By Phil Servedio
MONDAY NIGHT wasn’t as intense as the previous hell night, but again I awoke at 3:00AM with my mind racing. I could only yell inside, “shut up!” From what Lawrence had told me, it was easy to see how the mind was reacting by racing, avoiding the identification with the utter stillness of Being. I finally managed to get to sleep and woke up late in the morning, fully aware that I was not going to get to work in the morning. But I didn’t care one bit. Around 12:30PM I drove to work and while stopped at a red light on Sir Francis Drake, a wonderful thing occurred. While sitting in the car, minding my own business, I became Radiant. I was radiating intensely in all directions; for someone who sought so heavily for spiritual nourishment through “others”, it was such an incredible revelation that this body could be a vehicle for transmission. I walked into work madly in love! I wanted to hug everyone there, which is highly, I mean, highly unusual for a work situation. I walked around and talked to people, just letting them be in the field that was being generated. I began to notice eyes, and it soon became an occupation to meet everyone eye to eye. It was a very enjoyable thing to do. At 2:00PM, I attended the weekly managers meeting at work, an hourly session around a huge oval table. Twenty set of eyes to gaze into. The Ground of Being was so loudly evident in the early moments of the meeting, but I also noticed that no one could see it except for me. A part of me wanted to get up and yell, “Can’t you see it, you idiots! It’s right there in front of your face!!!”. But I refrained, feeling the weight of sleep all around me. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I was in a totally different position than all the others there. I was carrying around such a big Secret that I couldn’t share. People have hard enough time with the esoteric sayings and poems adorning my office, let alone this!!
I also noticed, that even though the knot at the crown chakra broke, that the headaches persisted. The ache seemed to move lower down the back of my head, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that they finally subsided. I began to get the feeling that there was a powerful shift in the physiology of my own body, brought on by the opening that was caused on Saturday. It felt like it was affecting me to the deepest core of my physical and cellular body, as if I were changing into a new body. New energy pathways also seemed to be present, though this was something that I felt was a secondary result of a fundamental transition.
The next day I had another session with Arjuna, and I discussed in a rather harried tone of voice some of the insights and experiences I had over the past few days. At one point he stopped me and tried to help me see that the kind of frantic retelling of my story was blowing off energy and not really conducive at that point to “stabilizing” what had occurred. He said that stabilization (or perhaps a better word, integration) was as important or more important as the event of Awakening, and this was the reason for structuring four to five weekly sessions. He did enjoy my story of blessing the people at work, and actually reached over and shook my hand, saying, “Now that’s real service!”. We spoke for a bit about the purpose or role of a person after Awakening and how it can be a blessing for everyone, though not everyone who passes through that doorway will become a formal teacher. In fact, some may not say a word to anyone and simply go on with their lives.
The session ended with a hypno-dharma session after another good bit of eye-gazing. Arjuna’s influence on me is very strong, and even though the gazing was powerful, the session “cooled” me down in some deep way. Identification with the Background Consciousness was very strong and frequent, still feeling the “hole in the back of my being”. Meditations only served to intensify the obviousness of the Ground, accompanied by bodily feelings of slight panic, with a rapid heartbeat and the arising of fear. Meditation was a wonderful event of opening and recognition of who I Am, followed by the reactions of the body-mind to the emptiness of my self-nature. It was all such an intense adventure. Walking around I would go through a merry-go-round of being aware of the Obviousness of the Utter Still Ground, then a second later to be followed by great fear and panic in the body-mind, and then a return to a somewhat ordinary state. Though this time, however, even the ordinary state that I am accustomed to was different, as this mysterious “shift” was apparent and consistent.
The second session with Arjuna seemed to have both a stabilizing effect and an intensifying effect. The intensity began to grow with one particular sitting meditation just before bed on the Thursday after meeting with Arjuna. In that session, the Ground rose up, so to speak, to be completely evident all around, as if attention was in the center of the emptiness, whereas before it seemed to be “behind” me, as if I was living in a conch shell. But what was surprising was that not a bit of fear or panic arose. It was gone! Somehow, some way, I now could really accept the Utter Emptiness as my own self-nature with little or no reaction. I felt this to be truly significant, and I was relieved and overjoyed by the acceptance in my being of the unconditional, no-where, no-thing.
The intensity was also effecting my sleep in a very profound way. Of course, ever since I began sitting with Saniel, Lawrence and Ardeliza, my sleep had been disturbed by the intensity of the shakti, but now it took an even wilder turn. After that Thursday evening meditation, I began waking up in the middle of the night totally in the condition of utter emptiness. That Friday morning around 4:00AM I woke in that condition and full of energy, so much so that sleep was again impossible. So I figured I would make the best of a “Sleepless In San Rafael” situation and sit in meditation. Just as in the previous sitting, the Ground was all encompassing, 360 degrees around. But something very unusual happened. Before there was still a sense of attention having some location amidst the non-locality of the Ground. But this time, all of a sudden, any feeling of the boundary of attention “popped” or dropped so that there was no attention left at all. Attention and the Background Consciousness were now truly one and the same. After a short while, I “came to”, having attention in its normal position. I heard a voice behind me say “I am limitless Being”. What? Voices now? Well, it did nicely sum up the activities of the night.
Sleep became an ally, and in the next few days, I would wake up numerous times as the Ground of Being, the Void, etc.. What was even more startling was this new found capacity to dissolve attention into the Background Consciousness. This was incredible! What a gift, I thought. I then realized that with death one could jump off “the wheel of samsara” by finally dissolving attention into the Ground, the One Being At Rest. This hit me like a ton of bricks. Was it possible for me to get off this wheel, to truly be free at the moment of death? Just the possibility of it was an ecstatic thing for me. With subsequent meditations, I was able to simply “abide” in my own self-nature. Attention could simply drop in Being. Meditations were incredible. This was a whole new ballgame, and a revelation that left me feeling that I never, ever really meditated before.
The next Friday, I went to satsang with Lawrence and Ardeliza alone, as Anne was not feeling well. It was very crowded and I sat in the back of the room. This time, during meditation, I noticed how intensified in group meditation the stillness was, how apparent Being was. When people spoke, and a lot of it was talk of devotion and blissful experiences, I was feeling that they were missing the point, the obviousness of their own nature amplified in the atmosphere of shakti and satsang, focusing on experiences and temporal spiritual arisings. Hey, so what, I was having an attitude!! After the evening was over, I talked at length with Lawrence and Ardeliza about what was going on for me. Lawrence replied that the fact that I was not in control was being amplified for me and this was something important to recognize - that I never had any control. But what was most joyful was that they did acknowledge that I had the signs of a 6th stage Awakening. Ardeliza said, based on what Joel and I communicated in detail, that we were two people that they would be able to work with. Even though I felt like I had dropped the need for their acknowledgment, it was still very, very heartening for me to hear it, as I and many hold them in high regard as to their sense of basic intelligence and discrimination. What’s more, their acknowledgment signaled to me that I could work with them intimately through this period.
The following Saturday night I again awoke in the middle of the night, but this time I was having a kundalini experience. I have had these on rare occasion since I was 20 years old, where I would wake up with light and sound filling my head, as if my spine was a roman-candle or something. It was frightening the first time, but like any experience, it loses its glamour due to repetition. This time especially I had no interest or excitement about it - it served no more purpose for me as far as I was concerned. But then in the midst of watching the swirling lights in my inner vision, I heard that same voice again behind me say, “There is no observer. There are only events in consciousness”. What the hell was going on, some kind of Divine lesson plan? I was a bit suspicious of voices and such psychic events, but the message sounded important and contained a great deal of Truth. Then again, it could be a Daughter of Mara, of Buddha fame.
The next evening I had the following dream snippet:
Monday evening meditation brought a very new voice. As I was sitting there, a rather demonic voice spoke from behind me and said, “It’s all so fascinating, isn’t it?”. It sounded like Gollum from Lord of The Rings and was frankly a bit scary! But its message was loud and clear. The intensity of what occurred in the past week did leave me fascinated with my own experiences, insights and capabilities, and this was something that somehow felt a little off, even though I didn’t have any control over it. But having seen “Little Buddha” recently, it was refreshing to hear the story of Mara and his seductive daughters. Perhaps my own schoolboy quality of “oh wow” wonder was an obstruction to the process, but then, maybe not...
The “fascination” incident marked a disturbing new phase in my post-awakening process. Having the capacity to dissolve attention was such a joy, but in meditation Tuesday morning, it was ALL gone. I felt like I returned back to what seemed to bean ordinary, un-awake state, with no capacity for meditation or awareness of my nature as unqualified Being. I panicked, looking high and low in the strata of my being for a hint of something other than ordinary bodily feelings. I felt like I lost it, “landed” by identifying too much with the resulting experiences of the awakening process. A period of joyful non-seeking was replaced with hyper-seeking, like someone hearing his or her lottery numbers called out, but unable to find the damn lottery ticket!! I was distraught and upset, but fortunately was going to see Arjuna again that morning. Arjuna was straight with me, and confessed multiple similar incidents in his own process, which were all very painful. His message to me was to be mindful of the context of what things are arising in, instead of the arising phenomena themselves. He brought back to me the View that one’s self-nature can not be lost if recognized, but attention can get caught up in its own fascinating arisings, especially experiences of Emptiness or the Void. He gave me the advice to practice relaxed diligence relative to my own tendencies towards fascination with results. Arjuna also gave me a poem, called “Trust In Mind”, by Tsen-Tsan, the third patriarch of Zen Buddhism. However, while reading it, much of it sounded familiar, and then I realized I already had the poem hanging up in my office, under a different translation, being called “The Mind of Absolute Trust”. It is something, along with another poem called “Free and Easy” which is very, very useful to read, as it gracefully describes the practice of simply accepting what-is, and helps to map out the pitfalls that many may fall into in the spiritual process. Both poems are at the end of this report. The lesson of trying to “own” awakening, to try to “grasp the ungraspable” was a painful one, and certainly one that I remember clearly.
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.