By Phil Servedio
MAY 1995 BROUGHT "the rot." March and April were a "honeymoon" period of a variety of resulting experiences of the breakthrough to Awakening - so much so that I often made the mistake of equating those experiences, such as Void and Emptiness states as the Realization itself. Lawrence helped me tremendously in this matter, repeatedly enphasizing the point that even Void states are states, and that there is the One who is Aware of such states. It led me to a paraphrase of a statement by the physicist/philosopher Albert Korzybski:
"Anything that you know or experience is not you!"
When the dust of the atomic explosion of Awakening subsided in May, I began to feel heavy, empty, dull and to some degree listless. It seemed that nothing was happening (perhaps it was literally so: "no-thing" was happening!). But what was heartening to me was the fact that my friend Joel was also going through the same kind of process: The Sat and Chit was there, but what happened to the Ananda? Rather than joyful, I felt quite ugly and toxic, as if I was being lowered gradually into the pool of the subconscious, without any defenses. One of the things that I have spoken about is utter vulnerability as a side effect of the Awakening process and at this point it was biting me right in the ass. I had (and have) no defenses at all to whatever was arising, especially in the emotional body. Whatever arose was there in my face, and I had no recourse but to feel exactly what was coming up with no possibility of resistance or distraction. I simply felt things more directly: they hurt more than ever. I was grumpy at times during this process, and it made Anne wonder "where was the freedom?" Synchronistically, Lawrence gave a talk about Awakeneing being the "freedom to" phenomena instead of the "freedom from" phenomena. I like what Saniel said: "I am so inconceivably happy that I allow myself to indulge in bad moods".
This phase smacked of the concept put forth by Ardeliza of the phases of the Awakening process in the form of theseasons. This truly was a "fall" or "winter", where I was sinking into the floorboards of my own structures with no glimmer of hope on the horizon. When I would sit, there was no experience, no shakti, just me and a constant influx of angry, painful and bitter thoughts and fantasies. Occasionally, there would be moments of perfect clarity and insight, but for the most part it was one big wallow in the sewers of my soul.
This period of rot came to a seemingly abrupt halt on the Memorial Day weekend. A friend from San Diego, Terry Kennedy, came to visit us to specifically sit with Saniel, Lawrence and Ardeliza, and Lawrence called a Saturday morning session. On the Friday of the weekend, Lawrence gave a talk where he spoke about the process of "consciousness looming forward". Looking directly at Lawrence I noticed that that was exactly the position I was in - the whole period of "rot" was a transitional time where something was happening in the body-mind. There was no longer any sense of " being back", in the Background Consciousness. It seemed that I was pressed up against the edges of my body, at the edge of my cornea, looking forward.
In a lunch previously with Saniel, he said that the prerequisite for transitioning from the 6th to 7th stage Awakening was simply to give oneself permission to do so. It sounded novel albeit simplistic, but what the hell. I would often sound the affirmation in the voice in my mind,"I give myself permission to come forward", and really mean it. Having been schooled in the teaching of Love-Ananda and now with Lawrence and Ardeliza, I and many of my friends have the inclination to move forward into life, rather than hold back in a static, background form of relation to life, whether one thinks one is Awake or not. A resulting consequence of this dispostion was an increasing annoyance with the argument of Advaita-Vedanta, which is the school of Poonjaji and his students, among others (such as Ramesh Balzekar and Nisargadatta Maharaj).
At this juncture, I began to clearly see the "holding back in the background" strategy, albeit a subtle one, that is employed in these schools. Not only could I not stay in the background and function in the world as I have to (especially in my software job), it is not my disposition to do so. I sense a schism in the Advaitic philosophy, based on the cultural attitudes (and a deserving one, given some of the difficulties of life in India) that phenomena is a "problem" something to not indulge in but sit back, away from it, and see its nature from a "distance". This felt like an obnoxious strategy that I had no sympathy with. The 6th stage realization of Advaita does bring along with it the insight into the impersonal nature of consciousness, but in this process, I also notice that I am still "personal", and my "personalness" just won't go away! As Saniel says, "Yes, I am Unqualified Consciousness itself, and yes, I can still be hurt". I got the feeling that Advaita is a tremendous weapon to bring a person to Awakening, but as a philosophical structure to live one's life by after Awakening, it has serious limitations and must be released. Every fiber in my being says so: I will not and cannot hang back in the Background Consciousness - it has been usurped by an even more senior process that Love-Ananda has brilliantly delineated and lives, and now, one that Saniel, Lawrence and Ardeliza have made much more available to the common, huddled, unwashed masses such as myself. Moreover, what I appreciate even more about Lawrence and Ardeliza is that they have continued to live and comment upon Love-Ananda's breakthrough teaching about the process after Awakening.
This annoyance or disgust with Advaita came to a head in one particular sitting with Arjuna on a Wednesday night in May. On the previous Wednesday, he worked his brilliant neti-neti process with an individual, which reminded me of what he did with me in March. I find that he has a unique capacity to work people to the point of "Seeing Clearly", which in my case was a very real, direct (and energetically overwhelming) breakthrough of Awakening. But in this session, I felt furious with him, not for anything particular that he was saying, but that I was no longer in sympathy with this school - it had to be viewed with a discriminating mind, and was utterly useless to me anymore. I left saying,"I have had it with this stuff!".
In the weeks since the Memorial day retreat, it has become clear to me that a horizontal process is taking place in my body-mind. Lawrence describes the difference between 6th and 7th stage realization as the difference between Self and God Realization. In the 6th stage Awakening, the Self is Recognized and Seen to be Consciousness itself, succintly described in the statement," I Am That". But, as Love-Ananda and SL & A have pointed out, there is still something left in the process of death of the Self. From what I can see at this point, The 7th stage process and Realization is one of horizontal movement and the "aquiring" and "Outshining" of the body-mind by Consciousness. Instead of "I Am That", perhaps it can be said that "God Be Us".
In my own process, I call it a "hostile takeover". Consciousness is moving "forward", "horizontally", taking over the aspects of body and mind. I can for once truly grok the function of Outshining of phenomena, as my own body-mind goes through this process. Lawrence has talked about the sense of not being in control, and I am beginning to see this in a clearer light. It is not quite the same as what they say in AA "let go and let God" - not that kind of letting go of control, as some external force is pressing down on an apparently separate individual. This "not in control" comes from the pressing of one's True Nature "out" into the phenomenal self and world. I feel this takeover occurring, divinizing me. Sitting in meditation seems to amplify the process, and lately it seems that I no longer only meditate for myself, but for everyone. Some people, especially Anne, have noticed a change in me, particularly in meditation. I swear that I am transmitting - it's pouring out of me, though we can say that ultimately there is no locus for the Self. But it certainly feels that this body-mind is undergoing a process whereby it is being used as a beacon of Consciousness, and little ol' me has absolutely no control over how it occurs. Even in the midst of arising thoughts, the sense of the usurping of this body-mind by the utterly still, Naked Consciousness of Being occurs. This is also occurring more frequently at times and in places other than so called "spiritual" venues, such as at work (which I find remarkable), in nature, looking at Anne, etc. It seems that my life in general is colored by this infusion or "movement" of the Self into the structure of my body-mind.
Physically, the shakti has returned from its vacation during the "rot" in a more fundamental way. In a sense, it's my shakti, the shakti of "I Am", causing some intense arm kriyas and movements, a'la Ardeliza. How it all plays out, and what remains of the wintering process, and whether or not this spring process is truly in full bloom, remains to be seen. Certainly what I notice in the body is very real and apparent, and in one sense, a glimpse of things to come. There are times when I feel completely "forward" and to paraphrase Groucho Marx,"If I was any more forward, I'd be in front of me!", and other times I can feel a process occuring in the right side of my heart, pressing forward. Whether the bubble of Self has burst forth completely, I cannot say. I can say that I feel no veil in front of me, and must remind myself that in the spiritual process, nothing occurs in a form similar to my concepts or expectations. And in any case it doesn't matter - 6th stage, 7th stage, whatever, labels are useless - I know definitively that I am in a most profound process of happiness and freedom.
Text copyright © 1995 Phil Servedio. Used by permission.
When we published this journal in 2000, Phil Servedio was 45 years old, worked as a software engineer, and lived in California with his wife Annie.
This page was published on February 22, 2000 and last revised on September 3, 2019.