I readily admit that my reaction to the comment “doctor heal” left a few days ago on my “A thoughtful ‘no thanks’ to Radha Soami Satsang Beas” post wasn’t a sign of an enlightened being. But, then, I don’t make any claim to being such. The commenter, however, said:
I hate to rain on your parade but the inner experiences are very real for us exp ONES>>>better luck next time around. At that point try to leave the intellect where it belongs. Behind.
I assume “exp” means experienced. Meaning, those who have enjoyed the mystical sights and sounds that the Radha Soami Satsang Beas gurus describe in considerable detail in the RSSB literature. And “next time around” refers to my next incarnation. In that rebirth, doctor heal advises me to stop thinking so much.
Can’t argue with that advice. But unfortunately I’m still stuck in this life, where I do use my intellect to decipher the meaning of comments left on my blogs.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard from someone who claims to possess mystical knowledge that I lack. I’m always eager to know more, because, well, I want to know more myself. So I said to doctor heal (both in a comment of my own and an email):
Please tell us more. In detail. About your experiences. How did you achieve them? What were they, exactly? Why are you sure they are genuine? Don't leave us unfortunate ones in the lurch. Place your spiritual knowledge where it belongs. Out front.
We ended up exchanging some email messages. I pointed out to doctor heal my post where Howard reported that the current RSSB guru says that it isn’t a big deal to talk about inner experiences, notwithstanding the belief of many disciples that this is forbidden.
But my correspondent replied that it is a big deal, proving, if nothing else, that he considers his own opinion to be more valid than that of the leader of the spiritual organization to whom he pledges allegiance. I was disappointed. As I am every time someone declines to describe their mystical knowledge after telling me, “I know stuff that you don’t.”
Come on, people, don’t be teases. If you’re going to wink at me from the bar, at least let me sit down next to you, have a drink, and hear your story. I’ve been wandering in a barren wilderness of meditation for over thirty years, like many other hungry souls. Throw me a bone.
(As an aside, whenever I feel like a meditation failure I dig out Thomas Keating’s “Open Mind, Open Heart” and read, on page 10:
I continue to meet people who are very advanced in the spiritual journey who insist that they have never had the grace of contemplative prayer as a felt experience of God…Less than five per cent of cloistered contemplatives that I know have the mystical experiences that Teresa or John of the Cross describe. They generally experience the night of sense, and a few experience the night of spirit. Their consolations are few and far between…What is the essence of contemplative prayer? The way of pure faith. Nothing else. You do not have to feel it, but you have to practice it.)
Look, my supposedly enlightened fellow spiritual seekers (or should I say, finders), it’s evident that there is no solid objective evidence for divinity. If there were, science would have incorporated it into theories about the nature of reality. And whoever manifested that evidence, whether a person or an organization, would quickly rise to the top of the religious pecking order.
So we’re left with subjective evidence. In his essay, “Good and Bad Reasons for Believing” (in A Devil’s Chaplain), Richard Dawkins says that three bad reasons for believing something are called tradition, authority, and revelation.
Agreed. Direct experience is a much better reason. Not infallible, but pretty damn good. Thus if I haven’t had a direct mystical experience of a higher spiritual reality, I need to hear about that more exalted dimension of the cosmos from someone who has.
This obviously is a more fallible reason for believing that my own direct experience, since I can be deceived by someone with the gift of gab. Still, if I have the chance to question them carefully and sort out the details of their claimed mystical knowledge, I’ll feel pretty good about believing them. Or, not.
Well, I’m still waiting for that chance. Which is frustrating. Why be so shy, enlightened ones? Often I hear people say that if you talk about your mystical experiences you’ll stop having them. Why should this be true? Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Buddha, and a host of others related their “godly” experiences. Didn’t seem to hurt them any.
Over on the Radhasoami Studies discussion group David Lane persuasively argues that if someone has matured spiritually, they shouldn’t be affected by childish fears. Like the power that reading or speaking the 26 letters in the English language might have other them.
Another thing: shouldn’t a genuine mystical experience have some profound effect on the experiencer? When I told my wife about my interchanges with doctor heal, she said: “Why would someone spiritually advanced go onto your Church of the Churchless blog and brag about their experiences?” Good question.
D.T. Suzuki quotes Rinzai, a Zen master:
O Venerable Sirs, beware of taking clothes [for realities]. Clothes are not self-determining; it is the Man that puts on various clothes: clothes of purity, clothes of no-birth, clothes of enlightenment [bodhi], clothes of nirvana, clothes of patriarachs, clothes of Buddhahood.
O Venerable Sirs, what we have here are merely sounds, words, and they are no better than the clothes we change…outwardly by means of sounds and words and inwardly by the changing of modes of consciousness we think, we feel, and these are all the clothes we dress ourselves with.
Do not commit the mistake of taking the clothes people wear for realization.
OK. I won’t. But I still would like to see the clothes of the supposedly enlightened ones, if for no other reason than to compare them with my own tattered spiritual rags. For sure, it’d be nice if we could see each other completely naked. I’ll take what I can get, though.
So it comes down to this for me: put up or shut up. Having immersed myself in a terrific football game this afternoon, permit me to engage in some crude sports talk:
Dude! If you come onto my blog, show some respect. This is my turf. Churchless turf. You start talking trash about knowing God and seeing light and hearing sounds and stuff, back it up! Bring your best game when you walk onto my court, man. Don’t just jive me. If you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.
Hey, that sounds pretty good; but doesn’t “jive” date me? Well, I’m dated.
On a loftier note, I’ll close with a quote from Richard Dawkins, where he’s giving advice to his ten year old daughter:
Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, ask yourself: “Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority, or revelation?” And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: “What kind of evidence is there for that?” And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.
Well since I've got first shot at making a comment, I'll be very blunt...
I am fed up with pretentious satsangi jack-asses and mystic poseurs who wouldn't know God even if he did wear a turban and a beard.
They think talking the talk is so smart, but have never taken one real step of their own, much less walked the walk.
Posted by: tao | December 03, 2006 at 02:41 AM
All spiritual experiences are just that-experiences, just like anything else you do...take out the trash, go surfing, take a hike, run the tractor or take the bar exam. From the point of view of what could be called 'clarity' all of these experiences, whether exaltedly spiritual or mundane,are equal, and none are more important, more holy, than the other as far as 'ultimate reality' is concerned. They are all just appearances in the field of awareness and none of them can take you any closer to 'clarity', no matter how transcendant or rapturous they may be, than you were before these experiences started. This clarity is present no matter what is going on. You can be cutting off the head of a fish, dying of cancer, or soaring through astral heavens. It doesn't matter. Reality is present. You can't search for it, find it, or make it happen even if you wear an orange loincloth and meditate for ten thousand yugas. The eye can't see itself, no matter what it does, yet seeing is, now. That's it. Once this is perceived, for want of a better word, there is a sense of repose, lack of tension, acceptance, peace. Stuff like that. But it is not the expected ecstatic blissful trance that leaves you walking around in a thunderstruck stupor raising the dead and turning water to wine. Irritation, anger and other such so-called vices may still appear but they are not clung to. They just pass through awareness like everything else. This is nothing special because it is and always has been present right now. To try to find it or figure it out is to wrestle with thin air. It's not something over there to be reached for or achieved. To think that way just takes you farther off the mark. But to say that there is a mark is misleading as well. Just clarity, right here, right now. What to do about it? Nothing. It already is. Relax. Go meditate if you find that happening, build a skyscraper, or have a quart of Ben and Jerry's and watch "Dancing with the Stars".
Posted by: Bad Bob Al, Tucson, USA | December 03, 2006 at 11:16 AM
Thats a damn good comment Bad Bob. Yah tellin it like it is brother.
Posted by: tao | December 03, 2006 at 02:44 PM
I also like what you said, Bad Bob Al. Why, this very afternoon, sitting around the Coffee House Cafe with some friends, engaged in our traditional Sunday exercise of trying to decipher the meaning of the universe, I heard myself saying:
"You know, it doesn't really matter what we do. It's all the same. The only important thing is how aware and composed we are when we're doing it."
I was referring, I think, to spending a lot of time trying to get a stuck oil filter off of my DR Field Mower. What I thought was going to be a simple oil change turned into a Stuck Filter Odyssey.
A journey into many different ways of unsticking what was amazingly stuck. I kept my cool, more or less, even after wasting my money at AutoZone on a couple of tools that didn't work.
A big honking screwdriver through the damn thing finally did. Made a mess. But should have tried that first. Point is, one part of me kept saying, "This is a freaking useless way to spend a sunny afternoon."
Other part said: "But, hey, isn't everything you do freaking useless?" Or, useful? Whatever, it all pretty much amounts to the same thing, like Bad Bob says.
Posted by: Brian | December 03, 2006 at 07:26 PM
Well put, B.B.A. Once you experience that what you are looking for, is "That" you are looking with, the only remaining discovery is to remember who/what that "That" is. Your search then ends as you realize the greatest "Aha" of all...that you cannot become what you have always been!
No effort is ever necessary. Just marvel at, and enjoy what is, and that you ARE!
Posted by: Arlo R. Hansen | December 03, 2006 at 11:43 PM
Bad Bob Al stated, "Just clarity, right here, right now. What to do about it? Nothing. It already is.
What is there to, "just clarify?"
Others, state, "go within." What is meant by that? Self contempation? Contempation of what? What are we using to contemplate something with?
What motivates someone to, "marvel at something?" Why the need to, "enjoy what is?" How does one know, "that you are?"
Posted by: Roger | December 04, 2006 at 08:21 AM
Enzo was sad yesterday; too many people like to talk to him. Enzo is very nice to everyone, brothers and co-workers who need to know the small pieces of math that Enzo knows, and chips and bits of tomorrow that Enzo has found out. Some people just want to talk to Enzo about the other people Enzo talks to, and that takes tight-rope walking.
The puzzle is keeping the math and chips and bits in order while talking to everyone. One time, in a Nature Magazine, Enzo read about the monkeys that can keep their family connections straight through five and more generations. Sometimes Enzo wished he could be one of those monkeys. His memory was so full of the pieces of math and chips and bits of tomorrow, and the long line of people he talked to, that it got crowded.
And the crowding made Enzo nervous, because of the tight-rope, and the nervous made Enzo forget. And when Enzo forgot, he got sad and missed the old, young Enzo that didn’t have all the math and chips clouding and crowding his head. Enzo wanted to wake up some morning and feel clear, like his entire monkey relatives were in order.
Enzo slipped yesterday, at the end, during the last of the day’s conversation, and said to someone, “I must go, I am tired and this tight-rope is too narrow.” As soon as it came out, Enzo was startled, too startled to answer the question, a reasonable one: “What tight-rope, Enzo?” He just said goodbye. And wondered what he meant.
And at night, when Enzo was sleeping, when there was no math or tomorrow, and his relations fit just so, the tight-rope became a net. That was all. It was nothing like a nightmare; or the dream of being chased; or the dream of walking through mud.
The tight-rope Enzo always felt under him is now a net, still connected to his brothers and co-workers. Enzo still has to walk carefully, but he has always enjoyed that. He feels that somehow, each conversation is connected to the others, and there is a very clear path from person to person. And even though there seems to be a lot more rope, the distance is clearer, and now the crowding is gone, like the inside of a crystal, which as we know, is full of math.
Enzo is here today. The old, young Enzo seems to be back, but there is also connection to the Enzo of yesterday. And that Enzo is so clearly make-believe, that today Enzo will find himself doing the math of phantoms, and collecting the day as it happens.
Posted by: Edward | December 04, 2006 at 11:21 AM
Sometimes when I log on to this site, I am dazzled by the insight and beauty here.
Posted by: benandante | December 05, 2006 at 12:54 PM
Rereading the original post (I got sidetracked by Enzo) I'll pour you a round, Brian and tell a snippet of my own story:
In my early 20's I was assaulted by a man who approached me on the pretense of aiding me with my car which had broken on the side of a rural Bothell road in Washington state on a Wednesday evening. He hit me with a show pistol (lead in the barrel but a real pistol) dragged me to his car, took me to a shed and assaulted me for seven hours. I begged him to kill me, as I had endured a fairly crappy childhood and I was a coward about going on at that point. This seemed to stop him. He left. He came back and assaulted me again, then left again. Then returned, then assaulted me, then literally played cards for my life - war I think - and then as a result of a four of spades put me back in his car, drove me to mine, started it up! and warned me to never tell anyone.
I reported the assault, they took samples and everything before I could shower and I was told it was virtually impossible to find him, he was a needle in a haystack. It took me days to walk again my feet were so damaged.
I had become aware of my spirit at this point, I was "dreaming awake" about Old Seattle and knew about things like the Absinthe Fairy (from an awake-dream poster) that I had no way to have knowledge of at all. I was very new to this kind of thought, I had been very closed minded. Now, believing there might be past lives, I asked that the ties of the past be unbound from the two of us, that whatever had gone on that required so much pain and anger between us was now done, that I forgave him and the cycle between us could stop. I affirmed this night and day.
After a while I began to have a recurring dream that he was assaulting me and then would stand up and look at me and ask me how I could have forgiven him for this. I swear I do not remember him speaking of the future when I was being held that night. I remember dreading the future and enduring the moments and I cursed him for NOT killing me. I told him over and over to do anything he wanted if he would just kill me. I was hardly forgiving of him at the time. But now I wanted this to never happen again, just to never happen again, so I was willing to forgive this man who had vanished into thin air.
After weeks of trying to be normal, I went to a 12 step meeting with friends and then for ice cream and pie afterwards. It was in a cafe attatched to a grocery store, and I looked up and saw my attacker standing in the 12 items or less line. I told my friend, who was a former sherriff deputy, and we noted the car license as he got into his vehicle. I had found the needle in the haystack!!
The sherriff's office set up a lineup. I identified him. I was questioned by the prosecutor's office. I was told they had confirmed the DNA. Suddenly, the office said that they had plea-bargained another three weeks of probation onto his sentence rather than pay for the expense of a trial. He was in a halfway home for rapists when he attacked me and they had been considering an early release, but he would serve his whole sentence in the halfway house and then three more weeks. I was angry now.
I went to a therapist because I was so angry, all the rage from the attack seemed to hit me all at once. My promise to forgoive melted when the prosecutor took the easy and cheap route and denied me my justice. The therapist thought that I needed to voice my anger, that my problem was that I had swallowed the rage (just as I swallowed my childhood rage to keep peace) and I had been too calm when I drove home and then to the hospital. I had only cried when they examined me, the rest of the time I was just dead calm. I remember people saying "you're in shock" to my face, three or four inches from my nose. I was just trying to adjust to being alive. I was not supposed to be alive for some reason and I was dazed for a long time, days and days.
So we would try to go back, together, and allow myself to say I was mad to this madman. That seemed right, so I agreed to allow her to hypnotize me. I don't know what went on after that, my hand was getting heavy and I do not honestly remember after that. Some time passed. I was awake again.
She told me that she could not really help me but that I should be fine as long as I kept going to mass and my 12 step meetings and when I was ready for help I should find someone. I asked her why she was saying that and she said that I was not someone she could help. When she had gotten me hypnotized, I became someone else. I asked if that meant I was a split personality and she said somethong like I guess so. I asked what my other personality was (what did I think, maybe a tough guy or an old Jewish lady smoker? lol) and she told me that I thought I was an angel. She had asked who or what I was and I told her I was pure love and consciousness and that I felt no need for retribution because I was one with everyone and everything, and that I would be well so long as I attended aa meetings and went to mass. This was news to me!! I wanted the guy who assaulted me to live in a 6x10 room with bars on it and no amount of mass or 12 stepping would make that go away. The therapist said that I MUST have been exposed to this kind of religious thinking, because I expressed it, and that one day the part of me that was "spiritual" would be able to merge with the part of me that was "human" and I would allow myself to be both spiritual and human at the same time.
The therapist gave me a book, stalking the wild pendulum, and said that kundalini would be a great place to start. I asked her why kundalini, if I was mentally ill, why should I do anything to make the crazy part of my brain stronger and she told me that she had asked me why I thought I was and angel that was one with everything and I had told her about her brother, who had died when he was a child. I had never met this woman but one time before. SHE was a MSW and she knew that what was happening was undeniable but clearly unexplainable. I remember thinking "I can't let many people see me do this ever again" but I should not have worried. So far I have not been splintered in any of the ways that dual personalities are supposed to be, no lapses in time or strange thngs other than healings and prescience and the occasional appearance of something that was not there before, like money or an object. These always happen with plenty of witnesses, usually skeptical until the experience.
I went on to study energy, and just in time, later on that year, I ran into this man in the street. He was unable to place me but grabbed me and asked me how he knew me. I was able to look him in the eye and tell him to his face that I forgave him but that he needed help, that the people who were enabling him to keep assaulting womnen were keeping him trapped in his sicknesses. Either I am mentally ill and my split personality/perfect and spiritual Jeanine was able to forgive when my human personality could not, or I was able to overcome my hurt and break some horrific cycle between us, or whatever, but I was able to do that!! Me, who cannot stop being so mad at George Bush and who cannot bear to hear Cheney's voice, I could forgive that man looking at me drunk and angry who had hurt me so much.
To this day, I still remind myself that I've been diagnosed as a split personality, and that half of me believes and acts like an infallible, all-knowing, time-transcending angel. It helps when the special effects here seem a bit too real.
And another aside, after that attack I was never assaulted again. I was assaulted as a child, as a teen and twice as a woman in my twenties. Since that contact with my attacker I have not felt at risk ever again. It is as though whatever lesson I was supposed to learn, I learned. So that's my experience and why I know there is something beyond this world of my senses.
This is also why I say my experience with the Divine is undeniable. My kids could tell you some cool stories, too, but as time goes by they get more and more casually amazing to us, but not producable unless there's a need. And I do not think popping James Randi's ego is really a need.
Posted by: benandante | December 05, 2006 at 02:20 PM
benandante/Jeanine...wow. Thank you.
For some reason all I can think of to say about your tale is from Bob Dylan: "something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you mister jones?"
My name isn't Jones. Also, it is.
Concerning this post, going through some old emails, I came across a couple of links to U.G. Krishnamurti videos. Made me realize that others are more abrupt than I am when it comes to challenging spiritual B.S.
Take a look if you like:
Guess you don't want to blab about "enlightenment" or "love" around U.G.
(these require the Real Player which I have tried to avoid, but just downloaded after a long absence; it doesn't seem to be as annoying as it used to be)
Posted by: Brian | December 05, 2006 at 02:54 PM
I think St Paul's thoughts on the subject of love are useful... that speaking of love and trying to be loving are two different things.
Myself, I love this time of year because everyone is thinking about and talking about love and goodwill and compassion, even if during the rest of the year every single person has not really been aware of or practicing those traits. My beloved husband used to find the same thing (talk of peace and love at Christmas) annoying because some of the people speaking of love and joy did not keep that frame of mind throughout the year.
I guess I have faith that this year the pretty words will travel that 16 inches from the brain to the heart, if only in one person I encounter. Of course, I'm not enlightened enough or loving enough to muster anger at people who talk the talk before they have mastered the walk. I suppose it is because I, myself, am barely crawling some days.
Posted by: benandante | December 07, 2006 at 07:48 AM
Excellant Christmas message or thought from the above commemt. Many best wishes to you and happy and successful 2007 to you.
Posted by: Roger | December 07, 2006 at 09:39 AM
Well I have changed from a heal to a "Jerk". I'm somebody now. I saw my name on the Internet (modern day "phone book"). What your smart mind (behind?)left out was that those inner experiences (I can spell. I'm so proud.)are nothing but the Grace of the Master. "I" do nothing. In fact I do not claim anything. Once We realize that, we have it made in the shade. Don't give me that brother...Brother. Can you spare a dime Bigtime?
Posted by: doctor heal does the jerk | December 08, 2006 at 03:43 PM
I'm sorry to tell you but you still can't spell because I assume that you meant "heel" instad of "heal".
The term "heal" refers to healing, as in health or being cured of some malady.
The term "heel" refers to the heel of a shoe, or to an individual who is a heel.
As for "the Grace of the Master", that is a real stretch of the imagination.
What "Master"? Where is this master that you speak of?
And then those "inner experiences" that you speak of are nothing more than imaginary subtle phenmomena and illusions within the mind.
So I would say that you haven't got it "made it in the shade" at all. You are still dreaming.
Posted by: tao | December 08, 2006 at 07:20 PM
Tthis is why I am where I am today (blessing your work) so go in piece(purposely). Life is but a dream? Are you merry? Can you recognize a pun? How do you sleep at night? On your left or write? You have missed my point enough for me to ignore your happiness but fortunately mine is in order. Good day and all the best is obviously yet to come. "Be not proud of the intellect". I guess you won. Over and out. I HOPE YOU'RE Happy!!!!
(do you know a songwriter and a light heart when you hear one? HMMM
Posted by: doctor heal does the jerk | December 09, 2006 at 10:59 AM
Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels."I'm crying" in the wlderness here. I am aware of "The Man Who Knows Too Much" and these "Modern Times". If you don't want to know more then don't axe.
Posted by: doctor heel does coda | December 09, 2006 at 11:23 AM
A pirate walked into a bar and the bartender said,"Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible."
"What do you mean?" said the pirate, "I feel fine."
"What about the wooden leg? You didn't have that before."
"Well, we were in a battle and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I'm fine now".
"Well, OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?"
"We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off. I got fitted with a hook. I'm fine now, really."
"What about the eye patch?"
"Oh, one day we were at sea and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up and one of them dropped poop in my eye."
"You're kidding," said the bartender,"you couldn't lose an eye just from some bird poop?"
"It was my first day with the hook."
Posted by: let thine eye be single | December 09, 2006 at 01:04 PM
David Lane has another article that puts these special inner experiences into perspective.
Lane had no pretensions to being spiritually adept or being a guru. He was surprised to learn that by a simple process of suggestion, he could create conditions where many students in is classes would meditate, then report amazing inner experiences. Had Lane been willing to take credit for them, he could have set up as a guru.
It appears human beings are pre-wired to experience these things and that, properly understood, they are enjoyable but just movies.
Posted by: AK | December 12, 2006 at 08:14 AM
I've said it before, although this is an illusion (or movie) the special effects are really, really good.
Posted by: benandante | December 17, 2006 at 08:44 AM
This is to Benandante (Jeanine) regarding her Dec 5 posting about her assault. Jeanine, that was a most terrible experience/event and I am so sorry that happened to you. I've no opinion at present as to the "why?" of anything, esp. cruel, bad and pitiful actions that cause such horrendous suffering. I only know that I felt pain in my heart area upon reading your post.
Wishing you all good things.
Namaste -- LB
Posted by: LB | December 20, 2006 at 01:24 PM
truth always wins out...so i am a little slow... Battlefield Vietnam is quite funny... i guess he didn't think i understood what a 15 to 25 meant...
Truth always wins... just don't turn ugly finding it, and don't gossi... it's not good for the soul... and don't do drugs...
peace love happiness..
ALL WILL BE REVEALED...CWH.................
Posted by: Lorie Suzanne Borst/ | June 30, 2007 at 02:50 PM
PLEASE TRY TO SPEND MORE TIME READING THE BIBLE RATHER THAN POLLUTING PEOPLES MIND WITH STUFF ON CROWLEY.... I CAN THINK OF BETTER ROLE MODELS THAN HIM.... I PUT HIM RIGHT THERE BETWEEN HITLER AND BIN LADEN...YES BLACK MAGIC IS FADING FAST... THANK GOD..PEACE BE WITH ALL OF YOU..
Posted by: Lorie Borst | July 23, 2007 at 07:05 PM
only write to me with positiive stuff..
Posted by: Lorie Borst | July 23, 2007 at 07:07 PM
Isn't it a trip to think that since no-one is in hell yet, all of these lost souls just waiting to get in someone.... It can be good or bad.... We have a choice to invite the light or the dark... I loke light.... AMEN
Posted by: borstlorie | July 30, 2007 at 01:23 PM