118. Robert K. C. Forman, Ph.D.

Robert FormanDr. Robert K.C. Forman is uniquely qualified, both personally and professionally, to re-imagine the spiritual goal and the path to it. Personally, Dr. Forman hasn’t missed a day of meditation in 40 years. He broke through to the first major life shift he sought during a nine-month meditation retreat, just two years after beginning Transcendental Meditation. Further developments have continued through his gaining of a Ph.D. in mystical experience from Columbia U and his 20 years as a Professor of Comparative Religions, through his lifetime of yearly solo meditation retreats, self-reflection, 18 years of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic training, his marital work, his teaching, writing and leading of workshops, and his research into and national leadership role in the “spiritual but not religious” community.

(Quotes below are from Robert’s book, Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be.)

“Do not settle,” the vastness whispers. “Do not be content with partial love. Be open here too. Be so open with this other that there is nothing left to close.” (P. 160)

His curiosity and confusion about his early spiritual breakthroughs led him to a Ph.D in Comparative Religions (Columbia U), where he specialized in the nature of and philosophical issues around mystical experiences and the spiritual life. He has often been called “one of the leading voices in the academic debates on mysticism,” because of his work in the international scholarly debate about mystical experiences, which came to be known as “The Katz-Forman debates,” the work for which he has been awarded numerous grants and, just last year, an honorary doctorate. A tenured professor of religions at Hunter College of the City University of New York and a professor at Vassar College, Union Theological Seminary and the New School for Social Research, he often taught courses on mystical experiences and spiritual goals in every tradition, and his books are used in classes around the world.

Many of his insights about the spiritual path and goal came from his work as founder and Executive Director of the Forge Institute for Spirituality and Social Change and the Forge Guild of Spiritual Professionals, a non profit dedicated to helping people from any religion or spiritual path live “soul to soul.” He routinely gives lectures, trainings and workshops around the world. He was the co-founder and is executive editor of The Journal of Consciousness Studies , which has become the principle journal in the field. He is also the author of ten scholarly books on spirituality, mysticism, consciousness and world religions.

“God save us from some bloodless “joy, joy, joy!” If we are after anything, we are after full-bodied freedom. … I want to be awake, utterly non-resistant, to pain and joy and love and loss and boredom and knowing and not-knowing, wide open to the full catastrophe that is the paradox of a whole, confusing human life.” (P. 198)

Robert’s site: http://enlightenmentaint.com/

Robert’s book: Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow and Jazz in the Soul

Interview recorded 4/8/2012

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

63 thoughts on “118. Robert K. C. Forman, Ph.D.

  1. “This above all: to thine own self be true”

    Really enjoyed this insightful exchange – thank you both.
    Particularly liked the “truth telling to one’s self” aspect . Reminded me of the work of Nishant Matthews in his book The Friend. The psychological inner realm can be very challenging… but nonetheless very important, especially in terms of the integration process.

  2. Hi Rick,
    It is always a pleasure listening to your interviews. I would be very interested in knowing Mr Forman’s views on non doership.

  3. My first thought from this interview is that even if we had some mass awakening of humanity in 2012, there will still be a lot of work to do afterwards. We still have to go to work the next day. The world will still be roughly be the same with its institutions and power structures. There are no short cuts. But it would lay beginnings of an unwinding, a healing that may take decades, maybe a century to unfold.

    I especially appreciated his focus on how his enlightenment did (or did not) affect his practical life. It makes it real, concrete, a truth in its own right, rather than just the focus on states, shifts, interiority.

  4. I appreciate the comments mad here and Earnest pointed out the implications of awakening on the social structures that have emanated out to form the current state of world society. The forms we have have produced a distortion overlaying our original nature which is open Freedom permeating everything in the Buddha field of whole relationship. I appreciate Robert pointing to the value of facing ourself truthfully as to our actual situation, contrasted to our expectations of what could be. This is simply projection of dissatifaction into a future now. Can we realize the essential or will science try to clone the Buddha? One question to ponder for your contemplation.

  5. Oh My – 40 years in CC – witnessing the Self..That’s painful…wondering if it’s even possible to stay stuck that long….kind of confirms my suspicions that practice can only take one so far – that the rest is up to Grace and our own willingness to get off the train.

    Perhaps Mr Forman might consider missing a day of practice or conferences and going to sit with a realized one who has reconciled the paradox to clear up some misconceptions..

    I also didn’t hear any talk here about non-doership – non-authorship of action – which is characteristic of Maharishi’s designation of Cosmic Consciousnes – a recognition in basic awakening that everything is happening without the illusory ego’s direction…

    Nor did I hear any talk about the unfoldment – the deepening into the Unconditional Love that is at our core which occurs in a timely fashion after spaciousness is recognized..

    I wonder if it’s even possible to remain situated since 1971, in the duality of simultaneously maintaining the illusion of ego along with the recognition of Self..That old map of awakening that many meditators cling to – just doesn’t seem to fit the actual awakening I’m familiar with..but so many still try to fit their experiences into it even though it doesn’t add up…

    I also am puzzled by how one can claim stabilization of the peace if they continue to practice in order to maintain it…The peace doesn’t rely on anything especially 40 more years of meditation..It stands on its own…

    Usually, when spaciousness is seen in it’s totality -it carries us the rest of the way…so I found this interviewee’s descriptions a bit confusing..

    I do applaud Mr Forman however for emphasizing the importance of turning and facing what has been avoided within with honesty of intention..That’s the job of the seeker.. However, he might want to explore in greater depth what his own intentions are as far as his own evolution..Even the Vedas say that 12 years with a ‘true’ teacher and a ‘willing’ disciple is all that is needed for Self-Realization..

    From what I’ve observed, we go as far as our hearts truly desire on this path and perhaps after 40 years of apparently seeking, like many meditators I know, he doesn’t truly want to dive into the unknown and relinquish what needs to be surrendered for final resolution..which is that pesky old ego..

  6. Loved this interview and the basic practicalities that were spoken about .. like noticing when I’m in protection mode and that the simple way to untangle that particular tangle is to simply do my best to say what so for me. I think probably we all know this. But when reaction is strong, it’s sometimes not always easy to remember to simply be Here and check in with what’s really going on. I’ve been with elderly parents for past five months … and siblings. Yowie. Like you say Rick … wanna see how self realized you are? just spend time with immediate family. Robert’s sharing was just the ticket! Thank you all!

  7. Intro bio: “uniquely qualified… to re-imagine the spiritual goal and the path to it.”

  8. Yes I read his bio Ising – I guess ‘re-imagining’ means to some – making it up as they go along?? and what makes him ‘uniquely qualified’..doing a mantra every day and studying about mystical experiences?

    While we are all unique, there are universal milestones that occur along the spiritual highway and are experienced by all..that’s the simple truth…

    I don’t believe in maps but being that Robert is a 40 year TM meditator and he was describing and claiming a CC enlightenment experience, we want to hold his feet to the fire (for his sake as well as ours) and see if what he’s saying adds up..His awakening seemed implausible to me from his description, for the reasons stated above…

    I don’t much care if he agrees with the awakening here – that’s irrelevant – just that he wasn’t jiving with his own teacher’s idea of it…didn’t make any sense..

    I think we’re all going to be in a lot of trouble if we just pick and choose from column A or column B and make up our own idea of enlightenment…there’s enough confusion out there…

    That couldn’t happen under the guidance of a personally realized teacher..which is why I keep pointing people back to that..

  9. Yes, no disagreement here Jill – and since when does Truth say “I am Silence” – It was very interesting – however I did like the references to the need sometimes of inner psychological work tountie some of the knots – an aspect often overlooked. Some of those knots can be huge obstacles and therapeutic insight can unravel them, but this expression seems to think that this is an infinite process. Don’t recall any talk of surrender either.
    It is unfortunate – especially from someone supposedly “guiding others” – a good lesson in discernment tho for others.

  10. Yes – I agree Ising -so important – this psychological work..I had seven years of it in my 20’s in a formal sense – but always had the tendency to look within and bring awareness to the inner life from an early age..I never suffered from the delusion that meditation or even awakening would do it all..

    If Robert brought nothing else to the table in this interview in terms of evolution of consciousness — at least his pointing to doing necessary inner work is worth something..He’s prolly a good therapist..

    You’re right though – no talk of surrender to Self or Silence in his chat.. which makes me sad..From this vantage point, I can’t understand why the TM movement thinks of this simultaneity of awareness as any kind of enlightenment…It just leads people astray…and actually puffs up the spiritual ego..

    Theirs is a never ending process that prolly stretches over lifetimes..until it is finally seen as implausible..This belief that it takes forever to fully enlighten is just a thought – a strong belief that needs to be re-examined in light of what is happening today in world consciousness…

    Sometimes when I listen to older meditating friends describe their process and spiritual experiences, I feel as though I’m in a time warp – like watching an episode of Mad Men – it’s as if we’re back in the 60’s following a spiritual linear map that doesn’t have much relevance to actual awakening..

    As evidenced by Robert’s 40 years of seeking and practicing and studying, as well as the experiences of thousands of other TMer’s who are grinding away, it’s obvious that practice is not going to take anyone all the way Home to rest in the cave of the heart..to the Reality and Self fulfillment each soul longs for…

    It’s disillusioning when we realize that – but dis-illusion-ment is the best thing for a seeker as it was all an illusion to begin with..It’s the beginning of spiritual maturity..

    If we want to meet Reality, we need to surrender our old concepts and illusions and allow Grace an entry point..

    Yes many knots to be untied – both psychological and spiritual -but the untying of the knot of granthi – the knot in the heart – is the one that sets the soul free…True awakening unfolds easily from there..That’s Pamela Wilson’s specialty in case you ever want to contact her directly by phone or through skype for a private session..She’d love you I’m sure..

  11. The problem here is that the journey is being presented as the destination and that can create tremendous confusion if believed. The intro bio – was evidence enough – but whether or not this is intentional is unknown here – the sense here was that this is truly believed – but there is a tendency to naivete so can’t truly say. As a person-therapist – may be very useful – as a spiritual “teacher” – more harm than good in my opinion. The interview was enjoyed here but ” Above all else: to thine Own Self be true”

  12. Thanks Jill, I just might do that. Having heard her once on NNH I was very taken with her wide openness and inclusiveness Such a loving Presence!

  13. HS –
    Everyone has something to offer of course…just depends on what you want…but I think that as long as ego is still alive, the teaching will contain confusion..If one is after freedom in this lifetime, I’d put my money on someone who had attained it..

  14. Rick, what I love about what you are doing, is allowing us to see the diversity of experiences people are having and the validity of our own experience, simply because it is our experience. I love his comment on the bird and how he felt his resistance toward the relative world dissolve. This to me speaks of wholeness… embracing this creation…..since it is our creation…is the true test of non-resistance. Embracing every bit of it with great compassion, love, gratitude and enjoyment.

  15. Interesting bio. After my own openings back in the 70s, I went into the university stacks to find answers. Didn’t find them so didn’t pursue that direction then. Came back to academia much more recently.

    His site mentions a tubes experience shortly before waking which sounds like clearing the nadis prior to the final rising of the kundalini. Thats one place I found some answers to some experiences of the time.

    Will listen in a bit.

  16. Interesting observations, Jill. I know 3 people who witnessed for 30 years, from the 70’s. They had realized they were the Self but had not relinquished the ego. In his commentary on the last verse of Chapter 6, Maharishi mentions Self Realization as prior to CC.

    In Kundalini Vidya, they note 3 points near the top of a rising. The Witness point, just below the 3rd eye and the final cap. The makara point, just above the 3rd eye where the rising becomes stable. (Not descending again). And finally Bindu, the crown and awakening. Some will ride right on through and awaken. Some will step up in stages. On this basis, a person sitting at makara would have established witness but not be fully awake.

    In the 3 cases above, 2 woke easily spending time with the more awake. They needed a living example to resonate with. I don’t know the others shift story.

  17. “Run from those who say they have no ego” (exact quote?) When I heard this, I already had some idea of how a certain crowd would react.

    Some thoughts and questions.

    First the definition of “ego”, which can be slippery. But for the sake of rapidly moving on, we can agree that it is not an “entity” of any sense. For the sake of spiritual discussion, it generally refers to contractive, defensive, or reactive *tendency* of some imagined “small self”. (Note we still have a reptilian brain and a limbic system, but this is another discussion. Just because one does not identify with it does not mean it is not there.)

    Second, is the complete and permanent dropping of the ego a qualitatively different experience, or more of the same, except *more* permanent and lasting (mainly “quantitative”)? I am willing to go all the way, but I’ll state the truth as I currently see it (for myself). (Who knows, I might join the ranks of Jill someday and take a different position.) Currently the Sun of Being, or the Face of the Self shines ever more brightly. It’s not so much it negates the truth of the other reality as much as it “outshines” it. Both are true, but one increasingly outshines the other. “Ego” in the sense of reactive tendencies are still there, but is increasingly lessened. Self becomes increasingly more prominent and operative in ones life. But it is not like it’s two entities, Self being brighter, and ego overshadowed on the other side (like the sun and moon). It is still One Self (with some “bad” tendencies in play). So is it like turning the volume down on the one side, or is total “ego death” something totally different?

    Third, if the final resting place, final resolution of paradoxes, dualities, splits results from the permanent and lasting dropping of the ego, what is this “integration process”? Even though it is all One Reality, does this mean *all* reactive tendencies (ego) are no longer present? Assuming Eli and Gangagji and Karen Richards have achieved this complete dropping, why are there still “relationship issues”? (It seems admitting that egoic tendencies are still there, besides the humility, is actually the safer, more realistic, and truthful course?)

    Fourth. Jill, I thank you for continuing to bring up the issue of surrender and the heart. I have a devotional side which has always been very rich, going back to my Christian days, that I’ve never been able to reconcile the Non-dual interest. The latter now strikes me as overly cognitive with emphasis on Recognition. The latter even seems a little dualistic, or at least less than whole. It’s long pass time to throw in one’s whole being and not be standoffish as someone (or something) “recognizing” itself. Give it all up. Throw it all into the Unknown.

    Do my questions make any sense, or are we talking different languages?

  18. Well that sure sparked a conversation..so many beautiful hearts out there..Just a quick one this morning as it’s sunny and going up to 88 degrees in NY today and want to get outside..

    David – thank you for letting me know about other TMers who have been riding the wave for a length of time…The only meditators I’m aware of who took this trip to the end – and by the end – I mean came to rest in the heart of Brahman, were those who as you say, surrendered, and went to sit with a realized soul..

    Bhakti8 – I too love the diversity of expression on the site as long as it’s grounded in Truth…discernment of where a teacher is spiritually speaking, so as not to add to the confusion, is important..As Maharishi used to say, Knowledge is different in different states of consciousness and what we can know and teach depends on that..

    Ernest – I’m going to need to go back to grad school to decipher your question…maybe a cup more of green tea will do it…giggle..
    Just to be clear – The awakening I’m aware of is a direct awakening into the non-dual Self – where the two are made one..Depending on the vasanas, and/or prior spiritual/psychological work on the self, one will have some deconditioning to go through afterward as dissolution of mind/ego/self occurs..some more than others…The ego has been seen through in the awakening but conditioning can hang on..The Truth is perceived, but not in it’s fullness right off the bat..so during that process there can be all sorts of arisings..How true we stay to truth is up to us..but at least we’re headed in the right direction..Pamela used to say that the more we rest in the Self – the more we call forth Love…and only Love can cast out all fear..

    The TM self-realization – small s – is a witnessing type of realization -a primer to true realization.. It is still duality because the small self is alive and well either in the background or the foreground..but nothing has been united..It’s a state of extreme separation..

    Maharishi used to say it was a very uncomfortable state which is why I called it painful..I was only in it a short time before the energy took off but can’t imagine staying there..It’s one foot in the apparent world and one out of it – not the reconciled peace I’m referring to now..where we have come to rest eternally..undivided and seamlessly moving between the relative and absolute realities..
    You got it right when you said the emphasis in CC is on a kind of mental recognition of Self -not a living of it..

    According to Maharishi’s map we proceed from this witnessing state by devotion in order to close the divide between duality and unity..and that’s ture but he also said that ‘practice is not the way after CC..It is love and devotion that closes the gap after recognition..so we must be willing to surrender to the Self – what we value most..and that would be our concepts and illusions – the biggest one of all being the illusion of self…
    No matter the path we’re on – it ends there..

  19. Heart Seeker writes:

    “I guess I’m wondering if there is a state where all vasanas and conditionings have been entirely burnt in the fire, where there is total ego death, and Essence remains?”

    In terms of the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, final & complete integration is exemplified via the Rainbow Body: the complete reintegration of the physical elements of the body into their essence — which is light — at the time of “death.” In other words, as long as there is a physical form that remains, it signifies some kind of incompleteness, in terms of integration of body-mind-world fully into ones Realization.

    Just one point of view, of course ….

  20. You ask such good questions HS..very clear…

    Yes – it’s good to define terms such as awakening and enlightenment…I’m guilty of throwing around the words as well..

    I would say that the awakening into the Vastness of Self is the opening act -where spacious Awareness is seen as what we really are – but conditioning and vasanas do vary…

    For some, the awakening can be synonymous with enlightenment, but others have a deepening process to go through in between the two..depends on where we’re coming from and how much ego is still at large…how much we surrendered in the awakening..but it’s more usual to awaken and then deepen into it..

    Freedom (or Enlightenment) as Neelam defines it, is when we’re free of all conditioning- If we have been bringing Awareness to the Self consistently before awakening, we have less to go through afterward..but despite that, we’re burning through the vasanas generationally, and collectively, so never easy..However, it’s good to know they are never all ours..

    There are not only vasanas but powerful TESTS of the realization along the way post awakening…temptations if you will..and sometimes we fail those tests….We might still be tempted by anger or envy or lust or pride or any number of emotions or thoughts or sensations that arise in the spaciousness that we are..until the final gong..

    Some experience these tests in the emotional body – some in the mental body – and some in the physical body…depending on our nature..The shakti does what it does until it is finished with you…and you’ve burned through everything blocking full disclosure…

    I don’t think that once you’ve truly SEEN the Truth and are resting in it, your personal vasanas can distort the teaching…Distortion comes from ignorance of SELF..when we are speaking from ego and not SELF….One can still transmit Truth if there are some human issues remaining to be burned through.

    It’s true though, the deeper we’ve gone, the more fuller bodied the expression of Truth..which is why I recommend sitting with the ones who have marinated in this for a longer time…less chance of hearing any distortions…

    And just because someone appears pure as the driven snow in their personal life, it doesn’t mean they are more evolved…One can be a saint and not be a jnani..and most jnani’s are not saints..Saints are born not made…Alan Watts taught me that…He told me to never look in that direction cause we can never perfect the human side..and that he’d never met a true saint..If people are trying for sainthood, good luck to them with that..We will always be both human and divine as long as we’re in a body..

    I look for the fire of Truth in a teacher…..Love is not always sweet..but it’s always honest..

    So is there a final Silence?- I would say there is – when the mind/body is so still that nothing arises in that Stillness that could disturb it…no ripples..and if something does, it is seen so quickly that it rises and falls and leaves no trace..I call that final Realization or enlightenment….

    Regarding Mooji – love him -I didn’t resonate energetically, but I sat with him once and know he’s for real.. I sent my closest friend to him as I felt strongly he was her teacher -and told her not to come back from India until she surrendered…giggle..She spent the last 4 winters in his company..and has finally awakened…and she isn’t the only one…many in the NY satsang who spent time with him, have..
    Previous to meeting him, she was a TM siddha for 22 years and had sat with many teachers subsequently, but he was the one for her..all a matter of resonance, and timeliness and willingness, but he’s true blue…as are all the ones I’ve met from Ramana…

  21. HS – if I may observe, karmas continue to bear fruit after awakening. So even the awake find themselves in circumstances they may not intend. But from that awareness, they can usually resolve them more quickly.

    As for the “screwed”, a lot of that drama comes from the followers illusions of a perfect teacher being dashed. That’s probably a good thing. I’ve also seen teachers reputations dashed by false accusations, some of that karma above.

    On TM, its useful to know that most of those who talk about it got into it between the late 60’s and early 80’s, when the teacher as still somewhat available. Its a very different animal now, though the core practice remains potent as ever.

  22. HS -This view should NEVER be more important than your gut feeling..please don’t say that..or I’ll stop writing – giggle..I’m speaking from the Self to your Self..so it resonates – but trust your instincts – they are good ones..

    Yes there are many charismatic ones out there who weren’t true to Truth, but I do trust the ones from Ramana that if they fall off the wagon (and there only have been a few) due to some vasanas arising, they usually get back to Reality quickly..and clean it up..

    Don’t worry about the teachers out there who aren’t true and cause huge messes..Papaji used to say when asked about the false teachers, ‘they are here for the false seekers – let them be’….

    Perhaps something has been learned in each of those disappointing guru/disciple relationships – we don’t know -maybe we finally stop idol worshipping if we get scorned…or stop trying to find the good mother or father..
    I will say that in Gangaji’s forgiveness of Eli’s indiscretion, I found that I could forgive my own father’s dalliances…all the way this time…no small thing..

    The human issues that I was referring to – are intimacy/relationship issues – lack of integrity in financial matters –vanity – -leftover arrogance or pride or anger or lust or sloth or envy..etc etc..can’t remember all 7 of those ‘deadly’ human sins..

    None of us are perfect or will ever be perfect while here – as Mila’s lovely Tibetan perspective tells us…Forgive them all – (ourselves included) as they know not what they do…Enlightenment does not make the human aspect perfect..never will -we have to get over thinking that – and as long as we’re here..we do the best we can…and seek Truth over all phenomena…

    The world changes before our very eyes when we do the work on ourselves..and stop projecting the shadow out there in the apparent world..

    Can we get pretty far along if we are willing to look within and see what we’ve been avoiding?…I think so..Certainly while we’re here, with the help of Grace, we can get beyond separation- beyond suffering and selfishness and perhaps come to experience ourselves as Unconditional Love -and that ain’t so bad…

    I think you’re way beyond TM btw – not surprised that you’re not drawn..You’re generation has some ripe dudes and dudettes in it…These days I only recommend it for those starting out on the path or who are under great stress …The time for long drawn out practices is about done..

    but it’s a fabulous meditation – and yes it has touched many in my generation in particular…You prolly hear of it more on this site because of Rick…I would say that most who did stick with it got something sweet out of it – maybe not enlightenment – as those 40 and 50 years meditators demonstrate who are still plugging away- but it’s a great preparation for becoming familiar with the Silence…and I’m grateful for the 25 years of devotion I put into it..

    However, since you’re on this site and have been drawn to sit with final teachers at such a young age — it wouldn’t make sense to go backwards to a practice…follow your heart always..

  23. In reference to Jill’s comment to me regarding enjoying diversity and discernment. Yes to discernment and discrimination, however there can be a fine line where this can fall into judgement…especially when others have differences to OUR point of view. I am just at a point where I am enjoying the diversity, much like a mother loves and enjoys each of her children. I may not like it or agree to it but somehow it all makes me smile because it is all so damn perfect. Every bit of it. And in this I find great enjoyment and pleasure.

  24. Bhakti8 – I so agree – there’s a fine line between judgment and discrimination…all has to do with the intention..and also how we hear it..I would say in general – the ego judges and the Self discriminates..If the intention is to help clarify and discern truth from non-truth – with a loving heart – that can be helpful to some..I do understand where you’re coming from and am glad you are enjoying all of God’s great diversity..and that you find all that you long for in this life..Love to you..

  25. I appreciate reading everybody’s contributions here. Some very interesting discussions!
    This is my first time feeling drawn to comment.
    I just wanted to point out that the notion of truth and non-truth for somebody else than one’s own embodiment can border on fundamentalism. Who decides what’s true and non-true? It’s all part of the whole, right?Maybe something is truth to someone in a certain phase of their life journey as an apparent someone and that might shift again at another time. “Truth” is not static. It’s all truth because it is all happening. Each of us need to trust the voice within and be guided by that- even though it might appear as non-truth to someone else.
    So it can become very tricky to label something “Truth”. There is no ultimate Truth that can be put into words. We can share from our perspective, but we need to leave the discernment to what is true and not true for each embodiment to discover on their own.

  26. Leelaji –
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts – and yes agreed -each embodiment needs to ultimately discover Truth for themselves – which is why I always tell people to listen to their own hearts throughout the journey..

    That being said, there would be no reason for spiritual teachers to exist if they were just all speaking from a ‘point of view’ and not ‘The View’ ItSelf…An awakened one speaks from ‘The View’..from the Absolute Reality – whether you believe in such things or not – as the ego has been dissolved..Those who speak from the Self without the mind’s filter — bring a certain clarity into being..This is the reason Rick asked me to post on the site – to help with discernment..

    As you know, there is a vast spiritual supermarket out there and so much confusion, that a few pointers in the direction of clarity, to possibly save people some time, I find, can be of some help..If not, you throw them away…I made good use of those pointers from some wonderful teachers when I was coming up…

    If we resonate with someone’s words or experiences for a time and then that changes..so be it..we move on – doesn’t mean that teacher hasn’t taught us something or isn’t speaking some aspect of truth –

    But when I recommend teachers here, I’m recommending those who are known as ‘final’ teachers – Vedantically speaking -who speak from the heart of the Self and whose transmission of Grace can be instrumental in taking one all the way Home – who are all the way Home …Isn’t that what we really want if we’re on this site?

    I too love the diversity of spiritual expression, but as I’ve said before, if it’s not grounded in the Self – it can lead one astray….How do we know if someone is grounded in Truth and speaking it? By having come to rest there ourselves…or at least have had a potent glimpse of it…

    As Wayne Liquorman used to say half jokingly, when asked if he could tell if someone was truly awake or not said- ‘It takes One to know One’..’although there is a secret handshake’…giggle..
    Love to you..

  27. … am in agreement that discernment has an important place. Though also noticing, on this thread, a certain vibe or point of view that seems to be saying: anything other than a Ramana-derived teaching is, at best, immature or incomplete, and at worst downright “false.”

    … which causes me to consider, say, Rumi, speaking in a Sufi tongue — or St. John of the Cross, in Christian idiom — or the brilliant writing of Dogen, from within Zen’s generous fold …. betraying my own belief that the mystics of all the great traditions (and those fiercely independent of any) have tapped into the same Source ….

    just my point of view, of course ….

  28. leelaji,
    Good points from Jill. I’d add that “Truth” with a capital T is often used in language to refer to that ineffable nothing-everything that is the principle topic of discussion in this forum. So read carefully and see which type of truth is being referred to.

    The truth of a teaching or a practice and how meaningful that is to you at any time is certainly a relative, changing element. The Truth underlying those changes is what you are.

  29. hi all,
    i’m actually on the road right now, sitting in my car. So just a quickie: Thank you Jill and Erick for your responses. I hear you both. I guess what I am trying to articulate is that at a certain point in my own “journey” after having met my true and final teacher Adyashanti 12 years ago, I also thought that other paths are less True, particularly since my own shift happened so quickly after meeting him. But when the shift occured, it also was so very clear that all the years as a seeker with other “lesser” teachers all were part of my particular unfolding to living as Truth- it couldn’t have happened any other way. All the experiences were part of my dance and were all necessary to prepare the body mind system for the final shift to occur. I am so greatful for all of it! What a delicious journey it has been! I am not sure I would have been ready for Adya in the beginning of my journey. That’s all I am saying. I feel like it’s all the play of consciousness. There is not “wasting time” anywhere, because it all unfolds perfectly! As long as we are truthful to our own hearts we can’t really go wrong.

  30. Leelaji
    Nicely put. I had a similar experience meeting a teacher who facilitated my shift. I don’t consider him my last though – now everything is a teacher. (laughs)

    Just a note though. You mention “the final shift”. I may misunderstand your meaning but it’s a point I’d like to raise as it’s important for others. There can certainly be a sense of “final” and “complete” after awakening to Self. But it’s not the end of the journey.

    Adyashanti himself talks of “head, heart and gut” and describes his 2 major shifts. His “Journey After Awakening” DVD describes the CC to UC process. But even here, unity has begun with the dissolution of the identity dividing inside and outside in the gut. (What Loch Kelly called here the BBQ) But the descent is not yet complete. It has not come to the root and into the world, in embodiment. And there is more after that.

    Self-realization is indeed a very important step. But it’s better to see it as the platform for growth than the final goal. Vasishtha himself spoke of the importance of desiring unity. It is that attention to progress that supports the unfoldment possible with the ground of Self-Realization.

  31. leelaji,
    Another Adya baby, like myself! Welcome to the Batgap online satsang.

    How does he do that? I hadn’t even met the guy – just read 2/3 of one little book then “pop!” I spoke with him a few weeks later and he was clear that there was much to do yet after the essential shift.

    We all come from various paths, mine involved decades of TM, but I definitely don’t look at the preparatory years or teachers as lesser. As you said, “All the experiences were part of my dance and were all necessary to prepare the body mind system for the final shift to occur.”

    We are growing together and on our own and it is all Lila and all Grace. That said, there is the process that we are all partaking of that involves a progressive unfoldment. We never stop growing and, though we do not know your personal experience, we know that this process continues until all boundaries fall, and then it continues further.

    “Go, Go Beyond, Go beyond the beyond. Hail the goer.”

    Stick around. This is a great place to hang out.

  32. Greeting all and leelaji,
    I have been following Adya Shanti on ly a relatively short while but find myself returning to his satsang sessions on Utube for the great clarity they provide. I must say that with all the coming and goings of the seeker, it is finally time to join the non-movement of “occupy nowhere’ There is indeed a shorter route to India. Therefore I say Hail to the non- goers Stay here, Stay here! Bodhi Svaha!

  33. Thanks Bob, Rick. Really enjoyed the interview.
    I particularly laughed at the comments about nudging on dharma. I’ve been getting the ‘not quite have it’ signals in that for awhile. Feel like a slow learner there. (laughs)

    Dunno if you’re aware of it Bob but Maharishi talked a couple of times about Unity being in 10 stages, mapping them broadly to the 10 mandalas of the Rk Ved. (Prakriti, the 8 prakritis, and Purusha/Brahman.)

    I also agree it’s really useful to illustrate the wide range of ways this unfolds for people. There is that tendency to think that it’s supposed to unfold a certain way and if it doesn’t there’s something wrong. And of course, it never matches our concepts of it.

  34. Michael,

    It’s a process…Bob describes many details of that in his own transformations.

    What remains of the conditioned personality after realization is a matter that was discussed in the Neelam interview just posted. She called it a sort of momentum that continues for some time after awakening. Check the Neelam discussion thread – I think there will be more on that subject coming today.

    Thus in the stages of awakening, there will be either more or less influence from the conditioned (individual) mind or from the universal Self. Surrender is the direction of that growth – surrender to the infinite – and the individual will aligns with the universal.

    So the awakened teacher may have a will for the student to awaken, but it is the universal will that the individual teacher is expressing.

    As far as losing desire goes, that’s a little trickier to express. There is a peace and satisfaction with everything, as it is, whether the student is enlightened or not, but there is a deep compassion that comes with unity, a natural loving of everything and everyone, that can lead to actions to help others.

    Basically though, there is motivation to act even without desires. Call it momentum of karma or doing God’s work on earth…the body continues to act but always more for the universal than for any individual need.

  35. Rick, Robert, very much enjoyed this conversation. So many things echo the drum I’ve been beating since the shift I went through. At some point, you’re free and you know it…but Life makes it abundantly clear that there is still work to do.

    I still believe in a level of awakening where there is a deep and abiding satisfaction on the level of mind. The great masters all seem to agree on this quality of higher “attainment”. So, I think there is much to look forward to.

    All the best, BW

  36. Michael,
    You sound very dear to me..I love what you said about appreciating others’ gifts and talents..that’s certainly a large part of compassion..

    I want to say that when an awakened soul is giving, it isn’t even thought of as help or compassion…It’s just a natural outgrowth of not being so self-concerned…and there is no expectation of return..cause there’s nothing that needs to be fed on the giving end..

    There is a profound realization as well that there is no OTHER..all the same Self in disguise – so in a way, to give is to be Selfish..

    At our core – we ARE compassion – we ARE Love – we ARE Joy -so we are naturally giving in our natural state..not something that can be learned or practiced…We just have to step out of the way – let the self-serving ego burn itself out – and allow the Self to shine through…

    Nature is a beautiful spiritual teacher – it was for Ramana -he found Grace there – but many I know, including myself, needed an up close and personal enlightened human form to be with to allow the totality of Brahman to be seen and felt.. Whether that feels right to do for anyone, depends on each nature..

    Neelam’s profound question for all seekers to ask themselves before they give up the search, is simple – Am I suffering or Am I at peace..If we’re at peace, we don’t need to do anything or see anyone or practice anything – we can just sit on the mountain and enjoy the fruits – or come down and support others -.

    But if we’re not at peace – and here’s where ruthless self-honesty comes in, we should continue to pursue Truth or God or Self, with as much passion as we can muster – even if it feels like a dry desert inside at times …even if we think we’ve exhausted every avenue and don’t think there’s anything left to pursue…cause we just don’t know what’s around the corner..so it makes sense that we stay open…

    That being said, there is often a time that people just need to get off the merry-go-round – and stop everything…just need to be still – take a break from the search – and see what happens..

    I have found that once we are ready to surrender – all the way in – with no resistance – and the heart is ignited, the desert turns into an oasis – and LIFE becomes what it was meant to be – a joyous and loving gift that we lovingly give back to the Creator and his Creation…

    Sending love to you…

  37. A quote that came today thats related to the discussion:

    “Brahman is the world, meaning the form of a rock, the sky, your body, a thought. The deeper realization of this is like springtime. Life returns. Literally, the world of form also awakens. What is observed is of the same nature as what is observing.” ~ Adyashanti

  38. And at the very bottom of that same email from Adya –

    “In the end it’s all very simple. Either we give ourselves to Silence or we don’t.” ~ Adyashanti


  39. Hi Snow
    A nice sentiment but that’s not always true of Self Realization, as this interviewee illustrated. Until the bliss aspect kicks in, it can be pretty dry. As Adyashanti describes it, the open space creates an opportunity for everything unresolved to rush in to be seen.

    Further, a lot of the dualistic questions are not resolved until unity. For me, for example, arose the question of who’s doing. The body is continuing to act and some of that is the momentum of karma as Neelam describes, but theres some other hands at work.

    Many desires do end but preferences still remain and when the divine moves through form, watch out! Fire of God at work! (laughs)

    Choice is another interesting one. What happens when you are that which determines? When choice and determinism are the same thing?

  40. Hi Snow
    I thought perhaps so. But I wanted to clarify given the wider audience.
    And there is the stage past Self realizing all the aspects of Self, where the Self aware dynamic collapses and there is simply Brahman, Tao. Beyond divine mind, we could say.

    Most curiously, Brahman is the home of Smriti, the eternal memory of That that gives rise to creation…

  41. Michael – It’s perhaps useful to recognize we’re in profound times of transition. While this means great opportunities for opening, it also means what remains coming up and making noise. For some, this has been going on for some time and can get frustrating. It can be a good time for self-care, for taking a break, for a little nature.

    Let the spiritual path take care of itself. In fact, let life take care of itself.

    Perhaps you’d enjoy this message. It’s for post-shift and a change in approach.
    (the URL in the video is out of date)

  42. Beautifully said Snow and David – really felt your hearts..you’ve said it all –

    Just want to add to Michael that sometimes before we’re about to breakthrough is the time of greatest resistance..usually there’s a pullback while the system is deciding – do I deserve this – a little war goes on inside..Pamela Wilson used to say – ‘it’s not pain that we fear most, but bliss’..’suffering is familiar, bliss is not’.

    Also, we don’t want to set ourselves up by thinking there is so much conditioning that we’re hopeless to know ourselves in this lifetime..thoughts have power, and I can tell you that many have come to discover that there isn’t as much overlaying Reality as we might think..Papaji once said, that although it doesn’t feel like it, we can be just a ‘thought’ or a ‘doubt’ away from Reality..

    So keep the faith and if you do feel up sometime for being in the Silence of satsang on a consistent basis to work out some kinks, and don’t have one in your area, I recommend that you check out Neelam’s phone courses..just as potent as in person…I find that having a firm basis in inner Truth can only enhance the outer life – not an either/or decision..

    Keep the faith..

  43. Sometimes, if we’re feeling oppressed, we’re feeling a visit from Saturn, the destroyer of illusions. The removal of stories getting in the way of reality is a good thing. But if we’re attached to them or believe our stories about ourselves too much, it can be a bumpier dissolution.

    The advice given by all is good in such circumstance. Lighten up is always good…

  44. (laughs) The irony of it all is that, though people may experience a kind of “ego death”, the ego doesn’t really die. It just looses it’s grip. The person remains and is necessary for life to continue.

    The ego does everything it can to avoid being seen, fearing the fear. I even caught it using the memory of experiences to pretend to be Self. But all that drama is just distraction. In the end, it is not the me that ways up. It is Self that awakens to itself. When the time comes, it just happens. Walking down the street, in meditation, in the middle of a conversation. It happens, kicking and screaming or not. 😉

    The ego never was really in charge so it doesn’t control awakening either. And that’s a good thing or we’d never find the way out…

  45. BTW – thats why people often wake around others awake. The resonance enlivens the Self “nearby”. When it’s ripe, Pop goes the construct.

  46. Hi Michael
    This is rather my main point. It sounds by your description you had what Adyashanti calls a non-abiding awakening. A big taste but not quite the shift. Very close though. For me, somewhat similarly, I had what some would call Self Realization (but not Neelam) with an abiding witness and I realized I was the Self. That shift was permanent. But the identification did not yet shift from the ego to the Self so it wasn’t a true awakening, which I knew. Later I had the actual awakening into what is called Cosmic con.(CC) by Rick and such, then the GC shift, the unity shift (the one Neelam described happening to her she apparently calls Self Realization), and so forth. Adyashanti calls this head, heart and gut. There can be a number of secondary stages as well.

    In interviews like Gangaji, she avoids concepts of stages but describes these same three stages. A person having an initial waking (abiding or not) can have the impression this is the same Self Realization Neelam is talking about. But it’s not. They are quite literally worlds apart. (2 big ones to be exact) This is why I harp about having the larger context. Its important.

    It’s not uncommon for someone to have an initial waking, loose the ego, feel complete, and think they’re done. That thought can get in the way of further progress. Sat chit ananda is frickin fantastic. But it is the fullness or embodiment of Self realization/CC. It is not the fullness of enlightenment. There is so so much more.

    What of the personal relationship with God/the divine? What of the direct perception of the whole play of being? What of seeing your own source and the entire process of becoming? What of the unfolding of your divine gifts? What of seeing life itself in all life around you? What of having a personal relationship with nature? I could go on and on. (I once made a list of 108 reasons to continue)

    Thoughts are not the issue. They continue. It is attachment to and believing in thoughts that are the trouble. You experienced being “immune’ to them – that’s it.

    Self actualization is a term developed by Maslow. It refers to a fulfilled individual, the triumph of the person. Before it all falls apart when we recognize there’s much more & the seeker arises. (laughs) Self Realization is the recognition and becoming of the eternal Self within, the Sat chit. This term is equated to CC by some and Unity by others.

  47. Hi Michael
    Yes, all of the experiences of God and nature and everything must be let go of for the shifts. But then they come back again in the new context. We see them anew.

    The profundity of a personal relationship with God and nature flowers into a union with them. Where once you might have a conversation with a crow or elemental, as you and they are now one, you can experience a taste of their life. (but from your perspective, not theirs)

    With refinement, every touch is to touch life itself. With unity, every touch is both touching and being touched for you are one with the object.

    Being/source is the key and should be the focus. It is only through the shifts in being that these things can fully unfold. From that platform, our limits in the play fall away. We are here to embody being in form, not in a cave somewhere. To join the chorus of angels in celebrating the magnificence of life.

    Maybe that sounds like too much. But it is the tiniest sliver of what awakening can bring. Capture the fort and the gold mines and diamond mines are yours…

  48. ‘The greater Form that thou hast seen is only for the rare highest souls. The gods themselves ever desire to look upon it. Nor can I be seen as thou hast seen Me by Veda, or austerities or gifts or sacrifices; it can be seen, known, entered into only by that bhakti which regards, adores and loves Me alone in all things.’
    Bhagavad Gita (XI, 52-54)

  49. “Our explanation of the evolution in Matter is that the universe is a self-creative process of a supreme Reality whose presence makes spirit the substance of things,–all things are there as the spirit’s powers and means and forms of manifestation. An infinite existence, an infinite consciousness, an infinite force and will, an infinite delight of being is the Reality secret behind the appearances of the universe; its divine Supermind or Gnosis has arranged the cosmic order, but arranged it indirectly through the three subordinate and limiting terms of which we are conscious here, Mind, Life and Matter. The material universe is the lowest stage of a downward plunge of the manifestation, an involution of the manifested being of this triune Reality into an apprent nescience of itself, that which we now call the Inconscient; but out of this nescience the evolution of that manifested being into a recovered self-awareness was from the very first inevitable. It was inevitable because that which is involved must evolve; for it is not only there as an existence, a force hidden in its apparent opposite, and every such force must in its inmost nature be moved to find itself, to realise itself, to release itself into play, but it is the reality of that which conceals it, it is the self which the Nescience has lost and which therefore it must be the whole secret meaning, the constant drift of its action to seek for and recover. It is through the conscious individual being that this recovery is possible; it is in him that the evolving consciousness becomes organised and capable of awaking to its own Reality. The immense importance of the individual being, which increases as he rises in the scale, is the most remarkable and significant fact of a universe which started without consciousness and without individuality in an undifferentiated Nescience. This importance can only be justified if the Self as individual is no less real than the Self as cosmic Being or Spirit and both are powers of the Eternal. It is only so that can be explained the necessity for the growth of the individual and his discovery of himself as a condition for the discovery of the cosmic Self and Consciousness and of the supreme Reality. If we adopt this solution, this is the first result, the reality of the persistent individual; but from that first consequence the other result follows, that rebirth of some kind is no longer a possible machinery which may or may not be accepted, it becomes a necessity, an inevitable outcome of the root nature of our existence.”

    Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 20, The Philosophy of Rebirth

  50. “The human species is an evolving collective entity. At present, civilisation as a whole is experiencing the pain of realising its limitations and insufficiencies and of knowing that as a race its actual constitution cannot permit a higher experience to come. To reach a wider and deeper collective experience, a new, more refined, more enhanced instrument is demanded. The turmoil of humanity at present is due largely to the fact that pressure is being applied on all quarters of Earth existence to compel the emergence of higher faculties so that a new way can manifest. Some details of this evolutionary process are given in Indian Scriptures. For example, in the Puranas we find mention of ‘the Nine Creations’. The final stages, the 7th, 8th and 9th, refer to the mental, the overmental and the supramental creations, respectively. Mental man is not the ultimate and highest but is merely a transitional creature. The evolutionary process, governed by the play of the tattwas and the gunas, is the mechanism to evolve a higher species. And one of the principal characteristics of this newly-emerging creation, superior to the present mental being, is a capacity to experience the indivisibility of God, – a consciousness, hence, of true unity. For this the being of the human experiencer must be fortified in such a way that it can withstand the impact of seeing the Time-Spirit working in the worlds, via the action of creation, preservation and destruction or dissolution, with an equanimity of being that arises from the knowledge of the Core-Purpose at the heart of material creation.

    The Golden Seed contains this central truth. Our direct link with the Transcendent lies in this Seed, in the heart of ourselves and in the heart of our material universe. Thus to know that Purpose – the only real road to survival and salvation for the human species – one must plunge into the heart of matter and not away from it and into the Beyond. Since Time is inextricably linked with matter and material reality and cannot be seperated from the spatial, cosmic dimension, it becomes evident that to discover this truth and to embark upon this entirely new direction in our quest, we must realise God as presented to Arjuna in the supreme Vision he was granted of the Time-Spirit…”
    Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet

  51. Hi Uli
    Interesting quotes. Patrizia’s golden seed is called hiranya garbha in the Vedas, the golden egg or seed. The first word relates to the heart.

    The “heart of matter” is within as much as without as there is no division. We can go to infinity within or infinity without – both will take us to the same place. Within is easier. But she’s right that going into the Beyond is not enough. We want to bring it into the world.

  52. HI David,
    my point is that there are many signs of a shift in spirituality: a “novum” is emerging…
    …truly, a “novum” is emerging… ..

    “May the whole Earth come to realise the one goal, and to understand that no matter how contradictory the appearances may be, each of us is here for the realisation of the One Goal: to help the Earth to realise herself, though her ways are many and appear each one to offer a resistance to the other.Yet this resistance is merely to create the conditions needed for the realisation, the all-embracing Realisation. …. …But let us truly move forward to the New: let us not call the Old the New. Let the New come forth in spite of ourselves….”



  53. “I want to be certain this is clear: you possess a unique living radio that links you to a universe-city of teachers older than our models of the physical universe. On our world, we’re taught to trade direct experiential access to this for dolls, cages, labels, slavery, ‘prices’, silencing, torture, war, rape, confusion, and general mean-making.

    As of now, we can learn something different together, for each other. It’s easy, and children learn better than experts.

    We won’t be doing this for the sake of dogmas, authors, tyrants, ‘security’, rulers, cash, props, books, ‘religions’ or dolls.

    For a change, we’ll be doing it for each other…”

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