It’s been more than a year since I wrote about myself. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
I was feeling discouraged because after decades of sadhana and change I still wasn’t Self-realized. It occurred to me, “Maybe I should look in a new direction. Maybe the key that unlocks the door has been hiding openly in a place I’ve been choosing not to look.”
And then I thought further: “Maybe my mind has been hiding the key from me by rejecting the sadhanas or teachings that would bring me through the gate.”
I recalled that over the decades, I had occasionally encountered teachers and other authors who seemed to be very highly spiritually developed but who repelled me. “Repel” is too strong a word but English doesn’t have a word that means what I want to say. Or maybe it does but I’m getting so old I can’t think of it. I only mean that instead of being attracted to those teachers and authors, instead of taking an interest in them, I turned away and ignored them. I did that even though I thought they were very spiritually developed. Isn’t that interesting? Maybe that happened because my mind sabotaged my spiritual growth.
So I started investigating teachers and other realizers who I had previously rejected even though I thought they were very highly attained. The first thing I did was read David Carse’s book Perfect Brilliant Stillness. When I first read it years ago I saw there was something remarkable there yet it made me feel bad — it stimulated unpleasant emotions as I read it — so I put it down after a few dozen pages. Now I read it again. This time it didn’t make me feel bad. I could see that the reason I felt bad the first time was envy — I felt jealous of the author — but on this second reading that no longer happened. This time I saw that the book contains one of the greatest descriptions of Self-realization that has ever been written in all of human history. (It also contains a lot of mediocre sections.) The book should be a classic. Instead it’s out of print but luckily, Carse gives it away for free on a website.
I also noticed that Carse experiences and describes both the Shiva (being/consciousness) and Shakti (dynamic) aspects of Self-realization. Some realizers experience or discuss only one of them. Carse got the complete package. This was another reason I rejected the book, because for decades I had taken Ramana as my lodestar, and he talks very little about the Shakti aspect. And yet as the years have gone by it has become increasingly clear to me that Ramana also got the complete package. He experienced Shakti but talked mainly about Shiva. People say he was an Advaitin but that’s not all he was. (I won’t give my reasons for this belief here because this article would become too long.)
It occurred to me that on my own path, Shakti has been prominent. I didn’t choose that; it’s just what happened. It was the Goddess who initiated me; it was Kundalini experiences that caused the first spiritual change in my life; the energy experiences have never stopped; and for whatever it’s worth — maybe it’s a strange coincidence — during 36 years every significant event in my life that caused spiritual growth was caused by a woman or involved a woman. Yet from the start I had subtly depreciated the Shakti aspect because I had adopted the idea that Ramana was my guide, and he talked mainly about Shiva.
“Ah ha!” I thought. “I will look more deeply into teachings that emphasize Shakti. Maybe the key has been hiding there.”
(I should also mention that almost the first thing the Goddess said to me, when I reached a point where I could hear her voice, was, “You should meet my husband.” She of course is Shakti and her husband is Shiva. We’re supposed to get the full package — Shiva and Shakti — not just half of it. Although we can distinguish them they are the same; they are advaita, not two. If we want to be trendy we can express this idea as, “We should be spiritually gender fluid.” I think a lot of LGBT talk tends to make people less spiritual because it promotes identification with the body instead of lessening it, but the word “gender fluid” is an exception, because if you identify with everything it’s the same as identifying with nothing. The last half of the previous sentence is almost a mahavakya.)
Carse doesn’t teach so I couldn’t get more from him than I found in the book, but these thoughts about Shakti made me think of David Spero. It had been obvious to me for years that Spero is at an extremely high level, or deep level, or however you want to describe it, and he talks extensively about Shakti. And yet I had always found listening to him slightly disagreeable, like a dish in a good restaurant that isn’t to my taste, because I didn’t like his style. It occurred to me now, “I didn’t like his style? What an idiotic reason to turn away from one of the most prfoundly experienced realizers I have ever come across! The missing key could be in David Spero’s videos, hidden from me by my stupidity.” And so I turned my attention to David Spero.
(To be continued.)