Lightmind Extract 022
Harrison asks what an enlightened person would have that you don’t have and he asks if you think Ramana could have raised your children and met the challenges that cross your path every day.
What does Bill Gates have that I don’t have?
About sixty billion dollars.
Could Picasso have raised your children and met the challenges that cross your path every day?
Probably, but his output of art objects may have been severely curtailed.
IOW, Harrison seems to imply that he doesn’t see a difference between “the end of the search” and radical psychophysical transformation.
I generally avoid that kind of topic here for a couple of reasons.
Mark said, “I once heard Ken say that Da’s shakti transmission was ‘at 100′” in comparison to other teachers such as Cohen, who Ken placed at “15.”
As soon as we start making comparisons like that we step into two potential sinkholes at once: the pissing contest problem, and the problem of making non-falsifiable statements about our spiritual “experiences.” Ken’s experiences of Da and Cohen are what they are, but as Mark said, show me the machine that measures shakti transmission.
Having said that, I’ll speak “off the record” and will make some non-falsifiable statements about my own experience (which I won’t defend or get into a pissing contest around should anyone wish to challenge what I say), which is that compared to the Buddhist monks and Jain monks and Zen masters and Rinpoches and Lamas and other spiritual teachers I’ve encountered, Da’s “transmission” is at “100.” That’s my “experience,” and this may very well be due to me being profoundly deluded. Da’s “transmission” has nothing to do with his personal psychology or skills as the head of a community of followers, and for the record, I’m not a “wounded” or “disgruntled” ex-devotee, and on a personal basis Da always treated me with respect and I was not “abused.” I bear no personal grudge against him and my criticisms of what he’s become aren’t personal. I’ve talked with Saniel Bonder about Da and we have a similar appraisal of him, and both agree that by the early 80’s (after I’d left after 5 years) Da had abandoned “the Way of Understanding” in favor of what Bonder characterized as “the way of exclusive devotion to the bodily human form of Adi Da.”
One question we can ask is if “transmission” is “real” or “just subjective.” If I lie in the sun all day and get a sunburn, is the sun real? Again “off the record,” whatever psychophysical changes Da has gone through have made him like a sun, in my possibly profoundly deluded experience. It’s real – speaking non-falsifiably. And just as there are suns hotter and cooler than earth’s, there are degrees of psychophysical transformation.
I of course never met Ramana Maharshi, who died before I was born, but my guess is that he was a brighter sun than Da, or a more powerful “transmitter.” But that’s speculation, and there is of course a subjective component to this (which is why I generally avoid this kind of talk – it really can’t go anywhere).
If we go with the general idea that enlightenment means being in “sahaj” all the time, where the deepest meditative state becomes or is recognized as one’s everyday mind, then we can imagine that there are endless possibilities for psychophysical transformation beyond that.
I think it’s good to “democratize” enlightenment and take it down from the out of reach pedestal, but at the same time I see no point in denying that just as there’s some kind of difference between me and Bill Gates, there’s some kind of difference between someone whose enlightenment entails radical psychophysical transformation and someone who has basically come to a doubt-free undertanding that is both cognitive and non-conceptual, such as the one that Wayne Liquorman talks about: He says to imagine a room full of people where everyone has a stone in their shoe. So they all experience the presence of a stone in their shoe. You have never had a stone in your shoe, and you got to this room and because you’ve never had a stone in your shoe, you don’t experience the absence of the presence of a stone in your shoe.
But let’s say that you tell someone in this room that they can remove the stone from their shoe and they do so. Now they, unlike you, will experience the absence of the presence of a stone in their shoe. They might think that’s enlightenment, but Liquorman says (and I agree), that’s still an experience of something. That’s not “enlightenment.” He says, “In the experience of enlightenment, what is revealed is that there was never any stone there in the first place! So you don’t have even the experience of the presence of the absence because there was never any presence to now be absent!”
I have no idea who Liquorman is and I don’t care, but what he describes here is possible without anything I’d call a radical psychophysical transformation. There has to be some kind of “embodiment” of what he’s talking about for it to be more than a simple cognitive shift, and I would expect that anyone who really gets what he’s saying and gets it beyond any residual doubt would appear to be grounded and clear, but that’s not what we mean when we talk about the big “transmitters.”
Interestingly, Harrison expressed some reservations about scenes with enlightened teachers who are treated as special by their followers, and Liquorman makes a similar type of comment:
There is Ammaji and others who travel around and there are the big road shows, thousands of people and an idealized figure; you can have a momentary contact but still it is a very idealized structure – all of that does in fact exist. There is a lot more to do on the Bhakti Path [laughter] for doers. It has its own energy. It is much more social. It appeals to people who like to gather in groups and socialize a lot.
There’s a bit of derision there and I would ask if Harrison and Liquorman recognize jnana-bhakti. The jnani-bhakta is “one who has united within himself a purely intellectual knowledge of God and a pure love of God.”
I do, however, think that Liquorman’s observation may be accurate, that certain kinds of scenes around teachers appeal to people who like to gather in groups and socialize a lot, but I would ask what’s wrong with that? Is that less than going to Wayne Liquorman talks? No. But for a Westerner who is interested in an “integral” approach, it might be useful to see how a path like the one Liquorman calls “the Bhakti Path” may address an individual’s needs for bringing their “spirituality” into the areas of relationship, emotion, feeling, the body, and so on.
There are other ways to work on those levels, ways that have nothing to do with any “Eastern” path per se, and Julian’s outlined some of those transpersonal approaches in the past. My biggest concern about Westerners getting into such scenes – where there is a idealized figure, who very well might be psychophysically transformed in a significant way – is when there is no overt attention to transference, counter-transference, the teacher’s shadow, and the group shadow. This is a very tricky area and it is all too commonly misunderstood, as some people seem to believe that enlightenment means that one no longer has any unconsciousness or shadow. If an enlightened person turns around really fast do they glimpse their shadow? The shadow is by definition that which we do not see about ourselves. If we see it, it’s not our shadow. We can only learn about our shadow from others, and this is why teachers who disallow critical feedback to reach them are the most dangerous, because they cannot possibly learn about their shadows without honest reflection from others. It’s irrelevant if the person who gives you honest reflection about yourself is “enlightened” or “psychophysically transformed,” and teachers who play the “I’m enlightened and you’re not and therefore you can’t possibly give me any useful feedback about myself” should be avoided at all costs, because they are simply full of shit.
That’s another good reason for a more democratic approach to enlightenment.
There are also good reasons, IMO, to not put a great deal of focus on “psychophysical transformation.” We can only “start where we are.” If an enlightened person is truly a sun but I am a dead stone, how can my fantasizing about myself as a radiant sun possibly help me see reality more clearly? It seems to me that the more focus there is on radically transformed enlightened teachers, the more this brings out the “wannabes,” and wannabe gurus are usually insufferable. After all, in modern America, “guru” is yet another yuppie career choice.
I guess that some folks today who’ve “never been experienced,” to use Jimi H.’s phrase, may find that a spiritual process is catalyzed in them through an encounter or encounters with a truly psychophysically transformed figure.
In fact, I have a gen-X friend who has done a great deal of “insight meditation” and gone on a number of 10 day retreats, who a few years ago told me that while he was able to sit in meditation for long periods with great “equanimity,” he’d never had any kind of “awakening” experience of a kind that really brought him beyond doubt. But then, he said, someone invited him to a presentation with Eckhart Tolle. He went, and had the “experience” of awakening he’d been looking for. This helped deepen his meditation, he said. So it’s hard to say what someone will find useful or helpful. And in fact, a couple of years prior to that, my friend had been pretty much languishing in his life with unfinished degrees and shipwrecked career plans when he was almost murdered by a pair of crackheads, who strangled him till he passed out, then bound, gagged, and kicked him. He survived with minor injuries, but this experience shocked him awake and into gear, and it was at this point that he became serious about his PhD and his spiritual path. So in a sense the crackheads (who were never caught) were catalysts for him.
Filed under: Daism, Eckhart Tolle, Ken Wilber, Lightmind Extracts, Shadow | Leave a Comment