Friday, June 7, 2013

Casting Pearls Before Swine

For some reason I have not been able to read and forget the second paragraph of Neven Paar's last post, Spiritual Evolution. It’s hung around in my brain and while I did write a comment to his brilliant post, something more begs to be written. In the second paragraph of his post he writes: “Don't bother explaining yourself. You will be persecuted if you do. People are afraid of things they don't understand and base their judgments on their fears. Instead, don't speak about the light; BE the light. Become the source of light and lead the way. Others won't understand, but they will be intrigued, inspired. They will follow. Become special through your actions and others will be convinced. You can speak of riches all you want, but once you share them with others, only then will they believe you. Only then will they want to have the riches for themselves, too. This is your purpose. This is why you had an awakening. To open the eyes of others so that they too might see the light as you do. Only then will you be fulfilled. You will find the unity which you seek.”

I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the first three sentences because it is true that actions, not words lead the way. Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” He didn’t say by their words or what they share. People are afraid of things that they don’t understand and that fear takes many forms — dismissing, rationalizing, faulty logic, strategies the ego uses to prevent the individual who has awakened from recognizing the dream of who they thought they were. Just try saying to someone “You are not who you think you are” and, at least in my case, you will met with some very funny looks. The safest way to navigate through an awakening — until the awakening experience achieves critical mass — is to BE. Gandhi knew this, “BE the change you want to see in the world.” He didn’t say speak about, or share this change. He said BE THE CHANGE.

Where I find myself disagreeing with Neven’s post is in the following three or so sentences: "Become special through your actions and others will be convinced. You can speak of riches all you want but once you share them with others, only then will they believe you. Only then will they want to have the riches for themselves, too."

In my experience, sharing with others doesn’t mean others believed me. I am very careful to limit my sharing to what I have experienced, namely the rising of energy up through my spine on two occasions and the corresponding effects. I will write more about this later in the post.

But the final three sentences beginning, “This is your purpose…” stuck with me. There have been times in life when I have read something and it’s like the words screamed out at me from the page. Reading these last three sentences was like that. I read them and my soul cried YES. At some level I know this. At the same time my ego groaned inwardly as it sensed that, having given up on attempting to touch, move and inspire people with my experience concerning the transformative energy within all of us, I just might now try again. Reading these last three sentences hit at my very core and woke me up from a tranquilized complacency I have been in. A complacency rooted in resignation.

When I found Mahayana Buddhism in 1988, I had no idea that there was anything to be learned from it. I was disillusioned with the Catholic dogma I had been brought up with. It wasn't validated by my own experiences, so I began looking for something more authentic. I loved Buddhism for its own sake, not for anything I might "get" from it. When Buddha said it was possible to become awakened in one lifetime — while not understanding what he meant — I had a childlike faith in the ultimate truth of his words. I was also clear that I didn't want it for myself, but rather for others. This wasn't an an ego projection on my part, but a sincere wish to share so that everyone might be able to access to the riches within themselves.

Two parts to the Self: The I and the Ego
As I set off on my Buddhist spiritual journey, wanting only to share my discoveries with others, I found myself feeling not connected with these same others, in spite of my passionate desire to become involved. The meditation sessions were very difficult. I often felt like quitting, but something kept bringing me back. I was the most reluctant and resistant Buddhist imaginable. Yet I loved the Buddha passionately. I read all the sutras and complicated Abhidarma texts, but the meditation practice — when I was alone with myself — was torture most of the time.

My discomfort with fellow spiritual people stems from feeling uncomfortable with anything that smacks of specialness. Looking back now, I realize I sensed the presence of spiritual egotism without knowing its provenance. I sensed the veiled superiority that many on a spiritual path exude. I wanted to distance myself from it, yet I craved the teachings. It was the teachings and an overwhelming inner pull which kept me in the Buddhist environment for almost 10 years.

Then in 1998 I experienced the first rising of energy up my spine, in a non-Buddhist, non-spiritual setting. Being familiar with mindfulness through meditation, I connected fully to the energy and noticed that it didn't appear to move too far up my spine, but the effects of this experience in the weeks and months following were transformative — physically, mentally and emotionally.

There are so many theories flying around about this energy that it is easy to become lost. I hear so many accounts of energy — often referred to as Kundalini — rising up the spine. And with each account I find myself referring back to my own experience, as this is the only authentic evidence I have. I cannot rely on interpretations of the experience, only on the actual experience, the actual rising of the energy and its corresponding effects.

Because this experience was not accompanied by any great spiritual insights and because I had no idea of this energy existed, I didn't speak about it much. I didn't share with people because I didn't think that it meant anything.

So where is this post going? Back to Neven's words, "Only when you share them with others, will they then believe you." This has not been my experience. I began to speak and share. I was met with either blank looks or avoidance of eye contact. Rapid excuses to leave, to go or do something else. For about a year I shared openly in a blog which I wrote reverently about the physical, mental and spiritual changes I was undergoing using my body as a laboratory. I wrote and shared until eventually I began to be written and shared out. I believe that to have a spiritual awakening that is relatively smooth, it is imperative that there be a desire to share the fruits with others. It comes down to a question and an attitude. The question, "Why do I want this?" The attitude, "I don't want it just for me." These are critical because ultimately we are all one and so not wanting awakening/enlightenment for oneself alone validates the faith that we are all one.

After my second experience with this energy a year later in a spiritual setting when the energy went to my brain and descended to my heart, I experienced deep love and compassion for everything.. Now that my ego has been largely subdued (not totally because it never can be), the drive I had to share, speak to be seen as special has disappeared. In the early weeks and months of awakening, the wish to be recognized as special is there as the ego prepares to defend itself because it recognizes that the awakening experience poses a threat to its survival.

Before reading Neven's post I was the prisoner in Plato's cave allegory who escapes and realizes the unreality that his friends are living in and races back to share with them what he has realized and his friends kill him because they don't understand and don't want to be jolted out of their cozy complacency. The world we live in is much like that. Those of us who are awakened see the unreal world of the unawakened not as inferior, but as unnecessarily limiting. What I have seen thanks to Neven’s post is that I had sold out on what might be possible if I don’t hide out.

And yet just talking and sharing is not enough. The only thing that awakens is experience and until those of us who are awakened can provide this for others all we do is cast pearls before swine. I sometimes watch a YouTube satsang that Mooji gives. I marvel at the frustration of people in the video who sit at his feet. Intuitively they know he is living another reality, but they unable to access it for themselves. With a mixture of story, parable direct confrontation with the ego, Mooji tries very hard to transfer his vision, but without the ability to confer what is known in the East as Shaktipat — direct guru transmission of energy to enable the consciousness to awaken and shift from its identification with the body/mind — he seems unable to make much progress as the same people come to sit at his feet time and time again. This leaves me with the question: Is it worthwhile speaking or sharing when it isn't accompanied by the grace of awakening?


  1. Hmmm. Stumbled here...well perhaps not. :) But had a similar "YES" reaction to Neven's quote. YES, loudly from the epicentre of every molecule in my body.

    It sounds like I didn't receive the last three sentences the same way as you did though. I took the idea of "sharing riches" to specifically 'not' mean 'speaking about' but to mean sharing through the BEing. Not talking about them but evidencing them. Like my father shared with my siblings and I through amazing behaviour that caused us to inquire, wonder, & want to emulate. Then in response he would merely explain the beliefs he held that had him Be however he was being. His words primarily focussed on explaining a BEingness that had captured us.

    My own journey through life has me similarly focussed on freeing that thing within that is so undeniable that the 'experience of me' opens the way for any words & ideas to find their mark. Lord knows we have no shortage of colourful orators & speakers of the word. Yet the suffering & 'unnecessary limitation' persists. I don't want to be just another who can show no material impact on those in my congregation.

    But then to your wonderful question: "Is it worthwhile..."
    I spent many years withholding ideas & expression because I felt my understanding wasn't 'complete' enough. Originally from fear that some important detail I missed or didn't understand might expose me as flawed both to the world and to self. Over time I felt that I released that personal insecurity but the withholding continued under a new fear of unwittingly misleading others because I still didn't understand enough. As a teenager, I had once given a moving speech to a large group of young activists who lined up afterward to share their appreciation for what had been said. I was horrified when I realised that I had stirred up emotion & fire without providing a means for the audience to channel their newfound inspiration. No call to action. "Their excitement would soon fade & they would thereafter be harder to reach as they'd 'heard it before' without having been advised as to how to apply it", I thought. I vowed to be more careful with my words.

    But if our 'awakening' is a journey and not a destination then isn't every step along the way valid and important regardless of where we or our audience is? Hasn't it historically been partial or incomplete thoughts that have become the raw materials that others have used to advanced thinking and complete the knowledge puzzle? A tv interviewer once challenged Louis Farakhan over his ideals by asking him how he reconciled them with the conflicting & peace promoting ideals of Martin Luther King. Mr Farakhan replied in part, "I could never fault a man for following that which was in his heart". This resonated with a core belief inside me that neither Man nor God could fairly judge a person for their lack of understanding. And weren't all levels of understanding instrumental along the way to reaching the higher ones? Should humans not speak or share at all until we had 'arrived' so to speak? How would we know we had or hadn't arrived at that place & could then share?

    And what of the many words of wisdom I heard many times over before I actually understood them? Wasn't each time I heard them important for me, like the planting of a seed, despite my inability to fully appreciate them?

    1. Yes! I agree. I took it the same way. By 'share ' he didn't mean talking about. He meant by being, and i would add, by gibing the lovibg helpfulness i gets flowing through one when my head is extracted-pop-out of my butt, and i show up for my own life, when my ego us deflated and something else gets a chance to flow through me, and out into the lives of others People are more impressed with a sincere desire to be helpful and in a demonstration of a decent life, than by 'sharing' of spiritual stuff. '

  2. (continued from above)

    The latter seems to me to suggest an alternate view that doesn't need to be challenged, feared, or defended but can just be understood for what it is, without judgment. All while re-enforcing the idea that each of us must find our own answers and path to understanding rather than look to others/externally for them. I think songwriters and storytellers do this effectively by telling their own story and allowing their listeners to extract their own meaning from it without directly telling them anything.

    Don't know. Obviously still a forming idea for me. Thank you for the great post! Really timely for me and err...worthwhile. :)

  3. Thank you very much for taking the time and the trouble to comment. I had written a detailed response to you only to discover that the maximum character space for replies here is 4000 characters so if you want to send an email to mentioning this post. I will be happy to send you my complete response.

    All the best