Who’s Driving the Dreambus? (2009) That’s an insightful and inviting title for a film that interviews some of the people in contemporary non-duality spirituality (Advaita) who say or are said to be Awakened: Tony Parsons, Jeff Foster, Timothy Freke, Genpo Roshi, Gangaji, Toni Packer, Amit Goswami, and Guy Smith. It’s described by the filmmakers as “a feature-length documentary exploring life’s most profound mystery, ‘Who am I?’”
Explore that mystery it does, and from an extraordinary perspective: a rare station of consciousness experienced by people from all faiths and all cultures down through the ages, hence panhuman, one considered spiritual or elevated because it’s beyond the ego, a state ontologically hard to define and equally difficult to divine who’s actually there and who’s just able to sound like they are, difficulties that have been a major source of debate and division in spirituality since the beginning I’d imagine because we’re talking about realization, here called Awakening.
While the film does explore the ontological question, the latter question of which of those interviewed is in that state and who isn’t this film does not bridge or even discuss. Only the title suggests it, asking, from one possible interpretation, which one of those interviewed is driving the dreambus, that here meaning something in the neighborhood of the bus to Awakening, in other words, who is Awakened? And when you interpret the title as asking is there anyone driving the dreambus (if anyone’s really there in the driver’s seat at all), dreambus here meaning this dream of a body and a world, neither does the film bridge existence, nor, in my view, even the spiritual path.
According to those interviewed there is no spiritual path (or anything else: you, I, or the world) because everything is one, or it just ‘is’, some mystery we cannot hope to penetrate. For us staring fruitlessly at that impenetrable mystery, it boils down to a nullity of everything in oneness or ‘isness’, and in fact when your consciousness is seated there you experience that nullity, and you no longer have a self-reflective consciousness, no I or inner chatter, hence Silent Mind and no-self it’s also called, and it’s as though you live in the infinite vast because there are no objects in your consciousness and no boundaries between you and everything else save the body and some little sliver of something never in view.
It’s quite a shock to go into the Silence, what it’s called in other circles, and if you visit that place if only for a moment your whole view of things shifts to that ‘nullity in oneness’ when you return to normal mind, so convincing is the experience, like you know it’s the background of everything, or so it seems, a pure undifferentiated consciousness, basic raw awareness and nothing else, the One, who doesn’t from that perspective even appear aware, since all sense of God and soul vanishes too with the loss of a self and a center.
If this really were the ultimate place in consciousness and oneness we can get to and dwell in, in all infinity and beyond, in all the universes and what’s bigger than universes, then I’d say mainstream science is on the right track with its reductionist materialism, reducing everything to material process, meaning that everything is the result of that, consciousness too just the interaction of chemicals in the brain and spinal column. And I’d say that because it amounts to the same thing as science in saying consciousness has no higher purpose, no intent in it or beyond it except that which hapless creatures such as ourselves put in it, creatures that in reality do not even exist: in other words, meaninglessness, where nonexistence is supreme.
However, in that station itself, and here’s the difficulty of seeing beyond it, there is that peace that passes understanding and in most cases, not all, an unbounded joy not dependent on outer circumstances. Attachment and desire are no longer a problem because they don’t arise. Contentment in nothing and the sheer freedom that entails makes not only ego consciousness but also any other possible station appear a state of bondage, and so it’s understandable if you’re there or have been there to feel that there’s no station beyond (because there’s nothing here in the first place!).
Experientially, though, at the fullest manifestation of the station described above, at its deepest in emptiness and silence, which none of those interviewed seem to have experienced or to even know about, not only the mind shuts off but the respiration and heartbeat too, and, if conditions are right, you feel at the base of the spine something like a rocket blasting off (the kundalini smote stark awake), a rocket that appears to take the seat of the consciousness up out the top of the head. I say appears because I aborted the ascension when I experienced that deepest state of Silent Mind (you can read a brief description in my last blog post and in a published essay here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/winged-information-a-peer-into-the-mountaintop-donny-duke/)
Based on that experience and ones where I did go into the regions (or chakras) overhead, though not from the Silence, and what I’ve read of others’ experiences, it stands to reason it’s from that deepest emptiness that you go up out through the crown chakra to either leave phenomenal existence in Nirvana, if that indeed is the case (I suspect it’s not so final), or go up into the higher self, or Supermind as it’s called in an Indian yoga. It depends on where you’re orientated to go, on your soul’s orientation, not your mind’s choice.
Like being in the emptiness, this is not iffy business, and there’s no guessing involved. It cannot be confused with an out of body experience because you remain very much within You, though an overhead extension of you you’re probably not aware you have. You go out the top of your head, all your awareness, the seat of your consciousness, and see from there, hear from there, have no feeling of being in the body below you other than seeing it down there inhabited by the little self shut up in its little prison, though this describes an unmanifested Supermind several meters above a little self on the earth plane. What position it has in relation to the body when it’s manifested is beyond my knowledge, but, according to the Integral Yoga, the full manifestation would mean a divinized body and earth too, what the hope of the New Age and of the kingdom of heaven on earth hint at, though Supermind is beyond heaven and the cosmic Gods, beyond the confines of the cosmos. You can find a detailed description of that experience here: http://www.shift.is/2015/03/whats-bigger-than-the-universe-hang-on-whats-bigger-than-everything/
In that higher self you do experience an individual existence, though it’s egoless like the Silence, know yourself as the true individual that is evolving little selves through time, that line of many lives you ride above, bringing them to it, an individuality based on oneness, the One, but here it’s aware, not a nonexistence as it seems in the emptiness, though it’s still an ever impenetrable mystery. You know yourself as a symbol of That, as if it has impossibly provided a driving car of timelessness in time to bring all to it.
One in the essence of consciousness means, if you really are, that you see and act at multiple poles of experience at the same time, have an all-vision of everything happening and all-being of everything that exists, or have some concentric degree of that like in Supermind, and you can see through anything you look at, for example see through whatever roof or ceiling separates you from your little self, seeing the essence or nature of anything that meets your gaze. The utter stillness, peace, joy, and compassion for all are no longer grounded in emptiness but in fullness unimaginable, fullness of being.
Nor is this the ultimate station of consciousness, what you know seeing from Supermind because you’re pointed more up to the regions above than down to the little I, unlike the cosmic Gods, who are primarily concerned with little lives like ours. There’s no end to the evolution of consciousness. From Supermind you go to ever more all-encompassing stations of consciousness all the way to the One, to express in a linear fashion what isn’t linear, which, as it appears from this ‘one pole of experience’ at a time existence, you can never get to but only are always becoming. In Supermind itself, however, you are the One, and that there is an ever more all-encompassing seeing of the ‘all at once’ does not negate either your being or becoming, contrary to non-identity described above where you aren’t the One or anybody else for that matter.
In no-self you only see oneness and live in its vast store content with your see, and, also in contrast to Supermind, you’re both in the body and in the one pole of experience existence, though without an ego or any other sense of self and identity. Another contrast is in the emptiness you’re in a blissful ignorance unaware and unconcerned with either life after death or the past and future, as those interviewed repeatedly point out. According to the Integral Yoga, that has as its foundation a knowledge based on many experiences of the higher self and not only on one as I have, in Supermind, however, nothing is unknown to you, though you might have to bring something into view if it’s not, and you live in the now of the eternal moment, in undivided time, which is a seeing of the past, present, and future at the same time, what can only be possible when you move, live, and have your being in multiple poles of experience simultaneously, naturally.
I’m not a fan of New Age spirituality, but I give it credit for keeping this hope alive, this ancient and hidden knowledge of who we are up top, albeit confusedly. Contemporary spirituality as a whole laughs at New Age thought, but it cannot see out of that box of emptiness, due to such an influence of Buddhism, particularly Zen, on spirituality today. In fact, it’s often said, by those interviewed and others similarly minded, that seeking is fruitless because you’re already there (but ask yourself this: is it manifested yet?), and so spiritual practice, if it’s admitted at all, is centered on mindfulness and/or meditation, stilling the thought, not identifying with the I or any separation or distinction.
If you practice Avaita, or non-duality spirituality, you may or may not think, read, eat, exercise, or whatever, in a way that’s conducive to that mindfulness, but chances are you probably do. You don’t, however, as rule accept divine or spirit aid, the guidance of your soul, the help of your animal powers, use sequent number, synchronicity, power spots, and significant calendar days such as full moon, your birthday, the solstices and equinoxes, or even give serious attention to dreams, visions, and inner voices (all of which I use avidly). Here too New Age spirituality saves us from putting to sleep completely the ways and means of ascension, although at the same time it has everything thrown together in such a pell-mell fashion it’s not easy to choose between what helps and what definitely doesn’t.
Even to go into that place at the top of mind I’ve called the emptiness and the Silence (there are so many names for it, attesting to its panhuman existence) you need all the help you can get, and so how much more so to get to Supermind, or, to say it differently, not only to get to that emptiness but through it to the fullness of Supermind, to be orientated there. The trick is to be able to discern what help is natural to our individuality and humanity as whole in a divine transformation and what is not or frivolous. It’s tricky, like walking a razor’s edge, because when you begin to open the inner consciousness so many things come flooding in it seems pointing to your heights, not only the all too plentiful purposeful distractions orchestrated by powers hostile to divinity, but also “distractions in gold cuffs” my muse (the muse of poetry) calls them, because they can also be divine distractions, like getting sidetracked from your own divine transformation with Jesus, Krishna, some other divine name, or a divinely inspired book, though avoiding all the distractions, divine or undivine, in no way precludes an indispensible, integral, and unconditional surrender to the Supreme, without which a divine transformation isn’t possible. Nor does it preclude using and adoring some divine name as your guide to get there. They just wouldn’t be the goal.
If, however, you are content with gold cuffs and the cosmic Gods (“the story Gods” in my muse) and want nothing more than to draw ever nigh to some divine person, have no drive to exceed the human formula and go up into Supermind (who would also be coming down to you), then you’ll be in good company and on hallowed ground, but just make sure it’s your soul’s choice. A good question: where would aliens or channeled entities fit into all of this? Or, I should ask, do they?
So far this may seem like just a bunch of philosophy, but shot through it are brief descriptions of my personal experience (which is by no means exhaustive), else I couldn’t describe what I’m describing, and so it’s more the result of experience than thought, hence engaged philosophy. Though we all have our personal truth, our uniqueness in Spirit, that silent empty station of consciousness is at the top of everyone’s mind, since it’s truth in its most basic sense, meaning simply what is, not a name or ideal to believe in, and everyone has a higher self above them, as both become visible when you reach them with the seat of your consciousness, your awareness. In other words they exist independent of belief.
You don’t have to take my word for it; see for yourself if you are able. I didn’t believe in Supermind before experiencing it, had no idea it was even there. I did know about the emptiness, but upon experiencing it I found it to be as ineffable and hard to describe in language as mystics for thousands of years have said it is. Nothing really prepares you for its hard to bear intensity. For reasons that probably has to do with enabling me to see out of that box of emptiness, seeing something’s beyond it, I first experienced Supermind and then a year later the Silence (several times since that initial supramental experience I’ve gone overhead some distance, though not yet again to that height). Even having seen what’s above it beforehand, that emptiness was still overwhelming. I greatly needed spiritual aid.
After the Silence I was devastated. I had seen that the world is an illusion and a cheat, myself included, and so there was no reason to continue spiritual practice, or even school for that matter (I was studying Classical Greek in the university at the time). In fact, there was no reason to do anything except wait for death as comfortably as I could. If I would’ve stayed in the Silence, while adjustment to it would be difficult, it would’ve been much easier, since you are like I said content, and so the meaninglessness is just that, nothing at all. It’s hard to give the picture of my utter despair because it wasn’t depression; the peace from the experience lasted weeks.
About two weeks after the experience, as I was on the verge of stopping everything, sadhana, school, what have you, I flung myself on my bed one afternoon and was enveloped in flaming vision. It happened without any trigger. All was in storm at sea at night, and a purple sky was sending down lightning bolts on water just a slightly different shade of violet than it, water that was mad with waves. Riding on the waves not the least bothered by the storm was a young Caucasian woman on a white horse dressed in traditional American Indian buckskin, not as a squaw but as a warrior. As I looked into her eyes I found myself looking through innumerable eyes at the same time, hers included, not all eyes there are but saw as she saw through all the beings like her, and it was as though they were one being seeing and experiencing existence through all those many eyes, though each one was its own distinct personality acting on its own scene, which was in identity-unison with all the rest. Just a flash that seeing was, and then I was back behind my own eyes looking at her again riding so expertly that storm. She looked at me and gave me a smile that held within it all I hold dear about love, and she said, in a line of poetry I lost, something like, “Nirvana expresses itself through the forms.”
The vision vanished just as quickly as it had appeared, but it put my whole world back in place. It used the word Nirvana for That because I was studying Buddhism at the time, and voice and vision uses what you know and believe in. To interpret what she said I was told that existence is not meaningless because the One, or whatever you want to call the Absolute, expresses itself through existence, or samsara as the Buddhists would call it. In other words, these symbol lives and worlds are real because That is behind them, what they are in reality. So the world and its inhabitants and all above it are a living symbols and not illusions, and that makes all the difference in the world.
That woman on the horse was a representation of my Supermind, what became apparent to me afterwards, whose nature is expressed in the symbols of the vision, i.e. a rider of storms, feminine in a masculine role, and ‘Western’ or ‘White’ but dressed in the life of native or tribal culture, all of which is proving to be my basic nature also, of this little self too. Though at the time I called her (them) the Nirvana people, because I was using the symbols of Buddhism, all those many eyes were the one Supermind, something I only glanced at when I was in Supermind so briefly I was there and such a shock it was just to see through everything as I did. At the time I had no name for it, as I was years from encountering the Integral Yoga, and I just called Supermind ‘who I really am’.
When I was able to integrate the experience of the Silence with that of Supermind, in my understanding, I left Buddhism’s ideal behind, though its thought and technique to get to the emptiness are unparalleled, which I yet use, since that no-self is a way station on the way to the Truth Consciousness (Supermind) and must be experienced and surpassed. Also a good question: where does God fit into the picture? I think I might venture to answer that one. Supermind is the first rung on the ladder of God above or beyond the universe, in other words, God from there on up.
Now, after saying all this, I can go back to the beginning and say that there is no spiritual path, not because all is one and therefore negated, but because all is One and at the same time the path to return there, and that’s a supreme positive. So life itself is the spiritual path, afterlife too. Existence is that whether we realize it or not. We evolve despite ourselves, although we can certainly speed things up conceiving of for convenience sake a spiritual path. And while on that path there are check points, like emptiness and Supermind, as well as other things, the soul change (surfacing the soul) for one, they aren’t the destination, just take you closer to it, and so they hold no all-importance, and making them the goal is as much of a trap as ignoring them altogether, believe me, but it is good to know of them, since your understanding and not only your heart take you forward on the path, and what the mind sees it can identify with, like what the soul envisions creates a world or a universe.
So relax, though you are God like many think, maybe even yourself, you’ll only know yourself God when you can see through innumerable eyes at the same time, and you would also have superpowers.
As far as the question of being Awakened or not, I think the film in question gives a good picture of how different that is from being in ego consciousness when it shows that not as a philosophy but as a radical change of consciousness on the part of those interviewed. Are you there?