When people ask me for advice, I try to remember what brought about the transformation in my life so I can recommend the same path to them.
But even though I remember what I did, and I remember what happened, it’s difficult to know whether one thing caused the other.
In my heart of hearts, when I ask intuitively what caused this change to come upon me, I believe it happened for two main reasons:
1. I wanted it to happen.
2. I was open to it.
There has to be some sort of desire for God or enlightenment. This desire can manifest in various forms. In me, it was mainly a desire to find out, “What is of supreme importance?” I was also intrigued by goodness and my lack of it. I think also I had felt an intuition of the Divine since I was a boy and it attracted me. The desire can take other forms. It can be a desire for truth, a desire for wholeness, a desire for love. The desire is necessarily going to be muddled and partial because we’re not enlightened yet when it arises in us. But I think this desire, in whatever form it takes, is the engine or fuel that makes the process happen. The Goddess once told me that the desire for God is God, and that it automatically fulfills itself. When she said “desire for God” she meant a desire for something holy, something that is part of enlightenment. She didn’t mean a super duper person sitting on a cloud. You can be an atheist and feel that sort of desire for God. In fact I was an atheist when this process began for me.
When I say I was open to the process, I mean that I was willing to be surprised by what happened. I was willing to be disoriented and knocked off my feet. I was willing to have experiences that I didn’t understand. There was a softness, an understanding that I wasn’t in control. Ultimately, one day, you have to be willing to let your mind — which seems to be you — dissolve.
So the best instructions I can give people, the most truthful instructions, are (1) want it and (2) be soft and open.
These instructions are vague, hard to put into practice, and difficult to teach. The more precise an instruction, the more mechanical the sadhana, the easier it is to teach and practice. This is why most spiritual teachings are precise and mechanical. It’s a hell of a lot easier to teach somebody to sit in a certain position or visualize a flower in their heart, than it is to teach them to desire something or surrender.
But the vague, difficult instructions are the ones that really matter.
P.S. You also need to be honest with yourself.
P.P.S. The first time I wrote this post, it came out spontaneously in a Skype conversation with a friend. Maybe that version is better. I wrote:
I wondered to myself, “I want to tell him the honest honest truth, the real way this hapened to me, how did this happen to me, what should I tell him?”
And I thought something like — it doesn’t sound right when I put it in words — but I don’t know how else to say it — it really comes out wrong — “You have to want God very badly and you have to open yourself up and fall apart.”
19 thoughts to “This post takes precedence over all the others”
Have you experienced a new transformation in your being that you have come to this new advice?
Another big lurch forward has been happening in the last six weeks — that’s why I started writing again — so if you’re intuiting that something is different about me, you’re right. But this advice isn’t entirely new. I’ve been talking about the desire for God since 2015 when the Goddess explained it to me in a conversation that was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. I’m not sure how much I’ve talked before now about the other half of this advice, be open and fall apart. “Falling apart” is on my mind right now because of what’s happening now. One thing in this post that’s probably new is the conviction that these two pieces of advice are more important than anything else. Maybe that conviction happened because I see more of the process now and can draw conclusions better about the whole thing.
I have always loved your writing, so please keep us posted on your progress!
Thanks! That makes me feel very good and also motivates me to write more.
Very interesting. In a transformative (for me) correspondence that took place 4 years ago between you and me, you said:
“The most successful sadhana I ever did was simply craving and desiring experience of the divine. I wanted it. I wanted it for hours on end, every day. And so it came to me. I didn’t even realize it was sadhana. It was just my state at the time. It was just what was happening in my mind. I only realized later, in retrospect, after God came to me, that there had been cause and effect.”
I guess the same conviction was in place 4 years ago. I thought you might find this information about yourself interesting because I tend to forget about my past states a lot!
Also, could you, if you’re willing to, tell more about your conversation with the Goddess? How about the big lurch forward that has been happening in the last six weeks?
Thanks a lot. As always I found this post extremely helpful.
Thanks a lot for the quote. Yes I do appreciate it. I’m a little surprised by it because I thought I started saying things like that in 2015 but I’m wrong.
I’m very curious to know how and if that passage was transformative for you, because people don’t have much ability to choose what they want, and I always think, “If I tell people they need to want something, they will get discouraged because they can’t do that voluntarily”.
I’ll write a post about the Goddess. I’m holding off for now on writing about the last six weeks because I want things to go a little further so I have more perspective before I say anything. Basically it seems like my mind is finally breaking up and dissolving, but maybe I’m over-optimistic and it’s not really happening.
Glad to hear it. You’re not that far-off by the way. It took place in June 2014.
The whole correspondence was transformative for me along with that passage. But that passage indeed was very important:
At that time I already had the intense want but also had come to know that I could alter this intensity according to what I focus in my life at a particular time. So when I was discouraged, I would direct my attention elsewhere (like all people), and when I believed in the possibility of ‘enlightenment’ I would focus on that full time. Hearing from you, the importance of wanting, I somewhat went into a more relaxed state, by virtue of knowing what the most important ingredient in this business is, that I possess it and also that I can exert some control over it especially when the suitable time for it comes.
I can say that, to this day, I’m still in that relaxed state, all the while feeding the fire in me so that it’s never extinguished even in those periods which my attention is directed elsewhere.
Regarding “Basically it seems like my mind is finally breaking up and dissolving, but maybe I’m over-optimistic and it’s not really happening.”:
I was also very curious about that, but hesitated to ask and therefore did not. I’m excited to hear you mention it. I’ll be all ears!
Thank you! Very interesting. I don’t think I ever imagined that a reader would be in your position. I was thinking only about a potential reader who doesn’t yet feel that desire. But you in fact already felt an intense desire. I don’t this possibility ever occurred to me. This makes me think, “Conversation is very valuable” and “maybe I should stop trying to imagine the effect of my writing on readers”.
Has anything in your years of experience confirmed the idea that the desire helps lead us to enlightenment?
Looks like many people awaken kundalini or have mystical experiences but with the passage of time they return to identification with the thought that returns them to psychological conflict or social conditioning, that is, the search for pleasure, power, continuity. To live an ordered life kundalini is not important, we must not think about it, only the attention to the thoughts and the present, can break the social conditioning.
Sorry for my bad english.
I really resonated with this para (pasted below in quotes) of FOCUS’s comment. That has been my experience also. Some of the perceived breakthroughs have come during the increased intensity period (for example, after some time in the seeking mode – i realized my ego had created a spiritual seeking identity and I’d told myself a story that I’d be happy/gratified once I get to a specific stage in the journey or once I get a different job that is in social good space and more aligned to this new identity etc etc. After seeing this realization, some of the seeking stopped – seeking for a specific stage in spiritual journey and worklife specifics).
“At that time I already had the intense want but also had come to know that I could alter this intensity according to what I focus in my life at a particular time. So when I was discouraged, I would direct my attention elsewhere (like all people), and when I believed in the possibility of ‘enlightenment’ I would focus on that full time.”
Question for FOCUS (doesnt look like I can tag him here, Freddie – can you help?): what has your recent experiences been since 2018?
Metta, I’ll send Focus an email with a link to your comment. In the future, if you reply to Focus’s comment rather than the original post, I think the blog software will notify him. Maybe that happens only if he has signed up for notifications, I’m not sure.
Thanks for asking Metta. It was interesting to read my thoughts in 2018. Since then my desire for truth and God has been mostly in a semi-dormant state. Deep in my heart, I’ve always known that nothing material would give me real happiness and fulfil that void. But due to being somewhat discouraged, I tried to direct my attention to my job or when I got tired of that, tried to numb myself with other things and subjects. Moving to a different country later that year did not help either. The energetic experiences that I had been having during sleep at night time also vanished and I forgot about them.
Two months ago, I started to feel some intermittent openings in my heart. i.e. Started feeling love, joy and enthusiasm etc. and this reignited a pull in me towards spirituality and enlightenment. With that, the energetic experiences in the body resumed as stronger than before. Right at that time, Freddie started to write some interesting posts, through which I found Jan Esmann. I received a remote shaktipat (shaktipat in absentia) with a necklace from him two weeks ago. I didn’t experience anything extraordinary with the necklace at the first instance, but the energetic experiences have been increasing since then -it’d be safe to say- day by day. I began to feel strong emotional experiences for the first time as well. But all these stories have too much ‘I’ in them. With the help of the discussions in Freddie’s latest post and George’s comments there, I felt I should do a non-duality recap and watch Tony Parsons again. What George had written was equally effective and more concise for me to understand once again, that one can do sadhana all their life, all the while enforcing the ‘I’.
So yesterday, I decided to remind myself that “there’s no I” as often as possible, and meditate a la Michael Langford (Awareness Watching Awareness) which I used to/ tried to do years before, but continue to experiment with Shaktipat without much attachment in the meantime. As I wrote in the comments to the other post, this reminding of the facts has a strong effect on me, one of lightness and of less suffering. This reminded me of something I read years ago from Steven Norquist:
“If I could teach the world a lesson it would be, no matter what you experience always remind yourself, “There is no experiencer, there is no observer.” If you do this long enough and often enough you will one day know what’s going on. When that day comes you will realize nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. It is a feeling and a knowing. An inescapable falling away of untruth. If you think you know it then you don’t. When you know it, you do. And when you do know it, no one can take it away from you.”
I’ll notify you if I make any significant breakthroughs through this process 🙂
Thanks for the tip Freddie (now replying to Focus). Thank you for your raw honest and authentic account Focus. I resonated with your dormate/active phases as well! I wish you grace in your journey.
I liked Michael Langford’s books and your comment renews my motivation to follow through his dry but promisingly powerful technique.
Thank you so much, Metta. I wish you the same, too.
About Michael Langford’s main book; It’s a torture to the intellect and a torment to the ego, isn’t it? 😀 And he’s asking the reader to read it multiple times!
But it always looked to me as the most potent practice. And I think it has the least potential of strengthening the ego. Because you’re literally doing nothing in that practice. There isn’t even an object of concentration!
I agree Focus, I disregarded his tip to read it multiple times as unnecessary and perhaps, he saw that part and that’s why insisted. It’s certainly hard to work with this type of aversion in me.
I’ve probably mentioned this before but when I first saw Michael Langford’s AWA book in the early 2000s I liked it so much that I wrote to him and offered to edit it for him. I did that for him between the 5th and 6th editions, if I remember the edition numbers correctly.
I think the book has a big weakness which is that different readers may have very different ideas about what “awareness of awareness” actually is. Michael tries to solve this ambiguity mainly by restating the idea with many synonyms but in my humble opinion, that does little to solve the problem. With words of this kind, some way of defining them has to be found because the meanings are not self-evident. For example, Dzogchen attempts to define it ostensively with pointing out instructions; the article on the home page of this website defines it operationally; some teachers “define” it by transmission.
I think some lucky readers will interpret the words exactly as Michael intended them to be understood, but many readers will interpret them in some other way — and many people in both groups won’t realize that other interpretations were possible.
Michael Langford and his books have always been very dear to me. I wish we could watch him on some videos. The sincerity of the gentleman is on another level. An anecdote regarding Michael Langford’s book;
There has only been one guy I found that’s worth following about enlightenment and spirituality on social media in my country. I think he’s a quite secular Sufi. His words always sounded so true and deep to me. They sound so genuine that he must be speaking from his own truth. But I don’t know.
Once I asked for a consultation about another topic to him. When he learned that I had practised AWA, he said “Oh, that practice is so precious to me. This means you’re my brother. I won’t charge you for the consultation. I once translated and published that book in our language. But it’s out of print now”.
And I said to him: “Oh really, was that you? I bought the last two used copies that I could find online. I bought it for the potentiality that my family members and friends would like to read it someday.”
I’m glad you told it again Freddie. I didn’t know that you edited it. I’ve got the 6th edition.
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! That annoys some people, which itself is a sign that they have developed a personal investment in what they imagine enlightenment will or should be like for them personally. So really the way I see it is – 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).