Here’s what I’ve been doing, part 1

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.)

63 thoughts to “Here’s what I’ve been doing, part 1”

  1. Freddie, I can’t believe the level of synchronicity that’s happened with this post.
    Literally, two hours ago, a question formed in my mind:
    “I wonder whether Freddie’s self-realized. I think he used to say that he’s not, but why not? After his kundalini awakening, decades of sadhana, all that stuff he discovered, like the perfect description of ‘how to stop thoughts’ etc. Maybe he’s become self-realized since he talked about this matter last time”.
    (The reason I think of your state is I think, sometimes I get discouraged and get afraid of devoting my life to this path when I see people not self-realized after decades of work and devotion)

    Also, for the last couple of days, I have been wondering madly why Ramana did not talk about Kundalini and Shakti at all. I was also wondering why you seemed to depreciate the importance of Kundalini awakening as well. (Your blog was the place I first read about it, and it made a huge impression on me)

    As you know, in the last couple of weeks, Jan Esmann was mentioned in the comments of one of your posts. I had never heard of him. The topic of levels of self-realizaton is very important and interesting to me. So I read most parts of his books. He gives utmost importance to Kundalini and Shakti and says that without Kundalini awakening, self-realization although still pleasant, and very much real, is very cold and devoid of love and bliss. This verified my previous impressions. So, the importance of Kundalini to me has increased a lot, and I started investigating ways of seeing a shaktipat teacher, which led me to the questions and thoughts I mentioned above.

    I then found David Spero, as he wrote the foreword for one of Jan Esman’s books, and Jan Esman wrote the foreword for a book that is written about David Spero. I also got the impression that he’s attained to a very high level.

    I am afraid, my comments here are not much of a contribution to the discussion. But I just wanted to tell you that you’ve just addressed the most important topics to me currently. And as I said before, that your blog is my favourite place about enlightenment. I’m looking forward to the sequel of your post.

    1. I forgot to mention that; Jan Esmann also says that, for most people, doing meditation and sadhana even for decades, even for all of their lifetime, does not take them to enlightenment. But when one receives shaktipat, and their kundalini is awakened, the process is much faster. It’s like express train to enlightenment.
      He’s also baffled by the fact that why Ramana did not mention Kundalini in his teachings and was wondering why he seemed to have diluted his teachings greatly despite the fact that he’s a man of great level of enlightenment.

      1. Hi Focus. As you know, you and I just talked in emails so I won’t answer your comments here. As you also know, the next blog post in this series will be about Jan Esmann, so the synchronicity is even greater than first appeared. I’ll respond to what you said here in the next post. — Freddie

  2. I love this Freddie. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next part.
    It is sad when people get turned off by the superficial personality of someone and thereby miss out on the rich deepness of the true person. Bernadette Roberts, as you know, was a great mystic in the Christian tradition (although she kind of ended up going beyond it in it’s current form) who also turned people off with her feisty personality.

    1. Hi Phoenix. Thanks for the kind words. I think Bernadette Roberts was one of the most important spiritual authors of all time. Her personality never bothered me — I thought she was kind of endearing in her recorded talks — but I imagine she offended a lot of Catholics with her heretical views and offended (or bored) a lot of non-Christians with her Christology. How’s your Facebook group doing? I’m a member but I don’t look at it unless I get a notification and can’t remember getting one in a while.

    1. I hadn’t heard of her, Rafe, but I just listened to about 60 seconds of one of her videos. That was enough for me to see that she is channeling God — she is speaking from that place of true knowledge — she is the real thing. It seems strange that I made a snap judgment like that but it made itself.

      What do you think about her?

        1. Thank you for sharing this, Rafael. It’s magnificent. I’m finding her speaking with the illuminating articulacy of Alan Watts and with the compassion of a mother who is free from all worries herself.

    1. I’m wondering if one watches this interview everyday with a beginner’s mind, would it do the trick?
      Has anyone tried a similar method? Kind of suffocating the mind by not allowing it to forget the truth.
      The hard part here is the beginner’s mind I guess. I listened to Tony in person, two years ago. After 10 minutes, I couldn’t even listen fully. It sounded like one idea, one sentence being played repeatedly. But for someone who has never listened to him, his talk could have been fataly effective.

      1. There may be people here who are better equipped to answer than I am, but three thoughts:

        1. The only way to really find out is to try and see.

        2. Many external things (videos, satsang, chanting, music, books, etc.) can help by reminding us, inspiring us, and/or transmission. If that video is like that for you, great. If it’s like that for a while but the effect wears off, try something new.

        Watching and listening to enlightened people on video can be very helpful. I suggest not only listening to their words, but paying attention to their mood, their affect, their expressions, their tone of voice. In other words, use our our ordinary human intuitions, the same ones we use when we interact with ordinary humans, to try to sense how it feels to be them.

        3. A point can be reached where reality itself provides what we were trying to get from 2. I feel like I’m at that point now (everything around me and suffusing me is a sort of bubbly mind-suppressing field right now) and yet, I’m not sure because from such a point, getting Home (that’s Home capitalized TM) should be a free unavoidable downhill coast and that has not happened yet.

        This reminds me of a funny experiment I once did to find a helpful external aid. I think I’ll write a quick blogpost about it.

        P.S. I just wrote it.

        1. Replying to Freddie: I think that the assumption there are “enlightened people” is misleading. My experience was that part of “enlightenment” is realizing that there is no person there who ever could become enlightened. The other part is realizing that enlightenment is never going to happen in the future, because the future is just an idea in the mind in the present, hence enlightenment must unavoidable already be here. That’s very much along the lines of what Tony Parsons says, but the realizations landed for “myself” in exactly that way.

          1. George, what you’re saying makes sense to me at some level, as do Tony Parsons’ words.
            But I’m always confused when “enlightened people” say these kinds of things.
            Because if you replace “enlightened” with, say “injured”, in what you’re saying above, it leads to the conclusion that we won’t accept the possibility of anyone getting injured, getting killed etc, as there’s no one in reality.

            Yet these events are our reality (at some level maybe). We go to a hospital when we get injured, we don’t say “there’s no one to get injured, so I’m OK.”
            If you’d say that these are bodily phenomena, then we “non-enlightened ones” can say “OK. I’m attributing the property of being enlightened to bodies from now on”, which makes sense actually, and carry on with the discussion of “enlightened” and “non-enlightened” people as before.

            Also, even though there aren’t persons in your experience, you’re clearly writing these comments on Internet, so that “some persons” read it and understand this topic. How would you differentiate my understanding of your words as a person from my getting enlightened as a person?

            Or what you’re saying above is for teaching purposes only?
            I’d appreciate it if you could elaborate.

            On another note, what you wrote above and in the next comment, made me excited and want to listen to Tony Parsons again. Thank you.

            1. Focus: It’s hard to talk about because language/thought is inherently dualistic, which is the main problem to see through. The body still gets injured, feels pain and dies, but that doesn’t mean there’s an individual experiencing those things. In reality there is only experience without an experiencer (thinking without a thinker, feeling without a feeler, seeing without a seer etc.) Of course thoughts can arise like ‘I am the experiencer, I am the thinker these thoughts, I am the one feeling this pain’ … but those are just more thoughts without a thinker! Likewise understanding can happen without there needing to be someone there who understands (that’s just another baseless thought/assumption).

              Conversations appear to be happening between people, but again this is just more (inaccurate) thoughts about what is happening, alongside the feeling/sound of words being spoken (without a speaker!) and words being heard (without a hearer!), or words being typed (without a typer) and read (without a reader). As this level of insight deepens the relative importance of thoughts vs the other 5 senses decreases dramatically so that feeling, seeing and hearing are much more prominent in attention.

              The minimal distinction between enlightened and unenlightened “people” is the absence/presence of thoughts like ‘I am an unenlightened person, enlightened people exist, I hope to become enlightened in the future etc.’ and all of the questioning/seeking/suffering that such thinking patterns tend to involve. The process of fully realizing these insights tends to involve meditation, introspection, energetic effects, psychological clarity, huge reduction in suffering, greater peace etc which may be noticeable, but not always as much as might be expected. A lot of “people” who get to this place don’t talk about it much because it would disrupt the lives of those around them.

              Ramana, Nisargadatta, U.G. Krishnamurti, Tony Parsons, David Carse, Suzanne Segal … there are many many public examples you can read about. You can notice a pattern and find a common denominator in the experience/teachings, get a feel for what must be the case. Some will resonate more than others. Then at some point you trust enough in the process to take a leap of faith into what you intuit must be on the “other side”. It’s very surprising and well worth it 🙂 Good luck!

            2. George: Thank you so much. I’ll print this out and reread it every day. It’s much easier than listening to a talk.
              Do the world and the mind also disappear along with the “I” thought as they say, or is it a figure of speech?

            3. Focus:
              “Do the world and the mind also disappear along with the “I” thought as they say, or is it a figure of speech?”

              The world doesn’t disappear, it appears just like it always did, but it’s fully realized that the experience of the world is 100% a creation of the mind. (Not making any claims about ontology, just acknowledging that everything is experienced through the six senses.) This realization defuses most of the problematic aversion/attraction towards various aspects of one’s experience of the world.

              It’s not like the “I” thought never arises again. E.g. thoughts like ‘I need to get more milk’ arise all the time, but it’s clearly understood that the ‘I’ doesn’t refer to any kind of persistent individual identity (despite what appearances might suggest). When I’m busy then I hardly think about it at all, stuff just happens automatically (as it always did, despite my thinking that I had control over it!) So yes ‘I’ is a dualistic thought and figure of speech, which no longer deludes you into assuming the existence of something which you can’t actually find in your experience.

              There’s a significant difference between being a householder and being a monastic/hermit or guru surrounded by admirers. It’s tempting to look at the monastic/hermit or guru and think ‘that’s what enlightenment looks like’ or ‘that’s what my life will look like when I’m enlightened’, but that is pure projection – creating a mental image of someone who has all the qualities you would like to have and none of the ones you don’t like having, and superimposing it on someone else. A big part of the waking up process involves seeing through your own psychological defense mechanisms (projection, repression/avoidance of uncomfortable emotions/past trauma etc.) Of course there are famous cases of “sudden enlightenment”, but when you dig into them you usually find a preceding period of intense enquiry/seeking. Ramana had an early interest in spirituality/meditation and the death of his father at 13 was probably a psychologically intense experience which triggered urgent self-enquiry.

            4. Hi Rafael,

              “You wrote the world is created by the mind. What is creating the mind?”

              I don’t know, when I say “mind” I really just mean that everything/experience is made of the same “stuff” – you could also call it “matter”, “energy”, even “love” depending on your taste. It’s impossible to pin it down or describe really, the richness of non-conceptual experience, it just seems to arise and pass from nowhere in particular (and for no one). I used to be intellectually curious about ontology and getting to the “facts” or “truth”, but now I see that kind of endeavor as fairly pointless and I much more just enjoy being in the flow of experience without the need to question it or understand it.

            5. George; Thank you very much for taking the time to explain. It’s as clear as it can get for me.

          2. Hi George. “Enlightened people” was a figure of speech like (I assume) when you wrote “my experience” or when we say “it’s raining.” Even Ramana uses the word “jnani” which means “enlightened person” in Sanskrit. I assume (but shouldn’t) that everybody here knows that Self-realization can’t ever happen to anyone because the essence of it is the recognition that the person never existed, that it was only ever a bunch of mental activity. But you’re right, not everyone here knows that and I should be more careful.

            I’d love to hear more about “your” experience. Thanks for writing.

            1. Freddie: Honestly I think it is a mistake to focus too much on the experience of others. People seem to end up trying to replicate the side-effects of awakening rather than figuring out how it works for themselves. I don’t mean to suggest that is the case for you, I haven’t really followed you much, but that’s a pattern I’ve observed in other forums. Having said that, if you want to discuss further then feel free to reach out to me via email. Cheers, George

            2. Hi George. I agree with you that it’s usually not a good idea to try to replicate other people’s experience. That’s not why I invited you to write about your experience here. I see that you did write about your experience in other comments here, so I think we’re on the same wavelength.

            3. Hi Freddie,

              Sorry my comment was a bit on the defensive side. I’ve been hanging out on r/zen where people are pretty aggressive in trying to take down “enlightenment experiences”! but I realize the vibe here is completely different 🙂

              The glimpses I mentioned were like powerful flashes of non-duality/not-self, having the feeling that reality was watching itself with no person involved, or suddenly seeing the world as if for the first time in a fresh light. My mind would go like ‘WTF was that?’ and then go off searching to recreate the experience, which of course would prevent it from happening again. Then I started waking up in the night feeling completely depersonalized, like I couldn’t remember who or what I was, as if my whole personality had been deleted from memory, and these episodes would last up to several minutes and were frankly pretty terrifying. My hypothesis is that they were due to emotional repression/psychological defense mechanisms which had made me pretty disconnected from my body and living in my thoughts a lot. But over time I got used to them and my baseline converged more to that (so there was just less “selfing” going on in my thoughts).

              The final realization involved realizing that no one experience is better than any other. Up until that point I was still holding onto the idea that the “endpoint” was going to be some special kind of new experience where everything was different/better. However I had done enough meditation and self-enquiry to accept that the “good” experiences always pass and you can’t stop the “bad” ones from arising, so it’s the attraction/aversion that is the problem rather than the experience itself. That made me realize that experience isn’t ultimately going anywhere in particular. Even though my experience of life had improved a lot through practice, I had to drop the assumption that this needed to keep happening, i.e. it was already good enough as it was.

              The final nail in the coffin was realizing that the past & future are just thoughts & images (memories & expectations) arising in a kind of eternal present moment. Even though I had mostly seen through the sense of being an individual by that point, I was still clinging to time as if it was an external reality (i.e. the future and past are “real” in some sense apart from thoughts & images arising in the present). Combined with the attraction/aversion insight, this essentially made me realize that my whole life up to that point, all that trying to get away from the bad and searching for the good, all of that experience was already perfectly “ok” as it already was. And the “future” was always going to be like that as well – perfectly fine whatever happened. It was a kind of ‘OMG this is already it’ kind of realization. Like the flashes before, but it just totally synchronized and stuck, reality experiencing itself, totally fine as it is, absolutely no way for it to be any different from the way it already is. That’s where the seeking & suffering collapsed, because things can’t be any different from the way they already are. Obviously physical pain, discomfort and illness still arise and the body dies, but the mental suffering of wanting/expecting things to be different from the way they are basically vanished, which makes life a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

              Actually the realization opened up my psyche and a lot of childhood emotional stuff came out over the next few months, mostly repressed shame. I feel my emotions much more powerfully and immediately than before, there’s no escaping them (which basically means I don’t act out trying to avoid them like I did before). There’s no question any more of needing to make more effort to have a better basic experience of life, everything is just exactly what it is and perfectly determined by prior causes & conditions (even whatever intentions still arise, which are not the same kind of big future oriented plans I used to have). Experience tends to have much more of an unknown and unpredictable quality.

              There’s still a lot of powerful energetic stuff going on in my body, related to old emotional stuff which is still working its way through the system. I’ve recently started getting some help with this, and it’s pretty interesting how that stuff is connected up in a karmic way with the wider web of interpersonal relations. I came from a very analytic background and was very insight focused. I started meditating about 3 years ago due to serious depression and the “final insight” occurred 1 year ago. I meditated 1-5 hours a day most days and never went on retreat, so my energetic/emotional development was probably less than a long-term meditator/seeker and I was starting from a place of pretty poor mental health (which meant that I was very motivated and felt like I had less to lose!) But there’s no point making comparisons, everything is already happening exactly the way it was meant to happen and it just appears to take the mind some time to adjust to that realization.

            4. Hi George,

              Thanks for the apology. It’s kind and generous and gave me a warm feeling that will probably last for the rest of the day. I’ve always written about my own experience here and encouraged other people to do the same, because I think our experience is the most valuable, most accurate information we have about enlightenment. It’s like science. Science can exist only when theory is built on data, so data is essential. When it comes to enlightenment, our experiences are the data. Some traditions (is Zen an example? I think so) tell students not to discuss their experiences publicly, and I recognize that there are reasons for this, but when all reasons and effects are weighed I think this is a bad idea, because it keeps students in the dark and artificially inflates the authority of the teacher, because the teacher becomes the only person who has access to all the information. It’s something like the medieval Roman Catholic Church banning the dissemination of the Bible so only clergy would be able to read it.

              If we don’t write about our experience, the conversation decays into dogmatic, ideological, conceptual assertions, e.g., “My interpretation of the Loka Sutta is right. Yours is wrong,” and, “My teacher is more enlightened than your teacher…” Etc.

              People can argue about dogmatic assertions (what else can they do with them?) but it makes no sense to argue about experience. What I mean is, experience cannot be right or wrong. It’s simply what it is. What could be sillier than telling somebody, “Your experience is wrong?”

              This website is almost 15 years old This comments section is six years old, and as far as I can recall, nobody has ever posted an unfriendly comment here. I just checked the WordPress dashboard and I never had to moderate a single post (except once when somebody asked me to delete a duplicate). I’ve published a bunch of other websites over the last two decades, including a website for people who played a PvP game. Sites of that kind tend to attract a lot of nasty people but even in that case, I never had to moderate any posts. My explanation is that web forums tend to take on the personality of the owner, provided the owner is active, and I’ve always tried to be friendly and courteous on the web. Everybody has blind spots about their own behavior, and if I ever slip up in that department, somebody please tell me.

              When I created realization.org in 1999 there was very little information about people’s experience on the web. The main goal with that site was to publish people’s experiences. Nowadays with YouTube and Batgap and Conscious.tv and thousands of personal websites about enlightenment, that has changed tremendously.

              Well, I just wrote this long comment without saying a single word about your experience, which you very kindly wrote about! I’ll write again later.

            5. I don’t know much about the zen practice tradition, I started meditating using the noting method (powerful way to deconstruct sensory experience) and then got into nonduality. I only got interested in zen recently through reading the Chan masters, who just seemed to make a lot of sense to me, and it’s kind of fun. They tended to be tricksters and that stuff can get abusive when it’s superficially imitated, but when the intention is correct it can be powerful. Tony Parsons is obviously a bit of a trickster and that was part of the appeal to me, I trusted he was speaking authentically about his experience and was willing to let his teachings mess with my mind a little (just watching his videos, not in person). But obviously you have to be very careful who you trust and what kind of situations you might get drawn into.

              Even Ramana seemed to have a bit of a trickster side to him at times. Clearly he was a superb judge of people and could spot their blind spots a mile off. U. G. Krishnamurti in his book tells of the time he went to see Ramana. He had become disillusioned with holy men by that time and couldn’t see what the big deal was, just a guy sitting there reading comic strips, cutting vegetables and playing around with stuff. Eventually he asked ‘can you give me what you have?’ and Ramana replied ‘I can give you, but can you take it?’ Well that really messed with UG, got him thinking really hard about what the hell he was doing, set him off on an intense course of self-enquiry which eventually led to the collapse of the seeking dynamic.

              The point of the trickery is to nudge people out of their conventional frames of reference. If you think about it, enlightenment can’t possibly be a state you want to be in! All specific mental states are temporary, so you are always going to be dissatisfied if you are holding out for some kind of permanent mental state. Also the Buddha taught that enlightenment is the end of craving – wanting what you don’t have and not wanting what you do have. Not just material stuff, but much more importantly your emotional and psychological states, identity(s) and attachments. So basically any kind of future oriented idea you have about the state of enlightenment being different from the state you are already in is wrong! Some people might find that annoying, which itself is a sign that they have developed a personal investment in what they imagine the state of enlightenment will or should be like for them personally. So really the way I see it – it’s a question of examining your own assumptions and unconscious desires about enlightenment and gradually weaning the mind off them, until eventually it is able to relax into seeing that this really is already it, there’s no need to be having a different experience from this particular one, and actually it’s impossible (no agent there to control what experiences arise), and in fact it’s always been this way even when we thought it wasn’t. It’s not just an intellectual understanding though, it was a very significant mental event with lasting consequences, which felt like the collapse of something inside (the craving/need to seek a different experience from the one that is already taking place).

      2. I read his book The Open Secret and found the logic of it unavoidable (no one there to get anything/anywhere). Watching his videos further illustrated for me the futility of seeking anything other than what’s already being experienced. It triggered some pretty powerful glimpses, still it took another year of seeking before the “permanent” realization landed (it had to do with seeing how time is fabricated).

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience Freddie. Even though the light of self-realization hasn’t shone yet – there’s plenty of goodness your experience has created (especially for the curious souls like me that come here). Would you say even though suffering didn’t end, did it decrease/change significantly?

    1. You’re welcome Metta. My life, my mind, my experiences, have changed very radically (astonishingly so) but suffering is about the same as when I started to notice those changes 22 years ago. It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve been transformed during that time but the transformation has not led to Self-realization. I don’t think suffering can stop until identification with the ego stops, and that is Self-realization.

      I have come to believe that the range of potential experience and change that we think of as “enlightenment” or “spiritual” is very vast. It includes Self-realization (which itself is a variety or range) but many other things as well. If Shakespeare’s statement “there are more things on Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy” applies to anything, it applies here. People sometimes assume that their own experience is universal; that whatever they experienced is the only experience that anyone can experience. I don’t think it’s so.

      1. Have you ever experienced any decrease in suffering by reminding yourself that there’s no ‘I’? If so how real is that do you think, just another psychological game, trick, or very real in the sense that you get closer to self-realization by constantly reminding yourself that?

        Since I read George’s comments yesterday, I’ve been constantly reminding myself ‘the facts’, and I’m noticing a considerable lightness and decrease in ‘suffering’, even though I got through a whole workday while doing this 🙂

        1. I have very often experienced a temporary decrease or absence of suffering by doing all sorts of things, including things that are similar and maybe identical to what you describe, but so far, that sort of thing has not led to Self-realization in my case.

          Maybe it will lead to Self-realization for you. I hope so.

          P.S. I’ve also experienced the world disappearing temporarily through practices. All that is necessary is to stop paying attention to it. I think this probably happens very frequently to everyone when they are lost in thought but they don’t notice.

          P.P.S. Suffering stops hurting, in my experience, if I pay attention to the sensation. But this takes effort and the pain comes back as soon as I stop making the effort. This process or effect has never become automatic for me. This works to some extent on physical pain too but the effect is less and the required effort is greater.

          It also stops hurting when we remember ourselves, when we take our stance in consciousness and being and see from there.

          1. Hey Freddie, I recently read one of your blogs (forgot the title) but where you said you had a lot of pain going on in physical body (arthiritis in hands, and maybe a fever or sluggishness that caused you to not leave home for a few days/weeks) but you were happy as a clam. Are you saying your view has evolved since then?

            1. Hi Metta.

              I wrote that post four years ago. Some things have changed a lot since then. That time of my life turned out to be a particular place on the journey.

              I’ve never been completely free of suffering. I was unusually free at that time (October 2017) because I was living like a monk and I had been doing a very intense involuntary sadhana for years. I was also elated because I had been emerging for the previous two years from the previous stage of my spiritual odyssey, and this was exhilarating, there was a sense of freedom and wonder. Not the real freedom that comes with Self-realization but nonetheless, something very intense.

              It was easy to be free of suffering in 2017 because I was relatively free of unpleasant life events. I was in physical pain but pain is easy for me compared to many other people, I don’t know why, maybe because I had bad migraines all my life and lost my fear of it. Two years later, Julia and I were living together again, I was back in normal external life, and several extremely unpleasant events happened one after another.

              Through it all, something that has been constant and continuous is the growing feeling, when suffering happens, that I’m pretending. That it’s drama, that it’s not real, that it’s a stupid practical joke I’m playing on myself.

              Another thing that has grown continuously is the ease with which I can remember myself when suffering occurs, which goes a long way to defusing it. If Julia reads the last sentence she’ll probably laugh because she knows all too well how often I don’t do that. But I can do it, and I can do it more easily. Which implies that when I don’t do it, I’m choosing not to do it. Crazy, huh?

            2. Freddie, thanks again for being so unfiltered and forthcoming with your lived experience. Your last para stood out to me. I took it as even though the realization or not getting absorbed in suffering isn’t permanent – you’ve discovered that it is available to you at all times and with conscious effort you can get to it each time. That itself is a reason worth continuing (I just noticed a couple additional feelings that arose in me here 1. I was viewing your experience from my ego-filled lens such as what can I learn and apply to myself here; 2. At a subtle level I am still harboring doubts about my journey)

              “Another thing that has grown continuously is the ease with which I can remember myself when suffering occurs, which goes a long way to defusing it. If Julia reads the last sentence she’ll probably laugh because she knows all too well how often I don’t do that. But I can do it, and I can do it more easily. Which implies that when I don’t do it, I’m choosing not to do it. Crazy, huh?”

            3. I took it as even though the realization or not getting absorbed in suffering isn’t permanent – you’ve discovered that it is available to you at all times and with conscious effort you can get to it each time.

              Yep, Metta, that’s what I meant.

              I was viewing your experience from my ego-filled lens such as what can I learn and apply to myself here;

              If you can get anything valuable from my story I’m delighted and please take it. 🙂

              At a subtle level I am still harboring doubts about my journey

              What do you doubt?

            4. Thanks so much Freddie. Your journey has been immensely valuable for me to read about and reflect on.
              regarding doubts, its along the lines of what if this realization business is yet another story I’m telling myself (especially, now that I’ve had some realizations of how most of my behaviors are just results of stories I’ve been telling myself). On an intellectual level i do understand there’s some truth to it (which is why eventually the ‘seeker mentality’ also ends. But it’s not yet a thing I can say is immersed in the core of my being.

            5. Metta, I think I probably felt the same way until I spent about 2 weeks with Shiva Rudra Bala Yogi in 2005. He had recently realized. One day he asked me to wake him from a nap at a certain time. He woke up, sat on the edge of the bed, shook his head wonderingly from side to side as if he couldn’t believe what he was about to say, and said, “The mind just doesn’t go out anymore. It just doesn’t go out.” At that moment I became convinced realization is real. Maybe I was projecting but I think he was as amazed as I was. 🙂

            6. P.S. I should add my standard disclaimer that the stuff that has happened to me (energy/bhakti/love/God and some stuff involving consciousness) is not Self-realization, although it is wonderful. What George has been describing here is Self-realization. Although, if Jan Esmann is right, after realization, after the possibility of “to me” is banished, the things I’ve described do turn out to be an aspect of realization. I’m going to write about Jan’s ideas and experience in my next big post.

        2. P.S. I pass along something iamquiet told me a few days ago.

          The “I” thought is NOT the same thing as the innate sense of self.

          The I thought has to be created by thinking, the innate sense of self is just there

          It is only by holding this sense of “I” [the innate sense of self] and then consciously looking at the thoughts and sensations we also attach to it [the I-thought] do they fall away.

          For example, when conscious of “I” [the innate one], if the contraction sensation appears [the I-thought], from this position of obvious self, we can look at the contraction sensation quite clearly and notice “I am here as the one LOOKING and FEELING this sensation so obviously it isn’t me”

          1. Freddie, I just loved your compilation of Iamquite’s quotes on realization.org. I re-read that blog many many times. Does he share more about his current lived experiences?

            For George – I think your comments here (especially where you wrote about your own experience) were lucid and thought provoking.
            One realization I had while reading it was – lately, without my knowing I’d created my own version of what a non-dual self will look like (which is being equanimous in charged situations). I think it then caused dissonance in my assumed state and actual state (E.g. at work recently I just could not keep equanimous in a specific charged situation and I kept wanting to not have that mental state. I kept ruminating why I am/was not equanimous). So thank you for helping me spot this blind spot/story I was creating.

            1. Hi Metta. If iamquiet has published anything since those reddit comments I’m not aware of it, but I contacted him (her?) recently using reddit messages and we’ve had some wonderful long conversations. He/she has given me some terrific advice. His/her current lived experiences didn’t come up in the conversations but I didn’t ask about that.

            2. For Metta: That’s good. Clinging to the idea of a perfect stable state (e.g. equanimity) is a classic refuge of (the idea of) the ego. The ironic thing is that when you let go of the expectation that you should remain equanimous, then you do actually end up spending more time in equanimity! But saying ‘I should be more equanimous’ is putting the cart before the horse, because then you get disturbed when charged situations arise (which let’s face it they always do, because it’s totally natural as humans to have emotions, they are important signals we evolved to survive). Whereas when you have no expectation about what state you should be in, it’s like ‘oh ok, there’s anger, that’s interesting, is it a real threat or just an imagined one?’ It’s like a sharper emotional charge but it passes quicker and you get less of the problematic reactions because you’re not trying to push the emotion away.

          2. “I am here as the one LOOKING and FEELING this sensation so obviously it isn’t me”
            EXACTLY!
            This is what I’ve come to understand too
            All that is needed is to Be/this Looking!
            Now you tell me this whole thing isn’t hilarious… (((:

  4. Hi Freddie,

    I have quite a lot of kundalini experiences too..
    The system is startled by openings and glimpses to clear reality/real self but it still can’t go all the way up because of fear/ego. Until they subside the kundalini sensations will probably continue (mine are mostly elevations and sudden shakes).
    The shakes and the ego will end simultaneously..
    Can I ask how many years you have them? (10 years over here..)

    As for finding more realized teachers, I used to do the same, they called me the Buddha hunter.
    I think it’s an addiction and one will wean from it when the time is right. I would suggest however that the time is now because we really don’t need teachers, we need (looking at) ourselves (:

    1. Hi LB,

      I had a dramatic kundalini event in 1998. From that time on, the main effect was episodes of crying blissful tears and feeling very intensely that the universe is divine and good. These episodes have continued to the present day, so it’s been 23 years. I never had shaking or any kriyas except very slight quivering of my thighs and buttocks, and a tendency to swing my head gently from side to side which is easily controlled.

      That day in 1998 I “saw” the energy near my perineum, then a moment later it was exploding into my head, and I never “saw” it pass between. Never in my spine. The energy in my head was so “big” that I don’t know how it could have fit into my spine. But I noticed recently that the white light around my head extends very high (maybe infinitely?) above my body, so maybe whatever the kundalini wanted to do, has been done.

      In recent years I felt two long-term changes in my energy body: (1) The separate parts of it seemed to merge into a big space, and (2) a channel constructed itself in the front of my torso from the diaphragm to the top of my forehead.

      I’m planning to write a post soon about how I’ve noticed very recently that “external” Shakti (outside my body) is the same divine-love-bliss feeling that has been making me cry for 23 years.

      About addiction to teachers — if I’ve erred in that way it was probably in the opposite direction. I’ve often been curious about what teachers have to say and listened to them for a while and read their books, but with one recent exception, and the exception of Ramana (do dead teachers count in this regard?) never thought of any of them as “my teacher”.

      1. Freddie, if you wrote a book about your spiritual journey, I’d be among the first and most enthusiastic readers.
        How do you see the energy body? Can you see the others’ as well?

        1. Hi Focus,

          if you wrote a book about your spiritual journey, I’d be among the first and most enthusiastic readers.

          Thanks. Maybe one day.

          How do you see the energy body?

          Mostly the same way I see images transmitted from the eyes and from pressure/heat/cold nerve endings, except the eyes aren’t involved and I suspect the nerve endings may not be either. Maybe there is another sense or senses involved too, I’m not sure, it’s hard to tell. Also, there is a “sense” (it’s not really a sense, I suppose it’s a sort of map built by the brain) of the space occupied by the body/ This space is larger than the physical body. Nowadays it seems to blend with the space around the body without a definite boundary. I’m including this as part of the “energy body” (whatever that means exactly) because all this space (inside and outside) appears to me to be dynamic, alive.

          Sometimes I have the impression that my mind/brain is creating a visual representation of what is happening, as a way of presenting information to me. For example, one time when Jan Esmann transmitted to me, I saw — saw visually — what looked like a black inky fluid entering my body through my chest and spreading out slowly, like tendrils of one fluid spreading out through another fluid. The black fluid entered my arms and as it did, I felt sensations in my arms. I don’t think the transmitted energy was really black any more than “redness” is built into apples. I think my mind “painted” it that way for me to see. Why it chose black, I have no idea. I think that was the first time in my life I saw energy as black.

          Some energy phenomena are very closely linked to physical ones, e.g., feelings of love or grief in the chest.

          I think blockages are not only energetic but also are repetitive thoughts and repetitive emotions. In other words, “blockage” is how we describe a vasana when we focus on its energetic aspect. So we can find or inspect such blockages by looking first at the emotion, at the thought, or at the quasi-physical or physical sense of a knot or blockage in the body. No matter which of those aspects we look at it, it can lead us to the others.

          But also there seem to be structures that have nothing in particular to do with vasanas.

          Can you see the others’ as well?

          Usually I can’t. (Julia’s an exception, I can see certain parts of her energy body easily.) A few times in my life I made intense efforts and did see something in other people’s bodies but I don’t know if what I was seeing was real or imaginary, and I felt uncomfortable doing it. It seemed like an invasion of privacy even when they asked me to do it.

          Edit: Maybe “invasion of privacy” is the wrong term. Looking into somebody’s body this way feels too intimate to me, more intimate than I want to be with most people. The only two people I was ever comfortable doing this with were Julia, my girlfriend, and a former girlfriend.

      2. Interesting comment Freddie. On ‘addiction to teachers’ – I much feel the same way as you. I have this subtle aversion to complete surrender to one person (maybe has to do with childhood related vasanas of not being able to be vulnerable enough or let my guard down). But, if books/internet would count, I’d say I’m addicted to it. Such that I often have to pause and reflect that I’m placing more weight in what others have to say versus my own experimentation and experience.

        1. Hi Metta. Regarding surrender to the Guru, I’ll point again to the two videos I linked the other day. She describes vividly how people related to Ramana in his ashram. They asked his opinion about every decision they made and presumably followed his advice. This wasn’t a sadhana or attitude people cultivated toward the Guru. It was a natural way of life that emerged from the culture of that time and place.

          I mention this because I think it shows that surrender to the Guru can’t translate very easily to contemporary Western countries. Maybe it can no longer exist easily in India either, I don’t know, I grew up in the US.

          Such that I often have to pause and reflect that I’m placing more weight in what others have to say versus my own experimentation and experience.

          I think that’s the important thing — remembering that your experience is what matters.

      3. My teacher is my mother. I happen to be living at her place for a short time. We couldn’t be more different, so it’s not always a picnic. She challenges all my glorious insights. My ego is crashed. That’s good!

        Ramana was my fave too, like for most Advaita/Jnana yoga enthusiasts.
        Including his various students, from East and West, Past and Present.
        The list of teachers/books/articles/satsangs goes on and on and on..
        Until I had enough..

    2. Hi LB!

      “The shakes and the ego will end simultaneously..”

      FWIW, I used to assume that the kundalini process would have to “finish” before awakening could happen, but I was wrong. On the contrary, awakening intensified and accelerated the kundalini process! As far as I can see, it’s basically old karmic knots working their way out of the system, as well as whatever new inputs you are picking up from your environment + any residual intentionality that is still playing out.

      It is obviously related to the awakening “process”, but there seems to be a whole range of possibilities. Some people mediate a huge amount before awakening and so their system is relatively purified when it happens and the experience is quite stable. For others awakening seems to happen after relatively little preparatory practice, and then the effect on the system can be quite dramatic and take longer to integrate.

      But I think that assuming the energetic process has to get to a predefined point before you can awaken is a limiting assumption. Obviously everyone is different and it makes sense to be in a relatively stable place, but you don’t want to spend too much time focusing on kundalini and miss the bigger picture! Also post-awakening it is much easier to go through energetic integration, because there is much less resistance to what is going on (because it is fully seen and accepted that there is no alternative!) Either way, the key to kundalini is surrender, but focusing too much on it to the exclusion of self-enquiry/insight can be a hindrance. I’m not saying that’s necessarily what you are doing, but just throwing it out there as food for thought because it’s a common issue …

      1. “On the contrary, awakening intensified and accelerated the kundalini process! ”
        I had a similar hypothesis for the same reasons as yours:
        If a Self-realized person, receives shaktipat or initiates a Kundalini awakening by another process, can she/he advance faster along the path than normal people whose kundalini is awakened?
        So I asked a Shaktipat master about his former students who were self-realized when they came to him. He said he hadn’t seen many Self-realized people.
        It seems, many Self-realized ones don’t seek any more and don’t reach out to Shaktipat masters. Do they?

      2. George

        I used to think that “the kundalinis” are a sign of awakenings, non blockages. Or are they?
        So, I agree with you.

        But looking at/in the one having those, is best.
        Getting it counts as the big and final and stable and dramatic and quiet awakening.

        I’m a dramatic type but it probably would happn very quietly. I have experience and therapy, I’m more ready
        This is such a Mind blowing thing..

        I’m not focusing on the kundalini. I’ve gotten used to it. It’s in the background.
        I’m more interested in stilling the Eye.
        I’m close to full surrender. It feels like..

        I’m also done with self inquiry. I know.
        Just have to remember. Repeat.

        Cheers!

        1. Sounds good LB. Still is best at this point. The final insight of awakening is extremely subtle. To use a visual analogy, it’s hard to notice because you are already looking at it! It’s more like a moment of recognition – recognizing that what you were looking for is what you are looking at. It’s always been there, in the background …

          1. “What you’re looking for is what’s looking” is my favourite saying and biggest teaching.
            It’s very easy to understand. What is looking from the eye/s right now.
            Or like you say- “looking at”.
            We’re literaly looking at IT.
            I sometimes can’t help but laugh my head off when I realize how simple this is. It’s right here, looking. Knowing. Being..
            What used to be so incomprehensible is now in plain sight..

            1. YES it’s extremely simple and blindingly obvious once you see it, hiding in plain sight. And funny as hell … Seriously this is it?!! How could I have missed this?!! XD

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