Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Three Levels of Enlightenment

Originally uploaded by Flipped Out.
I was telling a friend that I’d spent the last week debating whether the fresh hand towel I’d set out in the bathroom might actually be a bathmat. She suggested checking the linen closet. If there were no others like it, then it was a bathmat.

This solution had never crossed my mind. I probably rejected it because the thought of rummaging through linen seemed an incredible busy-ness that begged the point: I wanted the “thing” itself to reveal its true name and function right to me. I didn’t want to turn away, go down the hall, and investigate the contents of some closet. So instead, day after day each time I dried my hands I’d wonder and be a bit irritated by the “thickness” (of the cloth, not my own.)

So, given that I can’t even tell the difference between a hand towel and a bathmat, I find it totally absurd that I now want to discuss distinctions in the degree and depth of enlightenment. And I suggest you ask yourself before proceeding, “Why am I reading this woman?”

Perhaps it’s Adyashanti quote about “head, heart and gut” that you appreciate. It’s interesting in itself and is a marvelous lead into what I started to discuss back in July (see the entries of the 10th and 6th). I never finished that train of thought, so let me take it up again.

Getting it with the head…
means using the intellect to discriminate between what is Self and non-Self. Maharishi called the process “the separation of Self from activity.” We no longer identify our Self with all our daily roles, functions, history or future hopes. I am no longer a molecular geneticist. Nor am I a seeker. I simply AM.

This realization, and even steps towards this enlightened awareness, gives rise to a duality, thus creating a gap between Self and non-Self (all material creation including thoughts). Back in July I was trying to explain how this process results in the experience of “witnessing” and may be based upon the neurophysiology that also causes depersonalization and/or de-realization. According to Maharishi, this depth of enlightenment is accomplished by the finest discriminatory powers of the buddhi intellect functioning at the finest level of the mind. He called the state Cosmic Consciousness or CC for short. (Hate the name, love the state. Use the abbreviation. But anyway…)

Most people don’t like CC very much. TMers complained of a flatness. The Gap itself is a somewhat disconcerting experience: like trying to engage life while looking at it through the wrong end of binoculars. You are no longer part of or mixed up in the world. And that is uncomfortable. Or as Adyashanti points out, “your being won’t be dancing.” No. It can feel like nothing really matters, for Reality has been drained from all you see. The world in essence seems to be no more real than a movie projected upon a screen- yet in this instance, somehow you can walk through the projection while the screen is a Silent Ocean of Nothingness.

It seems to me now, that the degree to which one experiences the Gap and the lack of “dancing” depends upon the type of meditation one does as cultivation. Some paths simply make it more or less obvious. Some paths can cultivate heart as they simultaneously cultivate the mind and thus the Gap won’t be so flat and lifeless. Eckhart Tolle speaks of cultivating presence and becoming a witness. This is his version of the Gap. It too creates separation between Self and non-Self as the pain body is dissolved and the ego dies. And as ego lets go, it seems like we are freer to love and so dance in ways that may surprise us.

Getting it with the heart…
allows enlightenment to be embodied at a deeper level as the heart “accomplishes the impossible.” The intellect has dissected pulled you out of what you thought you were. And the heart cannot bear the separation. Maharishi taught that a stress-free body (achieved in CC) can now support the physiology necessary for “celestial vision.”

While the intellect dove within and discovers Self (“I am That”), celestial vision takes sensory perception to the finest level of material Creation to discover “Thou art That.” One begins to see more deeply into the world and other people. You begin to see the true goodness and beauty of Life. You begin to understand in terms of what God has done. What develops is a state of consciousness so qualitatively different from Cosmic Consciousness that Maharishi called it a distinct state of consciousness: “God Consciousness.” Or, as Adyashanti describes it, “your being starts to dance.”

That dancing is due to Love, to joy. Upon the Silence, that screen upon which the non-real world has been projected the impossible is happening. That which was totally non-Real is now totally alive. It lives and breathes and is dancing and that is simply joyous. And so impossible and yet right there, it is absurd joy beyond words. Laughter rolls across the Silence and you are immersed in an Ocean of Love.

“Enlightenment: if you don’t want it, you don’t get it.”
What you don’t get is that this part of the path is “Love.” More love and beauty and joy than you thought possible.

I turn the car radio up every time that Elton John’s Crocodile Rock comes on. Because once (a long time ago and I do not want to ever forget) - once it was my direct perception that this song came directly from God. Now, isn’t that absurd? Handel’s Messiah, yes. But, Crocodile Rock? So, these days I listen carefully, and wish I knew more about music. Is it a “modulation” or how that note “resolves” itself? Is that where the Divine came through? I do not know. But, I do know that it is possible, and I hope that I never sell myself or the vision out.

Getting it with the gut…
is the only enlightenment that satisfies a non-dualist. What does this mean? In CC there is a duality of two infinities: Self and non-Self. And in God Consciousness, there is still the duality of self and God. That’s what Maharishi would say.

To Adyashanti there is both a personal and non-personal enlightenment:

“Personal enlightenment is an exclusive transcendence, in that it excludes the world of space and time. It arrives at eternity by a transcendent exclusion of the relative world… Non-personal enlightenment is an inclusive transcendence; it sees that the world of space and time is the expression of eternity. Thus, it is truly a non-dual perspective.

The implications of personal enlightenment are profound, but the implications of non-personal enlightenment are earth shattering in the most positive sense.”

Non-dualists don’t want you to stop at CC. They don’t even want you to stop at God Consciousness. They want you to get to Unity, a non-dual awareness. Maharishi said there was no technique for this. It simply takes time and getting use to living in an enlightened state. I imagine it might be something like homophobia in the gut simply diminishing with time. Time allows one to adjust to the strangeness and mind boggling nature of the new Reality. Eckhart Tolle sat on a park bench for two years before he began to “function.” It’s only then after one adjust Maharishi says, “Either I drop off or Gods drops off. Out of respect we say, I drop off.”

Adyashanti takes a more direct approach. There is no waiting around, there is simply “stopping.” This differs from a progressive path involving time and enlightenment down the road.

"Readiness is the key to awakening. Anyone can have a glimpse of awakening, but only those who are ready for it will remain awake. Readiness means that we are no longer addicted to attachment, desire, and aversion. It means that we are truly willing to perceive and live from a completely new paradigm. It means that the truth is more important than anything else in life."

I find it very interesting that his students speak of confronting “fear.” Isn’t that just the gut’s specialty! It’s also interesting that 90% of the serotonin receptors reside in the gut and that serotonin is the hormone and neurotransmitter that the scientific literature currently correlates with “self transcendence.” And finally, isn’t it interesting that Maharishi describes soma, the traditional material that gives celestial vision, as the finest product produced by digestion.

And that boys and girls, is hardly the rest of the story, but where I am going to stop today.

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