Where the mind resides

We have been brought up to believe that the mind is located inside the head. But there are good reasons for thinking that this view is too limited. Recent experimental results show that people can influence others at a distance just by looking at them, even if they look from behind and if all sensory clues are eliminated. And people’s intentions can be detected by animals from miles away. The commonest kind of non-local interaction mental influence occurs in connection with telephone calls, where most people have had the experience of thinking of someone shortly before they ring. Controlled, randomized tests on telephone telepathy have given highly significant positive results. Research techniques have now been automated and experiments on telepathy are now being conducted through the internet and cell phones, enabling widespread participation.

Speaker: Rupert Sheldrake
Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D. is a biologist and author of more than 75 technical papers and ten books, the most recent being The Sense of Being Stared At. He studied at Cambridge and Harvard Universities, was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge and a Research Fellow of the Royal Society. He is currently Director of the Perrott-Warrick project, funded from Trinity College Cambridge.

http://www.youtube.com/v/JnA8GUtXpXY

We are the next Buddha

Helen wrote in her blog “Why the next Buddha will be a collective.” I hope to show with this article where I am coming from in this regard so that in the time to come we can have beautiful dialogues, trialogues or any other -logues to help this meme propagate.

I guess, for me it all started in earnest when in the summer of 2005 one of my trainees asked, “What about we?” I guess, he asked that because I was using my own path and experience as a template for the spiritual journey, as most spiritual teachers do. Because that’s what I felt myself to be at that time, a spiritual teacher. And, being steeped in a guru culture, my role was centered around having a ‘working relationship’ with the divine, by whatever name you want to call it, and my teaching and methods were congruent with that. (I won’t go into the aspect of the “teaching beyond words and scripture” that also is very much a part of this; some of how I looked at these matters you find here.)
The question really struck me, and so I started to read a lot of Martin Buber, and what he had to say about the possible quality of true relationship moved me deeply.

Wer in der Beziehung steht, nimmt an einer Wirklichkeit teil, das heißt: an einem Sein, das nicht bloß an ihm und nicht bloß außer ihm ist. Alle Wirklichkeit ist ein Wirken, an dem ich teilnehme, ohne es mir eignen zu können. Wo keine Teilnahme ist, ist keine Wirklichkeit. Wo Selbstzueignung ist, ist keine Wirklichkeit. Die Teilnahme ist umso vollkommener, je unmittelbarer die Berührung des Du ist.
Das Ich ist wirklich durch seine Teilnahme an der Wirklichkeit. Es wird umso wirklicher, je vollkommener die Teilnahme ist.

Being in relationship one participates in reality, that means, one participates in a being that is not only one’s inner being nor is it the being outside of one. All reality is a becoming-real in which I participate without my being able to take possession of it. Without participation there is no reality. Where there is a taking into possession to oneself there is no reality. The more perfect the participation the more immediate is the touching of the thou.

The I is real through its participation with and in reality. And it becomes more real the more perfect the participation is.

(My translation of Martin Buber: Das Dialogische Prinzip – Ich und Du – Seite 65-66)

Over time starting to understand what Martin Buber is indicating I left behind my formal conviction that was very much founded on experiences interpreted through Eastern philosophy and spirituality. “Thou art That” (Vedanta)… “I and the world are one” (Upanishads)… “I am is all there is” (Advaita). And I was moved to explore in all manners possible to me, what is between us.

During the winter seminar of the same year I went for a walk in a wooded valley nearby. The afternoon sun was coloring the snow golden white, the gurgling streamlet hid underneath a thin layer of ice and a deep blue sky spanned over the wonderful silence, when all of a sudden I saw a flock of finches, sparrows, stock doves and a rusty brown bird with a many-colored tail that is very common here. Different birds in one flock settling in a couple of trees and starting a game, it seemed, flying from branch to branch and tree to tree: a fink jumped-flew onto a branch on which a dove was sitting who then flew to a branch on which one of the brown birds was sitting and so on. And it seemed to have a rhythm: the birds in a game I used to play as a child called “Bäumchen wechsle dich” – a delightful jumping and a flying all over.
I had never seen anything like it or heard of it before, yet this experience befitted my development of the period very well. It isn’t important what species of bird I am with – what matters is engaging with what is between us, “Can we find a common game?” I wrote in my diary. Because then we can play with all species of birds in the trees of life. You show yourself as the sparrow or the dove you are, as the crane or the eagle or any other bird you find yourself to be, and you are taking the other birds just the way they are… and then something new, unknown, a never before seen or experienced game begins. Whatever song you sing let’s hear it, and listen to our melody, because without both the game, our joyous, delightful, mutual game cannot happen.

That spring and summer I was in trouble because I started to see that I couldn’t go on with my old way of teaching in which I was the one that “has it”, and the people coming to me didn’t – or where not conscious of it. Not, that I didn’t feel connected anymore to the deep sources of life and being, not that there were no more Satori’s or deep mystical states – quite the contrary many of my days were spent in a very juicy sense of lightness, as if bubbles of champagne were coursing through my veins. But it was what I and others made out of this that was the trouble. It was the ‘vertical spirituality’ in the patriarchal mode that I became wary of. It reminded me very much of feudalism, a social structure that I didn’t want to be part of anymore.
And as my opposition was growing (the article linked above was written in that period; you can see how very critical it is) so was my insight into what I came to call the emerging archetype of the “between us”. There is the huge P2P movement, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, distributed research, Web 2.0 & 3.0, etc.; the Internet has opened a huge gate towards the culture of collaboration in the production of knowledge and understanding but also of products and services.
I also came in touch with spiritual teachings and philosophies that are deep and and encompassing, thorough and practical and sophisticated as well, which apparently are not in need of the ‘vertical stance’ (John Heron‘s participatory spirituality, Jorge Ferrer‘s revisioning of transpersonal psychology, Alan Rayner’s inclusionality, Samuel Bonder‘s wakening down in mutuality… to name but a few).

I also saw that many of the methods I was using already for quite some time – dynamic presencing for instance – could be regarded very much as an expression of the spirit between us, the “We” (whenever I am alluding to the emerging archetype of the “between us”, which is also “the spirit between us” I will from now on be using We with capital W). And as I realized this the methods changed to incorporate this understanding. I started to realize that my real art is creating an atmosphere and situations in which the We can appear and start to move and even incorporate each and every one of us. The beauty of course is that this understanding meshes with another insight that came out of facilitating “Enlightenement guaranteed ;-)” events, a method that has become famous through Genpo Roshi who calls it “Big Mind”. Suffice it to say here that this method uses voices or sub-personalities as the main gate to understand how the human mind works. So there is not only the We between the many persons outside of us but inside of us as well. These ideas evolved into an understanding that I will sketch in more detail below.

Then in autumn and winter 2006 I went through a deep existential crisis which touched all aspects of my life, heart and mind – to put it in the metaphor I met the senex, Saturn, and it took quite some time before I could discover the We and allow it to unfold between us. But as spring dawned and with it my old friend Jupiter it was as if I started to hear a symphony – many different melodies coming together. And if I put it in language, this is how it sounds…
At this moment of our history we are on a critical path starting to leave an old view behind. If I am to sketch the perspectives of this view in a few broad strokes I would say it is basically one of centralism. It reminds me of what I think went on at the time when Kepler revolutionized the astronomical place of earth and sun. Before him most people, even the most intelligent ones, believed the earth was the center of the cosmos. But now he showed that the sun was at the center. It took a few hundred years for us then to realize that this is really not so, this cosmos does not have a center (more about this metaphor it in this article). So instead of our sun being at center we are now faced with innumerable stars and their relationships – constellations and configurations. So as beautiful as the sun might be around which I turn, and as enlightening the sun might be around which you turn, we are discovering that if we do not find the We (the movement and nourishment in our relationships and what happens or doesn’t happen in it) between us this universe starts falling apart into discrete stars and galaxies which are separated by huge stretches of empty space.

So it is very beautiful and makes deep sense that obviously this space is not empty at all; it is flowing over with the We that embraces all. And as I said, the We is making itself felt, understood, intuited all over this globe and is manifesting in many different ways – as people wanting to cooperate, to collaborate, to be in community and communion, seeing that the time of heroes (central suns) is definitely over, the time for the saviors and lone leaders that could set things right again. The world and its problems have become so complex that we can only hope to find adequate answers in “circles”of very different people where we can meet eye to eye and heart to heart – in a sort of collective leadership maybe. And this is underfoot already on a worldwide scale. The place here would not suffice to mention all the initiatives that are going on all over the world. Yet, this is one aspect of We manifesting.

Another aspect is the sense of spiritual or soul families or clans finding each other again across countries and continents. It is as if we have chosen ages ago to come together in this critical time on the planet to be midwives to what is wanting to emerge. What ever may be the case we do recognize each other and there is an immediate connection beyond words, even beyond understanding; all we do is accept it.

A third aspect manifests through what has been called the Circle Being, manifesting as a higher order of being together with an incredible coherence that draws in the individuals participating. This certainly is We, being highly coherent. (Helen has written about it here, and I have also reported a very strong experience here). The “between us” can also come into being in what has been called “a silver moment” or in German Sternstunde, “stellar hour”. In the Bible it has been alluded to – and much misinterpreted as only applying to the divine person of Jesus – as, “Where two or three are gathered in My Name there am I am in their midst.” (Matth. 18:20)

A fourth aspect is the insight that our very consciousness itself can best be regarded as plural and not singular as a traditional mysticism has it. In the individual this shows itself as sub-personalities or the many voices that speak in us – for instance the ego, the inner child, the judge, the saboteur, the seeker, the achiever, the non-seeking mind, the inner master, the higher self etc.. So looking at our individual consciousness or psyche as a “we” rather than as an “I” would pave the way for a “circle being” to manifest inside the mind of the individual. This to me at this moment is one of the most interesting aspect of the emerging archetype.
It seems obvious that the “inner We” does not dissolve individuality, I or ego; it rather enhances its possibilities and functionality, because as the so far dominant ego realizes its embeddedness it can let go much easier of its compulsory need to control, and become part of the conductorless orchestra of the “inner We” tuning in to the “larger We” dawning on all of mankind and even, so I think, all beings and what we now still call derogatively ‘dead matter’.

This allows us to regard the emerging We as a scalable, fractal phenomenon on many and maybe even all levels. Contemplating all of this I come to the understanding that I am called – as are many others – to support and nourish these dynamic constellations of individuals and voices to configure themselves so that the transformation that is necessary for the health of the planet and its inhabitants is facilitated optimally.

Being radical

Sitting in the bathtub just a moment ago, considering the situation I cooperated towards in ‘my’ life I found what the very radical way I go about things – burning bridges often, or at least kindling a strong fire – is all about.

I mean, I could really take it a bit slower, turn the things I’m doing into some kind of entrepeneural succes before I move on to the next thing – instead, so far, I discovered something deeper, more true, and instead of first exploring I think I should drop what I have, sacrificing it for it.

So why?

I guess, it’s my father. A radical in his own right – so I had to be more radical then him to show him!

I don’t know if that’s the true reason, but from what my feeling says – feels as if some heavy weight has lifted from my shoulders – it is satisfying. So I guess, I can take it from here.

Moving beyond the Patriarchal Temptation

This article is to be published on a German magazine soon – please do not publish or copy to other sites or places. Once it is published, I’ll put it up here regularly… and take this note away. So until then, feel free to link or comment.

Vertical Spirituality and the Suffering it Causes

Let’s start with two examples for the suffering recently caused by vertical spirituality:
Ken Wilber is an intelligent theoretician of spirituality and also an enlightened practitioner living what he speaks and writes about. If you’ve read his diary-like book “One Taste” you know that he has indeed realized the level of consciousness that he describes in his books as the highest.
All right then: June 8, 2006 Ken Wilber throws up a appalling rant against his critics on his weblog.

The whole article here.

Happy in Plzen

This weekend I did my first weekend seminar in Plzen, and so I could now test what I’ve come to call ‘cooperative spirituality’ outside of Serenity for the first time.

The group room was incredible. On the photo you see just one of the 4 walls covered with paintings by a schizophrenic artist. It turned out to be some kind of gallery as well, even though I doubt if many people come. Not because these paintings are awful (they aren’t, I think) but because the place is actually a home for mentally handicapped children.seminar room Plzen It took a while before we got used to the ambiente here. So I sought the cooperation of the spirits that looked through these picture and walls and across the fences of our imagination; and they cooperated and helped…

It was a wonderful seminar in which we could test some new meditations; they proved to be very helpful. So I’ll be publishing one in my upcoming newsletter.

Govinds houseJanshi and I lived in the ‘cottage’ of our organizer in Plzen. StillebenIt was quite an interesting place. I’ve tried to catch some of the atmosphere there with these two ‘still lives’..Stilleben 2

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…

On TV and birds’ singing

Went to visit Top-TV studio to watch the video of my last appearance, learn something from it – if possible And it was possible: Have to wear something that doesn’t wrinkle up when I demonstrate some exercise like the Diamond Yoga sequence. Also have to go much slower about the ‘warming up’ in the beginning. (Well, to tell you the truth: I was still a bit nervous when I started out, and when I am I’m going much faster than is good for an audience ‘out there’.) The last few days I think a nightinggale was singing in our garden – don’t know for sure because it’s such a long time since last I heard one; it kept on singing after dusk and for the 40 – 50 minutes or so I don’t think it once repeated a songline! In the morning and the evening we have an incredible amount of birds singing here, and they enliven my morning-meditation. I have heard that they do the singing to audibly mark their territory, but to my ears in meditation their singing is a gateway to beautiful joys welling up inside of me.

Our inner Censor…

… proves to be a great helper.
Today, during my weekend-seminar here in Prague (beautiful weather, so we can have our breaks in the park just across the street having a fabulous view of the Golden City) in what I’ve recently come to call Diamand Dialogues I was speaking with the censor in all the participants of the group.
So, yes, the job of the censor is to sift the stuff that’s going through our mind and heart and body and say what is bad and what is good, and using the tool of giving us all kinds of bad feelings – which can be judged by the inner judge but is not my business here – try to influence the whole person (‘me’) to comply with its findings.
Now, one of the interesting things I found out with the group today is that the censor really doesn’t make the rule or values that he uses in finding out what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ for us – he’s just administering them. And the poor perspective isn’t getting much credit for doing so, is it?
So here is a bow of respect to all inner censors for doing the best they can to make the whole person live up to the values it holds dear.

Diamond Yoga on TV, again

This morning – well, from 11 until 11:23 (don’t you love the number 23 too?) – I was demonstrating Diamond Yoga again on Top-TV. Only this time there was the concrete purpose of promoting my upcoming seminar in Prague, starting tomorrow evening with an open event, and the seminar proper will be on Staurday and Sunday. And this time I did a deliberate heart connecting exercise as well, asking all the viewers to feel the connection with all other people doing this exercise with us at the same time. Quite a beautiful energy permeated the studio. So much so that later one of the people of the station came to me thanking me for doing so. “I felt really nourished,” he said.

So if you’re around Prague tomorrow, come and join us here.

Diamond Yoga on TV

Mushin on Top-TVI just really had a great time on the Czech TV station Top-TV again. Nirdosh and Madrina came along and so did Barami who was my translator. We spoke a bit about the work first and what this subtle energy actually is and then we went on to do some Diamond Yoga. And then we spoke a bit more about ‘spiritual matters’. (The picture is from the last time I was on Marketa and Slaveks show).
From coming Thursday on I will be on this station every two weeks with Diamand Yoga from 10 to 10:30 – so maybe I’ll see you there?

Jewels in the Morning Sun

When I get up these spring mornings here at Serenity, and look out my window before I go to the morning exercises Morning Jewels 2I see a whole meadow covered by jewels. Surely, if you were a scientist, you could ask such questions as, “Why is it that these tiny droplets do assemble at the top of the leaves of grass most of the time and not just everywhere?” But a guy like me just lets himself be overwhelmed by the sparkling beauty of this phenomenon. Morning Jewels 4Surely, it’s a richess that you cannot share any other way than by the eyes of the heart – but it’s richess nevertheless, and I am utterly thankful for these beautiful days with jewels sparkling in the morning sun.

Where I live…

… most of the time, that is. A panorama picture of the grounds of the Serenity Commnity
taken by Pujaro ofPan of Serenity goodstream

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?