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This is an old edition of this page from December, 1999.
The current Publisher's Page is here.

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What's the Agenda?

A new website spreads its electronic wings and takes off. Where's it headed?

By MARILYN COOTSIS

 

December 27, 1999 -- A Farther Shore is Available

A number of readers with ongoing kundalini activity have written to us recommending a book called A Farther Shore: How Near-Death and Other Extraordinary Experiences Can Change Ordinary Lives by Yvonne Kason and Teri Degler. It's out of print, but we just learned that Barnes and Noble is selling the hardcover edition at liquidation prices (62 percent off). Order it here.


December 18, 1999

Many thanks to Sundeep Baldota for publishing links to Jinendra Swami's poem Pilgrimage to Self on his Yahoo club website, EnlightenedOnesInIndia. That's where we first heard about it.We like it so much we've reproduced it here.


December 17, 1999

Big search engines have been probing our website all week. It feels like burglars are invading our house, opening all the drawers, and reading our personal mail, but then again, I guess that's the idea.

People told me it could take as long as two months before we showed up on search engines, but GoTo.com started listing us a couple of days after we applied. Let the record show that Goto found us fastest.


December 13, 1999

Our first flurry of hits came in today after Jerry M. Katz announced us on the Nonduality Salon's mail list. Thanks Jerry. :)


December 12, 1999

I guess today is our birthday because our domain name just went out over the web. Now you can get here by typing "Realization.org" instead of "165.121.130.154." Maybe I'm prejudiced against numbers, but it looks like an improvement to me.

To celebrate, I just paid a company to register us with 1500 search engines. As my grandma used to say, what good is a website if nobody can find it?


December 9, 1999

Oh dear. This poor little baby website isn't even an hour old yet, and already its stern momma -- that's me -- has assigned three bone-crushing tasks to it.

First off, this site is going to remind people that the purpose of meditation is enlightenment. It will tell them that if they want to meditate to relax or reduce wrinkles or improve their tennis, that's fine and dandy, but they might as well do it in a way that brings them closer to the ultimate prize.

Second, this website will remind people who want enlightenment that they have to meditate or surrender or do something to make it happen. (Sorry, spending money on videotapes does not count as "doing something to make it happen.")

Third, this website will help rationalize and universalize techniques for getting enlightened.

This third point is probably unclear, so let me explain. Almost every important discovery of humankind has spread throughout the entire world. The phonetic alphabet, for instance, was invented in or near Phoenicia, but today it's used everywhere. (All right, the Japanese are holding out, but you get the idea.) Iron smelting was invented in Turkey, the zero in Babylonia, gunpowder in China, vaccination in England, Big Macs in the United States. Today they are worldwide. This is what I mean by "universalized."

Now for the other word, rationalization. That's what happens when we apply modern science to ancient technologies. Here's an example.

Aspirin is very old. Closely related chemicals are found in willow bark, birch bark, wintergreen, and dropwort. Effective medicines were made from these plants for thousands of years. We don't know exactly how this was done, since most of the people who used these plants left no records, but they probably followed a recipe like this one for a medieval English salve:

[Place] the concoction beneath an altar, [sing] nine masses over it, [boil] it in butter and mutton fat, [throw] the remainder into running water and finally [smear] the product over the patient's feet, head and eyes.1

In the 1800s, German chemists decided to improve the excellent old medicines made from willow bark. First they extracted the active ingredient and named it "salicin." Then they realized they could omit the altar from the recipe without reducing the drug's efficacy. It turned out the prayers could be safely omitted as well. Finally they synthesized a better version, one that dissolves in water, is cheap to manufacture, and doesn't irritate the stomach. They called it Aspirin (capitalized because it was a trademark of a particular company).

That's rationalization. Scientists took something excellent and made it even more excellent.

So far as I know, every great invention of humankind has been universalized and rationalized except for one: yoga, the technology of enlightenment. (I'm using the word "yoga" in a very general sense.)

By the end of the eleventh century it had spread from India to the rest of Asia, so it's partly universalized, but it never got rationalized. And half the globe is still waiting for it.

Let me stop a minute and make clear that I'm not criticizing traditional methods. I think they are wonderful. Like I just said, yoga is one of the greatest inventions in history. It's belongs on the list of absolute all-time greats along with fire-making and language and vaccination.

Let me also make clear that I'm not saying the traditions need to be Westernized. This isn't about East and West. It's about antiquity and modernity.

In fact, it seems to me that Easterners are doing more than Westerners to rationalize the old enlightenment traditions. For example, look at the scientific research being done or promoted by Vivekananda Kenda Yoga Research Center and Maharishi University of Management. If anything similar is being done by Westerners, I'd love to hear about it. (Maharishi University is in the United States, but it was founded by an Indian.)

What would it mean to rationalize these wonderful old technolgies? In this interview from Enlightenment.com, Dr. Charles T. Tart suggests one place to start:

One of my dreams -- that I don't know if I'll ever see this in my lifetime -- is that we just take the next 100,000 people who go into various spiritual paths, test the hell out of them -- every psychological test that we've got -- we've got to use them all because we don't really know which ones are really most relevant, and we'll check on them every five years. Then maybe some day you would come to me with a question like that and I could say, "take these tests," and after I've scored them I could say, "look, from purely empirical knowledge, whatever you do don't do Zen. Your type has a 30% chance of psychosis with Zen. But Sufi dancing, 0% chance of psychosis, although a strong chance of not much satisfaction." I'd love to be able to give that differential kind of advice, and I hope some day we do the research that will do it. But we're a long way from that now, unfortunately, so you find a path that has heart, check your own motivation, and try to learn from it.

How can a penniless baby website like this one contribute to such an ambitious project? One way is to make observations, the foundation of science. In other words, we can print articles that meticulously describe experiences of meditators and enlightened people. Our featured article this month, "The Day My Kundalini Woke Up", is the first one of this type. We plan to publish more in the future.

Let us know what you think at letters@realization.org.

Cheers,

Marilyn

P.S. Would you like to write an article for us? We're looking for contributors. Please take a look at our submission guidelines, then send queries and articles to editor@realization.org.


1. Quoted from here on the website of Drugstore News published by Lebhar-Friedman, Inc.

 

This is a tapeworm in a horse’s gut. Pretty, isn't it? Guess what it’s eating. Reminds me of the quotation, “This body is nothing but a mass of flesh, bone, and all sorts of filth,” from Sri Swami Sivananda's book How to Get Vairagya.
Photo by James E. Hayden, RBP. Copyright 1999 Nikon, Inc. Used by permission.

 



 

New World Record Set for Brahmacharya*

From the New York Times, November 23, 1999, “Wine May Be Vintage, but the Grapes Are Ordinaire”:

Though wild grapes come in male and female forms that breed sexually, those in vineyards are usually propagated by hand from rootstock, so that in principle each new vine is a clone, meaning it is genetically identical to its parent. Over the centuries, however, mutations of various sorts have accumulated, creating genetic differences between clones that are very slight but still of interest to growers. Types believed to be very ancient, like pinot, have not had sex for some 2,000 years, yet varieties of pinot exist, their genetic variation presumably caused just by mutation.


*Brahmacharya means “celibacy” in Sanskrit, the language of classical yoga books.

 

This page was published on December 9, 1999 and last revised February 25, 2000.

 
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