Monday, September 27, 2010

Reporting In

Sunken Spoon
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
You took the part that once was my heart
So why not take all of me
…Willie Nelson sings it fine

September 10 - 17th I went up to the Omega Institute for a 7 day silent retreat with Adyashanti.
This is something of a report back.

Last night a friend asked if there was anything I needed to talk about regarding the retreat. No, not really. I didn’t have any particular tale to tell. Except, we were having dinner and conversation is nice. So we talked and maybe it’d be nice to share some of that discussion (or a completely different one) here.

The retreat did cause some shifts in perspective. It’s made me pull out my old copy of Collision with the Infinite by Suzanne Segal, a TM-teacher and contemporary, who had an abrupt shift to no-self and struggled mightily for the next 12 years. I’m concluding, now, that Maharishi prepared us for enlightenment with teachings that haven’t serve our minds that well. And criticism here is not directed at MMY so much as one’s mind and just what minds do. Minds form preconceptions and misconceptions and sometimes perform out right deceptions.

To be specific: Maharishi taught that Cosmic Consciousness was the first stage of enlightenment. Here, the Self is realized as infinite and separate from activity – and Suzanne and I both expected that to mean we would be filled with joy. I had to dig deeply in my notes to find Maharishi actually said, this wasn’t the end of an ego. He did say a mind that doesn’t understand can rob you of living the full benefit of the enlightened state.

I expected that in Cosmic Consciousness I’d be a “better person”…if not incredible.
Now, I am sure it doesn’t play out that way. Seems like, waking up is where the real work starts.
To another friend, wanting to know about Retreat, I was trying to explain that now it seems to me that “teachings” provide a treasure map with the landmarks of awakening all drawn out. What the teachers don’t explain is that these guideposts can appear in any order along the path and with differing degrees of intensity so that some aren’t even recognized for what they are.
“Oh! I would have described it this way…”
Segal was terrified that no-self meant insanity.

Retreat has got me thinking that what I thought of as “really intense witnessing” actually is my version of “no-self.”
It took really hearing Adya say “no-self means Life no longer has a center” for it to click inside my brain. Oh, God, that’s what happened that time at work! The boss wanted to discuss experiments at the white board and I was in shear panic inside, the mind screaming, “How can we do that?”
Memory holds the starkness of the vision of the room and now I notice it looked that way because the distance between witness and world had expanded to such a degree that the witness had finally snapped off.
“I” was missing. So who was going to talk genetics with George?

It’s terrifying. And Suzanne describes it well. Her descriptions coupled to the echo of what Adya said, “Life no longer has a center,” seems to let understanding in more deeply.
(And, for the record, the science went just fine. I even presented good ideas.)

But, such witnessing is an extreme event.
So, I finally asked Adya the question that’s been bothering me for years.
It went something like this:
“I am afraid I have become stuck in witnessing. I look out through my eyes and nothing appears really Real. There is always separation.”
I know – this is not a question. It is a complaint and plea.
Adya said he couldn’t tell me how to do it. I’d have to intuit it for myself. But, I needed to witness from my heart. Not my head.

Ah, the heart… I knew that. Maharishi had explained that.
But, I’ve no idea how it is my head witnesses. It just does. So, how to do this from the heart is beyond my comprehension.
I know my heart needs to open, to be totally unguarded.
It was breaking as I spoke of the constant separation.
Adya spoke of those statues where Jesus exposes this flaming heart…

And I have to smile. I have a friend who’ll bring me one from Mexico where they make them beautifully from tin.
I think of Dorothy and her Tin Man… whose heart was fine all along.

Suzanne Segal’s story beautifully illustrates how the conditioned mind can throw a fit, kicking up so much dust you miss what you’ve been blessed with. I have had so many doubts.
But, mind can only protest as Life Unfolds in its own way.
Segal was plunged rawly into no-self. I am slipping slowly.
I am left Witnessing - dancing on the Void – my little self having received the news of its non-existence refuses to accept the denouement.

OK. Whatever. Go ahead and dance.
Which is where Willie Nelson came in this morning singing:
All of me, why not take all of me…
And I danced for Bennie, all around the kitchen, singing to myself softly…
Why not take all of me…