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Our email address is editor @realization.org.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org.



Letters to the Editor


No, Mrs. Murphy

February 27, 2000 8:12 PM

The ranting letter you published from Fibonacci8 has it exactly backwards. It says that admirers of Adi Da, Chogyam Trungpa, and Swami Muktananda ignore the fact that these three individuals sometimes behaved in disturbing ways.

No, we don't ignore that fact. We're aware of it. But we're also aware that Adi Da, Chogyam Trungpa, and Swami Muktanada helped many people attain understanding, happiness, and deep levels of peace.

Fibonacci8 accuses us of having blind spots, but in fact we see the whole picture, and he or she sees only part of it.

Paul Hochfelder

Yes, Mrs. Murphy

February 26, 2000 1:38 AM

Lately I've been thinking how screwed up the whole new age philosophy is. Its philosophers like Ken Wilber don't see any problem with their belief system when an "enlightened" spiritual teacher is deranged and abusive. Wilber thinks Adi Da's books are great spiritual works of deep insight into life. He gives no thought to the possibility that Da's teachings might be just a bunch of fanciful nonsense. Teachings and books like that are totally out of contact with ethics and human decency, and Wilber just doesn't get it.

Wilber is not by any means alone in his view. The highly estimable Jack Kornfield dedicated his most recent book A Path with Heart to various people including Chogyam Trungpa, the Muktananda of Buddhism. Trungpa was notoriously abusive and behaved in particularly disturbing ways when he got drunk. Of course he wrote some "deeply insightful books" or what not.

What's wrong with these people like Wilber and Kornfield? Something is amiss. Their common sense goes AWOL in the presence of a person with charisma and a knack for expressing himself. They develop a huge blind spot. They can't seem to see the glaring failure of their whole spiritual philosophy. Why? They must get something out of the new age trip that they badly need. What is it?

I think they need some way of justifying their grandiosity and egotism. What better way to feel grand and important than to play the role of leaders and heralds of a new spiritual age. It's their ticket to greatness. Self-doubt vanishes in the glory of the role, as self-promotion is elevated to the status of spiritual truth. The whole trip is a bunch of self-serving egotism in disguise. Egotism, lust for power, lust for fame, lust for approval, all disguised as truth and service to mankind.

These guys are all variations on the same theme. Muktananda and Trungpa at one end of the spectrum, and Kornfield at the other.

But the whole spectrum exists in a zone of experience-worship, where inner experience is believed to constitute that which is good. Not only "good," but the source of Truth as well. That's why a guy like Wilber can endorse Adi Da's books and sincerely believe that Da is enlightened. As if inner spiritual experience trumps all other things in life. Nonsense!

It's just experience worship. It's just a glorified version of drug taking, all dressed up in the language of western psychology and eastern philosophy. You take some drugs and have some great experiences. You feel like you have seen the truth, and you feel this truth is absolute -- it can't be falsified by anyone or anything. You conclude that this drug experience is what is good and what is true. And you tell people that to have these drug experiences periodically and then to live basking in their glow afterwards is enlightenment, and the goal of life.

That's what these guys like Wilber are saying. They just do it without drugs.

All the self-serving new age beliefs and theories stem from a fundamental confusion of far-out experiences (or subtle silent ones) with that which is good in life. Once that confusion is elevated to the status of great wisdom, the inevitable next step is self-promotion. Then you get the nauseating parade of spiritual teachers with their disguised egotism, their disguised lust for power, and their disguised need for the approval and acclaim. It's all BS.

Not just Muktananda and the princess, but all of them.

Do you remember the Firesign Theater from the early 1970s? A group of four wackos who did drug-oriented comedy. They were very funny sometimes. They did a routine where a lady named Mrs. Murphy was a contestant on a TV game show. After she won a bunch of money the slick game show announcer offers her the chance to trade all her money for what's behind door number two. Mrs. Murphy goes for it and is handed a bag. She opens it up and exclaims, "Why this is nothing but a bag of TOS!" The slick announcer enthusiastically replies, "Yes Mrs. Murphy, but it's really good TOS!"

Well, there you have it. Ken Wilber, "The Pope of New Age Obfuscation." Jack Kornfield & Co. Really good TOS.



Kundalini: A Great Journey

February 24, 2000 1:09 AM

You have a beautiful website and it has much potential for reaching people who want to understand their spiritual processes and the deeper meaning of them.

I am writing because your site was referred to me by a client who was very alarmed by some of the comments in Glenn Morris's article, Partial Kundalini Awakening: No Such Thing.

I am a researcher, psychotherapist and the author of Energies of Transformation: A Guide to the Kundalini Process. I have worked with hundreds of people over the past 15 years who I believe were in a kundalini process. It is a great challenge to help people tolerate the non-ordinary experiences they have as a consequence of spiritual awakening when they are told that this is dangerous and they could go insane (a common perspective of medical people who have no paradigm for this experience, and of some meditation or martial art teachers who have no knowledge of psychology and very little of the mystical elements of kundalini awakening).

Kundalini has been known in every culture for thousands of years and if you read the lives of mystics it is easy to recognize. It is an innate potentiality for each of us.The confusion, pain that may (but does not always) arise, visions, inner sounds, energy and heat rushes, and flushing up of old psychological issues -- are not insanity! They are a process that is trying to transform you.

I am a founder of the Kundalini Research Network and have organized several conferences and attended all but one of their conferences. Very few people who come to these events (we have had nine conferences) were ever hospitalized for this experience.(If I had to guess I would say maybe 5% -- perhaps about 10 people of the hundreds I have interviewed.) If they were hospitalized it was usually as a result of a drug reaction, or a misdiagnosis by a doctor, or during a brief crisis which was resolved within a few days.

Kundalini does not make you insane with the following exceptions: 1) If it awakens in someone who has a very shaky personality structure to begin with, who has always had problems and who is already on an edge; or 2) the person is using drugs, usually pretty heavily, at the time of awakening. (This is not insanity but a drug-induced reaction which usually clears up in a few weeks if the person changes their habits). Some people become dysfunctional, but hardly insane, because they do practices that are too intense for their constitution and their life is out of balance. This energy will not work well if you use alcohol regularly, have sex promiscuously, hang out with toxic people, or live a frantic and overstretched lifestyle. (This is not a moral issue -- it is an energetic issue -- the process needs your cooperation to work well).

This awakening demands that we put our life and attitudes in order, mature our expectations of life, give up stressful work and toxic relationships, develop moderation, and get our health in balance. People who have a history of abuse or trauma, or PTSD, or perhaps had an NDE that triggered their awakening may have greater difficulties adjusting because the awakening can bring up all the unfinished psychological business and the cellular memory of their trauma. They need to get therapy and learn to trust and have compassion for themselves and others. Once they have worked through the psychological issues it is easier to work effectively with the spiritual energy.

Many people have partial awakenings. In fact, hardly anyone has a full awakening, which would imply they are completely free and enlightened. Ramana Maharshi could be a model of this. Being free means making no personal demands of life, no emotional upheavals, no old personality traps to fall into. It means one lives spontaneously with recognition that there is nothing other than god, that all of us are the play of consciousness. Such people are happy -- why not? They make no personal demands of life.

Many people have gradual awakenings which bring a slowly expanding capacity to experience altered states of being, greater compassion, a tendency to service in the world, a sense of peace, the loss of the fear of death and other benefits. Some yogic and Buddhist systems provide an awakening so gradual it has no difficulties. Some people have dramatic awakenings through all the chakras at once and feel blown out into space. This may seem to be a "full" awakening but it is not the complete experience unless they are completely transformed. Generally the energy settles back down, with a continual hum remaining in the body, and months and years of personal work are needed to find the natural peace and completion of this experience. If people use kundalini for power, control, manipulation -- they are stuck. They are not fully awakened. They have activated a powerful connection with the life-force but they have not completed the transformative potential of this experience, which is basically union with all that is and the dissolution of personal attachments.

People who are fully transformed by the process are kind, present, exude a dispassionate love, and seem to be empty of all conflict. This completion is a major step for the ego, because it is ultimately dissolved, so it is not surprising or wrong that anyone takes a lifetime or more to get through it, with much backsliding and distraction. After all, we are attached to being who we are and many of us worked hard to get to a strong sense of personal self.

Kundalini awakening is the beginning of a journey that will eventually shift all of your thinking, feeling and spiritual perspectives until you see the ego for the illusion it is. It can be a great journey if you are prepared or willing to make it. If you are angry, resistant, physically unwell, have a tendency to cling to people or ideas, push yourself too hard into extreme practices, and misunderstand this process as "insanity" you can have great difficulties with it. Certainly there are some mentally unstable folks that may have an awakening and will not be able to deal with it effectively. But 95% of those I have met in this process are creative, well-educated, successful, sensitive, loving, and remarkable people in the world. They are not saints and mystics in the traditional sense -- they are ordinary but vital and comfortable with a spirituality and a lifestyle they know is not consensus or mainstream. They work to find ways to live a life in line with the profound beauty, love and ecstasy they have experienced. They experience either devotion to or union with what we might call the source of life.

I hope you will encourage those who write to you with problems to get help if it is a psychological problem, but recognize when it is a spiritual problem, known for centuries. I have over 300 scriptures, lectures and biographies from spiritual traditions that describe kundalini awakening in positive (although often challenging) terms. It is simply a secret in our society where we have allowed external sources to define what god is and what we have to do to be in relationship with "him." Anyone who has spent much time in this process has had deep, profound connections with the source that has taught them lessons well beyond any Western religious studies. I hope you can help people trust this. They are in no way crazy. They have simply had glimpses of truth and freedom. I have met the most creative, vital, strong, capable, passionate, and loving people all over the world who are living this experience.

I have a personal website your members may be interested in -- kundaliniguide.com -- and I work with people individually by email or in person in the San Francisco Bay area. The Kundalini Research Network has a site at kundalininet.org. We hope to have a one-day regional meeting in Aptos, California in October but the schedule is not yet firmed up. People can get on the mailing list by emailing me their mailing address at kundinfo@slip.net.

Bonnie Greenwell
Kundalini Research Network


Kundalini: Be Cautious

February 23, 2000 2:13 PM

For those with experience with kundalini, Mr. Yam's article The Day My Kundalini Woke Up is very good.

For those who don't, it reads to me a bit too much like:

"I read about a guy who nearly blew his head off while making model rockets without instruction. I was cautioned, but I decided to try it anyway. I shopped around for information on how to do it -- I'm not going to describe precisely where I found any of my instructions, or give any of the their proper context, I'm just going to relate them as I tried them. Here are the details of my experiments and how I got a model rocket to actually take off.''

I empathize with Mr. Yam's pragmatic approach, but I don't know how one could interpret this as anything other than a mildly cautioned invitation to try the same thing. Some may get the rocket off the ground. Some may damage themselves for the remainder of this life -- at least.

To give some context, I get an email once a week like this one:

"I am seeking more information for a close friend of mine... he became involved in a form of Kundalini yoga... He did achieve the raising of his Kundalini... Unfortunately, this produced in him a condition that has been diagnosed by Western doctors as schizophrenia... Are you aware of any resources that my friend may be able to use to help him heal?"

Even sadder messages come from the affected people themselves rambling on and on and on about their visions, terrors, etc., all of which started "when I picked up that book on kundalini''. We are far from a well-rounded account of the phenomenon. The email above came from somebody who thought he was going to reputable teachers.

Apparently he wasn't. We should all be cautious, but sensible.

Regarding your question, the responsibility of your article, I appreciate your dilemma. Responsibility is always an interesting question in spiritual matters. Can anyone else ever be responsible for our spiritual practice?

Nevertheless, I would simply pose the following question back to you: If one person on this planet reads Freddie Yam's article, repeats precisely his experiments as described, and has unpleasant and perhaps devastating results, then would you judge the article as being responsible?

Kind regards,
Prof. Kurt Keutzer
Kurt Keutzer's Website


Drop The Wish

An exchange from the Realization mail list
February 13, 2000

Dan Berkow, Ph.D. wrote:

Attention is present.
Contents seem to move back and forth,
but attention is always here.
There is nothing to stop,
just a shift in identification
from content to awareness as is.

Laura Olshansky replied:

I wish that shift would happen for me!

Dan Berkow, Ph.D. replied:

I see it this way:
The wish for the shift is
     the mind believing there is
     something to be gained for itself.
Pursuing a wish is pursuing
     something that is a projection of mind.
Thus, mind stays as is, status quo.
The actual work involved in the
     shift is occuring now, as we speak.
Each apparent mind (there aren't two,
Works at its own pace, given what it
     can handle (it is handling its
     own projections, essentially).
Thus, this shift is occurring now.
Openness to its occurrence, facilitates.
Chasing after it, hinders.

Tim Gerchmez replied:

Perhaps that wish... is preventing the shift... because wishing... is always for something in the future... and an avoidance... of eternal presence... Always Here... Always Now... Only This...

Even if it doesn't feel like an avoidance... the ego can be very subtle... and it keeps you wishing... for what you already are... and looking... for something that already is.... because the ego is terrified... of death.

The shift... will never happen for you... can never happen for you... because the shift is actually you vanishing from the picture... your presence... is preventing the shift... which is not really a shift at all.... but "your" disappearance. "You"... are the content! Awareness shifting to itself means... Awareness shifting away from.... "you."

So... it will never happen to "you"... The contraction that is "you" will disappear when Awareness is good and ready... wishing will only delay or prevent... because there is a wisher.

Drop wishing... and begin to trust that... now... there is only this.

February 12, 2000 10:09 AM

Bodhisattva is mind of enlightenment, complete freedom in all its simplicity in this very moment. It just can't help but seek to express itself through all sentient being. It has even created this mail list, this confluence of seeking and expression. Emaho!

It is held that the Buddha gave 84,000 different groups of instruction to lead beings to awakening. This large number of teachings was given in order to conform to the different dispositions and faculties of the students whom the Buddha taught. Essentially, all these teachings are methods for taming the mind, principally for taming the three root mental afflictions or kleshas (greed, hate and delusion) which cause us to wander in samsara. Most especially they free us from the arising of suffering caused by the habit of "I" and the habitual belief in it.

These teachings can be divided into three groups, each of which emphasizes taming one of the three main afflictions.The primary teachings, those of the Hinayana, are concerned with taming attachment. This is because when we start out on the path, we are usually preoccupied with our own suffering, our own situation, our own desire for freedom; we are preoccupied with "me" and "mine."

The second group of teachings, the Mahayana, are concerned with subduing aggression or aversion. At this point, having noticed that "others" suffer, the practioner takes the Bodhisattva Vow to dedicate all efforts to freeing all sentient beings; here there is still a belief in "others." (Mahayana Buddhists take the vow in a lovely ceremony, like a further taking of Refuge.)

This is a vital point to arrive at because it gives true impetus to practice. Just think if you knew that the life of someone you loved depended on your whole-hearted inquiry and practice to arrive at freedom from suffering now -- because at that moment all sentient being in the universe is also free since of course we are truly one. Thus you can sit through any and all pain -- and there can be a lot of that -- with passionate and true motivation. The example ofour teachers is before us; they do what they do for others. But "freeing sentient beings"also really means freeing mind -- freeing angry mind, freeing happy mind, freeing desiring mind, etc.

The Bodhisattva mind is also the complete, total, and wholly forgiving and compassionate acceptance of everything that arises in the moment. There is enough spaciousness for everything, for all sentient being, without exception. This simplicity of spirit is right at hand -- no one is in the trash bin. Everyone is held in a loving embrace in each and every moment whether they "get it" or not.

So now the student as aspiring Bodhisattva, having subdued aggression and hate through practices of loving-kindness, etc., begins the teachings of Vajrayana which are primarily concerned with taming bewilderment itself. (Who the hell am I? What is it really all about?)

Here many rituals and practices are learned. (I'm speaking from a Tibetan perspective but a Zen student would practice Mahayana, Thervada students would practice Vipassana, etc.; all Buddhist practices have all Buddha wisdom and lead to realization if actually practiced). Finally the student proceeds to Dzogchen, the pinnacle of the teachings, where a lot of us Westerners like to start -- no wonder we are confused!

Dzogchen or the Great Perfection is the direct experience of the wisdom which is innate and always present. The kleshas are overcome, and insight into suffering and release from it are reached through direct experience of our innate wisdom.

There are differences culturally between Vipassana, Zen, Adavaita, Practice of the Presence of God, etc., but in essence they are the same, producing the same results and leading to the same realization.

Since in my egoic cultural persona I am a very vain overly educated Westerner very attached to my conceptual knowledge and opinions and usually confused, of course I started at the top. I thought the Bodhisattva path "boring" -- and then had to walk backwards down the mountain. Fortunately, Truth is every moment and provides what we need for our path. Mahayana is called the "large vehicle" because it is a great big ship with all of life seen as grist for the mill available for practice.

So, why don't we practice harder? Well, some of us think we are going to live forever, especially in the West where death is cleverly given a tummy tuck and a face lift. But, I could die tomorrow -- you never know, the contemplation of own's own death is important. If in the beginning we can't practice for love, then let's practice knowing that death is right behind us waiting. And you can't cram for these finals hoping for a last minute transformation of mind -- mind crap is like Velcro. And we will no doubt face in the Bardo what we avoided in life.

Interestingly, a friend of mine sat at the death bed of his father recently. His father, who was an eminent scholar of religion at Harvard for many years, saw bears chasing about his hospital room. But, bear in mind that the Bodhisattva is with us in death and after as well. Don't want to scare anyone too much.

Anyway, this is what I have been taught. And when I use it, I find it to be true.

Joyce Short
From the Realization mail list

Sound Meditation in Sant Mat
February 10, 2000 3:45 PM

:Many sacred musical instruments were originally designed to imitate the inner Sounds of the Spirit: the sitar, Tibetan bells, bowls, and gongs, for instance. Various forms of chant do this also. The goal of the mystics is to eventually get us to progress beyond all outer sounds, connecting us to the inner Sound Current (Nada, Shabda, Logos) that comes from beyond the silence.

The astral Bell is often the first inner Sound that people hear during inner Sound-meditation practice.

In Sant Mat, the path that teaches Sound meditation, when you hear the inner Sound Current, this becomes your mantra, and you can at that point, for the rest of the meditation sit, leave off the repetition of a sacred name.

The Sound Current (Holy Spirit) is viewed by the Masters and mystics as being the True Name, Cosmic or unpronounceable Name of God, the Y-H-V-H and Ein Sof of the Jewish tradition, the Logos or Word of the Gnostics and other mystic Christians, the Saunt-i Sarmand of the Sufis, the "Name that's above every other Name" that Saint Paul talked about, and the Naam of the Sikhs.

One of the masters said, "Listen to the Sound that issues forth from the Light. It is this internal Music which will numb the body and allow the consciousness to leave its ordinary dwelling. By riding this Current of Light and Sound, like a fish going upstream, the soul will be able to go back to its original Home."

For guidance on this approach to contemplative meditation, there's a great book called Empowering Your Soul Through Meditation by Rajinder Singh.

His other book, which also has teachings on inner Sound meditation practice, is Inner And Outer Peace Through Meditation.

Naam Bhakti & Naamaste,
James Bean
From the Realization mail list

Vision Exercise Gives Me A Headache
February 7, 2000 4:54 PM

Your article, An Exercise For Reducing Visual Hemispheric Dominance, is very interesting. However, doing it for even five minutes strains the muscles of the eyes and produces a headache, so I can't imagine doing it for 45 minutes at a time! :-)

On a more interesting note, I found that I can make the vertical line or horizontal line appear "at will," which seems to show some conscious control over hemispheric dominance (although once the will is relaxed, the alternation between vertical and horizontal continues).

This points out another favorite visual experiment of mine. Simply closing one eye should prevent stereoscopic vision (which requires two eyes), but it doesn't. In other words, closing one eye should make everything appear flat against the surface of the eye and wipe out the illusion of distance and three-dimensionality but it doesn't (although it does decrease it a little), which shows that the brain has been conditioned over the course of years to "see" in three dimensions -- the eye does not see, the brain sees!

Tim Gerchmez
The Core

Freddie Yam replies: The farther back you sit from the screen, the less eyestrain you feel. I sit at least three feet back. Or you can eliminate the strain completely with this variant of the exercise: Look at a distant object through two toilet paper tubes (as if they are binoculars) while holding a finger over the far end of each tube so your fingers make a cross in your field of vision.

Dzogchen and the Tibetan Letter A
February 6, 2000 7:00 PM

This is the first letter of the Tibetan alphabet, sort of like our letter A:


It is pronounced ahhhh with a short A.

It is used in a number of ways in various spiritual practices. The most profound way is to simply pronounce it and be in one's nondual nature.

So it is a constant reminder of one's true condition called Dzogchen which means the Great Completeness or the Great Perfection. It reminds one to drop their dual mind and simply dwell in Reality.

If you can -- you just do it. You sound the letter Ahhhh and there you are. That's it. If you can't there are other practices that one can use to discover how they can simply do it -- simply using the intellectual mind is of no use since that is what has to be dropped to be able to do it. Of course the intellectual mind is useful as a pointer by pointing to what one must do but don't mistake the pointer for the condition pointed at. Ego just loves to say the pointer is it -- and then round and round you go with no benefit.

Dzogchen is the pinnacle of all practices. All practices lead to the same end result so they are all equally valid. It is a mistake to consider one practice more efficacious than another. Each person is at a particular point in their path and there is no point in their doing a practice which will not help them at their particular stage of growth. It is simply spiritual materialism to say that I am a Dzogchen practitioner without having the capacity. Just another ego trip going round and round once again. Another detour and dead end.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is a Bonpo spiritual teacher who teaches Dzogchen and many other practices which help one to uncover their Dzogchen condition.

His web site is here. It's named after Ligmincha, the last king of Zhang Zhung, an ancient land where these teachings were practiced and handed down without a break in the transmission from generation to generation right through till our time.

Victor Torrico
From the Realization mail list

Karmapas: Let Them Duke It Out

February 4, 2000 5:07 PM

Perhaps the solution to the problem of Who Is The Real Karmapa is contained in another link you recently printed, Monk Gloats Over Yoga Championship.

From the Dzogchen mail list

The Word Realization

February 3, 2000 12:20 PM

Observations about the word "realization":

The word realization implies a movement from a state that is less complete and authentic to a state that is more complete and authentic.

However, such a movement never arrives; if it did, realization would be reduced to stasis. Can never-arriving movement justifiably be called realization?

Some say realization is where you already are. If that is true, there is nothing to realize. So why call it realization?

All apparent movement is transition, but we can never say transition of what. Judgments made about what is moving, or where movement is from and to are relative, necessarily arbitrary, based on assumption and inference. We try to concretize such judgments for the sake of social discourse and interaction.

Transition that never arrives, can't be said to begin at any point either. Such movement can't be said truthfully to be either ignorance or realization. The judgment that this is even transition depends entirely on whether one makes comparisons or not. Transitory compared with what? And the nontransitory is unmoving compared with what? Each defines the other, each depends on a comparison-maker.

What happens to such comparisons when the one who makes them is not there? The one who appears to be making comparisons actually is the result of making comparisons and contrasts. When all "mental comparisons" are dropped, the comparison-maker isn't there.

At this moment, all is dropped, and there is neither realization nor lack of realization, nor is there a realizer. This dropping of realization is itself "realization," which as a name is no better or worse than other misleading names such as "unconditional being," "emptiness," or "God." Each name suggests a quality or negates a quality, thus any name involves mental comparison, and any and every assertion and negation ceases when there is "realization."

Dan Berkow, Ph.D.
From the Realization mail list



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This page was published on May 16, 2000.


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