"It's not a spectator sport!"

Dear Hafiza,

Woke up this morning inspired by our conversation - wish we could have had more time at Lava. It's aways amazing to me how every minute gets filled up there.
I wanted to tell you a little story about Krishnamurti. One fellow was talking to him about the gradual path to enlightenment, (admittedly with a much different flavor than your ideas because it doesn't contain the idea that the important thing is the compassionate quality of humaness being cultivated in the aspirant). Krishnamurti often said enlightenment was like opening up the window and flying out of a caged room. And the fellow commented, "But the problem is that the window has been painted shut many times. I feel like I am slowly chipping away at the paint, but eventually, slowly I'll get it opened."Krishnamurti replied, "But sir . . . The house is on fire!"

Anyway, I woke up this morning with a thought to share with you that the reality of enlightenment is that it is so easy and simple. More natural than breathing. Even if you try to stop with all your might, the next breath will come on its own. It's easier than spring coming, than rain falling down. Easier than wind blowing, it blows by itself and all you have to do is stand there. The only thing it takes for enlightenment to find you is a moment of relaxation so you can notice. So why put that off? How can you take a gradual path towards something that is ordinary and natural, already your birthright (the money is already in the bank!!!).

A gradual path can only happen if you are going somewhere. Like, I could stand up and slowly walk out of my house and across the street. I could take hours doing that if I wanted. But I couldn't take hours to be right here where I am, typing at my computer. I'm already here.

love you, Zareen

Yes, Zareen,

I really enjoyed our time together and look forward to more of it.I wasn't really talking about a gradual path to enlightenment, so much as looking at the development of an enlightened individual. In other words, it seems to me, realization in the sense of jumping off the ladder, or making it out the window, or just "getting it" in an aha moment is not enlightenment in any endpoint sense. It's actually another beginning, and really, taken alone as a marker is not all that interesting. I'm interested in the development of the enlightened one maybe as much as the development of the aspirant. I asked you a badly phrased question about comparing enlightened masters.

You answered with some stuff about skills and historical circumstances, I think. I was asking more to find out if you share my sense that enlightened masters do differ in their depth of realization.

I think it's not enough to say "Oh, I get it. Ordinariness! It was staring me in the face all the time." In one sense, of course, that's exactly what it is. But I think that can describe the ordinary mind of ignorance as well as the ordinary mind of enlightenment. When it's the former, it can short-circuit the whole developmental process and really be its own obstacle just like any other delusion. And when it's the latter, it's most interesting (to me) as a kick in the pants that can move the development of compassion and so on into a higher gear.

I love the way you describe how you woke up this morning, and the thoughts you shared with me here. The poetry and beauty in the words you have chosen are a gift of grace.I am cautious of statements of the form "all it takes is..." because whatever it's then said to take looks simple but in practice is terribly difficult for people. A moment of relaxation? I've had plenty of those. You're talking about a moment that, while the same as all other moments in one sense, is really different in another sense, the sense which marks a change in understanding. Isn't that so?

Love to you too, dear one. Hafiza

Beloved Hafiza,

The very nature of what we are talking about is difficult because words are the problem in the first place. But you know that. In lots of cases saying one thing, and then saying the opposite are both true.But I would have to say that enlightened masters do not differ in their depth of realization. There is only one realization and the nature of it is that there are no levels or even initiations. It doesn't have a depth to it. I know when I read the other masters that they are talking about the exact same experience that I have. The only difference is in the expression of it.

If enlightenment was like a university degree then there could be different levels, because some people would have a greater capacity or study harder. But enlightenment is knowing yourself, and each person has an equal ability to do that. This is the reason I emphasize the ordinariness and simplicity.
When you really think of the ramifications of this it is radical and revolutionary. You either know or you don't know and any attempt to reason it out keeps you further from the truth and becomes an excuse. It's a call to complete self honesty with no compromise. It puts an end to all religions and all paths and demands complete responsibility and awareness out of each person.

This is why Hazrat Innayat Khan said, "all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master." They form one body, one consciousness, one realization. There are no levels. This also speaks to the radical actions of the enlightened masters. I can honestly say that I am Buddha, I am Jesus. I share the same consciousness in a way that has no separation. As Mansur said, "Ana'l haqq." I am truth. Also - I am the way the truth and the life. Jesus said, "eat from my mouth and you will become me and I will become you." I am God."

These sort of statements always piss people off a lot. There is a general concensus that no one can know. It's like a conspiracy of ignorance, everyone has a stake in keeping everyone else in the same spot. What I am talking about is stepping out of the conspiracy and embracing godliness. I see no if's and's or but's about it. Either the majority of humanity takes this step or we are dead taking the planet along with us.

To me there is no compromise and no levels.

Am I answering the right question?



First, I agree that the experience is the same, but I believe that it can come briefly or continuously -- ranging, in other words, anywhere from an isolated, fleeting satori moment to a state of continuity through all of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. This is important because I think it tends to affect the expression you refer to. There's a difference between remembering the experience and being continuously drenched in it. Even the memory colors everything in one's life, to be sure, but not, I believe, to the degree that permanent immersion does. And I think there are degrees of experience in between these extremes. Possibly we disagree on this.In any case, to me the expression is much more important than the experience. People (both "enlightened" and "unenlightened," if that's a meaningful distinction) differ in their expression, and this matters.

When I speak of a master who has a greater realization, am referring to one who has "made real" a greater expression of compassion and so on. I really don't care if this comes out of "enlightened mind" or not. I grant that enlightenment experiences tend to foster compassion, but they don't guarantee it, and conversely, I think meaningful expressions of compassion can come from people who have not had the sort of experience we are talking about.Aurobindo spoke about the need to climb the stairs and rest the feet firmly on each step. We confront, in my view, a world of people at all stages of development, including many subcultures of adults whose evolution in this lifetime has become stuck at stages far short of even the beginning transpersonal. I see the need in staving off global catastrophe as one of cultivating health for all individuals in their particular respective contexts of readiness, as well as one of rekindling or supporting development to whatever stage is next for varying individuals. For example, the next step for some may be to grow out of religious fundamentalism and simply achieve rationalism. Development won't become explicitly a quest for non-dual liberation for any but a few, in any immediate future that I can imagine. Tikkun olam

Tikkun olam or bringing the Kingdom to Earth will unfold over the time horizon of our species, it's not something that will suddenly come (or not come) in this century as a response to our immediate global disaster. I see this century's work as taking urgently needed developmental steps, major steps, and bringing a reconfiguration of humanity in the direction of realization-but incrementally. The next new humanity will not be suddenly a humanity of realized mystics, but one remarkably new by virtue of having taken some significant steps in that direction, crossing some major (but not ultimate) threshhold of development. New cultural characteristics, hopefully sustainable ones, will emerge as the average level of development and overall distribution of the population continue their historical shift in the direction of realization, with some individuals (perhaps more than ever) at the "leading edge" shooting prophetic, electric currents of passion into the much larger human body.

Clearly this process must accelerate, or life as we know it is over.


Beloved Hafiza,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I love these sorts of conversations.

The nature of enlightenment or total samadhi is its "permanence" - meaning that by its very nature it cannot go away. This is why I stress its complete simplicity and ordinariness. It is so natural that it cannot go away - even from those who insist that they are not enlightened. It's like gravity. It pulls things down always. You can put a lot of effort into holding a ball up in the air, but if you give it up for even a second the ball will come down.

Any sort of satori or brief experience of oneness does not contain the vital component of . . . let's call it inevitability. So it is not the same thing at all, it's just another experience. Like throwing the ball up in the air and then catching it. You can say, "Look, the ball stayed up by itself for a moment." Satori leaves every possibility of continuing to fool yourself. Letting the ball drop is a humbling experience.It's a very important distinction and the cause of all religious stupidity throughout history. With a temporary satori experience you can walk around afterwards and tell people about it, "I had this wonderful experience and such-and-such happened." This sort of thing can (and is) used to gain stature and authority with others (subtly or blatantly).

Total samadhi or enlightenment, on the other hand, is completely humbling. You let go of the ball and it falls by itself. You didn't have anything to do with it. In fact, you failed in your duty of holding the ball up. Boom. Suddenly there is no ball.

With Satori you are still doing it, and you are receiving a gift for your spiritual efforts: a moment of peace, a wonderful feeling of unity, blazing lights, spiritual orgasm . . . whatever. With Samadhi only the universe is and there is no "little I" left to receive such party favors. It's a very humbling experience. In a very real sense nothing is gained and everything is lost. This is why only the enlightened master should be out teaching spirituality. Everyone else is teaching it as a commodity; the master knows there is nothing to sell.

This is what Rabia is talking about when she says, "With the selfish love I exclude all but you, with the other you enfold me in glory. With the selfish love, the temporary experience, you receive some sort of a gift: compassion, glory - - even power. With the other you become so ordinary that you cannot distinguish yourself from all the rest of the universe. The universe engulfs you. Parasamgate.

You talk about the "little I" and the "big I", But these are only creations you have made in yourself to keep you separate. A useful tool in talking about spiritual experiences, but ultimately something that needs to be dropped. In me there is no such separation. How could I be one with the universe and separated in myself, can't happen. When I say "I" what I mean is so obvious that it cannot be defined because defining would mean excluding something from it. Same thing when I say "self" - you have to know yourself. If you know yourself then you know what I mean when I say "self". Otherwise if you are stuck on defining it you are in an endless circle of trying to say what "self" is not.

Accepting these things is very humbling in itself. The only honest thing you can say is, "I don't know." It means you have to stop having conversations with other people and in your own head about all your spiritual concepts: satori, samadhi, truth, what this master said, what that master said. Giving up the definitions is the first step to stopping yourself in your tracks.

This is a very radical step. The ultimate rebellion -- to rebel against your own self.

You are right that there are many people with meaningful expressions of compassion who are not enlightened. And there are many ways that spiritual leaders can encourage and teach compassion, generosity, care for fellow man and the like to the general population. But there's a catch: as soon as a person starts searching, starts on a mystical path -- it is all over. While on the search almost everyone becomes fake. The compassion, love, joy and non-violence are now being worn as a cloak.

Once you are on the spiritual search the only hope is to get over it. It's a Catch-22. The only excuse people can find for their behavior is the climbing the ladder idea. "I'm on the fifth rung, but achieving more grace everyday and waiting to be initiated to the 7th rung." All the ideas about spirituality become so big, and people write books, then write books interpreting other books, and share ideas and all these things just take them further and further from the source.

From my point of view, it is not too much to ask of humanity for everyone to be enlightened. It is our birthright and natural condition as a species. It is not a big accomplishment for whole villages of people to be enlightened. The whole of humanity was enlightened up to about 10,000 years ago - a blink in time. We've only been confused for a short time. We can get over it. I realize the difficulties in getting us there, but know that being there is not a difficulty at all. It's just too bad that the only people on a spiritual search are the people on a spiritual search.

hee hee. That's a pretty big joke.