THE STRUGGLE OF INDIVIDUALITY TO PERPETUATE ITS ILLUSION I feel compassionately sad whenever I meet those who still cling to the idea that their individuality (individual intellect) can guide them to the goal of realization, of remembering, of waking up again to Reality. They're sure that they don't need a guide on the path, don't need to surrender control, don't need to ask for help, and don't need to embrace their intellect's incompetence and impotence to handle the job.
They are sure that their relative, finite intellect, bound in the world of space and time, can grok and master infinity, the field without boundaries, far beyond the ken of the relative intellect. That is delusion, that is arrogance of the deepest kind, that is the very essence of ignorance. Their individual ego/intellect has convinced them to trust it (not only to trust it, but to actually believe that they ARE it), and to never entertain the idea that the ego/intellect's assertion of its importance and ability to guide them "back home" IS ITSELF THE VERY CRUX OF THE PROBLEM, the very core of the ignorance. HIRING THE THIEF TO CATCH THE THIEF It is like hiring the master cat burglar (albeit in his clever dis- guise as the 'great detective') to solve the string of (his) burglar- ies. The great detective (master burglar) will will NEVER EVER turn himself in, never participate in his own exposure, but instead will always have some encouraging progress report, and some inspiring vi- sion of possibilities, to "string us along" as long as possible, as he secretly continues his life of crime. It is a very similar thing, to entrust our spiritual awakening to the ego/intellect consortium. They ARE the problem, and putting them in charge of solving the problem is lunacy. [Technically, the problem is our identification with them, our belief that we ARE them, that they are "in charge", that they are "all that there is".] The real solution is not to "hire" them to guide us to realization, but to let go of them and remember our true status as the infinite field that is beyond them. Instead of following them, we have to step out of their realm entirely, beyond where they can go, into the unbounded field of the Self. Then they revert back to their real status as our servants, as managers of the relative field of life - and let go of the delusion that they are "hot stuff", "in charge", "the boss". DISCRIMINATION - THE PATH TO CC The path from ignorance to awakening IS a path of discrimination, but not discrimination by the relative intellect. It is the waking up of the cosmic intellect from its immersion in illusion, from its identification with boundaries, with individuality, from its belief that it ever was (solely) the relative intellect. It is the path of the infinite Self "waking up", curving back on its Self, and stop- ping its old habit of getting stuck in the finite boundaries. It is the path of separating what is Real from what is not. And the rela- tive ego/intellect is in the field of "what is not real", and there- fore hardly fit to lead us to the Real. It is the path of the cosmic intellect regaining its settled, even state of being established in its own, infinite Self (sama-dhi = evenness of intellect). BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE - INDIVIDUAL INTELLECT TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT I can say this so boldly, about the struggle of the individual ego/ intellect to perpetuate its illusion and never admit it needs help, because I was very, very much there once; I know how that feels. I have a very strong, powerful relative intellect. I have a deep ten- dency in my relative personality to believe in self-sufficiency, to hold that I can/must take care of myself, be vigilant, figure it out, protect myself, etc. So I tried figuring it out on my own (for many lifetimes, and for many years in this lifetime), sorting through the myriad philosophies, spi- ritual traditions, techniques, teachers... I tried "interviewing" various teachers, testing them, evaluating them. Until I met one that chose me. I thought I chose him; I thought I poked and prodded with my intellect and discovered someone where I couldn't find any "holes", any inconsistencies, any weaknesses. But looking back, in hindsight, that belief was still part of my delusion of independence and power of my ego/intellect. In reality, it was just grace that he was offer- ed to me, it was just that I was ripe and being harvested by something so much beyond me, beyond the delusion of who I thought I was, that I couldn't conceive of It, much less evaluate and judge It. So It presented me brilliantly with just the right qualities in a teacher that allowed my ego/intellect to feel safe, to relax, to let the armor down just enough that the inexorable process could begin [or move into its final phase after all that preparation time]. INDIVIDUAL INTELLECT RELAXES, AND FINALLY SURRENDERS And even then it didn't happen all at once, my belief in the power of my relative ego/intellect didn't crumble, I didn't jump off the edge of some cliff. I just started sliding down a very inviting but apparently gentle slope. I kept getting seduced by It, so that the hold of my belief in the power of my relative ego/intellect faded over the course of a couple of years in stages. Layer by layer, I struggled, but I let go. I shifted from identifying with my indivi- dual ego/intellect to identifying with the Self, with cosmic ego/in- tellect. I trusted something bigger to guide me. And that "something bigger" was shown to me through the vehicle called "my teacher", "my Master", Maharishi. 3 LABELS THROWN ABOUT ON THIS LIST LABEL #1 - TRUE BELIEVERS People on this list sometimes call me a "true believer". I was once. In the beginning, in the 70s, I spoke and taught based on faith, on belief. But that was a long time ago. Now, most of my speech and behavior spontaneously arises from direct personal experience/under- standing, and from the source in cosmic mind - from awareness cur- ving back on its Self. This makes life SO much simpler, so much easier. ;) When we live in a universe apparently ruled by the relative ego/in- tellect, then everything feels like it has to be "figured out", "checked out", evaluated, vigilantly watched and decided. Discrimi- nation rules - our very existence feels like it depends on it. One- upsmanship is the way - to make ourself "more OK" by making others "less OK", to "prove" ourselves "right" by making others "wrong", to bolster our sense of existence and safety and solidity by taking that away from others. Certainly, handing over that personal discriminat- ing power to someone feels like danger, like foolishness. We must avoid being "taken advantage of", being fooled, letting our guard down. So its a great put-down to call each other "true believer" or "true non-believer", to imply that someone is blindly and indiscri- minately following a path. And it puffs us up to position ourself as the "objective", "clear-minded", "logical" one. But it's just a big illusion - no one is objective until they are re- established in the Self. That is the only uninvolved, neutral, free- from-desire, free-from-fear vantage point. Everyone else is just un- knowingly supporting their deep beliefs (which are often based on un- conscious traumas and the resulting constrictions), by cherry-picking among the available "evidence". What's called "objective", "truthful", "right" by many turns out to be merely that which supports their exis- tence, comfort, safety...that which supports their relative, and often skewed, world-view. To the relative intellect, concepts like intuition, feelings, devotion, surrender, submission, homage, bhakti, etc. feel so foreign - more than foreign, they feel dangerous. They threaten the intellect's carefully held-together illusion of stability and safety. In my experience "true-belief" is a stage - to carry you on the path until direct experience and understanding catch up and take over. When the Self comes back to its Self, and the universe "ruled" by the rela- tive ego/intellect is seen objectively, then there is no more need to be a "believer" of any stripe, to take someone else's word for it. Then you can take your own word for it, the word of the Self; you speak from The Truth, rather than from your individually-colored truth or beliefs. And only at that point, established in the Self, do those words like "devotion", "surrender", "bhakti" actually start to have any real meaning. Only at that point is there something real to actually sur- render. Our surrender of the relative intellect to step into the field of the Self was the surrender of an illusion, of a "shadow". But to surrender who we really are to God - to transform Self-reali- zation into God-realization - that is surrender worthy of the name. Only at that point does the real opening of the heart take over, does the path of discrimination (separating) turn into the path of love (merging). Most people who've not realized the Self know, somewhere deep inside, that no matter how strongly they present their views, and how much one-upsmanship they foist on others to try and make their own position look solid and right by making others wrong, their whole thing is built on quicksand - there is nothing solid, stable, true anywhere in their world. They know that everything is relative, slippery/slidey - and that the only way to find any slight stability is to use the intellect to build a structure of beliefs that looks solid. So those who haven't had that real, objective experience of living from the Self, and who haven't directly experienced that there is non-relative, non-slippery, non-changing absolute Truth - often as- sume that anyone who speaks clearly and firmly must have been "brain- washed", taken in, hypnotized...OR they must be an ego-maniac. The idea that someone could be speaking from direct, personal, innocent experience of unchanging Truth is difficult for them to grok. And the concept that someone would be willing to take that absolute Truth and "give it up" for something greater, for some urge of the heart, is even more baffling. LABEL #2 - INSIDER People on this list sometimes call me an insider in the TM Movement. I was once. I founded and ran one of the biggest TM Centers in the country (Chicago), helped create the corporate TM Program (AFSCI), taught credit TM/SCI classes at colleges, was trained as a Special Techniques teacher, led international ATRs and TTCs and AEGTCs, edited Maharishi knowledge tapes, ran the International Film and Tape Library in Switzerland, spent years on deep meditation courses under Maharishi's personal guidance, searched out and bid on multi-million dollar real estate projects for Maharishi (Capitals Project), headed up one of the three divisions at the National Headquarters at Living- ston Manor while doing Minister Training, helped organize the big Amherst course that ultimately brought all the people to Fairfield, lived in Fairfield for almost 20 years (I still own a house there), served on the board of the MIU "chamber of commerce" that helped bus- inesses move to Fairfield, renovated MIU's dorms when their condition threatened MIU's accreditation (and didn't lose my shirt in the pro- cess!), created a multi-million dollar business that was one of the top 10 sidha employers in Fairfield in its day, taught on MIU's Con- tinuing Ed faculty, helped inspire and research the huge Taste of Utopia course that brought over 7000 to Fairfield, did my years of tapas in the Golden Domes... And for 20 years now I've done NONE of that - no direct ties or re- sponsibilities to the TM Movement. I left the "student phase of life" and became a householder, as Maharishi urged. I'd "run that gauntlet" of life within the Movement - sometimes gracefully, sometimes pain- fully. My time inside the TM Movement did its job, bore its fruit, and wasn't needed anymore. So I've long been my own man - doing many things that get some peo- ple into very hot water with the Movement - I run satsangs and I talk about experiences, I publicly discuss knowledge on the internet, I teach tantra, I do counseling, I run spiritual workshops, I've stud- ied and taught many healing techniques, I've brought teachers to Fair- field that have affected hundreds of meditators lives, I interact with many spiritual teachers, I read "forbidden" books, I expound contro- versial views, I teach about sexuality and am at home with my own and with its place on the spiritual path, I explore and lecture about and do counseling with people living alternative relationship styles - controversial styles such as polyamory, bdsm/fetish, swinging, tantra, lgbt, etc.)... So, based on my current interests/activities, you could say I am very much an outsider in relation to official TM Movement positions, but still very much an insider to my Master. He is inside me; I am inside him. Where could I go that he isn't? And he introduced me to my God, and brought Him/Her to sit down inside me and begin expanding. I bow down to Maharishi for all that. If you have a teacher, who is a conduit for the Self, the infinite, to shine through - and if you still think that has much of anything to do with that teacher's relative body, relative personality, relative be- havior - then you are still at a very immature level of relationship to your teacher, and a very immature level of utilizing that conduit to the infinite. Maharishi is my "worm-hole" to the Self, to God, to That. TRUE DEVOTION - REAL BHAKTI - WHO HAS IT? 1. THE PERSONAL-CONTACT RULE FOR TRUE BHAKTI Someone commented that I couldn't claim devotion to Maharishi if I haven't seen him (his relative body) in person for a long time. (So I'm curious, where does the boundary line come that distinguishes real devotion? Does seeing Maharishi far off across a big lecture hall count? Does it count if he's in the next room, speaking over a sound system? What about seeing him live on TV - but from the next room, the next town, the next continent? What about streaming live internet video? Or videotapes/CDs - how recent do they have to be? Do audio- tapes count - you're not literally "seeing" him? What about telephone calls, letters, etc.? How close in time/space do I have to get to him to qualify as a "true devotee"? How often do I have to get that close? Does it count if he's thinking of me, or if I'm thinking of him? How often?) Obviously, from my laughing sarcasm, in my experience this person's comment reflects a very limited, relative, basic-level view of devotion. It's not Maharishi's relative body that I relate to much anymore; it is his expanded reality, his cosmic presence, his omnipresence, the awareness that he is. He lives in me, as my Self. I live in him. It's his thinking, in his role as a reflector/conduit of That, that I attune myself to and become ever more deeply. Our relationship is on that level. 2. THE WELCOME-IN-THE-MOVEMENT RULE FOR TRUE BHAKTI Someone commented that, with all my activities, I'd never be welcome anymore in the Movement, or to represent it, and wondered how I could be devoted to Maharishi and yet not able to participate in his Move- ment. First, that actually isn't what I find. Just two years ago, living in Fairfield, I was invited to do knowledge presentations for a cam- pus advanced lecture program for students. And because I have no major power issues - with the Movement, or with masculine authority in general - I get a program badge when I apply, without hassle. Also, I'm on the Movement's various e-mail lists (national and local), and I go to TM Movement events in my local area occasionally; I am respect- fully welcomed as an experienced teacher/leader and even asked to take on responsibilities now and then (which I rarely have the time or in- clination for). Second, even if I couldn't do these things, they are irrelevant to my devotion to my Master. There was a time, when I was more identified with the field of boundaries, that my involvement or not in activities on that level was important, made me feel connected... When I didn't have Maharishi established inside me, as the Self, than contact with his "trappings", his Movement, offered some solace, some comfort. But my relationship to Maharishi now transcends these specific rela- tive activities. The TM activities that I can or can't participate in neither add to nor diminish my love for Maharishi, or my connec- tion to the Self (for which he acts as my conduit, or touchstone). To me, the TM Movement, with all its activities, is a kind of train- ing facility, a place to test yourself, temper yourself, strengthen yourself; it's also a place to take refuge when you need to escape the world, and for some a place to hide; it's definitely a place to burn up karma. The TM Movement is a kind of a spiritual "game" - a gauntlet to run - and you'd better be awake and know what you're get- ting into if you choose to enter that arena. It's Maharishi's Move- ment - and a big mirror of the world's karma - but it's certainly not the only path to Maharishi. 3. THE FOLLOW-EVERY-INSTRUCTION-TO-THE-LETTER RULE FOR TRUE BHAKTI Someone commented that I couldn't claim devotion to Maharishi if I'm not following every "instruction" that he gives. Again, this is a very narrow, immature view of the relationship to a Master. If only it were that simple. ;) Q: Does Maharishi ever give apparently contradictory instructions? A: Often. Q: How do you resolve those? A: By tuning into the Self, to Maharishi's thinking as That; so these contradictions become an invitation to further attune yourself to the Self - much more important on that level than on the level of performance, of action. Q: Does Maharishi ever give individuals instructions which contradict his general public instructions? A: Often. So, based on outer appearances/behaviors, you can't really tell if someone is following Maharishi's instructions or not. That's a very personal, private thing that you'd likely not have access to. Q: Does Maharishi ever give individuals direct instructions to ignore some of his public instructions, no matter how that "looks" to others? A: I've experienced this personally. Q: Does Maharishi ever give one group of people one instruction, and another group an apparently contradictory one? A: Often - causing them to either have a huge conflict, or to act as "checks and balances" on each other. Q: Does Maharishi ever give an instruction, and later completely re- verse it? A: Of course - we've discussed that here many times. Q: Does Maharishi ever give so many instructions (for various daily practices, routine, study, etc.), and then other instructions (for activities to accomplish, family duties, etc.), that there would not be enough hours in the day to do them all? A: Of course. Q: Does Maharishi ever give instructions that have different mean- ings at different levels of consciousness, at different places on the path - or that may appear to mean one thing, but on deep- er investigation mean something different? A: All the time. Q: Does Maharishi ever give instructions to test you - test your attachment to something, or your devotion, or whatever? A: Sure - not for his sake, but to point out to you where you're stuck, or attached. And once you've had that insight, he some- times retracts the instruction, and doesn't make you go through with the difficult thing. This whole question of "following the Master's instructions" is much richer, much deeper than your question implies - than the simple idea of mindlessly following orders. It is a field ripe with possibilities for attuning your mind to cosmic mind, for alert, wide-awake devotion. It's as complicated, or simple, as life itself. So, since you don't know what instructions I've been given - public- ly or privately - what my "program" is, what my responsibilities or assignments in life are, etc., you really have absolutely no way to tell how well I'm following Maharishi's instructions, do you? Nor would you have any need to; that would be a very private thing between Master and devotee. The only thing of any value for you to do in this arena, is to focus your attention on YOUR instructions, YOUR understanding of them, and YOUR success in following them. Here's a story that illustrates the ease with which we can misinter- pret another's path: YOUNG GURU DEV AND THE CAVE Maharishi tells the story of a young Guru Dev, who may have been around 11 or 12 years old at the time, and was a newcomer to the ashram of his Master: The Master had given young Guru Dev instruction in meditation. And he quietly told him to leave the hustle and bustle of the ashram and go practice in silence, in the caves in the hills nearby. So for some time, young Guru Dev was not seen much around the ashram. The Master's ashram had many people in it, including some senior disciples who had been with the Master for decades, and were very learned in the Vedas. They had some subtle ego about their posi- tion, and some resentment of the obvious deep relationship young Guru Dev, a mere boy, had developed so quickly with their Master. So, when he disappeared from the ashram, they were secretly pleased, assuming that he'd done something to displease the Master, or was found to be too young and immature to handle the ashram life. One day, after many months had passed, a holiday approached and the Master expressed to his senior staff a desire to take a re- treat of silence in a cave up in the hills. He sent his top dis- ciple to the hills to seek out and prepare a proper cave for him to reside in. He reminded the disciple that young Guru Dev was living in one of those caves, and because of his familiarity with the area, he should be consulted about the cave selection. So the chief disciple arrived at the caves in the hills, and sought out young Guru Dev, finding him meditating in his cave. The chief disciple said: "I am on a very important mission for the Master. He has sent me here to find him an empty cave in which to reside. Please help me to find one suitable for him - unoccupied, clean, large, dry, etc. - since you are familiar with this area." After a brief hesitation, young Guru Dev said: "Please tell the Master: 'There is no empty cave here'". The chief disciple, thinking that the young boy was not taking the mission seriously, said: "Of course there are empty caves here; I passed some on my way to find you. Please help me to find a suit- able one! The Master has commanded it." Quietly, but firmly, young Guru Dev said: "Are you not here on a mission for the Master? Are you not his messenger?" The chief disciple answered: "Yes, but..." "No 'buts'" said young Guru Dev. "You may be the chief disciple, but today your role is that of a messenger. You were instructed to bring me a question, and now your job is to take my answer back to the Master. Respectfully, I ask that you please do just that, do your duty. The question from the Master, to be asked of me, was 'Is there a suitable empty cave there?' The answer I'd like you to deliver, word-for-word, is: 'There is no empty cave here'." The chief disciple, astounded at the audacity of this young boy to speak to him this way, left. He surveyed some caves on his own and then went back to the ashram to report on his mission, and especial- ly this arrogant boy's behavior, to the Master. But first, he discussed this rudeness with the other senior disci- ples. They agreed that it would be most instructive (and embarras- sing), to young Guru Dev, and to other young disciples, to have this issue raised in the ashram-wide satsang that happened with the Master each afternoon. They knew that young Guru Dev came down from his cave each Friday for supplies, and attended the satsang, and they waited patiently overnight, since the next day was Friday. Overnight, the ashram was abuzz with rumors of the young boy who had disrespected the chief disciple, and the Master. Everyone made a point to attend the afternoon satsang to see what the Master would do to this insolent boy. At the appropriate time in the satsang, the elder disciples moved to broach the subject. But rather than appear blatantly accusatory, they instead chose to bring up the subject in the form of a hypo- thetical knowledge question. They asked: "Master, is it not a great sin for a disciple to disrespect or disobey the Master?" "And is that sin not extended to the senior disciples of the Master, acting on his business?" "Master, is not the punishment for such a serious offense, banishment from the ashram?" To all of these, the Master responded "yes". Having set the stage in this way, the senior disciple then related the behavior of young Guru Dev the previous day, and the members of the ashram were shocked. The Master strongly said: "Young man, step forward and explain your behavior to the whole ashram." Young Guru Dev stepped into the center of the gathering, directly in front of the Master, clasped his hands in devotion, and pros- trated to the Master. When the Master directed him to rise, he calmly spoke these words: "Master, when your chief disciple found me, and asked me that ques- tion from you, I knew that it had a deeper meaning than the appar- ent surface one. Surely, with all these great, long-time disciples, with all their wisdom and experience, and with all those here who've spent much time in those caves, and some who live there now, and with your own great spiritual vision, I knew that you did not actual- ly need my advice on picking a physical cave. So the meaning of your question was immediately obvious. You were asking me something much deeper, about the condition of my spiritual practice that you had assigned me and sent me to the hills to do. "And when I looked inside, and surveyed the situation, I realized that somehow you had been very successful in your work with me, because when I looked into the only cave about which I had any valuable infor- mation, my heart cave, I found that it was completely full - full with you. No matter where I looked, there was not a bit of vacant space there; there was no place that you were not already. So I respectfully told the chief disciple: please report to the Master, and tell him 'There is no vacant cave here'. It was the simple, obvious, truthful answer to your real question." With that, the whole ashram was astounded, for they saw that where they had perceived an insolent young boy, there was a devotee who had innocently accomplished what they dreamed of, who had become the true reflection of the Master. Everyone, from the chief disci ple to the barest beginner in the ashram, felt the wave of love that connected the Master and young Guru Dev, and were reminded how im- portant it is to put their attention on the depth of things, rather than let their attention get caught in the boundaries. LABEL #3 - IGNORING MAHARISHI'S FAULTS People on this list sometimes accuse me of ignoring all the talk about Maharishi's "relative behaviors, flaws, faults, inconsistencies, mistakes, harmful actions"... It's amazing how people who don't know me can project so much onto me. I read this list, and many others about TM and Maharishi, pretty religiously, and with clarity and alert- ness. I could repeat your stories and complaints and arguments better than some of you can. I stay alert to discriminate what is fact, what is opinion, what is rumor. I pay attention to the motives and feelings of those who raise these issues. I watch for the degree of obsession/ attachment of the reporters. I use all this as opportunities to exa- mine my own feelings, to open my heart even more, and to attune to cosmic intelligence. But even more relevant, I lived around and reported to Maharishi for years, more than most (not all) of you, saw many things, and could add stories to yours - not rumors or 3rd-hand accounts, but stories that powerfully impacted on me and my feelings and caused tremendous upheav- al and soul-searching. I know what it's like to face that fork in the road in relationship to Maharishi/the Movement: (1) be deeply hurt, yield to anger, blame something "out there", close up, become a victim; vs. (2) feel the pain, dive into it, embrace the karma, explore the lesson, thank Master/Nature for that purifying fire, expand. The thing is, I've come to realize that none of these discussions about Maharishi's individual personality and behaviors, taken on the relative level, are important to me. Maharishi was presented to me to be my conduit to the Self, to God, to That. "Tat padam dharshitam yena - by which the sign of That has been revealed." He serves that role beautifully. I am blessed to have that conduit, and selfishly make use of it. I can direct my attention toward that conduit in such a way that I invite it to open and pour its blessings on me more and more and create more connection/unity (that kind of attention is called devotion/bhakti); or I can direct my attention toward that conduit in such a way that I invite it to close and shut down and create more separateness/fear (that kind of attention is called doubt/ criticism). We each have that choice of how to approach a conduit to infinity. CONCLUSION ABOUT LABELING So when people try to paint me with their broad brush of "true be- liever" and "insider" and "intellectually weak devotee and ignorer of the facts" - it just makes me laugh and laugh. The things we try to project onto others is often a mirror of what we don't want to admit to in ourself, or fear in ourself, or censor in ourself. Lovingly I say to you, the next time you call someone a "true believer", see if you aren't just as much a "true non-believer" - just as stuck, blinded by your own emotional traumas, etc. The next time you call someone an "insider", see if you aren't resent- ing being an "outsider" - unloved, unbelonging, abandoned. The next time you call someone an "unthinking, deluded bhakti", see if you aren't an over-thinking believer in individuality, afraid to let down your guard, to open up your heart. These labels only re- veal your own doubts and cynicisms. In my next post I'll address self-doubt and cynicism, and the role of profound trust and surrender, not as the negation of intellectual inquiry, but as the true foundations for alert and meaningful ques- tioning. 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