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Nonduality


Satsang with Everyone

Satsang with Everyone II

Satsang Websites and Information

Group Satsang


Satsang with Everyone

the teaching is for whoever shows up for it.

--Xan

Satsang Slut, by Petros...

Some of these guys are really pretty funny

Satsang: Introduction

Satsang and the photos Gurus sell

What Satsang is like in general

Some details regarding Satsang quality

A Successful Satsang, by Xan

Cynicism and Satsang, by Xan

An experience with Arjuna Nick Ardagh

Arjuna Nick Ardagh, by Xan

Satsang with Arjuna, by Petros

On being effective as awakener: dialogue between Xan and Petros with many Gurus mentioned.

Petros reports: Satsang with Prasad

Petros reports: Satsang with Nirmala

Petros reports: Satsang with Neelam

Petros reports: Satsang with Neelam and Nirmala....

Neelam's Writings

Petros on Bonder

Xan on Pamela Wilson

Petros reports: Satsang with Yudhishtara, July 11, 1999

Petros reports: Satsang with Yudishtara, Aug. 4, 1999....


Petros on Wayne....

Petros briefly mentions many teachers...

The True Teacher, by Marcia Paul and Petros...

Gangaji Retreat, by Xan

Satsang with Gangaji, by aleks

Satsang with John Sherman, by Xan

Francis Lucille, by Greg Goode

Francis Lucille, by Becky Windmiller

Ken Wilber on the sage, ego and functional self


SATSANG SLUT, by Petros:

You know, it's funny but I often get accused of being a diletantte in the
way I tend to travel from group to group, teacher to teacher. It's all the
more strange since I am one of the toughest critics of the type of "new age"
mindset (esp. here in California) which drives people to flit about from one
teaching or "path" to another without making a committment to any single
one. At a certain level this kind of roaming can be symptomatic of a very
superficial mind, someone who "uses" the Teaching for entertainment or
socializing.

Personally, I am careful not to do this, and simply try to be aware of it
when it does arise in my own case. When I occasionally catch myself treating
any path lightly or in the manner of a diletantte, I will reduce or stop my
involvement until I can re-orient myself and make up my mind what exactly I
came there for. I am also conscious of the egoic satisfactions that can
arise out of hob-nobbing with too many teachers or gurus. I've had
conversations with folks at satsangs which were little more than mutual
recountings of teachers one has visited, sort of like a spiritual version of
celebrity name-dropping.

The thing with me, when you strip away this silliness, is that I see these
teachers and their disciples as friends and associates that I simply enjoy
spending time with. Who wouldn't travel long distances to sit with a good
friend? There's really no place I'd rather be almost anytime. There's
noplace else one can pick up such "vibes" as in a good satsang. I'm not
chasing after anything, nor am I specifically looking for a teacher. I'm
just a satsang slut.


Laughter can be like
unto a holy earthquake,
shaking "mind" and its
edifice of conditioning
down past their
foundations -- and when
it's not quite *that*
big a deal, at least
it's aerobic as all get
out....

---Bruce Morgen


SATSANG: INTRODUCTION
Satsang means "communion with truth," or "true communion." It a nutshell
it's a bunch of people sitting around a room grokking the vibes. There may
be silent meditation, or a give-and-take dialogue, or both. Unlike an AA
meeting, however, there's usually a head chimp, the guru, who may sit on a
raised platform and is generally expected to be Enlightened or at least able
to fake it. The other attendees ask questions of this one.

Satsangs can be addictive. A successful satsang will leave attendees with a
warm, floating feeling for days or weeks afterwards. But it does end, and
one must seek out another satsang. The best gurus give people the strongest
rush and keep them coming back for more. (This is what paid for Osho's
Rolls-Royces.) Ram Tzu gives good satsang, for instance. But Andrew Cohen's
are more like a lecture or meditation meeting. (Beware of *sermons* a la
Self-Realization Fellowship. A sermon is NOT satsang.)

I've tried to get some satsangs started where I live, simply because no one
else is doing it and I get tired of driving hundreds of miles to get my
"fix." I still have a bit to learn, as my satsangs are a bit too lecturely
and occasionally turn into book discussions. My friends, who are fairly
intelligent, still do not realize that this is not the point.

---Petros


SATSANG AND THE PHOTOS GURUS SELL
It is a tradition among gurus, as I'm sure you know, to make available "murti" images to
his/her devotees. It's an old Indian thing and one is supposed to receive
shakti from gazing into the guru's eyes or whatever. Most of the people
giving satsang these days, even Westerners like Ram Tzu, Gangaji, Andrew
Cohen, Neelam, Prasad, and others have some photos of themselves available.
Many also provide photos of their Master (usually Poonjaji it seems!) and
his Master (Ramana), etc.

I question this practice in the case of the "nondual" gurus for whom there
is not really any "transmission" per se. I really don't know why the
practice is observed since it seems so out-of-context.

---Petros


WHAT SATSANG IS LIKE IN GENERAL

Petros wrote:

I met Satyam Nadeen (Michael Clegg) in Phoenix a couple of times. He's okay,
but not top rate. I think he's getting into the guru persona a bit much.


i've been to many a satsang. .. feels like anything that keeps the self
gazing on itself is worth while. don't particularly like shelling out big
bucks, cause i can have satsang with my goldfish or my dog. "You want to be
fed? WHO is asking?" seriously, i've had the opportunity to sit with some
enlightened folks, and feel that to be my truth. i appreciate anyone who
makes it their business to point out what's here. . .
woof
zero


SOME DETAILS REGARDING SATSANG QUALITY:
DIALOGUE BETWEEN CHARLES SCHUMAN (QUESTIONER) AND PETROS:

> Tell me, now, if you would. Do you find that
> it is the guru, or the crowd in it's expectations
> that create those great vibes?

It's the gestalt created when the guru and the group get together. A strong
central presence can get everyone on the same wavelength. Without it, it's
just a tea-party!

> If the guru is just faking it, in your
> estimation, how does it effect the vibes?

Most people in the group probably couldn't tell, not having subtle enough
discernment or not enough experience in satsangs with other teachers. They
will follow the lead of everyone else, however. A few people with more
discernment might sense that something isn't quite right, especially if the
teacher speaks at length. But such people may decide not to say anything and
just go along for the ride anyway and chalk it up to experience.

For instance, I just attended another Maharaji video tonight, with about ten
people attending. There was nothing wrong with what Maharaji said or the way
he said it, and everyone was very silent and attentive. But I still sense
something amiss about this particular group, but I can't put it into words
yet.

> Does less talk make for a better satsang?

Surely.

> Your willingness to create your own satsang,
> just to get your fix, was one damned straight
> honest disclosure. Does the guru grok the
> vibes as much as those attending?

I think the guru is usually the most addicted of the bunch! See, he needs
the fix so bad, he's become a "dealer" (dealer of bliss?) in order to get it
wholesale.

Much of this was validated for me in a recent satsang with Ram Tzu, who
basically agreed with me that satsang can be a form of attachment replacing
other attachments on one's journey.


A SUCCESSFUL SATSANG, by Xan

I would call a successful satsang one where people break through into Self.
They return because there are still mind habits to be released/transformed.
There is deepening, and there is your own silence and shakti to be drawn on
by the next batch coming along.

Xan


CYNICISM AND SATSANG, by Xan

I can understand the cynicism, in a way, because there are all kinds of
teachers around. But I hope not everyone throws out the baby with the
bathwater. There is a role played by fully awakened ones that is in absolute
integrity and freedom.The cynicism I hear is from an accumulation of comments about satsang
teachers, in other forums also. There's been a great deal of disappointment
in some people, justified or not. My encouragement is to discriminate, not
dismiss the whole phenomenon.

We see as we expect to see. We receive as we give.
By grace alone do we see beyond our projections and receive
beyond our limitations.

There's always the opportunity for discrimination, which is not on appearance
of anything but on how it touches us from and into truth.

Xan


AN EXPERIENCE WITH ARJUNA NICK ARDAGH

I don't know much about spirituality but non-dualism appeals to me. Can
anyone explain what happened to me in this experience: I went to hear a
guy by the name of Arjuna Nick speak. It was kinda weird, with him bowing
to a picture and then having everyone meditate. I don't know how to
meditate so I just sat there quietly, feeling uncomfortable. Arjuna said
very few words, and engaged anyone who so desire to ask the question "who
are you?" Most people seemed to shy away, but since I had drive for two
hours on that nutso I-5 highway to attend this thing, I was game. So we
did the inquiry together and I came to the conclusion of "nothing." Big
whoop, I thought.

I was grumbling to my wife as we left. She said, "but you were giggling
and acting as goofy as they were, what are you complaining about?"
Actually, I was feeling uptight and nervy so I crossed the street to a
little market and bought a beer. When I looked into the eyes of the clerk
there, a huge wave of feeling hit me. I stayed "high" for a couple of
days, was very extroverted and felt like I loved everybody. Then it wore
off and I was back to my bastard self. What was that all about?

Yours in ignorance,
Gerry Lyng


ARJUNA NICK ARDAGH, by Xan

There are some people who are
now evolving an understanding and a
technology of transformation these days.
It is present-oriented and much streamlined
from the more traditional psychologies,
a merging of "Eastern" and "Western"
approaches to the mind.

Arjuna Nick Ardagh has a book out
called Relaxing Into Clear Seeing
which is highly integrated - satsang,
psychological understanding and
exercises for transformation.


SATSANG WITH ARJUNA, by Petros

As if Byron Katie weren't enough, I managed to sneak in a quickie satsang
with Arjuna tonight (Oct. 11, 1999) up in Ojai. (1 hr drive there, 1 hr in satsang, then
another hour drive back to L.A. to catch up on some sleep. I'm running on
caffeine and spunk at this point, fighting some kind of flu thing.) Arjuna
(Nick Ardagh) is a British teacher, commissioned by Poonjaji in '92.

The "topic" (we finally decided) was Freedom. Of course Freedom is just a
concept. Arjuna dialogued with a couple of people about fear, freedom and
imprisonment. How all this is a concept, how if we drop the concept then
there is the experience of the infinite.

He said: All these concepts we hold are like lovers that come to our door;
but when we have married the true Beloved, our own self, they will stay
away. He said his is the only church where a marriage can be performed with
only one person 8).

See Arjuna at
http://www.livingessence.com


ON BEING EFFECTIVE AS AWAKENER: DIALOGUE BETWEEN XAN AND PETROS

Xan:

> I would like to talk with you about this as I am very interested
> in how those who have the calling can be most effective as awakeners.
> There are a few people I have sat with several times and
> witnessed numerous breakthroughs by their attendees. Before I mention their names
> let me say that they all exhibit patience and persistence along with their
> clairity and simplicity.


Petros:

Those are very important qualities. However, they are not universal among
teachers. One example I can think of (since I read it recently) is that
Balsekar mentions in a book that Nisargadatta Maharaj used to have a problem
with impatience, and this put off many attendees at his satsangs.

He also noted, humorously, that since Maharaj was a chain-smoker all his
life, several of his devotees took up smoking in imitation of him,
foolishly. Maharaj died of throat cancer in '81. It is peculiar that many
judgmental, mind-focused people who do not have Understanding would take
these little foibles as "evidence" that Maharaj was unenlightened. Yet his
transcribed talks in _I Am That_ are some of the most potent and unequivocal
confessions of realizations to be found in a modern-day teacher. Just shows
that those who don't know, don't know.


Xan:

> They have a format of silence or dilalogue, whichever, and then
> individuals come up front to sit with them and ask a question, give a report, or
> whatever.


Petros:

Some teachers do have people come up and sit with them for a few minutes,
others do not. I don't believe that Andrew Cohen or Ram Tzu practice this,
for instance. Ram Tzu just addresses people individually in the group
wherever they are sitting. In a living room with only 20-30 attendees, this
works out fine. In a large auditorium it might be more practicale to have
someone come up front so everyone can see and hear the interchange.


Xan:

> With each individual they listen to the story briefly,
> enough to get a hit on where the person is at. Then, very precisely they lead the
> person to "Who is thinking this?" or "Where is this
> thought/feeling arising from?" or "Give that away, right now.", along those lines and
> present-moment focused. Often a little specific teaching/clairification comes out.
> Sometimes it takes a little longer and sometimes a little shorter
> but it is rare that the person leaves the chair without the all-important shift.


Petros:

Yes, this is the way it works. The dialogue and 'clarification process' (tm)
as I call it often serve to shift someone's perception. However, I would
caution against putting too much weight on this method. It will work only if
the person is ready for it. And the shift, if it comes, may be temporary, or
it may be only a partial wakening, like the tossing-and-turning of a sleeper
about to really awaken.


Xan:

> I love to watch this and be a part of it in Presence. It's the
> only thing that makes me happy, truly.
> The ones I am talking about are Gangaji, Mira, Arjuna Nick
> Ardagh, Hanuman. There are others who I see coming along - with practice they get
> better at it.


Petros:

I'm familiar with Gangaji through a video. The others I don't know, though
I've seen Arjuna's web page.

A bunch of current-generation teachers are linked directly or indirectly to
H.W.L. Poonja. These include Andrew Cohen (who broke with Poonjaji
acrimoniously), Gangaji, Neelam, Arjuna, Prasad, and probably others.

Lee Lozowick once commented to me that Poonjaji has given a "license to
teach" (so to speak) to more Westerners than any other Indian teachers. I
think the implication was that the quality control on some of these people
was not too stringent. It is not clear whether Poonjaji was such a great
teacher that so many Westerners were awakened under him, or whether he just
didn't care who went out to teach, or whether he was just humoring them by
giving them what they wanted as a way of getting rid of them. Or maybe he
was just trying to spread his own influence far and wide.

I don't know enough about it to say, and I would prefer not to judge, but
let results speak for themselves. I don't see anything really amiss with any
of Poonjaji's teachers as far as I can tell, and I believe that even an
imperfect guru is better than none.


Xan:

> I have found it ineffective to dismiss the mind because it
> usually increases resistance. I have found it effective to give a little time to make
> connection before moving beyond. Then you are not doing
> something "to" them but with them.


Petros:

You can't "dismiss" the mind anyway.

Xan:

For people who have a calling to be an awakener, I believe one has to
learn the craft. Is there anything in writing on it, anyone know? In
order to be effective one has to ply the craft according to standards
set by others.
I know it doesn't sound like a Crazy Wise thing to say, but the general
public has to be attracted and made to feel safe. At least if you want
to play the particular game being played, it may be necessary.
In the meetings I've had with groups, I never played the game and never
kept the people coming back. People need the high that flowers, music,
incense, ritual, meditation bring. It sets the stage for the real work.
I'm first learning that even as I write to you.
You've identified some of those who have expertise and the significant
steps in the process of awakening. It makes sense to study their
methods. And it would be essential to see the process thoroughly from
the viewpoint of the devotee. That's what will make one effective.


Petros:

I have studied this very much over the years, mainly just by intently
watching how every guru or teacher 'does it.' I've met only a few in
person, but have watched some on videotape or audio, and studied biographies
of a few more. It seems they all do it differently, each according to his or
her particular style, personality, or purpose. Yet there are many
similarities, too.

Your most useful point is that one has to see the process from the p.o.v. of
a devotee or audience member. This is crucial. Having been a devotee or at
least an audience participant for a long time, I know what the devotee
wants. It's sort of like a comedian "working a room." There has to develop a
sense of the whole group gestalt in the teacher, an ability to know just
what balance of humor, seriousness, lecture, dialogue, anecdote and silence
works best.

One can also learn from mundane teaching. For instance, I have classroom
experience as an English teacher and learned from that how to manage a group
of students and keep them interested in what's going on up front. (Maybe it
was my experience as an English teacher that got me "hooked" on getting up
in front of people. Prior to that my life goal was to be a writer. I turned
from introvert to extrovert very quickly thanks to the demands of the job. I
haven't taught in a classroom in a few years and I really miss the
adrenaline rush that I used to get before every class.)

What I've most noticed about different teachers (of advaita or meditation or
spirituality) is the differing level of formality or traditionalism that
each brings to the room. Some are very hierarchical and very "Oriental" (as
Adi Da), with flowers, Indian nomenclature, and all that. Others (like
Andrew Cohen, Barry Long and others) deliberately eschew exotic paraphenelia
and take on a very Western, generic approach. I can usually tell by their
chosen name: those with Indian names versus those who use their Western
names. This has nothing to do with the guru's actual 'birth' tradition. Adi
Da is extremely traditional "Hindu" in his whole setup and approach, even to
the point that it probably puts off a lot of people. Guru Maharaji on the
other hand is very western -- he wears a suit and tie and sits (or stands!)
on a platform without any flowers, music or symbolism, and eschews all
technical jargon in his talks.

Then there's folks like U.G., who meets in people's apartments and justs
sits on the couch and tells people to go home. Of course they love that, and
keep coming back.


Petros reports: SATSANG WITH PRASAD

I attended satsang with Prasad tonight (June 2, 1999: ed.), in Sedona. Prasad is a disciple of
(guess who) Poonjaji and claimed to awaken in 1995. His website is at
www.passage.to/prasad, where you can read some quotes and view his photos.

I can't say it wasn't interesting, but I did not experience the same
intensity I felt during Ram Tzu's visit to Sedona in March. (Seems like
Sedona is on a lot of gurus' itineraries!) Actually, when Prasad walked in
the room, in silly white pajamas and flowing hair, I had to suppress a
chuckle. Something in his manner told me "poseur." I mean, he reminds me of
John Ritter, the comedian from _Three's Company_. (Take a look at some of
the photos on his webpage . . . there's something about his face that just
makes me want to break out laughing, like when I look at Bill Murray or Jim
Carrey.)

The satsang was indeed more like a stand-up comic routine. Or sit-down
comic. Prasad sat on a ugly orange sofa in the room, and the floor was
covered with an even uglier green carpet that looked like rotten guacamole.
(The meeting was held in the headquarters of the "Keep Sedona Beautiful"
society.) He was bracketed by some flowers and photos of Ramana (to his
right) and Poonjaji (to his left).

Prasad got right to the point. We are God, no bullshit about it. Everything
is Self. Everything is the Beloved. He was right on-target, honest, totally
straightforward, and did not pull any punches. He seemed, though, to be
trying too hard, almost struggling with his audience. I was a little
embarrassed for the others in the room, as the spiritual "maturity" seemed
rather lower than what I witnessed during Ram Tzu's satsang. The first woman
that Prasad called to come up and sit with him had to be coaxed five times
before she would even agree to sit next to him. He asked her some questions
and it was like pulling teeth. When he tried to offer her prasad of a small
piece of chocolate, she simply *refused* to take it! I mean, really, it's
very rude to turn down prasad. (Prasad with a small "p".)

(I would have lost patience with some of these people. Why come to satsang
if you're not ready to be Free? If you don't want it that badly?)

Prasad eventually called me up to come sit next to him and we bantered a
bit. I said I felt like I was on Leno's "Tonight Show," and he agreed. He
said we should all pretend that this was his living room or den, and we were
just here to have fun. Prasad's main message was not to take anything
seriously, it's all just role-playing. No disagreement there.

He asked me to talk about myself. I told him that in the beginning I was
That, then I was Somebody, and now I'm That again. He loved it. I spoke of
the frustrations of talking to others about This. He said, well, screw it. I
felt like an idiot, and my responses were peppered with phrases like
"Realization is like, so cool!" -- for some reason Prasad's comical manner
made me shy away from being really hyper-intellectual, or else I didn't want
to steal the show from him, so I just played the hip young knower. (He said
I gave good satsang, however.)

Prasad is quite hilarious. He had a hard time coaxing a young woman to come
up and start dancing, which got him into a thread about shyness and how
irrelevant it is. He started dancing by himself, mocking the woman, but she
didn't seem to mind. He just started twirling around in circles, making
faces and comments like "Ooh, look, now I'm shy . . . now I'm not shy! I can
play either game!" He did admit that a certain amount of shyness is
sometimes appropriate for social reasons. "I have some shyness myself,
otherwise I would just fuck you right here!" . . . that nearly brought the
house down.

It was a lot of fun, I must say, but I still felt that Prasad might have
been trying a little too hard. He didn't seem to have a lot of control of
his audience, as he practically had to beg people just to open their mouths.
There was a lot of agreeable laughter and smiling all around, but I think a
lot of the people were just being entertained rather than challenged.

He gave out another round of prasad at the end, this time strawberries. He
put a huge strawberry in my mouth and I mumbled a very mangled "Thank you!"


Petros Reports: SATSANG WITH NIRMALA

I just (June 18, 1999, ed.) returned from a satsang given by a teacher named Nirmala. He's in
Phoenix for two nights of satsang and a weekend intensive. He is a pupil of
Neelam who is a disciple of Poonjaji.

There were only five people present, which made for a more personal session.
The most interesting questions came from a 10-year old girl who happened to
be the daughter of the lady whose house we were meeting in. She was
remarkably knowledgable about spirituality in general and seemed fairly
familiar with other teachers. But she was honest in expressing her confusion
about knowing vs. not-knowing and how to overcome that. Nirmala, to his
credit, treated her with respect and did not just hand out easy answers to
humor her. He said that the confusion must be accepted sometimes. Underlying
it is the peace, or the vastness, which is never affected by what is going
on in the mind.

Nirmala made clear that the mind can never grasp the infinite fully. It can
present one side of the truth, but then another side is always going to come
up to counter it. So knowing is countered by not-knowing. We can go deeper &
deeper, and there is no end to this. If we stop in one place, we are likely
to personalize and falsify our understanding. Thus, acceptance or surrender
can be personalized into apathy. The realization that nothing ultimately
matters can be personalized into a sort of mental paralysis. He said that
the important attitude to take is to always undermine one's certainties, to
go deeper.

Also, Suzanne Segal also came up in discussion tonight at
Nirmala's satsang. He mentioned her as an example of the uniqueness of the
individual's experience of "awakening" or enlightenment. He said that just
as no two snowflakes are alike, so every individual has a unique way of
"waking up" at the right place and time. Thus there can not really be any
universal techniques or strategies. One should be careful of taking another
person as a model for oneself.


Petros reports, July 2, 1999: SATSANG WITH NEELAM

Hi all.

I'm typing this from the CyberJava cafe on
Hollywood & LaBrea. The meter's running so I'll be quick.

I attended the Living Satsang day in Ojai with
Neelam. Neelam is truly a wonderful woman. She is very
open and helpful with her teachers. As many of you
know, Neelam is a disciple of Poonjaji (Papaji.) She
rents a small house with a garden in Ojai which she
shares with her husband Ashoka and an assistant, Nirvan.

About 15 people participated in the living
satsang day which consisted of sitting meditations, movement
and some work around the house and in the garden. (I
volunteered to type in some boring legal stuff on
the computer, as well as to revise a written
interview with Neelam.) Lunch and dinner was prepared by
participants and Neelam. In the evening there
was an open discussion about finding some sort of more
permanent location for building a spiritual
community, which Neelam is very much interested in. We
tossed a lot of ideas around but no decisions were
reached. (I suggested that an island would be really neat,
but Neelam asked how are we supposed to get people
there?

But I said it was to keep people from *leaving*,
ha-ha . . . )

Last week I had the privilege of seeing Ammachi
(Ma Amritanandamayi) in L.A. at a hotel convention
center. She is quite a powerful and loving presence. She
did not speak but sang with the disciples at one
point. To be honest, I was a little annoyed as there
were several people offering lengthy testimonials
about Ma's wondrous miracles and the influence She had
on their lives. These testimonies were quite boring
to me -- sort of like being in church. I don't need
to be "sold" on Ma, especially when she's sitting
right there in front of us. I would have preferred
silent satsang just having her darshan, but oh well.

Thursday night I attended satsang with Sri Mataji of
Sahaja Yoga. She initiated about 300 people into her
version of kundalini yoga. She called it 'self
realization,' but what the heck. Sri Mataji received
a commendation from the Office of the Mayor of Los
Angeles (Richard Riordan) for her many years of work
for human rights.

In a couple hours I will be going to see
Sri Sivaya Subramuniswami at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore
on Melrose. Subramuniswami, despite his Sanskrit name, is
an
American who was one of the first Westerners to
bring neo-Vedanta to the U.S. back in the 1960s, and
now has a thriving ashram in Hawaii. He founded the magazine
"Hinduism Today" and has written many books, most
recently the huge _Dancing with Siva_. I hope to have
a chance to ask him why he feels it is necessary to
completely adopt the Hindu lifestyle and ritualism in this
country.


SATSANG WITH NEELAM AND NIRMALA: Petros reports, July 25, 1999

I had a wonderful day up in Ojai with Neelam. (Well, if I forget that the
1-hour drive took 4 hours with traffic backed up five miles because US 101
was completely closed off . . . )

Anyway, I DID get to her house eventually, just in time for lunch luckily.
There were about twenty of us, we made lunch together from items at hand,
then took a walk around the mountain to work it off. Afternoon satsang was
the highpoint of the day.

The best surprise was seeing Nirmala there. For those who don't know him,
Nirmala is a disciple of Neelam who now teaches on his own. I had met him
in Phoenix a couple of months ago and gave a short report of it. He sat up
on the platform with Neelam, thus providing us with a rare "double-headed"
satsang. Both answered questions alternately, but Neelam corrected Nirmala
on one occasion when he seemed to be getting off track with someone.

Nirmala is soft-spoken and has a light touch, but Neelam is unquestionably
the star of the show. She is really developing a strong presence about her.
She has an infectious giggle that can break any incipient tension or
confusion that arises, yet can turn on a strong steady gaze when one needs
to enter into the Silence. She is remarkably sensitive and really seems to
feel the pain or anger in a person's voice. There are always one or two
people to whom satsang is a new experience, or who don't really 'get it'
about nonduality or the Self, or who are stuck in a mind-trip. Where I would
tend to insult someone, Neelam never loses her patience.

She also requested me to take home a short book of her quotations and
dialogues from various satsangs, which I am to rewrite and try to get
published (perhaps by Acorn Press, which handles Nisargadatta Maharaj's
famous book _I Am That_.) She's also going to mail me a few cassette
recordings of earlier satsangs for transcription into the book. I'll try to
post a few short items on the list if I am able to.


NEELAM'S WRITINGS (contributed by Petros):

THE CHOICE IN BETWEEN

Q. I feel very challenged, disturbed and angry by being here. I like it
and I don't like it. One has to choose beween being here and not being
here, I suppose.

N. Actually, it is more of a concern for what lies in between. If there's
an idea of choice, there are two or more things to choose from. What is
important is the space in between the choices. So in this moment, there can
be a choice or there can be just the space in between the choices, before
thought arises, you see. First there is a thought and you follow it and you
think it, yes? So, that "nothing" that comes before the thought.

THE RIGHT CONNECTION

Q. My experience with teachers is that it's hard to stay tuned and
connected with the glimpse of Reality that is given to me. Perhaps I need a
better connection.

N. Whatever you want, but I tell you that "connection" means trouble! You
know something about this. One day it works, the next day it doesn't, yes?
You don't want this constant trouble. So why not want what you are? Why
not just that? This doesn't need anything. No maintenance necessary! So
it's not a teacher you need, it's your Self that you need to discover,
finally. Otherwise, there will always be something else outside of you that
will require this whole shtick. Yes, so this is the only desire . . . for
your Self. That will finish it all off. Simply the willingness to follow
it wherever it takes you. For once do not be led by anything else.
Q. It's quick.

N. Don't worry about it. Even just looking makes you so happy, you see!

RELIANCE

Q. I would like to rely on you to pull me out of ignorance. I feel you
have the power of realization, which I don't have.

N. It doesn't work like that. As long as there is a "you," then there is a
"me," this is in fact the whole problem. So the truth is I can't do
anything for you. The realization, as you call it, doesn't belong to
anyone, you see. If it were "mine," then it would be a problem indeed! So
why not just forget about that and look directly, right now, at this
misconception of "you" and "me" and "someone" and "having" and "not having."
Rather than expect another to give it to you, which is absolutely
impossible, you can look into the very place where you believe that you
don't have it. Asking for it is in itself not quiet, you see. That by
itself takes you away from just purely recognizing the Presence that you are
right now in this moment -- takes you away from seeing that nothing is
needed for it. Not sustained by anybody, it is just purely what it is and
it brings you back to your Self. There is no other way! What you see
outside yourself turns out to be the reflection of your own light. That is
why you are attracted to it in the first place. No need to be following any
other game.


PETROS ON BONDER

Interestingly, something that I listened to today on a tape of Saniel Bonder
("What Is this About?") touches upon what Harsha just wrote about in a post
today. Here's a short transcript of the portion of Saniel's tape that
intrigued me:


"We [the Adepts in Saniel's group]are *not* saying, relax, you're already
enlightened. We completely appreciate the difference between what it feels
like to be unaware, or not really clear about it, and to be really clear
about it. It's a big difference, and everyone deserves to know that
difference really well. What we're basically saying is that you can heal
this core wound. We have a process that really works, body by body. We've
gotten really good at working it out so that individuals over the course of
a few months, a few years, but not a long time ... it's a finite process . .
. we've gotten real good if someones finds they really have to do this
process (because if you have options you'll take them!) ... if someone
gravitates to it so that they keep coming around here, they're going to
awaken. They're going to experience this healing, what it means to live the
paradox of being simultaneously totally infinite and very finite."


I understand the gist of what Saniel is getting at. That there is a
difference to the one who is identified with the ego-body-mind, versus the
one who no longer lives with that limited identification. That what the
Buddha said, "Truly, I received nothing from total enlightenment," has
meaning and significance. But I have a problem with the rest of what Saniel
is saying.

I've listened to the whole tape, and there is definitely this sense, that
you can taste from the paragraph quoted, that he and his fellow adepts are
trying to "sell" something. There is this promise, reiterated several times,
that if you come around to their meetings, show up at their satsang or
retreats (the Waking Down Weekends, $375), that you *will* awaken. He makes
a big point about how it can happen in a matter of months. I guess that's
supposed to impress people with its brevity. To me, it's either way too
long, or infinitely short, or irrelevant altogether.

When the woman at the start of the tape asked the question, "What is this
about?" Saniel hemmed and hawed for a while, and after twenty minutes of
beating around the bush still hadn't answered the question to what would be
my satisfaction. After it ended I felt like asking him, "So, what *is* this
about?"

The organization is a little confusing. Saniel rejects the concept of
"guru," so his organization has a handful of "Adepts" who are certified as
awakened, who share the duties of teaching newcomers. Evidently Saniel
shares the stage with one or more of these Adepts and they take turns
answering audience questions. But the focus is always on the idea that there
is "something happening here" -- in his group -- and that if you come around
and associate with them you're guaranteed to get some kind of "transmission"
from them.

It's all very body-mind centered. The focus is on the benefit that "you're"
supposed to get from hanging around with these guys. I do not sense any real
understanding in Saniel at all.


XAN ON PAMELA WILSON

This is a report on satsang with Pamela Wilson,
in my town this week.
She is in Ramana Maharshi's lineage
by way of Robert Adams and Neelam.

On her flier it says: "Come Rest In The Heart"
and she does.
Pamela is a joyful presence of deep silence.
She laughs a lot and accepts everything.
Although she encourages dialogue she
teaches and preaches very little, apparently
trusting the contagion of Silent Presence
to do the work. She talks about The Beloved
and about "Grace, she ...."

"Satsang is still water and a whirlpool all at once.
Silence stirred by Love.
To truly rest for a moment in This
is to become This. Utterly."


PETROS ON YUDHISHTARA

dated: July 11, 1999

Attended satsang with Yudhishtara at the Bodhi Tree last week. Y is a
disciple of Poonjaji and oftens satsang frequently around L.A. He is a
well-proportioned, middle-aged man (perhaps 50?) who exudes a quiet
confidence and sobriety. Despite his appearance of muscular strength, there
is a palpable gentleness in his manner.

He spoke of the importance of being comfortable with oneself, of accepting
oneself as one is and not trying to attain some kind of spiritual height
that is illusory. He recognized the core of our awakening, as transmitted
to him by his master Papaji, as something unpoken and impossible to speak of
in ordinary words. He said that, for this evening's satsang, he was going to
put that topic on the shelf, as it were, in order to focus on more practical
matters of everyday living. His basis for this was the Buddha's eightfold
path, and Yudhishtara spoke of right living, right practice and maintaining
sanity and self-acceptance on the path.

He also warned us about those in the spirituality "business" who try to take
anything in return for this Gift of the Self. This included both
requirements for money as well as demands made upon participants in terms of
lifestyle or morality and such. Yudhishtara said that if you have to be
preoccupied with worrying about such external demands while sitting in
satsang, it will be impossible to really open up to what is being offered
freely, as it should be. Yudhishtara made it clear that what he offers is
given freely and openly, and that he will never make any kind of demand upon
people in terms of their lifestyle or personal conscience.

All in all, Yudhishtara exhibited great insight and integrity. During the
question-and-answer period, he agreed with me that the word "enlightenment"
(and synonyms like awakening) is just another concept, another veil between
us and the truth, and that like all veils it is best to abandon it. I
quipped that doing this is really to be finished with the path, or at least
halfway there, and he basically agreed.


PETROS REPORTS: SATSANG WITH YUDHISHTARA, AUG. 4, 1999

Had satsang with Yudhishtara tonight at the Bodhi Tree along with about
fifty really great people, some of whom I recognized from Neelam's satsang a
few weeks ago.

Y opened, as is his custom, by expressing gratitude to everyone for making
it to satsang, and how he recognized that people really have to make a
concerted effort -- making time in their schedule, then fighting the traffic
and looking for a place to park -- to be present. He thanked everyone for
that and noted that it exemplifies a genuine inner need to be here. Y also
expressed gratitude, as always, to his teacher Papaji (Poonjaji).

As is also his custom, Y apologized if his expression of Truth was not as
"pure" (in a philosophical sense) as some people might prefer. He suggested
that those who might be dissatisfied with his down-to-earth approach might
themselves not be as "pure" as they would like to believe.

He followed his opening by retelling a funny anecdote. Evidently someone
called his home a few weeks ago and left a message on his answering machine
asking for Y to provide an explanation of the "ultimate truth." The caller
instructed Y to call him back, and said that if he wasn't home, Y should
just leave the answer on the machine!

Later someone asked about "levels" of Truth and Y was careful to point out
that he doesn't see it in terms of levels, but of *facets*. All
expressions being simultaneous but slightly different, not one above or
below another.

At another point, Y said that the natural state *is* the ultimate state, not
samadhis and "super-samadhis" and such; that the ultimate state is just
accepting yourself as you are, finally.

Someone came to Y's feet and sang a song; a little bit later someone else
played a flute.


PETROS BRIEFLY MENTIONS MANY TEACHERS

Greg Goode asked Petros:

How do you like the Papaji teachers you've been visiting? Have you seen
Wayne Liquorman? Byron Katie?


Petros responded:

Wayne (Ram Tzu) is excellent. I took a weekend intensive with him in Sedona.
He is very friendly and straightforward, a no-nonsense guy, yet with a good
sense of humor. Never met Byron Katie. The Papaji teachers I have met
include Prasad (a great comedian), Neelam, Nirmala (a disciple of Neelam),
Yudhistara and Andrew Cohen (a judgmental, whiney little mama's boy, in my
opinion.)

Neelam is a wonderful, warm and attractive person. She laughs easily and
knows how to break the tension in a group when someone is getting caught up
in their own trip. I hope to do a little work around her house this weekend
when I go up to Ojai for the Living Satsang day (see my other post to this
list.)

I posted a satsang report about Yudhistara a couple weeks ago. He is a man
of great integrity and depth.


Greg stated:

For books, you could try Jean Klein, Ramesh Balsekar, William Samuels,
Francis Lucille, Shunryu Suzuki (pretty jargon-less Zen).


Petros replied:

Ramesh is fantastic. Ram Tzu spoke much of Ramesh during satsang, as Ramesh
is of course his teacher. I've read a couple of books by Klein and though
he is on-target, he seems somewhat imitative of Krishnamurti. He seems
rather conceptualistic and problem-based, as also does Robert Powell. Klein
died last year, unfortunately.


THE TRUE TEACHER, by Marcia Paul and Petros

Marcia wrote:

Somehow the idea of setting out to be a teacher
does not seem right to me. I know when I am
around someone who knows more than I. It is
not something I know with my mind but it is
something that I want with my whole being. I
know on some very deep level that this person
has something. It is like magnetism. I am drawn
towards it. I even know the people on this mail
list who know more than I.

Petros responded:

I understand exactly what you're saying about a true teacher not needing to
"advertise" the fact. There is that power that one feels in the company of a
Master. The only living entities who I have actually been in the company of
who had this ineffable "magnetism" were Yogi Ramsuratkumar (in India), Lee
Lozowick (Prescott, Arizona; a devotee of Yogi R), Ammachi, and one or two
nameless sadhus that I also met in India. There certainly are others who
also possess this quality (Adi Da?) but I have not been granted the
privilege of meeting any. It is a rare commodity in this particular
universe, and probably in most universes.

I don't even like to call these entities "persons," as persona means "mask."
They are bereft of social masking altogether, and that is one of the things
that makes them so mysterious and magnetic. You cannot pin them down or put
them in a conceptual slot.


GANGAJI RETREAT, by Xan

Gangaji said, as always, that what we are can be recognized, known and
deepened through self-inquiry. Self-inquiry means to discover what one is
beyond all thought. To begin one meets whatever is occuring in awareness in
the present and goes deeper into and through that.

She says also the practice of vigilence is essential in this process of
deepening awareness. The tricks of the mind are many, varied and subtle.
It is common among some spiritual schools to say choice does not exist, and
it is true that we have no choice to change what we are in our essential
nature. But in the realm of mind we choose constantly, whether or not we are
aware of it. Each moment we choose to indulge in our stories, concepts,
beliefs, and denials or we choose to stop, look at and meet fully the
essential feeling that is running us at the moment and then meet what lies
beneath that.

Gangaji is a great iconoclast and she laughs at the common "spiritual"
expressions, even those she has used. Someone was saying to her, "I am
That." And Gangaji said, "Oh please, don't use that old phrase! I pray I
never use it again!" It is too easy to put ourselves into a trance using
familiar, high-sounding words.

She talked about the heart and that often self-inquiry students ignore their
feeling nature, but that sooner or later it must be faced and investigated
along with the conceptual nature. Ramana Maharashi, the teacher of Gangaji's
teacher and mine, made no distinction between jnana (knowing the truth) and
bhakti (loving the truth).

One theme that ran in this retreat was, "Getting off my high horse." It
came first from a participant and everyone roared the laughter of
self-recognition.

There was also a thread throughout about the tendency to look at others in
the sangha and judge how they are doing spiritually, as if that could be seen
from the outside, for one thing, and as if that mattered, for another.

Gangaji works on many levels, and some who have been around her for awhile
got called on the carpet in subtle ways, for carelessness about mind activity
- judgement, comparison, chattiness, assumptions, holding onto bliss,
complacency - because after all, "I know what I am."

Except for 2 satsangs of 1 1/2 hours each day we were in silence. People
said it served to make them more aware both of their mind noise and of the
beauty, love, grace and stillness within and all around them.


SATSANG WITH GANGAJI, by aleks

i was able to attend satsang last night (Oct. 7, 1999) with gangaji. quite an evening!
satsang began at 6:30, but folks were already there and starting to line up
by 5. there were about 300 persons in all--600 shoes tucked in cubicles
outside--looked like about 20 folks were part of her "foundation."

was fortunate to bypass the line--(if you don't like crowds, get
connections!) and the evening began with 15 minutes of silence before gangaji
arrived. i had brought with me the silence of a pre-satsang hike up the
mountain, and the heightening stillness of the crowd was quite noticeable.
the posturing and posing of the ultra spiritual of my community melts away,
along with the worries of the day -- "the dog! the kids! the doorbell! "
self! take me away:)

let me set the scene-- this is being filmed, so there is a camera and crew.
comfy chairs for the "set", nice blue backdrop and flowers, lit candles, and
nice carpet and poster sized photos of ramana and papaji. ..

it is all incredibly slick, but
gangaji's message of not being a guru, but that "i am your own true self"
amazingly does not get lost in all of this ambiance. ( i must admit, that she
totally "floats" into the room dressed in all white-- holy ghost like and
beautiful. ) her message is direct and firm. always directing the
questioners back to the self. her silences are loud. having viewed many of
her videos, it seems that folks always ask the same questions.

the first guy said he was happy. she just looks at him. he admits that
"there is a sadness there." she tells him to put aside all the stories about
sadness and really be with the sadness. and he does have one of *those*
moments-- he says "it's longing." more silence. she explains the shift in
the guy's perception that has just occured. and no, i don't think longing
was the word. in fact i don't think there is a word for what he perceived in
that moment. :)

then there is the inevitable question about service, after which gangaji
explains that she was an activist, and learned that her motivations were "all
about me." the questioner then asks her why she's doing what she's doing.
she explains that it's her trip- she does what she does. she's not a
missionary. she's just expressing the truth of who she is. the message is
that what you want to fix about the world is really about yourself. bearing
this in mind, service is offered with that mindset.

finally the precarious person-- who feels psychically split. pieces of her
soul are flying all over the cosmos. gangaji does not take this lightly
(thankfully) and has the woman, "name the pieces" (in gentle humour) and
then together they locate the piece that always was, doesn't change, and
cannot split. the woman is truly astonished. "it cannot be that simple."
she says.

perhaps it is and it isn't. . . that simple. (here's where the olympic
hurling team satsang comes in!)

i don't attend many of these events, but i am always so pleased to be in the
midst of others who are living and breathing in this truth--and others who
are drawn to that. gangaji has such a great sense of humour. she is all of
you here on this list, in truth, with more props, a staff and a great
publicist!

much fun was had by one.


SATSANG WITH JOHN SHERMAN, by Xan

I attended satsang with John Sherman tonight (Sept 4, 1999).
He's been told to speak in meetings by his teacher,
Gangaji, though he says he has nothing useful to say.

John expressed gratitude for Gangaji's "finding" him
while he was serving 18 years in federal prison, through
a video satsang-in- prisons program. He said his prison
years were a great gift because the usual supports for the
mind and all ideas about controling one's personal situation
are taken away, so mind energy itself is magnified. Whatever happens in
prison is taken very seriously, especially when
there is a spiritual focus.

John has a quiet and strong presence. I could just
see him succeeding in bank robbery. I could also see
"he" has mostly disappeared.

He told us that in the space of neither going toward
anything or away from anything, the magnificence of
oneself can be found.

Nothing has the meaning we think it has - in fact nothing
has any meaning at all. All appearances come and go in
the vastness of what is real and are manifested by it. We
are puppets, only appearing to be speaking and acting on
our own, but there is no one here to be doing anything.

John told a story of having been put in "the hole"
unjustly, some time after his awakening began, and
being brought before a review board to determine his
next destiny. Sitting there, handcuffed, guarded,
condemned as worthless scum by rigid prison authorities
he had an experience of seeing that consciousness itself
was behind each of the masks in a perfect performance.
On the way back to lock-up a guard asked him, "How
can you be happy about all this?" John said, "This silent
heart is always here."

He emphasized Gangaji's teaching of uncompromising inclusivness. The
traditional teaching of neti neti - not this,
nor this, is instead "yes this, and this also".


FRANCIS LUCILLE, by Greg Goode

I heard Francis Lucille on Friday night (October 2, 1999). I asked him about having experienced (what do you call it??) freedom, seen the waythought works, etc. He said a lot of things, one of them being that I had turned this "state" into an object more or less andsubsequently became attached to it. Thus, the thought that I had lost it, however incorrect. (Greg, please clarify if I misunderstood him).

Yes, I agree. I think you did understand his comment. Francis's comments come experience, and from Jean Klein and Sri
Atmananda. And my experience is the same: All thoughts and states are objects. What makes it an object is that it (i) is
seen or known, and (ii) it comes and goes.

What is a state really then? Is that all there is, different states of being? Is it the same as feelings?

A state is the way the mind or body seems to be. The difference between a state and a feeling is really that states are long,
feelings are short. They both come and go. In fact, the mind and body themselves are nothing more than bundles of
thoughts and feelings and sensations.

When we prefer one state to another, that preference is an attachment (it's another feeling too). The attachment is to
something that is no longer there. What we really are however, our true nature, is not a state or a feeling. It is That which is
aware of states, thoughts, feelings. It is That which is reading these words now. So it cannot be seen. It can never be an
object, and never was.

What we truly are, we can never lose; it never goes away. We ARE it! We say we "lose" something because it went away.
This is why Francis it is incorrect that you had "lost" it. Yes, a state or feeling went away. But YOU were there all the time.

...

His longer sessions are 3-part - silent or guided meditation, body awareness, and satsang dialogues. The guided meditation
and body awareness sessions are often to get you to see the body as thoughts, feelings and sensations rather than as a
vehicle for sensing external objects - the body itself is an external object, as is the mind.

His style is gentle, poetic, and at times intellectual (he was a physicist in France). With sweetness, humility and compassion,
he meets you where you are, wherever that might be. His teacher was Jean Klein, and also the books of Krishna Menon
(Sri Atmananda of Tivandrum). Atmananda was also one of Jean Klein's personal teachers, but Francis never met
Atmananda. Francis spent 15 years with Jean Klein before teaching, as he said that understanding is one thing, but teaching
is quite another!

Francis talks about Silence as our true nature, even when we think it's the body or mind or ego or memories. He also
emphasizes art, love, and sweetness.

I've known him since Summer 1995, and am going to a retreat with him starting tomorrow in Ottawa. More later!


FRANCIS LUCILLE, by Becky Windmiller

Sri Ramana Maharshi:

There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until that is
realised effort is necessary. Aftertasting such bliss even once, one will repeatedly try to
regain it. Having once experienced the bliss of
peace, no one would like to be out of it or engage himself otherwise.

----------------

Thank you for posting this Harsha. You seem to have a way "knowing" exactly what my heart
needs to hear.

I went to hear Francis Lucilled speak here in NYC last weekend.(Oct 2,3, 1999). I asked him during his talk
about my experience of understanding and awareness and then the subsquent "losing of it". He
told me that I had become attached to a state (of being: happiness/compassion/love) and that
I turned that into an object, hence the thought "I've lost it". He said that I could never
lose it, awareness has never been gone, which others have told me also. He said that I had
fallen in love with the shadow of my lover, but not my true love. And that if it was my true
love, "he" would never have left me because when someone truly loves you, they will never
leave.

This prompted further investigation for me. I felt I had to look deeper into the "why" of
having returned to separation and the consequent suffering. I am discovering that I believe
I chose to turn away from the truth of being because there were further lessons I needed to
learn. And those lessons have to do with attachment. Because I clung to the state of
happiness, I became very worried and fearful when I noticed that I had become attached to my
boyfriend (now husband). I incorrectly thought I had to "get rid" of the attachment. That's
really when I started to think that I was "losing it"! I thought that I shouldn't be
attached. Can you believe it? It's almost funny now. But I do feel compassion for myself for
having been so deluded. I feel I have had to learn a very hard lesson.

So, now I have seen that attachment is another process of thinking, not meant to be smothered
out of one's mind or else...!! I truly loved being happy and certainly did not want that
happiness to leave. Can you blame a person for that?? : )

I haven't "walked over the edge" into 'no separation' yet. (I hesitate to say "yet" implying
time and some future event that I await). Who knows what will happen in my life? I could be
hit by bus tomorrow...or even today. And as Gene so beautifully said during a recent chat,
"There's no need to rush. We have all the time in the world".

I guess I feel a huge resolution to those questions that have haunted me and now I find it
much easier to just relax and be where I am. Whatever "happens" in the future is not really
up to me. That's another big lesson here. I have to give up everything to God. People use the
word surrender. That one has been really tough for me....

So the observation and listening continues. As Jerry pointed out, that is really all there is
to do anyhow. How foolish of me to think otherwise.


 

KEN WILBER ON THE SAGE, EGO, AND FUNCTIONAL SELF

"The great yogis, saints and sages accomplished so much precisely
because they were not timid little toadies but great big egos, plugged into
the dynamic Ground and Goal of the Kosmos itself." Precisely because the
ego, the soul and the Self can all be present simultaneously, we can better
understand the real meaning of "egolessness," a notion that has caused
an nordinate amount of confusion. But egolessness does not mean the
absence of a functional self (that's a psychotic, not a sage); it means that
one is no longer exclusively identified with that self.


One of the many reasons we have trouble with the notion of "egoless"
is that people want their "egoless sages" to fulfill all their fantasies
of "saintly" or "spiritual," which usually means dead from the neck down,
without fleshy wants or desires, gently smiling all the time. All of
the things that people typically have trouble with-money, food, sex,
relationships, desire-they want their saints to be without. "Egoless
sages" who are "above all that" is what people want. Talking heads is what
they want. Religion, they believe, will simply get rid of all baser
instincts, drives and relationships, and hence they look to religion, not for
advice on how to live life with enthusiasm, but on how to avoid it, repress
it, deny it, escape it.

In other words, the typical person wants the spiritual sage to be
"less than a person," somehow devoid of all the messy, juicy, complex,
pulsating, desiring, urging forces that drive most human beings. We expect our
sages to be an absence of all that drives us! All the things that frighten
us, confuse us, torment us, confound us: we want our sages to be untouched
by them altogether. And that absence, that vacancy, that "less than
personal," is what we often mean by "egoless."


But "egoless" does not mean "less than personal," it means "more than
personal." Not personal minus, but personal plus-all the normal
personal qualities, plus some transpersonal ones. Think of the great yogis,
saints and sages-from Moses to Christ to Padmasambhava. They were not
feeble-mannered milquetoasts, but fierce movers and shakers-from
bullwhips in the Temple to subduing entire countries. They rattled the world on
its own terms, not in some pie-in-the-sky piety; many of them instigated
massive social revolutions that have continued for thousands of years.


And they did so not because they avoided the physical, emotional and
mental dimensions of humanness, and the ego that is their vehicle, but
because they engaged them with a drive and intensity that shook the world to
its very foundations. No doubt, they were also plugged into the soul
(deeper psychic) and spirit (formless Self)-the ultimate source of their
power-but they expressed that power, and gave it concrete results, precisely
because they dramatically engaged the lower dimensions through which that
power could speak in terms that could be heard by all.


These great movers and shakers were not small egos; they were, in the
very best sense of the term, big egos, precisely because the ego (the
functional vehicle of the gross realm) can and does exist alongside the soul (the
vehicle of the subtle) and the Self (vehicle of the causal). To the
extent these great teachers moved the gross realm, they did so with their
egos, because the ego is the functional vehicle of that realm. They were not,
however, identified merely with their egos (that's a narcissist), they
simply found their egos plugged into a radiant Kosmic source. The great
yogis, saints and sages accomplished so much precisely because they
were not timid little toadies but great big egos, plugged into the dynamic
Ground and Goal of the Kosmos itself, plugged into their own higher
Self, alive to the pure atman (the pure I-I) that is one with Brahman; they
opened their mouths and the world trembled, fell to its knees, and
confronted its radiant God.


Saint Teresa was a great contemplative? Yes, and Saint Teresa is the
only woman ever to have reformed an entire Catholic monastic tradition
(think about it). Gautama Buddha shook India to its foundations. Rumi,
Plotinus, Bodhidharma, Lady Tsogyal, Lao Tzu, Plato, the Bal Shem Tov-these men
and women started revolutions in the gross realm that lasted hundreds,
sometimes thousands, of years, something neither Marx nor Lenin nor Locke nor
Jefferson can yet claim. And they did not do so because they were dead
from the neck down. No, they were monumentally, gloriously, divinely big
egos, plugged into a deeper psychic, which was plugged straight into God.


There is certainly a type of truth to the notion of "transcending
ego": it doesn't mean destroy the ego, it means plug it into something bigger.
(As Nagarjuna put it, in the relative world, atman is real; in the
absolute, neither atman nor anatman is real. Thus, in neither case is anatta a
correct description of reality.) The small ego does not evaporate; it
remains as the functional center of activity in the conventional
realm. As I said, to lose that ego is to become a psychotic, not a sage.


"Transcending the ego" thus actually means to transcend but include
the ego in a deeper and higher embrace, first in the soul or deeper psychic,
then with the Witness or primordial Self, then with each previous stage
taken up, enfolded, included and embraced in the radiance of One Taste. And
that means we do not "get rid" of the small ego, but rather, we inhabit it
fully, live it with verve, use it as the necessary vehicle through which
higher truths are communicated. Soul and Spirit include body, emotions
and mind, they do not erase them.


Put bluntly, the ego is not an obstruction to Spirit, but a radiant
manifestation of Spirit. All Forms are not other than Emptiness,
including the form of the ego. It is not necessary to get rid of the ego, but
simply to live it with a certain exuberance. When identification spills out
of the ego and into the Kosmos at large, the ego discovers that the
individual atman is in fact all of a piece with Brahman. The big Self is indeed
no small ego, and thus, to the extent you are stuck in your small ego, a
death and transcendence is required. Narcissists are simply people whose
egos are not yet big enough to embrace the entire Kosmos, and so they try to be
central to the Kosmos instead.


But we do not want our sages to have big egos; we do not even want
them to display a manifest dimension at all. Anytime a sage displays
humanness-in regard to money, food, sex, relationships-we are shocked, shocked,
because we are planning to escape life altogether, not live it, and the sage
who lives life offends us. We want out, we want to ascend, we want to
escape, and the sage who engages life with gusto, lives it to the hilt, grabs
each wave of life and surfs it to the end-this deeply, profoundly disturbs
us, frightens us, because it means that we, too, might have to engage
life, with gusto, on all levels, and not merely escape it in a cloud of
luminous ether. We do not want our sages to have bodies, egos, drives,
vitality, sex, money, relationships, or life, because those are what habitually
torture us, and we want out. We do not want to surf the waves of life,
we want the waves to go away. We want vaporware spirituality.


The integral sage, the nondual sage, is here to show us otherwise.
Known generally as "tantric," these sages insist on transcending life by
living it. They insist on finding release by engagement, finding nirvana in
the midst of samsara, finding total liberation by complete immersion. They
enter with awareness the nine rings of hell, for nowhere else are the
nine heavens found. Nothing is alien to them, for there is nothing that is
not One Taste.


Indeed, the whole point is to be fully at home in the body and its
desires, the mind and its ideas, the spirit and its light. To embrace them
fully, evenly, simultaneously, since all are equally gestures of the One and
Only Taste. To inhabit lust and watch it play; to enter ideas and follow
their brilliance; to be swallowed by Spirit and awaken to a glory that time
forgot to name. Body and mind and spirit, all contained, equally
contained, in the ever-present awareness that grounds the entire display.


In the stillness of the night, the Goddess whispers. In the brightness
of the day, dear God roars. Life pulses, mind imagines, emotions wave,
thoughts wander. What are all these but the endless movements of One
Taste, forever at play with its own gestures, whispering quietly to all who
would listen: is this not you yourself? When the thunder roars, do you not
hear your Self? When the lightning cracks, do you not see your Self? When
clouds float quietly across the sky, is this not your very own limitless
Being, waving back at you?


Copyright 1998 Ken Wilber

Satsang with Everyone II

 
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