The Induction Talk

At least one person—Shawn Nevins—realized the Self while reading this transcript of this famous talk.

Franklin Merrell-Wolff

By Franklin Merrell-Wolff

On January 24, 1970, Franklin Merrell-Wolff attempted to bring a roomful of people closer to enlightenment—to “induce” a higher state in them—by speaking the words you will read on this page. The event took place in a relative’s house in Phoenix, Arizona. Click here for the recording.

—Editor, Realization.org

TONIGHT, SOMETHING I HAVE never attempted before, nor do I know of a precedent; but I assume it must have been done or I wouldn’t have thought of it. What we seek to do is deliberately to produce, if possible, “inductions.” In the past thirty-three years we have known many inductions, but always they came spontaneously as something that happened when it would. Now, I shall have to tell you what we are talking about. We do not know whether we will be successful, but there’s a good chance.

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Click to hear a recording of this talk.

There is that which is called Realization. It is the awakening to another way of Consciousness. It is on the order of a ladder. At the lowest level one may know a little entering wedge of this Consciousness. And he may advance, usually through several lifetimes, step by step until at the crown he attains full Enlightenment and is a Buddha. A glimpse will tell the sadhaka, that is the aspirant, more than a million words, for he’ll step from mere knowledge about to some glimpse, at least, of acquaintance with.

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Click to read Shawn Nevins’s account of how he realized the Self while reading this talk.

Now, it is fundamental that no one should ever be forced to take a step this way against his will. I’m going to ask you all to answer this question before we proceed, and if your answer is negative we’ll ask you to step into the front room. I want no coercion of any person whatsoever. The question will be, “Do you wish to attain Enlightenment?” I’m not asking a question that’s only for this life alone. I’m asking a question that may involve the commitment of many lives. But this I can say, that the consciousness in which we commonly live here, the consciousness of Sangsara, is a consciousness preeminently of suffering, a consciousness in which problems arise for which we are unable to find solutions, such as the difficulties you can see in the world about us now. And furthermore, there is for all men in bodies the problem of death. Is it an end or is it but a phase, a movement in the whole of life? Enlightenment, among other things, answers such a question. And in addition I want you to answer this question, “Are you willing to cooperate, to participate in an effort that’ll be a sort of very brief resume of the steps in actual yoga?” Now, we’ll start with Bob, who is next to me, and I put the question, “Do you wish Enlightenment and are you willing to participate in our effort tonight?”

Participant: Most definitely.

[Others are asked and answer affirmatively.]

All right, now it may hurt. One of the first steps in going this way is a step of purification. This is kindergarten stuff, by the way. You may not think so before you’re through. We cannot go through that in any comprehensive way. Only on one point will we deal with it. But I’ll say that ultimately it involves the excision of the five lusts, of the recognition and the confession of all guilts, of all traumas, self-examination that is severe. And I know that when one has loosened these things out of his nature and offers them to the guru hardly a man or a woman can do it without being reduced to tears. Now, this is yoga, serious! It’s no drug matter, no shortcut, no hocus-pocus; but it involves the giving of all, and in turn one receives all. It calls for absolute honesty, no psychological device to hide from one’s self something that may involve guilt and so on.

Now, there’s one point we are going to deal with tonight, the point of hostility. In a Sangha, and for tonight at least and in part at least continuingly, this is a Sangha, that is the community of the sadhakas, the seekers, a brotherhood. Remove from yourself—this takes an act of real will, it’s an operation if you do it really, like removing a kind of cancer—any hostility you feel, first, for anybody whatsoever, but, second, most important, any hostility you feel for anyone here present. Look into yourself. Don’t veil it from yourself. I’m not asking anyone to speak out. I do not believe in public confessionals. That can get pretty muggy and sordid. Just within yourself.

Now, there’s something very curious about these persistent qualities that one has to struggle with, like a hostility, like a lust, lust for food and so on, like a guilt, like a habit that you feel as a guilt that goes on just the same. They are not abstractions. Strangely, it can be like a concrete substance, and I am talking from experience. I’ve received offerings of this sort, and I have been once outside of the Fire and I experienced what it was—a strange, utterly alien, psychical mass that was in me, foreign, alien to my own psychical processes. It took me an hour to clear it up. I was grateful for the experience for I learned something there. If the Fire is burning, and this is a mystic term, it vanishes at once.

Now, if you have drawn out of yourself any such feeling of hostility; and now here’s the point, I only ask what you can do. It may cling and so forth. You can’t grab it and so forth. Leave that to the higher power, but do your part! And if you really do it—and I’ve gone through this in the last couple of days of preparation for this meeting. It was a hostility I found, not for anybody here, not for anybody so far as I know in the world today, but for something very far back in an ancient day. And drawing it out called for a gut pain, which means the sort in the vicinity of the solar plexus, or manipura, or in the vital nature. This is a sample of purification of the vital, not now of the mental. We’ll take that up later. Cast it, in your mind, at my feet and don’t be concerned about me.

And if you needed any doubts, here’s something that most of you have never heard, a few of you have. There is power here. On December 27, 1936, there spoke through Sherifa a great Master, the one that repeats every phrase three times. There is still living in the world one witness of that event. That witness is here tonight. Turning to the four present and indicating Yogi—that’s the way they addressed me—he said, “I would that he make the Sun to shine within the hearts of men. I would that he make the true Moon to arise within their minds. I would that he make the Star of Initiation to shine within their souls. I will direct the Fire that consumes the dross. (This dross you throw at my feet.) And I will cause the Light from those Flames to descend again as a rain of Spiritual Fire falling like pearls in the mind and as dew upon the parched hearts of men.” The power here is not only what you see.

That is merely a bit of the vital purification. Beyond that is the mental purification, and this may be even more difficult. For tonight, remove from your mind, as far as may be, all predilections, all preconceptions, all orientations to preferred philosophies. When you leave the door, you may take them back. It’s emptying the mind. Retain all your mental powers at the keenest edge you can maintain, but cast aside all collection that has been garnered as of ideas in your life so far, until you’re outside the door. Empty that mind of preconceptions, of preferences, that is, predilections, of preferred philosophies. For some this goes deeper than the earlier one of which I spoke. If you have succeeded in this, then you have become, in the true sense, as little children—not the stupidity of children, not the ignorance of children, for you retain every capacity of the mind, all of its powers of self-analysis, all of its capacity for judgment, discernment, discrimination, to be kept at as acute a level as possible. Only the empty mind can be filled. There’s no room in an overfilled mind. So this is the attitude, real meaning, of becoming as little children—the openness.

Now, all of this that’s covered so far, and it’s very, very brief, is only the kindergarten stage of yoga. Oh yes, you may bleed and you may weep in going through this, or going through the whole thing of which I’ve only given you a little sample. You may feel that everything is going away from you—all of your beloved values, and so on. They may make a demand on faith.

Next we’ll come to the question of dedication. What we’ve considered so far is what the Greeks called the catharsis, the purification. Dedication—and this in its ideal form is very thoroughgoing. I’ll quote to you a verse from St. Luke that people find great difficulty in understanding because of the unfortunate use of a word that doesn’t have the meaning it had at the time of translation, namely the word ‘hate’. “He who does not hate his father, and his mother, and his brothers and sisters, and his wife and children, cannot be my disciple.” The key to the difficulty is that the word had a different meaning, and it means, does not value more, or value less than something else, is the real meaning of it—that all personal relationships take subordination to the search.

Now, the goal may be named differently by different ones and I’m not a stickler for what you call it. You may call it God-Realization, Self-Realization, the attainment of Parabrahm, the attainment of Tao, the reaching to the Ground—that’s spelled with a capital ‘G’, it means the support upon which all rests—or the Transcendental Modulus, which is quite impersonal, to Alaya Vijnana, and so on. The term that counts in your nature, like the attainment of Buddhahood, does not matter to me; but, in any case, it is the supreme value—that without which nothing else could be. The dedication to this to be effective ideally is single pointed, subordinating every other interest, every other orientation, every other possession to this prime dedication. A dedication that would go so far that one would be willing to lose all, even life itself if that were necessary.

Now, most human beings don’t reach these perfections of attitude. Perhaps, maybe no one ever does completely. But I’m formulating as clearly as I can and as I see it, the law. There is indeed adjustment to human relativity. This absolute perfection of attitude may not be reached, but it should always be the ideal held before one. He should be satisfied with nothing less than that and at the same time content with that which he has—a dissatisfied contentment if you please. The office of the redeemer and the guru fills in the gap that the sadhaka cannot of himself attain. That makes the crossing to the other side humanly possible. But while we cannot attain in general this absolute perfection of attitude, we should never content ourselves or satisfy ourselves with anything less. Aim at it, always. But be not discouraged because you do not succeed in attaining it now. Keep up. And as I say, this is the kindergarten part. It may seem a little rough even so; that’s all it is compared to what follows.

There are different ways of yoga, primarily three: the yoga of devotion, the yoga of action or of the will, and the yoga of knowledge. There are technical forms of yoga such as hatha yoga, raja yoga, mantra yoga, laya yoga, kundalini yoga, and so on. These are not really so much different forms as technical additives. The three forms are: devotion, corresponding to feeling; karma, corresponding to the activistic element in consciousness, the technical name for it is conation; and jnana yoga, which is oriented to the cognitive faculties, the cognitive side. We’ll not go into the relative valuation of these different forms of yoga. Each will find his own way ultimately. Aurobindo recommends a synthetic yoga which involves the going through all three forms successively or simultaneously. It’s not necessary, but he may have a good idea there. The valuation of them, as to which leads the furthest and so forth, is different with different writers. There’s a tendency in human nature to regard the form which “I” take as therefore being the highest—any “I,” I’m referring to the “I” as a me; in other words, a bit of egoism in that. Shankara places jnana yoga as the highest. Aurobindo rates bhakti yoga as the highest. It affords two different ways of interpreting the Bhagavad Gita which deals with these three forms of yoga—the Trimarga. Shankara would say the first which is treated in the second chapter of the Gita, the yoga of knowledge, is the highest. But if you are unable to meet that altitude, then there is provided for you at a somewhat simpler and easier level, the yoga of action. And if that too is a little too much for you, there is the final form, of the yoga of devotion—an orientation to the person of the Divine, if you please, rather than to the power or the wisdom of the Divine, to use the religious form of language. But what we’ll sketch tonight will belong to jnana yoga, the yoga of knowledge, the yoga I know. I sympathize with all who choose the other paths. There’s no rejection whatever. But this, I know.

Now, I’ll outline a philosophic position to orient an attitude favorable to jnana yoga. It’s for you to place for the time being in your emptied minds, not something you’re forced to agree with. I ask you to take a journey with me and see how you like the scenery. If it is not to your taste, then you may turn otherwhere; it’s perfectly all right—just a journey to see the scenery, if you can.

The position is radically anti-materialistic, radically anti-behavioristic, and radically anti-tantric. I’ll explain. I do not mean that a materialistic orientation attains no truth; in fact practically all our Western orientation is materialistic in the broad sense of the word since it’s extraverted. It’s oriented to the object, the thing, mechanism, wealth, externalities, and these are the sources of value. In the broad sense, that’s materialism, and materialism, thus, is not simply that which is so known technically in philosophy or by the Marxists, which is a particular heavy, dense, dark form of materialism.

Anti-behavioristic because this is a view developed in the study of animal behavior and extended to human beings and an important part of sociology in which essentially you treat the animals or the humans as non-conscious beings. You treat them as though they were no more than computers, something that receives stimuli and responds to it. And while most men would not go so far as to say there is no such thing as consciousness in a human being, the behaviorists and the materialists would say it doesn’t count. It’s a by-product. And one man said it is only a bump on the log of evolution and is totally irrelevant. Now our position is radically anti-that.

Anti-tantric. Probably some of you, no doubt, know what we’re referring to. It’s a large subject. The thesis of the proponents of the Tantra is that it is the form of yoga available in Kali yuga, that the other forms of yoga belong to the other yugas, that man in his density needs the aid of something he can grasp with his ordinary capacities. So the stunt of sitting in certain difficult postures, and breathing in a certain way, and performing a number of difficult acts involving the body, and certain specific concentrations within his understanding, will enable him to attain through these an external approach to an effect. What they say is Shakti, or the Divine Mother, leads you to Shiva—not a direct approach through the powers of consciousness itself, which is the way of jnana yoga. And if you’re reading of The Mahatma Letters, you’ll find some pretty strong criticisms of Tantra. Tantra lends itself to misuse because, like drugs, it can force a condition for which the sadhaka is not yet prepared morally, mentally, or spiritually. I’m strongly anti-tantric.

Now another point, dealing with psychology. I want to read you something from Jung. This is very pertinent. It’s about two pages. Speaking of the Oriental position:

The psyche is therefore all-important; it is the all-pervading Breath, the Buddha essence; it is the Buddha Mind, the One, the Dharma-Kaya. All existence emanates from it, and all separate forms dissolve back into it. This is the basic psychological prejudice that permeates Eastern man in every fibre of his being, seeping into all his thoughts, feelings, and deeds, no matter what creed he professes.

In the same way Western man is Christian, no matter to what denomination his Christianity belongs. For him man is small inside, he is next to nothing; moreover, as Kierkegaard says, ‘before God man is always wrong’. By fear, repentance, promises, submission, self-abasement, good deeds, and praise he propitiates the great power, which is not himself but totaliter aliter, the Wholly Other, altogether perfect and ‘outside’, the only reality. If you shift the formula a bit and substitute for God some other power, for instance the world or money, you get a complete picture of Western man—assiduous, fearful, devout, self-abasing, enterprising, greedy, and violent in his pursuit of the goods of this world: possessions, health, knowledge, technical mastery, public welfare, political power, conquest, and so on. What are the great popular movements of our time? Attempts to grab the money or property of others and to protect our own. The mind is chiefly employed in devising suitable ‘isms’ to hide the real motives or to get more loot. I refrain from describing what would happen to Eastern man should he forget his ideal of Buddhahood, for I do not want to give such an unfair advantage to my Western prejudices. But I cannot help raising the question of whether it is possible, or indeed advisable, for either to imitate the other’s standpoint. The difference between them is so vast that one can see no reasonable possibility of this, much less its advisability. You cannot mix fire and water. The Eastern attitude stultifies the Western, and vice versa. You cannot be a good Christian and redeem yourself, nor can you be a Buddha and worship God. It is much better to accept the conflict, for it admits only of an irrational solution, if any.

Now he goes on and modifies that a bit:

By an inevitable decree of fate the West is becoming acquainted with the peculiar facts of Eastern spirituality. It is useless either to belittle these facts, or to build false and treacherous bridges over yawning gaps. Instead of learning the spiritual techniques of the East by heart and imitating them in a thoroughly Christian way—imitatio Christi!—with a correspondingly forced attitude, it would be far more…

And this is the important part of it:

…it would be far more to the point to find out whether there exists in the unconscious an introverted tendency similar to that which has become the guiding spiritual principle of the East. We should then be in a position to build on our own ground with our own methods.*

*C.J. Jung, “Psychological Commentary on the ‘Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation’,” in W.Y. Evans-Wentz, ed., The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation.

And right there is the point we’re dealing with here: the using of the despised stone discarded by the builders as the foundation of our temple—the power of the introverted Western mind. And to this I believe I have contributed something. The power and the prospect opened by the introverted Western mind was not opened by the Eastern introverted mind. It’s the neglected door. We are all one in the last analysis, but we are different facets of an ultimate reality. The right method used by the wrong man leads to wrong results; and merely importing that which is valid to one with the Eastern psychology into and for Western man is not enough. It amounts to his placing upon himself a false facade. But our door to the Eternal has been neglected. It has been overgrown with vines and debris collected around it. But that door exists and it is not now closed as it was.

But he who goes this way will be despised by his Western brothers, for it’s a way of deep introversion—a positive power. There is weak introversion just as there is weak extraversion. There is the introversion that is only a narcissistic interest in one’s own ego, that is to be sure. But I am talking of the power of the introverted mind to unlock doors that are hopelessly closed to the extraverted mind. This is not now a matter of technology, not now a matter of the collection of worldly goods, but it is a matter of penetrating into the depths of consciousness.

Now, let us go in—and this gets a little more difficult—into a real….

How about a little air? Up this high it gets a little warm and you become… I think the whole room is probably a bit on the warm side. The audience itself makes a pretty good furnace.

Now, let’s start a little analysis. This calls for philosophic action. The kind of thinking that goes on in philosophy. Do you know any mountain, any house, any tree as it is in itself? If you’re really good at analysis you’ll have to conclude that all you know is a psychic “imago,” which you call mountain, tree, house, human being, animal, or what not. This is all we ever contact. Now, it is our custom to suppose that corresponding to these imagoes there is a non-conscious thing out there—a mountain, house, tree, and so on. But actually that is blind belief, just as blind as belief in an extra-cosmic God. I never, nor did you or anyone else, ever experience anything but an imago in his psyche which he calls, mountain, house, tree, and so forth. You may say you believe there’s something out there. Dr. Jung says, yes I believe there’s something out there. He doesn’t know it. And I maintain there is no good reason for that belief. At least we can dispense with it. Let us build upon that which we know and not upon this belief in a non-conscious existence out there. This is rigorous now. Almost everybody as a matter of course acts as though that was out there, and he pretends to be rigorous and isn’t really rigorous. He never has contacted that out there. He’s contacted only the imagoes in his psyche. And one will raise this doubt: but I have to come to terms with these objects. I can’t act as though the mountain were not, as though the house were not, or the tree was not, therefore it must be. Ah, yes, in some sense it is. But you do not need to use the hypothesis of an external, non-conscious existence.

There is, and we can know this from our analysis of consciousness if it goes deeply, that which Jung called the collective unconscious. And we will see presently that it is only apparently unconscious; that actually it is an inversion of consciousness and can be experienced as consciousness. Nonetheless, it is objective to us as individuals. And the basis of that objectivity to which we must adjust can be seen as a presentment out of this collective unconscious, and that is why we have to come to terms with it. And then here’s a thought. Suppose you had so far penetrated into the myriad resources of yoga and moved within this collective unconscious realized as another way of consciousness, and then you might say to that mountain, disappear; and it would disappear. Not consciousness moving a non-conscious mass, but consciousness molding in the stuff of consciousness itself. If you can get this orientation, jnana yoga becomes a lot easier, its rationale much simpler, and the ultimate meaning of Enlightenment clarified; and will see the reason why the Buddhists in their sutras speak of the Voidness of all things. They are Void because they are not self-existences in themselves, but formations in consciousness, and that alone.

So, we come to the first stage of self-analysis. It runs generally this way: I ask, “What am I?” And first it occurs to me that the idea that I am this body is a delusion because this body is an object before my consciousness. I speak as though it were my body. I speak as though I possess it. It’s therefore external to me. I am not the body.

And then we come to our dealing with our vital nature—our feelings. We get into a roaring rage and we fall in love. We are delighted with the beauties of a symphony and strongly reach out toward it. Are those feelings, I? No, for I experience them. I but experience them. They are different from me. I can identify them and name them, and that itself is enough to prove they are not I. Now, I am very deliberately violating the rules of grammar, for ‘I’, the “I” of which I speak, is never an object, never a “me.” You can’t write these things and be grammatically correct.

Am I this body of thoughts in my mind? No… One gets a little closer to his thoughts than to anything else and it’s a little harder to untangle this. But if he watches and studies closely enough, the thoughts come to me. I accept or reject them. That which accepts or rejects them is different from the thoughts.

And then, I finally reach this point where I find that I must be this “something” in some sense different from other people. I’m not the mind. I’m not the feelings. I’m not the body. That I see. But I surely am. I surely am an individual apart from others. Now, what you’ve gotten ahold of is a very difficult fellow. It’s your ego. He can sneak around and confuse you like the dickens. You can spend years trying to get behind him. And what you can do, you can get into an infinite regression. You look at your ego, all right here am I? It all of a sudden dawns upon you that that which is looking at the ego is really the “I.” So you stick that one out in front and you look at it again, but then you realize it couldn’t be because here’s the something that is observing it. At last it finally dawns that I am that which is never an object before consciousness. And mayhap at that moment in your analysis the heavens will open.*

*When Shawn Nevins read this sentence he realized the Self. I know of no other recorded instance of anyone realizing the Self while reading a particular statement. Of course Shawn was very ripe at that point. As the saying goes, fruit takes a long time to ripen but falls from the tree suddenly. Nevins describes this event in chapter 14 of his excellent book, Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment.

In the previous few paragraphs Merrell-Wolff has been talking his listeners through the Advaitin practice which is usually called neti-neti.

—Editor, Realization.org

One time I went through this analysis was in 1937, and as I finished it somehow or other there was induced in me a state that was later identified as waking samadhi. It seemed like a great pillar of force surrounding me with apparently its center coalescing with the spine, and I would have estimated as it felt to be about six feet in diameter, and in that energies were rising and descending. And the body began to get stiff. It was difficult to walk over to the podium. I had been at the blackboard, and then I rested on the podium. The speech became lower in register. Maintaining function objectively was difficult without breaking the state. I saw that that whole audience was involved. You could see it in their faces, and so on. I described the state to them for a short time and when I felt there had been enough of it, because this would be rather strong for one that was green to it, I turned it off. Now, that was an easy thing to do. There’s just a little valve somewheres in one’s total psyche, I call the butterfly valve. You flip it as easily as you would move a finger, and the turn shifts your consciousness over in another way; and then all of this began running down like an engine with a flywheel on which the power turned off. And I had them, the students, give me a report on their experiences. Almost every student had an induction that night. The experiences were of a sort that compared well with those reported in Dr. Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness. That was what I mean by an induction.*

*See the audio recording “Purpose, Method and Policy of this Work,” part 7, for a few examples of the students’ reports.

Now, a little bit more of this analysis. We’re getting a little more subtle. You break a leg or you have an attack of colic, somebody shoots you, and you say, “I suffer.” There’s certainly something in you that’s involved in a state of suffering. There’s no question about that. Or again, you may be having a delightful experience, eating something you enjoy, or dancing, or looking at a moving picture that is very attractive, or a scenery in the wilds, and so forth, and you say, “I am delighted.” Something does participate in a modification of consciousness, no doubt about that. But if you are subtle enough in your analysis, the sense of “I suffering” or “I enjoying” has standing above it a sense of ‘I’ that only witnesses suffering and enjoyment and all these states and is not in the least affected by it. That, I am! This, that suffers and enjoys and goes through all conditions and will say, I am in these states—which is our ordinary way of language—is less than that I. Probably you should properly call it ego.

Now, if your analysis has been subtle enough to isolate this that witnesses, that stands aloof and untouched, the most intimate part of all your being, then you can transcend, then and there, all conditioning—witnessing all, but conditioned by nothing. Witnessing time, among other things, but unconditioned by time. And then you may know, not believe, not have faith in it, but know your own indestructibility. Not because the scriptures say so, not because anyone else said so, but because for yourself you have discovered your identity in THAT which merely witnesses time and is not conditioned by it. That which is unconditioned by time is birthless and deathless and eternal. And you have solved, with knowledge, once for all, one of the greatest uncertainties that badgers man. Oh, it doesn’t mean that you have proven an immortal organism. You’ve proven your own deathlessness. Not the immutability of equipment, that’s another matter. Equipment may be made to last longer than it does with us ordinarily, but that which is born inevitably passes away, and sometimes that is quite fortunate, for that which is born may be suffering, and it will pass away. But this which you have discovered as I never was born, for it transcends time—witnesses, as you discovered it witnesses, time and even space. Thus, beyond time and space and law, know that “I AM.” And when I say that, I speak for the “I” in each and every one of you, for this “I” is one and alone—apparently many. Just as the sun shining appears again in the dewdrops as a little sun, but yet the sun is one alone, so it is that the “I” in me and the “I” in thee is the one and only I. Atman is identical with Paramatman. Not because the book says so, but because you have been there and found it so. And this at last is knowledge. Not information about, but the saving and redeeming knowledge. You are liberated. You were liberated by the power of the introverted mind; not by reason of someone having to be tortured to death upon a cross and by your believing in that one who was said to rise again out of the grave, but you have liberated yourself by the power of the introverted mind. The extraverted mind is a weak sissy in this field. The very power that is despised by the Western builder is the power by which we can gain redemption.

I’m a little belligerent on this point because of the general attitude of the West. I’m a heretic here. I have said some things other times that were heretical from the Buddhist, or the Vedantist, or the Christian point of view, but this is the worst heresy of all, the heresy against the great Western prejudice and the great Western religion—the worshipping of the extraverted mind. That’s the real religion of the West. The Christianity is only something added on. And that’s why we’re in such a mess. The helpless extraverted mind can make a mess that it can’t clean up.

Now, you’ve gone far enough to be at the threshold of Nirvana. You may sample all the unbelievable delight and beauty, the sweetness that’s all encompassing, the peace that is ever enduring beyond your greatest imagining. And you may well cry, “Though I suffered through a hundred lives as the price, yet that price would be as naught compared with this.”

Yes, and now the real steps come, the hard ones, yes, the really hard ones. It is possible to accept this wonder, to enter and have the door close behind you, and to be separated for what you might call forever—it isn’t actually so, for all practical purposes it is—from your suffering mankind out there in the world beyond. Are you satisfied with that? Could you be fully happy knowing that though all problems for you are resolved, the suffering out there has not ceased? You may choose, then, and this I urge, that you will not enter into a selfish bliss, but you will take of the resources that you have garnered and become one of the redeemers among men.

The picture in the literature stops at this point, and what I’ll say now goes beyond the literature. Whether this is the door open to all who take this step, whether this that I am about to speak of is the door open to all, I know that it came to me. And there walked into my consciousness that which transcended the nirvanic as the nirvanic transcended the sangsaric. Its quality was totally different. Not one of this delight, but a principle of equilibrium that united all pairs of opposites including Sangsara and Nirvana. In some ways a kind of neutral consciousness that knew that it could enter the nirvanic state and leave it at will, enter the sangsaric state and leave it at will. Nowhere in the literature did I find any reference to anything of this sort. And then, at its peak, the sense of “I” vanished and the object of consciousness, which now had appeared as the robe of the Divine, also vanished and only Consciousness remained; not the consciousness of some entity, but Consciousness self-existent and the source of all selves and all worlds. This is Enlightenment. This is the key to the Buddhist scriptures, the doctrine of the Voidness, and so forth, for now one knows that the appearance which is here so familiar with us upon earth of consciousness seeming to be the weak sister that depends upon things without, is an inversion of the reality, and that consciousness in the end is the root source, the support, and the substance of all things; not consciousness merely in the sense of cognition, but Consciousness in a substantive sense, eternal, deathless, the support of all that may be; no phenomena in its purity, but supporting and the source of all phenomena; permitting him who is there to evolve worlds, and systems, and so forth, if he so chooses, out of the substance of that Consciousness. At last, Enlightened, and no longer is there any renunciation anywhere. Sangsara and Nirvana below, free entry to both, functioning between them, and mayhap by opening the door of Nirvana so that its saving substance may flow through the stygian halls of Sangsara, mankind may be so transformed that he’ll find the way to solve his insolvable problems, and he’ll find the way where war will be no more, and clashing and conflict of interest will be no more, and the sangsaric world will remain a purified, cleansed zone in which Consciousness plays its games in happiness and delight. And from this height, you now may descend in among men. You may carry that which is real.

Now, I don’t expect that everyone here climbed all the way. I’m giving you a glimpse of a journey, a journey the key to which is that one dedicates the whole of what he is and his whole life. And I can assure you, it is well worth all that it may cost.

Now, I think this is enough; it didn’t take two hours. I’ll close with a certain mantram that comes from the Prajna-Paramita and then I will leave. But before that, I wish that all of you who are going to be driving cars would see Erma first and get her okay. And if she doesn’t give you an okay and tells you to wait awhile, do so by all means. You may not be experienced with a state of light trance, and I know from my experience, it’s very dangerous to try to drive a car in light trance. I’ve studied it a good deal and decided you’ve got to definitely extravert there. You may be more or less in a trance this evening, so I wish you would go to Erma and ask her if it’s all right for you to drive. And if it isn’t all right for you, it might be for some other one in your party. I know what I’m talking about now, don’t think this is any nonsense. There may be those of you who are experienced in this matter and can take care of yourselves, but if you’re not you may think you’re in your perfectly normal consciousness and yet there may be an overlapping of a trance consciousness. There has been some here tonight.

And now I wish some of you, if you have had any experiences, I wish you’d write them down and I’d like to have you send them to me. We may meet again when we come back from Douglas toward the end of next week. Would that be about, after Sunday, wouldn’t it?

Participant: About Monday.

Wolff: About Monday. And for the rest now let us close with this mantra:

gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā*

*From the Heart Sutra: “Gone, gone, everyone gone to the other shore, awakening, svaha.”

Text © 1970 Franklin Merrell-Wolff. Reprinted with slight changes from a PDF on the website of The Franklin Merrell-Wolff Fellowship.

Franklin Merrell-Wolff (1887 ‒ 1985) was an extraordinarily intelligent philosopher, author, and spiritual teacher.

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Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness

Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness

By Franklin Merrell-Wolff

Franklin Merrell-Wolff is unique among authors of spiritual books because he had a first-rate mind (he was an instructor in the math department at Harvard), he had a first-rate Western academic education (he had a spectacular academic career at Stanford and Harvard), and he had an extremely deep level of spiritual experience. This volume contains his two most important books, Pathways Through to Space and Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object. He experienced two main stages of enlightenment, and he was particularly interested in Kant, especially Kant’s concept of the synthetic unity of apperception. Merrell-Wolff’s books are heavy going, but we know of nothing like them in the history of spiritual literature.

–Editor, realization.org

See it on Amazon.

This page was first published on March 22, 2021, last revised on March 30, 2021, and last republished on March 30, 2021.


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