(This was written as a comment for the outdated blog Integral Options Café somewhere around 2011, but I didn’t post it on that blog because it ended up being too much for a comment, and as it sat here on this blog in Pages, not being read I might add, I expanded it to address remotely the question of Osel Hita Torres, who’s been told he’s a reincarnation of a Tibetan lama and therefore needs to assume the thread of that former life, uphold the tradition of The Great Vehicle. Really? Maybe the old lama was in a rut and needed a new body to make a bold new spiritual attempt not bound by tradition however great. Anyway, the piece has been promoted to a blog post, and it’s talking to a specific person, the blogger of the aforementioned blog, but you can still hear that you as you too if you hold his rather common Buddhistic view, in contemporary, science-minded Western spirituality that is.)
Many times I get the impression that old sayings of common wisdom really had their origin in attempting to give some shape to the spiritual search, or whatever you call that elusive real reason we have a life, what is not at all evident because you can’t see the obvious for the ordinary, or, as it’s been said since time immemorial, you can’t see the forest for the trees. You like the Buddhist perspective if I’m not mistaken, and it’s evident by your thoughts here on the Self you’ve read a great deal of its philosophy concerning that selfsame. In Buddhism there is no Self, only the illusion of one strung together by the constant false awareness of one, and that can be put in innumerable ways, as you do in this post without coming right out and saying it, but it does appear as if you’re still undecided as to whether or not there is a real Self. You do seem to have the perception that the ego, this person that has grown up carrying your name which is and has been in reality many different people, is not that Person. So you’re not in a bad place for eventually being able to answer that question by your own personal experience. Although the mind can over a long period of time, seeing everything through the lens of a specific one-pointed perspective, running that around every thought, approximate an amalgamated realization of either the truth of the Self(1) everywhere and in everything or the seemingly conflicting truth of there being no Self in the samsara of existence, you won’t actually see the Self or emptiness by the acrobatics of the analytical mind, and it should hardly need to be mentioned that the one perspective at a time mind can’t see the Personal and Impersonal as complementary to each other and not mutually exclusive. Most of the time, as you’re doing here basically, although your sincerity is obvious (what I’m replying to I might add), we put more clouds in front of both when we try and reason it out. Reading books about it also confuse the issue, comments too I might add. Sometime somehow we have to get into the Silence, for it’s only there can the Self and/or emptiness be seen, and which you see depends upon your orientation believe it or not, and if you actually do have an integral perspective, you’ll end up seeing both as impossible as that sounds.
Can I tell you what I’ve experienced and not so much what I’ve read and thought about? The latter gets more credit, especially if you have titles by your name or a following, because just some guy like me can so easily lie or exaggerate. I guess you just have to take my account with a pinch of salt, but I assure you, I’m being honest and am not exaggerating. The first experience of the Silence was the deepest, which happened in 1990, where the breathing stopped as well as my heart, and I was driving a truck down the highway and had no problem continuing the action while in that very grooved state, although when I felt from the base of my spine rise an incredible force, I kind of freaked out and stupidly stopped the force and turned my mind, heartbeat, and breathing back on. What brought the force rising from the base of the spine was a personal mantra I’d started singing so I could better handle the intensity of that emptiness despite the immeasurable peace I felt, was almost drowning in would be a better way of putting it. Love was the last word in the short mantra, and as I sung the word love my voice changed into a sound I’ve not heard on this earth, something almost metallic but in no way artificial or mean. It was only a few seconds singing on that out of this world note that the force rose up, climbing up through me like a cannon ball, but I stopped it before it got to the top of my head (and you have to understand it wasn’t so much a force rising but all of me) and at the same time shut off the Silence, turning my heart and mind back on like I said, doing that by stopping the singing and just shaking the holy fire out of myself believe it or not. The whole thing only lasted a couple of minutes, and I have no idea how long you can stay in such a suspended state, no breath or heartbeat, and I was in no way prepared for that suspension by any of the reading I’d done, and I’d read extensively, or so I thought (I am continually amazed at just how hidden in plain sight, or available but not generally known, the writings on profound spirituality really are, as well as by the fact that you can read something, about silence for example, and think you’ve experienced it, but when you actually sit in it you discover it to be almost wholly other than what you imagined it to be). In that state was complete and utter inner silence, with no sense of I or self whatsoever, a shorelessness very hard to suddenly plunge into, an infinity so shocking you only want the finite back, if, that is, you were like me at the time not ready for ego death and the loss of the whole wide world, and I’m not joking or exaggerating in the least. You’re in the world, but it’s very far away from you, and there’s no top, bottom, sides, or any boundaries, nothing to hold onto. I guess that’s why some call this liberation, but I doubt if most of us seeking it, or the more sustainable variety accompanied by breathing and a heartbeat (me like a forlorn Perceval having seen the holy grail too wet behind the ears to know what I was looking at and grab it), really understand what we are searching for is at the same time from a less readied perspective that of which we are most afraid.
Anybody who hasn’t had the experience would rightly ask that if there is no I or even a sense of self, then who is it that has trouble handling it or finds it intense? Or, for that matter, who chooses to sing a mantra or do anything since there’s no person there to make choices and carry them out? Or when you’re not only in peace but also in bliss and hence have no problems with the intensity, as has occurred with me the couple of other times I’ve been in the Silence, who is it that’s feeling and enjoying the bliss? I’ve grappled with these questions for years, and I really can’t answer them other than to say you do still have an observing consciousness, a basic raw awareness, as Franklin Merrell-Wolff has described it, a consciousness without an object, but that consciousness is still armed with a will and still feels, only there’s no thought and no feeling of being in the world or being a self; it’s all an evident fiction, a movie you can act in or not, the world that is, since I Am has left the stage entirely, and some months after the above experience I entered the Silence in a dream, where it’s easier to get to but still damn difficult, and I had no feeling at all of being in a body and was in such bliss that, even though I was driving into a car crash (driving that time too), I could care less and had the hardest time using my will to try and steer away from it, but will was there as well as feeling; it just didn’t have anything to do with the input from the senses. It’s more a quality of awareness really. As there are many degrees in ego consciousness, there are many degrees of the depth of the Silence, as there are in the stages into it, such as what Suzanne Segal describes, where the seat of her consciousness has shifted completely outside her head, and she’s become an outside witness of herself, but there’s been no change of the operations of that self, no inner silence, not one shred of stillness or peace. All is going on as before with the marked difference she’s completely detached from it, literally, only the observer of her scene, although she’s experiencing panic and terror as that observer. Later her witness also disappears (that witness outside of her body actually being the sudden onset and subsequent subsiding of a simultaneous inner movement beyond this present discussion), but the stream of thoughts and emotions and the actions those give rise to continue, meaning there’s no inner silence, so there’s still an ego in operation there, something like twenty-five percent in a bed of seventy-five percent emptiness to simply illustrate what is going on, and hence her experience, an incomplete movement into the emptiness, albeit still a considerable movement in that direction, is known in Buddhism as being in the pit of the void and in Western psychology as depersonalization since it’s such a negative experience. Because this is so incredibly different from normal waking consciousness, you can understandably think yourself ‘free’ (if you’re able to come to grips with it and learn to live in the unreality of yourself and the world), but what we fail to understand about the spiritual path, or life itself really, since that’s what life is when we take off its clothes and see it naked, is that there’s always further to go, in her case and many like her all the way into the emptiness into the inner silence as well, as fearful as that might sound—you’re ready; you’re a player; recovery: keep going—, but it’s become obvious to me that at some point we’re faced with a more fundamental choice than whether or not we should live in the ego or in emptiness, and that is to stay in life or leave it behind completely, and I’m talking about the whole thing, existence itself, life here and life in the hereafter.
The thing about the Silence is that there doesn’t seem to be a deepest degree but a point at which you enter out of life altogether and enter into I know not what, something the Buddha taught, but while that might be the path of many souls, it’s not mine, as strange as that may sound from someone who’s seen the exit and not just heard about it. It’s just that I’ve seen there’s more than the Silence, saw beyond it, saw that ‘more’ first in a reversal of how it usually seems to be seen, and so I can tell you that the Silence, liberation, enlightenment to just come out and name the beast, is only the necessary preliminary emptying of the being. There is or can be a filling, what might better be called a rising into the fullness of who we are, into the higher self. I don’t think at any point can we say highest. It’s your choice to go higher or leave, but it’s not a moral choice; it’s one made in the fundamental ground of your being, in your soul, since there emptiness and the Self are not as we see them in contradiction to one another, where emptiness is not at all a nothingness as we imagine it nor the Self limited to the samsara, to existence, and hence to stay would not mean violating their purity. I know I sound like such a heretic, but you’ve got to figure the path evolves as so obviously life does, its disguise, and much more of it can be seen than could be two and three thousand or even a hundred years ago.
To get into the Silence I’d done a three month practice intensive on my own, using at that time mostly the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism. I had an evening job as a valet and could afford to concentrate on spiritual practice, sadhana, as I did. I thought about emptiness day and night, concentrated my mind on imagining that, played the thought continually on that theme, did at least an hour of pranayama a day, yoga postures, ate vegan and macrobiotic, did an aggressive physical fitness program, spent a couple of hours in sitting meditation, dawn and dusk when it was possible, sung mantras when the mood hit, but personal ones that caught my ear, snatches of songs and the like, and I put down all books except Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines by Walter Evans-Wentz, and whatever Greek I had to translate into English from the single class I was taking at the university. But I wasn’t religious about it, and it’s right here where most mess up; it’s not to the right or left but with the flow. I allowed myself a cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake every Friday and a joint once a week, using it for a special weekly meditation, and it was in going off my discipline and just suddenly lighting one up on the way to Enchanted Rock in central Texas, where I was going because I knew something was about to happen, like a pregnant woman knows her baby’s about to be born, and that rock was a place of power for me, that I hit the depth of thought that triggered the Silence, my mind actually collapsing because my thinking branched, something I literally saw in my mind, and I was thinking two thoughts at the same time, something not possible in ego consciousness. I cannot remember what those thoughts were unfortunately. I’ve often thought if I could think them again that would be an easier way to hot wire the Silence— hit them against one another and see if it starts.
Anyway, in my sadhana discipline before the experience, I put down tobacco completely (though immediately after the experience I stopped at the nearest shop, bought a pack of smokes and smoked myself sick), didn’t bother about alcohol because I rarely drank, and I threw out all thought of sex; not wasting the life-force on orgasms or sexual fantasies was very important to being able to enter the Silence, but you don’t abstain for moral reasons, do all this for goodness’ sake, an attitude mistake of rigidity most people make (as I’m trying to explain) and hence few people go into the Silence or have overhead experience— they’re not wide enough; it has to do with building up enough life-force and having nothing to disturb your mental concentration. I spoke very little to people during that time, other than to my mom and also to my best friend, saying only what was necessary to do my valet job and take a college course, didn’t have a spiritual teacher, wasn’t a part of any spiritual or religious group, although there was a gentleman who was a doorman where I worked, not a ‘hidden master’ because he wasn’t realized, but he had seen, an American Sufi (the only Anglo in his Sufi order, an old one out of Iran) that I was friends with that had ascertained what was going on with me by talking to me and looking at me (he was very adept at seeing the human aura), and he helped me assimilate the experience, keep my job and continue my Greek class after the experience, grounding things I greatly needed. You do need other people in your practice, but most of the time they’re more of an excuse to stop concentrating and socialize than the needed aid they can be. In such a sadhana you’re alone in a tower, which is the symbol dream and vision use to show where you’re at in relation to other people, and it certainly isn’t easy to be around others and high in a tower not made of ivory so to speak or walls of stuck-up pretentiousness, but being a valet at a high-rise condo where you had to not only park cars and lug bags up and down the building, but also stand up when a resident entered the lobby and say yes ma’am and no sir and just generally be people’s nigger (something transcendent of skin color actually), well, that kept my tower in check. Bob worked there for similar reasons. Those rich people had no idea how poor they were and how wealthy their servants in comparison. I wonder sometimes if things just aren’t that way in general.
The most important element, however, the deciding factor, was that I had the advantage of having knowledge there really are higher states because a year previously I shot up (driving that same truck) out the top of my head and sat for a minute in my higher self, the immortal divine individual I am overhead, the ‘more’ I saw before I mentioned earlier, but that experience was not precipitated by silence or a force rising up from the base of the spine or anything whatsoever; I was just suddenly beamed up as it were without warning. When you actually know and not only believe such states beyond the ego exist, you can put certainty in your practice, and that gives you the gumption to go all out, point your whole life-energy into your sadhana. I was actually trying to get back up to that station over my head, what I knew to be my true self, where it is when things actually become real, with the full sadhana I was doing over those three months, but I stumbled on the most usual way to it, what most people can’t see past, that no-self silence, or enlightenment, or liberation, or whatever you want to call it. I discovered later, and really kicked myself in the ass over it, that the force coming up from the base of the spine was what would have taken me back up to what the two teachers I now have call Supermind. Whatever we experience high or low there’s always someone who’s experienced more of it than you have, something not so easy for an ego to swallow, especially with a spiritual ego like I have, having had such a range of experiences. With such an ego and range of experience is the ever present danger of becoming someone important with a following and whatnot, the killers of growth if you happen to be like I am just a person who’s had experiences and not someone actually realized, liberated, enlightened, or someone who thinks they’re there but isn’t, which comprise probably the great majority of spiritual teachers today. Becoming a spiritual teacher before becoming realized, you level off, basically stop your own advance to enlightenment. Inherent in this comment is a test of being there if you’re hearing what I’m saying. Maybe we don’t let dogs eat at the table, but we do give them table scraps, meaning I’m not ‘there’ and not a teacher, but I can put in my two cents worth.
After the Silence I was devastated. Seeing that emptiness took the meaning out of everything for me, everything, even sadhana, and I walked around stunned for a couple of weeks. I remember some guy in a park I was walking in stopped me and asked if I were Buddhist because of the way I looked, and that was unusual seeing how that was in Houston, Texas, and I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, no special clothes, wearing though that look of ‘look I’m not here and you ain’t either’, but to him that appeared as peace, and he commented on how peaceful I looked. Somewhere around two weeks after the experience I lay down in my bed (I lived alone in a single’s efficiency) and just vegged out as I did a lot after the experience and still do now. As I looked at the ceiling, the whole apartment disappeared in a sudden flash, replaced by a white woman dressed in American Indian buckskins and getup (male garb) riding a white horse that was dancing on the top of storm waves on the sea. The sky was a purple storm, and purple lightening flashed all around her. For a brief second I saw through her eyes and the eyes of countless others, each pair of eyes belonging to a perfected individually distinct Person like she was (only they weren’t by any means all white— the person ‘closest’ to her, black as they come—, but each one represented as she did in their figure some miraculous harmony of conflicting elements), but even though each was an individual, they were one single person seeing through innumerable eyes. You don’t get it. I mean, they were not a unity or union of people, but were one single person. The white Indian woman, who I now know to be a representation of the nature of my higher self, or Supermind, looked at me smiling and said, “Nirvana expresses itself through the forms” (her exact words, which I’ve forgotten, were more poetic, but they did include the first and the last, and I’ve captured the overall gist), and suddenly everything fell back into place, and the world was real again and filled with meaning, was a living breathing symbol animated by what it symbolized and not a maya of illusion, and so was I if you can understand the significance of what she said. We are That you see. It has its existence through us, through the samsara, although it’s also sufficient unto itself, something unimaginably deeper than existence, and it appears that whatever that is, there are ever expanding Persons we can be to be it, the many levels of God you might say, and what I saw was what’s next for us to be, the first step into God, if we can ever get out of the animal we are now and get through to the other side of the silence, get passed enlightenment and become what the seed idea bodhisattva is in full bloom: a master of existence over and above it.
Of course you’d ask why the hell I concentrated the mind on emptiness when it was actually more the Self (in this manifestation of it my higher self) that I wanted to see? The first answer is because I’m stupid and can’t see the obvious for the ordinary, and the second is I’m herd sour and just don’t trust myself and my own experience, or didn’t so much then. The third answer is that that’s the direction to train the mind actually, not so much on emptiness as simply not thinking, but I didn’t know that at the time. I made that my concentration because the book, Tibetan Yoga, said to. In all the books and things I’d read (no internet access then) I’d found a single reference there the only slightly possible gleam of a hint of that overhead experience into my divine person, which is, if you got that, the same Self above everyone else although each divinity is a distinctly different person. It turned out that when I read a different English translation of that same writing some time later the hint wasn’t there. It took many years to find a description of that overhead experience, and the person describing it became my teacher, but neither he nor his spiritual partner in the business of bringing down Supermind ever just come out and describe an overhead experience of Supermind. It’s philosophically discussed for the most part, and even in his epic poetry you have to pay attention to see a character go up there, actually cross the line into that larger universe so much of a getting to that line has been brought into view first. If you’ve been up there you know what’s being discussed.
Why the secrecy when they were trying to manifest that? Secrecy is unfortunately a tradition on the spiritual path. Up until recently you couldn’t easily find an overt description of some depth of Silent Mind either, but Bernadette Roberts and others of this contemporary age have let the cat out of the bag. I guess there’s the danger of these things being profaned in such a way you think it’s butter but it’s not; it’s Chaffon, to use an American TV commercial to get my point across. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. Certainly that danger’s a threat to sincere seeking. Just look at all the people claiming they’re realized, enlightened, the messiah, the maitreya, the reincarnated Jesus or a manifestation of Shiva, ad infinitum. How many are snared into following them? And goddamn the spirit messages and channeling, it makes a poet what to just ignore his muse. How can anything be genuine when there is so much bullshit out there? You just want to hang up your hat and turn your back on all of it, the spiritual path included. How can you possibly get anywhere real faced with all that baloney; I mean, is there anywhere real?
The older generation of teachers knew of these dangers to the sincere seeker, and so they shrouded the path in secrecy and placed in the certainty of unmovable stone, bricked in place a tradition of, the wild wind-haired impossible to pin down spiritual path. In doing so they almost lose the patient under the knife, amass pieces of a puzzle with too many missing pieces to put the puzzle together. Today, especially with the net, we’re faced with an explosion of experience, but if you look real hard you can tell if someone’s actually seen something or is seeing it. It’s got that ring of truth to it that doesn’t so much hit you in the emotions, or even the mind. It hits you right in the seat of perception because you’re looking at what you know is the unknown. On the spiritual path that unknown has more to do with a change of consciousness than anything else. That’s what we’re doing sadhana for. All of our practices basically are to get us to that clear place free of ants where we can concentrate the mind on that change and keep it there twenty-four seven. That’s the great vehicle. Today, having gone through so many stages of intention and aspiration, this mantra, that visualization, that point of concentration, this focus, I’m simply learning step by step to walk around and sit and lay in no-thought. I’m starting to almost get serious about it. When I can do it like I was able to concentrate the mind during that amazing three months when I was a much younger man it’s probable I’d first enter the Silence again, but my mind and heart want one single thing: to be up there who I am, who you are, to be our Self. Whatever the case the conditions are present for concentration. As to whether or not I’ll take advantage of the opportunity given me by these extraordinary conditions is the big question isn’t it? Will you?
Now back to this comment. A brick wall in a city alley has more clout than a comment section on the net; it can frame art and profundity, but a comment can’t yet. And there’s the matter of everyone regardless of what they believe in unknowingly subscribing to the philosophy of perspectivism, “Oh that’s nice. You’ve experienced that? How very interesting. I’m a completely separated person from you, my own reality really, and so your experience is only real for you.” So there you are, but since it’s not wrapped up in the official package, you’re apt not to take a word of this seriously. Spiritual process usually isn’t front page, unless a scandal is involved, most especially a sexual one, and like water it takes the lowest position, is rather homely and very down to earth, and more often than not it picks the people at the bottom of the social ladder to give it any voice, and believe me, I’m at the very bottom. Add all that up and it’s usually quite a test of our sincerity.
You feel tested yet? Hey, you’re reading a pedophile, or a pederast to be more specific. Add that up with the spiritual path to not only enlightenment but also to our higher self, to the Supermind, and you get not only a healing necessity path making it all very real, but, since it’s a path of mastery and integration, naturally since you have to overcome the whole world, you also get a man that loves a boy enough not to #*$%&! him, one who can give that boy what he really needs, which is to learn who he really is, lets the leads of Socrates, a platonic, ideal pederasty. Classical Greek anyone?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________(1) In this article I’m more specifically referring to our divine individual Self over our heads, our higher self, when using the word Self, but in a couple of instances, this one for example, I’m talking about the Self as it’s understood in Indian Spirituality, as something everywhere and the basic self of every being, the personhood of everything.