Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest today is Jan Esmann or in Denmark pronounced Jan. I had Jan on the show almost three years ago and I listened to that interview just this week and found it really interesting. No credit to me, it was just a really fascinating account of your spiritual journey. And let me just, we’ll touch on some of those things that came up in the last interview and expand upon them, but let me just read a brief intro bio so that people know who you are. You were born in 1960, grew up in Burry, England. Your parents were Danish. In ’67 your family moved to Denmark. From an early age you showed strong spiritual yearnings. You trained as an artist and also studied art restoration. You got an MA in History of Modern Culture. Today you work as a full-time professional artist and also have a software company developing photo retouching plug-ins for Photoshop. I’ll just switch this to the third person. After doing TM and the TM-Sidhi program for six years, Jan felt the need for a guru and found Gururaj Ananda Yogi, whom he stayed with for three years. Then Jan’s kundalini was so active that he did not need any other guidance than what the Shakti gave, so he gave up on gurus and meditated by observing the inner Shakti’s workings. Following this, Jan began to be contagious and the kundalini might spontaneously awaken in those that meditated with him. After some years Jan met Amma, the hugging saint, and related to her as a spiritual master for about ten years. But again the Shakti guided Jan to meditate on his own and follow the inner guidance of the Shakti. Today Jan would describe his spirituality as being grabbed by Mother’s grace, the Divine Mother who resides in everybody as kundalini Shakti and patiently waits to unfold as a vibrating field of love, bliss and grace. Now since we did the first interview, Jan has published three books. One is “Lovebliss: The Essence of Self-realization”. The second one is “Enlightenment 101: From Ignorance to Grace”. And the third is “Kundalini Tantra: Song of Liberation”. So we’re going to talk about all three. Jan mentioned that, and particularly on the last one we’re going to focus on, but Jan mentioned that he might like to start with a review of his understanding and experience of the states or stages of consciousness, which is covered in some detail in his first book, “Lovebliss”. So why don’t you start right in on that Jan, and then I’ll naturally be asking questions as we go along.
Jan: Yeah, well it’s difficult to just summarize it because it’s very complex, but there are four or three distinct different kinds of enlightenment. One I call Self-realization, the other is a term I took from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called God consciousness, and the third I also took from Maharishi called Unity consciousness. And the one phase which goes before enlightenment is called awakening. And awakening is a very popular term today, but it’s got nothing to do with enlightenment. So maybe in order to understand what awakening is, we have to understand what self-realization is, so we can understand that awakening has nothing to do with self-realization. The self, first we have to understand that the self is void, it’s pure being. There is absolutely nothing going on in the self. It’s pure void, it’s absolute, it’s unmovable, it’s untouchable, and in its very nature it is bliss. Now bliss does not necessarily come in pure self-realization, that might come later. So you have two kinds of self-realization, one is pure void and one is void with bliss. My impression of these Neo-Advaita gurus is that they have experienced self-realization without bliss, only as void. So, what’s awakening?
Rick: Let me throw in two questions before you go on to that. One is, why do we call it the self? I presume it’s because it’s the sort of ultimate essence of what we are, but please elaborate on that. We’ll go for that one first, answer that first. Why do we call it the self?
Jan: Because it’s your self, when you realize it, you get a certain relief. Self-realization is a certain shift, unlike the other states of consciousness, they are more like phases. But self-realization comes with a certain shift where you suddenly get a release and the feeling, “Oh Jesus, oh God,” or whatever you want to say, “This is me, this is what I’ve been longing for all my life,” and you no longer identify with the mind. That’s the mark of self-realization, identification stops.
Rick: And you said that awakening is not the same as self-realization, and you know all the time you hear people saying they’re having awakenings, so contrast those a little bit.
Jan: Yeah. To be self-realized you have to get rid of this identification mechanism, which I call it the “I-ness” or the “I am.” “I am” is also very popular today, but it’s got nothing to do with enlightenment, it’s just a subtle state of ego. Now awakening is a shift in perspective. It can, as Adyashanti has explained, it can happen on the [level of the] mind or the heart or the gut, but it’s all in the relative. It’s a shift in perspective where you suddenly realize, instead of being an outward ego-sensitive materialistic person, that there is a spiritual dimension to life. And this realization can be life-changing and shattering for most people, but it’s not enlightenment. It’s a necessary step towards a serious sequel.
Rick: Could it be a permanent shift and still not be deserving of the term enlightenment?
Jan: It’s a shift in the mind or the heart or the gut. It’s a change of direction in your life and a change of priorities.
Rick: Which is something Adyashanti says a lot. He talks about awakening in the mind, the heart and the gut.
Jan: Exactly, that’s where I got it from.
Rick: So those levels of awakening might still not be self-realization?
Jan: No, because they are in the relative. The mind is in the relative, the heart and the gut are of the relative. But realization is totally beyond anything relative. Nothing moves, nothing is manifest, nothing changes in the self.
Rick: Could it be that, let’s say in Adyashanti’s experience — I don’t know what his experience is, he just talks about these levels — but let’s say he awoke to the self, but then having awoken to the self, there still needs to be a further awakening or embodiment on different levels — mind, heart, gut — sort of like Maharishi’s talk of awakening to the self in cosmic consciousness, but then further refinement after that. Or would you say that by his model of mind, heart, gut, the self has not necessarily yet been realized and there is a more significant shift yet to come in terms of self-realization?
Jan: Absolutely. Adyashanti in some of his rare interviews talks about this Kundalini experience he had when he realized the self for a short while, but then he lost it again unfortunately. And this experience changed his perspective on spirituality completely, and this change he called awakening. You don’t get self-realized from attending a satsang with Adyashanti or Mooji or whatever they are called, or reading their books. It’s the hardest journey to get self-realized. You can get an awakening from it, and the awakening will ignite a desire and a longing to become self-realized in you. That’s wonderful. And I respect these teachers a lot, even though I’m criticizing them right now. But you have to understand it’s not self-realization, it’s not enlightenment. It is the kickstart of an engine that will take you there.
Rick: How about Eckhart Tolle, since we’re talking about other teachers, we’ve all read his story of his awakening, and that was many years ago and certainly undoubtedly it’s matured and ripened since then. But would you say there too that was awakening but it wasn’t self-realization as you’re defining it?
Jan: I don’t know about Tolle, I’m sorry. I can’t comment on that.
Rick: But with Adya and Mooji and these guys…
Jan: He’s a mystery to me.
Rick: Oh, he’s a mystery to you?
Jan: Yeah, Tolle is a mystery to me. I mean I think his talk, his incessant talk about the now is naive, and it has nothing to do with self-realization, because the now is also in the relative. In the self there is no time, there is no space, there is no pain body. What is the pain body anyway? There is no such thing as a pain body, there is a bliss body.
Rick: Well you have a TM background so you would probably understand the concept of stress in the nervous system, which could have its emotional counterpart. So when I hear him talking about the pain body I kind of interpret it that way, that there’s some kind of deep impressions that have to be purified or burned through for realization to be more complete.
Jan: Yeah, well that could be an interpretation of his term, that makes sense, I respect that.
Rick: And about the now, I mean maybe, couldn’t the now be like a portal into self-realization?
Jan: No, I don’t think so. No, the mind can be in the present, but your pain is also in the present, and your dreams about the future are also in the present. Everything is in the present, ignorance is totally in the present. So the present moment awareness can clear you from a therapeutic point of view, from various traumas and illness and problems etc., etc. that haunt you, but it won’t grant you self-realization at all.
Rick: Okay, so let’s go deeper into what you mean by self-realization, because so far we’ve established that you’re suggesting that Adyashanti and Mooji and these guys, I don’t know whether you’re suggesting that they themselves aren’t self-realized, maybe you are, but you’re suggesting that just listening to their talks and sitting in their satsangs and all isn’t going to ignite self-realization in you. It really needs some more diligent, arduous practice or procedure to get there, right?
Jan: Yes. You mentioned Mooji, I think of all these guys, Mooji is probably self-realized. But he’s, oddly enough, antagonistic towards everything that could take him further. He despises Kundalini and he rejects bliss as some ridiculous emotional experience. He even called Kundalini “child’s play” in one video I watched. I’ve never met Mooji so I can’t be certain for sure, but I’ve read his books and I’ve seen a number of videos with him and he does seem generally self-realized, that’s for sure.
Rick: He seems blissful too.
Jan: Yeah, I’m not sure about that. He has a very gentle and kind nature. But talking about self-realization, with the risk of sounding arrogant, I would like to say I don’t think the rest of the New-Advaita gurus are. They’re awakened and that’s great, and they help people become awakened, but they promote their awakening as if it’s enlightenment, and I don’t think that’s ethical or proper or, it’s grandiose somehow, it’s not true.
Rick: Well they probably think that it is enlightenment.
Jan: Yeah, they probably do.
Rick: We need to look at it more carefully. If you don’t think that most of the Neo-Advaita gurus are enlightened, and that they are merely awakened, and we’re clarifying again the distinction between enlightenment and awakening, then awakening it seems can be very convincing, it can be very intoxicating, it can be very profound, and it’s not necessarily a flash in the pan. It may be a permanent shift, at least in people’s experience, you know, it happens and then on and on and on, days, weeks, months, years, they’re different, they’re living from a state of awareness that is profoundly different than what ordinarily one lives. And so, if we grant that that’s not enlightenment, probably what we need is a much clearer understanding of what enlightenment is, because things that are much less, that don’t really deserve the term enlightenment, can easily be taken as enlightenment. Right?
Jan: Yes, for sure. And I want to make it clear, I don’t disrespect these teachers, but the one thing that is very important in enlightenment or self-realization is first “I am” and next is the identification principle, and when you become self-realized, this identification principle goes away, it vanishes, it breaks down. And as long as you’re identified with being a spiritual person, or a Buddhist, or some other holy identity you’ve got, the farther you are from becoming self-realized. You have to practice many years of serious introspection, and at one point the identification principle breaks down and goes away. And then you are never, ever, in any way, identified with the relative mind. In awakening, things are going on in the relative mind, like you understand spirituality and you understand spirituality and you long for being enlightened, and that’s all very fine, but they have to move on and leave all this New-Advaita nonsense behind and become serious students of spirituality.
Rick: Alright, let’s pick that apart a little bit. So you said two things “I am” and breaking the identification.
Rick: And so you’re saying that the sense of I Amness is only partway there, it’s not any sort of final realization. And breaking of identification. Now, I don’t know about anyone’s subjective experience other than my own, but even in my own subjective experience, which I readily acknowledge is less spiritually advanced than a lot of the people we’re talking about, there is kind of a multi-dimensionality to it, where there’s a very clear sense of not being a person and not doing anything, and sort of a deep silence that pervades regardless of what’s going on. But then there’s at the same time a sense of being a person and doing things and activity. And so it’s sort of like a spectrum where both aspects are on that spectrum. And I don’t know, probably there’s still a fair degree of identification. I mean, I can’t see how you can be utterly rid of identification anyway. I mean, if I whack your finger with a hammer, it’s a more serious situation than if I whack your table with a hammer. You know, there’s some kind of, you know, ownership of that pain to some extent, yes?
Jan: Yeah. The mind goes on and the body goes on and they are both instruments of taking care of the body and this life. So if somebody whacks you on the hand or the fingers, you will react and it will be unpleasant. But you will be a witness to it. And this witnessing consciousness is a very important part of self-realization. And there’s no witnessing consciousness as far as I can see in awakening. It’s within the ego, body, heart, mind complex. So when you get self-realized, you merge your conscious awareness of who you are into the void or Shiva, as it’s called in the Tantric tradition. And this merging into void makes you realize that you are absolutely nothing. Shakti or divine grace, love, energy comes later, we’ll talk a lot about that. But in the beginning, in pure self-realization, for most people it’s just Shiva or pure being. This pure being is separate from the ego, mind, body complex. And the ego, mind, body complex might have pain from a whack on the finger or it might have a neurological disorder which means it has to take into the presence of a psychotic medicine or whatever it might be, but it can still be self-realized because all this is going on in the mind, in the neurons, in the synapses.
Rick: So listening to, we’re still talking a little bit about other teachers, but listening to some of these teachers talk, and I’ve interviewed a lot of them, including the ones we’ve mentioned, Mooji and Adyashanti, I get the impression that they are in a state where they’re witnessing, where there’s a sort of a natural separation between the silence of the self and the activity of the world. But you’re saying that that wouldn’t be the case if they’re not self-realized, and you’re suggesting that they are awakened but not self-realized. I don’t want to misquote you but you know these are some fairly bold statements so we better make sure we’re getting them right.
Jan: Well I said I think Mooji is self-realized.
Rick: Okay, okay. So he’s probably witnessing in the way you’ve described.
Jan: Absolutely, his texts and his lectures, they all witness to that.
Rick: And Adyashanti?
Jan: I don’t know about Adyashanti. He’s had these extreme experiences of higher consciousness from his one Kundalini experience, which he doesn’t talk about very often for some reason. I don’t know why he wants to suppress it because it was a kind of a sadhana. But I don’t think you would get self-realized from looking at Adyashanti’s videos or attending his satsangs. He can’t transmit it. He can talk about something that strongly resembles self-realization and he may be self-realized but he can’t transmit it.
Rick: Well he does describe various awakenings that he had, one when he was 25, another about 6 years later, and the second one being much more profound than the first. And you know, I’ve been with him, I’ve had lunch with him and stuff, and there’s a lot of Shakti around the guy. I mean I really felt a profound, you know, that sort of blast furnace, sitting in front of a warm oven effect you get when you sit with somebody who has a lot of Shakti and real profound elevation. So in my experience anyway, and having also been with Amma and Maharishi and various saints like that, I’m familiar with the Darshan effect and transmission, and he’s definitely got some juice in my opinion.
Jan: I’m glad to hear that. I’ve never met him so I don’t know. I just checked out his books and his videos, and a student of mine visited Adyashanti and partook in a Satsang, and he came home and reported, there was no Shakti. So I don’t know what that means.
Rick: But that’s in the eye of the beholder too.
Jan: Yeah, I can say that to you too.
Rick: Sure, and I have met people who have said they’ve had awakenings in Adyashanti’s Satsangs and so on. So yeah, I just kind of, in a way I’m trying to save you from getting a lot of flack on the internet, because we want to make sure these statements are clear in what we’re saying. And you have said that you respect these guys a lot. We’re just trying to parse out the fine points of awakening versus enlightenment and stages of enlightenment that there might be, which I think is very important because I think that we throw these terms around in the popular culture without a real clear agreement upon what they mean. And it’s important for, as we evolve spiritually as a culture, it’s important for us to have an appreciation of the nuances of all these different terms and the stages of development they represent, much like Eskimos and perhaps Danes have many different words for snow, because they experience so much of it, they kind of have identified a lot of different subtle variations in meaning.
Jan: Well that’s just what I’m talking about. And as I said, I respect all these New-Advaita teachers, because they are awakening a lot of people, but I don’t think they are making them self-realized. And I think the awakening trip or journey or whatever you want to call it, can be a distraction from becoming self-realized. And that’s why I’m a bit annoyed, because it doesn’t include self-realization in their teachings. It’s merely a change of perspective, which incorporates the possibility of reaching a higher spiritual state, but they can’t transmit this state. So people read these books and attend these satsangs and their ego gets a fat boost and thinks, “Oh wow, now I know what spirituality is. I must almost be enlightened. So if I just attend another satsang and read another book, then I’ll surely make it,” and so on they dream.
Rick: Well I have to agree with you there to a certain extent, because I think there’s a tendency for people to attend these satsangs and read these books and get conversant with the terminology, and begin to mistake an intellectual understanding or even an intuitive feeling of higher states for the actual state itself. And then there’s also this sort of little bit of a put-down of practices among a lot of these teachers. They say, “You don’t need to do practices. Practices are only going to reinforce the notion of a practicer.” And so that lets people off the hook. They feel like, “Oh, I don’t need to practice anything, and I have my understanding and that’s essentially it, and I’m there. There’s no difference between me and Ramana Maharshi,” or whatever.
Jan: Yeah. And comparing yourself and thinking you’re the same as Ramana is really grandiose. He was a fantastic saint. But I think Ramana Maharshi watered down his teachings. He only talked about self-realization. He did not talk about higher states of consciousness. And his inquiry, “Who am I?” is fine for getting self-realized, but it won’t work if you want to go beyond that. And I think Ramana was of course in the highest state of enlightenment. I have incredible respect for him. But his teachings, “Who am I?” and self-inquiry can only take you to self-realization, nothing more.
Rick: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said the same thing of the Buddha, that his teachings went as far as self-realization, but there’s a whole lot more that it didn’t include.
Rick: So let’s keep zeroing in on, until we’ve really exhaustively clarified it, what we mean by self-realization, as opposed to many things which are around today which might be mistaken for it. Let’s see how clearly we can define and contrast self-realization as you’re defining it from, I’m repeating myself, but from the experiences which many people might mistake for self-realization.
Jan: In self-realization, first of all it takes a number of years of serious meditation to reach it. But in self-realization a shift happens and a breakdown happens, and you suddenly stop identifying with anything. And that is what has led me to identify a couple of principles. You have the mind, the mind is constructed of something relating to something, and A thinks “I am B”, B thinks “I am C”, C thinks “I am D”, and so on, and this endless game constructs the personality and the ego. Now, just prior to this, you have the sense that “I am” this or this or this or this, but “I am” does not yet identify with anything, it’s just a sense of “I must be something”, and “I am” is praised by a lot of gurus as being the highest, but it’s not. Just prior to “I am”, you have something which I have picked up as being “I-ness”, the sense of being an “I”, the “I” principle, the identification principle, the identification mechanism. And just below that you have the absolute, the self. So somehow, the energy of the self steps just one step up, and gets a sense of “I”. There’s me, something relative, something with a point of focus, and this point of focus then merges into “I am”, and identifies with “I am this or that”, and so on. And if you do not get rid of this “I-ness”, this identification principle, you are not self-realized, but when you get self-realized you can clearly feel this mechanism snap, and then you get this wonderful release in your body, where you say “Oh my God, this is who I always thought I was, this is what I have been looking for all my life.” So self-realization or cosmic consciousness, as Maharishi calls it, and I hate that term because there is nothing cosmic about it, it’s self-realization, is a sudden transition in your self-awareness. It comes in a blast, it comes in an instant.
Rick: Is it irreversible?
Jan: Absolutely, there’s no way back. Once you get it, you’re done.
Rick: So you could still have sometimes a sleepy mind, or an upset stomach, or various relative disturbances, but on that level of the self it’s solid and it can’t be lost.
Jan: Yeah, sure. The mind operates as it used to, and it might have a neurological disorder and need antidepressants or antipsychotic medicine or whatever, I don’t care. It’s not relevant. Or you might suffer from fatigue, or you might be very energetic, and a career as a stockbroker or businessman or whatever, but you will be a total witness to everything going on, and you will totally know it’s not you.
Rick: So you’re saying that this self-realization doesn’t necessarily equate not only with physical health but even with mental health? You could be psychotic and yet be self-realized? You can be a babbling crazy man?
Jan: I’ve never met that, but I think so in theory.
Rick: Of course they talk about some of these Indian saints who seem like babbling crazy men and they’re supposed to be enlightened, but who knows?
Jan: Yeah, who knows? But in theory, I mean, the mind, you get awakened, okay? And then you begin to change the mind, and all this self-work on the mind, meaning the self as the mind, will change you to a considerable degree. And then when you get self-realized you might not encounter all of these weird problems of psychosis and depression and so on. But I think in general the pattern is that once you get self-realized you go into a phase which I call the dark night of the soul. And I took this term from the holy Christian saint, St. John of the Cross. And it seems that after you have become self-realized, a certain breakdown of egoic tendencies takes place. And this breakdown is of course painful, and can trigger depression, psychosis or whatever in extreme cases. Normally you just feel life has no meaning and you just want to die, to put it bluntly.
Rick: Well it’s very interesting you’re saying this because someone noticed on my website that I was going to be interviewing you and they posted something on my Facebook page that they wanted me to ask you, and it’s right on this point. They said, it’s a little bit long but I’ll read it. It said, “In his first interview I recall he said he was depressed for 10 years. There he called it depression. Would he still call it that or is it the dark night?” You just referred to it as the dark night. And she said, “Adya (Adyashanti) describes this as the uncomfortable drifting that occurs as the will of the small self has dropped away to a great extent, but the will and flow of the big self has yet to take over. This whole area seems rather under-discussed and rather hard to recognize. Am I depressed? Lost? Doesn’t seem quite like that, but doubts do arise. And worse, it can be rather crippling. For instance, I have lost much of my enthusiasm for awakening and for teaching. At times life seems so empty and finally it seems to take years to get through this patch.” And then another guy saw her comment and kind of chimed in. He said, “It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one’s duties in life and I also get indifferent about spiritual teachings like you, sickened by them even, for the words ring hollow and trite.” So, please respond to that.
Jan: That was a lot. Well you can get depressed before self-realization. I would call that the dark night of the mind. The dark night of the mind can be terrible because you realize that the dark night of the mind follows awakening. When you realize that everything you believed or thought you knew or understood about spirituality is fake. So you go into a crisis where you realize you understand nothing and that all your faith in this or that master or guru is phony and will not take you anywhere. And this can of course trigger depression. But the real depression sets in after self-realization in the dark night of the soul. I don’t know where these people are. I can’t say that from the emails. And of course you can suffer from a clinical depression which will haunt you, never mind of what state of enlightenment you reach, because that’s just the body-mind complex. So if you have a neurological disorder and your serotonin balance is fucked up, no matter how enlightened you get, that will still be the case and it will need treatment because self-realization is beyond all that. The self has absolutely nothing to do with the mind or the body or the nerves or the depression or the joy or the pleasure or the insolence. You have, it is way beyond that. It is void. You have to understand this.
Rick: But you need a nervous system to experience the self, do you not? To live the self.
Jan: I’m not sure.
Rick: I mean it’s like saying, you know, the radio waves in the air and the radio, the radio waves have nothing to do with the radio. They’re propagating through space or whatever, whether or not there’s a radio there to receive them. And so that’s always been the case with the self. But what we’re talking about when we talk about self-realization is actually realizing the self as a human being in a human body, coming to have that level of experience through this instrument. What you’re saying is that even thereafter, if the instrument becomes really compromised in some way, damaged, if you get Alzheimer’s or if you go under anesthesia or something like that, once attained, self-realization is never lost, despite how compromised the instrument becomes. At least I think that’s what you’re saying.
Jan: I’m saying it’s never lost, that’s for sure.
Rick: Have you ever had anesthesia or anything since your self-realization?
Jan: Yes I have. I had a serious knee operation, some years ago.
Rick: And what happened when you went under anesthesia?
Jan: I witnessed it.
Rick: You were still awake inside?
Jan: No, the mind was passed out, but I had a continuation of consciousness, of awareness.
Rick: Okay, and I presume that happens every night as you sleep also?
Jan: Of course. Now we’re talking about witnessing, that’s interesting because we skipped that sort of in the first interview. And the first thing that is really interesting about witnessing is that dreamless sleep becomes blissful. A mind of bliss is not strong and it’s not overwhelming in any way, but yet during dreamless sleep time does not exist. The mind is shut down. So dreamless sleep passes like a flash, but when you wake up you know you are in bliss.
Rick: So you don’t know it during the dreamless sleep itself, you just know it upon awakening from it.
Jan: No, also while you’re sleeping you have a vague sense that you are in bliss, but you’re not very conscious about it because the mind does not function, it’s shut down. So you only realize it properly when you wake up. And when you wake up in the morning you’re in a state of bliss and think, “Jesus Christ, if only I could have it like this all day.” And dreams are different. You don’t have lucid dreaming or anything like that, which is a common notion that witnessing gives you lucid dreaming. You don’t have lucid dreaming. I remember like my last dream when I wake up, like most people do, but I don’t have lucid dreaming. But still you witness the dream. It’s just a show being played out in a theater. But the most important, having this with dreams is easy, but having the bliss with dreamless sleep, that’s the mark of witnessing.
Rick: So perhaps, you know earlier we were talking about awakening versus self-realization, so would this be a good litmus test, this witnessing sleep and dream, be a good litmus test to distinguish awakening from self-realization? Or can you also witness sleep with an awareness of an ordinary awakening which is not yet self-realization?
Jan: You can’t witness your sleep like I just described, before self-realization. But I’m not sure you will get it immediately with self-realization. This is where I disagree with Maharishi. He said it was a litmus test. For me it came gradually after that, and it took some years for it to manifest.
Rick: So to make it simple, would it be safe to say that someone who is not, well actually you just sort of responded to that, but would it be safe to say that if you’re not witnessing sleep, you may have become self-realized but pretty soon the witnessing should come in, and if it doesn’t then probably self-realization hasn’t occurred?
Rick: Okay. And would it also be safe to say that if you are witnessing sleep then self-realization definitely has occurred, as opposed to just an awakening of some sort?
Jan: Well I don’t have that much empirical material so I don’t know, but it seems so, yes. Three of my students have become self-realized or cosmic consciousness as Maharishi calls it, and they have incidents of witnessing when they sleep but not permanent.
Rick: Yeah, and how long have they been self-realized roughly?
Jan: One happened in December, the other one happened a year ago.
Rick: So pretty recent.
Jan: Yeah, pretty recent.
Rick: And for you how many years did it take before witnessing became kind of continuous during sleep, after self-realization?
Jan: It took me seven years of hard sadhana to become self-realized, and witnessing took, I don’t know, four or five years to become permanent.
Rick: After the self-realization?
Rick: And I don’t mean to throw in a new topic if we’re not finished with this, but after your self-realization did you keep doing sadhana of some kind and are you still doing it?
Jan: Yeah, yeah. After self-realization I became a fanatic.
Rick: You weren’t one already?
Jan: I was. I’ve always been a spiritual nutcase. But after self-realization, I remember before my self-realizations I’ve had these experiences of blissful longing for God. So for me self-realization was not enough. I didn’t even recognize it for a number of years because it was just a void and I was at the same time depressed. That’s when I was clinically depressed for various reasons, neurological probably, and I felt like shit. And I got self-realized because I felt like shit and I had been taught by the TM movement of Maharishi that cosmic consciousness would be the entire universe supporting human life, it would be joy ever after and so on. I didn’t understand what had happened and I didn’t embrace it. But I realized over the years because I was so different from other people and I was contagious that something special had happened. So I began tentatively telling people that this was probably cosmic consciousness. And all these TM people, they just crushed me. That was not possible because I was depressed and I did not have any purpose in life. I was a mixture of a university student and an artist and everything was wrong with me from that perspective. So I had a hard time understanding what had happened. Now what was your question?
Rick: Oh, I don’t remember now, but it doesn’t matter. Oh, I think my question was whether you had continued to do sadhana after your self-realization.
Jan: Yeah, sure, sure. Yeah, yeah. And after that I did, oh dear, a lot of sadhana, it just intensified. For one period I did, excuse me.
Rick: And in case people don’t know what the word sadhana means, it just means spiritual practice. That’s what it means.
Jan: During one period for six months, I meditated six hours in a row. Every day from 9 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the evening. That’s pretty intense, I think. Very few would do that. And I just wanted my kundalini to awaken into the spine and dissolve. Once your kundalini has dissolved, you’re home free. Then the vehicle of reincarnation is dissolved and you are liberated. But that’s a different story, we’re way ahead right now.
Rick: We’ll get into that.
Rick: Okay. Incidentally, I mean, I’ve seen, I spent a lot of time around Maharishi and I saw him get depressed and certainly angry, and all the human emotions. I don’t know if he ever had chronic depression, but he certainly would get on anger binges for days on end sometimes. So, I don’t know, perhaps people tend to, not only in the TM movement, but perhaps people in general, you want to understand what enlightenment is and awakening is, and perhaps we often conjure up a more rosy scenario than what it might actually be. There could still actually, I mean, there’s all kinds of wonderful, incredible, blissful aspects, right? But there could still also be some hard knocks and some difficulties and some, as you say, depression or whatever that you have to go through. I think you’re probably going to say, well, correct me if I’m wrong, that at some stage of the game you pass through all that and the likelihood of suffering depression or other such mental problems will pass, they’ll be pretty much in the rear view mirror, but at least after Self-Realization, which you’re defining as a kind of a preliminary stage in terms of the full range of possibilities, there can certainly be plenty of this difficulty for some years.
Jan: Yes, the problems can go on. The only shift, you mention the shift, but the only shift is that the identification principle breaks down, it goes away. And you cannot after Self-Realization in any way consider yourself to be anything. No, no, no, no, no idea of I am this or I am that arises in your being. You rest in an eternal, unmanifest, pure being, Sat-cit-ananda. But it’s not Ananda at this point, it’s just Sat and Cit. Ananda comes with God-consciousness.
Rick: One term Maharishi used a lot was “leshavidya” — not a lot, but he gave some lectures on it and he said, “Without some faint remains of ignorance, you couldn’t even function, you have to have ego.” I’ve seen you say this too in your book. So when you say, “No idea,” that’s a little bit absolute. There must be some idea, at least a faint remains, in order to function. If somebody says, “Hey Jan,” you turn your head, there’s some …
Jan: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for bringing it up. Lesha Avidya is in the mind, the Self has no such thing. But the mind, you just … understand this, the mind is intact, you just step out of it. So the Lesha Avidya, the remains of ignorance, is with respect to the mind. The mind goes on, the mind is just the body and the mind taking care of itself. So it goes on. Later in God-consciousness, this changes, or in human consciousness. But in Self-realization, you just step out for good, forever, irrevocably, out of the mind. So Lesha Avidya has nothing to do with you as yourself. It has only to do with the fact that you still have all your old ego and mind and personality going. And if you didn’t, people would not be able to talk to you, you would not respond to your name. I was in this state for 24 hours, back in 1985, and I talked to my guru and he said, “What’s your name?” And I was totally blank. I could not answer him. So I just stared at him. There was no name, there was nothing, there was no ego, no personality, nothing. And I just stared at him. Then he asked me, “How old are you?” And that was even more stupid, because I was ageless. So I did like this and said, “What are you asking me about? This is not me, for Christ’s sake, this is not me, what are you talking about?” And then he said, “Hmm?”
Rick: He was trying to bring you back into your individuality, it sounds like, so you could function.
Jan: No, that came later, not yet. He had to understand the state I was in, he hadn’t grasped it yet. But then he said, “Oh.” And he held up his hand and I had to look here, and so I don’t know what he did, and he pressed me here, and then he did various things, and then he started talking to a meditation teacher, which was sitting to his right or sitting to his left. And he began telling this meditation teacher about some arrogant yogic student, thousands of years ago, who had been really nasty to his guru, and I sat looking at this, “This was my memory, I recall this.” Then he turned around and looked at me and said, “Do you remember?” And I just said, “Wow, Christ, yes, you bet,” I said. And he just nodded, and that was of course me in this past life, and him. And then he told me to go to bed, it was only half past eight, so that was pretty absurd, but as a good student I went to bed, and so on, never mind the rest.
Rick: Yeah, he told that story in the first interview, but it’s interesting.
Jan: Yes, because the interesting thing is not the fantastic fact that Guruji knew my past lives, but the interesting thing is that you can exist and be pure being, be yourself, without an ego and a body and any sense of self, which means without any identification principle.
Rick: But you can’t function.
Jan: I function more or less.
Rick: But you didn’t know your name.
Jan: No, no, no, true, true, true, absolutely. That was also one of the interesting…
Rick: Well the reason I’m dwelling on the point a little bit is just that if a person like yourself, you said you had self-realization occurred, but it took years before you owned up to it, before you felt confident in it, because you kept thinking, “Well, could it be this and this?” So there could be people listening to this who actually have undergone the shift that you’re talking about to self-realization, but they think, “Well, I still have a sense of personhood, that hasn’t completely disappeared and therefore I must not be self-realized.” But what we’re establishing is that there’s still going to be some sense of personhood, it’s just more on the kind of a surface functional thing, rather than being identified in any sense as what you really are, correct?
Jan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, correct.
Rick: So perhaps that lack of understanding could cause a person to spend years not realizing what had taken place, and so it’s valuable to kind of clarify the understanding.
Jan: Yes, there’s one classic book by Suzanne Segal called “Collision with the Infinite”.
Rick: Yes, I’ve read that.
Jan: Yeah, and she was standing at a bus stop and had lots of years of sadhana and so on, she was a TM, I don’t recall if she was a teacher.
Rick: She was, yeah.
Jan: And she was standing at the bus stop in Paris and suddenly, ding, she went into self-realization or cosmic consciousness as they called it. But she had no understanding of what had happened, she couldn’t grasp it, so she spent the next 10 years of her life trying to re-establish an ego. So if only she had understood that pure being is the essence and she had to rest in that, and she had to understand that with self-realization all identification goes away. I don’t know of any other teacher that has stressed this, that the identification principle has to go away and that’s the essence?
Rick: Oh, not off the top of my head, but if I listen carefully to all the interviews I’ve done I bet you there’s people who mention it here and there, and it’s certainly in various traditional scriptures, so there must be people who ascribe or affiliate with those scriptures who talk that way. The interesting thing about Suzanne was that she had probably spent hundreds of hours listening to lectures and reading books and so on about the very experience that dawned on her at that bus stop, but the concept she had formed about it apparently did not coincide very well with the actual experience of it, therefore she didn’t understand what it was when it happened. So this kind of emphasizes the value of understanding. In fact, Maharishi says in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita that without proper understanding the experience of liberation of cosmic consciousness can be a source of confusion and fear, which is exactly what happened to her. So it took her 10 years to kind of work it out, and finally she was with Jean Klein, Francis Lucille’s teacher, and he sort of said a few things that clicked it for her, and after that she relaxed into being, as you say, and things got nice. But she was in a lot of fear for 10 years, terrified. Well, meanwhile getting a graduate degree and raising a daughter and all that, but in this perpetual state of terror because she couldn’t reassemble a sense of personal self.
Jan: Well it was the same with me. I consulted the TM teachers and I consulted various meditators within the TM context, because I had some religious fanatic idea that this was the highest teaching, so they would know best, but they did not know best. I asked them and they said, “Oh, Maharishi has such bliss in his eyes and you don’t, and you’re depressed, and you look sad, so you can’t be in a state of cosmic consciousness.” All this is bullshit.
Rick: Well you know that’s one of the reasons I started this interview show, because I live in Fairfield, Iowa, which is to a great degree a TM town, and I had friends who were awakening to varying degrees, some of whom you probably even acknowledge as self-realized, and they would tell a friend what had happened to them and they’d get the same kind of reaction you just described, and after a while they learned to just shut up. So I thought, “All right, let’s start a show where I get these people to talk and people can begin to see that their peers are experiencing this sort of thing, and they don’t have to look like an Indian saint or something in order for that experience to be genuine.”
Jan: Great idea, that’s all I can say, I thank you for initiative.
Rick: Yeah. Okay, so do you feel like we’ve done justice to this stage of the discussion in terms of what self-realization is, how it contrasts with awakening, we could say mere awakening. We could say, perhaps, would you agree, that there are many degrees, there are many awakenings, you can go through awakening after awakening, after awakening. And they’re all perhaps significant milestones but they aren’t the actual, you know, it’s like if you’re going to California, you keep going through different states as you progress to California but you’re not in California yet. And then in this metaphor when you actually cross over the Nevada / California line, you’re in California – that’s self-realization. There’s more to explore in California but you’re no longer in any of the other states.
Jan: Yeah, thats okay.
Rick: So where do we go from here? You’ve alluded to God-consciousness, and you’ve said that in mere cosmic consciousness the bliss component isn’t going to be very lively, but in God-consciousness it is. Okay, let’s talk about that.
Jan: Yeah, sure, sure. I think we first have to make it clear that the Self is both a pure being and Shakti, Shiva which is pure being, and Shakti which is the divine creative energy of the Self. Now understanding Shakti just as energy is inappropriate. It is a creative yet unmanifest blissful impulse that generates everything in the world. When you’re in God-consciousness, no there’s a stage before that, let’s take it one thing at a time. I was in a state of bliss, that was the last time you interviewed me. It was a massive bliss, it was mind-blowing and I had a hard time functioning. That was not the Self, I thought it was the Self, but it was a layer just above the Self. The pure being or Shiva-Shakti as one are pure being, consciousness and bliss, but there’s a subtle body just above this which is called Anandamaya kosha, and I was resting in this Anandamaya kosha in my relative self-understanding. I was still self-realized but my mind was resting this body, and this Anandamaya kosha is incredibly blissful. I could hardly function from bliss, but later this collapsed into the Self, and then the bliss became a very mild, gentle sense of bliss within me. The massive bliss was within me, but with God-consciousness I began to experience this bliss without. So talking to this webcam, I realized that this webcam is blissful. You are blissful, the computer screen is blissful, this cup of tea is blissful.
Rick: So you are seeing the essential nature of the objective world as being composed of bliss, the substance of it ultimately is bliss.
Jan: Yes, absolutely, it’s wonderful. And another thing which characterizes God-consciousness is that you begin to see a golden light in everything.
Rick: Golden light.
Jan: A faint golden light. And it’s not stable. God-consciousness is not a stable state like self-realization. Self-realization is like being self-realized. But God-consciousness and unity-consciousness are phases that flow into each other and overlap, always falling back on the basis of self-realization. But God-consciousness goes up and goes down. Sometimes I’m not in this, sometimes I am. When I meditate with people and give shaktipat, I’m in unity-consciousness. Otherwise I could not give shaktipat, but we’re talking about God-consciousness.
Rick: Well if you want to, you can briefly contrast God-consciousness and unity-consciousness, since we’re alluding to unity, you might as well understand what the difference is.
Jan: Oh Jesus, how can I say that shortly? Self-realization has no bliss. Then you move on and then you get a tremendous internal bliss. You don’t see bliss in anything outside of you. No bliss. It’s internal. And everything else is empty, meaningless, dull and void. It’s not a nice state to be purely self-realized.
Rick: Perhaps that’s where the depression came in, because of the meaninglessness and the dullness.
Jan: Yeah, yeah. But when you move into God-consciousness, then you have a blissful state of dialogue with the Divine, and I call this parabhakti, beyond bhakti, because it’s a non-dual bhakti. Bhakti is of course by definition dual, but in the state of God-consciousness it’s non-dual. The self is devoted to itself through your mind, and this loop generates a state of immense love and bliss within inside you. So in pure self-realization you’ve realized Shiva, the pure being state Shiva. In God-consciousness you realize the Shakti aspect in its fullest, still separate from Shiva, but as a state of devotion which loops very quickly from your sense of being through the mind to a sense of Shakti in everything, and back to you as the unmanifest. You begin to sense everything as Shakti. In God-consciousness you realize that everything is in a state of bliss, and I mean everything, not just a cat or a human or a dog, but this webcam is blissful. I know it sounds absurd, but you see it as a vibrant expression of Shakti, not Shiva, you’ve not come that far yet, but as Shakti.
Rick: It doesn’t sound absurd to me.
Jan: No, it glows with the golden light, that’s all I’m going to say.
Rick: Right. I was just going to say, I would imagine that the webcam doesn’t realize itself as blissful, the webcam itself is not having a subjective experience of bliss, because it’s a fairly crude little tool compared to the human nervous system, but you, through the instrumentality of your human nervous system, are able to see the essentially blissful substance of the webcam and of everything in creation. Would that be a fair way of putting it?
Rick: Okay, good. And the golden glow thing, this of course was something Maharishi also talked about a lot, he said it was like having golden glasses on.
Jan: Oh, I’ve never heard of that.
Rick: Oh yeah, that was one of his big things. When he gave the talk about the seven states of consciousness, he would always describe that, you know, cosmic consciousness is like having clear glasses on, and then God consciousness is like having golden glasses on, where everything is seen with a golden glow.
Jan: It is, it is weird. Sometimes I go out of it and then the world looks like gray and drab and boring, and that’s when I realize, okay, Jan, you’re in a different state of consciousness, because you get used to it. Everything just has this nice warm gold glow to it, and it’s not like everything is luminous. It’s just a soft gentle presence of golden light in everything. And this golden light, which is the wonderful aspect of it, is Shakti, divine energy, vibrant, and it is bliss. So in God consciousness you realize everything is blissful, even the webcam.
Rick: One way of explaining the golden glow thing, see if this resonates with you, would be that there are gross and subtle strata of creation, and that when you get down to the subtle strata, then it’s a sort of celestial field, and what you’re experiencing is that your senses have become refined such that they can apprehend this celestial field, which is there all the time, even in the grossest of experiences, but most people’s experience is restricted to a more surface level. Yours has sort of grown to incorporate the subtle, and I would ask actually, in addition to that golden glow, do you experience the beings who reside on that subtle level?
Jan: No. I had one experience once in my studio where I was painting, this is like five years ago, which was an odd experience because I had drunk quite a lot of wine. It was listening to rock music in my headphones, and I was enjoying myself painting. And I sat on my chair looking at my painting, and then suddenly the whole energy in the room changed. And then a very, very beautiful girl in a sari, this is on a metaphysical level, in my mind, entered the room and came before me and did namaskar, and then she sat on the floor in front of me. So I took off my headphones and looked at her and admired her and thought, what the fuck is going on? And she told me that she had come there to recognize me and acknowledge the state I was in. So I thanked her back and said, wow, I’m honored by your visit and who are you? And she couldn’t tell me because she was on a different level. And she just sat there and the radiance was fantastic and my love to her was fantastic. I have never experienced love as pure as that. It was beyond this world. But then my gross nature interfered and I wanted to have sex with her.
Rick: And she went poof and she was out of there. She kindly said that was not possible. So, well, anyway, shortly the session ended. Excuse me.
Rick: No problem. I would predict and we’ll see what happens, but I’m not basing this on my experience, I’m just basing it on what I’ve read and heard, that there will come a time when, you know, just as your life has progressed through various stages of experience, there very well may come a time in which, maybe when you’ve got over the desire to have sex with these things, that experiences of subtle beings will become routine, you know. And you won’t even stop to look, they’ll be just sort of happening. I have friends who have this level of experience who just sort of see them all the time and they have to carry on and live their lives and have their jobs and all, but it’s just part of their world, that this sort of subtler realm is all around us with those who reside in it.
Jan: Well I don’t know Rick, because I don’t have that experience. I have this one experience with this wonderfully fascinating woman, but what I sense is not so much divine beings, but I very clearly sense the state of consciousness that people are in, and usually it’s a miserable experience. People are generally fucked up. They’re in a lousy state. You go down the street and it’s like, I don’t see auras, but it’s like they have an aura which is grey and ugly and red and black. And of course I don’t know what to do about it, except hide myself and go to the shopping and buy the eggs I need or whatever. And so I have my flat, my little ashram, my refugium, and people can come here and meditate. And there are some very interesting people that come here and meditate. I don’t have many students. I’ve had like 15, right now I have 5, and some of them have become self-realized. So I must be doing something right, somehow. I just sit and meditate with people, and I go into unity consciousness, and then I realize my unity with these people. So I enter their pure self and look at their kundalini as it manifests within them, and then I transmit the state of enlightenment or self-realization to begin with within them, and kundalini begins to manifest that in them. And that triggers a kundalini awakening which will progress to manifest the state of self-realization within them.
Rick: One thing that I found interesting when I re-listened to the interview I did with you three years ago was, there’s sort of an independence of thinking in your nature, where you went through various spiritual teachers and teachings, but no one could call you a dilettante. I don’t know if you know what that word means, a superficial dabbler.
Jan: Yeah, I know, I know.
Rick: Yeah, because you really went deep with great fervency into each thing and really extracted the essence of it, and then at a certain point you thought, “Alright, well I’ve done this, I need to move on,” and then when you moved on to the next thing you found the essence of that and derived great value from that. So, I just kind of admired that. I mean, there are some people who jump around from thing to thing without actually seriously getting into anything, but you did it in a way that you really have used each thing as a significant stepping stone, and each thing had something valuable to add to what you were building. So, anyway, congratulations.
Jan: Thanks. It’s true. I had these experiences of self-realization as a baby. I would go into Samadhi states, I talked about this in the first interview, but this, I’m talking about awakening, like these new Neo-Advaita gurus talk about, I was born awakened. I simply longed for God, I longed for the self, I longed to become enlightened since I was an infant. And this generated attitudes in me which were conducive to practicing meditation, even though I didn’t say meditate, but the meditative mentality was a natural function or aspect of how I functioned.
Rick: Yeah, well as you say, you were a yogi in past lives.
Rick: That’s the way it works, you know. You bring it in. If you feel it’s appropriate, let’s talk a little bit more about what kundalini is, because it’s the whole theme of your most recent book. And we’ve mentioned it in passing a lot, but I don’t think we’ve really defined it clearly or gone deeply into it. And everybody’s heard the term, but you say some very interesting things about it. Maybe, well, first define it and then we’ll get into more details.
Jan: Kundalini is a manifestation of the self’s aspirations of the Shakti as you as an individual.
Rick: Say that again because your audio choked up a little bit while you were talking.
Jan: Oh damn, I can’t remember.
Rick: Well, kundalini is a …
Jan: Okay, okay, okay. Kundalini is a manifestation of you as an individual out of your pure being.
Rick: Okay, you said it the same way. You said a very interesting thing in your book. You said, you described this whole process of kundalini entering the fetus through the crown chakra and then going down through the chakras as the fetus develops and then eventually kind of curling up and going to sleep in the root chakra, and then the whole process of enlightenment being a reversal of that process. That was interesting.
Jan: Yeah, yeah. Well I have some recollections of the prenatal state, and it seems to me, as you just said, that kundalini manifests the nervous system. But what’s important to me is that after you’re born and you grow up, kundalini resides in the lower chakra as a condensation or a crystallization of your ignorance. It’s not a source, sorry, it is a source, but it’s not a restriction of you in any way. So if you get kundalini awakened properly, it’s not just an arousal of kundalini, but if you get it awakened properly, then kundalini will rise up through the central, through the spine, the central nervous system and into the brain, and will deconstruct your structures of ignorance, because kundalini manifested them in the first place. So kundalini inherently has the knowledge about your ignorance and knows how to deconstruct it and grant you enlightenment.
Rick: So that opens up some interesting lines of conversation. Firstly, you hear of the soul entering the body during the period of gestation, and some say that maybe the soul enters at three months or something, which has interesting implications for the whole argument about abortion. But in any case, the soul is — a couple of minutes ago you said the kundalini is a manifestation of the shakti which individualizes and forms the essence of what you are, something like that, right? And so I guess you’re kind of saying that this whole thing about the kundalini entering the crown chakra, that this crystallization or localization of the shakti as you, it has your fingerprint on it, so to speak. I mean, if you were a yogi a thousand years ago that insulted his guru and then you had that recollection in this lifetime, that entity that we now call Jan has been carried from life to life through this crystallized shakti in the form of kundalini that has entered and left numerous bodies and then in this body has somehow woken up. And I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, I’m just saying this so as to make sure that my understanding is clear and inviting you to respond to it.
Jan: Yeah, well, your understanding is clear. I agree with you. But you have to understand that kundalini is still one with the Self, shakti. Kundalini is one step out of the absolute of the shakti, but it is still one with the Self, with Shiva. And many people who experience kundalini think it’s some separate energy that somehow invades them and begins to play tricks on them or give them unpleasant experiences. And I don’t know about that, because kundalini may release a certain amount of energy or a large amount of energy into the system. And this energy can be, I’m not an expert, but can be classified as prana or some vayu of some sort, and it will give you imbalances in your system and the pains here and various unpleasant sensations. But kundalini in itself, what I just said is an awakened kundalini which arouses itself into an eruption of energy. But when kundalini awakens, it’s a totally different situation, because kundalini is the vibrant shakti, the energy of the Self. It is one with the Self. It is pure shakti, pure Shiva. And it can manifest within you when it’s awakened through shaktipat. Shaktipat is the key to all of this. Shaktipat is the only way to awaken kundalini properly. So kundalini can awaken, and when it’s awakened, because it knows inherently the structures of your ignorance, it will begin to deconstruct all this ignorance and very rapidly take you to states of ecstasy, bliss, void, etc. And suddenly it will culminate in a breakdown of the identification mechanism and right to Self-realization. That’s the nature of shaktipat sadhana.
Rick: Did you get shaktipat and that’s what woke your kundalini?
Jan: Well, that’s difficult to answer because I never had a physical teacher. But when I was 19, I received what’s called Mahashaktipat. I sat meditating and longed for God, and then this, oh Jesus, it’s so difficult to explain without sounding insane, but before my inner eye, vision, an eye appeared, and the pupil of the eye was a blue dot, a blue pearl as Muktananda calls it. And I entered this blue pearl and everything was pure being in a cyan, clear summer blue sky, kind of blue. And I realized that this was Self-realization. And something told me that I could either stay there or I could move on. But I was obsessed with longing for God. That had obsessed me all my life. And then suddenly this blueness manifested as a blue being. I don’t know, I thought it was Krishna or it was Shiva. I don’t think there’s any difference between Krishna or Shiva or Vishnu. It’s the same blue being which has a special soul in some extremely high state of awareness. But anyway, this blue being manifested before me and did like this, and I surrendered to him completely and merged with him for some seconds during which I was unconscious. After that I saw God in everything, and I had kriyas. Kriyas are spontaneous movements of the body which come after you have received Shaktipat or Kundalini awakening, and so on and so on. What was your question?
Rick: Oh, whether you had gotten Shaktipat and that’s what awoke your Kundalini.
Jan: Yes, yes, yes. I received Mahashaktipat during this vision when I was 19.
Rick: One thing I gather in listening to you talk about Kundalini and reading your books about it is that it’s not just energy like electricity, but it’s vastly or infinitely intelligent, that it sort of knows what to do, how to work things out, in order to facilitate your evolution.
Jan: Yeah. Shakti is intelligent. I call it mother’s grace, because it’s like the Divine Mother showers her love and intelligence on you, and somehow this grace, I call it grace because it is love, and it’s aware of your ignorance and knows how to deconstruct it. So when Shaktipat really grabs you, you feel your body filled with an immense energy that transforms your nervous system. And as you can see from the cover of Kundalini Tantra, there’s a girl on fire. Yeah, a girl on fire. And it’s not because Tantra has anything to do with sex, but because when Kundalini really grabs you, you feel like you have become on fire. This Shakti energy, transformational energy burns within you with immense force, and you feel love and devotion and fire are one. It’s an amazing experience. It’s the most incredible sadhana that exists. You burn, and this burning for each step develops devotion to God in you, and at some point it collapses and you become self-realized. But this brings us back to something we talked about earlier about self-realization, because self-realization can be without Shakti, as we said, and didn’t elaborate further, or it can be with Shakti. And if it’s with Shakti, your self-realization will be filled with devotion and longing for God. If your self-realization is without Shakti, you feel self-satisfied and you have the stupid, ignorant belief that this is everything there is to realize, like Mooji does.
Rick: Well, there we are, back to Mooji. You seem to be more of an expert on him than I. When I interviewed Mooji, I did ask him about — in fact, I’d like to interview him again before too long, and I’ll ask him some of these questions — but I did ask him about his own progress beyond where he was now, and whether he had a sense that there was going to be continuing deepening and refinement. And he said, “Yes, definitely.”
Rick: We didn’t get into the details too much, as I recall, but I definitely had the feeling that he didn’t feel like it was all over and there was no more development yet to undergo, so to his credit. I usually ask that of most people I interview, and Adyashanti also asked the same thing, and he said the same thing. In fact, Adya said — not to me, but in another interview or something — he said, “I have the sense that I’m always just a beginner, just a beginner. There’s always so much more to realize.” So, I don’t know, I think that’s a healthy attitude.
Jan: Well, I don’t know what to say about that. I’m sure it’s true about these Neo-Advaita gurus. Many of them are humble seekers, but they’re not enlightened, and that’s the shame of it. So, I’m glad to hear they are striving forward, that’s good.
Rick: Yeah. Well, you yourself, I mean, I guess you would say that you are enlightened, but do you really have a sense of how much there is yet to explore? Could be a vast range of possibilities, no?
Jan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure. I think it’s endless, it’s an endless journey. Some teachers will say there’s an end to it, like I think David Spiro talks about Sahaj Samadhi as the end, but I don’t know about that, that’s not my experience. Sahaj means natural. So, there are many stages of Sahaj Samadhi. In Self-Realization you are in one stage of Sahaj Samadhi, and in God Consciousness there’s one Sahaj Samadhi, and so on, and in Unity Consciousness. But as far as my evolution goes, I am pretty established in God Consciousness. I see this golden light in everything, and I see everything as bliss and Shakti.
Rick: And then you have glimpses of unity, or you go into unity when you’re sitting with a student and so on.
Jan: Yeah, absolutely. Now, a lot of people say they see, I want to dwell on God Consciousness a little bit, because a lot of people say they see God in everything. That has nothing to do with God Consciousness. There’s a projection of a mood onto everything, or they see infinity in everything, or void in everything. That’s just pure imagination, or a mood projected onto everything. But in God Consciousness you rest in the Self, that’s the precondition. You rest in pure, absolute void, so inside you nothing is going on, and your mind is black. You’re in permanent Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Then this is in meditation, for example. Then during meditation you open your eyes and look out, and then there’s this tingling, fantastic golden light in everything, but that’s superficial. What’s interesting is that you see everything as a manifestation of Shakti. You see things, the candle lights on the table, or a glass of wine, or whatever, I don’t care, you see it as tingling, pure bliss. So in God Consciousness you live in a dialogue, dialogue is important, between you and the outside world in a relationship between bliss and bliss, or love and love, or void and void. But what’s interesting with Unity Consciousness is that this bliss in the outer world collapses, and you realize that beyond bliss there is Shiva, void. And you realize that this unmanifest, which is similar to your unmanifest, manifests as a computer screen, or a webcam, or whatever. And what’s interesting about Unity Consciousness is that there are two opinions about it. There’s Shankara’s opinion about it, in which everything is one. Of course Shankara is the Vedanta teacher from about 900 A.D., and he could not understand Maya, he totally misunderstood it, he had no explanation for it. And he said everything was Brahman. And for Shankara, Brahman is void and passive and self-contained and never manifesting. So for Shankara, if you take the thought to its end, to Shankara enlightenment is annihilation. I don’t believe in that, that’s not how I experience it, maybe I’m still ignorant. But to me, there is no annihilation in Unity Consciousness. There was a critic of Shankara called Ramanuja from the same period, like 900 A.D., and he, like Patanjali, stressed that you exist as an individual, even though you’re realized. So Ramanuja says, and this is my experience, that there’s you, Rick, as an unmanifest pure being, manifesting as Rick’s personality, and there’s me as an unmanifest pure being, manifesting as Jan. And potentially stressed that God was a super special extreme self-pure being. So potentially stressed that in total enlightenment we are still individuals. So there’s one point of view about Advaita Vedanta, which is that everything is one and you become annihilated in enlightenment. And there’s Ramanuja’s point of view, which I agree with, is that you don’t. So even though I see you as unmanifest pure bliss being, somehow miraculously talking, which amazes me all the time, how can nothingness talk and chat? It beats me totally. And me, they are the same, but the unmanifest is separate. How can you say two unmanifest beings are separate? It does not make logical sense, yet there you go.
Rick: Well, it’s the old paradox thing, you know, it’s both/and. And physics helps also when you start pondering modern physics, which will tell you that if you look closely enough everything is just sort of unmanifest pure potentiality, but then that rises up in excitations to form the apparent material world. But then again, if you look closely enough at the apparent material world, it’s just unmanifest pure potentiality. So you kind of swing back and forth between those things. And I don’t know, I’m not an expert on Shankara, but I think he did acknowledge that we exist as individuals, but that the individuality was illusory. There’s a famous story of an elephant chasing him up a tree, and someone saying, “Well, if everything is one, why did you bother? If the world is an illusion, why did you bother climbing the tree?” And he said, “Well, the illusory elephant chased the illusory me up the illusory tree.” And I don’t know if it’s a matter of really disagreement among these guys, or just a matter of definition and emphasis, where depending on how you look at it and how you interpret them, they might actually be saying the same thing but using different language in a different way. But I don’t know, I mean, there could be genuine fundamental disagreements too. Shankara went around the country debating people and converting them, making them his disciples by defeating them. So obviously he acknowledged that there were differences of opinion which need to be rectified or adjusted. Another thing I just want to ask about what you just said was, you’re talking about loss, the bliss sort of dissolving as one goes into unity and not being as predominant. Is there any sense of loss? I mean, is there any sense of, “Oh dear, I’m losing this bliss as I go into unity,” or is it actually like stepping from the garden into the house, where you’re stepping from one thing into something perhaps even more enjoyable?
Jan: Well, as I told you in the previous interview and perhaps earlier, I was in a state of massive bliss for 6 years or 8 or 6 years, I think.
Rick: But you said that was because of the Anandamaya Kosha, you were kind of stuck at that level, right?
Jan: That was after the Gyan Vidya Initiation and my crown chakra opened. Maybe we should talk about the crown chakra opening later. Yeah, we can do that now. Because there are three steps to the crown chakra opening. First it opens like this, on the top of the head up here, and that’s very common. And this can last a number of years or months. It took many years for me to move on. And then suddenly out of the blue and happens like that, the crown chakra opens up down to a semi-circle.
Rick: Yeah, in fact I have a little Buddha statue right here and it has this …
Jan: Yeah, exactly.
Rick: You know, see, like this little cap on his head.
Jan: Yeah, that’s how it feels. And when that happens to me, it happens suddenly and a million knots exploded within my brain, but that’s not the final crown chakra opening. That threw me into the state of bliss which lasted these 6 or 8 years. And then it faded, and then suddenly during some meditation, it began like this and then it opened like this, which we just talked about, and then suddenly it opened like this.
Rick: And for those who are just listening to the audio, because a lot of people do that, you’re kind of saying it went down around the whole head, are you saying?
Jan: Yes, 360 degrees, like a ball, radiating up and down and to the sides. And with that shift I began seeing the unmanifest in everything. I would look at these people talking and chatting and gossiping, and I would wonder how on earth can silence and the unmanifest appear as chatterboxes gossiping? I couldn’t understand it, it was fantastic.
Rick: How does it appear as Auschwitz, you know, and Syria and Sudan and all kinds of intense things. It appears as a whole variety of things, doesn’t it?
Jan: Yeah, that’s political.
Rick: Let me tell you my experience for a minute of Kundalini. 40 years ago after I did a one-month course with Maharishi, I came back and my head started shaking like this. And I went through some period where if I was sitting quietly and alone I’d go through these facial grimaces and contortions. And so I knew something good was happening, so I just kind of went with it. And then later on I got the TM-Sidhi program, as you did. And a lot of people went through a period of all kinds of kriyas and screaming and saying strange things, all that kind of stuff. And then it all sort of settled down. And these days I was thinking about it just this morning because I was going to be talking to you. So I was meditating this morning and I can feel the energy rising into my brain and dullness and lethargy sort of dissolving. And it’s as if the brain is awakening and there’s tingles of bliss. And sometimes other parts of the body, like there was some bliss in my arm this morning. But I was thinking about it because I was going to be talking to you and I was saying, “Well, I don’t think my Kundalini is fully awake,” because if it were there wouldn’t be this sense of energy still kind of coursing upward and enlivening everything. It would be a permanent, unclogged channel where the flow is just complete and continuous. Am I right?
Jan: Yes and no. When people get shaktipat, it depends on the person of course, but those who can receive it, they get kriyas. Kriyas manifest as physical movements or heat or energy, etc. But it will go on, like they might experience tremendous heat or energy moving up the spine and into the brain and throwing them into states of ecstasy. Ecstasy I would describe as the light in the brain and the eyelids flicker very rapidly and your heart beats and your body begins to give cold sweats and you feel energy on the brain. But that is immature Samadhi. That’s immature Samadhi. Beyond that you enter a state of void where there is absolute silence. Did I answer your question?
Rick: You’re working at it. It’s coming along. I guess my question is in terms of how one analyzes or diagnoses one’s own experience to determine to what extent Kundalini has awakened. And my assumption is that mine is still not fully awakened, because if it were, I mean, but certain people, I’ve always had friends like you who are inclined to have very profound, flashy, dramatic experiences. And most of us it’s more like slow and steady wins the race. And things are always more gentle and subtle and not so dramatic. I don’t know if I’ll ever, at least in this lifetime, have the sort of drama that you and some other people have. So perhaps that’s a question in itself is what is the significance of having ecstasy and profound, relatively dramatic experiences as opposed to just more kind of a gentle, subtle unfoldment.
Jan: Yeah, the gentle, subtle unfoldment begins the journey. And then, I’m not doubting you have a Kundalini activity, but you don’t have an awakened Kundalini because that would take you to Samadhi.
Rick: Well I agree, that’s my assessment.
Jan: Yeah, but the blissful experiences are like on one level, on the mind, they’re obviously in the relative, it’s not in the self. Then you can go deeper and you get ecstasies, where the heart beats and the thoughts go on and the eyelids flicker and so on, as I described earlier. There’s a deeper, a more energetic experience of Kundalini. Then if you go deeper, you suddenly flip into void, which is interesting. Ecstasies are not interesting. Ecstasies are rare, but they’re not interesting in terms of getting enlightened. So beyond ecstasy, you move into void and silence. And this void and silence is not the Self, it’s just Nirvikalpa Samadhi, it’s a mind that’s shut up. Then, if you can rest in that without being pulled into ecstasies again, you might flip into the Self. And this flipping into the Self, or shifting into the Self, comes with a quiet bliss, not ecstatic bliss, but a quiet sense of extreme serenity and total silence and total peace. And you know that you are not the ecstasies and the kriyas and all that, you are just pure void and the void is blissful. This is the Shatipat path. Only on the Shatipat path do you initially realize that the Self is bliss.
Rick: So this sequence that you just outlined, do you think it’s pretty universal? Like pretty much everybody is eventually going to go through those precise steps, or was that just more your experience and maybe for other people the steps are going to be different?
Jan: No, I see it with my students. I don’t have many students.
Rick: Yeah, but they’re your students, you know, people in other traditions, other teachers and so on. Do you think that they necessarily have to go through the steps as you’ve outlined them, or could there be, to use a map metaphor again, if you’re in the United States and you want to go to San Francisco, and let’s say you’re starting out in one case from Florida, another case from Maine, another case from New York, you’re going to be taking different roads as you make that journey, and so you’re going to see different things as you go along, but you’re all going to sort of end up in the same place, San Francisco. Just a metaphor, but I don’t know.
Jan: Yeah, no, I get it, but frankly I can’t answer that. I can only talk about my experience and my experience with my students. And as far as I understand enlightenment and the steps to enlightenment, it seems logical that everybody would go through these phases. You have to get rid of the identification mechanism. Nobody before me has talked so extensively about the identification mechanism. It’s been pinpointed once and for all. You have to stop identifying. If you don’t stop identifying, you can’t rest eternally in your Self and you’re not liberated. So, other traditions like Zen might go through this or that by staring into the wall for 40 years, or what they do, and that’s fine, but I can’t see how they get rid of the identification mechanism from that.
Rick: I don’t know. I suppose the way to answer that would be to turn it around and say, “If Zen practitioners, either contemporary or historically, have gotten enlightened, then they must have gotten rid of the identification mechanism. And if they haven’t gotten rid of the identification mechanism, then I think it would be fair to say they haven’t gotten enlightened, but tradition has it that many have gotten enlightened, and therefore somehow their Zen practice must have facilitated a breaking of identification.”
Jan: Or they got self-realized despite their practice.
Rick: That could be. I mean, Adyashanti, you know, says he wasn’t a very good meditator. He struggled with it for years and you know, really, really worked at it, but eventually his first awakening came when he just sort of gave up one day, just relaxed, and in relaxing then some profound shift occurred.
Jan: So he got his awakening despite his practice.
Rick: Yeah, yeah, you could say that, but then again, I don’t know, perhaps it was, you know, he got it because of the practice, but it was because of having struggled and strained for so long and then relaxing that he got it, and he couldn’t really relax and have that occur until he had struggled and strained, so it wasn’t immediately fruitful, the struggling and straining, but it was ultimately fruitful when he finally was able to relax after having done it for a long time. That’s just an interpretation, but I’m just throwing out possibilities.
Jan: Yeah, well it’s an important part of my teaching that even though I teach a couple of practices, that people have to give them up at the right time. But my metaphor is that meditation practices are like taking a train ride, and you travel very fast on the train, or quickly, but you have to get off at the right station. If you don’t get off your practice at the right time, you’ll end up in some ridiculous place where you’re not interested to end up. So you have to stop the practice and you have to get off it, and you have to merge into your being at the right time.
Rick: How do you know when it’s time to do that?
Jan: Ha! There’s no recipe.
Rick: You just know it.
Jan: But if you hang out with me, which is one of the most essential parts of my teaching, I will transfer it to you.
Rick: Yeah, but then you have to move to Copenhagen or come and visit for a period of time and so on.
Jan: Yeah, too bad. But, but, but, I also give Shaktipat in absentia, meaning by mail order. And by giving this Shaktipat to people through mail order, their sadhana becomes ignited with the Shakti experience. And if they meditate regularly, they might soon begin to experience the unity of Shiva and Shakti, a pure being and this blissful energy of the Self.
Rick: For how many people have you done the mail order thing?
Rick: And what is their track record compared to the people that you’ve been with in person?
Jan: I think it’s not … ten or fifteen out of these fifty people have really got going with blazing Shakti energy in their sadhana. Yeah. And one got Self-realized.
Rick: And so how does that percentage compare with the percentage among those who have been with you in person? Is it more effective to be in person?
Jan: I don’t have many students, Rick. I’m not really a public person, I don’t care about that. But I’m very interested in having a few very serious disciples or students or friends, I prefer to call them friends, who come here and I work with them intensely twice a week. Every Thursday and Sunday I have a meditation group. And a couple of them have become Self-realized, and there’s only been like ten or fifteen that have had that dedication. And they have reached the cosmic consciousness or Self-realization, to use a more down-to-earth term.
Rick: So if people felt inspired to come there and stay in Copenhagen for a month or something, would they just be able to meet with you twice a week or would you have some more intensive daily thing for those who were to take the trouble to travel all the way there?
Jan: Yeah, maybe twice a week — that would be okay. But it would be — or a weekend. One guy from Finland came here a couple of weekends and he became Self-realized in Finland, and he only came here a couple of weekends. But I send out malas, or I give Shaktipat in absentia, as it is called. I have this Rudraksha mala, and I infuse that with Shaktipat, and I send that to people, along with two guided meditation CDs. They are required to wear this mala whenever they meditate, preferably twice a day for 50 minutes to a guided meditation CD. And most people get good results from that, and I wouldn’t say how, but the percentage, probably 10%, really get Shakti going. And the others just feel like it was a nice experience.
Rick: Well that’s honest. How much do you charge for this?
Rick: For the mala and the meditation CD?
Jan: Yeah, and the charge for sending it.
Rick: That’s not bad. And if a person comes to Denmark to be with you, do you mind my asking, what is the cost for that, for coming to the weekly meetings?
Jan: It’s free.
Jan: It’s free.
Rick: They’ve already spent enough coming to Denmark. Okay, now let’s think for a minute, because it might be a few years before we do another one of these. So is there anything you feel that we haven’t covered? I’m sure there’s tons of stuff in your books that we could go into, all sorts of fine points. I mean, you have the Shiva Sutras and you comment on those and other scriptures in there, so there’s all kinds of fine points we could go on all day discussing, but is there anything that kind of comes to your mind as being important that we might not have covered?
Jan: We never talked about Unity consciousness.
Rick: Well let’s do that, let’s do that.
Jan: In bliss consciousness, or God consciousness, or whatever you want to call it, you sense the bliss, and before that, there’s an intermediate phase between self-realization and God consciousness, where it’s a state of bliss, and this bliss is internal. I am in bliss, and I mean, you’re really wiped out, you can hardly function. I was in that state for six years, and you can hardly function, it’s really massive. Then that settles down somehow, and you become mildly blissful, but you begin to realize that this bliss is in everything. This is still God consciousness. So you realize the bliss that was internal, I am blissful, Jesus, God, just leave me alone, I am not blissful, for Christ’s sake, shut up. Then you begin to realize that this bliss is external, and that everything is blissful. It is bliss, and I mean everything, your furniture, your Coca-Cola Zero, whatever, everything is bliss. But it’s not that everything is in a state of bliss and is self-aware, I mean a rock has consciousness, a cat, a human, but you understand bliss is the very nature of everything created.
Rick: And you perceive that, you don’t just understand it, but it’s your experience, right?
Jan: Absolutely, and this recognition fires your own bliss, and this recognition of bliss in bliss somehow manifests in your perception as this golden light, as I talked about earlier. And you realize this golden light is bliss, but you don’t realize it as the Self yet. And God consciousness is not a clear-cut shift in consciousness, it moves and then Unity consciousness overlaps it. So when you move into Unity consciousness, you begin to realize that this bliss, Shakti, is an aspect of Shiva, the Self. So when you look at everything, you have this weird sense that you are looking at void. When I look at people, there is nothing, there is absolutely nothing going on, and yet they are talking, and this talking is not just chatter, it is Shakti, it is the energy of the Self, but this voidness of them is their most salient feature. Everything, especially people, are nothing, they are void, and this void is totally identical to your own void. So when I talk to people, nothing relates to nothing, yet my mind says blah, blah, blah, and their mind responds blah, blah, blah. And you really experience this blah, blah, blah, because it’s not you, and you don’t care about it, you relate to void, and this void is bliss. So there is bliss without void in God consciousness, and there is bliss within its intrinsic nature, is void bliss in unity.
Rick: And so is it correct to say that you would call it unity, because when you perceive the thing, it’s the void perceiving the void, so to speak, and so it’s all the same thing, one kind of oneness.
Rick: And it’s funny that the word non-duality is so popular, and even the word oneness, because very often when people use that word, they are just talking about a sort of subjective oneness or a subjective non-duality, which is distinct from the world of difference and variation and relativity, and so there’s actually a duality, there isn’t a oneness in their experience. And so what you’re talking about is something which subsumes the relative into a larger wholeness, and then you really have oneness where there’s nothing separate from it, correct?
Jan: Yes, absolutely.
Rick: You know, there was a further maturation of unity consciousness that Maharishi used to talk about, I wonder if you can relate to it, which was, he called Brahman consciousness, where in the way he explained it was that initially when unity begins to dawn, your primary object of perception, let’s say the webcam or whatever you’re looking at, is in terms of the void, in terms of the self, but that over time the circumference begins to expand so that your secondary, tertiary, so that more and more of your objects of perception are in terms of the self, until eventually the whole universe is in terms of the self, and that this is a much greater wholeness, Brahman, Brahman means great actually, from a root that means great, much greater wholeness than the initial oneness that’s experienced when unity begins to dawn.
Jan: No, I’m not that far, I’m sorry.
Rick: Okay, just checking.
Jan: Well, there’s also this state called Sahaja Samadhi which some teachers talk about. Sahaja just means natural, and I like this better, but in my perspective there are different states of Sahaja Samadhi. There’s Sahaja natural Samadhi of self-realization, there’s Sahaja Samadhi of God-realization, of Unity consciousness.
Rick: So all this natural, Sahaja just means natural you said?
Jan: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: So all these stages are natural, but there can be quite some difference between them, right?
Jan: Yes, yes, yes.
Rick: I know at one point in your book you said Advaita Vedantins reach Sahaja Samadhi devoid of bliss, so I guess that would be one stage of, you know. But I don’t think it’s even fair to lump all Advaita Vedantins together. I mean, there’s Neo-Advaita and it’s not even fair to lump all them together. I mean, all these people who are out there teaching, there could be great variations among their level of spiritual maturity, and I wouldn’t feel confident painting them all with one brush and saying none of them are experiencing bliss. Some of them could be experiencing great bliss as far as I know. But the essential point here I guess is that there, maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” There are so many different levels of experience, levels of awakening, degrees of realization, stages of unfoldment and so on. And if we haven’t traversed them all through our own experience, there’s kind of a fuzziness in our understanding about them all, and it’s really easy to kind of lump them all together in one big fuzzy bundle. But I think what you do to a great extent in your book, at least the one I’ve been reading — “Kundalini Tantra” — is pick it apart a lot and draw some nice distinctions between the various degrees of realization.
Rick: Yeah, that was more of a statement than a question.
Jan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, in the spiritual market today there’s so much confusion about these various states of enlightenment, so I thought I could contribute to contemporary spirituality by clarifying these different states, and in particular I wanted to talk about Mother’s Grace, or Shakti, or whatever we should call it, because that’s very ignored. People talk about pure being, or the Shiva aspect all the time, but there is this aspect which is loving grace and perfect, it can just transform you and take you to enlightenment without you having to do anything but surrender to it.
Rick: Do you use the word “mother” because a mother is loving and caring and attends to the child and has the child’s best interests in mind, and even if the child objects, wants to wash the child and make sure it’s nice and clean and healthy? Is that why we use the word “mother,” or is there some even greater literal significance to the use of the word, where there’s some kind of cosmic entity that has a motherly form or something? We hear Mother Divine in the Indian tradition, they have Lakshmi and Saraswati and all these female deities and all.
Jan: No, none of that. I just use the word “mother” as an archetype, not as an Indian divine incarnation, Saraswati, or Devi, or Kali, or whatever they are called, but as an archetypal sense of infinite caring, infinite wisdom, and infinite nurturing. And once your Shakti really gets going, through Shaktipat of course, very few can get it going through their Sadhana, but Shaktipat is an express way to get it going. And once it gets going, the Shakti begins to take over your Sadhana, and this taking over is not felt as a foreign element working on you, it’s felt as love, grace, compassion, wisdom, and understanding. Therefore, the metaphor “mother” is appropriate.
Rick: I like it. And it’s nice to think that, I mean you were saying a minute ago how those who just emphasized the void are sort of focused on the Shiva aspect. It’s nice to think of the intelligence governing the universe as having this kind of benign concern, so to speak, if you want to anthropomorphize it, but having our best interests in mind and actually working diligently in its infinitely wise way to unfold our destiny, to facilitate our enlightenment. Those who regard the universe as dead and mechanistic, which many scientists do, must have a rather depressing existence, in my opinion. I mean, once you’re gone, you’re gone, all we are is this bundle of meat. And God, talk about depression, it seems like you couldn’t really be a very happy person if that’s your philosophical outlook.
Jan: Yeah, so what’s your question?
Rick: Nothing, just an observation which you’re welcome to respond to if you want.
Jan: Yeah, no, no, I think I explained myself pretty accurately before.
Rick: You did, yeah. Good, all right, do you feel we’ve done justice to it for now?
Rick: No? Well, anything more you’d like to say or is it the kind of thing where we can’t possibly do justice to it?
Jan: Both. There’s a whole Shaktipat phenomenon, what goes on when I give Shaktipat, we haven’t discussed that.
Rick: Okay, want to touch on that?
Jan: That’s an interesting aspect. There are very few Shaktipat gurus around, so maybe we should talk a bit about what goes on when you give Shaktipat, just to put it on the record.
Rick: Sure. Muktananda was famous for that of course.
Jan: Muktananda was a great Shaktipat Guru, and his disciple Acharya Kedar is a great Shaktipat Guru. And there are several, there was Rudi’s (Rudrananda), they also give Shaktipat.
Rick: He died many years ago, but he was …
Jan: Yeah, he died in a plane crash. But there are very few Shaktipat gurus around. We’re only like five or eight in the West, there’s nothing.
Rick: Do you consider Amma a Shaktipat guru when she’s doing her blessing thing? Is that a form of Shaktipat?
Jan: No way, no way. She transmits love, Divine love, but she does not awaken your Kundalini and puts you on a permanent path to Self-realization. There’s an interesting book about Amma which is devoted to Gayatri through 20 years.
Rick: Yeah, I’m aware of it.
Jan: Yeah, “Holy Hell,” that shows a different perspective on Amma, but never mind Amma. I went to Amma for 15 years and I was totally in love with the love that Amma transmits. It was fantastic and healing and awesome, but it has nothing to do with Shaktipat and it will not get you Self-realized. It’s very healing and it’s very loving and so on, but it will not take you to Self-realization.
Rick: So you said that to your knowledge there are maybe five or eight Shaktipat Gurus in the world and you are one of them.
Jan: Yeah, in the West.
Rick: In the West, maybe there’s more in India, and you wanted to talk more about the mechanics of it.
Jan: That would be fun. When I meditate with somebody, I meditate with people Thursday evening and Sunday evening, twice a week, and give Shaktipat, and we’re only about like five people, which is a shame.
Rick: If you had 500 it might be a little difficult.
Jan: Oh, that would be, no, fuck it, that wouldn’t work. No, I prefer to work seriously, with a few over and over again.
Rick: And the mechanics you were going to say.
Jan: Yeah, I sit and meditate with a person on my sofa, one to one, and I put my hand on their knee, so there’s a double transmission, I can transmit it physically or mentally, and I also transmit it through eye contact. So I sit with them and meditate, and I go into, I mean I’m in my mind, everyday consciousness is just jammed, but whenever I meditate, I’m in Unity consciousness. Unity consciousness is not a stable state, it goes up and down like God consciousness. God consciousness for me is more stable, but Unity consciousness goes up and down, and when I meditate, I go into it. So when I meditate with these people, I like I always do, look at The Absolute in them, their pure self, their pure being, or whatever you should call it, and I realize it is the same as my pure being, and then within their mind, body, physical complex, I manifest the state of self-realization, because the absolute is here, the absolute is one of the Shakti, Shakti is a manifested being in an individual, so I can step in here, manifest a different variation of Shakti, which bears the seed of enlightenment. So that’s what I do with those I meditate with, and give the Shaktipat. I know it sounds very abstract, I’m sorry, but I transmit the state of enlightenment to them in my body, the state of self-realization, and these people, the first thing they experience when I put my hand on their knee is an incredible heat, so was people who rightly experience heat, but the important thing is that they enter the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Nirvikalpa means Nir – without, and Vikalpa – thought, construction, fluctuations, so they enter a state of void, and this voidness springs out of the fact that I have called it Nirvikalpa Samadhi, and maybe they can grasp and merge into oneness, that’s not certain, but the very seed of enlightenment becomes sown in them, and I assure you some people pick up on this right away, and they are destined for self-realization. Some do not pick it up, and some experience Kundalini awakening and energy up in the spine, and so on, and there’s a special block and knot here where the spine reaches the skull, and a lot of people have problems getting the Shakti beyond that, but some break right through that and enter ecstasy and bliss and purity, and they are destined to be in the one stage.
Rick: I’m reminded of Christ’s metaphor in the Bible where he talks about throwing seed on the ground, and some ground is fertile soil but very shallow, so it sprouts up and then dies, and other ground is rocky, and other ground is thorns and all, but the ideal ground is sort of fertile soil that’s deep, so the seed can really sprout and then continue to grow. So obviously if you take a bunch of people and do this with them, there’s going to be different degrees of readiness, receptivity, and you’re going to get different results with different people.
Jan: Yeah, no that’s true, that’s how I experience it, but like I said, out of the ten serious students I’ve had, three have reached Self-Realization, and I don’t consider Self-Realization the same as awakening.
Rick: Oh I know, that’s how we started this whole interview, distinguishing those.
Jan: I would call it like Maharishi did in Cosmic Consciousness, because in them the identification mechanism is broken down, there’s just pure being, and which is interesting, a different kind of bhakti arises, devotion to God. Bhakti means devotion to God, and para means beyond, and para-bhakti is extremely important. Bhakti is just mood making, they go to these groups where they sing bhajans and so on, and they get into a nice mood, but once you become Self-Realized, bhakti takes on a different flavor. It is suddenly the Self devoting itself to the Self. It’s not the Self devoting itself to an object like Krishna or Amma or whatever, but the Self as unmanifest bliss and consciousness devotes itself to unmanifest bliss and consciousness, but this is the same, so it’s a loop. This is para-bhakti, and this is what I try to teach my students who have become Self-Realization.
Rick: So it’s like Jimi Hendrix putting his guitar right up to the amp and getting the feedback.
Jan: You could say that.
Rick: Maybe even lighting it on fire.
Jan: Yeah, sure.
Rick: So these three people who have become Self-Realized, would you have almost predicted it? Had they been people who had a pretty serious spiritual practice and had really kind of done some work beforehand?
Jan: One did, but the two others did not.
Rick: Although you never know what people have done past lives or whatever, like yourself, you know.
Jan: No, I can’t say much about it, I don’t want to identify.
Rick: Oh, I’m not suggesting you do, no. Your voice broke up a little bit.
Jan: I said the two of them did not. And they just came here and would hang out with me twice a week and would get infused with Shaktipat and the state of Self-Realization and further. For some reason I can transmit it, I don’t know why, but that’s my lot here in life. So I can sit with people, not just next to me, that’s the most powerful, but also in the room, and when I meditate my energy field expands and fills out the entire room and I sense where everybody is and I put particular focus on the one in the hot chair, as we call it, next to me, and I change the vibration of the energetic field and this gives them experiences of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Their mind goes blank, they are in total silence and they feel this tremendous energy welling up in them and wanting to transform them.
Rick: Well you know it says in various scriptures that being in the company of the enlightened is one of the most powerful things you can do for your evolution, and because of this contagion effect, because of the osmosis, the transmission that inevitably occurs. And I don’t know if you would agree, but I would suggest that sometimes a large group can produce as much Shakti as a single individual who is capable of producing lots of Shakti, even though all the people in that group individually might not be able to produce as much. But you get large groups of people together who are on some spiritual retreat or something and the energy can become quite palpable and it does seem to be conducive to people’s awakening to whatever degree.
Jan: Well, if they are not enlightened, they are not enlightened. So a group can conjure up an energy field which will be conducive to a mood of devotion, but I seriously doubt that they could shift anybody into self-realization.
Rick: Maybe not, I’m not qualified to say. Okay, well I think we better wrap it up. We’ve been going on for quite a while. As always I will be linking to your website from your page on www.batgap.com and people can get in touch. They might want to do the remote thing where you send the Rudraksha beads or they might want to actually come and visit you. And in your book, Kundalini Tantra, you do have a number of meditation practices in the beginning that you describe, so maybe people can read that and pick them up. Do you have any kind of email newsletter or anything that you send out to people, or basically just the website and they can come there when they come?
Jan: It’s basically the website, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick: What is it again?
Rick: Okay, so that’s your email address and then your website is just www.lovebliss.eu
Jan: Yeah, that’s true.
Rick: And I’ll be linking to that. Good, so let me make a few concluding remarks. You have been listening to or watching an interview with Jan Esmann, who obviously lives in Copenhagen. This is an ongoing series, so there are 215 or so other ones, which you’ll find archived at www.batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P. There you will also find a number of things, a place to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted, a forum or discussion group that crops up around each interview. Each one has its own section in the forum. A donate button, BatGap is a 501(c)(3) in the United States, which is, if you’re an American you know what that means, but I rely on those donations. I think that’s just about it. Oh, a link to an audio podcast, so that if you’d like to just listen on your iPod while you’re doing other things, you can subscribe to that and every time a new interview is posted, it automatically comes into iTunes and you can sync that with your iPad. So thanks for listening or watching. Thank you again Jan, and we’ll see you all next week. [Music] [End]