Moving away from spirituality ‘old style’

The seminar in Olomouc was very nice, indeed – though we started a bit late due to ‘Czech timing’ as I’ve come to call the rather loose view of schedules here, and because my lap-top (home of all my musicfiles which are pretty important in most of my seminars) spontaneously forgot an important systems file… it did remember it when I used it the last time. So I was happy to have brought my back-up system (a iRiver 20 GB player, also playing the great OGG format). I’m writing this post on the Community computer which usually is always occupied…

In the group it was clear that more and more I am moving away from spirituality as it is regarded by many of my contemporaries. As I’ve said a few days ago (on the MP3s in the post “Awakening to Mutuality”) the traditional or “old style” spiritual ways adhere to the viewpoint that there are superior perspectives (for instance, the enlightened) and inferior ones (the endarkened or the ignorant, unenlightend). Yet it seems to me that cherishing one perspective over another takes away much from what can unfold between us… and also it incapacitates persons taking “superior” perspectives from what can transpire in an open meeting where no such preferences are setting the stage. For, a meeting in which we put each other in a box might be informative and even give us good feelings but it is never an open meeting, and I don’t think it deserves to be called spiritual. An open meeting where we can explore together whatever might be real between us is much richer and more revealing than one in which I have a higher (more informed, superior, more enlightened, wiser etc.) position than the other person.

Spirituality “old style” has a map of reality – which I do not have an opinion about other than to say that I myself have been using it for a very long time – in which there is a progression towards ever higher and superior states or levels which the aspirant or seeker realizes; from egotistic to altruistic to cosmic centered, from disconnected to connected; or as in Ken Wilbers beautiful integral map, from preconventional to conventional to post-conventional to ultimatly “One Taste” – a beautiful map, I say, based on the “perennial philosophy” that has a great value as far as placing states, levels, types, etc. on a hierarchically useful map goes. This doesn’t mean, though, that I’m opposed to maps and hierarchical structures as I feel that these play a major role in intelligent communication and in interpreting experience well. And the more embracing and detailed these maps are the better – an ‘integral map’, for instance, allows for much more helpful interpretations of an experience and life in general than, say, a christian fundamentalist one. But from what I gather from the practise of Ken Wilber fans it is quite clear what’s the trouble as well: these beautiful people (and others using this and similar maps) often are very much concerned about “Where am I on the map, and what do I have to do to sufficiently transform so that I can move to the next rung on this ladder… to finally get there, and realize THAT. (Whatever THAT stands for in the terms of that map.).)”

Spirituality “new style” – if I may be so bold as to claim that label – is based on an altogether different realisation or understanding. One is, as best I can put it right now, “Reality – as accessible to human beings – is composed of perspectives.” The other is, “All perspectives are equally real (or “right”).”

It seems important here to clarify what I mean, because you might think that I believe that the child-molester’s perspective is of equal value as that of Mother Theresa. But I mean this a different way: Reality as seen with the eyes of a murderer is equally real as the one that a righteous judge sees. So the reality of a murderer is appropriate to him and his view, and thus it is right. And by that I do not make a moral or ethical statement (as in: It is wrong to kill someone.)

Spirituality “new style” goes beyond such value hierarchies however important they may be in a conventional world. It doesn’t deny spiritual value-hierarchies (from egotism to non-dual consciousness, for instance) but presupposes it as part of the person practicing this ‘new style spirituality’. This person comes from the insight that, “if I position myself above another’s perspective, regarding mine as superior to it, I cannot truly meet with the other nor exlore reality with him or her. So I have to concede this person’s perspective equal reality to truly meet. Only if I meet on eye to eye level, honoring him and her perspective, a meeting and inquiry into reality is possible.”

Let’s say, that I am in a state of “heightened awareness”, feeling compassion for the persons in my vicinity, feeling very much at home in my self, having a sense of utter equanimity etc. Now here is a person in another state, let’s say she is worried about being a good mother, asking me to help her. Now in spirituality “old style” I would in the best possible way communicate that it is quite normal to sometimes hate the little tyrant as all mothers I’ve ever met do have such feelings. In spirituality “new style” I ask her what she thinks herself – never for positioning myself to be in a higher or other state to her. We explore together what she feels “being a good mother” means, and if what she is feeling and doing runs counter to her belief of how she should be. We will maybe also want to look at how what she wants and how she goes about getting it fit together, and so on.

Or let’s take a spiritual seeker – like the person in the Olomouc seminar asking me, “What is the meaning of life?” A very serious, and time-honored question; which is, what I actually said. Then we went on – after a little sideline in which I told him about my realisation many years ago that life (in my eyes) doesn’t have a meaning – to look at what he believes, “Does life need a meaning?” And, “How would you feel if life had no meaning; what would change?” Exploring these questions together we found that there was another matter that bothered him much more than what the meaning of life might or might not be: “I’m afraid of the unknown,” he said. And now I asked him if wanted to explore that, “not verbally, but in action?” And he wanted, so I created an unknown situation for all of us – including me (in which, by the way, some participants did have some extraordinary insights into the meaning of their life).

Spirituality “old style” has a map of Reality in which there is a way “up” – and sometimes, if these maps are more encompassing there is also a way “down”, an ascending and decending current. Body, matter, the world are seen as lower order, spirit, soul, nirvana/heaven/One Taste are of a higher order; there is the Relative and the Absolute, and only the latter is to be aspired (even in Tantra, which is a way to ‘sanctify’ ordinary pleasures like eating, sex etc.). This is, of course, a dualistic view. Yet, even when we take Advaita whose “ultimate realisation” is the non-dual, then still in practise it is a dualistic teaching as it shows that, “you haven’t got it but through enlighhtenment can get it.” Or if they see the difficulty of this statement they say, “You’ve got it – as everyone has already got it – but you’re simply not yet conscious of it,” or some such. Whatever is the teaching, it is a teaching of an ascending order towards a greater, better, superior state. (No wonder that 99 percent of it’s main proponents/teachers are male…)

Spirituality “new style” has no quarrel with these maps of Reality. It simply chooses to explore a very different way in which “Reality is just as it appears to be this very moment… and this moment as well – as it appears within the framework of my perspective. And I can never disentangle what appears from my perspective (even if truthfully it isn’t even my perspective). What appears might be a function of my perspective, or my perspective might be a function of what appears, or both or neither or all kinds of mixtures of these. There is no way to know, as I cannot not come from a perspective. And as much as I have a perspective so does everybody else, and possibly even every thing else. So the best I can do is meet it and explore Reality as it appears between us (in conjunction, communion, communication, even opposition, struggle and trial for annihilation). And the richest way I can do this – at present – is by being open, equal and true to any other I meet.”

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All of this is still quite sketchy, so I do appreciate all comments you have…

Awakening to Mutuality (Audio)

A few days ago in our daily evening contemplation it seemed important to me to state what I feel my present position is on spiritual matters.

It turned out to be a quite critical appraisal of traditional spirituality and it’s view that the sprit or “the world beyond” is radically different from the world we all inhabit, deeming “spirit” to be superior to “matter”, turning away from the world to gain spiritual merit, etc..

I also give an explanation why there is so much (sexiual and other) abuse by teachers of students, and why basically the ‘heros’ are mostly male (giving also an answer to Ken Wilber’s question, why there is so few women in the ‘integral movement’ he’s mentoring.

I’m still groping for what’s to come instead of this basically feudalistic – or top-down – spirituality, and go for ‘mutuality’ where we treat the perspective of toilet-cleaners, morons and wise men with equal respect.

The talk comes in four installements due to the slowness of our Internet-connection here in this Czech village. I hope, you enjoy it, and would be delighted to read or hear your comments.

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality01.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 2,6 MB; duration 10:42): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality02.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 2 MB; duration 8:39): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality03.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 4,8 MB; duration 20:20): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality04.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 1,7 MB; duration 7:17): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

States & Levels

I have experienced many states of consciousness in my life so far – every morning in my meditation it is there, the “champagne state” that I call such because it feels as if the finest of bubbles rush through my body… a wonderful feeling of wellbeing in which the whole body is participating…

In 1986 I “awoke” for the first time in deep sleep, there was an awareness without any content. A few years later I experienced a state in which all was one. Then many other experiences followed; meetings with the Golden Child, divine orgasms, precognitive events, the Great Ensoberment (an experience of cosmic nihilism), the celebration of being in and of itself, and so on.

So it is clear that I know first hand that the experiences of which the great spiritual traditions and masters (male and female alike) speak are neither hallucinations nor metaphors but actually reachable states of consciousness that can be realized through grace and discipline (and without drugs; and it is rather doubtful if these are the same states that can be reached with them, as I know from my excessive drug experiences in the beginning of the Seventies of the last century).

There is only one problem: the interpretation of these states. I put it provocatively like this a long time agao, “If an asshole becomes enlightened he stinks nevertheless; even if then it is declared to be a divine odour.” One can be enlightened on every and any level of development. Otherwise it would not be explainable that, to name just a few, a prince (Gautama Siddharta who later became known as the Buddha), a carpenter (Jesus) and a trader (Mohammed) could have penetrated to such depths of human experiencing… and put these in so different systems.

Or to be much more personal: When I was 17 I converted to Christianity (a so called “sect”) after having experienced a bright light over my head that eventually flooded my whole body. In the following 3 years I was laying hands on people of which 80% were healed, I received prophecies that were fulfilled etc. So I interpreted my spiritual/mystical experiences within the framework of the Christianity of this sect. After I left this tight embrace I had similar experiences (bright lights decending, laying on of hands etc. – no prophecies, though) and interpreted them agnostically as inbalances in the biochemical make-up of the brain and placebo.<BR>And when I had the experiences I mentioned in the very beginning of this post I interpreted it within the framework of the teaching that my teacher Michael Barnett developed from the teachings he got from his teacher and other mostly far-eastern influences.

When I try to differentiate the mystical/spiritual experiences from their interpretation-matrix they look to be very similar. The feeling, the awareness mediates a sense of being present with the highest joy, beauty and truth. These experiences are absolutely ecstatic and my whole ‘system’ feels unendingly well. If we take the awareness of the bright shining light over the crown of my head as an example; I ‘felt’ this for the first time during my prayer with disciple from the Christian sect, and I felt it since then in the diverse circumstances – today I can turn it on almost immediatly by just re-membering it. When I was a Christian I interpreted it as the “flame of the Holy Spirit”, as an agnostic I saw it as a hallucination, and when I was influenced by the teachings from the Far East I regarded it as an activation of the Sahasrar-chakra.

States & Levels: Now being 52 years old and someone who is regarded as a spiritual teacher by some people I see that all these interpretations are true… and that some interpretations are better than others if I place it within the context that looks towards the well-being (better: well-becoming) of all of humanity as a whole. To put it a bit different; how do the interpretations of these and similar truly valuable states of consciousness help (or hinder) people in leading a better life? Which interpretation makes it possible to not only re-experience such states time and again but much more, wich interpretation empowers one to be a compassionate, intelligent human being with just such relationships and a succesful career?

My aim as a postmodern non-metaphysical spiritual teacher thus is two-fold: to create methods and circumstances in which people on all levels of (grown-up) consciousness can have peak-experiences, and at the same time to offer them a helpful interpretation-matrix that helps them on several levels to make the best of these experiences. The first aim I can and do reach quite easily now – even with totally new people in a big group of 100 and more (as proven by several happenings at so called “Esoteric Fairs” here in the Czech Republic); the second aim I’m working at very much also in the Living Field Transformation Training.

So now I am being released from the clutches of a view that couldn’t very well discern between “enlightenments” and the development of a human psyche.

The True Embrace & The Integral Village

August last year I sat on the mountainside on the Cotes d’ Azur 800 meter above Nice and meditated. It was a star spangled night and I could see the city lights glittering. The day before I had read that U2 would arrive the next day in their private jet, so I knew that there would be quite a party down there.
In my meditation – my eyes were open – the world was present to me as was my knowing about that party. Then the field of my inner perception expanded and I also saw the suffering that people caused each other at the same time, the sex that was surely going on down there and everywhere, the passers by and the television viewers, and the entire busy and difficult goings-on of the world. By and by my meditation deepened and the world disappeared. The phenomena were still present, the lights of the city shimmering, the darkness of the night, the soft warm wind of August, the chirping of the insects and much more. But it wasn’t the world anymore, neither outside nor inside… it had become transparent. And then there was only emptiness, the non-being of all form, the formless.
But I didn’t abide in this state, and something surprising happened. Words are not quite adequate to express what happened then, so the only way to express it is to say that now something beyond the world and nothingness revealed itself: pure compassion. Compassion for everything, for the world and nothingness, for form and the formless. It was as if this compassion was a being, a presence, a living heart, a source. And from this source waves of compassion were streaming through the dimensions of form and the formless, like a heartbeat pumping the light of compassion through nothingness into everything: Boom, boom, boom!
I don’t know how long this revelation lasted but it changed me as it transformed all phenomena. And I also don’t know what really happened there. I just know: Whatever is calling forth the unending universe and emptiness, the I and the other, being and non-being and enlivening it, shows itself to a human being like me as all encompassing compassion. Compassion for all beings, for everyone and even no-one and nothing. No exceptions.

Every evening before I go to sleep I read a bit. Last night I was reading a few lines from the Jewish-Christian tradition saying that in prayer one should stand totally naked and alone before Gods face. And I asked myself, “Am I willing to do so?”
Those who know me know that I’m not perfect in the least – hanging out with myself 24 hours per day I am quite sure about this. So the question was really, “With these characteristics, with this imperfection, these stupidities, mistakes, with all my habits good and bad, am I ready to stand naked and alone facing the Godhead knowing and seeing my totality?”
If God were righteous as many people in our culture believe, if He were to judge me, if justice would be His essential quality I could never stand before His face. I would be turned into a pile of ashes or a pillar of salt because of my failings. If God were like the Judaeo-Christian tradition depicts Him I could stand before Him at most in sackcloth und ashes but never naked.
But the Godhead is not interested in righteousness; at most this is a human endeavour. God is beyond all and nothing, beyond all form and formlessness. And from my own anschauung I have absolute certainty that She is compassion – God is beginningless and endless love and therefore I can stand there alone and absolutely naked. It is Her Grace that allows me to.
So last night it was given me to stand there in Her lovelight enlightening all with compassion – God sees me, totally naked and with all my imperfections, overflowing me with pure unending compassion. But, being imperfect, after a while thoughts and pictures appeared that took me away from Her face. I thought of tomorrow and the people here that I serve and want to serve better every day, so that they too might taste of Her undying beauty… and with these thoughts I disappeared from Her presence. I drifted back again into the darker regions… the presence of this unending light of compassion disappeared from my awareness.
That is what darkness means. It is paradoxical: I am aware when I come before Her face, and I am also aware of being totally encompassed by divine love, but when I lose this presence I am not aware of it… the clouds of unconsciousness spread their mist wholly unaware.
But after a while I awoke to this and noticed. This is not new to me, by the way. I have experienced many mystical ecstasies in which I stepped out of my darkness into a greater light – only to then lose it again. And in the past there was always a sense of loss and the question, “How do I go back there? What can I do or not do to bathe again in this light?” Yesterday it was given to me to pose a different question, though, “Am I ready to be compassionate towards those inner aspects and forces that have taken me out of Gods presence? Can I be as compassionate towards these as God is towards me?” And I know I can, and I do. And so in the midst of my darkness I felt light-hearted because I saw that I can be just as full of compassion for the endarkening aspects of my self as God is full of compassion towards me… and not only me.

What is of most value in this world that is a place of suffering for most people – for even the greatest pleasures and joys of the world are bleak and dark if we remember whose light’s child we are? It is compassion. And if I speak of me and my work, if I speak of my vision that I wish to realize with everyone who wants to commit to it in the midst of this world – what is it about? It is about bringing this lovelight down to earth, bringing it into daily life, into relationships, projects, buildings, businesses, in short: to turn it into a manifest way of life. That is the vision that is alive in the Serenity-Community, and I hope this vision will lead eventually to an integral village. But this is not just a vision of a future reality; it is also a metaphor for a present process in which every step mirrors what the goal will manifest in a larger way and with more depth and power.
The world in which most people live is not a manifestation of compassion and love but rather a manifestation of greed and media-spawned bright sparkling lies, it is a world of not so beautiful pretences and mediocracy, a world of ignorance. That is the darkness we have to face, and much more than that it is the darkness inside us that comes into being through our failings to be lead by intelligent love and compassion, living our light; it comes from giving space to greed, pretence, mediocracy and ignorance in our behaviour and communication and relationships That is the shadow we have to face – and that is what we have to be compassionate about.
Where will we manifest the vision of an intelligently loving and compassionately intelligent society? Amidst the darkness, amidst the world of ignorance, misunderstanding and a crazed individualism in which we live. So if you are asking yourself in which way you can become part of that vision you could ask, “In which way can I best reflect this compassion?” And if you’ve found the answer to that you have defined your comfort-zone. That realm is very important. Foster and strengthen that realm, keep it alive, this realm where it is not such a big challenge to manifest compassion.
It is easy to be compassionate with people that are somewhat similar to us or who move in the same direction. And it is good and helpful – maybe even indispensable – to surround ourselves with such people or live in a community with them. The Serenity-Community is such a place. And the integral village – if it will manifest at some time and become a reality in which we all live together with many others – will also be such a place. Here at Serenity it is already much easier to love people that you don’t particularly like or with whom you are having problems. Here you are supported continually, day by day and hour by hour, to accept your own shadow and that of others lovingly, just as the Godhead compassionately accepts us when we stand naked in front of Her. And then it is much easier to face the challenges and handle the shadows where being and acting compassionate is not so easy because it simply not fostered or supported. So surround yourself with such people or even better, become part of such a community.

If you feel, like I do, that a spark of the Godhead is present in every soul then you certainly see that this spark wants to kindle a fire – your soul wants to be on fire. The light in you wants to engulf all of your soul and enlighten it. It wants to burn in your sex-life, it wants to shine in the bathroom, it wants to set your meditations ablaze as it does your work or your business; it wants to shine brightly in every aspect of your life. The Godhead doesn’t only want to be transcendentally present everywhere, which is the case already, but it wants to be manifest in all of creation – and that isn’t the case. And as much as God wants to set your soul on fire it wants to enlighten the whole world and everyone in it. For that She needs your willing and feeling cooperation. And She is very patient. She loves us all the way, as we are slowly opening up to what we truly are.
I have a vision of a society, starting maybe with a small village that is ruled by intelligent love and compassionate intelligence. (I use the terms intelligent love and compassionate intelligence to free love & compassion from its romantic, naive, Hollywood-like associations and intelligence from its often construed coldness.) This vision can only become manifest, though, if the people committed to this are prepared to let the lovelight enlighten all aspects of their lives. What I can contribute are all kinds of seminars, trainings and learning occasions which empower people to embrace the shadows and, of course, to experience and explore the deep dimensions of their spirituality and humanity. And just as I am serving the Serenity-Community and many other people who are connected with me I am an instrument and servant to an integral lifestyle and hopefully an integral village; a village in which the cooks and the toilet-cleaners, the accountants and the seminar facilitators, the farmers and shopkeepers, and whoever else is going to live there, can do their work in the spirit of compassion.
This vision has countless dimensions. That’s why everyone who wants to connect with it can contribute to it on the level they choose. I cannot and will not decide which level that can be. Because I know this is not only my vision or the vision of a few people. I know this is the vision of all of humanity. For thousands of years people have been touched by compassion and manifest it in their way. So it isn’t just my vision. And to transform this vision in flesh and blood, pathways and streets, houses and shops and businesses, gardens and flowers many more people have to turn it into their vision and realize it in their daily life now. The vision is either reflecting in every step of its realization or it will lead at best to a nice little village full of good-doing people – and honestly, I wouldn’t want to live there.
The vision is simple. On the way upwards from below, where we are selfishly seeking our own profit and that of our clan to where we really care for the well-being of all mankind and beyond, this vision depicts an individual and collective way of development. On the way downwards from above it is the gesture of true embrace, as the Godhead embraces us with compassion so we take all lower levels and realms – including even the selfishly governed spaces – in the arms of our love and compassion. The very same power that moves us to develop our highest potential makes us lovingly embrace that which may not have developed so far yet, including ourselves.
We are asked as human beings to do the next step in our evolution. And I will cooperate no matter how this adventure will turn out in the end. And every step, everything you do out of love and compassion is already a contribution to this development. If you want to do more, if you want to contribute so that in due time this way of life turns into an integral village – welcome!

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“Solange der Mensch keine Verantwortung bernimmt, hegt er Zweifel, hat die Mglichkeit, sich zurckzuziehen und handelt wenig effektiv. Fr jedes schpferische Handeln gilt eine elementare Wahrheit: sowie der Mensch sich endgltig verpflichtet, bewegt sich die Vorsehung. Alles Mgliche, das sonst nicht geschehen wre, steht ihm hilfreich bei. Ein ganzer Strom der Ereignisse folgt der Entscheidung und begnstigt sie durch allerlei Vorflle, Begegnungen und materielle Frderung, von denen keiner zuvor geglaubt htte, sie knnten ihm auf diesem Wege beistehen. Was immer du meinst oder glaubst, tun zu knnen, beginne es. Denn dein Tun enthlt Magie, Anmut und Kraft.”

“As long as a man does not take his responsibility he has doubts and the possibility to withdraw, and his acting is not effective. For all creativity there is an elementary truth: as soon as a man definitely commits himself destiny moves as well. All manner of things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise come to his aid. A veritable stream of happenings follow his decision and further it by all kinds of happenstances, meetings and material blessings of which no-one could have thought beforehand that they could have helped him on his way.
Whatever you believe or think you can do, begin with it. Because your doing works magic, beauty and strength.”
– I saw this quote first in the Internet where it was accredited to Goethe. Fred Kofman in his book Metamanagement accredits to Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first human to climb Mount Everest (and survive) –

How can you take part?

Just pick & choose what you’d love to do

  • Connect every morning
  • remember that Compassion is already engulfing you with its Lovelight shining from the Heart
  • decide to regard yourself and others, including your and their shadows, with compassion today
  • bless this day with intelligent love and loving intelligence
  • let your Heart shine
  • any day
  • when confronted with difficult behaviour, stop, listen to your Heart and respond from there
  • regard your failings and shadows with compassion
  • make a stranger smile
  • Commit
  • to a lifestyle of compassion
  • to support people trying to realize a lifestyle of the True Embrace
  • Involve
  • rather then speaking about love and compassion live it on a daily basis
  • as much as is appropriate turn your working place and/or business into an example of the power and beauty of the compassionate way of life
  • create a community (or join one) that is dedicated to the True Embrace
  • Learn
  • to meditate, communicate, relate, make love, make money in such a way that you can forever expand your and other peoples ability to live a compassionate life.
  • Communicate
  • tell us how you are doing – in private or in a comment to this article
  • tell us how we can support and serve you
  • tell us if and how you want to support us
  • Participate
  • Visit us (and maybe be so kind to announce your visit)
  • and you might even want to live with us…

The 7 Secret Sayings of God

7-secret-sayings-of-god
Drawing by Mushin 1978
  1. Before the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth and the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep, God said, ‘I AM THAT’ and it is so.
  2. Also, being in eternity which is neither linear or sequential, where all is NOWEVER, God said, ‘YOU MUST DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE’ and it was drawn.
  3. BUT! it was no dreary straight line or flat wall for God then said, ‘HAVE A BALL’ and there was a ball in the image whereof all stars and planets come to be formed.
  4. Thereupon God said, ‘THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERYTHING’ and there are; the ‘inside and the outside,’ the ‘dense and the spacious,’ the ‘right and the wrong,’ the ‘left and the taken,’ for as it is written, one shall be taken and the other left.
  5. And God said, ‘IT MUST BE IN TIME’ and thereafter it was, is and will be, for as it is written again, ‘As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, through all ages of ages.
  6. And forthwith God said, ‘SPACE IT OUT,’ whereupon it came to pass that beside ‘this and that,’ ‘now and then,’ there is also ‘here and there.’
  7. And God beheld how firm a foundation this was and said unto himself, ‘GET LOST!’

And there YOU ARE.

Beyond the Enlightenment Disease

[Published in Connection Magazine, 2001. Aimed at taking an in depth look at what became famous around that time, Neo-Advaita]

It is the year 1984. I am sitting at the feet of the man who is to become my spiritual teacher a while later. He asks me, “What do you want?”
“I want to be enlightened,” I reply. He laughs and asks me whether I’d be prepared to walk through Berlin naked. ‘If that’s all it takes,’ I think to myself, let’s go! So I start to undress and then he really starts to laugh, and says, “You have to do everything you possibly can. You must want enlightenment like a drowning man grabs at the proverbial straw and then you have to let that go, too.”

This was the first time I realized that I wanted to be enlightened, in this lifetime! But I didn’t really know what enlightenment was, although I had some ideas, of course, ideas that changed in the course of time, naturally. Anyway, I read a lot and learned that what I was striving for could be called ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ (R. Bucke), and that in the Buddhist literature enlightenment was the end of suffering, and that in Zen it was Satori, a breakthrough to this most desirable state of nirvana. And in the course of time I learnt that the highest achievement was called Samadhi, or Moksha (Hindu), Fana, (Sufi) Wu (Taoism), Objective Consciousness (Gurdjieff), the Supramental (Sri Aurobindo), etc.

So I put myself, struggling, for as a former hippie I was rather anti-authoritarian, in the hands of a Master, Michael Barnett, whom I took to be enlightened. He had what I was looking for, and therefore he could give it to me, at least that’s what I thought. And in the many years to follow I experienced small and slightly bigger breakthroughs, moved in transcendental spaces, divine dimensions, visionary states and spiritual places. And at times I felt myself to be enlightened, I was filled with light and blissed out, I saw beings and things like they are in essence, and my eyes shone like the floodlights in the stadium during the Euro cup. If then I reported my “progress” to my teacher, he only told me time and again that this wasn’t It. “Everything you think is It – isn’t,” he used to say. And anyway, my spiritual hunger hadn’t been satisfied, and I still lacked the Big Insight.

The Big Insight: “If I am enlightened,” I was convinced, “than I’ll have no more problems, not with myself, not in relationships, nor financially; I’m free of the world and it’s inadequacies.” I wished for a kind inviolability, wanted to be above all things, untouched by the problems and suffering of mortals. That would be enlightenment. And, arrogant or not, I set out my own conditions too, “I will become enlightened in the city, because if it is only to be attained on a mountainside or in the woods it is unattainable for most people (who live in cities).”

A very male view: Enlightenment as the peak of human possibilities that must be attained. So I became more radical in my behavior and thinking towards everybody, except towards my son. In that regard I had decided irrevocably: If I had to decide between enlightenment or my son I would drop enlightenment until he reached his 18th birthday and could take care of himself. But he was the only exception. Not his mother, not my friends and acquaintances; here I experimented regardless, breaking quite a few of my own (and their!) taboos and hearts more than once, living low budget, meeting many situations head on that I hadn’t encountered before and were new to me, situations that promised important lessons but put me on the line, too, to put it mildly. Like when the head of the community of my teacher one day stormed into the office in which I was sitting and working like 8 other people. She started to shout at me in front of all the others, reprimanding me for stuff I hadn’t done. And every time I wanted to protest, “but…!” she would stop me and shout at me even more. After ten minutes, an eternity, she went out just as fast as she had come in without giving me the slightest chance to defend myself.

“I’ve had it!” I fumed. I was not going to take this! But when I wanted to pack my bags all of a sudden I realized that my reaction had been an automatic stereotype. And that I had decided to break free of all automatisms. I dropped what I was doing and sat down in a meadow to look at it: my whole movie on this topic.

That was only one of the hundreds of films that I had to watch as time passed by; every conviction was based on such a movie and started others, about my masculinity, the inner child, my wish for inviolability, my relationships, profession, deficiencies, what I took to be truth, my strengths and weaknesses, in short the whole hotchpotch one takes oneself to be, and of which one says: That’s me.

Over the years my idea of enlightenment changed of course. Experience taught me that even states of consciousness in which I saw as clear as clear can be or in which I was at one with everything that is, in which I was flooded by transparent joy, in which the subtly profound delight of the cosmos was looking through my eyes to behold the human frenzy, that all of these states come and go. So whatever I experienced in these states couldn’t have been enlightenment because the “holy” scriptures all seem to speak of something that lasts forever. Even meeting the then deceased Osho in a humbling vision in which he showed me where he was, in the heart of all his students, nay of all people, did not finish my search; when this vision overwhelmed me my body bowed down to all hearts and then all hearts bowed down to me and I collapsed in my chair and cried for hours — this experience also, which happened to me during one of his video-discourses in which he said something that would be characteristic for the next phase on my way to enlightenment, has now turned into a memory; one of the most beautiful ones…

Osho in this discourse said, “Human beings are the most vulnerable beings of all, more vulnerable than the petals of roses.” And it became obvious to me that all my striving for enlightenment so far was rooted in the wish to be invulnerable. The scales fell from my eyes: Enlightenment does not make one invulnerable and places one beyond everything. So that finished that part of my search, and the quest continued but now the focus turned very much towards this world. The entire deep spiritual, sometimes even divine, experiences were all right with me but now I was going to incarnate, become flesh and bones to be here in this world and this body.

So whenever I found myself drifting into spiritual dimensions I immediately anchored in the body again, in the senses, the present breath. I began to engage socially and put much more value on the exchange with others than before. Friendliness, mutual respect, even courteousness were again essential achievements of human relating in my eyes. People striving for transcendence now looked like hard and dry rocks, deserts in the midst of the flourishing jungle of feelings and sensations. I was not much interested in spirituality anymore. Not being was important but living, not floating above the world of things, no more moving beyond the given and present but rather diving deep into it, that’s the way I used to put it at the time.

And a serious separation with my teacher occurred. Because of the way the students related to each other and, in a critical situation, how he behaved towards me. Only later did I learn that this hadn’t been my true reason, but for the time being the break-up provided the opportunity to emancipate myself from him and his community. And indeed emancipate myself from the spiritual world itself. This went so far that just looking at a spiritual book and reading a couple of lines made me physically sick. It didn’t matter whether these were books of my former teacher, New Age, Buddhism, Zen, Sufi or science and philosophy! The world, the senses, other people, relationships, feelings – that was all there was for me, nothing else really mattered.
And then, one day as I was just sitting in my room looking out of my window it dawned on me, and almost took my breath away: It’s all about nothing! Life, the cosmos, the world, my development, and enlightenment, all of this is nothing special at all. Life is about living not about any goal! Striving for enlightenment had gotten me to move, and now the reason for this movement had disappeared from me: I would still have countless experiences but they had no goal anymore; they did have a characteristic though, and that was to broaden my horizon. Nothing was more present than any other thing, everything and everyone is equally here (everything actual has this one quality: it being here now, its Isness, as Meister Eckhard used to put it), as if every phenomenon is celebrating its being, and I came to see it with these very eyes: Being is synonymous with bliss.

And then I was only in awe: That there is anything at all, that anything or anyone exists and that there’s an awareness to go with it recognizing phenomena and makes sense out of them, that is enlightenment! That everything is! It is remarkable and at the same time absolutely obvious, like the air we breathe. The obviousness of all things, states and situations, and of all experiences no matter what they are! What connects me with you, you with the world, and everything with everything else: That we are here, and just the way we are, with the consciousness that is available to us.

Suddenly and out of the blue I was free indeed. Nobody who could or had to okay me anymore, no more inner or outer authority, no guru or master, no god or Buddha, not even myself: I was nothing but the streaming of tendencies and inclinations that meanders through this time and world, that took himself for unenlightened and sometimes for enlightened and now for nothing in particular anymore; just one among the multitudes, not separated from what happens to be the case, always in the flow that’s flowing just now, and at the same time free of it — but not in a way that I could describe, even to myself. The old questions (Who am I? What is all of this? What is the meaning of life?) fell away or answered themselves.

And now I could read spiritual literature again. Much that had been dark or mystical to me before was now quite obvious and evident, often I even had to grin, saying, “Why be so complicated?” But what I noticed most was that hardly any of the enlightened ones said clearly that it was all about nothing. Clearest was Nagarjuna who had said about 1000 years ago: “Emptiness of all views is prescribed by the Buddha’s as the ‘way of liberation’. Incurable indeed are they who take Emptiness itself as a view. It is as if one were to ask, when told that there is nothing to give, to be given that nothing.”
A very beautiful old description of the way I go, the way of liberation.

When I met an old friend, now a sword-master, a few weeks later, and told him that I was still a bit angry with my former spiritual teacher who had withheld the most obvious of all facts, he smiled and asked, “And what is your anger good for?” I had to grin; that I had been so attached to my irritation, what an irony, it had only been there to give me enough space to look with my own eyes. Breaking up with spirituality had given me space, free of opinions and convictions, scriptures and teachings that I had taken in until that time, free of the idea of enlightenment. And all the anger disappeared. I contacted my former master again. And only now could I really start to appreciate his work.

Before my spiritual crises I had done energy-work once a week, and had thought of myself as a competent facilitator, someone who could give the participants essential experiences. Then I wasn’t so sure anymore and finished working. And with the distance from spirituality grew the distance from that kind of work. And the end of the crisis didn’t really change that, as I believed that it wouldn’t be right to ‘sit by the side of the river and sell water.’ What I had found is already given to all whether they know it or not. And I was far away from perfect wisdom, total emptiness, all-encompassing love, egolessness or some such. Sure, sometimes I look at people and look deep into their nature, sometimes I know all I need to know without knowing where that comes from, sometimes there is a silence that comes down on everything without smothering a single sound, sometimes I am flooded with compassion for a human being or other beings, and sometimes I’m not there although everything is there. But not one of these states can be taught anyway. I thought. Wrongly.

Factual happenings I bow down to: Sometimes when I am with people these days they suddenly see that all their endeavors are really all about nothing, and a huge load falls of their shoulders and they are free, and smile, for a moment; until they believe again that it can‘t be that simple or because of something else that bothers them. In my spiritual work I actually only work to reveal that smile in the background of all experiencing, if it has a real purpose at all. Even if I work with chakras, the flow of energies, or lead meditations or dance or whatever is happening, the real work is about the freedom from all attachment to experiences. Bowing down to the endless beauty that‘s here, the happiness of being alive, the pearls of insight that befall us; all of this is to be treasured, but sticking to experiences or the one that experiences them doesn‘t make sense, as it is all nothing special. That one has to discover for oneself though.

„Enlightenment is that which one hasn‘t got when one has got it,“ Sugata, publisher of a prominent German magazine devoted to ‚essentials‘ writes in an email to me. And hits the bull‘s eye. That‘s why I feel a bit awkward towards the army of neo-enlightened ones (I don‘t mean to put them down with terming them thus, but I simply use the pre-fix „neo“ to distinguish them from the enlightened ones so far; 23 of them are mentioned in the Satsang-Kalender of Connection 5/2000) especially if they speak of their enlightenment experiences, an experience which authorizes them to give Satsang and teach the „true nature“, „the one moment“, „total freedom“, „the reconnection to the original nature“ (all quotes are… well, quotes).

But if the enlightenment-experience is not an experience at all, as I tried to point out earlier from the example of my journey, if enlightenment is rather „that which one hasn‘t got when one has got it,” then what? What if the way in truth leads to nowhere? What if there is only a natural development, only beautiful places and vistas from the edge of the road, forever expanding horizons, but simply no end, and most of all no final end-solution to the problems of the world or our being in it? What if the enlightenment-experiences of the Satsang teachers are beautiful („I was one with Osho, god, all being“ for instance) but nothing but experiences? And what if, and this is the main point, the holding on to these enlightenment-experiences, the attachment to this state as the Real, True, Only State isn‘t different from attachment to other beautiful states, like making love for instance? Then these people are suffering from the enlightenment-disease, because that‘s how we could call this spiritual contraction where one is stuck with the enlightenment-experience or the one who experienced it.

I don‘t mean to say the enlightenment-experience of the neo-enlightened ones is irrelevant, no, not at all! I do believe they all had deep experiences far beyond the ordinary, and they can help others to make similar experiences. But to turn these experiences into the foundation of one‘s enlightenment or awakening misses the mark, as I have tried to show.

The opposite of this, to deny that one is attached to certain special experiences; enlightenment, freedom, etc. misses the mark just as much. To deny the dimension one is in at a particular moment only leads to detours, confusion and perplexity. One is then casting a mist. It doesn‘t make sense to deny the actually perceived state, the feeling of not being enlightened or being stuck in all kinds of structures or the ego, denying that would be even worse. To believe one is what one isn‘t doesn‘t confuse anyone else, apart from those people who already kid themselves into believing they are different from what they are.

What helps us on this journey is truthfulness, openness and authenticity. The spiritual city slicker has to clear himself of many things before he can accept the obvious. As long as reincarnation, Satsang, energy-work, retreats, therapies, esotericism of all denominations, astro- and other logics or even enlightenment are still essential questions or answers, how could one accept that all of this isn‘t special at all but just weather; clouds and sunshine and rain and snow and falling leaves?

So as long as one is searching it helps to do so with all one‘s heart, because whatever one does wholeheartedly and engages in totally will reveal its secret sooner or later. And that never stops. Any horizon can be broadened, and there will still be all kinds of things to master, and difficulties to rise above; but the unknown is without end. That‘s where my trust lies, without a shadow of a doubt. I accept what the unknown puts on my path, no matter what, being a free human being I have no choice: How could I possibly say no to what comes and goes on this journey?

Why God does not need a Throne

Adapted from a talk at the Serenity Comunity early Spring 2004

Up until now the relationship between a teacher and his students in spiritual communities or similar contexts has been more or less one sided. The teacher knew and lived “it” and the students didn’t know and live “it”. So in a way the teacher was the king and the students were his court.

Kelaniya.temple.war.of.throneThis model does not suit me very well, and to be honest it is “Old Age” to me, obsolete. The reality in which my life unfolds nowadays a spiritual teacher also learns from his students. Of course, he is much more experienced on the spiritual path and thus his students can learn from him, but they too have experiences that the teacher can profit from. It looks like a Moebius-loop to me: an endles braid in both directions.
I know, of course, that basically the relationship between a spiritual teacher and his students is all about what is beyond words, scriptures, thoughts and form. In the context of this article I will call what is beyond ‘the holy flame’. No spiritual teacher can pass on the holy flame no matter how much he would like to. He or she can only burn with this fire. The flame will go on burning, and when the time is ripe the flame itself will ignite the soul of the student. Up until that time they might catch fire for a moment or a while but it will extinguish again because the soul has not yet been ignited.
So the transmission of the holy flame is the true reason for the relationship between a spiritual teacher and his students, and as I see it nothing will change in that respect. I’m burning and at times the people around me catch fire, especially my students as they are very open to me. This fire can start whatever the context may be – just as with ordinary fire almost anything is combustable material… flames aren’t picky they’ll use anything combustable to fuel it. Nevertheless the context has so far been mostly feudalistic and it still is: a structure that doesn’t really fit in this time and age anymore.

It’s time for a revolution in heaven. God descended from his throne a long time ago, he doesn’t need it anymore. God doesn’t need bows. This doesn’t mean that a bow as a natural movement from the heart is now obsolete. When a feeling of deep thankfulness moves you bowing to god or your teacher may be the only way to truly express it. But to do that you need neither throne nor feudalistic structure. The king has abducted and now the court doesn’t have a job anymore…
buddhas empty throneThe feudalistic structure of spiritual communities is based on the realisation that the ego needs to be modest and humble before the soul can be ignited by the holy flame. A fat ego, an arrogant or überhebliche person doesn’t have the slightest chance to experience even a spark of the inner light. He or she is so full of himself, so pleased or abhorred – so busy with himself that not even the tiniest ‘something else’ fits in there. And to hear, “You have to yield, to obey and serve,” is quite humiliating for any ego, most of all an arrogant know-it-all. To humiliate the ego, to break the ego, to get rid of it: in a feudalistic structure everyone – except the very top of the pyramid – gets many lessons in humility, and that is as it should be. Modesty and humility are needed and we can’t do without them… but maybe we can realise them in a different way.
The revolution I am speaking about doesn’t need the traditional humiliation of the ego, yet it still learns the much needed humility – I’m sure because I have seen this happen time and again. It is not only the feudalistically structered obedience towards his teacher that makes the students ego more modest and humble but the love and respect of the teacher towards the student can also accomplish this – that is, if the student is not totally caught up his neurotic games but has already done a few steps on the path. Hard nuts need nutcrackers: the feudalistic structure is certainly good this regard. But most spiritually motivated people I meet apparently have already done away with this hardest of armouries – or never put them on in the first place. They can reckognize that humility is the proper attitude even in a non-feudalistic context.
Love and respect make you humble because good and bad or right and wrong don’t play a role here. Love and respect are not interested in those judgements. But the ego is always judging. It is in need of empowerment or justification, and it wants acknowledgement most of all – but love and respect are not acknowledging it. On the contrary, love undermines the ego structure. Love melts its armory. The tendency to isolate, to do ‘your own thing’, to be comfortably numb, to justify yourself etc. might appear when you are in the company of one who loves unconditionally, but these tendencies are simply not supported – on the contrary one sees their ugly faces and wants to get rid of them as soon as possible, so that you can rest and be where unconditional love resides… the ego armour melts.

That’s why love causes the revolution I’m speaking about.
Suppose one of my students is angry or even mad at me because I said or did something that hurt his feelings or convictions. In the feudalistic structure any kind of criticism is Majestätsbeleidigung and will thus be suppressed or sanctioned. The student will either swallow his anger or suppress it or eine Breitseite abbekommen for being so preposterous as to express it. Within a feudalistic structure he will be humiliated and his ego shot at and maybe even broken.

Yet within the context of love and respect I’ll say (with words or by action), “I can see you’re angry… and will go on loving you.” Because when love and respect rule everything can be just the way it is. And confronted with these energies the ego has to either melt or – when it can muster that kind of strength – withdraw. And when one of my students decides to withdraw to tend to his wounds or to foster his anger (Groll zu hegen) – regardless of what I might also feel I’m respecting that without any buts and don’ts – than he or she can reappear any time as she can be certain of my love and respect. Then the ego melts a bit and becomes more humble as it cannot attach to it’s resitance because in love and respect it really is of no importance whatsoever.
Respect means, to honor the dignity of another person, no matter what his or her ego looks like. If I respect you then your soul will perceive that no matter what you might think about me. That will make it difficult for you to reduce me to my habits or the things I said or did. You cannot but see the love in me and acknowledge that, even if only in your secret chamber.

It is well known that “everything is permitted in love and war.” Regarding war it is quite clear, the one who carries the guns can allow himself to do anything. But that everything is permitted in love is not that obvious because love is often confused with romanticism and its Hollywood-version. In this version of ‘love’ it is only permissible what will make the violins play or sweeten the feelings. But the way I see it is that love moves you to a Yes, a feeling, total, unconditional Yes towards everything that is the case just the way it is, a Yes to everyone present just as they are.

The basic ego structure – this movement in you that is trying to own everything – is the opposite of love. The ego even tries to control love and tame it like it does with everything else – that’s why the romantic Hollywood-version, being nothing but domesticated love, has lost almost every natural aspect and power. So an ego-navigated person can only have limited and limiting releationships in which not much can be or happen.

But a love-navigated person doesn’t know any limits. When moved by love like this you don’t say, “I only love you as long as you behave.” Love doesn’t make those demands. Or would you tell your father, mother or even child, “I only love you when you are lovely, nice and friendly.” That sounds pretty absurd in my ears, even though it is quite clear to me that most people only know conditional love and we can assume that they will actually say or think something like that. Nevertheless unconditional love is also present in these people, maybe perverted or confused as the person is deeply entangled in his or her suffering.

(Since Bert Hellinger’s work we can know that this without doubt. A really earth shaking fact of family constellations is the observation that even in families where the father or mother has abused their son or daughter, there is real love. It is quite unfair, and it is against all we hold dear: to have to reckognise that there is love even in abuse, be it in extremely perverted form. Well, love is not a romantic phenomenon but rather comparable to a force of nature.)

Unconditional love will inevitably lead to the revolution I speak about. If I understand the Bible correctly than Jesus lived just this revolution with his disciples. He was certainly not sitting on a throne, and he wasn’t worshipped by his disciples. He was much more like a primus inter pares: the first one among his equals. This is reflected in many pictures of the Last Supper where everyone is sitting around a table enjoying food and drink and company. So his feet weren’t kissed, and no one adorned him with garlands ofd flowers like it is he case twith so many Eastern gurus and those that copy that structure.

So obviously the revolution I’m speaking about is no so very new, it seems. On the spiritual Way what is important today has always been important. When your soul has ignited, when you are ‘enlightened’ or have ‘awakened’, when the holy fire is burning in your soul, you will become a Brandherd. Then others will want the fire from you; that’s only natural and as it has always been. And you don’t have a choice to pass on the fire or not, because whatever you do you’re burning. But you do have a choice regarding the structure in which the transmission of the holy fire can take place even if some spiritual teachers may not be aware of that choice.

In the feudalistic structure the teacher or master is regarde as perfect; he has achieved what is achievable. This then shows itself in the form of spiritual kingship, and that in it’s turn does attract students that want to become a king themselves. That’s why the student whose soul has caught fire within this structure usually has to leave his teacher and start his own little fire somewhere as it is impossible to be king next to a king. But when we live this revolution we can all catch fire without anyone having to go anywhere else to start his own. We can be connected in love and give and take from each other – and start a veritable Fl�chenbrand. So wether the teachers is burning and his students are warming themselves at his fire or if some or many of them are on fire themselves, they are being together in love and mutual respect.

We could say about the spiritual way that one person is at milestone 5, another is at milestone 10 and still another at milestone 15 and so on. The feudalistic structure is based also on the conviction that the one at milestone 15 is much further than the one at milestone 5. But the revolution is fueled by the insight that both are on the very same way – and by the observation that there is no final destination. The well known saying, “All ways lead to Rome,” is complete nonsense.
All ways lead everywhere.

The spiritual way has no final destination and the mystical endeavour no “final solution” so it is complete nonsense to say that one person is further on he path than another. That doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from others that are on the way, on the contrary. But to build a throne on the wayside at milestone 15 and then say, “If you want to know how to get from milestone 5 to milestone 10 you have to kiss my feet first,” belongs to the middle ages. We don’t need this structure anymore.
This doesn’t mean we’re all equal. No we are all different and everyone is unique. That means I can learn from every single one of you, and I do as a matter of fact. I didn’t catch fire or ignite my soul with you; it has been ignited elsewhere. But I did learn from you on many levels. And of course everyone of you can profit from my experience and being.

Surely, in my seminars and events I am in charge, I say where we will go and what we will do next. But the feudalistic structure where I sit on some pedestal and all of you sit one level below me is not up to date anymore. I’m experiencing this all the time: Someone is stuck in some ego movie somewhere, and I become still and leave it up to love and respect. Then usually that person wakes up to see what’s going on – what he or she is doing. And having been on this path for quite some time now I do know some ways to maybe make this a bit clearer to him or her. But I’ll only do that if love wants me to or if you draw it out of me.

I do not have particular plans for anyone; I don’t want you to go anywhere where you are not now. If I look at someone with the eyes of love and this person is in some movie or other then nothing in me wants to stop that movie. I might see – and usually do – that he would be much happier without it but that doesn’t mean I’ll try to get him out of it. This movie and the ego structure that projects it don’t encumber this love; on the contrary, where this love is no owning (the main activity of the psychic system called ego) can function. We don’t need the feudalistic structure to become humble, we do it with love and respect.

boab39_sigilSplashAs it does seem much easier for the people today to ignite their soul in a non-feudalistic context it seems to me the time has come for this revolution. That will also take care of one of the other problems of the feudalistic relationship between teachers and students on the spiritual path, and that is that the teacher is slowly losing contact with the reality most of his students live in. This is so because within this structure it is very hard to approach the teacher personally. And then we haven’t even mentioned the fact that within this structure abuse is very, very easy and students have a hard time noticing that (You can think of the inquisition in this regard or so called islamic terror, but you might also think of Sheelas “fascism” in Oshos buddhafield in Oregon; all these abuses in the name of god or enlightenment are being fostered by feudalistic structure that are not to be questioned.)

Nevertheless all of this has not hindered the transmission of the holy flame in the past as the only thing that is needed for this is a teacher burning with the fire and a student humble and trusting enough to ignite his soul. But – and now I come to a point that is very important to me – the feudalistic context in which this flame is being transmitted is always transported with it too. This is due to the way our psyche is apparently structured: we project the content usually to that form in which the content comes to us. Every structure in which the holy flame can burn is thus sanctified by it, and over time to the students and often even the teacher the form becomes just as holy as the fire itself.

If for instance you have deep mystical experiences in the christian context you would sanctify it and regard the form of worship, the christian teaching, the church hirarchy in which your ‘divine revelation’ happened as the body of the holy spirit, as it were.
Or suppose you have a deep spiritual experience in the context of buddhism. Then you would think that the special form of Zen, Vajrayana or Theravada – just to name a few buddhist schools – in which it happened is ‘it’. You would identify the form with the content simply because you saw the light in this form, and so you would probably speak with much conviction of the dignity of the Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.

And it is almost inevitable that most of the people having spiritual experiences in my presence will regard the structure and patterns we have created here almost as just as holy as the experience itself. This is often the case because as you’re having a mystical experience you often also feel an enormous authority, these experiences have a divine characteristic and divinity is the highest authority – that’s what many people feel. In these experiences you often have the feeling that you are perceiving an enormous or fundamental truth, an all encompassing meaning, eternal beauty, bliss and so on. All of this is, if you aren’t careful enough, projected onto the form in which it manifests.
As I see it the experience itself – if it is truly deep or mystical – will transport you to a dimension beyond form; but you mostly return to the form where you ‘started’ from. So in your understanding of what happened the formless and the form relate to each other in a way in which the formless sanctifies the form in some manner. But if you’ve been to that dimension often enough and your trust and inner certainty has grown than you see that the formless is actually sanctifying all form – unconditionally.
All these experiences and insights have led me to this revolution that I propose here and that we are already living at the Serenity Community, a revolution in which we leave the traditional feudalistic structure and the one sided relationship between teacher and student behind. And apart from everything I’ve said so far I want to really stress this: With this revolution we sanctify the context of love and respect, that structure in which the teacher and the student are moving along one and the same path – and we are charging this way with our holy fire so that it might carry us through new and fruitful landscapes.

Since ancient times the transmission of the holy flame happened in the context I have been calling feudalistic here – and as we can see this fire is still burning today. I don’t know if the revolutionary structure of love and respect can safely carry the holy fire like that. We’ll know in a few hundred years if this is so. But here and now I see the holy flame flowing and florishing within this context of love and respect, and so I am very zuversichtlich

God does not sit on a throne.
He is not even the center around which everything revolves.
If there is a whereabout of God
it is everywhere and in everything
and everyone is his homeststead.
You too!

The Living Field

Published in the German magazines SEIN and Connection

The Living Field

Physics has discussed fields for some time but now the term has been discovered to be significant for spiritual life as well. Readers of CONNECTION will have some working knowledge about the ‘knowing field’ which is used to explain the remarkable phenomena that happen in family-constellations according to Bert Hellinger, an explanation that is closely connected to Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of the ‘morphogenetic field’ [derived from Greek: morphe=form, and genese=create]. Another well known field is the ‘Buddha-Field’, a term that gained wide spread popularity in spiritual circles through Osho’s Sannyasins. And then there is the ‘energy-field’ that I have been using in my “energy-work” since 1987, revealing a most interesting aspect of what fields can be for spiritual seekers.

Bert Hellingers family-constellations are so popular these days that I do not want to bore the readers of CONNECTION with another account of what goes on there. What happened in Osho’s Buddha-field is probably also well known, be it only by the rantings of the Bild-Zeitung or the Stern. The energy-field that I create in seminars and events is not so well known. And because it will play an important role in the further considerations I’d like to draw a short outline from my experience in this field quoting from a report by a friend of mine participating in a seminar in Amsterdam.

“It is the year 1988. We are in a large room, 150+ square meters. This is an open evening for Mushins seminar in Amsterdam and around 35 people are present. At first we were dancing to great music, and when it was over Mushin asked us to form a circle. Then he put a few people in our midst and touched them here and there, placing them in sometimes odd positions. He asked us to tune in to them while he went to the stereo equipment and put on a new cassette — strange and beautiful pop-music. Some people in the middle began to move weirdly and in slow-motion, others much faster. Someone fell to the floor — being caught by a helper. At some point I closed my eyes.

Mushin probably walked by the people in the circle, and must have passed and touched me for I felt a warm laser beam of light penetrating my chest. My legs gave in and gravity did the rest. I fell,  and while falling I dissolved in an endless white space, my sweet shining home. Tears rolled over my face. I was safe, this was home, it had my ‘temperature’; I was delighted. Everything showed its true face: being ONE, resting in itself, round, all-encompassing”

These and other illuminating experiences happen often in energy-fields, and sometimes they happen in other ‘spiritual fields’ as well, experiences that go way beyond the scope of our ideas and concepts about reality. I know from countless experiences that those who partake in the energy-field are catapulted beyond the limits of the personal. Being in this field thus is an alternative to the isolation in the prison of the small self, the ego.

Energy and Information
When I dived into the knowing field of a family-constellation for the first time many years ago I was deeply touched by the perfection that expresses itself in the soul of a family, through people who could not possibly know what they were expressing. The information and often strong feelings came from a source that obviously was not in them,  being representatives they gave voice to those they represented. I was, and I still am moved by the fact that the knowing field expresses the informative and social variable whereas the energy-field (whenever I use the term energy-field, I mean the field that I’m using in my ‘energy-work’) is its mystical expression. Where the soul during a family-constellation is moved by information and knowledge,  body and spirit are moved by energy in the energy-constellations I use. In both fields the movement goes beyond the normal limits and reveals the fact that we are part of much larger constellations than those of the small I.

An interesting connection between the knowing field and the energy field is the movements of the soul in Hellingers family-constellations and the ‘energy-movements’ in my type of constellations; there is a great similarity between the two types of being moved by the field itself. As much as energy-movements happen in family-constellations there is information and knowledge are revealed in energy-fields, spontaneous knowledge that enlightens people’s situation in life. When this became clear to me I could also see in my seminars and events how terrific these two approaches complemented each other, and I sought a better understanding. Not for the work in seminars. On the contrary, I have learnt from years of practical experience that this work grows with the measure in which I can empty my self, tuning in to and acting upon what reveals itself to me intuitively. (Hellingers terms for what I call intuition here is phenomenological view.) I would call this maybe taoist practise, and it happens without words and explanations entirely.

Yet, from this practise interpretations, ideas, concepts and theories accrue. These in turn do have influence on what I do in seminars but most of all on ordinary life, the life I share with most of humanity. On this level well founded concepts and understanding is important and desirable. And by the way, I’m sure that the insights and understandings one finds in taoistic practise can stand the test of reason without fail.

So I chewed on the topic, looked at it from many angles, spoke about it with friends and therapists/experts, and at some point I let it go. “It doesn’t really matter,” I said to myself, “how energy and information are connected,” and I also dropped the elegant but uninformative thought that information is energy in formation,  constellated energy. “Most important is that it works and that it helps people on their way.”
And then, all of a sudden it dawned on me that both energy-field and knowing-field must be the two aspects of one encompassing field, like the two sides of a coin, both poles of a circle, male and female. The energy field is as much an expression of something deeper as the knowing or morphogenetic field is; I have been calling this unified, spiritual field The Living Field.

If we approach the Living Field on the energy-level it expresses itself as it does in the kind of constellations that I facilitate. But if we approach it on the information-level it expresses itself as knowing field. Approached on the level of the formation of biological beings it expresses itself as morphogenetic field. The Living Field encompasses and is the source of the biology, the family, and the larger humanity as it moves with the energy we all share with each other and our surroundings. The Living Field is Soul and Energy of the moment, form, gestalt and dynamics, connectedness and movement. All of this is enmeshed and embedded in the Living Field no exceptions.

All is ONE, or what?

It is an absolute cliché in spiritual circles and it is true as well: All is one. And if we ask around we hear that many people have had this kind of experience. To put it in my present terminology: the Living Field has revealed itself in some depth. About 10 years ago around 60% of the responders on a questionnaire in the USA said that they have had a mystic experience. But we don’t have to look that far. Many participants in seminars or events that create effective energy fields do have mystical experiences of variable depths, my friend’s experience mentioned above is a good example for this. And now an interesting question arises: Why does not everyone lead an enlightened or awakened life after such an experience, but rather keeps on seeking as if this experience never happened?

After reflecting on my own spiritual development and the many mystical experiences that happened I can only say, “Because I didn’t trust my experience, it was too ‘alien’. I rather trusted the convictions I had won so far in my life.” I was convinced, for instance, that I had to have this experience of oneness all the time. But when I really looked into this concept it became obvious that the experience of a separated, isolated personality, the ego had to be part of wholeness because there can be nothing outside of the Whole. All experience is interwoven with the fabric of our being, connected with everything that forms the Whole. Whoever understands and accepts this doesn’t expect his experiencing to be other than it actually is, whichever way it might be, it is already part of the all encompassing whole, the experience of this oneness being as much part of the whole as is the experience of separation.
For spiritual seekers this means that there is no definite or absolute aim or goal. There can be no experience that ends the search but rather the understanding that all experiencing is part of the infinite landscape of being, an organic part of the Living Field in which it partakes. This insight when it has penetrated body and soul has amazing consequences, consequences that reveal the greatness of the mystery in which we are positioned.

Such an interpretation of what these fields are can relax you so that you are finally able to simply do and let be what is appropriate to the situation in which you find yourself in. In this view there is nothing left to be done, except of course all the pragmatic decisions and activities to which our life, our situation and our destiny prompt us.