439. Michael Speight

When I was 11 years old our school took a bus trip to the local library. While most of the children were off exploring the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, for some reason I found myself in the row of books called Philosophy and Religion.

I recall pulling a hardbound book off the shelf and directly opening it to an old black and white photograph of the Portola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. At that moment, it was as if all my breath was sucked out of me and my mind went totally quiet. Somewhere in the depth of my being, I knew I was looking at a very familiar place, one that I may once have called home. I stood there for a very long time just staring at that photograph.

That book changed my life. At the time, I took the descriptions of a world rarely seen to be real mysticism. With great determination and passion, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about Tibet, its culture, and spiritual teachings. Thus, began a lifelong pursuit for of spiritual insight and knowledge mystical experience.

In my youthful naivety, I also began what I deduced as a meditation practice from stories in the book. This practice was quite complex and involved sitting quietly in the lotus posture with my spine perfectly straight while emptying my mind of everything. Then, with eyes closed, the idea was to develop a specific color spot in my field of vision at, what one might imagine to be, an arm’s length away, and then start spinning it into other colors, all while keeping all thoughts at bay. As you might imagine it was a difficult exercise, however, for short periods of time, I began to experience gaps in my thought pattern.

Then it happened. After about four years of practicing my meditation, one day I was sitting quietly and deep into it, when the bottom dropped out. No mind, no thought—just a great expanse. When the experience ended, I felt the most amazing deep sense of happiness bliss. This bliss we might describe as “the peace which passeth understanding”. The problem was my meditation practice was extremely difficult and required great effort and time to achieve the effortless state. I began to search for something easier.

My best friend had gone off college and suggested that I leave my job with the Forest Service and continue my education. When I arrived on campus to find Maharishi Mahesh Yogi teaching a course about meditation and training young men and woman like me how to teach Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based meditation practice. I went to ask Maharishi if he would personally teach me. Maharishi was rarely on time anywhere and I waited outside his door a long time for him to emerge. When he finally came out the door there were a number of people waiting like me, some to ask a question, some pay their respects. With about a dozen people ahead of me in the line I waited for my turn, but then I had the thought that I shouldn’t take his time, that I should instead dedicate myself to freeing his time so he could bring this knowledge of meditation and its philosophy to as many as possible, that I should work to serve him selflessly without regard to my own needs and desires. In that moment, I took the Bodhisattva vow and walked away to learn Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation from one of his teachers.

I knew I had found what I was looking for in my first meditation. Upon learning I experienced quite easily that state of mindlessness I had been struggling so hard for. I knew for certain that TM worked for me when I was walking down the street feeling the perfect bliss within yet realizing that nothing what so ever had happened in my life save for meditation to make it so.

After many years of practice, I had a classical awakening into higher consciousness. Now living in non-duality or as Maharishi described it “living 200%, the fullness of the absolute and the relative lived completely and utterly together”.

Website: michael-lovelightlaughter.org

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Transcript of this interview

Interview recorded January 27, 2018.

YouTube Video Chapters:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction to Buddha at the Gas Pump
  • 00:05:25 – Discovering Meditation as a Child
  • 00:10:08 – A Chance Encounter with Franklin Merrill Wolfe in the Sierras
  • 00:15:14 – A Powerful Experience in the Mountains
  • 00:20:14 – Taking the Bodhisattva Vow
  • 00:25:49 – Different Experiences of Awakening
  • 00:30:39 – Surrendering and Shift in Perception
  • 00:35:00 – The Awakening and Infinite Growth
  • 00:38:50 – Understanding the Bhagavad Gita and Knowledge
  • 00:42:34 – The Compatibility of Absolute and Relative Realities
  • 00:46:01 – Cultural Conditioning and Beliefs
  • 00:49:44 – Shared Understanding of Religious Figures
  • 00:53:17 – Thoughts and Awareness
  • 00:56:57 – The Mechanism of Witnessing
  • 01:00:39 – Perception of Subtle Phenomena
  • 01:04:22 – The Unusual Marriage Story
  • 01:07:48 – Unexpected Intuitions
  • 01:11:22 – The Power of Higher State of Consciousness
  • 01:14:53 – Healing Stories
  • 01:18:17 – The Journey to Amma’s Ashram
  • 01:22:14 – The Precise Vedic Ceremony, The Mysterious Pundit, and a Spitting Image
  • 01:26:22 – Personal EKG Machine and Atrial Fibrillation
  • 01:30:15 – Overwhelming Experience with Arjuna
  • 01:34:12 – Beings of Light and Future Possibilities
  • 01:38:19 – The Immortality of the Soul
  • 01:42:20 – Exploring the Concept of a Free Agent
  • 01:46:04 – Buddha’s Enlightenment and Spiritual Consulting
  • 01:49:44 – Awakening and Holding up the Stick
  • 01:53:25 – The Power of the Collective Consciousness
  • 01:57:15 – The Holiness of Sacred Places
  • 02:00:36 – Farewell