to the Editor
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.
accuses us of having blind spots, but in fact we see
the whole picture, and he or she sees only part of it.
26, 2000 1:38 AM
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
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.
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
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.
are all variations on the same theme. Muktananda and
Trungpa at one end of the spectrum, and Kornfield at
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!
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
these guys like Wilber are saying. They just do it without
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.
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!"
you have it. Ken Wilber, "The Pope of New Age Obfuscation."
Jack Kornfield & Co. Really good TOS.
A Great Journey
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).
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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 --
-- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
23, 2000 2:13 PM
with experience with kundalini, Mr. Yam's article The
Day My Kundalini Woke Up is very good.
who don't, it reads to me a bit too much like:
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.''
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.
some context, I get an email once a week like this one:
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?"
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.
he wasn't. We should all be cautious, but sensible.
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
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?
Prof. Kurt Keutzer
exchange from the Realization
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
The wish for the shift is
the mind believing there is
something to be gained for
Pursuing a wish is pursuing
something that is a projection
Thus, mind stays as is, status quo.
The actual work involved in the
shift is occuring now, as we
Each apparent mind (there aren't two,
Works at its own pace, given what it
can handle (it is handling
own projections, essentially).
Thus, this shift is occurring now.
Openness to its occurrence, facilitates.
Chasing after it, hinders.
Tim Gerchmez replied:
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...
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...
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
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.
and begin to trust that... now... there is only
12, 2000 10:09 AM
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.
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.
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."
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.)
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,
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?)
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
this is what I have been taught. And when I use it,
I find it to be true.
From the Realization
Meditation in Sant Mat
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
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,
Exercise Gives Me A Headache
7, 2000 4:54 PM
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).
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!
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.
and the Tibetan Letter A
6, 2000 7:00 PM
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
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.
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.
Wangyal Rinpoche is a Bonpo spiritual teacher who teaches
Dzogchen and many other practices which help one to
uncover their Dzogchen condition.
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
From the Realization
Let Them Duke It Out
4, 2000 5:07 PM
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
The Word Realization
3, 2000 12:20 PM
about the word "realization":
realization implies a movement from a state that is
less complete and authentic to a state that is more
complete and authentic.
such a movement never arrives; if it did, realization
would be reduced to stasis. Can never-arriving movement
justifiably be called realization?
realization is where you already are. If that is true,
there is nothing to realize. So why call it realization?
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
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.
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
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