A collection of interesting and hopefully inspiring moments gleaned from a lifetime’s experience and spiritual pursuits.
My life has been blessed with many magical moments. It has also taught me a wide variety of lessons. Here, I have a chance to share them.
Originally published 2010
This writeup was inspired by Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. The first time I read that book, I connected with only a few of the experiences he relates, and wondered about the others. Reading it recently, I discovered that I had either personally experienced or personally witnessed most of the magical moments he describes — including some of fairly major dimensions (at least as far as witnessing them).
I have also been initiated into a parallel path of Kriya Yoga (Ipsalu Tantra, which stems from the same lineage). The lessons learned on that path and the knowledge gained while on it have led me to an inescapable conclusion: I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that every word Yogananda speaks in this book is absolute truth.
This writeup therefore has a multi-fold purpose:
- To share the magical moments I have experienced in my life, and perhaps inspire others in my own small way, in the same spirit as Yogananda.
- To bear witness to the truths he speaks, and to the potential of Kriya Yoga, so that others will be moved to investigate.
- To accompany my collection of Tantra Lessons, recounting my own personal story of growth.
As I read Yogananda’s book, I was most enthralled by the magical experiences, deep insights, and other lessons it recounted. Everything else about the writing was just the plot needed to get there! So when I started writing these experiences, my goal was to focus as much as possible on the peak experiences, with an absolute minimum of extraneous detail.
I haven’t always succeeded. Sometimes, a story takes a lot of telling! But I’ve tried. And somewhere along the way, the writeup became an autobiography!
I was inspired to re-read Autobiography of a Yogi after reading Krishna Das’ wonderful book, Chants of a Lifetime. It was great to live along with him as he experienced his spiritual growth, and his candor about where he came from and who he was, inside, made me realize how much better I’ve had it — but look where he wound up! (Later, I would read Daniel Odier’s wonderful book, Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love. Wow. What training he went through! I can’t say I’ve experienced anything that intense! Another wonderful read.)
Childhood (50’s & 60’s)
Knowing a Moment Before
I had been taken to a baseball game, for the first time in my young life. I wasn’t all that into sports, but I was glad to be there. After seeing the ball hit into the stands a few times, I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if the ball were hit to me!” Right then, a low fly was hit directly at me. I sat in the stands, ready to catch it. Knowing it was coming directly to me.
Just as the ball was arriving, someone behind me reached over my head and caught it with their baseball cap. “No Fair!”, I thought, “It was coming to me! It was the first of several times in my life that I’ve experienced a sudden feeling, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”, and then seen the event materialize immediately afterward.
Making Sense of the World
One of my early childhood memories is sitting in the back seat of the old black Studebaker when we pulled into a gas station. I was just beginning to understand what things cost. I had it mostly figured out. Gas was 10 cents a gallon. A car cost $2,000. A house was $10,000. Man. How times have changed.
Given the month I was born, I could have gone to school a year later than I did. But the family I was staying with during the week had a child my age, and it was deemed a good idea if we went to school together. So off to school I went. Unfortunately, that meant that I was effectively an entire year younger than my classmates! So I was never all that good at athletics.
In addition (as I found out many years later) I was born left-handed. The well-meaning people I was living with trained me to be right-handed. They thought they were doing it for my own good, to make it easier to get along in the world. But the actual result that fine-motor skills were a very long time coming. (My handwriting is still all but illegible.)
So I was both physically small and uncoordinated. Needless to say, I was usually picked last, when choosing up for teams.
Lacking physical skills, I didn’t get any respect in that department. As for brains, well, I didn’t get much respect there, either — both because young children didn’t tend to respect that much, in the social strata I was living in, and I was both a tattle-tale and a show-off.
I have a pretty good excuse. I had been left with another family for a week at a time, for my entire life, from 3 to 11. So I had abandonment issues. Because of that fear, I easily attached to authority figures, and wanted to please them and be accepted by them more than anything.
But while that all makes perfect sense in retrospect, it didn’t exactly endear myself to my playmates. Quite the opposite. I got into fights a lot. And generally lost.
One day, though, I won. I gave the kid a good pummeling, and got a lot of respect from others in the following week or two.
The thing was, I felt terrible about it. When I walked away from a fight I lost, the physical pain went away in a day or so. But the emotional pain from the empathy I felt never decreased. I felt it day after day. So the “respect” I got from others didn’t feel very good.
One good friend of mine (Bobby) was into archery. So I got into it, too. He actually skinned stuff, and knew outdoorsy things like that. (I would eventually pick up some woods skills in Boy Scouts, but at the time I was pretty much a city kid.)
One day we went out “hunting” in the neighborhood. (Times were more lenient, then.) We managed to corner a squirrel, between us. I vividly remember the squirrel, frozen half way up a tree. He was in perfect profile. Bobby was on the other side, slightly off to the right.
I never took the shot.
My excuse at the time was that afraid of hitting my friend. But the truth was, that when I took aim on the squirrel, I was afraid I might hit it! I didn’t mind shooting at targets. And I prefer a moving target, to this day. But knowing how I felt after hitting a kid in a fight, and I didn’t even want to know how I would feel after killing something.
(A decade later, I would have the same experience when friends in Ohio took me racoon hunting. The dogs had it trapped up a tree, and the hunters wanted to give me the shot, but I wouldn’t take it. But two decades after that, when I was a week into a water fast that lasted two weeks, in all, I wouldn’t have had any problem at all! I found out right then that it was hunger that converted our ancestors into meat eaters!)
The Start of a Lifetime Quest
Around the age of 8 — a formative period in a child’s life — my mother became very health conscious. I saw her begin an exercise program, start eating wheat germ, and start care of herself in ways I had never seen before. At the age of 9, she started going in and out of the hospital. Two years later, she died.
Little did I know it at the time, but that experience was the beginning of a lifetime interest in health and fitness. Without putting words to it, I knew in my heart that my mother was seeking the things that could have saved her, had she only begun them in time.
Several years later, in high school I was attracted to a book by Yogi Vithaldas: The Yoga System Of Health And Relief From Tension. It was a slim volume, but inspiring. It was filled with great exercises and health practices that I had never seen before. I had been a skinny bookworm all my life, but as I began practicing regularly, people began to tell me how much fitter and stronger and looked. (Alas, I lacked the self-awareness to see the change in myself. So I dropped the practice. But somehow, I knew that I would be returning to it in later years.
About that time, I also found books by the Vitamin Lady, Adelle Davis. Those books gave me a sense that nurtition was a science — a science that could be understood, and that had predictable effects on health. Herbal remedies, alas, have never seemed to rise to that level. But by understanding nutritional ingredients, we could identify cause-and-effect relationships between inputs (nutritional ingredients) and their concomitant outputs (health and energy).
It was the start of a lifetime of investigation that eventually spanned minerals, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fatty acids.
God on the Cliff
As a kid, I loved to climb. In high school, a friend of mine and I used to climb in a quarry. He was off somewhere else, and I was alone. (We weren’t bright. Just adventurous.) I was halfway down, when I started slipping. I had both forearms pressed on a rock, but there was dirt it, and I was slipping. I was sitting on one side, on my knees, with dirt under me, and that was slipping, too. I didn’t have anywhere to hold on to!
As I felt myself slipping, I began praying to God. Believe me when I say that this is not something I normally did. I didn’t pray at all, and the thought of God was always far from my mind. But on this occasion, I found myself praying deeply.
Later in life, I found myself doing that once again in a far more dangerous situation at Yosemite, where I had climbed a several hundred feet up a cliff by myself. As always, the climb had gotten steeper as I went, so that it became harder and harder to reverse my tracks. Suddenly, there I was, unable to go any further, really not wanting to attempt a reversal, and unable to hold on for much longer!
On both occasions, I prayed. Deeply. From deep in my heart. Somehow, both times, I came away unscathed. I wasn’t saved my muscular technique, I can tell you. But somehow, my hands and feet were guided to the right places, until I was safe and sound.
(I felt “connected” during those moments, and marveled that I made that connection in such circumstances, and yet felt virtually unconnected the rest of the time. Maybe that connection is something I’ve been unconsciously searching for in my life.)
High School Track
Joined the track team in High School — mostly because I understood that if you stuck with it, you lettered. That was the sport for me! A bookworm all my life, I had little athletic ability — partly because I started school at the earliest possible date, so that I was effectively a year younger than many of classmates in every grade, and partly because I was born left-handed, but was trained to be right-handed at an age was I too young to object, or even to know what was happening. So a) my coordination never fully developed and b) I lost inner confidence at a very young age. (It had to seem as though everything I tried to do was wrong!)
So there I was, relatively small and uncoordinated, unable to do well at most any sport you can name. But track wouldn’t quit on me, if I didn’t quit on it! I never did. I finished every race I started, despite the fact that I was always the last one to finish, and they were generally waiting to start the next race while I was laboring around the last turn!
Since I had no speed to speak of, the coach had me running the “long distance” races (2 miles). The high point of my career was the day that I found one person in the entire state of New Jersey that I could beat! I was rounding the corner for the home stretch while he was on the back side. Then he quit. I felt bad for him. But I was elated. I was finally faster than somebody. (I wished he had finished, though! Both for him and for me.)
Years later, after college, I would go out running just for the fun of it. I never cared about time or distance, just time. I’d run for 20 to 30 minutes mid week, and hour or two on Fridays and weekends.
–lucky to go to college,
–in the social strata I grew up in, it very likely would not have happened
–intellectual challenge in last 2 years of HS. Friends who valued education!
–still, I was an indifferent student.
I mostly “coasted on my brains”. If I was interested in a subject, I invariably got an A. If not, I might get a C or worse. (I would take courses that interested me. But
half the time, my curiosity was satisfied after the first week! After that, I had no tolerance for the boredom of academic drudgery (or so it seemed to me, at the time). It was only after I had been going to college for a few years that I figured out I should drop a course when I reached that point. After that, my grades started to improve!
–spent 5 years in college (should have been in a dorm, to learn social skills)
–the first two years, mostly played chess
–the last two years, mostly played bridge
–the middle year I didn’t have much of an excuse. I just didn’t study!
I once had a “programmed learning” book that taught calculus. I loved doing the exercises so much that one day I did them for 8 hours straight, until I finished the book. I was so engrossed that I was never aware of how much time was passing! (It was calculus for Physics majors, and it actually gave me a big picture view of what I had been doing in my calculus courses! All the time, I had been learning technique after technique, without really understanding the purpose of it all. So the book was helpful in two ways.)
I mentioned to a teaching assistant in the math department how much I missed that. Regular textbooks were so hard, and at the same time so boring. He then showed me how to work through a math chapter, uncovering one line at a time with a card, trying to guess the next step in each proof. It took longer to get through a chapter, but I found it engaging, and I really learned the material. Then I’d look at the exercises at the end of the chapter, skip the simple ones that were now so obvious, and do some of the advanced exercises that were “interesting” in one way or another. (I owe that fellow a lot. Wish I remembered his name.)
I found that the precision of baroque music really helped when doing math. Bach especially used to put me in the exact right frame of mind for doing proofs. (I had the most fun with abstract algebra and mathematical logic.)
Between the new study method and the music, I found myself enjoying math, and wound up taking enough courses to have a minor in it. It was just like doing puzzles for fun! (Years later, I would have the same experience programming, and actually get paid to do it. Too cool for words.)
After being a bookworm all through high school, I discvered dance in college. How I got there is a pretty entertaining story.
To sign up for phys ed (physical education) classes at Ohio State, we went to a huge gym that had tables for various classes. We stood in a long line for a class we wanted, and then signed up when we got there, if it was still open.
The first quarter, I signed up for fencing. Oh boy, I thought. I had visions of Errol Flynn, leaping from the stairs to the chandelier, swing and swashbuckling away.
What we did was something else. We stood across from each other, got into a low stance, and moved the epee an inch to the right. Then an inch to the left. Back. Again. And again. Every so often, for variety, we’d lunge. Then we’d recover, and go back to the teeny back and forth movements.
I was never so bored in my life.
The next quarter, I signed up for archery. Oh boy, I thought. I had visions of Robin Hood, sitting in trees, shooting at a feathered cap, or whatever.
Nope. Not like that. We stood in a field, 25 yards from a big round target, and plunked arrows at it. One after another after another, for an entire hour. BOR-ing. I stood in line for half an hour for this?
Only three quarters of phs ed were required., and this was my last one. I thought to myself, I went to college to get smart. This time, I’m going to be smart. I’m going to walk up the shortest line I see, and sign up for it, whatever it is.
When I got to the gym, there was one table with virtually no one around it! Five or six people, at most. All of the others had a stack of people, 4 people wide, half the length of the gym. Cool! I walked up to it.
I turned out to be a dance class. I turned around and walked away again.
Then I looked at all of the other lines. “What the hell,” I figured, “How bad could it be? If nothing else, it will make a great story. So I signed up for a dance class.
To my surprise, it turned out that I was good at it! It required body-awareness and graceful coordination, which I had. It didn’t require massive amounts of strength or speed, which I lacked. It was the very first time I was ever good at anything physical. (As a kid, I once danced with a girl. Liked it a lot. But it was more about the girl than the dance!)
After that experience, I took more classes in the modern dance department — ballet and modern dance, mostly. It turned out that we needed to do a weekly choreography. At home, I’d put on a piece of music I liked, and compose to that. Then I’d demonstrate the dance at the weekly class, hearing the music in my head.
They must have liked what I was doing, because they asked me to join the department. (It helped that there wasn’t much competition for male dancers!) A couple of quarters later, I was in a class with a fellow who had spent the summer dancing with Cunningham in Miami. Cunningham. My idol. The developer of a pair-dancing style that had the couple intertwining in the most moving and poetic of ways. I asked him what he was doing Ohio State, after dancing with Cunningham. “Don’t you know?”, he replied, “Ohio State has one of the best dance departments in the country.” How about that! (Of course, if I weren’t a male dancer, I never would have been good enough to get in. Still!)
Dance didn’t last, though. The students who were most advanced also seemed to be the most neurotic. It wasn’t who I wanted to be. And I was beginning to discover my intellectual potential. So I left the dance department, and eventually joined the philosophy department. (But my major influence came from the professor who taught political philosophy in the Political Science Department — Dr. Champlin.)
One series of courses was special: Dr. Champlin’s series on Political Philosophy. Something about that subject, and his manner of teaching it, really rang my chimes. I particularly liked Plato’s dialogues.
By this time, I had learned that when you like a teacher, you should take every course they offer — in essence, becoming an “apprentice”, to the degree it was possible to do so. So I took every course he offered, and did well in them.
I particularly recall one Friday, when I walked into class after missing most of the week playing bridge in the Student Union. When I sat down, he began passing out exam papers. I glanced at it, and realized I had no hope whatever of answering any of the questions.
I walked up to the front, said, “I’m not prepared to take this exam”, and got no further. I had excuses on the tip of my tongue — I was out sick, or something — but I never needed them. He took the paper from my hand and said with a smile, “Fine. Get back to me in a day or two when you’re ready, and we’ll schedule a make up.”
In that moment, I fell in love. I studied over the weekend, scheduled a makeup on Monday for the following day, took the exam, and did well in it.
Later, impressed with the Platonic Method, I wrote a dialogue between “Protagonis” and “Antagonis”. Protaganis was arguing for one point or another. Antogonis was arguing against it. I don’t recall the subject, but as I recall, Protaganis won.
My year was made when Dr. Champlin wrote on the paper, “This represents the best understanding of Plato that I have ever seen in an undergraduate.” It was a response to treasure. (Except for the undergraduate part. Grrr! :__)
Philosophy Talks, & Final
In one philosophy class, the teaching assistant asked us to express our ideas to the class. It was my first talk ever. I was nervous, and stammering. I had good ideas, but I was terrible at it. I liked the sensation of being up in front of a group of people, though. I resolved to get better at expressing my ideas. (Years later, in my martial arts training, I would have the opportunity to run classes, lead meditations, and generally become much more comfortable in front of a group.)
A year or so later, and well into my hippie period, I talked my way into giving a speech to another class. This time, it was a graduate-level class. It was extreme, but I didn’t agree with the professor’s main thesis, and I wanted to express myself! This time, I was magnificent! Well, with respect to the delivery, at least. As it turned out, my ideas weren’t so good.
The other students tried to argue me out of my position, but I wasn’t having any of that. I defended myself well — or so I thought. Being well into my hippie period, as mentioned, I hadn’t actually read any of the books, and had formulated an actually rather uninformed position.
The night before the final, I dose myself with enough No-Doze (caffeine in a pill) to keep a horse awake, and I sat down to do some reading. One book had an essay that was a perfect match for my position. Needless to say, I read that essay with great glee. It was followed by two more that absolutely demolished that position. They took it apart, piece by piece, and blew each piece to shreds. Arghh!
The next day, in the final, I reversed myself 180 degrees, quoting entire paragraphs from memory to make my points. (Thereby learning about the power of both caffeine and short-term memory — because today I couldn’t even tell you what the subject was, much less what the arguments were.)
So after getting a C in the mid-term exams (and not really understanding why), I got an “A” in the finals. (After all, I was now fully agreeing with the professor, who turned out to be pretty smart after all.) That gave me a “B” for the course.
After that, I was walked through the halls of the philosophy department, I could see heads turning, and practically heard the whispers. I was treated with new respect, too. I liked that a lot!
Knowing Your Audience
I spent some doing maintenance work at a hotel. Once, the manager and a technician were measuring to put in a new bit of duct work. It had to come up from the floor, make a right angle, and connect to the horizontal duct that was already there.
They measured down from the top duct, and then over to the one in the floor. Then one of them said, I kid you not, “Wait! We measured down, and then over. We should have measured up and over. At that point, I spoke up and said, “It’s ok. The measurements are right.” They looked at me. They wanted to believe me, but couldn’t quite bring themselves to. I just needed to push them over the edge.
If I had thinking of my audience, I might have said something simple like, “It’s the exact same measurements. We just made them in a different order.” I might then have used my hands to show them how each measurement was the same, just in a slightly different location.
But I didn’t do that. Oh, no. Being fresh from many a high-level math class, I spoke up and said, “They’re both right-angle triangles. They’re congruent, and they share the same hypotenuse. So they’re identical!”
I might as well have added, “QED”. They looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head, said “they share the same what?”, and promptly set about remeasuring. Practical men, those.
I stayed away from drugs through most of college. Then someone told me that, “I seemed like the kind of thoughtful, reflective person who would get a lot of it”. I fell for it, and took drugs for a couple of years.
The first time was magic. I was a kid again! Wild and free. With lots of pretty lights. Whee! I had definitely expanded my consciousness. This was great — or so I thought. Little did I know the hell that lay in store.
Eventually, my system had taken all it could, and it broke down. I had a bad trip. I call it “logging an eternity in hell”, because the time-dilation effect was such that it seemed like it would never end.
The next time, I had the very same experience. That’s when I quit drugs for good. But the after effects lingered for years. Every time I would get slightly tense, I worried that I might be about to experience a relapse, which made me fearful, making me me even more tense, so I worried even more that it was about to happen… Around and around. Pretty soon, the initial anxiety would cascade into a full-blown panic attack. I eventually found ways to ameliorate the problem (See Dealing With Anxiety Attacks), but it was a good 20 years before I really felt like myself again.
The problem was that the drugs had brought to the surface abandonment issues that I wasn’t ready to deal with — with no one to help me resolve them, with all ability to reason about them removed, and with such a stimulant effect that sleep was impossible to escape them. So I was forced to experience them, at full intensity, without let up, for an 8-hour period that felt at the time as though it would quite literally never end.
Eventually, after a long period of martial arts training, I got to the seat of that particular issue (covered later under Heart Chakra Breakthrough). That particular awakening was a very long time coming. The first is breakthrough is always the hardest, of course, and Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim worked long and hard to help me to the point that I was ready for it. But progress was perhaps slower than it really needed to be, or could have been.
Eventually I discovered Tantra Yoga, and rapidly built on the foundation, making several more breakthroughs in short order. (See the first several sections under Ipsalu Tantra.) All in all, then, I favor the Ipsalu Tantra approach — a program designed to uncover and release blockages, where Kundalini energy is awakened at a pace you can handle, along with the memories and emotional sensations you experience in the process. The high is sweeter, and it’s sustainable, so it lasts longer.
Chicago – Tomato Soup
The Bakery restaurant.
Awesome tomato soup. No cream. Just flavors that danced in your mouth.
Everything else was good, but that soup was memorable. I raved about it for weeks.
Later, a friend told me he found it in a book called The Ten Best Recipes from Around the World.
That felt good!
Painted Desert Surrender
I was fully into my Hippie period, by now. A bunch of us decided to go to California. They had a car. I had money for gas. We all wanted to go. So we went.
Along the way, we stopped at the painted desert. We walked down the path to the viewing area, with a low guardrail in front of us. I was impressed by the panoramic vista and the sheer beauty of the place. I wanted to bask in it.
But my companions would not stop chattering! They kept going on and on about the most mundane, inane things. Where they would get gas, when we would eat, who’s a better batter in the major leagues. There was no end to it!
Being a hippie, I was free to act uninhibited — even though, in reality, I was searching for a way to relax internal inhibitions. But dang it all, I wanted to experience this place. There was a tree a couple of hundred yards out into the dessert, far away from the maddening crowd. I leaped over the railing and ran out to, as fast as I could. (If I moved slowly, they might have said something to me or, worse, followed me!)
When I got to the tree, I sat under it, and looked at the sky. It was amazing. The viewing area, with its protective rocks behind us, gave us nothing like the view I was experiencing now. Looking up, and in any direction, there was nothing but sky. One humungous dome, and I was sitting under it.
I was immediately overcome with a sense of my own insignificance. How puny I was! How vast, the universe. I was dwarfed by the immensity of nature. But suddenly I realized that I was part of nature. I was a a tiny droplet, but I was a tiny droplet in the massive force of the waves and tides!
In that moment, it felt as though I had turned around 180 degrees. Instead of pushing against that force, I was one with it, moving with it. Together, we were mighty enough to overcome any obstacle! My heart soared. For that moment, I was truly free.
In California, I went to a gym to shoot some baskets. There were some other guys there, and we got up a game.
Did you ever have one of the days where absolutely everything worked? Perfectly? That day, I had one. I could see that from underneath, anywhere except directly below the basket, the rim looked an oval. And the farther away you were, the narrow the oval appeared.
So I could use the shape of the oval to tell my distance from the rim! I was that aware, and that able to deliver the ball precisely on target. I was raining them in, to the point that while I was still far away, someone on the other team would be yelling, “Guard him!”
But then, when the guard came close, I was able to drive by for a layup. Or pass unerringly to a teammate. I mean, it was a wonderful day to experience.
Afterward, they asked me where I was from, and if I played on the college team there. The honest answer was that if I played that well every day, I could have played anywhere!
While in California, someone gave me a Tarot reading. It’s the only time in my life I have ever had my Tarot read. They put out 4 cards in row, (for different phases of life, if I recall), and then one above them all — the destiny card. I don’t remember any of the other cards. But I remember that one. It was the Sun.
The reader said he had never seen that one before, and wondered what it meant to me. To me it meant light — enlightenment. And it meant the son (sun) of man. And it meant the energy of life. So I was quite happy. (Years later, I wound up working for a company called Sun Microsystems — known to all and sundry as simply, “Sun”.)
Quit Smoking with Sleep Learning
I started smoking while studying for my first college final. I was studying with a friend, tense as all get out, when the friend offered me a cigarette. I accepted, found that it steadied my nerves a bit, and the habit was born. In the ensuing years, I found that it gave me time to think during a conversation, and it generally became part of my life.
At the time, cigarettes were about 35 cents a pack, and were going up to 40 cents. A huge sum, in those days. I resolved that when they reached 50 cents a pack, it would be time to quit. But that was not an easy thing to do!
“Sleep teaching” was a technique that was in use at that time. So got a tape-loop to put in the recorder, and a timer that turned it on for 2-1/2 hours while I was going to sleep, and for 1-1/2 hours when it was time to wake up. I recorded a bunch of positive messages (nothing negative), like “You know you can quit, and you know you want to quit. Think how happy you’ll be when you’ve quit. So go ahead! You know you can!”.
I listed all the reasons that motivated me to quit, set the thing up, and let ‘er rip. After three weeks, I was so sick and tired of hearing myself repeat the same thing, over and over and over, I turned it off.
Another couple of weeks after that, an interesting thing happened.
I was thumbing through a copy of Reader’s Digest, and noticed an article on the damage that smoking does. Now, that was noteworthy in and of itself. I had see similar articles for years, and had always skipped right on by. This time, I read it.
The really interesting tidbit was that with every puff, a million lung cells died. A million! I mean, here I was, doing some athletics and volleyball and stuff, and I was smoking. It occurred to me that I should do one or the other, but it was senseless to do both.
I decided against smoking. I put out the half-finished cigarette, stopped as of that moment.
That, too, was noteworthy. I didn’t wait until I had finished the pack. I didn’t even wait until I had finished the cigarette in my hand. I quit right then and there.
The next day was particularly interesting. I was of course a bit agitated, but I had made my decision, and I was not smoking.
Late in the afternoon, I had a long, boring statistics class in the psychology department. The class was two hours long, with a ten-minute break in the middle. When I got back from the break, I was surprised to find a half-finished cigarette in my hand!
That was noteworthy, too, because it was clear that my body had a mind of its own! It wanted the nicotine so bad that it somehow managed to distract my consciousness and go on auto-pilot, to get that puff.
My reaction? I laughed! I mean, it was funny, right? That my body could do such a thing without me even being aware of it? Then I put the cigarette out. And that’s when I knew I had it licked — that I was in charge, and there would be no more smoking.
In later years, I would become quite plastered every once in a while, when I went to a bar. On a couple of those occasions, I decided to have a smoke. But you know what? I never defined myself as a “smoker” because of those events, and never smoked again, other than on those occasions.
Expanded Consciousness from Scientology
Scientology was incredibly expensive. And it was a cult, certainly. But I also found it amazingly helpful. (And, truth be told, all organized religions (and even martial arts and military outfits) are cults — not in the sense of a physical compound you can’t leave, but in the sense of social dynamics which call for the individual to isolate themselves from the rest of the world, align themselves with the group, and maintain the belief that the leader is always right.
The foundation of Scientology is the E-meter, a sensitive device for measuring skin resistance. The device had its origins in Biofeedback research, where it was found to accurately measure the degree of muscle tension or relaxation. But the interesting wrinkle Scientology’s founder (E. Ron Hubbard) put on things was to use it for counseling — so there was always an auditor (someone monitoring the meter and asking questions), as well as the person getting the counseling. (In the early stages, you never got to see the meter. Later, when you get to an advanced stage, you use it by yourself.)
In the process of creating that organization, Hubbard found that people needed to learn basic people skills to do any kind of effective auditing. So he set up training programs to teach those skills. Those training programs took on a life of their own, as they were useful in every day life. Then he found that another set of skills was needed to teach people. So he set up training programs for trainers.
If Scientology did nothing else, it snapped me out of my Hippie period, When I started in Scientology, I got only a little something out of the training drills. (But then, I had a long way to go.) But it was when I began to master the teacher-training that I really started making progress.
The fundamental concept was that all misunderstandings boil down to not having the same definition for one or more words. So as you’re reading, when you come across a word you don’t understand, your grasp of the concepts get a little fuzzy, or you just don’t get them at all. (That idea turned out to be a powerful piece of weaponry in my intellectual arsenal.)
There are downsides to the organization that are worth mentioning. One was that all misunderstandings are attributed to the student, who didn’t clearly understand the written directions. But in some cases, those directions are ambiguous, at best. In other cases, a common word may be used in a special way — but without alerting the reader of that fact. On the plus side, the refusal to countenance criticism keeps the materials standardized. On the minus side, it prevents potentially useful feedback that could improve the materials.
Another issue is that the organization (and especially its founder) is “always right”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, until you’ve been around and have seen the organization reverse course a hundred and eighty degrees a few times. Every time, it is suddenly found that the old policy was “created by someone else”, and that’s not really our policy at all. Never has been. Oh, my.
(Scientology defines “insanity” as the inability to remember the past. Pretty accurate. As an organization, it tends to fit that definition, at times like those. But at the same time, I found the technology to be helpful. Eventually, it produced my first episodes of real “enlightenment”. And it led to some interesting “psychic” phenomenon, as well.)
After a couple of weeks of intensive teacher-training, and the counseling that goes with it, I came home flying. I remember walking through the airport with the friends who came to pick me up. My stride was purposeful. My energy was powerful, and expanded to the edges of the huge space I was in.
Later, when engaged in counseling that took me up through level 4, I “keyed out clear”, which means that I was in such an expanded, relaxed state, that no further counseling was possible! I was literally “floating above the fray”, so fully exterior that there was never enough tension in my body to register on the meter, no matter what we did. (Gotta say: I loved that!)
So all in all, I like the technology, even though I dislike the organization. And the practice did raise my consciousness considerably, and the idea of using Biofeedback in paired sessions has a lot of merit.
On the other hand, I would later find that Tantra Yoga was actually a much better vehicle for identifying and resolving emotional issues.
For one thing, when looking for the initial cause of a disturbance, a Scientologist will be led by the meter back to earlier and earlier experiences until, eventually, they back track to “past lives”.
Now, I am not suggesting that past lives aren’t real. I’ve had experiences to suggest they are, and I think that the theory of random reincarnation is the best possible guide to social policy. (See What if Reincarnation is Real? Basically, the idea is that if you know you could come back as anyone at all, you’d very interested in social justice and equality!)
However, later on in my martial arts training, and then again in Tantra Yoga, I would find very deep, underlying causes for my own internal issues, all of which stemmed from this life alone.
To anticipate subjects covered later: The root cause in my case was a fear of abandonment, which repeatedly threatened my survival instinct at a very young age. (My mother, who worked in the New York during the week, needed to leave me with caretakers for a week at a time. They were only a mile or so away from our home in New Jersey, but I was too young to have conscious awareness of either distance or time. So to my young mind, I was being abandoned. And it happened every week, for years, until I finally grew enough to understand that it was only a temporary departure.)
When at last I penetrated to the root cause of many personal issues, the root cause was there, in my current life, in experiences I had before I had any capability for consciously filtering them. Dredging them up and seeing them clearly made it possible to reexamine and reinterpret those experiences, and quite literally give my “inner child” comfort it desperately needed at the time.
Scientology techniques definitely help to bring to light experiences that worth examining. But it’s focus is on “earlier, similar experiences”. That idea is helpful, to a degree. But (as will become apparent later) the cause of a particular issue may not lie in a “similar” experience, but rather a “related” experience that was the foundation for it.
In my case, I was able to diagram the connections between the variety of personal issues. The result was a “tree” structure, with one thing branching out into several offshoots, and other things branching out from those.
It’s possible that the right kind of “guided search” could have penetrated to the actual causes much more rapidly. (In Towards a Science of Personal Transformation, I’m attempting to capture ideas leading in that direction.) But the simple fact is this: It is a lot easier to see those connections in retrospect, after the fundamental issues have been identified and resolved.
People interpret things in different ways, and any given issue, while seeming to be similar to issues experienced by others, can come from many different causes. The reason that makes one person afraid of the dak, for example, may be entirely different from the reason that makes another person afraid.
On the other hand, it is entirely possible that there is finite number of causes which could be enumerated. Once you have an enumeration of cases, a device like the E-meter could conceivably be used to check for related experiences. Eventually, after a full catalog of cause/effect conditions had been accumulated, it might be possible to get to the deep inner causes in record time.
Techniques like Tantra Yoga counseling do much the same thing, only without the assistance of BioFeedback devices. They depend on the awareness of the counselor, who guides you to experience your own bodily sensations (the ones an E-meter would be signaling), and to interpret them.
(Interestingly, the counselor offers no interpretation of their own. They merely help you achieve the calm, “witnessing” state of mind that makes it possible for you to do so. But BioFeedback has been found to be extremely helpful to achieve that state of mind, taking people in weeks to levels that experienced meditators may spend a couple of decades learning to reach readily and reliably. So it seems like a helpful tool for the purpose.)
The bottom line is that Scientology’s focus on “similar” experiences seems to take you down a parallel path. Instead of following a thread of connections down to the root of the tree, you get down as low as you can go in this life, and then “drop through the branches” looking for a similar kind of experience that may not exist in this life.
The theory, of course, is that if looking at a given experience and witnessing isn’t resolving things, then there must be something that underlies it. That much is certainly true. But the expectation that the earlier experience is “similar”, isn’t necessarily true. When it is, you’re in luck. When it isn’t, it becomes possible to bypass the actual cause, and go off in search of an event that just isn’t there.
If it isn’t there in this life, then perhaps the imagination creates similar scenarios from “past lives”, using whatever historical information has been imbibed during one’s education. Or perhaps the past life experiences are real. In any case, if the real underlying cause is a related (but not similar) experience in this life, then you can spend a lot of time looking at things that aren’t really related.
The good news is that when you reach a state where the imagery is coming readily, and you’re experiencing it calmly, you’re somewhere in the neighborhood of the alpha/theta threshold that is the key to meditation, transformation, and Yoga Nidra (A technique for conscious dreaming and affirmation-making. More on that subject, later). So just the experience of examining all those images, aided by auditor, helps to take you to the state of being “Clear”.
Much later, while reading Autobiography of a Yogi, I learned that it is desire that “binds one to the wheel of Karma”. Rather than (or possibly in addition to) some universal plan of justice that makes you come back to get either your punishments or your rewards for past deeds, it is your own desire for success or revenge or whatever that makes you come back, life after life.
In other words, you come back because there is something you want. So the key to freedom is to not want all the things you currently do want! Whether that is actually true, I’m not qualified to say. But just entertaining that thought raised an enormous amount of compassion for others. After all, having an effect on you may have been an experience they really wanted. Letting them have it maybe removes one small nail from their “Karma Coffin”. (On the other hand, it takes more wisdom than I currently possess to know what it is they really want, or need. Maybe they wanted they experience of someone fighting back!)
Anyway, it occurred to me that an even better use for the E-meter technology and the guidance to past-life imagery might be to help someone re-experiencing satisfied desires. So instead of pining for someone to love, for example, they could recall in vivid detail a person from a past life with whom they shared an intense, lasting love. In feeling that sensation of love, or of some other satisfied desire, they can experience the true inner happiness that comes from God’s Grace/Divine Connection/Shiva Consciousness. And in experiencing that bliss, they will find the ability to reach that state at will, and perhaps be that much further released from the wheel of Karma. (!)
Tiny Dot Perspective
During those days, as I was falling asleep, I would have very interesting images in my head. After a while, I noticed that I was basically the size of a “dot”, looking at the world from some interesting location — like inside the curve of the scroll work on a wrought-iron gate. From there, there were interesting curves and shapes that we don’t ordinarily see.
Weight Training. Girls! Beauty?
I was going to graduate school in the evenings, and working during the day. I was introduced to an expensive fitness center, joined, and started going religiously, three times a week. (On Saturdays, I’d get back from workouts so exhausted that I just had to sleep. I was releasing a lot of growth hormone, at that time.)
The growth hormone and the exercising did some good. I began to notice that the girls were going out of their way to be in my path, and to strike up a conversation. I wound up dating a most beautiful model, too. So one thing I learned: Women are just as turned on by physical appearance as men!
Another thing I learned: That beautiful model can be all packaging. When you unwrap the package, there might not be all that much physical beauty! Fortunately, the lady I was with did have considerable spiritual beauty. But there is no guarantee of that! (So do try to look past the packaging.)
Running Every Day / Body’s Built-In Intelligence
There was a nice park I could get to on one of the routes home from work. It had a variety of trails, so it didn’t get boring. At the end of the day, I used to change at work, take a run at the park, and then go home to shower. Lots of fun.
At one point, I started doing that every day, right at 5 or 5:30. On weekends, I’d go out for an hour or two, but the main running was every day, at the same time, for 20 or 30 minutes. I did that for a couple of months.
Over the course of those two months, I saw a new “regularity” begin to creep into my schedule. That was something new for me. I began to get tired at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning. I began to get hungry at the same time each day. Then, after eating meals on a regular schedule, I began to make visits to the bathroom on a regular schedule, as well.
One unexpected result, about 6 weeks into it, was the day I went to my favorite steak house. The sounds and smells of the steak sizzling on the grill had always left me tantalized. And I loved the bread, baked potatoes, and butter. But not today! Unexpectedly, none of that held any interest for me at all! (I went there, after all, thinking to get a steak dinner.)
But then I saw the salad bar! My mouth started salivating. I could not wait to dive into the salad. Oh man, was I going to enjoy that! That’s when I found out that exercise affects your diet in very natural ways!
Meeting Woody Hayes
In graduate school, I began playing volleyball with some of the other grad students. And now that I was a “jock” of sorts, I began tutoring some of the freshmen football players.
One was pretty sharp, and didn’t need much help. I remember pouring through his Fortran code, trying to find the source of a mysterious “unidentified variable” error. The problem was, the code looked fine! I must have gone over it for 10 or 15 minutes before I finally realized that he had written “INTERGER” to declare his variables. It was consistent, too, he spelled that word the same way he pronounced all, throughout the program. But that single misspelling looked like a new variable to the Fortran processor — instead of the intended declaration of the data type for a new variable!
The other fellow I tutored needed a lot more sharp. But being of the Scientology and Socratic persuasion, I never once gave him the answer. Instead, I lead him to it until he figured it out himself. It took a lot of time, but he did get it. And man, was he working hard! The school was using Fortran to solve business problems — something akin to using a spoon to dig a trench. It was just the wrong tool for the job! So the poor fellow had a deck of punched cards filled with “format” statements that were like, 19 cards long –where each one produced exactly one line of the report he was creating, and where each had to be exact.
So he was working pretty darn hard, and it took us until nearly midnight to get everything fixed up and working. (I would later found out that as a state school who was required to take every resident who applied, they had a number of courses like that, each designed to weed out the student body!)
Anyway, I suspect that it was on the basis of that evening that one of the assistant coaches came up to me and told me that Woody Hayes wanted to meet me. Big day! He was nice enough to comment on my tie, so I stammered for a couple of minutes, telling him where I got it. Then I warned him off the “business programming” course. They should have been using Cobol!
Great Day of Volleyball
You remember that great day I had playing basketball? Had one of them playing volleyball, too.
The thing that makes volleyball tough, of course, is that multiple people have to perform their skills well, all in a row. Generally, it’s three people: One to pass, one to set, and one to spike.
I was a spiker/blocker. On this day, my setter was an Ohio State assistant coach who had spent the summer in a professional league. Man! To say he was awesome was to understate the case. No matter where he got the ball, he set to the exact same position, at the exact same height, every single time.
Now height makes a big difference. The higher it’s coming from, the faster it drops. The lower, the slower. Since the ball is accelerating, the height it’s coming from makes a big difference in how soon the ball arrives, and how fast its going when it gets there. Where it goes makes a big difference, as well. If the position is different, you have to figure out where it’s going to be, and get there, to spike it. If the speed and location both change from set to set, well, it’s a challenge.
The setter of course, also has the challenge that each pass is going to a different spot. It’s not like the set is coming from the exact same position, every time. But this setter was up to the challenge. Man, was he ever! Every single ball, time after time — same height, same location.
Now, my favorite position was outside hitter. I just loved spiking the ball. Typically, though, my spiking wasn’t as consistent as my blocking, so I found myself playing middle blocker. On this day, though, I found myself in the outside hitting position, getting set after set in precisely the same spot, coming at precisely the same speed.
Oh, man. It was lovely. I dialed in on that spot. As soon as the ball left the setter’s hands, I knew without looking where it was going, and I knew when it was going to get there. I tracked it with my eyes, of course, but most of the work of timing became automatic. And if I was a little early or a little late, I could use that feedback to adjust to the next ball.
That day, I picked the defense apart with my spiking. I could go down the line, cut cross court, or power through a gap in the block. If the block happened to be perfect, I could tip the ball behind them, and see everyone staring at it, frozen, as it fell softly to the floor.
Because I was doing well, we were scoring points. Because we were scoring points, I stayed in that position longer, instead of rotating out of it. And I got more sets. And because I got more sets, I got even more dialed in on the setter.
What a great day!
Feeling a Friend Make a Decision
Years later, I found myself mentally connected with a friend I had my attention on. He was trying to decide whether to take an action I had counseled against. I remember driving towards campus and knowing he had decided the wrong way. I just felt it, even though he was miles away. (It turned out that he had indeed come to that decision at that very moment.)
Graduate School — Computer Science
By this time, I was working as a programmer. I was with a small outfit doing some pretty amazing RPG III programming. Having a logical mind, I loved it. It was like getting paid to solve crossword puzzles all day! (Later, I would graduate to PL/I — a much better “structured” programming language. But for the moment, I was content.
I had also found out that at Ohio State, you could continue using the gym for the quarter after your last class. I was still an avid volleyball player and sometime weight lifter, so I started taking graduate courses in computer science — one every other quarter, which gave me the use of the gym all year long!
I remember one class that was taught by the head of the department. (I didn’t know it at the time, but he was.) In one lecture, he talked about graph theory. I took copious notes, but had no idea what he was saying! So I bought a book on graph theory, and spent three weeks going through it. Then I went back through my notes to understand the points he was making! It was a lot of work, but I loved it. Graph theory is like super math for computer jocks. Ton of fun.
After a couple of years, I was closing in on my Masters degree. I was holding a 4.0 grade average, too. (Not hard, given that could focus one subject at a time!) But a couple of things happened to upset the apple cart.
For one, my manager and I (with the aid of a new top executive) had convinced the company that the new Data General minicomputer would be a lot better than the IBM System III we were programming in RPG-III. (That’s how I got to be a Pl/I programmer.)
Being essentially a college kid who enjoyed programming, I was generally at my desk from 12 noon to midnight everyday, acting as the main architect and lead programmer for the system we were building. (Being an insurance company, lots of folks complained about my late arrivals. But they never saw how late I stayed! My manager knew, though, so he protected me from the critics. As for me, I observed that it could cost you your life to be standing in front of the door at 5:00. You could be trampled in the outgoing stampede!)
I was good enough at my job that my technical opinion carried some weight. But the real deciding factor was the fact that there was an insurance package that ran on the Data General machine, and none that ran on the IBM box. My manager and I were both worried about our careers. We had been advised that the IBM sales reps only had one tactic they could use to save the account — to trash us. But that executive, bless his heart, was too smart for that.
In the first place, he invited us both to the final meeting he had with those reps. If they were going to trash us, they were going to have to do it to our face! In the second place, he positively reamed them for the assurances his predecessor had been given that an insurance application package would be available for their system. But there never was. So thanks to him, we walked away from punched cards forever! In their place, we got interactive terminals and real programming languages!
After being the sys admin and lead programmer on that account for a year, I apparently impressed some folks, because the district manager offered me a job as a “technical sales rep” — which meant that I explained technical issues to help the sales team, and helped to solve problems for existing accounts.
But that job offer was in Dayton, rather than Columbus, so it would mean leaving graduate school. It was a hard decision, until I found a professor who made it easy. (It was the wrong decision, unfortunately. My career would have gone much better with the degree. As it was, I essentially had an “ABD” degree (all but dissertation). But as I say, that particular professor made it easy.
It all started when he said he would be giving us weekly homework assignments, and that doing well on those would guarantee a good grade in the course. They might have, but come the midterms he had never returned any of them with his comments. So we took the midterms, and kept doing the homework assignments. But he never returned any of them.
Come the final, the main question on the exam was “Given choices A, B, C, and D, which do you recommend, and why?”. So I picked the one that was known to deliver the biggest bang for the buck (when it is feasible) and explained why it was the best alternative. Did pretty well, I thought.
Then, when I got my grade, it turned out I got a “B”. That ruined my streak of straight “A”s. So I went to the professor to find out what happened. It turned out that what he wanted was a “professional” response that evaluated all of the options, explained when they were feasible, and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
Fine! I would have done that, had the question been asked in that way. Or had there been any feedback during the course, at any time, I would have been alerted to the need to see the “deeper question” behind the one that was asked, and answer that. But at the time I took the exam, I had no clue what was expected!
Having already worked hard during the course given by the head of the department, I was able to explain to him that I was clearly capable of doing the work, but had no forewarning as to how it needed to be done. So the professor grudgingly gave me an A-minus. But by then the damage was done. I took the job with Data General.
Like I say, it was a mistake. It hurt me a lot worse than it hurt them. So it was the wrong decision. But that professor (and my wounded pride) sure made it easy.
Boston Career (80’s)
Artificial Intelligence Coup
–tie for 5th
–the only wipeouts ever recorded in competition (they were using the basic algorithm that I had started with, and that my program was designed to beat.
–one things I’m proud of: patching the program on the fly
–another thing are original algorithms I developed for the program. (Two of them. A, B. That one was written up later as thesis by a fellow from Carnegie Melon who was there at the time.)
–organizer needed to win — had 9 computers working overnight on my opening (it turned out that there was a line of play to neutralize the opening that none of my opponents had found — but it took a lot of analysis to find that! (I didn’t have an “opening book”, either (a set of pre-programmed moves). The program was just doing its thing.)
–still a very negative person, in many ways — mostly because I was overly critical. But I didn’t realize that until a couple of decades later.
Las Vegas Show Girls
I was so exhausted by the end of the week, I absolutely could not wait to go home. But one experience from that week stands out above all others.
–keyword repetition during the night, when I woke from dreaming, after waking, lie in bed and recall the dreams, moving into different positions to help stimulate the recall process, then get up and write down the list of keywords, then expand on each of them one by one. If I had trouble recalling, I might lie down for another minute or two to bring it back. It got to where I was spending 4 hours a day writing down dream images. I finally had to give up on the practice, so I would have time to live!
–fully relaxed state, with bursts of information
–Learned to fly around. Finally got bored with that, and stopped the practice.
At one point, I found a channeling group. Once a week or so, we would go to a friend’s house where the wife sat in a chair, and channeled a mystic sage from long ago. The thing was, when asked a question, she spoke with a lot of wisdom. So I didn’t much care where the voice was coming from. I was just glad to be in the presence of a voice of wisdom.
Shamanic Journey — A Knight and His Lady
In one session, a lady brought a CD with Shamanic drumming on it. As the drumming started, she said that we were at the entrance to two paths. One led up, the other down. Choose one. That was pretty much the end of the instructions! We followed that one with a second session, where we were told to take the other path.
In the first session, I weighed my options, and decided to go up. Towards wisdom, I thought!
I went up the ridge of a mountain, until I was above the clouds. I saw a Greek temple out on the clouds. I stepped onto the clouds, and walked over to it.
When I entered the temple, a white-robed woman held out her hand, palm up, indicating the sword in the center of the room. I seem to recall a bearded man at her side. Not sure. At any rate, she was a goddess. I was looking for wisdom, but if the gift was a sword, so be it! I took the sword.
Walking out to the edge of the temple, there was an opening in the clouds below. Holding the sword at arms length with both hands for protection, tip pointing down, I stepped into the opening.
Down I went, landing in a lake below. I was back where I started, with a nice shady tree next to the lake.
That was the end of Journey #1.
On Journey #2, I took the path going down. The led down deep into the earth, until it became a set of stepping stones going through a lake of molten lava. I went out to the middle of the lake on the stepping stones.
Looking ahead, I saw nothing, and the stones seemed to be getting smaller. Looking around, I saw nothing. All there was, was the lava! So, holding out the sword as before, with tip pointed down, I stepped out into the lava.
With the sword to protect me, I was unscathed. (I had gone seeking wisdom, and had instead found protection.) But in the midst of the lava, I found a a gleaming, iridescent, many-faceted globe. It was the light of knowledge, illuminating everything around it. It was wisdom!
With the sword, and the orb, I rose upward, levitating up through the wonderful lake of water above. I went to sit under the tree. With the sword and orb in hand, there as a deer, and a rabbit, and other woodland creatures at my side.
Then my lady arrived. She was wearing a robe, and maybe a tiara. She had one of the medieval belts hanging around her waist, with one hanging between her legs, drawing attention to her beautiful form.
I knelt, offering her the globe, the sword, and my services. For she was my heart. The power of the sword and the wisdom of the orb were hers to command. I could wield them, but it was to her I looked for direction.
We left the glade on a snowy white horse, my lady and I. Immediately outside the flowered gate, we ran into a ferocious dragon. What were my instructions? To make friends with him. So we made friends! And were accompanied by the dragon as we ventured on.
That was the end of the second Journey.
After recounting it, one of the ladies in attendances said, “A-plus!”. I had to admit, it was pretty good. And years later, I would find that I in my first truly spiritual practice, I had spent nearly a decade in the martial arts. (We were taught Buddhist meditation, and I could do it in groups, especially when we did some chanting. But I could never bring myself to make it a regular practice.)
“Climbing the mountain” was a big part of my personal martial arts experience (several stories on that subject are coming later). What I came with were tools for mental and physical defense — as well as a heart that opened to love.
It was in my martial arts practice that I first experienced a connection to the awesome love and powerful energy of the universe. (Those stories are coming, as well.) With Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim’s help, the sword finally “cut the knot” of the heart chakra. (That had been my stated goal going in. Years after I had forgotten about it, Grandmaster was still working to bring it about. That, my friends, is a true master.)
But still, the meditation practice was something I could never bring myself to do. So I had episodes of true enlightenment, but they always faded after a week or two.
Later, I began to plumb the depths of Tantra Yoga. beginning with an initiation into Ipsalu Tantra. In that practice, I found a more active form of meditation that I could actually do. (For me, trying to keep a quiet mind winds up being boring. With tantric practices, the mind is engaged. So when you pause or come to the end, the mind just naturally wants to sit and be still!)
In addition, the practice was and is totally joyful. Every session ends with a big huge smile, and a connection to Universal Energy/God/Shiva/Love Consciousness that was nothing less than ecstatic. So I found it to be very rewarding, as well as practical. So I have been motivated to continue.
But while Tantra is often thought of as “body work”, I found that by going down deep into the physical source of my own energy (and/or blockages thereof), I found nothing less than wisdom!
It is fascinating to me that Shakti — the physical energy of creation that comes from the ground up — is in essence “love energy”. Shiva, meanwhile — the pure energy of consciousness and light — is nothing less than “love consciousness”. In other words, it is also love energy.
So for me, I would that a triumvirate is in play:
And all of them are, quite simply, love.
In a special session, a few of us who were interested tried channeling. The goal was to go to a quiet place and let the voice of wisdom come to you, speak through you. It was an interesting sensation, and I have to admit that I was hearing answers I didn’t expect, and then speaking them out loud.
I didn’t continue the practice, but I think this the point at which I first began to really hear that voice of inner wisdom, and pay attention to it.
Vision: A-Frame House, Mountain in the Distance
During one of my “vision quest” episodes, I had a clear vision of living in an A-frame house, with a snow-capped mountain in the distance. I could see the porch, the woodwork in the interior, and the tops of the pines, and the mountain not more than a day’s drive away.
Years later, I would find myself living in “Mountain View”. (It was only after I had been there a few years that I made the connection.)
Growing outside the first apartment I lived in there was a large olive tree that forked into two branches. One day, looking out at them, I noticed that the foliage made a perfect heart! Nice.
And oh by the way, the apartment had a very tall cathedral ceiling! (Remember the A-frame?) And the place I’m living in now — a double-wide “mobile mansion” has a pealed ceiling, as well. So for all intents and purposes, I’m living in an A-frame!
Failed Start Up — Opening to Learn
In Boston, I started a company to create productivity software with a couple of friends (Tom Dinger and Dave Edgerton). It was a great idea. We could use the software to be more productive, making it easier to build bigger and better things in the future. It was outlining software that made it easier to organize things. A marketing advisor helped us to come up with a great name for it: StreamLine.
When the company I was working for (Data General) had their third layoff, I volunteered for it. I had seen the workload ratchet up after the previous two. Despite assurances that it wouldn’t happen, everything that was being done before still had to get done, only now there were fewer people to do it. I wasn’t anxious for that to happen yet again, so I decided to use the money to focus on my fledgling enterprise.
Unfortunately, what I knew about running a business was next to zero. And while we had a terrific technology, it wasn’t tailored to any kind of specific, marketable purpose.
So we spent too long making great technology, and then found that we nowhere to sell it! Needless to say, we went under in short order. I met some terrific people along the way. One was Rob Firmin, who wrote the quintessential formula-based spreadsheet that understood “time”. It easily converted between days, weeks, quarters, and year, and you could easily add another year to the spreadsheet. That was a terrific, marketable technology that was killed by powerful opposition with deep pockets.
So I suppose I shouldn’t have taken the company’s failure so personally. But I did. I took as a deeply personal failure. There was no reason for the company to fail, other than me. Had I been better at what I was doing, the company would not have failed. Pure and simple. It was inescapable.
It was hard. I spent three years on that effort, going totally broke in the process, and head over heels in debt. I was exhausted by stress, and battling a growing problem with gluten intolerance that I hadn’t discovered, as yet. (See What’s Wrong with Wheat?)
When my money totally ran out, a friend (Kent Multer) let me stay at his house in New Hampshire. While there, the IRS took the last of the money in my bank account. Fortunately, I had already bought the Chevy Blazer that I would drive to California with all my belongings, to take advantage of an offer of a place to stay in California made by another friend (Gary Albitz).
Little did I know it at the time, but the massive depression I was in had an upside — it totally opened me up to learn. I knew that I had to be a better person. There was no one to blame, so I had to start looking deep within myself, to find out what could be improved.
Of course, I needed a lot more resilience, too. And confidence. I needed the ability to be positive, so I wouldn’t get so stressed out. And I needed to be less attached, so I could make more sensible decisions about when to cut and run. But that was all ahead of me. It would take a long time to learn, but eventually I would get there. The failure was a “magical moment” that got me headed in the right direction.
Dallas (Late 80’s)
Moon over the Atlantic, with Girlfriend
–beach with the moon, and Rita (my Dallas girlfriend)
Negotiating with the Weather
–girlfriend and rock climbing — weather –negotiating, inner knowing
–similar story in Autobiography of a Yogi, on pp. 155-156, where Sri Yukteswar causes a weather delay for the sake of a procession
Martial Arts (Jung SuWon — 90’s)
Martial Arts Training
Who knew that martial arts was about learning to express love? In 5 years of training with Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim, I learned the art of Jung SuWon. I lived in a modern Ashram. Working for a living, I was in the world, but not part of it.
I learned to laugh at myself, to set aside pain, fatigue or hunger as needed (to experience them but not be dominated by them), to cheerfully serve (with good energy), and to be aware of “energy” (a word that can mean many things — emotions, things and places that remind you of good times or bad, memory of things about people, understanding how people will react to the things you will say and do). I learned to be fully in the present. (with a very fast reaction time, as a result). I learned humility (recognizing ability in others, ability to bow to them). I saw people change (something I had never seen before). I saw them overcome fear of heights, fear of speaking, stuttering, intensely dis-likable personalities to become warm and loving. I saw people do things they never thought they could do, because they believe in Grandmaster, and Grandmaster said they could. So they tried things they would never have undertaken on their own.
I was then away for 5 years. Returning for a visit, I was encouraged to resume training for my black belt. I was awarded that honor that 8 months of additional training, with a rigorous schedule of self-imposed workouts to lose the weight I had gained! I continued training and teaching for another year, before finally setting the practice aside.
I was working with a fellow who was very physically fit, and very outgoing and friendly. It turned out to be Mr. Fell (who became Master Fell, and who is now Grandmaster Fell) — one of Grandmaster’s original students who came with her from Vermont, when she moved to California.
One day, he invited me to watch a “testing” — the evening in which martial arts students take part in a variety of tests, designed mostly to give them an opportunity to perform under pressure — whether from sparring partner or from a watching crowd, as they did one of the many “forms” (sequence of moves) they would learn while training.
I wanted to see some of it, but didn’t want to waste a whole evening, so I worked late and then went to the training hall, or DoJang (DOH-jahng).
When I got there, everything was mostly over. Everyone was gathered together for a group photo, with an empty chair in front, center.
After a few moments, a gorgeous woman entered from the back, in brightly colored traditional robes. “Wow”, I thought, “How impressive. They flew in a beauty queen from Japan, just for the ceremony.”
Little did I know that Jung SuWon was a Korean martial art, and that the “beauty queen” was in fact Grandmaster!
After the group photo, everyone was going to dinner, and Grandmaster made a point of making sure I was invited. (Very nice of her!) As I would later learn, she always staying aware of the situation, making sure that no one was left out. It was a trait I admired, and learned to emulate. Since I hadn’t joined in the taking of the photo, I was in her field of vision, and she made sure I was included.
At dinner, I noticed that no one drank, and everyone was having a jolly good time, with lots of laughter. I liked that a lot. Then Grandmaster rose to speak, and everyone listened while she gave a short inspirational talk. I liked that, too. These people weren’t wasting their time! Instead, they were making the most of it, and having a good time doing it.
There was something about Grandmaster, too — an indefinable, magnetic quality. It was charisma — a confidence and inner glow. I wanted it! (At first, I wanted it externally — to have Grandmaster as a sexual partner. But later I would come to realize that what I was really attracted to, and what I really wanted, was to find that inner wellspring of positive spirits within myself. And I’m glad to say that, eventually, I did!
I found out that Grandmaster taught a meditation class once I week. I was determined to join, so I went to the DoJang the next day to sign up. The head of the school kept saying how people started by doing the martial arts training, and how they were then accepted (or not) into the meditation class after 6 months or so, depening on their progress.
No way! I did not want to learn to fight and find out how to hurt people! I wanted to learn to meditate! But as much as I persisted, this fellow wouldn’t let me sign up. Finally, I became exasperated. This fellow obviously didn’t get it! (Actually, he did. Perfectly. But I didn’t know that.) Okay, I thought. I’ll just have to go over his head to Grandmaster. She’ll understand.
He must have read my mind, because he immediately relented and let me sign up for the meditation class. I was so happy. And when I went there, guess what we talked about most? The true meaning of “martial arts”. It turned out to be not about hurting others, but instead learning how to stand up for yourself and manifest your inner truth. It was about overcoming obstacles and becoming the person you were born to be!
I knew that in any confrontational situation, I generally got tongue-tied, unable to gather my wits enough to figure out the right thing to say. It became clear to me that this training was something I could use in my day-to-day life, not just in some rare circumstance that only occurs in a martial arts movie. This was for me!
I signed up for martial arts training the next day.
Long Weekend, No Shoes
–from martial arts to “energy work” (and later, little I did I know, to a heart-awakening and inner love)
–attended, and later assisted, every Self Discovery weekend
–no headlamp, either. (always full moon) oops. cloud!
Reincarnation is Real?
At one point, it occurred to me that the only to prove to yourself that reincarnation is real would be to have a past-life recall that couldn’t have been introduced by any book you’d read, movie you had seen, or story you had been told, and then find out later that there was a solid basis for that recall. (You could prove it to yourself, at least. There is no way to prove it to anyone else.)
As it happens, I had just such an experience.
Driving around the San Francisco Bay Area, you find your fair share of nutso-drivers. (And given enough frustration, you may find that you become one yourself, from time to time.) The ratio isn’t any different than anywhere else in the world, but there is so much traffic that you see 10 or 20 in a day, where in other parts of the country you may only see one or two.
The problem with traffic, of course, is that there is always some idiot slowpoke in front of you, or some idiot speed demon behind you. (It’s built in to the system. In the ideal traffic pattern, all the faster drivers are in front, and all the slower ones behind. I do my best to assist that pattern to develop, by moving over for faster cars and passing slower ones, but sometimes things just don’t work out that way.)
With all that traffic to press my buttons, I found that tailgaters really made me nervous. I had never been rammed from behind, so it wasn’t a physical reaction. But it made me totally nervous, anyway.
Eventually, I realized that looking in a small rear view mirror was a lot like looking out a pillbox window. I had been doing enough meditation that I felt as though a tank were coming into the pillbox, and was about to crush me. That would account for the nervousness and anger I felt — a definite reaction to the fear I felt as my survival instinct was threatened.
The “past life” memory had a definite oriental feeling. I was in Korea or China at the time. But I knew of no time when tanks had been involved in any wars in that part of the world!
A few months later, I saw a PBS special that showed Japanese tanks invading China. That was pretty good confirmation (for me at least), that past life recall may have a solid basis in reality.
(On the other hand, I have to agree with Grandmaster. As her Master said to her: You have enough to deal with in this life! Dwelling on past lives isn’t really all that helpful. I’ve gotten to the underlying basis of enough emotional issues to know that one’s current life contains explanations that are more than sufficient! And I’ve seen that really witnessing them resolves the issues in a way that makes “past life recall” seem, in general, like more of a way to create distance between yourself and an event you need to process, but aren’t willing to reexperience. Still, it was interesting to experience what seemed to be a confirmation that past life recall may indeed be real.)
But perhaps the most useful outcome from that “confirmation” was the philosophy of “random reincarnation”. In summary: Suppose you knew you were coming back, but you could come back as anyone. In other words, for every lifetime you came back as a pampered prince, you’d come back a thousand times as a laboring serf, wallowing in misery. Would the trade off be worth it? Or would you want to create a more egalitarian society, if only to ensure yourself a more reasonable experience, life after life?
The advantage of that philosophy is that even those motivated by greed, rather than empathy, should be able to see the way clear to providing equal opportunity for everyone in society! I wrote about the concept here, in What if Reincarnation is Real?
Grandmaster is the most amazing storyteller I have ever seen. She could tell the same story 10 different ways, depending on who was listening, and how she was attempting to inspire and instruct them. They might be from Aesop’s fables, or from the bible, but they were always vivid, insightful, and engaging.
At one point, I tried to write down the stories she told. But there was no way! There were so many variations on a single story. When I tried to write about the Tortoise and the Hare, for example, I realized that one time it was about the tortoise being complacent and not making the most of his life. Another time, it was about the Hare facing exhaustion and self-doubt, but never giving up. The next time, it might be about the hare being patient, cleverly lulling the tortoise into a false sense of security.
There were so many lessons to be learned! They all had the same basic story line, but they came from different perspectives and had such totally different morals that there was no way to combine them all into a single, written story
She would chain stories together, too. In the middle of the first story, she would break off to start another. In the middle of that one, she would break off to start a third. When she came back to the second one, it was always a surprise, because by then I had forgotten all about it. And when she came back to the first one, it always came as a shock, because I had totally forgotten that she ever started it.
And she never planned what she was going to say! She would stand there in silence, and when the words began to come, she would speak them.
(I notice that my best speaking comes when I do that. It’s very hard for me to give a talk I’ve rehearsed! And I use the same principle in my meditation practice. The Ipsalu Formula gives me a framework to build around, and a light meditation pops ideas into my head!)
Full-Time Gratitude Meditation
In one meditation class, we were enjoined to “Express gratitude every moment”. I started doing it that night, and continued the next day. It was the start of what would be two weeks of continuous enlightenment — what in India is called samadhi.
At first, I was grateful for the things around me that I could see and feel and touch. Flowers, trees, grass. A roof over my head when it rained. The warmth of the Sun. As I ran out of things around me, I began to go into my past, to people and experiences I was grateful for. Gradually, it turned into a deep meditation. At a meal, I would be grateful for the table that was holding up my dinner, and the plate it was sitting on, for the people who cooked it, the people who planted and harvested, the Sun who grew it. I would be grateful for the ceramic maker who made the play, the clay of the earth that went into it, and the thousands of years that people spent perfecting the technique. I was grateful for the people who made the table, the machines they used, the designers of the machines, the oil that kept them running, as well as the trees that went into the table and the age-old vegetation that became the oil. And naturally, the Sun that grew the trees and that vegetation.
I was grateful for the Sun, being here the whole time, and for our planet, at just the right distance to be warm. I was grateful to Jupiter and the Moon for collecting asteroids and keeping us safe. And I was grateful to the Moon for generating the tides, stirring the chemicals that eventually combined to produce life.
Expressing that gratitude, everything became bright and clear, both inside and outside. Eventually, the experience began to fade. But for two weeks, I was nothing less than totally enlightened.
What it was like: Totally present, every moment. Supreme joy. Wisdom descending effortlessly, reflected in new awareness and understanding, moment by moment. Timing of everything always seems to be “just right”. (Recently, I captured a more detailed description in the Tantra Lessons page.)
Here’s what Gopi Krisha says about the fully-energized, enlightened being.
- Lives in Bliss – Supreme joy, channeling the up-lifting and fulfilling life energy and wisdom consciousness of the universe.
- Complete Integrity – Fully consciousness of the oneness of all beings, there is no “other”. Doing harm as inconceivable as sawing off your own foot. (Too painful even to contemplate!)
- Genius – Left-brain intuition and right-brain mastery of mechanics and planning work in complete harmony to visualize wondrous things and bring them into reality.
- Channels Universal Wisdom – Connected deep within to a wisdom-consciousness greater than self. Hearing, listening, understanding, acting. (Or acting without understanding — because understanding often comes later.)
Long-Term Love Meditation
In a similar vein later in the year, we were enjoined to expressing love every moment. That practice led to one week’s enlightenment, as I spent every waking moment expressing love in my heart for someone or something.
Two Year’s Celibacy — NOT Recommended
The whole idea of the martial arts training program was to avoid sexual contact of any kind. It’s a great way to focus attention on your own growth, instead of playing out an interpersonal drama. And the idea is to “purify” yourself. That’s why it is such a common practice for monks. In essence, we were Warrior Monks in Training, working in the world to make a living, but not being part of it.
At one point, I decided that it would be a good idea to engage in complete celibacy — no self-pleasuring, no nothing. I wound up doing it for a period of two years.
This turned out to be a not-so-good idea, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I had been generally love-starved since early childhood. (My father left at an early age at which point we uprooted and moved to the other side of the continent, away from everyone and everything I was beginning to know, and I was once told by a friend of the family that my mother never held me very much. The woman felt that was wrong, because children need a lot of holding, a sentiment with which I totally agree.)
Add to that the fact that I had grown up socially inept and awkward! Consider: I had grown up with a household full of boy during the week, and wasn’t permitted to socialize (which probably kept me out of gangs. But since there were no organized activities, I never got a chance to engage much). Then on weekends, I was several miles away with my mother, seeing a whole new bunch of people that I didn’t see very often.
And there was the problem that I had no physical skills, which are the foundation for confidence at that early age. For one thing, I grew up on a diet of sugar and pasta, so I had no musculature. And although born left-handed, the family I was with during the week had trained me to be right-handed, which meant my coordination was less good than it should have been. Probably as a result of the high-sugar diet, my eyesight wasn’t as good as it should have been, either. But I never had glasses. (That explains why I liked comic books so much, and why I loved books but didn’t like reading them! I wanted to read them, but didn’t and never knew why.)
So let’s see, my eyesight was problematic, my coordination was off, I had no musculature, and I never had a chance to do much socializing. No wonder I had problems! To say I lacked confidence was to woefully understate the case. I was positively petrified!
Then, when I finally did have a girlfriend, I was too sexually inept to keep her. I wanted to go there, but had no idea how. I couldn’t express my desires, either verbally or physically. So she wound up marrying a guy who understood that she was a “red-blooded woman”, as she once explained to me — as though I had any idea what that meant!
So in general, I really needed physical attention. And I needed to be better at being part of society and engaging with people. I had been generally “cut off” emotionally anyway, and the social distance created by my commitment to training reinforced a tendency towards being “judgemental” — a tendency whose source I would only discover many years later. So instead of being naturally distanced by virtue of enlightenment, with full compassion for others, I was ingraining a habit of pushing people away by being mentally judgemental.
Those are pretty good reasons that a celibacy program was not exactly what I needed.
For another thing, practically every waking moment in those two years was about sex! Driving down the road, I tried to get a better look at women in the cars I was passed. Everywhere I went, I was scanning, looking. Waking up and going to sleep, when the mind was out of conscious control, my imagination was feverish!
In the end, I came across the best reason of all for not recommending the practice: It’s not healthy! When I decided that it was time to end the self-imposed “fast”, what came out was a solid, yellow, pus-like substance — an accumulation of dead semen that had grown thicker, over time.
I thought to myself, “Ewww. What if I had done this with a woman? I wouldn’t wanted to put that stuff inside a woman I love!” Possibly, worse, I had been carrying it inside me for all that time. There’s no way that could be good.
Long-Term Forgiveness Meditation / Long Fast
I was in the middle of that two-year period of total sexual abstinence when circumstances propelled me to another period of enlightenment.
At one point, a group of us went up to a social affair in the city. (San Francisco). One young lady in the group seemed particularly friendly. As it turned out, she was just being her own natural, open and friendly self. But I took it as personal interest — something I have always tended to do.
I was driving a van full of folks, and she took the passenger seat next to me. That confirmed it! She was definitely into me! (Or so my mind would have me believe.) It had been a long night, and as always, we had been training late at night, early in the morning, and everywhere in between. So as a general rule, we were sleep-deprived. (It’s good to know how much you are really capable of. A lot of the training is geared towards finding out!)
Practically as soon as we got on the road, the lot in the back fell asleep. We were alone! (As alone as we would ever probably get, at least.) It was now or never. I reached out and put my hand on her knee. She didn’t react, so I took my hand back.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the contact disturbed her. She feigned sleep all the way back, so as to avoid conflict. That was something that only came to my attention when an entire “court martial” was convened to explore my guilt, after boyfriend (who also trained) complained vigorously.
When told how she reacted, I was both shocked and truly saddened to have caused her a moment’s disquiet. Had I known the effect it would have, I most certainly would not have done it. I admitted what I had done, and held back nothing.
Her boyfriend wanted me expelled forever. One of the senior students pointed out that, had it been me who she actually liked, it could have been him who was “brought up on charges”. But the boyfriend would not go there. Grandmaster, in an attempt to raise his compassion, suggested that maybe she and I should both be expelled.
I steadfastly refused that option, saying that it was my fault alone, and in any case I was the senior student — the one who had been entrusted with the driving. At the point, even people who were initially inclined against me began to gain new respect and come to my defense. (I wasn’t doing it for that reason though. It was only right. I was much older, in addition to being “senior”, and should have known better.)
In the end, I was expelled. I was not to come near the training hall (DoJang), or come in contact with anyone My one remaining point of connection was to write a journal every day, and leave it in the mailbox early in the morning. I moved out of the shared “dorm” (communal housing) the next day, taking everything I owned.
That wasn’t much, since when I joined, I had given everything away except the van and the clothes on my back. (As it turned out, I had been too literal. There were useful things I should have kept, and things with good memories attached — “good energy” — that should have been kept, as well.)
But there I was, with a van full of belongs. Out on the street.
I did not even think of getting an apartment. I didn’t know how long I would be gone, but I was determined to be taken back. And a hotel would have been much too costly. So I was homeless for that period, and living in the van.
The first thing was to find a storage location. As it turned out, there was one with an upstairs loft that had an electrical outlet. I was able to clear space in the van, set up my computer, and set up a printer. Once up there, the managers would tend to forget that I was there. So if it got really cold, I could conceivably stay there, if I needed to. (They were kind folks who figured out that I was down on my luck, so they were very kind.)
At night, I drove around until I found a reasonable place to park, break out the sleeping bag, and spend the night. (There was no problem at night, but I wished for a panel van when I woke in the morning, so I wasn’t so visible!) After a few days, I found a YMCA where I could take a shower in the morning and shave my face for a couple of dollars. Between that, and the bathrooms available in fast food shops, my basic needs were taken care of.
I had decided that it was my “appetites” that had gotten me in trouble in the first place, so at the very outset I decided that I would “conquer” those appetites. I would do that, I decided, by eating nothing — until either I was dead, or I had succeeded in conquering my desires.
So for the next two weeks, I engaged in a total fast. I drank water, but that was it. The rest of the time, I drove, walked, meditated, or wrote.
It was an interesting experience. By the second week, pretty much every waking thought was about food! As I walked, I looked at plants and wanted to know more about what was edible. As I wrote, I thought about writing a cook book with the recipes I had learned while training and cooking in the communal kitchen. As I thought about my next entrepreneurial venture, I thought it would be great idea to open a “fast food” restaurant devoted to selling rice and kimchi!
Towards the end of the two weeks, I saw how many of my thoughts were about food! When you don’t have enough of air, that’s the only thing you can think about. When you’re out of water, that’s all you can think about. When you have no food, that’s the subject your mind dwells on. That’s when it occurred to me that sexual desire was as natural as any other and that in the absence of sex, it was natural that it had occupied so much of my mind!
At the same time, I had been doing a lot of inner processing and writing in my journal. I began to work on forgiveness. My first thought was to forgive the protective boyfriend who had forced me into this posistion by his refusal to accept any other alternative. But after a while, I began to forgive myself for the mental anguish I had caused the young lady.
As I dwelled on that forgiveness, I began to feel lighter. I reached back into my past and forgave anyone and anything I could think of it. I began to experience a “forgiveness high”, and wrote about it my journals.
At that point, Grandmaster declared that my banishment was over, and called a halt to the fast. It was two weeks to the day since I had left. The period of enlightenment lasted for another full week before it began to fade, as had the others.
An Ocean of Clouds
–climbing the mountain on my birthday, clouds below
Moon Over Half Dome
–nearly killed on a cliff
–starting up the trail
–getting dark — but there’s a full moon!
–moon over Half Dome
Martial Arts Miracles
Not all of the things I experienced in my martial training were internal discoveries. Some were tangible, physical experiences. True miracles, that I witnessed with my own eyes.
Some were miraculous changes in other people. I saw people I couldn’t stand become warm and loving, tolerant of others, and giving. I saw them find some inner light that shone through their eyes.
I saw people overcome a fear of heights and a fear of public speaking. They did things that were way outside their comfort zone, not because they believed in themselves, but because they believed in Grandmaster. They found that they could do the things they were afraid of and, with practice, gradually lost their fear. (It’s not necessarily the most comfortable way to achieve a breakthrough. I favor more of a “Horse Whisperer” approach, myself. But if you need to make a change fast, it’s effective.)
Another small miracle was responsible for the name of my website: TreeLight. We were on a Self Discovery Weekend, where we camped in the woods for a weekend and trained like warriors of old. (We also ate like warriors of old, and the food was fantastic.)
On one of those weekends, we stood in a valley as the sun came up behind a hill. There was tree on top of the hill, and when the sunlight hit it, it was diffracted into the rays of iridescent colors, just like the orb that was the subject of my college poem, and the wisdom-object found in my Shamanic Journey.
With the light coming through the way it did, the tree looked for all the world like the fabled “burning bush”.
Those were miracles of a kind, but they are prettily easily explained. Then came one that I am still at a loss to explain.
The night before the group went on a river rafting outing, folks were talking about the time Grandmaster found 4-leaf clovers. It was a great story — but just a story. But I was about to live it.
The next day, we went rafting with our special guest, the president of the largest Korean newspaper in the country. When we finished, we were hanging around in a large field outside the building where the photographers were making prints for us.
Someone started hunting around on the ground. “What are you looking for?”, someone asked. “4-leaf clovers.” The idea spread like wildfire. The hunt was on!
Thirty of us (it was a large martial arts group) scoured that field for a good 20 minutes. Not one person found a single 4-leaf clover. Except Grandmaster. She would look around a bit, then bend down, pick one up, and give it to one of her students. After 20 minutes, every single student and our special guest had a four-leaf clover all their own. (Mine is pressed in a Bible, to this very day.)
But if you think that was something, just wait…
At the end, I was standing in small group with Grandmaster on my left, the president of the Korean newspaper on my right, and my “older brother” roommate (a younger, but much wiser Mark Amador). Nearby, angled off past the newspaper mogul, was my other brother/roommate, Kevin Campbell.
Grandmaster was talking about how wonderful it was that everyone had a four-leaf clover, and oh by the way, is the kind of thing you can do, too, “once you’ve trained up a bit” (as Dumbledore once said to Harry Potter).
At that point, the newspaper president piped up, a little disappointed, and said “But I wanted to find one”. (Now is the time to hold on to your hat with both hands. Because what comes next goes beyond mystifying.)
As he spoke, I was looking down at the ground. And suddenly, right before my eyes, I saw a four-leaf clover! I must have stared at it for 15 seconds. But before I could move, he bent over, picked it up, and said “Look! I found one!”.
That was incredible enough, but the story gets even better. Years later, I am telling this story in a reunion, and Mark Amador (who always moved much faster than I), chimes in and says, “I saw it too. The minute I saw it, I tried to get it. But I couldn’t move!”
Fast forward a year or two later. I’m telling the story, Mark Amador chimes in on queue. And then my other brother Kevin pipes up: “I saw it, too. There was a glow around it. And I couldn’t move either.”
So three of us saw it, in addition to the Korean newspaper president. Two of them are people I know very, very well, after spending countless hours training and living together. We all three saw it, and none of us could move to get it!
So how did that final four-leaf clover come to miraculously appear in that very spot?
In the end, I am forced to conclude that GM made them out of thin air! That was an explanation I found hard to accept, until I read a similar accounts in Autobiography of a Yogi:
- On p. 47, where the “Perfume Saint” materializes scents and out-of-season tangerines.
- On pp 178-181, where fakir (fah-KEER) Afzal Khan materializes and dematerializes them at will
- On pp 185-186, where Sri Yukteswar materializes out of thin air, speaks, and then disappears again,
- On pp. 301-305, where Babaji materialized a palace for Lahiri Mahasaya.
- On p.337, where Babaji fixes Yogananda’s feet to the floor, so he can’t follow him.
In truth, as the Bard said, there mysteries under this sun that we know nothing about!
A Vision Comes to Pass
At some time, shortly before leaving Boston or shortly after arriving in California, I had a vision of where I needed to be, and wanted to go there. In that vision, there was a large A-Frame house, on top of a hill. The front was a single-level, the back was a two-level, with a garage on the lower half. The driveway around to the front of the house, then came in close at the side and down to the garage and tools area. At the back of house was a large balcony. In the distance was a mountain, snow-capped in the winter.
In California, I spent time looking for that house. Only later did I realize that the images in that vision had already come to pass. I was living in “Mountain View”. The double-wide mobile mansion I inhabit has a large cathedral ceiling, in the shape of an “A”. And from the porch, you can indeed see the mountain. (On the east coast, at any rate, it is a mountain. In the West, with the Rockies nearby, they’re called “hills”.)
There was a beautiful wife in my vision, too. I’m not sure what’s holding her up. Feels like she should be here by now! (Sigh…)
Silicon Valley Career
Unfinished Revolution Talks
–Fantastic series of weekly seminars, based on work of Douglas Engelbart. (The man who was responsible for the mouse, …. See: The mother of all demos he gave in 1967.) Every week, my head would begin to explode as speaker after speaker explained problems in the world, and suggested possible solutions — all centered on the idea that we can use computer networks to work together in much better ways.. My head was racing with analyses, suggestions, questions, and plans.
Then someone started a mailing list. I could barely find time to do anything else. I posted message after message, often with in the form of mini-articles! After several weeks, Douglas Engelbart had a good friend introduce me. He said he had to meet the person who was responsible for 50% of the traffic on his site. (That was message count, I’m sure. If they took a look at word count, I’m sure it was far more!)
–first talk, wrap up talk — the concept
–running the meetings
–I can use big words!
Partially Hydrogenated Oil Article Ranked #1
In 1996, I created a website: TreeLight. It was named for the light shining through a tree early one morning, on a Jung SuWon Self-Discovery weekend — the fabled burning bush!
In 1998, enough information came together to put together an expose’ entitled, “What’s Wrong with Partially Hydrogenated Oils?” It showed in vivid detail how one of the ingredients that American corporations have introduced into the food supply has resulted in untold suffering, all for the sake of profit.
A few years later, in 2000, a young woman wrote to me, asking if I knew that my article was ranked first in the Google search ratings! I didn’t, and I’m proud to say that it was there for a good 10 years. (It eventually slipped to #3, behind a Wikipedia article on the same subject, and one by the Mayo clinic. Not a bad place to be!)
Brainstorm: Voting Advice Networks
When I wrote my article on Partially Hydrogenated Oils, I was worried. By the time the public gets educated about this danger, what else will companies have put into the food supply? I was right to be concerned, because keeping ingredients out of the food supply that are harmful to health in the long term turns out to be a never-ending task — one that government is not doing.
Then I noticed the many other ways in which corporate money dominates politics: I saw financial protections put in place after the Great Depression being repealed (eventually producing the 2nd largest depression in our nation’s history). I saw books devoted to the legal chicanery by which the wealthiest among us and the largest corporations pay precisely zero in taxes. I read horror stories of companies patenting crop genes, and then suing neighbors when the wind blew their pollen into adjacent farms. I saw medical companies selling drugs when safer alternatives exist, and investing in research to manage diseases, rather than curing them. I saw agricultural research devoted to crops that can withstand stronger pesticides and won’t reproduce, rather than crops that are as hardy as their wild cousins, as edible as the cultivated varieties, and that spread like wildfire.
I saw all of these things, and saw that most of them were the result of a government that has essentially been bought and told to look the other aid, or even to act as a partner in the mischief. And, most lately, I have seen election laws changed to let corporations spend as much as they want.
It became crystal clear to me that the fundamental issue in American society is the way money dominates the equation. I began working on the problem of how to remove money from “politics” (that is, elections)
The only path to creativity I know is to continually ask a question, until eventually an answer appears (see The Path to Creativity). I did that, off and on, for the next 5 years. I rejected idea after idea that depended on government involvement, because the enormous difficulty in trying to get something like that past some very smart people.
Finally, the answer came to me: Voting Advice Networks. If we can set up efficient strategies for getting voting advice from those we trust (and only those we trust), then we can make money virtually irrelevant to elections. Such a system represents a “complete bypass” of government channels, so it’s a guerilla effort that can work without having to fight against massive opposition.
I started writing a book to explain why it was needed, using systems theory to diagram the interlocking effects of our economic, political, agricultural, medical, and food production systems. In 5 months, I had collected enough material for a 9-volume set. But by then I was running out of money and had to get back to working for a living, so I wrote up the idea and summarized the reasons for it at a site I created for the purpose: CitizensAdvisory.org. (That got no traction, so I allowed it to lapse and moved the content to the Voting Advice System pages here.)
It was a great feeling to have identified a solution that will work, after thinking about it for so long. It remains a significant achievement in thinking. The next step is to make it a significant achievement in reality.
Return to Jung SuWon (2000’s)
I had been five years away from training. I had left as a very advanced student, only one stage away from completing a black belt. But I had been training for nearly 8 years, and had been a live-in student for much of that time. It was like being at a banquet. I had taken in all I could digest, and could take in no more. It was time to leave.
Several years later, I went back to watch a belt ceremony, Grandmaster publicly acknowledged my presence, and I said I should return to finish my black belt – -and that I should be ready to test for it in 8 months! The next day, I returned to classes.
Not knowing that I was gluten intolerant, I had put on an additional 20 lbs in the intervening years. Still unaware of it, I spent the next 8 months rigorously watching my diet, and working out. Hard. I ate lots of rice and kimchi; and after class, I generally did one of several weight-training workouts, mostly designed to build fast twitch fiber and leg strength. (Moving through stances with dumbbells, doing one of several exercises I designed for martial arts strength, or simply doing forms or kick combinations.)
Come time to test, I had dropped from 220-some to 208. With a slimmer waist, less weight, stronger muscles, and intensively-exercised fast twitch fiber, I was jumping and kicking all over the place. Not bad for an old guy!
Special Exercises for Martial Arts
These exercises designed for martial arts, are the ones that came to me during my training:
- Dumbbell Stances: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, move from stance to stance forward 10 times, then backward 10 times. (Stance: Front stance, low cat stance, horse-riding stance)
- Plyometric Squat Drop: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, rise up on toes, then drop down into a squat, immediately bursting back up again on your toes. If you can’t get back up, you have too much weight. If you come off your toes into a jump, you have too little. At the perfect weight, you can do only 3 to 5 reps — the perfect rep-range for building maximum strength.
- Power Punch: With a dumbbell in one hand, line on a weight bench with your back half-off of the bench. The other hand is in the air, pulling back as you punch with the weight. Works the pectorals, triceps, and obliques in the coordinated movement you use for a punch.
- Power Pull: With a dumbbell in one hand, bent over with the other hand on a bench, pull the dumbbell up as in a half-row, but twist the body as you do it until so the weight winds up as far from the floor as possible. Works the upper back and bicep, but mostly it works the huge muscles of the latisimus dorsi in the lower back. (I always thought of it as the muscle at the sides that is used for lat pulls and pull ups, but it turns out to be even bigger across the lower back.) Since that muscle is much larger than the abdominal obliques, it produces an even faster, more powerful waist twist that is the foundation for speed and power in the martial arts.
- Weighted Leg Raises and Kicks: I take no credit for this one. I used to see the incredibly powerful Mr. Hewson doing it in person, and on a training video. Put on ankle weights, then stand at the bar and do leg raises (front and side) and combination kicks to each side (middle, high, middle)
The Bottle Test
In Jung SuWon, we only broke things during a test. We never practiced breaks. And we used 1-inch boards and concrete blocks straight from the lumber yard. There was no thin boards, no pre-scored blocks.
Because I was physically strong, I often had larger challenges. But because I worked so hard on technique, I never had a problem with breaks. The technique, and my confidence in it, carried me right through every obstacle, every time.
Then came the bottle break. The last physical challenge in the testing process was to hit the top of a bottle that was mostly filled with water, breaking the bottom out of the bottle. Strength barely factored into it. It was mostly a matter of accuracy, using a move that I never had occasion to practice.
As a result, I struggled with that break. It took 54 tries. My hand was sore was sore as heck. But what I learned was worth it.
Because I had never struggled with a break before, I never heard and saw people cheering for me, pulling for me, wanting me to succeed. I had done the same for others, of course. But somehow that never translated into the realization that people wanted me to succeed.
But on this occasion, I experienced the common bond of humanity, the empathy that we have for each other’s struggles, the desire to see another person succeed. More importantly, I felt it, in my heart. I heard them while I was struggling, and later saw their faces in the video that was taken at the time. And when I finally broke that bottle, I heard them shout with joy, and saw their huge grins.
It was a special moment for someone who had felt as alone I had felt, for so much of my life.
The Real Test
In Jung SuWon, the real time of testing comes after the physical challenges. It’s the time when the day of “testing” is past, but the day of the belt ceremony has not yet arrived. It’s attitude-check time. Did you do all you could? Are you swaggering around, arrogant? Are you impatient to get your belt? Or is it the inner growth and that demonstration of mastery (mostly to yourself) so important that the belt is of little concern. Are you a good and helpful teacher, patient with others? Are you a good student, still wanting to learn? Do you apply yourself in training, or do you go through the motions?
The belt ceremony will often be rescheduled during that time, for one reason or another. Sometimes, it’s a matter of scheduling. Other times, I sure it was meant to add to the challenge. (Can’t say I ever really noticed. For me, a “graduation” was never about completing something, It was always about being ready to take the next step. That was why I left before achieving black belt rank. At the time, I wasn’t ready to go forward from there.)
Heart Chakra Breakthrough
After being awarded the black belt, I continued training for another year. I was taking the next step. (Later, when masters and students from other schools arrived for a conference, was temporarily given the rank of 3rd Dan — because in terms of achievement, that’s what the 8 years of training spread out over 12 calendar years equated to, in other schools.)
In preparation for that visit, we aspired to get into peak physical shape. We were inspired to do pushups and pull-ups every day, until we could do 100 each. (I never got close on pull ups, but got to 80 deep pushups in a row.)
On one of those days, I hit my limit. We were in class at the time, maxing out on pushups. I could do no more, and just collapsed. I felt the soreness in my chest, and was reminded of the time, long ago in summer camp, when rather cruel (but young) older “monitors” told me stand with my arms stretched out to my sides, holding a boot in each hand.
I held it as long as I could. I would not let it down, even when my arms were aching. Eventually, I could do no more, and I started crying. The monitors were very kind and consoling then — not least for their own safety, I’m sure — but it took me a long time to stop crying.
I recalled that episode as I reached my pushup limit, and felt that pain. I held on until after class, and then went to a quiet corner of the building and really experienced the emotion.
In a single word, I felt “unloved”. I moved from the camp experience to the experience of mother leaving me with strangers who would take care of me during the week — doing it every weekend, when I was so young that I didn’t know my mother was coming back. I only knew that she was leaving me, abandoning me.
It was a powerful emotion, and one that repeated every week for several years, until at last I was old enough to know that the separation was only temporary.
As I relived that experience, and felt the emotions, a wall around my heart broke. I cried and cried. It was a complete ” breakthrough” of the heart chakra.
I cried for the next several days, in fact. I simply experienced the emotion — mostly because I had no choice! I couldn’t do anything else.
But then, I started to rebuild. At one point, I thought, wait a minute, surely I was loved, wasn’t I? I began to reexamine my past. I saw how my mother had been caring for me all that time, and how much she sacrificed to do it. I saw how that family took care of me. I began to spot other times in my life when someone demonstrated by their actions what can only be described as “love”. Love for me! I was loved.
As I began rebuilding my inner sense of self worth, I began to see how those early experiences led to a feeling of “not being loved” (i.e. “not lovable”), and how that feeling was the foundation for many negative character traits that I had had to deal with, in my training. (Grandmaster had to deal with them, too. And let me tell you, it was no small challenge!)
For all of my formidable intellect and creativity, I had always been a basket case when it came to dealing with people. And as I began to trace the connections between those character traits, seeing how one led to the next, I began to see why. The experience was so illuminating that I captured those connections in a diagram:
[[Diagram: Many negative character traits stemming from a single cause.]]
(The important point is not my individual drama, of course, but rather the observation that seemingly simple character flaws can stem from deep underlying issues that can be hard to get to.)
But without doubt, the best of the experience for me came in the ensuing weeks, as I gave love to my inner child. I reexamined my experiences, observed when love was intended, regardless of what happened, and consoled my inner child with that love. I recalled all the times I was loved, and all the people who loved me. It felt warm, and comfortable.
For the first time in my life, I began to be really confident with people — sure that I was lovable, knowing that I was capable of love, deserving of love, and most of all, deserving to give love.
Ipsalu Tantra (2010’s)
Judgement and Presence
Taking a series of classes with Shakti Jan Robinson, I found that being judgemental makes you “not there”, and got a humorous, non-judgemental reminder that made me laugh whenever I caught myself doing it. Every time I did, I was more “there” moments after an irksome event, instead of back.
–breakthrough in power chakra at an Ipsalu intro night
–powerlessness –> frustration at small things (like a bolt doesn’t fit — reawakened feelings of powerlessness) –> judgementalism (things shouldn’t be this way)
See: 5-day miracle, days 241 and 242
I could now add a new section to my diagram. In addition to feeling “unloved”, those early childhood experiences had created a sense of powerlessness that was awakened by any instance of frustration in my life, which in turn led to a chronically judgemental attitude:
[[Diagram version 2: Frustration, powerlessness, judging]]
The Common Fear: Fear of Abandonment
As members of the group shared their experiences and their desires, I detected a common theme: Fear of abandonment. One lady in particular shared an experience where her father had taken her away for the summer, and she cried for her mother.
The response of the group leader (Jan Robinson) was enlightening. She got the person to that realization by asking her where in her body she felt her emotion, and then to breathe into it, and experience it.
The lady was ready to let it go, because she immediately tapped into it and began crying. Those of us who felt the motherly instinct were encouraged to surround her, and hold her, gradually letting go — but maintaining contact –as she recovered.
(I could have used that, when I went through that sensation in my martial arts training! But the philosophy was different. There, I was given the space to move through it. The good news as that no one was “choking it off” by telling it would be all right, and don’t cry, and stuff like that. But the hug and physical contact, like the experience of the bottle break, would have been a physical reassurance that people do care.)
It was clear that the fear of abandonment was a first chakra fear — a fear for survival. And after seeing others express similar experiences, and knowing how deeply buried that emotion was in me, it was clear that the fear of abandonment / fear for survival was a very common theme, at least among this cross-seciton of humanity.
I now had another section to add to my diagram, showing how my early experiences led to a fear of abandonment, anchored by a fear for my physical survival:
[[Diagram version 3: Fear of abandonment — fear for survival]]
Moving Energy Through the Chakras
–Ipsalu tantra level 1: Fire Breath (orgasm) Exercise — an exercise that stimulates energy chakras and dissolves barriers.
awakening one chakra after another, culminating in a feeling of boundless love
One of our group shared an experience in which someone had interfered with their growth process during the hours away from the session. It made me very angry, because I knew from helping to hold Grandmaster’s Self Discovery Weekends that the butterfly only gains its wings by working through it’s process in the cocoon. If you interfere with the process, the butterfly will never fly! So in those weekends, Grandmaster encouraged people to set aside all other roles — they were not husband or wife, father or daughter or mother or son. They were not employer or employee, or anything other than just truly themselves. They were to take the weekend off from the world, and focus solely on themselves. In a word, they were to go into the cocoon, so they could truly grow.
Shortly after that, we started the Fire Breath exercise. (It’s called the “Fire Breath Orgasm” exercise, because the awakenings you feel in different chakras are pretty much “orgasms”, only in different places.)
It turned out to be an illuminating experience:
- Feeling anger at the person who had interfered
Moving through quickly to…
- Feeling the underlying anger (times of not standing up for myself / not fighting back)
- Feeling my throat throttled (times of not speaking up / standing up for myself)
- Times of not asking for what I want (for example, in bed)
- Vocalizing the “Ah” of total satisfaction (satisfaction with myself, for asking for what I want, and the satisfaction of getting it — for example, in bed)
- With my eyes closed, clear saw the dark reddish glow of my hands as they moved over my eyes. Saw each finger clearly outlined, along with the hand and arm.
- Felt joy, as I realized that my 3rd eye was awake, and that I was seeing with my inner eye. More joy, realizing that I had experienced subtle breakthroughs in a series of chakras: the 3rd (power, self), 5th (self-expression), and 6th (inner eye), culminating in the joy of Pure Love in the 5th (heart). Wow. This is energy at work!
- –at the end…love (holding the baby)
The important point isn’t about my own personal triggers and their resolution, of course. The important point is the way one energy after another was activated, and the way, each time a blockage was dissolved, it led to the next chakra in the chain. Wow.
Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation technique that allows for reprogramming the subconscious with positive affirmations. (For a bit about science see Tantra Lessons–item #7, on ancient knowledge, the bullet point that talks about the theta threshhold.)
In that exercise, I focused on my heart’s desire — my life partner and true love. In that state, you visualize the experience, and suffuse the experience with gratitude to magnetize it. Well, the combination of feeling that love and and that same time feeling gratitude — that was explosive bliss!
Chants in My Head
For days, I have had the final chant in my head and the expansive feeling of love in my heart. I drive around with a smile on face. I don’t even want to watch TV (that’s huge, for me). I don’t want to drive out the great feeling. I want to practice, read inspiring literature, and read more about what, why, and how this path works, and how to travel it even more surely. I don’t eat much, either. I don’t need to. I feel great. Fully energized, delighted in being. I recognize the feeling as none other than “bliss”. The name of the seminar was “Learning to Live in Bliss”. It delivered.
Reconnection #1: Regaining Love
After two days of living in bliss, I woke without love in my heart. “Oh no!”, I thought, “I’ve lost the weekend!” Thinking of the weekend, I thought of holding the baby in my arms. I felt pure love radiating from within me, and was connected with that feeling of love once again. So I got up, created the Tantra Lessons page, and captured that experience in a poem #3, along with several others.
The wonderful news is that I was able to reconnect. I have had this wonderful experience of bliss/enlightenment/samadhi on three separate occasions, but never managed to hold on to it. To have a practice that lets me reconnect with this wonderful energy is nothing less than a gift from God.
Immediately after that, I did the “Ipsalu Formula” practice. Afterwards, I lay down to rest, to enjoy, and to let thoughts come to me. (Sometimes creative energy inspires me to write, to create. When it is flowing, I cannot stop. Other times, I am inspired to relax and let the insights and creative ideas come to me.)
During that reflection, I rolled into the right position to recall an important dream I had last night. (When I did dream recall, I learned that getting into the same position helps to bring back a dream.)
I understood from the weekend that it was possible to make a connection, so for the last several nights I have been calling to Baba-ji as I go to sleep. (It’s important for me to keep the hyphen there, because the name isn’t “Babaji”, it’s “Baba” with a highly respectful, honorific, and adoring “ji” added to it.)
Getting no response, I didn’t mind. I know that I need to grow more. I trust that when the time is ripe, he will appear.
So last night, I was dreaming that I was at workbench in the basement. The table was up against the wall, the light was dim, and I was working on something. Someone standing on my left tapped me on my shoulder and said “He’s here”, then pointed behind me. I nodded my head, and kept working, engrossed in what I was doing. The person who tapped me on my shoulder looked at me incredulously. “You’re not going to see him?”, he asked. That’s when I knew the visitor was special.
I partially turned (left or right? I don’t recall.). Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a bright light at the top of the stairs. All I had to do was turn around! But it was hard. I was stuck. It took time to get myself around until I was finally facing the stairs. (I turned to my left, I think. I could hear laughing. “I’ve been here all along. You’ve been looking the wrong way!”)
I began to climb the stairs. The light was coming from a doorway on the left, at the top. When I got there, I turned left and entered the room. The light was /very/ bright. Way too bright for me. The presence took pity, and throttled back the voltage, condensing most of it into a body. I could see the body. (It was still too bright for me to see details, so have no idea what the face looked like, or even much about the shape of the body.) But there was definitely a body there, and it was thin.
“There. I have come”. The presence began to leave. I pleaded in my heart: “Please stay. I don’t need a physical appearance. I don’t need a miracle. I just need your presence.” (More exact wording would have been, “I need you in my heart”.)
The presence stayed awhile, and I was happy. I know I need to grow more and clear the pathways to experience in greater detail. But I have a connection. I want to keep that connection strong, and keep Baba-ji’s presence in my heart!
Reconnection #2: Awakening Love, Once Again
Another day, when the feeling of love began to recede, I recalled the Yoga Nidra exercise we did. The feeling of love exploded in my heart. In that moment, I reconnected with Love of the Universe/God/Universal Consciousness. I suspect that
On Saturday night, I kept thinking about one of the ladies in the group. That night, I had a dream in which I met my true love, and kissed her. She was similar in age and energy, but looked completely different — blonde instead of brunette, with a completely different face. Either it meant I was on the right track, or it meant I was on the wrong track. No way to be sure! (At least, at the moment.) But the feelings of love were sublime.
Wednesday, I wrote for an hour and half when I got up, went to work, came home and wrote for 2 hours at lunch, went back to work, came home, and wrote for 2 more hours before dinner. I was compelled to write this page (or at least get it started), the Tantra Lessons page, and many long emails. Even at work, I took time to start the Mantra Magic page. I could not help myself, and simply could not stop. So much to share!
Thursday, I was so tired! I did a minimum of extra writing, and some reading, and went to sleep early. (I often do. I’ll sleep from 8 or 9 to 11 or 12, then be up for several hours, and go back to sleep until it’s time to start the day.) This time, when I got up, I was off on another creativity streak. I was writing more of my magical moments in these pages, adding to the other pages, and sending more emails.
It was wonderful to feel the thoughts bubbling up and the energy flowing within me. I could feel it entering the base of my skull and permeating my entire body. But as it was getting close to 5, I thought, “But I do need to get some sleep! I need to be awake at work tomorrow!” (I’ve been driven to create in the middle of the night before, and have paid the price the next day. I so much want this to be different! But I need to find out for sure that it will be!
Right about then, the energy began to slack off. Just a little more, and I was able to let it go and go to bed.
I was so grateful!
Devoted to the Universe
On my back to bed, I realized that Universal energy was caring for me, as well as driving me — giving me the opportunity to have what I need, not pushing me or “driving” me, but flowing through me with all the force I am able to handle, and willing to experience.
At the moment, I realized I had truly “given my life over” to God / Universal Energy / Shakti / Babaji, and that I was truly being directed / utilized as a channel / cared for in some deep and mysterious way. I felt my life being guided, being directed from a higher place. I was glad to have surrendered, and grateful for all the teachers who helped me get to the place that I was able to. Overcome with gratitude for the presence, I shed a tear of joy and relief and fell to a bow. (That wasn’t low enough, so I went to full prostration. It felt right. But it still wasn’t low enough. I needed to dig a trench!)
If you only knew how much work Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim had to do to break through the accumulated crust of pride and a frozen heart! Thank you, Grandmaster. Things are flowing so much more rapidly, thanks to the work we did together — work I could never have done alone. I will be forever indebted to Shakti Jan for teaching me the technique that lets me reconnect so readily to that Great Presence. And I am eternally grateful to Babaji for bringing it to the world.
Turn around! Go upstairs!
That’s what Babaji said in my dream. Friday morning’s practice was particularly strong, and I felt/saw the light of Babaji/Shiva as I let out my last breath and basked in the afterglow. That’s when I understood: “Turning around” is focusing/feeling/ channeling through the base of the skull.
Always I had thought that the throat chakra was in the dimple of the sternum, at the base of the throat. But I never had any strong sensations there. That is the “i” point of the 5th chakra, I think. The “Universe” point is at the back of the throat. (Turn around, and go up the stairs!)
Thank you, thank you, Babaji. Glory to you, Universe Consciousness, Shiva. Glory to you, moon & mother earth life energy Shakti. Thank you, thank you, Shakti Jan!
Wow. Now I know why one gal went into ecstasy when Jan asked her what the weekend was like.
- I just changed the spelling from “I” and”universe”, as I originally wrote it,
to “i” and “Universe”, because that’s the way I want it to be.
- In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda states clearly that the 5th chakra is at the base of the skull. Wow. I read that years ago, but still always thought of it as at the throat.
- Always, too, I had looked for the universe energy to enter through the crown. But try as I might, I could never feel very much there. Little did I know that I only needed to “turn around”. :__)
- I suspect that the secret to public speaking is to be coming from the Universe side of the chakra, rather than the “i” side. Grandmaster never prepares a talk, she listens inside and the subjects come to her. Yogananda, too, talked about having no idea what to say, until he open up and channeled Shiva consciousness.
- It is somewhat amazing, actually. In my previous training, I managed to achieve a state kundalini-activated enlightenment 3 times. Each time, the state dwindled away, as I was unable to hold on to it. But now, the Ipsalu Formula gives me a way to reawaken that experience every day! And thanks to Babaji and the Cobra breath training, I know now where to look for that cosmic light energy.
Found out about a Sunday morning soccer game in my age bracket last week. Was up most of the night writing last night, and got about 6 hours of all-told. I was debating about whether to go. Maybe I should just let it go until next week. But it would be nice to play. But… Like that.
Decide to look inside for wisdom. (turn around, upstairs!). I can’t say that I heard any deep booming voice or anything. But I really did want to my play. It was my mind telling me to hang back. So I went.
Driving over, I gave myself a challenge: To keep Universal Love consciousness flowing through me while playing. Tough challenge! Especially for a game that can be as competitive and challenging as soccer. Back when I used to play a lot, I’d get tired. And after I got tired, I’d begin to get frustrated. Then I’d get angry. Even playing a few months ago, I’d get down on myself after making a mistake.
Of course, energy is flowing like crazy, too. My challenge to myself was to keep Universal Love consciousness while playing a game as
But this time? No problem! I was hearing a mantra (one of the Krishna Das mantras I listened to on the way over) and I was keeping my 6th chakra opening, letting the light of Shiva energy pass into me and through me. At one point, I opened my arms to the sky and just drank it in. I mean, I was having fun.
Reconnection #3: Forgiveness
Watched too much TV last night. I had lost the feeling when I got up this morning. (Theme song: You’ve Lost that Feeling.) Watching sports didn’t affect it, and watching a Yanni special expanded it. But multiple drama shows put me too much into my head.
Wanted more than anything to regain that feeling. Willing to sacrifice TV to keep it! (Maybe one. No more.) Tried to reconnect. (Theme song: Turn Around, Bright Eyes.) Couldn’t quite connect. Tried visualizing the baby. Tried visualizing my partner, my love. Nothing worked.
Asking forgiveness from Universal Love was pointless. (I tried it anyway.) But Universal Love expects me to be — to eat, grow, get up, fall down. Universal Love never stops loving. It’s ego me who gets in the way.
That’s when I realized I needed to forgive myself. “I” (ego) was the only one standing in the way. I got there, and felt the 6th chakra open just a bit. (Now that I know where it really is — at the base of the skull — I can feel it.) That got me back into connection. (Not all the way, but I know it’s there! The presence is with me, and that’s enough. With
gratitude, I feel it growing stronger.)
This morning, I realize that I need to connect with that love and use it to totally and completely forgive myself, connecting with the limitless power of Universal Love Consciousness to do it. That’s working. Yeah. (I also started studying up on Yoga Nidra. That is going to a big part of my practice going forward.)
Meaningful Moments from a Magical Weekend
My favorite moments from the weekend were the ones that combined to bring me to a state of total surrender and complete connection with Universal Love Consciousness:
- Inner Smile
– Opening the 6th chakra, allowing Universal Consciousness to pour in.
- Fire Breath Orgasm Exercise
– Awakening chakras, dissolving blocks, feeling unconditional love for a baby.
- Cobra Breath
– The play of Shakti and Shiva, energizing the being with love energy, life force, and
consciousness. (Shakti: Love and Life Force. Shiva: Love and Consciousness.)
- Surrendering Ceremony
– Initiation ceremony, actually, after having learned Cobra Breath. But to me
it was a, surrendering to Shiva / Universal Consciousness / Love / Baba-ji.
(At the time, I thought of it as a “commitment” ceremony. In a way, it is,
because ego does take hold. So you “commit to recommitting”. But every
time you do, you wind up surrendering the “I” ego to the larger consciousness.
- Yoga Nidra
– Deep, vivid visualizing — in my case, of a love connection — suffused with gratitude.
You Can’t Fool Mother (Father) Nature
“Babaji“, I called inside, “Come to me. Teach me, so that I can share with others.”
The answer came back, quick as a flash, “You know you’re going to. You’re already doing it!“.
And so I am, in these pages. That’s when I realized I was trying to bribe Babaji into presence.
I laughed and laughed.
I could just hear Babaji: “Hey! Universal Wisdom here. You’re trying to fool me?”
It was joyous.
Connection Dropped — And Regained
- Got really frustrated at work. Lost all connection. Came home and watched TV. What the heck? The connection was broken anyway.
- After a couple of hours, decided to spend some time reading. On my way to bed (where the reading gets done), I decided to meditate.
- That’s when Jan Robinson’s words came floating into my mind: “Just be with it. Experience it. With witness consciousness.”
- My god. It was ok to be upset and angry and frustrated. I didn’t have to feel bad about feeling bad, at least. So I experienced the feeling, and witnessed it.
- Then I felt the connection again! Yay! It wasn’t super strong, but it was there. I expressed gratitude in my heart, and it grew stronger.
Success with Diet and Exercise
For the past 9 months, I have been tracking my daily diet and exercise. The goal has been to lose weight. (I graduated college at a bones-showing skinny of 150. After a couple of years’ weight lifting, I was a fit and manly 180. But years of a wheat-and-gluten-based diet, plus fast foods, took their toll. I eventually ballooned to a high of 237. (I’m now down to 212, and going lower.)
For years, I had been gaining a little each other. But the accumulation had accelerated to the point that I was gaining noticeably each month. I knew that something had to be done.
Before testing for my black belt, I trained intensively for 9 months — long enough to give birth to a new me! I trained hard, and ate well. In that time, I dropped from 220 to a ready-for-anything 208. But that was as low as I was able to go. Worse, I didn’t keep a record of what I had done! So at 237, I didn’t have a good idea of where to start.
So this time, I kept a diary. I kept it in book form thinking that, like Tycho Brahe, the records I leave behind will give others raw data they can mine for evidence to support their theories. But I did something else, as well: Every time I identified something that made a difference, I added an insert to explain what it was, how it worked, and why it worked. In time, I expect to compile those inserts into a smaller, more readable volume that tells people what they need to know to maintain their weight and their health.
(The title of one of the volumes will be The Five-Day Miracle. What the title of the other one will be, I don’t know, just yet. Maybe, “Genesis of the Five Day Miracle: The Original Diary”. )
Vata Yoga = Kriya Yoga?
Several months ago, I created an insert for the book called Vata Yoga. It was for a form of Yoga that was inspired by a book on stretching I read by a Japanse author. The book was called Makko-Ho:Five Minutes Physical Fitness. That book showed how light “pulsing” could produce remarkable flexibility using four simple exercises. I figured the same principles could be applied to Yoga poses. I came up with a series of them that could be performed in 10 minutes or so — a great way to start the morning!
I christened the program Vata Yoga, because in Ayurveda, “Vata” is all about flowing and water. (“Kapha” is solid, stable, and earthlike. As in motionless. So that’s traditional Hatha Yoga. “Pitta”, meanwhile, is fiery and energetic. That’s Ashtanga, or Power Yoga. That leaves “Vata”, which seemed like a perfect name.)
Then, researching more about the Kriya Yoga program that Babaji resurrected from the Patanaji’s Sutras, I found a couple of books that described the physical exercises:
- Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga: 18 Postures of Relaxation & Rejuvenation
The picture on the cover shows the various poses. That should make a good foundation
for a practice, similar to the book I read so many years ago by Yogi Vithaldas:
The Yoga System Of Health And Relief From Tension.
- Babaji’s Kriya Yoga: Deepening Your Practice
This one seems to be out the internal processes that accompany the poses.
I definitely want that.
- Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga Self-realization through Action with Awareness
A DVD that shows the practice, and that has a most illuminating review comment:”The sequence consists primarily of alternately forward-sitting and back-bending poses, many augmented by pulsing ‘micro-movements,’ or kriyas.” (emphasis added)
Now, I had thought that “Kriya” meant “practice”. And even if I read that it meant “action”, I was thinking in terms of deeds, not “pulsing micro-movements”. But after reading that comment, I realized that “Vata Yoga” and “Kriya Hatha Yoga” are pretty darn close to the same thing. Immediately, I knew that I had to order those books. (And using the pictures from the cover of the first book, I added some additional poses to my practice that very day!)
But the biggest value, for me, was the sense of connection I felt with Babaji. We were on the same page! We were reading from the same book! Ok, he was reading a whole lot faster, and he’s way, way deeper. But even if I’m on the beginning pages of an encyclopedia that Babaji has long since committed to memory, I am channeling the same Universal Wisdom! The feeling inside is, “We are one heart.” And that feeling awakens the spirit of love within me. (Yay!)
Kriya Yoga turns out to be quite a bit different from the Vata Yoga concept, although they do share elements in common. Kriya is more devotional, with built-in mantras. And it has many more poses, with holding segments and moving segments. All in all, it’s great stuff. It’s perfect for when I have time! Vata Yoga is perfect for when time is short!
Cradled by the Universe
Money is really tight this month. The license renewal for the van and the home insurance bill both came due at the same time, with precious little warning for the insurance invoice. And while I’m happy to be working in this economy, and even happier to be working with such great people, I’m not making as much as I used to. So money is tight.
But there are books I just have to have — books like the ones mentioned above that dive deeper into the subject of tantra, kundalini, and the Kriya (“action”) yoga of the ancient sutras, brought to light by Babaji. I’ve already ordered several. But before they even arrived, I found several more that will help me deepen my practice and stay permanently connected to Universal Love Consciousness. I mean, I must have them. If it comes to a choice between eating and getting what I need to grow spiritually, I choose the latter.
I’ve always done that. I used to spend my lunch money on books! But in those days, kind parents were generally ready to help out. These days, I’m on my own — except for that Universal Consciousness connection. So it could seriously come to a choice of eating, or not.
But I had to have those books. In a rare acknowledgement of reality, I left the DVD out of the order, but I had to get the books. I swallowed hard, and placed the order. At that moment, I consciously put my faith in the love of the universe. I knew it would take care of me, providing me with whatever I needed — even if that were a fasting experience!
Lo and behold, two days later I get an email from Korea magazine, asking for an article on Kimchi — a subject I have written about at my site. And they even drop a few notes about Korean culture that I never knew! So the article is practically writing itself. And it’s paying well enough that I can get some nice Christmas lights to replace the ones I left in Kansas, when I moved back to California. (That was a close call, let me tell you. Barely made it, financially speaking. That’s one reason that money is so tight now.)
But to really understand what kind of a miracle this is, you have to know a few things:
- I originally wrote those Kimchi articles back around 1996.
- I have never been asked to write an article on that subject for a magazine, much less received an offer to get paid for it.
- When I am working full time, I am very sporadic about checking my TreeLight inbox.
- I could easily have missed that message for many months — especially since I spent most of the day at work, today.
Bottom line: I am in the arms of Universal Love Consciousness. I feel cradled and comforted, knowing that the Universe wants what’s best for me.
Epilog: It turns out I misread the date. The message was a month old, and I had missed the deadline. Oh well! I wrote a great article, and felt cradled and comforted! And a few days later, a spectacular job offer feel in my lap!
What’s in a Name? Connection!
When I first started doing the Babaji Mantra (Om Kriya Babaji Namah Aum), I come up with a variation that goes like this: Om Shiva Babaji Namah Aum. It’s one of several variations that I find in my head when I’ve been doing something else, and then tune in to my “background” music.
So I’m reading up on Babaji, and in Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition, I read that he’s also called Shiva Baba. I instantly feel connected. I channeled the name! “Shiva Babaji”. Cool! That works for me. When I described that light of Universal Consciousness, I always described it as “Shiva/Babaji”, because it was Shiva Consciousness as personified by, conducted by, and guided to by Baba-ji!
So I’m doing the Kriya Yoga this morning, leading into the Ipsalu Formula once again. I’ve been doing it every morning, and sometimes again in the evening, as well. I have never before found a practice that just makes me so darn happy!
At the end, I’m meditating, and wanting to Babaji to appear. Of course, I have a long way to go before I can expect that to happen. But I pray, “When the time is right, please appear.” And I hear an answer come back! It’s in a very quiet voice that I can only hear with my inner ear if I pay close attention, but it is positive and firm: “When the time is right, I will appear.” I am immediately overwhelmed with joy. Babaji promised to appear!
(Imagination? Maybe. Do I care? Not a bit. I’m happy, man! And it is gonna be so cool…)
I was sitting by the couch, looking at an area of the living room that desperately needed cleaning. It had needed it for months. When would I ever get around to it?
For the thousandth time in my life, I wished for the kind of partner who would look at me with a smile, and say let’s clean! Not nag at me to do it, or do it for me, but instead, make it a joyful time together.
Right about then, I heard that inner voice, with my inner ear. The words weren’t spoken aloud, but they were in my head, clear as a bell, “I’m right here, silly!” Right then, I connected with my inner love, and set about cleaning things up! It’s a nice, clean space, now. I did it with my partner, my love. And I can hear her saying, “I (you, we) knew you’d like it!”.
Just after waking is a great time for Yoga Nidra. You’re not fully awake, so you can really relax and “drift”. (That was the best time for Lucid Dreaming, as well.)
Had that in my head when I got out of bed this morning, still sleepy. Did some of the vata yoga exercises, and meditated for a bit on the edge of the bed. Went to the bathroom-sat to pee and meditated there for a bit. Finished the vata quick series, then sat cross-legged and meditated for a bit more. Picked up one more Kriya Yoga pose, then some more meditation. Really felt the inner smile opening the medulla portal. Did the Ipsalu formula, and a final meditation. Great way to wake up in the morning!
Did a Yoga Nidra session in the middle of the night, after waking at 5:30. (I used a pre-recorded CD, since I haven’t mastered the technique, yet.) My affirmation: “I’m in Love”. That works so nicely. It’s the state I want to return to, it’s connection with Universal Love, and it’s the arrival of my life partner. (What’s taking her so long, anyway!? :__)
The session wasn’t all that great, actually. But since it seems to have inspired the next two magical moments, I’m including it.
Meeting my Guru?
Had a dream where four of us were sitting cross-legged in front of a guru. I hadn’t met him yet, and did not even think to wonder if he was “my” guru. I just knew I wanted darshan (presence) with this being.
He started at the other end, asking each a few questions. When he got to me, I gave a namaste-bow and said “Sat Nam, Guru”. (For some reason, the word “namaste” never came to me. Sat Nam did.) The guru smiled at this and bowed back. Then he asked me how I came to this.
I told him about reading Yoga for Health and Relief from Tension by Yogi Vithaldis, in high school. He smiled and said what a great book that was. I said yes, because it gave vigorous poses, and tips on internal cleansing and meditation. Then I said I had most recently been doing Ipsalu — and that I liked it because it went as fast as possible, but no faster.
Then I launched into a talk about how I like to drive at just the right speed to make the best possible time — above the speed limit, but not so fast that I get a ticket. I went into many details about that. (Because I was sleep-dreaming by that time, and not lucid, awake-and-in-control dreaming!)
I woke with the realization that I had spent all my time talking, and had not learned anything! Oh no! Come back, my guru! Teach me, please!
Inspired to Clean
I woke on the first day of an unexpected 3-day weekend. I’d had a four-day weekend just recently, and outside of a little cleaning, hadn’t done much of anything. I wanted to put this one to better use. To help, I checked in with my inner guide (Turn around! Look up!). What came to me was unexpected: Clean!
There were two specific things that came to me, in fact — the bathroom floor and a pile of newspapers I needed to sort through. I had observed them consciously many times, and knew it needed doing. But when? If I have energy, I have things to do, and if I don’t have energy, I usually want to vegetate.
But this morning, the inner voice was clear: “Clean. Your love is on the way. You want the place to be nice for her, don’t you?” Of course I did! Oh, boy. And I have my inner love companion to clean with, too. What could be better?
I also knew of the power of cleaning from my martial arts training. Grandmaster used to teach us to meditate on cleaning ourselves, as we cleaned the environment around us. But the Ipsalu/Tantra teachings are showing me that the reverse is also true: As my inside becomes cleaner, I just naturally desire a cleaner environment around me.
So I got up, and started cleaning. “What about my Ipsalu Formula practice?”, I wondered for a moment. “Clean.”, came back the answer. Ok! So set about cleaning.
As I cleaned, I had love in my heart. It was a form of Bhakti Yoga, this cleaning. A service of love and devotion. It felt good (even if it was hard on the knees, as I scrubbed and scrubbed).
By the end of it, I had a nice sweat going. I hadn’t been trying to work hard, but there is something about cleaning things and moving things around that just naturally raises the metabolism. That’s when it occurred to me: The first step in the Ipsalu Formula is “Activate” — Wake up the body and energy centers, get the blood and energy flowing!
So there it was: In addition to everything else it offers, cleaning is a terrific form of exercise that wakens the body and gets the energy flowing. It’s a wonderful first step in the Ipsalu Formula. (One of the really nice things about that formula is the way you can achieve variety by doing one of several things at each stage.)
So: When is there both the time and energy to clean? I just found a very rewarding time for it!
I learned about the inner smile in the Ipsalu Tantra course. There, I also learned Hong Sau meditation (also called So Hum, by some). In that practice, you hear Hong (So) in your head as you inhale, and Sau (Hum) as you exhale. We also learned to visualize/feel/experience entering between the brows on the inhale, traveling back to the center of the head, and then down to the base of the skull, reversing directions on the exhale.
In this meditation, the energy was coming in through the brow just fine, and I was getting a nice bright light in the middle of the head, but it wasn’t going any farther than that. It wasn’t making it to the base of the skull. It came to me to hold the breath, and watch the energy trickle back further, as I did so.
Magic! As I held my breath and watched, the base of the skull became more and more energized. In moments, I was experiencing the intense bright light of super consciousness at that point. The inner smile just naturally broke out, at that point.
So it’s clear that the energy works both ways! Making an inner smile helps to open the portal, and when it’s open, the inner smile can’t be helped!
It took quite a while before I felt much of anything between the eyebrows. I had much better success with the center of the head and the base of the skull. I finally did, though. And now it seems like the “6th chakra/3rd eye” are really three distinct points, not just one: Between the brows, center of head, and base of skull.
Re-connection to Childhood and God
The Sexual Wholeness workshop I attended in 2012 produced a magical “reconnection”. The workshop, conducted by Kip Moore and Lexi Fischer, included quite a bit of “pelvic floor healing”, which involves finding what I can only describe as “trigger points” in anal and vaginal regions, and pressing on them. Like trigger points in a muscle (small “knots” that release when you press on them and hold the pressure for a while), these “psychic knots” tend to release long-buried, pre-verbal childhood memories. (What a psychologist would call the subconscious — but which I call “body consciousness”–a totally real part of your makeup that is nevertheless unavailable to your normal, conscious thought processes.)
One of those trigger points made me feel like I was freezing to death. Being a baby, I had no way to communicate. I thought I was going to die. (It turns out that ether was commonly used during childbirth, which might as well have been Freon — the coolant used in refrigerators. Not only did it make the baby cold, it made the mother cold, as well — literally cold, so she not feel the inner warmth that formed a bonding connection, when seeing her child.)
Another trigger point brought up the experience of circumcision — of being violated, of being in pain. I had the vivid experience of lying the crib afterward, alone, hearing other children crying in the cribs around me. I fully connected with the sense of abandonment I felt, lying in that crib.
Then came the wonderful trigger point at the prostate. With that one, I experienced what women experience at the point of orgasm. I felt an expansion and a connection to Shiva/God/Conscious enough. Simultaneously, I felt a connection with the Shakti/Goddess/Earth/Energy below, channeled by the lovely “Moola Guru” who was helping me in this process. At that point, I was simply a conduit, channeling the flows between heaven and earth, reveling in the experience. It was wonderful.
Sense of Futility
The high from the Sexual Wholeness workshop lasted about 6 months. Then followed a deep sense of futility, mostly triggered by an inability to make the organization’s guiding members come to their collective senses. Unable to dissuade them from actions that could only be counterproductive, and unable to make further progress (for lack of workshops to attend), I began to experience a deep sense of futility — as though there was nothing I could ever do that would make any difference. Little did I know at the time that this “Dark Night of the Soul” was a presage of breakthroughs to come.
Pure Sexual Being
After feeling that sense of futility for a good six months, I had a chance to re-take the Level 1 course taught by Claudia Weitkemper and Douglas Knapke. I had helped out at Level 1 many times, and always got a lift out of seeing people grow, but this was the first time iu many years that I had participated in some of the deeper, emotional-release processes. It was powerful.
In one process, I reconnected with the inner child who was prevented from playing with his sexual organs — time after time, day after day. That was the beginning of learning to feel shame. I realized that at no time while growing up did I have any help learning to deal with my sexuality. Quite the reverse, in fact. Mostly, I was taught to suppress and deny. No wonder I became addicted to forbidden pornography and S&M fantasies while growing up!
But the real benefit was experiencing myself as that child. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I was that child — a pure sexual being, with the emphasis on pure. I knew that everything layered over that, in layer upon layer, was accumulated debris that was not me.
In that moment, I dropped guilt and shame. I experienced my power as a sexual being, for the first time ever. And I knew beyond doubt that everyone is a pure being with a sexual nature — generally buried under equivalent piles of accumulated junk unwillingly forced on them.
A Being of Pure Love, Experiencing Divinity
Only a week later, I was off to Level 3 in Florida, led by Nayano and Buddyananda Woodcox. This one would lead to a series of breakthroughs that totally erased the feeling of futility. It was a session of deep dives and scaling the heights that would change me forever, and allow me to be the person I was born to be.
The first “deep dive” came when looking into my fear of approaching a beautiful woman. (There were actually two fears — the first was a sort of “acute dread”. The actual was a more subtle pessimism regarding the long term outlook — because I had overcome the initial fear in the past, only to watch the relationship come to naught down the line. So what was the point? There was that sense of futility again. But we dealt with the initial fear, at this point. The rest would come later.
Coached by Nayano, I closed my eyes, imagined the situation, and felt for sensations in my body. I felt a tight constriction in my solar plexus, like a belt or a noose that was pulled in right there. Almost immediately, I flew back to my childhood — back in the crib.
Apparently there was a strict feeding schedule in those days — perhaps even a strict schedule for picking a baby up and touching it. Because I vividly recall lying there, wanting something — food, or comfort, or something — and no one coming. I cried until I could cry no more. I screamed until my tiny lungs gave out. Finally, helpless, I could do nothing but wait. Hang on for dear life, and wait.
In those moments, repeated over and over before I could even walk, much less talk, I “learned” that tears no help, anger was no help, My only choice was “doing nothing”, and just hanging on.
Of course, that sensation was accompanied by a feeling of being rejected and abandoned, and afraid of dying.And that’s the fear that came up when I contemplated approaching a beautiful woman — a fear of rejection that was coupled to a fear of dying! And it was all going on at a “cellular” level, practically — somewhere in the medulla, or “lizard brain”, far below any level of conscious awareness.
But now, having brought the memory-pattern to conscious awareness, there was nothing to do but laugh! It was another cosmic joke, and I was the punchline! Because, of course, being rejected hurts a bit, but it is nothing like overwhelming surge of emotion that accompanies the prospect of imminent death! And sure enough, for the remainder of the week I encountered small slights that would have triggered feelings of rejection in the past, but now were nothing more than small blips on the surface of my world.
A Being of Love… and more
The next day, after sleeping on that breakthrough, we did a process that led me to another: Throughout it all, as a child, when tears did not help, and anger did not help, and “doing nothing” was the only option, throughout the suppression and denial of my sexuality, I continued to love those around me. In fact, because I felt that love, I effectively “decided” that since passive acceptance was what my caregivers wanted, then it must be right. So I “choose” to become passive and accepting.
But the big revelation was that, throughout it all, I continued to express love. In that moment, I experienced my true nature. I was a being of pure love! Nothing less. Everything layered over that was an accumulation of debris collected from living in the world. And because I knew with total certainty that I was a being of pure love, I knew with total certainty that others were, too.
In short, it was the experience of “Namaste”–the divine love in me recognizes the divine love in you, and knows that we are one.
And, since only a week earlier I had experienced myself as a being of pure sexuality, I knew beyond doubt that I was even more. I was a being of pure physicality, ready and willing to fight for my survival, and to enjoy the pleasures of life (1st chakra). I was a being of pure power, ready and able to make a difference (3rd chakra). I was a being of pure creative expression and empathy, ready and able to create, to communicate, and to hear others (5th chakra). I was a being of pure insight and understanding (6th chakra). And I was a being fully connected with cosmic consciousness (7th chakra).
In short, I was ready to live.
The following day, a few more things connected together to produce yet another breakthrough, Having “learned” that there was no point in expressing sorrow, or expressing anger, I had effectively learned that there was no point in attempting to communicate. As a result, I sabotaged every relationship I had been in, all my life! I couldn’t talk about the things that made me sad or angry. (If I tried, too much emotion came up, threatening to overwhelm me, so I avoided the prospect.) I couldn’t even ask for what I wanted sexually because, in addition to the guilt and shame, I had “learned” that communication did no good. So all I could do was be passive and hope for the best.
Needless to say, that strategy was not conducive to a really successful relationship! But now, having brought it to conscious awareness, I could let it go. Now, finally, at an advanced age, I finally felt ready for a relationship. (Would that I had found these workshops earlier. I envied the young people who were learning these life lessons in time for them to do some good! But I was glad for them. And for me!)
Babaji in History
That night, I felt my 3rd eye open. (Hard to say what that feeling was, exactly. I recall being aware of the feeling, and associating with my 3rd eye.) Since my 3rd eye was open, I thought it would be a good time to look for Babaji.
As I looked, I saw the Pharaoh’s cowl, and knew that it was meant to resemble a Cobra’s hood. (Kundalini is said to be a sleeping cobra, and Babaji Nagaraj’s name means Naga – serpent/cobra, raj – king.) I knew right then that it was a Babaji-trained leader who started Western civilization in Egypt!
I also know that teachings of Jesus came from the same source, and that in fact, Babaji and Jesus were one and the same! (There is good evidence that traces those teachings to Egypt.) “Hah!”, I thought, “Babaji-zus! My Lord and Master.” It felt true then, and feels true to this day.
For the Tibetan Rebirth processes, I had formulated a two part intention: “Full kundalini awakening, and the grace to connect with Babaji”. Lofty, but a heartfelt desire.
The process was nice, and I felt really supported in my “birth” by my team (a wonderful new experience in my life). And at the end, I felt parental support for my sexuality (another wonderful new experience). And event though it came nowhere near the goals I had expressed, the stage had been set.
For the Maituna process (sexual union with the goal of transmuting the energy up the chakras), those two goals coalesced into a single intention that encompassed both meanings: “Experience Divinity.” I came closer. At the end, basking in the afterglow, I saw clouds. Then I saw a bright spot in the clouds, and was flying above them, traveling towards it.
As I came over one cloud, I saw the Sun. But it wasn’t behind the clouds. Rather, it was standing on the clouds. I knew then that it was Babaji, for he had appeared that way to me before. (I wanted to get closer, but couldn’t seem to move any further.) I thought that was the fulfillment of my desire/intention. Little did I know…
Then, the next morning, it all came together.
That morning, I took a moment to express anger over the sound system, which hadn’t allowed me to hear the two guided meditations that were the most important parts of the week. (Not that it mattered, given how much I gained! Still, I felt the anger, and wanted to practice expressing it.) I then the totally unique and new sensation of being totally done with it.
Never before had that happened! In the past, anger had always been connected to that huge blob of untapped emotion left over from childhood. And if I managed to express anything at all, it only intensified the sensation. So once angered, I could never be free of it. (Hardly a recipe for a good relationship!) But here I was, for the first time in my life, experiencing a complete freedom from anger, after expressing it. Wow.
After that, and sharing from others, we went on with our normal morning practice (which has many variations, to keep things interesting). As always, the practiced culminated in Cobra breaths. This time, they were really deep — deeper and stronger than they have ever been. As we sat in meditation afterwards, I felt the sun peeking through a window, even though my eyes were closed. I saw the Sun, and knew it was Babaji. (He had appeared to me that way before!).
I basked in the glow. And in less than a moment, I felt that glow all around me, centered in my heart. I was the Sun. It was glorious. I was “experiencing divinity, for sure– in a most unexpected way, and in the fullest sense of the word. :__)
Later in the day, I recalled the tarot reading from way back in college. Then, my destiny card was the Sun. It was a wonderful prospect, but I had no idea what it really meant. Now, I did. For now at least, I was home.
The results of those revelations in the ensuing weeks have been rather astonishing.
I can approach a woman without fear — even one that I really like (and that I may have previously considered “out of my league”).
There is no feeling of “rejection”, if advances are rebuffed there are many possible responses: Try again, see if I can improve what I was doing, try with someone else. It is astonishing, really, not to be feeling the mixture of overpowering emotions — mostly suppressed, in order to keep them from being overpowering — that used to accompany the experience.
I feel strong, and powerful. Really powerful. On the inside. Confident in my sexuality. Free of long held but unrecognized beliefs of fear, guilt, and shame.
In short, it is a whole new me. It feels great to be alive. The sunshine is wonderful.
Words, Words, Words
After those personal breakthroughs, I recall listening as someone read passages from some great spiritual leader. It was good, in its way, and I understood what the person was saying — but it was just words, words, words. The person was speaking from the depths of their personal experience — things like, “You shouldn’t feel shame. You are a pure being”, and words to that effect. But unless you experience that reality for yourself, it’s all just words — words that sound good, but which have no real meaning!
Of course, everything I’m writing is just words, too. If you have already had these awakenings, then perhaps you find them boring. But if you haven’t — and if you have the tiniest glimmer of what could be, then perhaps they resonate with you. Perhaps you even find them a little inspiring. I hope so. In that case, may they help you embark on your own spiritual journey, and help you find you way back home.
Toying with Bankruptcy — Again
I’ve already gone bankrupt three times. I may be headed that way again. (But this time, hopefully, I’m smart enough to avoid it.)
The first time was in the 1980’s when I started a software technology company with some friends. It was a good idea, and a great technology (an early outliner). Unfortunately, I thought “marketing” was all about “sales and PR”. I had no idea that it was also about product definition — in particular about defining a product that solves a problem, so people want it!
So we spent a couple of years developing a great technology (an early outliner). But you couldn’t create a business plan with it, or a student essay, or anything really. You could organize your thoughts really well, but you couldn’t turn them into anything — at least not directly. So it never sold, and I went broke.
The second time, I was writing a book on Java programming for a major publisher. I thought it would take 3 months. It took a year and half. Sigh. Broke again.
The third time was during the economic downturn of 2008. I had pretty much gone broke by the time I found a job — in Kansas, of all places. But I took what I could get, and moved there. (Nice people there, it turns out.) I was on my way to look at an apartment to rent when I stumbled across a house I loved that had just come on the market. So I bought it!
Meanwhile, the place in California did not sell. The good news was that when the job came to an end, I had a place to come back to. The bad news was that after paying two mortgages the entire time, I had not saved a single dime! Fortunately, that place sold quickly (it was so nice), and I moved back.
Ok, fast forward to 2015. I’ve just become “retired”. I had been in a startup that was a financial success for 11 straight years. The company that acquired us gave us a bunch of money, then a raise. Then they gave me a bonus and a raise every year after that, because of the great work I was doing, and set up a 401K.
That was good. But somehow, the new owners managed to turn off every single income spigot the company had enjoyed for 11 years in a row, so they were no longer able to make payroll. Lovely. A lay off. Bye bye, job.
Looking for health care I could afford, I investigated Medicare. It was the only thing that was even close to affordable, so I signed up for that. When I registered for that, I was informed that I was eligible to retire. How about that? I was laid off the very month I was eligible to retire. Cool.
So I registered for Social Security. At the time, I was also getting unemployment, which meant I had plenty of money coming in. So I sold off the 401K I had set up when I was working at Sun Microsystems, and paid off the home. Between Social Security and unemployment, I had quite enough to live on, so I used my savings to start a publishing company.
Well, it turned out that unemployment was only good for 6 months. (Everywhere you turn, you find out that you’re “eligible” for a year — but you’re only eligible to receive benefits for 6 months!) So now I was about a thousand dollars short of what I needed, in any given month.
No matter, when the books start selling I’ll be fine. So I continued writing the book I was working on. That one was based on some insights that had occurred to me about how to become a great putter, when playing golf. It works, too!
However, once again, things took longer than expected. I figured the book would take 3 months. But it wound up being a year and 9 months before it got to Amazon’s shelves. So I was about a thousand dollars short for a year and 3 months — because only six of them were covered by unemployment.
To get that book published, I spent $12,000 on editing, cover design, formatting, proofreading, and everything else that comes up when you’re producing a book. I also spent $6,000 in the “company” aspects of the business — getting a trademark for the company name, filing the business, paying lawyers I shouldn’t have gotten involved, etc.
Now then, once again it turns out that “marketing” may be my downfall. Because the book isn’t exactly flying off the shelves. At the moment, 10 copies a month is a good month — far short of what I need to meet my current living expenses.
Of course, the goal of the whole exercise was to produce the freedom and the means to build the Voting Advice System we need to rescue American democracy from the lobbyists! And to make it possible write the many other books I need to write, in order to share what I’ve learned with others.
As I write these words in Sep 2017, I’m focusing on the top two books in that list, and making a bit of progress on the third. I hope to have at least two of them in the publishing pipeline, by the end of the year — with most of the writing finished, and only editing, revisions, and formatting to do.
By that point, it will be time to devote my attention to finding another income stream! (There is some hope that the CEO of the startup I was working for will need me to do some work in his new venture. Fingers crossed!)
At any rate, it is important to get those books published! Each is important for different reasons, but they’re all important! So I’m committed to getting them out the door.
Here’s hoping I can avoid bankruptcy in the process!
(The good news, of course, is that pretty much any part time, seasonal, or temporary job will cover the shortfall, and give me the time I need to shepherd the books through the final stages of the publication process.)
See the Raja Yoga Insights series. (This post has gotten too long for the online editor to handle!)
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