This book is not a quick read — you cannot skim this book or take it lightly, for it does not lend itself to that kind of reading; but it is an excellent read. I am happy to recommend it.
The text is detailed and includes lots of dialogue, chronicling years of the personal spiritual search in the life of the author. The English translation from the original German flows easily and comfortably, despite a few odd idioms here and there which may cause the reader a brief stumble. I was particularly intrigued by the title, as I have had numerous eye floaters over the years, and have always wondered, in particular, about the multiple flashing tiny dots or balls of light that can be seen easily on a sunny day, and which positively dance before your eyes if observed closely. I had always found those sparkles to be fascinating, and I had once concluded that what I was seeing were either actual air molecules, or maybe even air atoms, banging into one another, or indeed, perhaps some kind of vision of an inner conscious state. This book suggests that they are actually a visible expression seen by the human eye of the basic foundational structure of consciousness upon which our outer reality is constructed. A kind of matrix, or “shining structure of consciousness”. Thus, so many years later, I was quite surprised and intrigued to find another who seemed to confirm my own earlier guess, however more elaborately and substantively than my own minor conclusion may have been.
This is of course only incidental to the focus of the book, although the visibility of consciousness by the human eye is the basic and primary practice presented in the book to reach “reality” as the author perceives it. The substance of the book is an autobiographical report of the author’s experience in Switzerland with a “seer” named Nestor, who initiates or guides Floco through the process of spiritual development and discovery based on his own “system”. Nestor slowly introduces and lures Floco into this system, which is based upon the proposition that each of us sees dually until we relinquish or transform our vision, based on the consciousness of the conceptual mind that is the basis of our identity and also our normal and external sight or vision, which essentially formulates that duality. He does not express it quite that way, and deals more with transformation of energy than mind, but at base I believe it to be similar, since to my “mind” energy is mind, and mind is bound up energy. In his system, we relinquish that external reality in favor of the “left side of reality”, the non-dual, all inclusive and directly perceived “shining structure” of consciousness as seen through the eye, represented by the internal vision of the eye through the floaters, which by Nestor’s position, IS an actual vision of that shining structure of consciousness. This left side of reality is presumed to be visible, and is the actual structure of consciousness, or the matrix upon which the outer external dual reality is based. The result of this shift in focus — accomplished by practices, some of which are common to all traditions, including diet and meditation, but primarily via concentration through eye exercises — is that the aspirant loses himself or herself in favor of diving into the basic structural matrix, and thereby is able to manipulate or influence the outer reality by virtue of the release of vast energy each of us holds within our efforts to maintain and remain focused on our external reality. He calls this the “big picture” and the “small picture” respectively. This is a choice, and one that is determined by preparation and willingness to release one’s customary conditioned grasp of the familiar outer reality and consequent leap into and loss of one’s individuality in favor of immersion and entry into the inner reality, or “big picture”. Whether or not this practice of concentration through the eye is actually seeing a reality “out there” or “in here”, is to my way of thinking, irrelevant. It is the act of concentration that brings the consciousness to a focus and a point, out of its distraction, conditioning, obsession, enslavement, and delusion that is important. And if it is all consciousness anyway, it matters little what is “real and external”, and what is “real and internal”.
The author, and his teacher, to my mind, has not introduced a new concept, except perhaps in the approach to discovery of this reality, which is primarily based on visual exercises and in some ways is unique. This is not to say that the book’s purpose and approach are not useful or even interesting, for they are both. Moreover, it is not to suggest that the author’s experiences or position have no merit, because indeed they do. In fact, because it coincides in ways with historical spiritual paths, the authenticity of the practice presented in this book is strengthened. Its most unique contribution I believe is the use of the physical apparatus of vision and the actual visible flotsam of the eye, easily visible to seeker and non seeker alike, to direct the consciousness of the seeker inward, or in this case, to the other side of the bridge between external and internal, or toward the foundation of reality which is consciousness. In some ways, the approach here is similar to D.E. Harding’s “Headless Way”, the use of vision to truly “see” consciousness as it actually IS, not as we conceptualize it, which kind of vision is visible and available equally to seeker and non seeker. Thus, this book’s system’s ultimate goal and premise is that each of us can individually affect reality “out there” by practices in concentration and focus. This focus is done primarily through the eyes, which in turn will eventually enable us to immerse ourselves in the foundation of consciousness and use our own released energy by that immersion to affect it by withdrawing it from our conceptual external reality and releasing it, in increased quantity by that withdrawal, into the foundational consciousness. In that respect, it is only a small leap from there to many ancient traditions of Self-Realization and even mysticism, which require surrender and thereby turn one’s focus inward and release bound energy because of that surrender. This unbounded energy, no doubt, contributes in large measure to the many visions the mystic experiences upon surrender.
Indeed, this book’s emphasis on concentration and focus reminds me in many ways of Jack Schwarz’s method of spiritual discipline. Jack trained his students to focus on the “after image”; almost exactly similar to what Nestor advocates his student Floco to do early on. Jack also taught that effective “control” of consciousness, and therefore of reality, was accomplished by generating energy through excitement and transformation and movement of energy upward and outward, similar to what Nestor taught Floco in his feeling “ecstasy” tingles and shivers, all evidence of transformed energy. Having known Jack myself, I have no doubt that his method, and therefore Nestor’s, is effective if followed devotedly and faithfully.
I suppose what I am saying here is that the premise of this book, and its teachings, is another way of looking at the premise espoused by all the greatest spiritual teachers throughout history. That premise being that our reality is a direct expression of our “level” or constituents of our consciousness, and the less restricted and separate that consciousness is, the greater the benevolence and expanse will be of our external reality, the expression of the internal, unrestricted, and non-separated consciousness. It is vital, to my mind at least, that Floco realizes, as indeed he does, that one cannot leap or “fly” to the other side of the bridge (from the identification with the outer, “small picture” to identification with the inner, “big picture”) unless one is willing to relinquish one’s own separated and isolated personality. If one does not integrate that requirement, then we are dealing with magic, or singular manipulation of reality, which may work sometimes, but is essentially limited and haphazard and exclusionary and finite. In a word, still part of the “small picture”. The loss of self in favor of the greater Self, or in Floco’s language, the “navel” of consciousness or the “great sphere of light”, is the ultimate sacrifice or surrender, and the one most difficult to make, as Floco himself realizes.
Whether or not the book’s philosophy and teaching are actually based on a real life teacher named Nestor — (I confess I am not certain that Nestor is a “real life” person, perhaps because the author never really fleshes him out. He seems more to be a vehicle or a vessel for the teaching. But never mind, because for the reader it does not matter; the book’s power does not reside there. This is reminiscent of Carlos Castaneda’s teacher Don Juan, about whom doubts exist as to whether he was more fiction than fact, and there too the value in the teaching itself is unaffected by the controversy) — the author’s recording of his experiences offers a fascinating and revealing biography of every seeker’s lust for power, freedom, and personal perfection, and fears, countered by the constant resistance to the path and the demand for surrender presented by the ego regardless of the chosen spiritual path. In particular, the author's constant belittling of his teacher’s revelations in favor of the known, comfortable conditioned reality is well done and honestly expressed. I could relate to my own doubt and reservations that continuously obstructed any progress out of my own mire of pre-conceptions, greed, hesitations, fears, hubris, conceit and reservations. This may be the book’s greatest contribution. Each of us as seekers are bound to a limited universe and a restricted perception of God by our constant resistance and consequent withholding and refusal to release all our constructed facade of personality.
At the conclusion of this book, Floco shares with us his hesitation to take the final leap from the right side to the left side on the bridge between the two states of consciousness. After Nestor exposes Floco’s true motivation for being on the path as “ambition and aspiration to be awesome”, Floco writes,
It was precisely this craving for recognition and admiration that became an end in itself — showing up in the fact that I uncritically took part in many things just because it was valued by those at the top of the hierarchy determining rules and laws — and that played a crucial role when it came to my acts and decisions, as Nestor had correctly pointed out. It was an irony that it had been, of all things, my vanity, my naivety, and my uncritical attitude that had made me find the path in the shining structure, a course that, in order to advance on it, I had to radically question and challenge myself, the world and its values. In other words: thanks to my idiocy, always “resolutely applied”, I was stumbling toward freedom today.
Nestor adds: By the way, do you know why seers are such awesome guys … Because they don’t have to be awesome by all means any longer.
It is that last statement by Nestor, speaking about himself and his fellow “seers”, which is the crux of all spiritual paths, including this one, and which coincides, however subtly, even with UG Krishnamurti, the great “nay-sayer” of all spiritual masters. It was, after all, only after a lifetime of searching, practicing, and devotion to the path, that UG finally “gave up”, and settled into whatever he was wherever he was, that the transformation of UG into a “non-UG” occurred. And it is to Floco’s considerable credit that he acknowledges his own reluctance, nay, inability, to take the final few steps from the right side to the left side, precisely because it requires of him, as it does of every seeker everywhere, relinquishment of self identity and all which that contains and implies. Who among us has not been there!
(Editor’s Note: In addition to the following book review, also posted on this page are an inquiry which it generated from a reader, Anna’s response to the inquiry, and an amplification of terms by Anna.)
I have just completed reading a recently published autobiography by an ex-disciple of Sri Chinmoy. The book is entitled Cartwheels in a Sari – A Memoir of Growing Up Cult. I found it illuminating, entertaining, and revealing. The author, Jayanti Tamm, was a member of this group, having been born into it, and having been declared by the guru to be “the Chosen One” after two of his disciples (her parents) revealed they had broken the guru’s celibacy rule, and the woman was pregnant as a result of that infraction. The obfuscation revealed at the very conception of this disciple, and coincidentally at the beginning of the book, in order to explain away the pregnancy and the effort to change that event into one of significance and honor was revealing in its own right. It expressed many of the reasons for cultish groups, in many disciples’ search for power, glamour, and exclusivity, vicariously gained through joining the “group”, with its own special mentality and parameters against a so-called enemy, be it the “lower world”, the “vital world”, Satan, or any other perceived dangerous “other”.
But this was just a moment in this disciple’s twenty-plus years of total immersion in the mind control and relinquishment of discrimination and rational judgment that almost always come with membership in a intensely religious group. I do not mean to imply, therefore, that this kind of relinquishment of judgment is limited solely to this kind of cult group, or off-shoot of a religious discipline, since it is found in ALL groups, to some degree, lesser or more, depending upon the group, its leaders, or interpreters, and can be found even in the established so-called legitimate religious groups throughout the world, Christianity included. It is found in non-religious groups as well. You need only read the manifesto of militia groups, right wing and left wing political groups, to see the same principle at work. It is just because this was such a small group, and its leader just recently demised, that the revelations are so fresh and enlightening that makes this particular read possibly more timely and more fascinating.
My husband and I knew this guru personally; we even became devotees for a number of years, although mostly at arms’ length, relying at that time upon my own suspicions and wariness of all group dynamics, which, it now proves, was almost prescient. However, we did both meet him face to face on a number of occasions, and were permitted to attend any and all of the events, despite our uniquely protected position vis-a-vis his group. So, the insider’s perspective presented by this book is particularly fascinating to me personally, in addition to being an affirmation of my caution and my reliance on my own inner direction to be cautious. At the time I somehow realized that the “teaching” was important, not so much the teacher. This approach seems to have offered a kind of protection against the inevitable lure and seduction of charismatic personalities who frequently carry these teachings, as well as the inner circle surrounding them who almost without fail become more and more wrapped up in the politics of the movement and less and less in the purported goal. Perhaps this is inevitable even in the cleanest and most pure groups which live closely and intimately year after year together.
And yet, all that said, at the same time, being a student, indeed a devotee, for the short period of time that I was, was pivotal and drastically important in my own process in grinding down the self-importance, egoic justifications, and self-sufficiency that obstructs any progress along the spiritual search. I needed the external guru in the early years, to break down my hubris, humble me, even humiliate me, and open up my heart. Or, as one of my gurus once said, “Live gurus kick butt. Dead ones don’t”. So despite this guru’s obvious falsifications, manipulations, personal ambitions, outright and outrageous misuse of his disciples and his taking advantage of the very sacred trust and sacred longing that all spiritual aspirants bring to their search and to their chosen teachers, he served them, or at least, he served me, amply well in one crucial aspect. He was, essentially for me at least, a sacrificial totem upon which I was able to project all my yearnings, all my aspirations, all my needs for an external living image of a god-realized “person”. He was an external projection of my own inner vision (and therefore understanding and knowledge) of a god-realized human, or God incarnate, however flawed that may be, and, as it happens, it turned out to be very flawed. He was in fact, in the beginning, and before I began to see the cracks, an externalization of the Christ, for me. (By Christ, I mean the living God within each being that manifests from time to time as an outer image, if one cannot contain or even conceptualize the possibility that the Christ may be truly, ultimately, and only, within, and, as Jesus, as Christ, so often reminded us, that he was “within.) Having been disaffected by western Christian spiritual instruction, or the lack thereof, I needed a clean slate on which to write my Christ image, the image which every human being holds innately within her heart, but seldom finds externally, and instead, is encouraged to rely on an ancient, dead image, as opposed to a living, visible one. I did the same thing with Da Free John, at the same time, and am indebted to his interaction with me, all of which was internal and private, and yet, was a living interaction for me with a living being, even though he was totally unaware of my use of him as such. Perhaps it is inaccurate, therefore, for me to be indebted in any way to an individual who had little or perhaps no knowledge of our relationship, but so long as we continue to project out there what is in here, the indebtedness remains because of the persistent belief that there are two as opposed to one acting out in reality.
What the book’s author, and most ex-disciples like her, fail to realize, after the realization that their Guru is NOT perfect, and is NOT what they were told he was, is that it matters very little who the Guru is, or what the Guru does, if the disciple is sincere. It is always, and only, about the disciple. The true guru, after all, doesn’t need anything, isn’t going anywhere, isn’t even “there”. The guru, in the end, and indeed, in the beginning, is ultimately, and always, within. In other words, the spiritual process is essentially a projection — as everything else in life is as well — and we project upon a guru, or teacher, our expectations and vision of what a godly individual is. And we will continue to project that so long as we believe in the “other” or outer reality. Indeed, that guru is taking a position of the sacrifical lamb, in that the guru is willing to accept those projections, to live through them and as them. This is essentially the great sacrifice that all spiritual teachers make, whether or not they are aware of it, whether or not they misuse that adoration, whether or not they misuse their power, whether or not they are sincere or charlatans. Indeed, their own projections may be completely counter to what their devotee’s projections are, and they, in their own way, are using their disciples as sacrifices for themselves to attain their own personal ambitions and ends. Those ends may be benevolent, or they may be basically self-serving and egoic. Of course, this requires that we view this dynamic as two independent entities, and of course, in reality, as least from my own perspective, there are not two, but only one, dancing its dance as many. But only the guru who truly IS this one, will have no agenda, and indeed, in most cases, will not be a guru at all, will probably be inaccessible.
However, let us pursue this as we normally do, as two separate entities interacting for the sake of each individual’s own needs and longings. In this case, this concept — that the guru or teacher is willing to accept the projections of the disciple, in a kind of self-sacrificing act, indeed, willing to be “crucified” by his disciples — may be voluntary, or may be imposed upon him. And, indeed, as has been shown so many times throughout history, before it has been re-written to suit a groups’ own interests, the guru or teacher does indeed often have an agenda of his own, a need that he is fulfilling through his disciples. History is replete with self-aggrandisement of charismatic teachers through their followers. That agenda may be benevolent, but it IS an agenda. The guru is every bit as dependent upon his disciples for his own needs as the disciple is upon the guru for her needs. The dynamic goes in both directions, and most disciples are unaware of that interaction. And it is, to my mind at least, a fatal flaw in a disciple’s progress if the disciple does not eventually, or ultimately, realize or understand the actual process of projection, particularly when the guru fails to fulfill the expectations of the disciple. And the ability to see this as a projection usually comes only after great inner questioning and struggle, and often only through direct instruction from another, but less outer-oriented, guru, if the aspirant is fortunate enough to stumble across such a teacher.
If the disciple does not embrace this perspective, or understand its ramifications, she remains unaware of her own responsibility and activity in this process, as well as that of her parents and culture, environment and conditioning, that went into building the consciousness of each disciple (indeed, of every person) who then projects it outward. She also, therefore, never grows up and out of the blame game, the dependency that generates continuation within such a group, and her guilt and ignorance of the true situation perpetuates infantile and outer-oriented behavior. Or, instead, creates a backlash of revulsion and revolt against the outer guru, instead of understanding, transcendence and letting go, moving on.
Thus, it becomes a dead-end and often destructive situation when the guru finally fails to fulfill those expectations, which, almost inevitably, occurs. Blame, projection upon the guru for many of the weaknesses and failures that the disciple is liable for, inability to understand the humanity of the guru and thus his limitations, weaknesses, and failures for which he is responsible, failure to reconcile one’s own projections and dreams with perceived outer reality, bitterness based on the false understanding that the guru is totally “external” to the disciple, guilt based on the misunderstanding that the guru, and his failure to love the disciple unconditionally, is presumed to be due to the disciple’s weakness, as opposed to the weakness of the guru. And, vice versa — guilt because the disciple feels she has failed the “perfect” guru and thus “caused” the guru’s loss of love, or worse, in this case, pain. These disciples were already full enough of self-blame and guilt not to need the added guilt of being accused of having been the cause of physical pain in their guru as well.
None of the above dynamics are valid, of course, except in that human beings fail human beings, and there is nothing such as pure unconditional love between human beings, even “God-man” human beings. It is, in other words, BOTH that are weak, and both that suffer as a consequence of this misunderstanding of the interplay of consciousness in its multifarious forms, including that of the disciple and that of the guru. If a guru is a projection of a human mind, onto or as an outer human, it is inevitable that there will be human attributes within that guru, and human weaknesses as well. If a “God-man” is envisioned by a human being, that God-man will have limitations, however glamorous and perfect it may appear at the outset. That is what constitutes the human mind, limitations, and its projections will reflect that, obviously.
I anticipate that Christians, for example, will object to this outlook, and respond that worshipping Jesus, as Christ, who is no longer in human form, avoids that limitation. Not so — it is the mind of each human being that determines personally who and what Jesus, as Christ, is, no matter who or what he was factually and historically, and no matter how many teachers or pundits claim to know who or what he was and thus tell us who or what we must conclude he was. There is no other way to perceive, cognize, envision or conceive of Christ other than through a human mind, or through, in this case, numerous human minds. Or at least, that is how I have found it to be.
So, it seems to me more useful and more growth-ful, if, after venting one’s legitimate anger and disappointment at the discovery that one’s chosen image of God, whoever or however he may appear to that individual, may actually be fallible, indeed may even be malicious, to then figure out why it happened, who made it happen, and what it means to me, and to my understanding of who and what God is and who and what I am. Indeed, all gurus, if approached rightly, and with introspection, will teach us, in his or her own way, to look within and to ask those question, if only in desperation after disappointment perhaps created by them or their actions. I grant you, to be betrayed by one’s God is hugely disconcerting and indeed, terrifying. Particularly if one has been conditioned to believe that the outer image of God is solely real and external to me. The dependency which that generates is enormous and painfully difficult to extricate oneself from. But in the end, if viewed from a distance, it is a great gift, because it turns one back to oneself, forces us to look within for answers, instead of without. Indeed, the entire activity, from start to finish, of an external guru failing his disciple, and the disciple recognizing the source of the guru and his failures is an actual justification and affirmation of the entire proposition that everything is within, and there is but one, including those failures, by virtue of those failures, if one will but follow the ariadne thread! But it also requires courage and perseverance, self scrutiny, and ultimately, a certain kind of maturity of spirit, the ability to recognize that the answers are always, ultimately, within, not without.
Editor’s Note: For a brief consideration of my own reaction to the realization that Sri Chinmoy, one of my outer gurus, had feet of clay, please click here.
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a message about the preceding book review from a long-time good friend of TZF, and Anna’s response. Of course, all personal references have been removed.
I’m always being haunted by how I can love unconditionally, even what I consider the bad things and people of this world. You’ve helped me realize that it’s impossible for me personally, as a human being, to love unconditionally. For so long, I’ve been trying to force that, to say that I love myself or others despite my and their harmful behavior to humanity. Although that’s bull, I do feel that I hate the harmful acts but not the perpetrators. So even at the time of harmful actions, humans can forgive and in that way we can love unconditionally, can’t we? I’m not trying to put humans on pedestals, but through forgiveness cannot a human being find enlightenment and unconditional love of the One? It’s not easy to forgive and mean it, but is forgiveness not the key to the One and unconditional Love?
You actually answer your own question in this email. To forgive something suggests that there was a judgement of wrong behavior that needs forgiveness. Therefore, in the very act of forgiving, while it is a virtuous act, the human being who is forgiving something has also, and IS also, at the same time, judging the other. In order to forgive there has to be someone or something needing forgiveness, something “forgivable”; thus, the person actually has not approached the other with unconditional love, or at least not by my definition of unconditional love. To forgive means there is something to forgive one for, and that is not unconditional, that is conditional. If it was truly unconditional, there would be no need for forgiveness, right? Unconditional love means that there never was a moment of judgement or emotional reaction to the acts of another, and indeed, the lover in that case, has no agenda whatsoever in mind, nor in actions. That is what I mean by unconditional love, and so long as a human being functions with a dualistic mind, unconditionality is outside her reach, simply because of the dualistic function of the mind.
The closest definition I can find for unconditional love in the realm of normal and general human activity, is a dog’s love for its master. Even then, however, that love ultimately depends upon feeding. If the master ceases to feed that dog, it will generally find another who will feed it. But so long as it is fed, it will tolerate even abuse. Still, the condition is feeding. (Does this remind you of most human beings?!) Indeed, to my mind, all human love depends upon some kind of feedback, or “nourishment”, be it physical, emotional, or mental. So long as that feedback is nourishing, the love continues. If it ceases being nourishing, the human looks for that nourishment somewhere else. But true unconditional love is love, or acceptance, or nourishment without any expectation whatsoever in response. In other words, there is no feedback whatsoever, and even when there is none, it continues to shine. It all just IS. Perhaps the sun is unconditional love — it shines on everything, without any expectations. Indeed, its purpose is simply to shine.
I grant you, there are moments of unconditional love that human beings experience, but that is more than likely at moments of inattention, moments of non-mind, and thus, non-ego thought, and essentially, at those moments, it seems to me that there is no-one there to actually “give” unconditional love, human or otherwise. Just love for the sake of loving is all that is going on. At those moments neither I nor you are there to experience it, but instead, perhaps, just plain love, or God if you prefer, expresses it THROUGH the entity called by our names. But once either I or you reaffirms our conceptualizing, or KNOWS that she has given unconditional love, then unconditional love ceases to exist, because it is the function of the human mind to categorize and judge events presumably external to itself, and that activity presupposes conditions. In turn, therefore, the love that comes from the individual, me or you, has conditions attached to it, because we are conditional beings so long as we consider ourselves to be such. (It becomes clearer in this context why it is so vital to find out who exactly we ARE.)
With all that said, this is not to denigrate the effort to accept others simply and completely as they are, without conditions, because that effort creates more benign concepts within the human mind which makes that effort. It also brings some peace and happiness, even joy, to the human being, because that mind is more gentle and kind, less aggressive and less chaotic, perhaps. And the forgiving mind is far better than the unforgiving mind, because it is more transparent, and more caring, loving, in a human kind of love, than the unforgiving mind. Indeed, the more transparent it is, the more that unconditional love can shine through it, obviously. It has started, by virtue of the forgiveness, to unravel its dominance and thus, long term, contributes to the destruction of the dualistic mind, perhaps. Still, it seems to me apparent that the human love that is generated by forgiveness is still creating a reality that is me vs. an other, and so long as that prevails, it is conditional. That is why I state that the only true guru is within, because the process of working within gradually destroys the otherness, the concept that there is a me and you, which generates its own conditions, obviously. Indeed, it is the discovery that there ARE no others, from working within, that leads to enlightenment and unconditional love.
Unconditional love, as I see it, is God love, or universal love, without limitations, without consciousness that “I” am Anna. Or said another way, simple BEINGNESS, just for the sake of BEING whatever occurs, good, bad, or whatever. Anything less than that has limitations, and therefore, conditions. And the process of forgiveness may forgive those limitations, but those limitations still exist for me, and thus, obstruct unconditionality from occurring.
If you doubt that, even the Saints, when pushed to the wall, may lash out, if only at what they perceive to be their “weaknesses” This is a condition, right? This presupposes “good” versus “bad” behavior, or “conditions”. The objectifying evil as Satan is also, and simply, a subterfuge for shifting the behavior that they consider “bad” to Satan, as opposed to the individual who is acting it out. And the expression “I hate the behavior, but not the perpetrator” is again a shifting of conditions. Whether it is the perpetrator or the action, it is a condition that the human being finds unlovable, no?
You ask if forgiveness is not the key to finding the unconditional One and enlightenment. Yes, forgiveness is a method of reversing the dualistic mind, by obliterating unlove each time forgiveness is generated. And enlightenment, or enlightenment defined, the knowledge of the way out of duality, is certainly generated by practice of forgiveness. But the finding of the unconditional One is not something the mind of human beings can encompass, but instead, the “finding of the unconditional One” is a moment of loss of one’s humanity and individuality, and a merging into the One, so there is technically no being that can find the One, because in the moment of finding the One, that being disappears, or that is how I see it. We all have moments of this occurring, throughout our lives. It is when we are fully present, and thus, lost to ourselves and are simply being whatever it is that is occurring. Deep involvement in creative moments are a perfect example of that. There is no “me” doing whatever is being done. The mind has ceased.
On the flip side of this perspective, therefore, I believe that the efforts, the rules, the cultural constraints put upon the human mind are mostly to keep humanity in line, to control them, and the promise of salvation, or enlightenment, or reward of whatever kind is the lure or reward for following those rules. That is a legitimate concern, being that most of humanity needs controlling because as humanity is, and has been into distant history, they live in unnatural and crowded conditions, which in turn create artificial and inhumane environments, leading to all sorts of conflict, internally and externally. But that cultural constraint also in turn, creates many more human problems. Those problems having been generated by the absurd and tragic psychological repressions that modern day constraints create in the human psyche. It is our reluctance to admit that we are animals, and thus subject to all the natural aggression as well as care and attraction (human love), that to my mind at least, has created a humanity that has lost its essence, its connection to the earth, and to one another. In other words, in this instance, we have not even begun to forgive ourselves for being other than what we like to THINK we are, or have been educated to believe we are. So in that respect, forgiveness is a necessary activity to begin to climb out of all the repressions that our cultural heritage has imposed on us. In other words, by repressing all the instinctive attributes of being a human animal, we have turned those attributes into distorted and therefore perverted actions. For example: animals in the wild have a method of aggressive actions that normally prevent the death of the aggressors or their victims, but they are founded on territoriality and the desire to survive. Ideally, and normally, they move out of the way before they kill or are killed during this aggression. Because we do not acknowledge that we too have those same reflexive behaviors, and we therefore repress those instinctive actions, we end up in massive wars, instead of small interpersonal skirmishes. So we still express that aggression, but in a far more deadly manner because it is not accepted, acknowledged, and honored.
Maybe there is such as thing as unconditional love of oneself, and therefore by extension, the external; maybe that is possible. Certainly, one cannot begin to feel true unconditional love for the outer until the inner has been wrestled with and fully confronted. Still, if one truly unconditionally loves oneself, then all the animal instincts which reside within the human being, must be accepted along with the more benign and attractive aspects of being human. One needs to love the apparent “evil” in oneself as well as the “good”, or it is not unconditional. And in so doing, if successful, there will be no longer a good versus bad within, obviously. The distinction itself between the two is evidence of conditionality.
So, technically, one MIGHT remain “human” while at the same time loving unconditionally, totally and continuously. Maybe Ramakrishna was one such being. Or Nisargadatta and Ramana Maharshi. The Buddha? Jesus? As we now understand them to be, based on all the additions of historical stories added to their factual lives, some seemed to perceive an outer “evil”, however abstract it may have been; however, apparently based on Jesus’s history, for example, he did forgive, but then, who was it that forgave? Frankly, I doubt that men of his caliber actually see evil as such. And I wonder, again in the case of Jesus, if he actually voiced that forgiveness, or instead, if it was written into the history later? Of course, you would have to ask all of those beings if they actually considered themselves to be “a being”, and specifically a “human being”. I would suggest that their response would be “Yes, you see me as a human being, but I do not consider myself to be limited by the definition of a human being, and thus, do not consider myself to be a human being, nor do I consider YOU to be such either.” It is THAT consciousness that expresses unconditional love, because it has no conditions nor limitations, including being a human being.
It may be helpful to clarify my terminology regarding unconditional love. By human love I mean personal love, love generated by the individual human being who considers herself to be a separate and discrete entity, subject to all the vicissitudes that being such implies, whether those vicissitudes are conscious or unconscious, it doesn’t matter. It is that kind of love that I consider to be human love. In other words, it is tainted by self preservation or self fulfillment, however slight or masked it may be. It requires a feedback or a goal, and it is generated by “desire”, however, benign or malicious, as the case may be, that the form of the desire may come in. Perhaps one can identify that kind of love by investigating it to see if there is any kind of “satisfaction„, feedback, or sense of accomplishment that occurs by its expression.
That said, the human being can periodically experience, after the fact, and upon consideration by the mind of the actual event, what I would call unconditional love, at moments when she transcends herself and is outside of herself, and thus interacts with the world as an extension of herself. Those moments occur frequently to all of us, I believe. and it is during those moments when one feels a kind of ”delight„ which is focused at times on others but not exclusively; it can be focused within, as it can be simply on life in general, and which registers therefore as unconditional love, but it is significant that the delight experiences do not require any feedback whatsoever. And it is actually the delight which is the unconditional love. Perhaps one can easily generate this by thinking of the feeling that a baby generates within us, or a puppy, for that matter. These are two simple examples of the unconditional love or delight that we feel during those moments. We arbitrarily tend to conclude that it is the object that we see or some external event, that has generated the delight. I don’t believe that is what actually occurs; instead, it is WE who generate the delight, at moments of inadvertence, or when we consider it “safe„ to transcend ourselves, e.g., in the presence of a puppy or a baby, both of which are non-threatening, and within whose spheres we therefore feel safe to forget ourselves and simply BE. That moment, event, is what I consider to be unconditional love, or God being me, without my own interference and desires and self-imposed separation. Indeed, without my MIND as such functioning, it is out of the way. Unfortunately for most of us, we experience these moments intermittently, because we generally feel threatened or isolated by our self-imposed separative conditioning and the tyranny of our minds.
This explains to my mind why we turn to gurus or self-realized beings in an effort to recapture or extend those moments. It also reveals the incredible inner wisdom of what is called in India the Sat Guru. The Sat Guru is nothing more, nor nothing less, than the inner guide, the God within. In typical fashion, the Sat Guru projects on to the outer guru (whoever we choose to designate as guru — it is OUR choice) that concept of unconditional love, onto a human being in the form of that guru, so that we can model ourselves after that kind of being, and feel safe enough to transcend ourselves in the sphere of that human being. In particular, that is necessary if we are so conditioned and therefore distrustful of the external world, and thus have lost our own inner reliance and wisdom because of this conditioning. This is all projection, of course, and we are doing nothing different from what we do with a puppy or a baby, only the “guru within”, which is US, needs to reaffirm what it already knows, and that is that everything is an extension of me, including another human being in the form of a chosen guru, and thus safe, and thus an environment in which I can transcend myself safely. One begins to understand why a guru is so addictive; because of the safety and therefore delight which is felt in his or her environment, we return over and over again to recapture that delight. Instead, it is all coming from within, NOT from without, and once experienced in the presence of another human being, ideally would be converted to include ALL human beings, if we only had the wisdom and trust to extend that conversion beyond just one chosen guru. In other words, ALL of life is divine, is our guru, is US! And the greatest of gurus redirects that adoration back into the student, in just such a way and at just such a time when the student can encompass the enormity and beauty of that self-reflection.
So, that is what I consider to be unconditional love, without separation, without exclusion, without judgment, without conditions. Please understand this does not suggest that we dispense with discrimination, but it does suggest that we dispense with all the conditioning and separative conceptualizing that we are all captive to within the conditioned mind. And we, as seekers, all do that in various ways, depending upon who we think we are, where we think we are, and why we think we are.
I do not know if you have experimented with yourself. Take a piece of stick, put it on the mantelpiece, and every day put a flower in front of it – give it a flower – put in front of it a flower, and repeat some words – “Coca-Cola”, “Amen”, “Om”, it doesn’t matter what word – any word you like – listen, don’t laugh it off – do it, and you will find out. If you do it, after a month you will see how holy it has become. You have identified yourself with that stick, with that piece of stone or with that piece of idea, and you have made it into something sacred, holy. But it is not. You have given it a sense of holiness out of your fear, out of the constant habit of this tradition, giving yourself over, surrendering yourself to something, which you consider holy. The image in the temple is no more holy than a piece of rock by the roadside. So it is very important to find out what is really sacred, what is really holy, if there is such a thing at all.
Thou art not thou. Thou art He without thou.
should try to be the parents of our future
rather than the offspring of our past.
Miguel de Unamuno
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Our thanks for the hummingbirds to Mystic’s Graphics!
(Their website seems no longer to exist.)