your body is moving. Fill Space with Awareness. You will find that Space is Awareness and that Awareness is Space. Touch every point with your awareness. Awareness is Infinite, thus it can Infinitely Expand within Itself. If you can fill Space with awareness, you will see that Awareness is the Space of Everything. Continuously pour awareness into everything.
6. Letting Go - You are holding onto Space and Energy, one Still and the other Moving, you can grasp neither. Clench your fist and try to hold Space in your hand. Tense your body and try to stop energy from flowing. This is what most beings are doing with their own awareness, trying to hold onto a form of energy flowing through Space or grasping some point in Space and saying this is "me" or that is "mine." Space holds everything, including every hand. Let Space go and let Energy flow. Energy will not stop for an instant. Space is not an object. Energy is not an object. So, what are you holding onto? You are trying to do the impossible, to hold that which is formless and to grasp air. Let it go...let it go...let it go...
7. Merging With - Separation is misperception. Entering into the "other" and "becoming One" is the correction. Enter into the Oneness. Physical "oneness" or psychic "oneness" is not Spiritual Oneness. Get beneath or behind the forms of others to see the formless Essence that Unifies. Look into the Center of "others." You will see that there is only One Self, if you look in the right way. Look through "others" and see into "them." Find Who and What lies beneath All. Oneness is a Reality, a Fact, not a state, condition or experience. Get outside of your "self" and into the "other." There is only One between Us.
8. Going Between - A Space is perceived between objects. Bring awareness into the Space between objects or "self" and "other." Enter into, fill or experience the Space between every object. There is something between Everything and it is Oneness. Get outside of "self" and into this Space. All of your True Self lies outside of your "self." Go between. Get into the Space that is all around your body. Explore the "gap" between objects by filling it with awareness. In Space lies Enlightenment. In Oneness lies Love. In Awareness lies Bliss. Get between forms, behind experiences and beyond energies.
9. Getting Behind - The point of Enlightenment is reached when one gets beneath, behind, before and beyond the objects of Awareness. Step outside, drop beneath, get below, stand behind. Awareness is beyond forms. Your psyche is an aperture and your body is a lens. Awareness lies behind both body and mind. Your awareness is without aperture and without lens. Awareness does not need to focus in order to see but it must be defocused in order to be seen. Get behind the point where "focusing" or "consciousness" occurs to the Open Space of Infinite Awareness that is Oneness and Love. Happiness is not in the body or in the psyche, as it is the nature of the Spiritual.
To defocus awareness is to displace awareness outside of one's physical body. This displacement of awareness can be in any direction, whether Forward, Backward, Upward, Downward or Sideways. The displacement of awareness Forward is defocusing through Oneness. Displacing awareness Backward is defocusing through Awareness. To displace awareness Sideways or in any other direction is to defocus through Space. Defocusing is displacing awareness outside of or away from one's physical body. Given that awareness is already everywhere the perception of this fact requires a shifting of awareness from inside of the physical form to outside of the physical body. When awareness is displaced outside of the body, then awareness is defocused. When awareness is defocused that is when Happiness, Love and Peace become self-evident.
This is an outline of ten approaches to spiritual Enlightenment from the most direct approach to the least direct method. Each pathways has its own methodology and its own terminology. There are similarities and differences between the various perspectives, paths and practices but there are ultimately two basic principles that unite all approaches or methods of Self-Awareness for the purpose of Self-Realization/Enlightenment. What is the one element or principle that all of the most direct means to Self-Realization have in common? Defocusing of awareness. This is the one practice or principle that is present in all direct paths to Enlightenment. What is the single element that is integral to all of the least direct spiritual paths? Focusing of awareness.
Every roundabout way to Self-Awareness is based upon and rooted in practices of focusing of awareness. When one understands these two fundamental points, one is in a better position to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different spiritual practices, methods or disciplines. Is it a spiritual method or is it a psychological method? Does it focus awareness or does it defocus awareness? All ambiguity can be removed through understanding these two principles of practice.
Given that most spiritual practices are derived from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, this view explains the hit and miss nature of the majority of spiritual traditions. The fact of Patanjali's methodology forming the underpinnings of practically all spiritual practices and methods, within Yoga, Buddhism or Taoism may be due more to historical accident rather than to any significant practical misunderstanding, mistaken notions or major oversight on the part of the many spiritual teachers throughout history. There have always been two paths, one being based on the incorrect methodology of Patanjali and the other being based upon the correct methodology of defocusing awareness. The majority of approaches are founded upon the arguments and assumptions of Patanjaliand as a consequence are incorrect methodologies. The rarer practices are those that have elaborated methods based upon the correct methodology of defocusing awareness. These are the paths that have catalyzed and precipitated the most consistent results that speak for themselves.
This is not meant to be an attack upon or devaluation of methods for focusing awareness. Methods that focus awareness are useful, if properly understood and when appropriately applied. We need to focus awareness for many reasons and for a variety of purposes just not for Enlightenment. There is nothing wrong with focusing awareness per se, it is just an incorrect methodology or an inappropriate approach for Self-Awareness. Focusing of awareness may be a pathway to many things, such as success, creation, evolution, development, growth, learning and experience but it is an unreliable, inconsistent and variable method of or for Self-Awareness. A correct methodology for Self-Realization/Enlightenment can only be based upon the practice of the defocusing of awareness. An unfocused objectless awareness can only be achieved through the practice of defocusing awareness. Every object-focused awareness is only a distraction from the natural state of awareness which is realized directly through defocusing.
I include ten ways in my list to point one in the right practical directions. There may be new teachers, with new tricks or gimmicks but I doubt that many will surpass the indications to application given by each of these 10 paths/teachers/methods.
Here is the list of the ten ways to spiritual realization from the most effective to the least effective:
Recently, I had the good fortune to observe a Neo-Advaita teacher sitting side by side with a more traditional spiritual teacher. What I noticed immediately was how pushy and condescending the Neo-Advaita teacher seemed to be. I am in no way questioning the Realization of this teacher but...I was mildly annoyed, if not subtly offended by the fact that this teacher not only dominated the discussion but consistently attempted to push a certain position. This is a teacher whom I have seen personally once and whom I happen to like, as well as respect the teaching and presence of but...it was the Neo-Advaita conceptual position that disturbed me. Since,I also have reservations about traditional Advaita Vedanta as well, I will use this post to address my concerns or grievances with both approaches, philosophically, as well as methodologically.
Overall, I like Advaita Vedanta and on the whole I appreciate what Neo-Advaitin teachers are doing but...I see problems with both perspectives that need to be addressed. First, I need to talk about the problem of Advaitinment.
Advaitinment vs. Enlightenment
I have observed a trend in Neo-Advaita circles that possibly is also present in traditional Advaita Vedanta. It is was I am calling Advaitinment. What is this state of Advaitinment? This is the point when a practitioner begins to parrot what the teacher is saying, instead of actually experiencing "I Am That" directly. At this place called Advaitinment one is merely relating to the conceptual perspective of Advaita Vedanta as more of a belief system than as a means to direct spiritual experience. You will see people who may have had some kind of awareness of Self - at some time or the other - agreeing with the teacher, nodding their heads and criticizing other questioners ("because it is so obvious!"). But, generally, it is the case that those who have achieved Advaitinment are hangers-on who really don't understand experientially what the teacher is discussing or describing. Yes, they may have had a moment of Self-Awareness but a glimpse is not Self-Realization, nor is it Enlightenment.
The teachers are as much at fault as are the students because they fail to emphasize one principle or fact: that nothing must be done with thought but that something must be done with awareness. Either they do not understand or recognize this distinction themselves or they fail to mention it. Practice is absolutely necessary to Realize and to Abide in awareness. It must be a practice, in, of, by and for awareness only. In so far as Enlightenment or Self-Realization is an awareness of Reality, no it is not just a concept, it is an awareness. Concepts are not even the point. In fact, most Neo-Advaita teachers overemphasize concepts and under-emphasize awareness. This is precisely why knowledge of the Self is important and why methodology to Realize Self-Awareness is absolutely essential. Any other perspective makes students dependent upon the teacher for energy or for transmission but awareness cannot be transmitted. Only knowledge, methodology or energy can be transmitted. A teacher without knowledge and without method, only possesses energy to transmit but how often is that effective in and of itself?
Problems with Traditional Advaita Vedanta
My main issues with traditional Advaita Vedanta are two: philosophical and methodological. The philosophical perspective of the "unreality of the world" is not only false and contrary to all experience but may also be psychologically unhealthy. It is an absurd, impractical and invalid position that has no utility in either spiritual practice or in daily life. My personal opinion is that such a philosophical position is harmful socially, economically and psychologically. As for methodology, I can see no clearly practical and effective methods for Self-Realization within Advaita Vedanta prior to Ramana Maharshi. Maybe, this is unfair but I find no evidence to support the contrary view. Through, the method of Self-Inquiry, Ramana Maharshi made Advaita Vedanta philosophy pragmatic and useful. The entire approach of traditional Advaita Vedanta was conceptually-based intellectual practice, rather than awareness-based spiritual practice.
Problems with Neo-Advaita
Thankfully, most Neo-Advaitins don't harp too much about the "unreality of the world." It makes sense after all given that so many of them are Westerners. The main problem with Neo-Advaita is its lack of a clear methodology that is consistent and that is effective. One may argue that the same is true of most spiritual paths, ways or traditions and it would not be inaccurate to say so. The approach to Realization cannot merely be a negative one, as it must also be positive. You can say what the Self is not day and night, until you are blue in the face but it is what it is that is the most relevant point. The Self is Awareness, not concepts, forms or energies. There is a definite practice to Realize the Self though and it is distinguished by the criteria of an awareness of awareness. To ask the question over and over again, "who is happy," "who is aware," etc...is to introduce an absurdity ad infinitum.
This whole notion of never-ending, ever-subtler "egoes" that one must watch out for is silliness. There is awareness and awareness is Self. Keep it simple!
What is the Practice?
1. Recognize that awareness is focused.
2. Understand that whenever there is a focus of awareness, there is also a psychological position.
3. Notice that a psychological position is a localization of psychic energy that is unnecessary.
4. Know that there is no psychological position that can define, describe or circumscribe who and what you are.
5. Question all of your own psychological positions.
6. Begin to defocus your awareness with one of the following three approaches: By turning your focus inward coming to an awareness of Awareness;With an expansion of awareness outwardly, everywhere throughout Space;Through entering into the experience of total Oneness between "self" and "other."
7. Continue going backward; retreating from every object of experience; dropping everything; expanding in all directions; filling space; letting go; merging with every object of experience; entering into the space between "self" and "other"; getting behind, before or beneath "subject" and "object."
8. Where there is two-ness, find Oneness. Where there is form, find Space. Where there are objects, find Awareness.
9. Reach the perspective of unfocused objectless awareness.
10. Realize that this is your True Nature or Real Self, whileexperiencing uncaused happiness that is the intrinsic, innate and inherent Bliss of the Self.
What is a psychological position? In the journey to Self-Awareness, Self-realization and Enlightenment, a psychological position is the place where we all begin. Generally, it is called the 'ego,' 'personality,' 'false self,' ' the 'I' thought,' 'self-image,' 'self-concept,' or 'self-projection.' Many of these terms may have some truth or relevance but I find most of them to be inaccurate, unpractical and laden with too many connotations. Being much more than merely an "I" thought with a string of corresponding concepts attached, it is also a point of view, a point of reference and a point of focus. A psychological position is a self-referential thought process that is self-descriptive and that is self-definitive. The whole conceptual architecture of "I am this" or "I am that" is merely a complex psychological position that persists through focused awareness.
Psychological positions are plural within the human psyche. They are an outgrowth of the interaction of our physical form with the focus of our awareness and are experienced between the two. When awareness is focused, there is always a psychological position. In our search for or creation of a self-identity we manufacture a sense of self-integrity through maintenance of our psychological positions. We may do this due to our existential fears, our ignorance or our delusion. Our particular psychic positioning may be influenced by a variety of factors such as, sex, race, culture, age, religion, occupation, wealth, status, etc. Our psychic positioning may have a general orientation such as introversion or extroversion and may possess specific focuses such as toward activities, relationships or thinking. Although, our unique psychological positions are internally determined, they are always externally influenced.
The majority of psychological positions are unnecessary constructs requiring focus and energy to maintain that also inhibit the natural circulation of psychic energy. The energetic matrix of psychic positions is composed of the same energy that maintains the physical body. It is in the functionality of the mental, emotional and physical psychic energies - of a gaseous/plasma nature - that the false sense of "self" is experienced. The True Self is Awareness. This is where true identity is to be found. Any psychological position is not-self. It is necessary to become free of our psychological positions through defocusing awareness. Focusing awareness fosters psychic positionality. Without the focusing of awareness, psychological positionality is impossible to sustain. This is the dilemma that we are faced with, to find our Self we must lose our "self."
10 Steps to Psychological Depositioning
How does one deposition psychologically? The first step to psychological depositioning must be away from the physical body. The second step is to defocus awareness by whatever means. The third step is to deconstruct your psychic positions by analyzing the mutability and unreliability of all psychological positions, past or present. The fourth step is to acknowledge or recognize that your physical body is not who you are, given that it changes and You do not. The fifth step is to question every story that you have told yourself or that you have been told about yourself. The sixth step is to reorient your awareness in non-physical and in non-psychological directions. The seventh step is to question every self-referential thought process, as being an accurate description or definition of who you are. The eighth step is to question every aspect of your own psychological self-description. The ninth step is to question every side of your own psychological self-definition. The tenth step is to find the You that is beyond definition, before description and outside of the experience of self-referential thought processes.
Happiness is without cause. There is nothing in this world that you can do to experience happiness. It is impossible to choose happiness through deciding to be happy or positive no matter what. There is no emotional experience that is comparable to real happiness. You cannot think enough positive thoughts that can equal or compare to true happiness. There is no object in your experience that can give you happiness. No person, place or thing can make you happy. You cannot look to others for happiness or to any accomplishment that is apart from your Self. There is no way, path or practice that will lead you to happiness. The only true happiness is uncaused. The ultimate happiness is eternal, without beginning or end.
You can create all that you want through focusing but you cannot find happiness through any focus. Happiness is experienced in an unfocused awareness. Not a single object in your experience possesses happiness and yet everything is bathed in Bliss. Happiness is objectless and is present everywhere. If you want to find happiness by looking for it, don't look someplace or somewhere, instead look no place and see everywhere. Awareness is pointless, without a point of reference or center. Happiness is never to be found in sensations, feelings or thoughts. Self is not sensation. Awareness is not thought. Oneness is not feeling. Before experience there is Bliss and after experience there is Bliss.
You can change everything in your environment, in your relationships and in your psyche but you will not find happiness through any change. Happiness is only intrinsic to the Changeless. What is constant in your experience? There is an element of constancy in every experience. What is it? Find it! Yes, improvement and betterment are possible through change but lasting happiness is impossible to achieve through any change. Happiness is your nature. Within your inmost, innate, inherent, intrinsic nature is where happiness always is. Bliss is your Being. There is no greater happiness or love than your own Awareness. This principle cannot truly be understood until it is experienced.
To find happiness, one must stop looking for it where it cannot be found. To experience bliss, one must stop looking in ways that focus awareness. Happiness cannot be found but it can be known, seen, recognized, discovered, realized, understood and experienced. How does one experience happiness? There is only One Happiness and there is only one way to experience it: shift from a focused awareness of objects to a defocused awareness that is objectless. Your existence is not object-based, it is Space-based. Your identity does not require objects to orient itself or for self-reference. Your Self does not require points of reference. Not focusing awareness is synonymous with seeing the unlimited, Infinite and Absolute nature of Awareness. Defocusing is Bliss.
How does one defocus awareness? Try it with your eyes. First, focus your eyes on some object, now defocus them or make it fuzzy. Take your camera. Zoom in, then zoom out. With awareness, focusing is like zooming in and defocusing is like zooming out. Put on your glasses for seeing or reading. Now, take them off. Look through the lens of the telescope. Now, see the whole scene. Look at near objects as though they are far and far objects as though they are near. Get in your car and look out through your window. Now, get out of your car and look around. Talk on the phone. Then talk face to face. Go straight from point A to point B. Now, meander. Be a local. Now, become a tourist. Take your usual route. Then try a new path. Look at the top of the hill. Then go and look out from the top of the hill. Walk in a straight line. Now, walk in a circle. Walk forward to a wall, then walk backward to the other wall. Get as close to some object as you can. Now, get further and further away.
Through focusing there is the perception of proximity and through defocusing there is the perception of distance but there is only a change in perspective not in relative position. Usually, we change our experience through changing our relative position, so we exchange one group of objects of focus for another. The most immediate and direct means of orienting our experience towards happiness is through defocusing awareness. We are not changing relative position but we are changing our perspective from one of a focus upon objects to an awareness of awareness. This awareness of awareness is the only "cause" of or for happiness. Exchanging one object of focus for another is not going to bring us any closer to happiness. Awareness is position-less. The Bliss of Enlightenment can only be realized by freedom from all psychological positions through the defocusing of awareness. There is no psychological position that defines or describes who or what you are, as who and what you are is only Awareness.
There are nine distinct approaches for defocusing awareness. The purpose of defocusing is Enlightenment experience. There are three ways to look at the defocusing of awareness: 1. as a single approach, 2. as three approaches, or 3. as nine approaches. Each way of looking at it is correct from a certain vantage point. Yes, there is only one way to experience Enlightenment and it is through defocusing awareness. There are also three main ways to go about this: through Awareness; through Space; through Oneness...and there are three ways to approach each of these pathways to Realization. This makes for the nine ways of defocusing awareness that follow:
1. Go Backward - Retreat into yourself. Step backward until you can go no further. Back away from everything. Back step into awareness. Retract into yourself. Withdraw into your shell. Drawback your awareness. Collapse awareness towards center. Recoil from the known. Pull back. Recede into awareness.
2. Turn Inward - Reverse your gaze. Dive into awareness. Immerse awareness inwardly. Leap within. Turn awareness upon awareness. Jump inward. Go all the way inside yourself. Find your Center. Know your Center. Go deep within. Dig into yourself. Enter the inmost. Practice inwardness. Cultivate Inconsciousness. Develop Inawareness. Look inward. See within.
3. Drop Everything - Hold onto nothing. Just drop everything. Surrender all. Give up everything. Leave everything behind. Break away from everything. Take nothing with you. Drop your body like it is a corpse. Drop your mind like a hot potato. Relinquish every burden. Loose every bond. Don't even think of looking back. Give everything away.
1. Expand Outward - Grow your awareness into everything. Pour awareness into space. Open awareness outward in all directions. Expand the circle or sphere of your awareness in every direction. Radiate awareness everywhere. Extend awareness to the East, to the West, to the North, to the South, Heavenward and Earthward. Open awareness to include all and everything.
2. Fill Space - Fill your body with awareness. Fill your psyche with awareness. Fill your room with awareness. Fill space with awareness. Fill the sky with awareness. Fill every experience with awareness. Fill every object with awareness. Fill everything with awareness. Fill all directions with awareness.
3. Let Go - Set yourself down. Let everything just fall away. Float in space. Rest freely. Release all cares. Open wide; become wide-open. Yield everything. Resist nothing. Melt into space. Fall into love. Allowing whatever. Welcoming all. Softening awareness. Embracing experience. Submerge into being. Sink into awareness. Swimming in relaxed focus. Receiving all. Letting everything go.
1. Merge With - Enter completely into the other. Penetrate to the center of objects. Come together in Unity. Get inside of what you see. Perceive form, within Essence. See only one object. Experience only Oneness. Find the Origin or Source of the other. Blend with everything. See yourself in everyone. Get beneath appearances.
2. Go Between - Move into the space between self and other. Find the One between the two. Fill the gap between subject and object. Experiencethe space of Oneness. Find the Center of everything. Get into the middle of every experience. See what connects self and other. Perceive the field containing subject and object. Get to the bottom of relationship.
3. Get Behind - Step outside of yourself. Get behind yourself. Stand back from yourself. Step away from yourself. Get beside yourself. Watch yourself from a distance. See yourself from up and away. Hide in the background. See the Whole picture. Watch the Whole show. Take the highest and furthest vantage point. Know prior to experience. Know what is before experiencing.
Almost everyone wants to be happy and most will choose happiness over suffering. There are a few who prefer suffering over happiness but they are the exception. Everyone knows what suffering is and how to do it, so there is no real need to discuss it. Happiness is the question. What is happiness? How is it achieved? What causes happiness to be experienced? Why?
Like love, happiness is an overused and misused word that most do not really understand through experience. In fact, love and happiness are the same experience, for to experience one is to experience the other. What is love? Happiness. What is happiness? Love.
Real happiness can be discussed to a point but the experience of happiness is indescribable. We can call it Light, Bliss, Oneness, Space or Love...but, these terms can never do it justice. The experience of Love or Happiness can be described to a degree but only up to a certain point. The ultimate happiness is like the ultimate high but without a low. No false high can compare to the True High. Every false high is momentary, temporary or fleeting and each carries its own costs. The True High of Happiness is permanent, abiding and unchanging.
Happiness may be described as a clear, luminous, crystalline, space of oneness that is blissfully-joyous, lovingly expansive and free, without obstacle, limitation or boundary in any direction.
The experience is without words. This happiness is always fresh and new. The nature of this happiness is the nature of your Self. Never coming, never going. Always and Forever. Endless Bliss. This is the only true or spiritual happiness.
How to be Happy
Happiness is the nature of your awareness. The way to understand and experience happiness or love is to understand and experience your own awareness. There are different ways to go about it but the principle is the same: defocus awareness. This is the shortcut to experiencing and understanding your awareness. It is as simple as it sounds because if you can focus, you can defocus. What you can focus upon can become a means to defocusing. Where you can focus can become a way to defocusing. In the nuttiest shell: defocusing is Bliss.
You can defocus through three main pathways: Awareness, Space or Oneness. Turning inward is defocusing through Awareness. Expanding outward is defocusing through Space. Entering into the other is defocusing through Oneness. Though, the practices may seem distinct the principle is the same. Any practice that defocuses awareness will bring one to the experience of happiness. By defocusing awareness one comes to an awareness of awareness or to Self-Awareness. This is the place of Bliss.
Other Ways to Describe this Bliss
You couldn't experience enough orgasms to compare with this innate and intrinsic happiness.
All of the laughter of your entire lifetime condensed into a single, pure mirth might give an indication of this joy.
A moment of this Bliss washes away decades of pain.
Every drug in the world rolled into a single substance and freed of all side effects or harmful consequences couldn't match this natural state of awareness.
A million dollars seems like so much confetti or monopoly money from this awareness of total bliss.
Even a Cadillac pales in comparison!
No experience, whether physical or psychic can equal, match or compare to the spiritual awareness of happiness.
There is a myth in spiritual circles. It is that words cannot describe Enlightenment. I disagree. Yes, it is true that the Bliss of Self-Awareness is indescribable...and yet, we can still call it Bliss. I know from experience that language can be an aid towards experience. There is a language that is not quite poetry and not exactly prose, that I call an experiential language. Such a language facilitates spiritual experience, if or when it is effective. This kind of language is possible. The question is how to create it.
Words not only express sound, they also convey information and can carry energy. Language can be a force or a power for Enlightenment. The meaning is not as important as the experience that is imparted. An experiential language can be utilized for sharing experience or to guide one to a spiritual experience. A few key ideas, concepts or principles must be introduced into the intellect that help in turning awareness in a new direction - any new direction will do!
There is a path of defocusing that one can be guided along, a wayless way. But, then again, there is no path and there is no way. In truth, there is no forward, backward, inward or outward. The awareness you seek is the awareness that See's. Words are meant only to bring you to Self-Awareness. Once you reach this point, stay with the experience and forgo the wordy for the Wordless. Before resting, first you must leap.
Language pushes you back to your Center. Words unweave your gaze. Formless is your Nature. The Essence is in Seeing. Stop looking, start Seeing. But, there is nothing to see. Unsee. Unlook. Uncork the champagne bottle. I assure you, Bliss is everywhere. Don't believe, disbelieve. Doubt your present awareness. Assume nothing. Conclude not. Knowing is achieved through Unknowing.
What you think you know about yourself is false. What you think you know about others is questionable. Do you really know whatever you think you know? How can you be sure? How can you test your knowledge against reality? How can you reality-check? What if everything you think that you know is wrong? If you want real answers, question all of it!
The only way to go forward is to go backward. There is no way in but out. There is no bottom or top. High, low, limit or bound are meaningless concepts based on inaccurate experience. Get to the bottom. Reach up to the top. Does experience begin here in this sphere of thought/emotion/sensation? Does it end here? Does awareness begin or end? If it begins, then let me find the beginning and if it ends let me find the end. Where is this limit or boundary to consciousness? If it is limited or bounded, let me find these limitations or boundaries of my consciousness. What am I waiting for? What if there is no limit to my consciousness? What if my consciousness is without boundary? If I know not my Self, what can I possibly know for sure?
What is my experience? It is movement but...there is something else. There is something else going on. Some undefinable property that...has a name. Since, it is not moving and it is everywhere, it must be Still Space. What is this unseen, unknown, unsung aspect of my experience? It is always there. Why do I notice movements but not Stillness? What is Stillness? Bodies move and minds move, but what is still? Movement can never "just happen," it is always Happened. What moves the moving? Where does the moving move? Are you moving or still?Which are you?Still or moving, moving or Still? Is seeing moving or still?
Where are you? Are you here? Are you there? Locate yourself. Where is your center? Is there a center to you? If so, surely you can find it. Wouldn't you already be at center, if you had one? Where is center and what is it? If you cannot find your center, then how do you know that you exist? Do you exist? Prove it! Your body exists. Your thoughts exist. What I am asking is, do you exist? Can you find yourself? Can you locate your identity? What is at your center? Do you know? What is your existence?
You cannot expand, you are already there. You cannot contract, you are already here. The Infinite is the Quintessential and the Absolute is the Ultimate. To not move is to Be and to Be is to Know. To Know is to See and to See is Happiness. Move but don't move. Don't move yet move. You are vast Space, without limit, beginning, end, boundary, definition, shape, form or pattern. Now, that you know what you are. Try to find your Self! You cannot hold what is everywhere. You cannot find what is nowhere. But, you can Look, you can Know and you can Find. To find something, you must look somewhere. Something is Awareness, somewhere is Space. Oneness is the way. Seeing is Oneness.
Light. Spiritual Light. Eternal Light. You are Light. Where there is Light, there is Self. Find your Light. Light sees Light. By Light you See Light. Through Light you Know Light. Your Nature is Light. Experience only happens through Light. Omniscience is the Light of Knowing that is everywhere. It is All-Knowing, not all-knowledge. Knowing and All-Ness are in Oneness. We think we know it all and we are right, we do. All is Known as One in Awareness. Essence is One, details are in forms. There is Light in You, through this Light, All Light is Seen.
All-Knowing is All-Presence. Omniscience is omnipresence. The power of everything is in the presence of everything. Omnipotence is All-Creative and All-Transcending. Power is unlimited by forms. Grace is Universal. The Light of Bliss is everything. God is Self in All. Presence is everywhere. Knowing is in everything. Power is creative potential. Space is ever-present, ever-knowing and ever-potent. Look deeply into Space. When you look into Space, you are seeing your Self. The Space of your Awareness includes all in a vast Oneness. See that if you dare.
To See Self, Recline. See your Seeing. Know your Knowing. Be your Being. Rest your gaze. Let your gaze rest. Looking nowhere, Seeing everywhere. You need no more experiences.You have already seen it all. New experiences are old experiences. The Eternal Experience is the Ultimate Experience.Can you truly find your Self? Not really. Find your hand, your eye, your thought. Can you find what is not lost? Is your awareness of Self ever further than a slight shift?Stop looking for what you are, by looking at what you are. What is Seeing? What is Looking? What is Knowing? See Seeing. Look into Looking. Know Knowing. Awareness is Infinite in all directions, as is Space, Self, Oneness. There is no end to your Self.
Do you really want to see? You already See. Do you really want to know? You already Know. Whatever attracts you,look away. Then look inways. Become unconscious to whatever you are conscious of. Then becomeinconscious. Become unaware of what you are aware of. Then become inaware. Look somewhere, now See Everywhere. Look nowhere, See Enlightenment.
You can never lose Consciousness; it is impossible. Try to lose Awareness; you gain it.
How far inward can you go? How far outward can you go? How far into the other can you go?
try it. see it for yourself. you must look. you must see. I just point!
Enlightenment is a loaded term carrying many connotations. Some of which may accurately describe or reflect the actual experience of Enlightenment and others that may not. It is a term that is used interchangeably with the Awakening of the Buddha. The Awakening of Enlightenment is similar to the experience of Self-Realization, the distinction being in terms of duration only. Self-Realization is a recognition of the nature of the Self and its permanence, even if the awareness is brief. Enlightenment proper is an abiding awareness of Self.
Enlightenment can "just happen" but generally it does not. In most situations what is required is Knowledge, Methodology and/or Transmission. The Buddha Awakened through "just sitting" and Ramana Maharshi Realized through "experiencing" the death of his body. There is no question that such direct approaches can have immediate results. The question really comes down to what the Buddha and Ramana both did, how they did it and why it was effective for Awakening or Realization. It must also be noted that in both the Zen Buddhist tradition and in Ramana Maharshi's teaching there is Transmission. Again, the three questions are: What is Enlightenment?How is it Realized? Why?
Enlightenment is knowledge and experience of Self, through Self-Awareness and through Self-Realization. When one experiences awareness of awareness, this is Self-Awareness. The Realization that is Awakening is not an event, it is a process. Through an on-going process of active self-questioning, self-looking and self-seeing one begins to come to Self-Awareness. When this point is reached, Awakening or Realization of Self becomes possible. Enlightenment is impossible without awareness of the Self.
The next logical question is:What is the Self?
There are three ways to look at this question. The first way to approach this problem is from the standpoint of who the Self is. The second path to the answer to this question is what the Self is. Door number three is the challenge of where the Self is. There are many ways to answer these three questions but only the experiential answer counts. Although, this is a basic fact, still it is necessary, useful and meaningful to have some general idea, concept or understanding of who, what and where the Self is.
The shortest - if not the best - answer to who the Self is, can be stated simply as: The Self is Who You Are and it is Who I Am. In other words, there is only One Self between the two of us. The Self is Awareness; the Knower, the Looker, the Seer. It is the Who before there is a "you." Basic Being that Is, that is Aware. Who, is the how, by which every experience is Known. How do you Know? Who Knows? By Whom is all experience Known? By You! Who you are is Ultimate Identity before individuality, essence or form. The Ultimate Experiencer. Who is not two! Who we both are is One and the Same. That is Who You Are.
In a word, what the Self is, Is Space. The Space that is Infinite and Absolute. What kind of Space? Clear, pure, free, happy, crystalline, open, all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-enfolding, all-enveloping, etc...and, Blissful Space. A Love that is Unitive, indiscriminate, within all, between all and throughout all. Thus, there exists everywhere a blissful, loving peace that is Total Happiness. As Yogananda said an Ever-New Joy that is nonetheless constant, continuous and unchanging. It is cool enough to be carefree, happy-go-lucky and humorous, yet crazy enough to be ecstatic. Words cannot describe this Happiness; it must be experienced. Take every drug or drink you can think of, roll all of their affects into one, while removing any and all of the negative or ill side effects...and you might have an approximation of what this Happiness is like. This is WHAT YOU ARE!
There is no where, where the Self is, not. Strictly speaking, location does not apply to the Self, though direction does. There is an orientation, direction or emphasis that brings one to Self-Awareness. That having been said, the Self is the everywhere Oneness that is nowhere. There is a direction, into Oneness, into Awareness or into Space but...there is no location. The Self is Omni. You can Realize Enlightenment in any direction, in no direction, in every direction, through no method or through any method...it all depends upon your emphasis. Whether your focus is to a point or not determines your emphasis. Where, is as much Here as it is There and equally There as it is Here. This is Where your Self is Now, as Being.
Just as there is a what to Enlightenment, there is also a way or a how. If I am already this, why don't I know itand how do I realize it? Good questions. I'm glad that you asked them!
We must begin with awareness. The way that awareness works is in three modes: focused, defocused and unfocused. The unfocused mode is the Enlightened Awareness that has already been described, so we will address only focused and defocused awareness. These two modes of awareness are relevant to our two questions.
So, why don't I know it? The answer is focus. When awareness is focused the experience is everything but Enlightened. Focused awareness is object awareness. When the focal point is objects, awareness is focused. When awareness is objectless, it is diffuse. The objects themselves are not the problem, it is the focusing of awareness that causes identity problems and reality crises. Although, it is possible to Realize Oneness through focusing intently upon a single object...still, the general rule is that focusing awareness distracts one from Enlightenment. By focusing awareness upon objects one is bringing awareness away from one's intrinsic nature, which is happiness. The suffering follows. The basis for all ignorance, illusion or delusion comes through focusing awareness upon objects, rather than upon Awareness, Space or Oneness.
Okay, so, how do I realize it? There is only one way, though there are many ways to go about it. The way to Realize, to Awaken, is to defocus awareness. There is no other way or means. This is it. The descriptions may be many but the basic practice is simple. You defocus awareness by not focusing awareness. Defocused awareness is a transitional mode of awareness between focused and unfocused awareness. If focused awareness gravitates towards objects, then defocused awareness opens away from objects. The emphasis of focused awareness is objects, whereas the emphasis of defocused awareness is Awareness, Space or Oneness. It is not so much where you look but rather how you look that determines whether you are Enlightened or not. Do you focus or do you not-focus? When you see others, defocus. When you see your body, defocus. To defocus is to make everything fuzzy, so that all becomes clear.
To defocus through Awareness, turn awareness inward towards awareness. To defocus through Space, expand awareness outward until it is objectless. To defocus through Oneness, get behind yourself, enter into the other or into the middle between the two.
Energy can be transmitted that precipitates, catalyzes or facilitates Enlightenment experiences. This energy is called psychic but it is more than likely composed of gases and/or plasmas carrying magnetic polarity and conducting electric charge that are patterned by frequencies of sound. My own personal experiences, combined with insights that I have gleaned, confirmed or that I share with G. I. Gurdjieff and Richard Rose convinces me that the so-called "subtle" energies are an amalgam of magnetic, electrical and sound frequency forces acting upon substances that are in the gaseous and/or in the plasma phases of matter. In order to transmit the substances of Enlightenment or of healing, one must cultivate them. It is definite that gases other than oxygen can be breathed into one's life. It is possible that sexual fluid, once distributed throughout the physical body can be converted into a gas, possibly carbon gas.
The relationship between the gases and plasmas of the human being may be similar to the relationship between solids and liquids. If this theory is correct, then scientific confirmation should be relatively simple. The sooner we can see these substances through technological means, the less need we will have for unreliable and subjective "psychics." If this is true, then there is no such thing as psychic phenomena. There may well be a physics of the psyche that is gaseous/plasma based. I have experienced so many instances of breathing in lighter gases than oxygen that I am convinced on that particular point. I have experienced the sexual fluid spontaneously being drawn into the bloodstream. I have absorbed magnetism/electricity into my body and experienced the whole range of physical and electrical effects through my own experience of the "Kundalini process." From my own perspective and experience it is all physics or rather it is all based on a physics of psychology.
What is certain is that the energy of Transmission and healing are both composed of the same energies that grow, develop and sustain the physical body. Understanding the one can help in the understanding of the other. I will add that although Transmission is great when it occurs, one cannot depend on it for Self-Awareness, Self-Realization or Enlightenment. The best way to approach Self-Realization is through application of a practical Methodology based on a relatively accurate theoretical Knowledge of what Enlightenment is and how it is Realized. In ten words: Self-Knowledge is Realized through the Method of Defocusing Awareness.
Neo-Advaita is what it sounds like a "new" Advaita. It is largely a Western phenomenon though it has Eastern precedents. I will not attempt to analyze Neo-Advaita in a historical fashion or in comparison or contrast to the so-called "real," "true," or original Advaita. Frankly, I see such discussions as intellectually meaningful but as spiritually useless and irrelevant. Advaita simply means non-dual or the realization of nonduality, as it is more of a description of an experience than it is of a philosophy. The emphasis of Advaita old or new is practical, being aimed at the direct experience of Self, through knowledge, experience, transmission, awareness, understanding, Realization and Enlightenment.
Neo-Advaita is a more recent Westernized "movement" that is based on Satsangs or gatherings that are centered around a spiritual teacher. On the whole I think that the Neo-Advaita movement is a good development given that it makes spirituality accessible and available to everyone in a no-frills fashion. Much of the initial thrust of Neo-Advaita seems to have been centered in and around Poonja. Apparently, he received transmission of energy from Ramana Maharshi and realized Enlightenment. As people came to him for teaching he transmitted energy and Enlightened a number of individuals. His whole message was along the lines of "stop," "don't think," "you are already That." There was no clear methodology per se...but, he was effective! The problem with Neo-Advaita was not Poonja but the misinterpretation or misunderstanding of Poonja. Though, his approach did work, it was touchy-feely, anti-intellectual and depended mostly upon his capacity to transmit Enlightening energy.
The point is that the purpose of Advaita is to Realize Truth, not merely to "feel your way to it," "just get it" or merely to "affirm or parrot whatever the teacher says." The Advaita path is ultimately a spiritual path of knowledge that leads to direct experience. The two main problems with Neo-Advaita are its lack of a clear methodology for Self-Realization and that it is more of a belief system or a faith than it is a system for experiencing Enlightenment. When it comes to Advaita, the experiential is more important than the philosophical. Without clear methods based upon real understanding of the process - that work - what can one teach and how? This is exactly where most Neo-Advaita teachers find themselves. They have the experience and the Realization. The majority of them are truly Enlightened but...few understand the process of Realization and fewer still have a clear methodology for Enlightenment. Only a handful possess the energy necessary for transmission.
Neo-Advaita has potential but it lacks the three necessary ingredients of understanding, methodology and transmission. The understanding being based on a knowledge of what Enlightenment is and how it is Realized. The methodology is the defocusing of awareness through whatever means. Transmission can only occur when one possesses sufficient psychic energy. These three principles must be understood and must be developed to be incorporated into a teaching system, if a teacher is to be consistently effective. I still think that the more teachers the better...but the more complete the teaching is the more effective the teachers will be. The soil can only be prepared so long before it must produce. It must be made clear that being Enlightened is not the same as understanding Enlightenment. Likewise, the awareness in itself is no guide towards methodology. Where you are at is not as important as how you got there. Most spiritual teachers don't really know where they are or how they got there!
Energy development is another matter altogether. Most Enlightened teachers have energy, just not the right frequencies of energy. A preacher with the "Holy Spirit" often possesses more of the "right stuff" for healing or transmission, than many who are Enlightened. Practices of energy cultivation may be especially helpful to those who are Enlightened for the purposes of healing and transmission. If you can't give it, others can't get it! There is no round about way to go about it. One cannot give understanding that they do not possess or share a methodology that they do not have. As far as psychic energy, either one has developed it over the course of one's spiritual path or one has not.
First, become a teacher, then teach.
As for the solution to the philosophical problems in old Advaita and the methodological problems of Neo-Advaita they may be solved through a synthesis of the old and the new. Just as Zen synthesized Buddhism, Shintoism and Taoism, likewise there can be a new synthesis within Advaita that is more practical, simplified, clarified and effective. The experience of Enlightenment is the most important point. This is why it is necessary to define what it is and it is absolutely essential to describe how to get there. Without a destination how can one begin and without a compass how can one have direction? The paradox inherent in Enlightenment is no excuse for not trying to figure it out...yes, we are trying to get somewhere and yes, it is nowhere and yes, it is everywhere. If we want to swim in the Light, we must be willing to grope in the dark!
Spirituality is an area of knowledge like all others. One must study and practice, to learn and to experience. Enlightenment is a short leap but spirituality is a life-long path.
Everything begins with a question. Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? It does not matter whether it is a spiritual, philosophical, scientific, psychological or if it is a practical question; all pursuits begin with a question. A pursuit of knowledge begins with one set of questions and a pursuit of Truth begins with another. The psychological pursuit entails a similar but distinct set of questions from the spiritual pursuit. Even in economic life it all comes down to the question of one occupation or another. Life is turned this way or that due to simple questions that are generally, "yes" or "no." There really is no such thing as "maybe." Some questions are simple and some are more complex but all answers are simple.
Most questions take the form of an "I don't know!" and are an acknowledgment of the limitations of our own knowledge, experience, capacities or faculties. To question is to keep oneself honest. When there is a genuine not-knowing there is also an openness to seeing, looking and learning. The beginners mind of Zen that Shunryu Suzuki spoke of is impossible without questions and an openness to learning. There is another more basic and important value to questioning and it is to not begin with any presumptions, assumptions or premature conclusions. This is a principle that Richard Rose spelled out very clearly that one must not begin with any preconceptions about what one will find in the spiritual search, if one is not to delude or deceive oneself. The questions are more important than the answer because the wrong questions will mislead and the right questions will bring one to Truth.
Spiritual awareness is realized when the right questions meet a questioning mind.
Questions by there very nature shift awareness into a more defocused frame and just like the Koan of Zen, the correct question in the proper context can be a catalyst for Self-Realization. The question is the questions. What questions get at the very essence of human being? What questions get at the roots of creation? Are there any questions that are unanswerable that will stop thought and precipitate Self-Awareness? Can the finite mind realize the Infinite, without cracking or breaking? How can the mind be tested or stretched to its limits, without producing insanity but in a manner that induces Enlightenment instead? There are such questions and there is such a question. Life is one. Self is another. I offer only a tentative or partial list of questions to add to any that you have already read, heard or posed to yourself. I offer them as much to challenge as to Enlighten.
Questions for Enlightenment (and for other things)
Where do I end and you begin?
Does my self have a beginning or an end?
By what and how do I define where my self originates or terminates?
What is "my" self? What is "your" self?
How do I find the limits of my existence?
Is my existence limited? By what? By whom? Where? How?
How do I know that I am who and what I say I am?
When others describe me, can their description ever be accurate?
Who can know my self better than I can?
When I define myself from within, is my self-definition a true one?
What if I don't know my self?
What if I deceive my self?
How can I reality-check my own self-definition?
How can I test the other-perceptions of my self against fact?
What is the ultimate measure of "who I am"?
Even if I am certain of "who I am," does that answer the question as to "what I am"?
How can I measure the reliability of an externally imposed or an internally generated "self-image," as being an accurate reflection of "who I am" or of "what I am"?
d.) all of the above
e.) none of the above
f.) a little of this and a little of that
What Am I?
Who Am I
Where Am I?
How do I determine what I am?
How can I know who I am?
What is the location of my knowing?
Is knowing somewhere, everywhere or nowhere?
Is knowing changing or is it a constant?
What is knowing? How is knowing known?
Am I constant or am I changing?
Is change seen or is change my being?
What is constant?
What is changing?
What fills this gap or space between awareness and the physical body?
What exactly is "psychic" energy? Is it really gaseous-plasma?
Can the psyche be described by plasma physics?
Are psychic energies merely gas fueled plasmas that are shaped, formed and maintained by electromagnetism?
Are the operations of psychic phenomena due to known chemical elements in gaseous and plasma phases that can be described by a physics of psychology?
What is energy and what is information?
If energy carries information, does information carry energy?
Are information and energy equivalent?
Is energy defined by a particle?
Is information described by a wave?
Are these two forms of the same phenomenon?
What is the relationship of both information and energy to awareness?
Is not a human being merely a composition of informational waves and energetic particles arising within a medium of awareness?
What differentiates the physical from the psychic?
Is the physical mostly solids and liquids?
Is the psychic mostly gases and plasmas?
How do the physical/psychic relate to the soul/spiritual?
Is evolutionary development based upon bodies composed of gaseous-plasmas?
Are the energies of life and of healing gaseous-plasma based?
Does magnetism govern all relationships through polarity, spin and charge?
Does sound pattern all forms through tones or frequencies of information?
Is light merely an expression of magnetism and sound?
What are the spaces, frequencies, particles, spheres, vortices, matrices and resonances of the human being?
The Value, Importance and Necessity of Spiritual Breakthroughs
Enlightenment comes through insights, moments and instants of spiritual breakthrough. The path to Self-Realization is a process comprised of experiences that are of a categorically different and distinct nature from the typical, average or usual awareness or experience of human beings. In one sense, Enlightenment is ordinary and in another sense, it is extraordinary. It is the extraordinary experiences or the breakthroughs that will guide one to the ultimate experiences or to the fundamental understanding. The work, the focus, the intensity, the effort and the drive in spiritual practice is aimed at achieving spiritual breakthroughs. The whole point and purpose of the "spiritual path" is only the spiritual breakthrough.
Without spiritual breakthroughs, Enlightenment remains a fantasy, an idea or merely an imagined possibility or a hypothetical reality. One must strive for direct experience through breakthroughs, from one's present awareness to a spiritual awareness. There must be an inward drive, push or pull that propels one into whatever psychic action seems most likely to result in a new, fresh or different awareness of oneself. Meditation is not enough. Prayer is not enough. Concentration is insufficient. There must be a deep, sustained and open engagement of awareness with the whole of creation if Oneness is to be perceived. Likewise, there needs to be a tremendous thrust inward that plumbs the very depths of one's Self, if Awareness is to be known directly. Further, awareness must explode in all directions penetrating into all forms for Space to be seen as the Clear Light of Bliss.
The leap from the known to the Unknown, from the finite to the Infinite is a short one but it is a leap nonetheless. Awareness must be shifted, switched or turned that there may be a breakthrough, not merely of a psychological nature but rather of a spiritual nature. It is a breaking away from one's present focus and breaking through to another experience or awareness of Self. One breakthrough leads to another and all lead inexorably towards a Final, Absolute and Total breakthrough. You must breakthrough to Oneness by seeing beneath, behind or before duality and separation. You must breakthrough to Awareness by turning completely inward and by "by going all the way" into your Self. You must breakthrough to Space by expanding, widening and extending until you are nothing but everything and until you are none but all.
Spiritual breakthroughs always precede spiritual Realization and spiritual Enlightenment. In breaking through spiritually, one is recognizing and revealing the Ultimate Nature of everything, which is Eternal Bliss. Which means unchanging, permanent and abiding happiness that is pure spiritual Light and that is non-physical, non-psychic and other than containing all Grace is non-energetically based. The point of spiritual realization is to know one's true identity and to experience happiness. It is through spiritual breakthroughs that one ultimately achieves this end or goal. Thus, the ultimate spiritual breakthrough is also the ultimate spiritual happiness.
Break inward to your Core, to the very Center, to the Heart of Being. Keep digging deeply into your own Self. Your Awareness Is Infinite.The end is endless. Look backward, not forward! Turn inward, not outward! Look into the looker. Step outside of your life. Before you...STOP! DON'T MOVE! FREEZE! Begin in this state. Question, Doubt, Uncertainty. Start there. Not-knowing is the way to Knowing. Just don't know!
Break outward like rays of light, reaching everywhere, touching everything. You reach the Infinite, Right Here. You cannot move without touching the Infinite. Extend beyond your limits. Expand outside of your bounds. Were you ever less than Infinite? Reach out and touch every point in Space. Can anything stop you? You think...but you are wrong! Space is You and You are Space. Look into the Space that seemingly surrounds "you" and see your Original Face. Space is the Being that is Here and Now, always, already, everywhere, endless and eternal. There is nothing outside of This.
Breakthrough to the Oneness that envelops, contains, fills all creation. Seeing is One with the seen. Being is One with the doing. I-ing is One with the you-ing. The Center is everywhere, nowhere, just Presence. Look at that, it is You. See her, she is You. The felon is You. The homeless man is You. Every tree is your Self. Every bird is your Being. The wall is filled with your own Spirit. Every sight, contains Truth. Every sound, resonates Light. There is no experience that is not contained within You. There are no objects, only Life-Saturated Self-Expressions. No matter which direction you turn, you cannot turn from your Self. If you want to find your Self, look everywhere, into everyone and within everything. You are already there! Look and see for your Self.
As has been stated in previous posts there are three basic ways to achieve awareness of Self, which is the precursor of Self-Realization/Enlightenment. The three means to defocused awareness are through Awareness, through Space and through Oneness. Each approach can be utilized for the defocusing of awareness. I will explore each of these methods separately through an experiential language or through a language that facilitates direct experience of the Self. In this particular context, language can only guide, direct or point to an experiential awareness of one's True Self.
There is no language, concept or energy transfer that can insure Self-Awareness...however, there is one way to guarantee Enlightenment and it is through the defocusing of awareness. What follows is language conveying concepts and possibly energy for the purpose of defocusing awareness. My aim is to communicate this process in a new way, with fresh terminology that is oriented towards direct experience. I desire for my words to convey the experiential and not merely to define or to describe the basic principles of Self-Realization merely in a general or abstract way. I want you to experience Enlightenment!
You cannot think your way to Enlightenment, nor can you feel or sense Self-Realization. The point is to enter into your own awareness. You must know your own awareness or rather become aware of awareness. There may be no external guide but there are three points of departure for the initiation of this process. Let us begin with Awareness.
Your awareness is your Center. Can you find the Center of your Awareness? What is the Circumference of your Awareness?
Find your own Center. What is it? Where is it?
The very Center of your own Being is the Heart of all beings.
Start digging inward. Begin dropping backward. Sink into your Self. Dive deep within.
Plunge to the depths. Immerse in the innermost. Penetrate the inmost. Practice inness.
Abandon everything. Retreat self-ward. Retract awareness. Let it all go.
Surrender all. Hold nothing. Give in. Give up.
Just look away. Turn away. Reverse your gaze. Become inturned.
At 21 I was attending Junior College. I had been reading the teachings of Gurdjieff and attempting to put them into practice. I had also taken a Comparative Religions course and was reading Huston Smith's, "The World Religions." When I read the section on Advaita philosophy it had the "ring of truth" to me. So, I began to desire a real spiritual practice so that I might go further. I remember in my teens that I had read Alan Watts and always remembered the point that there was "something" that Zen Masters were referring to. I had also read many different books of a self-help, psychological and/or of a spiritual nature. One of those books was "Autobiography of a Yogi," by Paramahansa Yogananda. Due to all of these various influences I started practicing Kriya Yoga. This practice lasted for only about a month.
What happened to change my direction or course was an ad in the "Open Exchange," a free paper that advertised various spiritual and other classes, teachers and events in my area. What I found was an ad for a Satsang discussing precisely the Advaita Vedanta philosophy that I had been interested in. This is where I met my Teacher. His name was Ati and he had been with Robert Adams, who had spent a number of years with Ramana Maharshi. Presently, my own Teacher Ati is no longer giving Satsangs as far as I know. In respect for his desire for anonymity and his wishes for privacy I will only refer to him by his chosen name at the time of Ati. At the period when I was seeing Ati, he also encouraged me to go around and to see other teachers of various sorts. I saw Gangaji a few times; Jean Klein; Haniff who was in San Francisco and who later returned to Pakistan; Hanuman; and possibly a few others whom I do not recall. What I learned from Ati was all that I needed to know.
He taught what he taught at the time, which was Advaita Vedanta. He had written a book that he printed out and gave freely to those who came to his Satsang. I wish that I had retained a copy of this book but I did not. Anyway, when I first met Ati I felt a connection with him. I told him that I was riding the BART train and then walking to get there. He offered to pick me up and to return me to the BART station. The interesting thing about these experiences was that as soon as I entered his older American car and sat down in it I would feel this energy at the top of my head. Those were the first experiences that I had with Ati that were distinctive. There were never more than three or four people at his Satsangs but he was a good teacher nonetheless and would talk about the Advaita perspective and then answer questions. I mostly listened and learned.
My first real experience of Self-Awareness occurred while our eyes were closed and we were practicing a guided meditation led by Ati. He had us doing something akin to a Metta practice where one sends lovingkindness to all beings. After this he had instructed us to send love in all directions and then he asked us to expand our awareness in all directions. I did as I was told and that is when I had my first experience of Self-Awareness. What happened was that I could feel very clearly that my awareness extended well beyond the boundaries of my body. When I opened my eyes, I remained in this awareness for some time...a new awareness for me. Ati saw what was happening and we talked about it after the Satsang. It was a very different awareness than mindfulness, self-remembering or even paying attention. This was my first real experience and my first real step towards Self-Realization/Enlightenment.
Second Experience: Oneness
During this same period of time when I was seeing Ati, I had my first experience of Oneness. I was at my brother's girlfriend's place with both my brother and my mother. We were talking. My brother was talking very much about various things and for some reason I started to get bored, disinterested or even annoyed. What happened shortly thereafter was very interesting and insightful, as I became One with my brother for a brief period of time. Maybe it was only a minute or two but it was a very clear and compelling experience. From that experience I learned two things, one was how to become or howto realize my Oneness with any object through focusing intently upon it and two was just how much energetic purification that I was in need of.
I remember those wonderful days when I was still attending Junior College, walking around experiencing Oneness and Love with all and everything. That period did not last very long due to energetic tensions, pressure and releases but the lessons were retained. Some of these experiences may have been precipitated by my contact with both Ati and Haniff. These experiences helped me to see but not to understand. I glimpsed Enlightenment but I had not Realized my Self. I was still interpreting this all as experiences or states and not as what it really was. I was experiencing but without true understanding. Nonetheless, these experiences were a very important second step towards Self-Realization/Enlightenment.
Third Experience: Self-Realization
At this point I just wanted to rest in this Loving-Blissful Awareness. To do so was an energetic struggle, as my purification began from this point onward pretty much without break for 15 years. But, I did not give up so easily, right away. It wasn't until later that I realized the severity of my energetic problems and the duration of my purification process. What would happen is that I would turn my awareness inward, let go or surrender and I would experience some temporary Joy. This went on for some time, I was like a moth to an outdoor light, though I get burned again and again I still would go back.
This continued for some period of time and then there was one special night. I was outside taking a walk along a trail. I was going inward like usual but...this time it was different. I made a determination to "go all the way" and to see what was to be seen. In this moment I turned my awareness inward and let go, completely surrendering. What I experienced was no body, no mind; only Light and only Bliss. In this experience - which was timeless or beyond time but that lasted only for a few moments - I realized my Self. The recognition, the realization, the understanding was simply that this is "who I am, was and will be." I knew that I was eternal and that I was beyond everything that is temporary. All of this was known immediately, directly and without thought in an instant. The knowing was internally self-evident, without any need of external confirmation, proof or validation. This was the most important step that I took when I realized "who I am," and what my Self is.
After I had these three distinct experiences, my understanding was relatively complete even though my Enlightenment wasn't final. It was only a matter of energy over time, being released, cleansed, transformed and my system being purified mentally and as well as emotionally but mostly energetically. I share these experiences precisely because I think that they will give insight into the ideas that I have shared in other posts and also due to the practical relevance of these three experiences. Each experience shows not only a distinct but also a direct pathway to Enlightenment. I have been fortunate to have experienced all three, to be able to understand their significance and to share them with others. Awareness turned inward is one pathway to Enlightenment. Awareness expanding outward in all directions is another pathway to Self-Realization. When objects are focused intently upon, they can become pathways to awareness of Oneness. These are the three ways to come to the same place of Self-Awareness, which facilitates Self-Realization/Enlightenment.
I share my experiences and my stories only because they are relevant. These concepts that I share through this Blog are not speculative, theoretical or philosophical, as they are practical. I have experienced each exactly as I have described them to you!