I will talk about what needs to be talked about in relationship to where you are (nothing more, nothing less). This is not about the person that wrote me these anymore. We had our exchanges, and now that’s over, so this is not a medium for me to drive the point home further. The point, for this person, has driven as far as it’s going for now.
How did he know I was going to read this and how does he know where I am?, you might ask. I didn’t know you were going to read this and I don’t know where you are, but the universe has a funny way of working these things out. The all knowingness that comes with awakening is not an actual all knowingness. It’s the opposite: complete surrender to knowing anything and just doing, in certain terms, what you are told. The universe knew and that’s all that is important.
He’s first email:
I have been meaning to write for some time, and so before the impulse simply melts away, I wanted to add some comments and thoughts about your blog post questioning the role of a teacher's transmission, which seems, if I understand your perspective, to relate to your larger position that no single state, so single experience, is really the totality of a fluid, ongoing, open interchange between the world and the perceiver, whether in a state of apparent duality, or a state of apparent unity, or perhaps even up to and including real unitive states.
The idea that what Muktananda (and thus Siddha Yoga after him) was doing or offering was not anything more than a subtle energy manipulation has been voiced by various people through the years, some of whom knew Baba, like Da Free John (Da Love Ananda), and thus had the benefit of his grace. Then there were some who may never have experienced this form of spiritual blessing, and may have questioned whether it could exist, or if it were indicative of high state in the teacher, etc. One perspective on this which I can certainly entertain is that Muktananda was not completely free of ego, or ambition, and thus he was willing to use the extraordinary spiritual gifts he clearly had to build an "empire". As someone who has met many people somewhat like you and Tara over the years; for those with the real passion for the search, and a willingness to go to the ends of the earth, to India or Nepal or Japan or where-ever, they often seem to feel that Siddha Yoga was too easily available, and that only those willing and able to make it to the motherland were really serious. Often, as a part and parcel of this intensity, many of them find something like a traditional village Guru, frequently with no organization nor many students, and often the feeling I have gotten is that they often feel that any organization is suspect. I don't know where I stand on all of this, except to say that I do think organizations can have profound problems, but they can also make access to the teachings and practices open to large numbers of students, and I personally don't think I would have been able to make the shift towards a pathless path without having worked through a path and an organizational format. This is sort of like that ageless question of what brings the greatest openings: the years of sitting and practice, or the final letting go of it all?
Then there is the perspective that was quoted in Caplan's "Half Way Up the Mountain" that _____ had us read this summer after ______ that seems more profound to me; that clearly tons of people had amazing and very clearly profound experiences with the grace of a teacher, Muktananda in the case mentioned, but the author basically said, what have they been able to do with it? This to me gets at a theme that recurred all through Caplan's book; that very few students seem willing or perhaps able to really become disciples of a teacher in the first place, and even more importantly, how many are willing or able to become disciples of grace itself? If we assume, which I do at this stage, that the real teachers can offer profound blessings, and the blessings they offer are fundamentally the same to all, why do people experience them in such varied ways? I think this has to do with the state of preparation and openness of the student, what we might call student's grace, which is often overlooked, and does seem to be one of ______'s big insights in her practice and her teachings. I do feel that people who are gifted with real understanding and real grace, if they are open to it, will naturally be called to spread that grace themselves. I know this has been happening through me in a few cases over the last year, and like you, I don't really understand it, nor do I seem to have any role in "choosing" who or when or why to offer anything up. There was a moment this summer in Santa Fe, when I was in a state of unity, or as much of it as I have experienced, when something I had no understanding of came through me, the only understanding I had was that I had the intention to share my state with another one of the students. It was a purely selfless act of love as far as I could tell, although I sure there was more personal baggage due to our relationship. This sense of grace coming from students, and not all from a teacher was somewhat downplayed in modern Siddha Yoga, where the marketing forces seemed to compete with the teaching forces, and I can say that I certainly did not really incorporate this until I had a sense that my own role was as important in the process as the role of the teacher. And yet, with humility and experience around those who can and do open people to grace inside themselves, it is hard to downplay the role of the teacher. I had the clear sense at one particular point this summer that we were being initiated into the enlightened state, and that was what I experienced, although it may have been an interpretive overlay on an experience which was really formless. I do know that I feel that we all were given so much, and that we were giving ourselves so much, it is interesting that after the ________ retreat, the group more or less fell apart, which may have had something to do with some subtle intention or necessity that we take responsibility for our own states, even after we had been lent the state of a Siddha.
Why do so many of us prefer the idea of an idealized teacher, and not prefer to see the greatness in us? This has a great deal to do with the psychology of those drawn to the spiritual paths in my experience, and it seems that you simply have to go through that phase until you can drop the sense of shame or unworthiness which is the seed of this sort of self image problem. I know that this has been a long term process which grace has worked on in my being, and I can tell you that at times in my Sadhana, I found it ironic that what the Shakti seemed to working on in me was really nothing more or less than remedial ego development in a conventional western model, only being worked on in a subtle and largely unconscious process. Another quality that you commented on to some degree is the sense of "wanting more" which we often bring to even the most empowered transmissions, and this often takes the form of wanting an experience that your friend just had, instead of honoring your own experience and recognizing that it was perfect for who you are, and where you are, etc.
So, I don't know where I stand on some of the other positions you allude to in your writings, except to say that you are extremely gifted, and blessed with your openness and great trust in the universe, you will doubtlessly find that you do touch people deeply, whether you do it in the form a "spiritual teaching" or in the business world. Thanks for the dialogue!
After reading the above email three times, I sent it to Tara and asked her to explain it to me. Maybe I was missing something, but it really didn’t make much sense. Don’t misunderstand, I can understand the words, the syntax, the document as a whole, but it is convoluted and unclear. I understood mainly that he was trying to help me get something that he didn’t think I got, but was doing it in spiritual double-speak giving the affect of egoless consideration. This might work in the world of the deluded and bound (though not that well), but it doesn’t work for me. I can see right through that. This attitude, coupled with the fact that this person really has no idea what they believe, and desperately wants to be what he considers awake, makes the email as clear as the Mississippi.
It took me about a week to truly understand what was going on. I understood what was happening on meta-human conditional levels, but I needed to understand what the sentences meant too. Once I understood, I hesitated in responding. I only respond for two reasons, I really like the person I’m writing and enjoy dialoguing, or I know there is a possibility for awakening in the process and writing will assist with that. I wasn’t sure if writing would help this person in awakening. He’s a professional spiritualist, which isn’t great. He’s done all the work, knows all the answers and knows how to play the spiritual game. This generally works in delusional spiritual land where he is never challenged on it because everyone in delusional spiritual land is afraid of the entire thing falling apart.
It finally became clear: write. I sat down and the below is what unfolded.
My first response:
Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts. Sorry it took me a week to write you back. I am just exiting seven straight days of teaching, and I am on a flight home and am just getting to this now.
I've read your email a few times and I wonder what the point is. I am not entirely sure what it is you want from me or are interested in discussing, but I will respond to what I feel needs responding to.
You seem to be under the impression that I have a perspective and an opinion. I don't. I say what needs to be said when it needs saying. If someone, in that case Y, sent me a question like that today, I might answer entirely different. I answer to the level of destruction that is needed to create freedom in the moment for that person. Nothing more, and nothing less.
I don't, fundamentally, have a problem with Siddha Yoga, big time Gurus, or anything of that nature. They don't seem to be generating a lot of awake people, but that's their business (and their students’), not mine.
I make the assumption that if someone writes me they are inviting my perspective however it is. I'm offering you this email with that understanding. You can take it or leave it - that's up to you. However, truth is, I have no interest in discussing spiritual growth or spiritual ideas. I say what wants to be said and then I move on. I have no ideas about you or this beyond what you've wrote below, so I am simply responding to this as it appears now.
* * *
I'll address a few of your points individually now:
“As someone who has met many people somewhat like you and Tara over the years; for those with the real passion for the search, and a willingness to go to the ends of the earth, to India or Nepal or Japan or where-ever, they often seem to feel that Siddha Yoga was too easily available, and that only those willing and able to make it to the motherland were really serious. Often, as a part and parcel of this intensity, many of them find something like a traditional village Guru, frequently with no organization nor many students, and often the feeling I have gotten is that they often feel that any organization is suspect.”
I don’t feel Siddha yoga was too available. It just wasn’t obviously very effective. There were and have been millions of Siddha Yoga students over the years, and it doesn’t seem like most of them woke-up. It doesn’t seem like really any of them did. Can you point me to 20 liberated Siddha Yoga students? Out of the millions there must be 20, right? Most of the Siddha Yoga students I know act and behave like spiritual and human children. If the organization was producing awake people, I would be all for it. If the organization was, in the least, producing adult humans, I would be all for it. However, this doesn’t seem to be happening, so you should be clear about that. If they were advertising something different, then that might be okay, but they’re not, so maybe someone should start asking some serious questions.
To be clear, further, I didn’t go to India to experience anything enlightened. I went because it seemed fun, and I wanted to spend time with Tara. I carried with me there no illusion of the motherland. It was neat, but so is getting coffee in the morning, and that’s about as far as it goes.
“I don't know where I stand on all of this...”
“This is sort of like that ageless question of what brings the greatest openings: the years of sitting and practice, or the final letting go of it all?”
Who’s asking that question? You? Then own that. It’s not a question I’m asking. Consciousness wakes itself up however it wants to. Period. There is no prescription.
“Then there is the perspective that was quoted in Caplan's "Half Way Up the Mountain" that _____ had us read this summer after _____ that seems more profound to me ; that clearly tons of people had amazing and very clearly profound experiences with the grace of a teacher, Muktananda in the case mentioned, but the author basically said, what have they been able to do with it? This to me gets at a theme that recurred all through Caplan's book; that very few students seem willing or perhaps able to really become disciples of a teacher in the first place, and even more importantly, how many are willing or able to become disciples of grace itself?”
Grace doesn’t need studentship. Grace is free, and clearly bestows itself freely on whatever and whoever it chooses. Again, there is no prescription. Awakening happens however it wants. It may take the appearance or form of practice and studentship, but things are never as they appear.
“And yet, with humility and experience around those who can and do open people to grace inside themselves, it is hard to downplay the role of the teacher. I had the clear sense at one particular point this summer that we were being initiated into the enlightened state, and that was what I experienced, although it may have been an interpretive overlay on an experience which was really formless.”
May have been an interpretative overlay? Everything is an interpretative overlay (that statement is too). You’re still hanging out in separation land of teacher, student, individual, goal and destination. Where do all these ideas leave you? Have you ever stopped to consider, who gives a fuck what I think about anything? Really?
“Why do so many of us prefer the idea of an idealized teacher, and not prefer to see the greatness in us?”
Who are you speaking about here? Who’s the us? You? Stop projecting. Start owning. It’s the first step towards freedom and maturity.
* * *
It’s time to kill it all, X. Perhaps I’m being hard here – I don’t know. But the soft “Let X figure it out for himself” doesn’t seem to be working for you. You have to kill the guru, kill the practice, kill the tradition, kill your perspectives... Kill everything. The email below is such a mishmash of spiritual ideas and attachments, I have no idea what it says. Freedom is not grace, or sakti, or unity, or “the ultimate unitive state,” it’s right here, and right now, free to be you as you, as you are. Stop.
I have no problem being too hard if I know it’s going to be effective, but I just wasn’t sure this was going to be effective. I paused before I hit send, "I guess we’ll see," I thought.
As far as I was concerned there was only two really appropriate answers: 1) “Thank you” or 2) “Fuck off.” The “fuck off” would have been entertaining and expressive that he at least deeply considered what I wrote outside of filtering it through his already well-established “spiritual” swamp and it rubbed him in a way that pissed him off.
No such luck. Here’s his next response:
Thanks for your thoughts and comments below. I am sure you are seeing some things about me I appreciate the need to look at, both comfortable and some not so much. I agree with your main comments about Siddha Yoga, although I am not aware of any community that seems to be producing awakened people in large numbers. I really only am involved with ______'s students at this point, perhaps there are other groups with a higher rate of success, but it is very hard to judge other people's states in my experience. I am of the opinion that a community is much like a great college: they can only provide the context and environment for learning, not a guarantee without the student taking responsibility for their own progress, or letting go, etc.
To some degree you were also working around the vagueness in my initial comments as I had tried, and clearly didn't succeed in trying to say that you might want to look at adopting a more open minded posture, with more humility towards the process of a teacher influencing students. This recurs in virtually all of the stories around the Indian saints; Ramakrisha and Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Ramana Marhashi, and on down to the present. So, to reduce the venerable process of transmissive teachings down to a posture which says none of it is necessary for awakening may be true for you, but it may also be that you have enjoyed these blessings and are now in a place where you no longer need them, or perhaps no longer feel you need them. To reduce this whole tradition down to modern Siddha Yoga is also clearly a logical mistake that would seem to mimic the feeling in Siddha Yoga that only their tradition is a source of grace, which is to confuse marketing with the teachings in my view. Especially if, as seems to be the case, you are gifted as a teacher, and this mysterious process may be coming through you, it may be premature to say that these sorts of blessings have no value. I personally really like _________'s insistence that these gifts are not from the teacher, but from the universe, and maybe better thought of as coming through the teacher.
On your more personal and profound points of my moving beyond a dualistic world view and really dropping whatever keeps me tied to my limited identity, I greatly appreciate the reminder, however stern it may feel for you or me.
As you can see, there wasn’t a lot of change or movement, and the same ideas are still spinning themselves out. Dreamstate existence is much like a broken record: spinning the same thing out over and over again. He did at least begin to be more clear and own what it is he wanted to accomplish. That was a step in the right direction, and reflects greater authenticity as a human being. I again hesitated, what’s the point? I decided to give it one last shot, and see if I can make myself clear.
There truly isn’t a path of perspective to the awakening thing - there is just the appearance of paths and perspectives. I don’t have an awakening philosophy. Whatever is necessary whenever it is necessary. I do ram against mainstream spirituality a lot in my talks, but that’s just because most of the people that come to me have spent time in this, or in the least has ideas about it. I don’t have a formal position about spiritual systems. I am not a nihilist when I say something like, “There is no meaning.” What I’m really saying is the meaning may not be what you think it is. I do not have a formal position on the idea of a “self.” When I say there is no self, I am saying that perhaps the self isn’t what you think it is.
Anyway, round two:
Perhaps I'm not being clear.
Again, X, I do not have a position, opinion, or perspective on teachers, traditions, or grace. I say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.. To mistake my words for my perspective is a mistake. To mistake my perspectives expressing my experience of humility, gratitude, or history is a mistake. To mistake my internal experience as a definition of who I am is a mistake. Y, and most certainly you, do not need to see me have a healthy, grateful, open, and humble perspective when it comes to teachers, grace, and traditions, as this is exactly what both of you have, and exactly what keeps both of you from freedom.
You're right, there aren't any communities producing large amounts of awake people. Ever wonder why that is? Or did you accept that it's simply because people don't work hard enough, will reach it in another life, or something like that? It's time to put mainstream spirituality and teaching on trial, X. You. Specifically you. Right now. Put mainstream spirituality on trial. Put all of your stories about spiritual teachers, studentship, humility, Saktipat, Siddhas, being open to other perspectives, Gurus, traditions, flows of grace, and stages of awakening on trial.
Make the choice, do you want to be open, humble, developed spiritual guy or do you want to be awake and free? They're different things - at least right now.
Above all else, enjoy yourself. This is just a bunch of bullshit anyway.
Was this more clear?
His last response:
The more that I read your comments, I think I am getting what you are trying to say, which seems to be that if you aren't working from your personality, the baggage of opinions, particularly fixed opinions, is simply nowhere near fluid enough to serve you, or those you try to reach, or reality itself. This is an area I have been working on, or have come up for me as when I am in open states, I don't tend to connect well with a sense of directed action. I am so comfortable in the witnessing part of those states, which often come with a sense of delight and even bliss, but I for reasons I haven't fully worked out, I seem to locate action and volition inside the personality, which means I am not connecting so well, if at all, to a sense of intuitive trust in my capabilities to act with the insights of the Self to guide me. This seems to revolve around the need to develop greater trust in both myself and the universe.
As for the rest of it, I do thank you for your unique version of the crazy wisdom tradition screaming into my ear, "Kill the Guru, kill the disciple, drop the crap, and fly free you idiot eagle".
In the end, we got a little closer to him seeing himself clearly, but not all the way. He took what I did, tossed it in the Crazy Wisdom box, and went on with life. Perhaps he’ll do the work, but I doubt it.
Kill it all, and see what's left. I dare you.