Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Short Report on a Meandering Journey to the Direct Path Teachings

I WANT TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR that I am not even close to being an authority on Shri Atmananda Krishna Menon, the Direct Path that he left as a legacy, or, for that matter, much of anything else.  Surprisingly enough, I am loathe to report that I am even an authority on my own experience, because “my own experience” has become quite suspect.  I think I can, however, with full candor and confidence, report that I am becoming an authority on my own experience of experiencing.  That sounds like a clever little play on words, and in one sense it may be.  In another, it’s simply as close as I can come to getting whatever truth I have about this topic transposed into print.  Both your eyes and mine have inexplicably found their way to this page, so I guess we might as well move forward.

SCOTT KILOBY MOVED ME INTO this different method of experiential Nonduality.  He has his own vocabulary for it, and his way is very gentle and light-hearted.  He calls it Living Realization, and I totally recommend that e-book, that method, and that guy.  For the sake of full disclosure, let me say that I love the guy, so if you want an unbiased source you’ll have to shop elsewhere for it.  I should also mention that I may soon be helping others with this form of inquiry, through Scott, for a fee.  Think what you will; this is not a plug; it's a story.   

SCOTT'S USE OF THIS TYPE of inquiry was unlike anything I had encountered in almost thirty years of exposure to different paths, all of them falling under the large umbrella that we call “Nonduality”.  I was not new to inquiry; not at all.  Twenty years ago I had some good fortune with the Zen koan, “What is your Original Face”, which I read somewhere could be interpreted as “Who am I?”  That's all I had to go on, but with a train load of passionate application, it proved to be enough to at least allow me to briefly see over the wall.  What a lucky stumble to have found that interpretation at that time.  It’s hard to believe, but everything you see on the Internet and via Amazon, and even with a well stocked Barnes & Noble store was generally unavailable not too long ago.  I was living in Portland, Oregon, which is as open a city as they get in America, and yet I missed anything outside of Zen.  I got an email from Chris Hebard yesterday where he talked about how things were as recently as 2007, when he started the website Stillness Speaks, compared to now, in early 2012.  It’s an unrecognizable landscape.  I got a quick peek at Myself, as they say, which was enough to permanently change some of  my core views and beliefs, and keep me fueled for a long, long time. 

TEN YEARS LATER I READ ECKHART TOLLE, and then explored the many Awareness teachings that fundamental exposure led me to.  I did an enormous amount of reading and inquired once again--this time using better instructions--into“What am I?” I already knew, of course, but since I thought I knew, that right there was all the evidence needed to prove that I didn't know.  Present, conscious seeing/being is all that counts.  Memory will not serve us there.  While using inquiry via Ramana Maharshi’s instructions, I also fell under the giant spells of first Nisargadatta and then Ramesh Balsekar.   Once again grace shined out of nowhere and onto nobody, this coming back in the early autumn of 2006.  There was more than a peek this time.  There was quite a profound awakening.  

AFTERWARD, HOWEVER, I WAS LEFT rather flat-footed.  I didn’t have a teacher, I didn't know what to do next, and I’m not sure I really did do much over the next few years, other than chase my tail.  The rare exception to this tail chasing was my reading Consciousness is All, followed some time later by a dear friendship with the author, Peter Dziuban.  Peter gave me absolutely nothing to hang onto.  It was like he had dropped me into a glass bottle and told me to climb on out on my own.  I scrambled and fell, and scrambled and fell again.  Peter, though his book essentially suggested I check to make sure the bottle was really there.  I’d never thought of that.  If I had to point to a single thing that encouraged a second large awakening, about fifteen months after the first, it would be that book. (Yes indeed, I am citing "cause" in a causeless universe!  I don't mean it very seriously, but I do mean it!)  Peter has been a mentor to me for several years now.

HOWEVER, I MANAGED TO OVERCOME all of that wonderful stuff and go back to chasing my tail.  Incredible, is it not?  Has this happened to you?  If it hasn’t, it probably will.  If it has, you’ll understand my frustration and suffering as the pendulum swung first to me, and then back away.  Walking the truth trail makes us fess up the most embarrassing behaviors, does it not?  I would chase along, thinking I had it, then fall back into knowing I didn’t have it, for several years. It wore me down,

A BIG BREAKTHROUGH CAME in the way of another important book to me: Living Reality, by James Braha.  James and Sailor Bob Adamson, in tag-team combination, snatched me out of my head and popped me right back into that same bottle Peter Dziuban had put me in, but from which I had sadly escaped--only to find myself outside of the bottle trying to find a way back in.  Living Reality was that way.  James and Bob gave me absolutely nothing to cling to. Once you have had a large spiritual experience, even though it's a thing that comes and goes, it is very, very difficult not to cling to it.  The natural egoic movement is to want to own it.  I had it, I own it, and it was all for me, even though the signature knowledge that arrives with such an event is the absolutely-sure, no-doubt-anywhere, utterly-self-confirming knowledge that the I who is now doing all this claiming does not, in fact, exist.  It is a marvelously ingenious bit of delusional trickery.  Hats off to Maya.  You have to see it in hindsight for yourself to even believe it is possible.  

WHILE READING LIVING REALITY, there was yet another theoretical awakening “event”, by which I mean some imaginary clouds appeared to thin.  And then, writing back and forth to the kind and generous James Braha, I hit a point, I hope, of no return.  As before, I couldn’t unsee what I had seen, but now, I also couldn’t unknow what I knew.  What the difference is, I couldn’t tell you.  But it was a new spot, at least in a relative sense. However, oddly enough, I seemed to get stuck in it.  I can't tell you anymore than that, because I don't know anymore than that.  What I am telling you is that awakening is more of a beginning than it is an ending.  It is the end of compulsive seeking, but it is only the start of a journey Home.  I think it fair to state that this includes virtually all of the seemingly sudden and/or "unsought" awakenings we've all read about. I can tell you this as someone who may still be in the wastelands, but who's having a hell of a good time anyway.  Do I suffer?  Yes.  Often?  No? Very much?  No.  For very long?  No. Did it used to be different?  Oh my God, yes.

SOMEWHERE ALONG IN HERE I came to feel that there really was more of something available.  I don’t mean the elusive “seeker’s more”.  There was nothing compulsive about it; it was more just a sensing, and a feeling that I should follow up on it.  If my timetable is a little skewed; so be it.  I couldn’t swear to you when one thing arose and another subsided.  I’m telling it as memory feeds it to me, but I’m quite sure it’s not reliably accurate.  We all do the best we can.  What matters is that I needed a push or a pull, and I couldn't provide it by myself, to myself.

IT WAS AT ABOUT THIS TIME that I contacted Scott and my world would never be the same.  Scott gently showed me that I was still fast asleep in some key areas, even though I was functioning from a relatively high degree of overall awakeness.  I can’t explain that.  I doubt he could either. You have to allow me to use standard language, and just assume I’m aware of all the conflict and paradox in describing this.  I am.  But if I’ve got to bridge every word or phrase back to some point of Nondual purity, we’re not going to get anywhere.  So I won’t be the Language Police if you won’t.   

I LEARNED FROM ALL OF THESE MENTORS that “awakening”--given  that I had apparently fallen out of it!--is about right here, right now.  I know I just referred back to some dates, and those are nostalgic reference points to some lovely spiritual experiences that came and went within time and space, and were indeed, in a conventional, provisional sense, markers of some breakthrough events.  But just like Peter and James before him, Scott didn’t let me continue to glom onto them.  Scott introduced me to something new to me, however, that certainly not everyone needs, but that I needed, and still need.  Something similar may have been available to me before, but you can't see it or hear it until you can. Scott gave me a way to stop—again and again—the compulsive urge to make present seeing into a victorious story of the completed spiritual journey.  It is the great killer, as James Braha might say, of genuinely living reality.  Those past spiritual experiences of mine—or yours—are as dead as last week’s flowers.  

TO COUNTER THAT GRASPING ATTACHMENT, Scott introduced me to the most powerful and immediate inquiry I’d ever encountered.  I deeply love and respect Byron Katie.  Her inquiry has also changed my life and brought me tremendous relief from suffering; her picture hangs on my office wall.  This inquiry, however, was different, at least for me.  If I had to describe the results of this method as opposed to The Work, I would say that “larger chunks” fell away from me faster.  It cut very deep very fast.  Again, I am at a loss to illuminate this any further; you’ll have to try it yourself and see if it works for you.  I'll cite some books at the end of the concluding post that can help anyone who might be interested.  Of course it goes without saying that this is all heavily colored with Fredness, which is all I can ever report. Your experience may be completely different; you can then write your story about it.  This is mine.

THE KEY TOOL FOR DIRECT PATH INQUIRY, at least in my limited experience, is the body.  All suffering is ultimately due to a sense of separation, of a belief in a "me in the container of the body", which may remain long after the belief in a separate me has passed.  I still have some; I'm a difficult caseDon't make me let it sound like it's not been successful.  It has, in spades. Scott used my mind and body to pierce the illusion that these trapped feelings were actually me, or mine.  In my first phone conversation with him we might say that a giant iceberg calved.  Release flowed.  I was freed of the worst suffering I had ever known.  All in the space of forty-five minutes.  I was hooked,

Housekeeping Note: 
I've sort of fouled up some announcement via creative editing, so just to make sure I don't leave anyone out, let me say again that we welcomed Nepal, Croatia, and Serbia, as our 53rd, 54th, and 55th countries to join us in helping to awaken Clarity this week.  Thanks and hello to all of you everywhere!

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