015. Andy Schulman

I remember having the thought at age 26, “what am I going to do, I will never make it through the second year of graduate school”? Having just completed my first year in training as a psychiatric social worker it was obvious that I felt more like a patient, who needed intense help, than the person charged with helping others. At that moment, I became a seeker.  The subsequent initiation into Transcendental Meditation forever set the direction of my life in ways I could not have imagined and it was a blessing that I did not. The road was bumpy quite a bit of the time yet there were always people there to help. Nature was always there giving both challenges and help necessary to see my way through them. Then one day not knowing how it happened or why, silence was now present all the time. Everything had changed yet nothing was different.  The change was both ordinary and profound. It was not the end of the journey but a new beginning and way of experiencing it. Life is now spent in the deepening of that silence and removal of the remaining junk. One can indeed know “One’s Self” and yet have much more work to do.

Interview recorded 3/17/2010.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

18 thoughts on “015. Andy Schulman

  1. In the end, you will be pushed into the next step. Good point.

    Sounds like he’s taking the right steps. I certainly found that heart culturing was necessary for the next steps.

    “I wouldn’t recommend spontaneous enlightenment for anybody.” (laughs) I’ve concluded that by stepping through the process we’re able to understand and process it but also support others in their journey.

    Interesting comments on faith.

    Thanks for a great chat Rick and Andy

  2. Hey Guys,

    I know I’m a few months late. I’m only on the 49th minute of this interview, but I think it’s one pretty unfair, so far. Schulman wouldn’t recommend spontaneous enlightenment, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. People are very happy with it. Your body and feelings will always change, enlighten or not. so, you reaction after your enlightenment will change also, spontaneous or not. I thought spontaneous meant that you realized without any spiritual practices. Not that you have had one experience and that’s it. Every part of life is an experience, of course they’ll never stop. Your brain as well as all of your body parts are organs, of course they’ll change. With such a radical shift of perspective, the way you see and experience them will also naturally change.

    I’ve also listened to all of the urban guru café and I have never felt like they meant that experiences stop after realization. As though there is an end to life. Their interviews are so short that, compared to this show, they jump straight to the point. I’m sure that’s the point. The goal seems to be to entertain, hence the music.

    How can this be a proper interview when the host is bias against “neo” advaita, but still pretends to pose non dual questions that aren’t really meant to be answered fairly? That’s like asking a mouse how a hamster feels.

    I don’t understand why picking on these advaita guys is such an important sticking point. I think very important issues are missed when this approach is taken.

    I haven’t made my way through all the interviews yet, however, I hope some advaita guys are on the show so that moreknowledge and understanding is aviable.

    A lot of these advaita people have families and/or wives that they do there best to care for and love. I find it very irresponsible to suggest they don’t care about anything, or believe that nothing matters after realization.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Poe. They deserve, IMO, to be uttered.

    “Spontaneous enlightenment” is a particularly charged term. It draws strong feelings, depending on the camp that you may have aligned/identified yourself with.

    A more appropriate term for me, however, is lucid dreaming. And for those of us who have has considerable experience in lucid dreaming, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    When you dream lucidly, you are simple aware of the drama that is afoot. You are observing without judgment and commentary.

    The drama that you are observing includes the elements of time and space, of course. But you, as the observer, are not aware of any time and space contraints on you as the observer. You are simply observing. Without judgment and commentary.

    Another infamous person said it best:

    “be in it (the world) but not of it.”

    Lucid dreaming, from my personal experience, exemplifies that admonition of his.

    “Spontaneous enlightenment” simply is awareness outside of the constraints of time and space.

    Which is also the essence of lucid dreaming.

  4. I get it, Thanks Peter.

    I don’t know if David and Rick are still communicating with us, but, it was a nice dialog/debate going on #21.

  5. Hi Poe

    The issue with “neo” advaita is that it’s not really advaita. When there is not a clear understanding of the typical “steps” of awakening, there can be a tendency to confuse the observer witness Peter is referring to with the later stages of unity. As Peter well describes, the observer is separate. It feels one within itself. But it is not one with the dream. This is not non-duality/ advaita.

    Yes, it’s true apparently spontaneous awakening happens. But when it does, the person is challenged to help others get there because they don’t really know how it happened themselves. There are all sorts of practices floating around that attempt to mimic the experience. These may or may not help awakening in the slightest. Mimicing the effect doesn’t help with the cause.

    Ricks background is based in a very old tradition of awakening that has much experience in the process.

    Rick is not biased against advaita. He’s biased against those who are speaking a concept of it that is incorrect. This can mislead people and cause them to get stuck on side roads of the path and not reach true advaita.

    There is a period after self-realization where one is the independent observer, detached from all activity. If one gets stuck there and does not awaken the heart, it can cause a stage of meaninglessness. This is an example of why it’s important not to get stuck.

    Adyashanti has some excellent material around these subjects.

    Peter – what you describe is also known as witnessing dreams. One can also witness deep sleep. These can be symptoms of developing awakening but may or may not indicate a “switch”.

    “spontaneous” is as Poe describes, awakening with the natural evolution of life and no apparent practice. This is a little different than lucid dreaming. I touch on why it’s a little controversial above.

  6. Hey David, you’re back.

    I was sure you guys ditched us!

    So, what are the advaita steps that aren’t being considered in neo advaita?

    For me, non duality was one step. From the false to the real. Now everything else is working to catch up. That’s why I don’t see a problem with this neo advaita. For me it deals with the one real issue, “the false reference point”.

    It has been proven that after a person has a spontaneous awakening, they can help others get there. Ramana Maharshi did it. Byron Katie has done it. As a matter of fact, all awakenings seem to be spontaneous. No one knows how it happens. That’s why there are so many paths and teachers. Can you explain to me what effects are being mimicked that isn’t helping the cause?

    To me Rick seems to be against this neo advaita, because all paths have the capabilities to leave people stuck. Just look how long people use TM. 40 and 50 years without an end to the searching. He doesn’t seem to mention that fact often. I feel he should talk more about how TM is not a sure shot. He seems to want criticize a technique that is actually working in this day and age. Granted, I don’t think either technique is better, but I get the feeling he does. Why continue to present those same Urban Guru Cafe questions in interviews? Because the TM resonates with him? There are people who watch that TM doesn’t resonate with, however TM seems to have his full support. Never any patronizing about it. Though I think he’s in perfect position understand its short comings.

    I agree if a person gets stuck as the independent observer that would be a problem. But I can’t believe that any of those neo advaita teachers are stuck. I get the feeling that compassion is what brings them to teaching. Would compassion be there if they were stuck as the observer? Or do you believe that they typically lack compassion?

    Glad you’re back J

  7. Hi Poe
    Neo leaves off the third of Shankara’s laws. The world is Brahman. Without that the vision is not complete.

    Rick posted a link to an article that goes into the issues more on another interview. .

    “Now everything else is working to catch up.” thats very well put.

    Yes some can help others even if they don’t know how they go there. Katie had a spontaneous intuition of how to help. But there are also others that are thrashing around. Gurdjieff told his followers to abandon his practices as they didn’t work but they continue to be practiced today.

    And yes, all awakening is spontaneous as it is not “done” But the meaning here is that those without a sense of process sometimes deny there ever is one, confusing those that experience a process.

    The issue is I guess the tendency to take a statement and make it the “one truth” rather than seeing it as a process where what seems true evolves.

    On the TM subject, Rick fully recognizes there are a bunch of stuck meditators. Stuck on concepts of what it’s “supposed” to be. And in my opinion, often in denial of emotional stuckness they need to work on. But there are a great many that are quite ripe for awakening if they loosen that stuckness a little. Thats part of why Rick is doing the show. Get past some concepts.

    Urban Guru has come up because it’s something Rick is using as an example. He also talks about the TMO shortcomings. I think it depends on who he’s talking to. The early interviews were more TMers, later ones more mixed.

    Anyway – Rick can defend himself. (laughs)

    There are some teaches who have had a self realization and have gone no further. It would seem their ideas of being “there” have gotten them stuck prior even to sat chit ananda. Peace and an unboundedness but not the bliss or the development of the divine heart. They go on to give satangs and write books. They use terms like Vedanta and advaita without understanding what it means. This is, for me, is one of the bigger issues in spiritual circles these days. A lot of people are waking up and there are teachers floating around saying thats it! Anything else is wrong.

    And it’s true – it is “it” but it’s not all of it. Just the first aspect. Its not advaita or Vedanta.

    What then happens is the student continues and steps off the end of their understanding. Now, certainly there are those who get through it fine without a conceptual model. But the process is much smoother if they can work with the process rather than struggling with a continually evolving reality.

    This is why I harp on it. I’ve seen people struggle without a compass and I’ve done the same myself.

    I can also observe that some teaching arises from compassion but some arises because of some concept they have something important to say.

    I’m not saying I’m against this teaching or that. What I’m trying to say is there is a bigger picture. If you have the bigger picture, you may have a smoother journey and you’ll be able to relate all of the teachings you might run into to it. You’ll understand where a teacher is coming from and if that has value for you at this point of your journey.

    Without that, it can degrade into conceptual conflicts and arguments over who’s more right. That doesn’t serve anyone.

    There are teachers I read sometimes I don’t really agree with. But I know where they’re coming from and value their perspective. I guess like Rick and UG Cafe. But if that is seen as one truth vs another, thats when we get into trouble. If someone is going to teach “this is the way”, it needs to be pointed out where that might not be completely true.

  8. Hi Guys,

    Sorry I haven’t been participating. I’ve been out of town, and then I came home to a crashed computer which I’m still recovering from. You’re all raising excellent points. I’ll try to chime in soon.


  9. Hey David,

    Even if you don’t include Shankara’s third law, nature will take care to make that real for the enlighten person. Nature will take care of itself.

    People can still reach full enlightenment without knowing any of Shankara’s laws. Once you realize, your inner guru takes over.

    I’ve looked at the link to that article that Rick posted on the other interview, but their desire seems to be to rough the waters, more then it is to calm or bring true understanding. For me it still didn’t resolve the question of, why not neo advaita. Not one path is a sure shot.

    So, you believe that there is a correct process? I see all the practices used for the attainment of enlightenment as the same. Sometimes they work, sometimes they’re a trap.

    For me, once you see that one truth, all other truths are revealed in their due time. No one can stop the process once it’s started.

    So, do we agree that TM can cause people to be stuck, just like neo advaita can?

    When Rick talks about the Urban Guru, his goal seems to be trying to convince who ever he’s interviewing to agree that they have pain and admit that the world is real. He seems to be stuck on the idea that these guys believe nothing is real. Of course they still live life and experience happiness and sadness, so why try so hard to get them to admit a non truth? He doesn’t display any ideas that are contrary to TM, so he never pushes them on any issue. Though, he could push them on the limitations of meditations. Instead he says it makes you accident prone. So does neo advaita!

  10. I agree with you Poe. Different paths work best for different people. I have a TM background, although I’m no longer in the TM Movement, but undoubtedly that background is influencing my thinking and understanding. That’s why I try to listen to a lot of different teachers these days. When I listen to neo-Advaita guys, I keep asking myself whether they might be right and I’m missing something. Of course, they are right, but I question whether their story is as complete as they seem to think it is. Many of them speak in rather absolute terms. I don’t object to their perspective as far as it goes. I just question whether it goes far enough.

  11. Hi Poe
    I don’t think there is one correct process. Each of us have our own journey. But there is a larger process of Self awakening to Itself through these apparent forms. If we base the map on that perspective, we’ll have a smoother ride.

    I will also say that yes, the process takes care of itself. But there is still a human here, falling over their ideas of whats happening. I’ve seen people get in the way of their own awakening a number of times, refusing to let go of some past experience of “truth”. Or later, not surrendering to the process enough and thus getting stuck at a key crossroad.

    The better the map, the smoother this might be.

    I don’t think TM causes people to be stuck. It is concepts that cause stuckness, or denial of ones experience.

    I don’t consider neo-advaita to be a valid process but some may make progress due to its advaita underpinnings. So I say better to go to the advaita roots and loose the absolutism.

  12. So Rick,

    Where exactly is the disconnect happening? Is it in the way that these neo advaita are speaking of reality? Or, are you trying to figure out if there is a disconnect?

    Do you think that they can’t reach completion? (Hopefully you know what I mean)

    Or do you think they aren’t reaching the third level?

  13. But David,

    When will this smoother ride happen? Before or after awakening?

    If it’s after awakening, so you suggest awakening first before you start practices. What practice do you think can help make the ride smoother?

    Even if someone gets stuck, no practice is going to help them. I can see correct understanding helping, but I think once the process has started, being stuck is ok. Death is not going to occur because one appears to be stuck.

    Whatever aspect of the neo-advaita you consider to affective, it is still affective. I think that concepts related to TM can cause confusion, or not be effective as some people wish. The same can be said of the neo-advaita, it can be a problem for some. In the end both can, and do, work.

    You may not think that neo advaita can be helpful, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t. You can’t argue results.

  14. Hi Poe
    The idea is to smooth the entire process, before and after. But especially the transitional places. Those are where people can have the most trouble, when their reality turns inside out. Of course, some people have very gentle changes too. But for others it is very distinct.

    OK – we don’t seem to be communicating again. We were talking about understanding of the journey, not practices to make it smoother. Thats a different discussion.

    We’re also not talking about the same thing. I don’t think results come from a philosophy. But the philosophy can hinder results or help smooth the way.

    My experience has been that such ideas get in the way of ongoing results. Neo may be helpful but at a certain point, it becomes a barrier. I prefer better maps that don’t have an end date. Thats my point and you’re welcome to disagree.

  15. O.K. David

    So, how are you suggesting smoothing the process?

    Why is having trouble seen as a problem?

    Ok, anyone can give you understanding of the journey, that’s not an issue, however, how can you quantify whether a practice is making the process smoother, or whether things are just smoother for the sake of being smooth. No reason for a smooth transition?

    My point is just like neo advaita ideas can hinder, so can TM ideas. Do you agree?

    What are these maps really? Can you tell me in plain language?

  16. Hi Poe
    What smooths the process is routine, activity, continued practice, and some understanding of what is underway.

    Who wants to go by the gravel road when there is a paved highway? Or a jet plane? This is not to say challenges can all be avoided or that they are bad. But why take the hard way?

    And no, only people who have traveled the journey can help you with understanding. This is the problem I’m talking about. People who say they are teachers who don’t live the talk. Anyone can call themselves a “spiritual teacher”. We had a total flake show up in this city recently.

    Of course, we can discuss endlessly if something made it smoother or it was just smooth. But when people have had challenges, I’ve seen the above help, over and over.

    I don’t put TM ideas and neo-advaita in the same class of hindrance. Any concept can hinder. Some more than others. I went over this elsewhere.

    You want me to describe Vedanta in a comment? (laughs) Well – the 3 laws on Baxters post would be one way to summarize it.
    I am That, Thou art That, All This is That is another.
    Self realization, God realization, Unity would be another. Or in TM speak, CC, GC, and UC.
    And there is more after that, but then it’s no longer about stages or states but rather deepening fullness.

    There is a process marked by distinct awakenings. Not one shift as Brian describes on Braha. That is the whole point here. It’s not one change. If you only take the first step, you have missed the remarkable potential that a human body offers.

    Awakening to Self within is wonderful. Awakening to Self in the world, infusing everything you see and touch is whole different ball game.

  17. Really enjoyed listening to you Andy. Thank you for your sharing. Sometimes you reminded me of a kinder nature in all of us. Many blessing to you. Clark.

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