Friday, May 30, 2014

The Fountain of Life

Kundalinie centra
Marie-Andrée Brands made the drawing
Margriet Born gave the aura colors

How does the kundalini gland

Transmute life energy close at hand

Into superintelligent rain,

Up the spine and into the brain?

It is a fountain veritably,

An upward flowing ceaselessly,

The pressure to create, to form new life,

New paintings and poems, new ideas rife.

The alchemy to concentrate

Spiritual energy at a higher rate

Is a magic that beliefs cannot describe,

A knowledge that eludes the modern scribe.

But flow it does, bringing creativity,

Values noble and improved morality,

Better health and decreased aging,

A superior heart, body, soul and brain.

This is the future of the human race, some say,

The next step on the evolutionary Way,

Portending a better woman and man,

All part of a predetermined Plan.

Neil Bethell Sinclair
May 30, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

We Prefer Listening to Doing

Jesus, Lao Tse, and Buddha didn't aim to start the religions they're associated with. That phenomenon was the by-product of their personal search for truth. The fact that, at one point in their lives, each of them went on a lonely quest for knowledge, using the tools available at the time, i.e., using their bodies as laboratories. They weren't thinking about religion or about science. Yet, the discoveries they made during their fateful retreats turned out to be the precursors of both religion and science.

Struggle of Good and Evil
He Talks; She Listens

Each of them had absented themselves for a time from their worldly preoccupations to practice a solitary meditation, and it was through this practice that they awakened Kundalini, that placeholder term we use to denote the evolutionary energy in man. Other traditions have other names for it: Chi, orgone, or life force. The names aren't important; they are interchangeable.

As Thomas Cleary says in his translation of The Secret of the Golden Flower: "From the point of view of that central experience, it makes no difference whether one calls the golden flower awakening a relationship to God or to the Way, or whether one calls it the holy spirit or the Buddha nature or the real self. The Tao Te Ching says, 'Names can be designated, but they are not fixed terms.'”

What did these men discover? They discovered a hidden sub-system inside their bodies which, properly aroused, opened the doors to higher consciousness and led them to infer an ontology for human potential beyond anything science knows today. They were doers, not talkers, impelled by what Gopi Krishna called the evolutionary impulse. An impulse to self-actualization written into our DNA. What is the mechanism behind self-actualization that they shared? According to historical research, they shared the practice of meditation. It was through meditation that they came to the discovery of the dormant evolutionary energy in every human body.

The Seventh Seal in Drag
On Alert

Only after making their discoveries did they begin talking about them. First they practiced, then they talked. It was as if they were saying: Do before talking, and when you do talk, talk about doing.

These men didn't talk about religion; they talked about doing. They realized that talking was an excuse for not doing. Unfortunately, the doing part has become lost, especially here in the West.

However, if you look carefully at the religious teachings surrounding their discoveries and boil them down to their barest denominators, they amount to not much more than the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. A simple enough maxim to enunciate, but quite difficult to adhere to in practice. The very fact we in the West call our religions faiths, not practices should give some indication of what we're dealing with. In other words, traditional religion means: I'm going to talk, and you're going to listen. I'm going to give you my opinion on what you should think and believe. Never mind about verifying; shut up, listen, and believe.

Don't blame the progenitors. They didn't actually start the various religions named after them. In fact, Jesus Christ wasn't a Christian; Lao Tse wasn't a Taoist, and Buddha wasn't a Buddhist. The recruiting, party-member stuff came later, after camp followers, sycophants, and spin doctors began politicizing and formalizing their teachings, turning them into money-making organizations. It was after the fact that these religions were named for their progenitors.

Yes, there is still a residue of legitimate devotion to the initial discoveries those pioneers made about human evolution and how we might speed it up in order to avoid the pitfalls of negative emotion, greed, war, racial hatred, wanton violence. But much of their teaching about meditation has been lost over the centuries and we are left with the man-made dogmas and doctrines that have nothing to do with doing.

Yes, we love to listen; we hate to do. In the first place, DO WHAT? What is it I should do? How do I know WHAT to do? In the second place, I don't have time. In the third place, I don't have any guarantee it would work. In the fourth place, it can't be any good if I don't have to pay a lot for it. In the fifth place, it can't be very helpful if Oprah hasn't mentioned it. And so on...

Waiting for the Next Messiah
Well, the meditation methods they practiced still work and are still doable today. That's right, whether for spiritual, religious, or scientific purposes, individuals are still using their bodies as laboratories, pushing the evolutionary envelope. One thing you need to know: in this long evolutionary journey we have not yet accomplished very much. There's still much distance to cover. We are but mere outlines of our potential. Enlightenment, self-actualization, self-realization are not carved-in-stone achievements; they are milestones in an on-going process that is never completed, but keeps us continually reaching for completion.

Friday, May 9, 2014

100 Days of Meditation - Part II, Results & Observations

Buddha statueThe Good
After 30-40 minutes, meditation completely eliminated all, even trace feelings of stress and anxiety. This was one of the most significant observations of the challenge period, and it made an incredible measure of difference; one that I didn't anticipate being as effective as it turned out to be. Knowing that I have the ability to reliably remove all stress from my mind made me glad I invested the time into learning to meditate.

Happy faceThe Meditation triggered spontaneous feelings of happiness, bliss (no, seriously — bliss), and tranquility for a period of 2-3 hours following a sit in what I called  The Deep. Every time I entered The Deep, I would get up and walk around after sitting in what I ended up calling the “force field.” Even when walking out onto the busy city streets, it felt vividly like I had a protective bubble around me. Nothing could touch me. I can’t emphasize how profound this feeling was; it was not just regular happiness or contentment, it put me in touch with a deeper strata of emotional experience, the kind of which is only typically encountered perhaps in fleeting instants while watching a picturesque sunset, or the view from an airplane. This state persisted for hours at a time.

Happiness, an Emergent Property of the Still Mind?
I was surprised that in addition to the calming aspect of the practice, what emerged spontaneously was happiness. This result was interesting because it raised the question of how being calm and being happy are related — i.e., whether this kind of happiness can simply emerge from being calm for a long enough period of time. In any case, it was a wonderful experience and, although it took me several weeks to get there, every sit was a joy.

The scream
The Unexpected
Meditation did not help me control my stress much outside of the time of sitting.

Aside from affording me a few hours inside the profoundly serene “force field” of the stilled mind, after I got up the next morning and arrived at the office, the stresses and tumult were still there, and I was still just as affected by them — someone would say something aggravating, or a hobo on the bus would be yelling and screaming and my mental and emotional reactions were just as upsetting as they've always been living in the city.

Serenity Now?
It reminded me a bit of the of this Seinfeld clip. If I were living or working in a more peaceful environment, or even if I’d been meditating in the morning, perhaps I would have been able to keep the good feelings going, but as it was, the bliss only lasted so long. Still, knowing that I have the ability to get to The Deep makes me feel like I have some defense against the stresses of everyday life — the city was less oppressive because now know I can escape.

Meditation made the external world seem a bit less important. This is a subtle effect, but also worth mentioning, and can be either good or bad, depending on your responsibilities and goals in life. The process of stilling your mind has the effect of returning you to a sort of “zero point,” which can actually be bad if, for example, there are pressing decisions you need to make, or if there is something you should be genuinely worried, upset, or frantic about. Putting my mind into neutral this way meant that I occasionally had to remind myself that there really was a world outside of my meditative “force field” that demanded my attention. Occasionally, I found myself letting little things slip here and there, not working as actively with the team as I felt I should have.

This was not a major effect, but it was noticeable. I should note that you can probably “tweak” the meditative practice to focus your thoughts on a particular thing rather than stilling them to the zero point. This would likely have the opposite effect, giving you more mental cycles to devote to your work or creative pursuits, however, to me that wouldn’t qualify as meditation so much as it would concentration.

The third eyeThe Really Unexpected
My forehead caught on “fire.” No — really. This was the single most remarkable event of the entire challenge, and I have no explanation for it, but what took place was that after about 30 days, the center of my forehead felt like it was emitting or radiating what I can only describe a kind of heatless, lightless flame. I call it a flame because it produced — I sh*t you not — the distinct, tactile sensation of flickering, like a candle over the surface of my forehead, to the point where when it first began, I actually got up and looked for a window I thought I must have left open. I thought it was a fluke until it never went away (!), so after days, weeks, and then months of increasing intensity and range of motion, I had to concede that it was:
  • not a headache or side-effect of, for example, withdrawing from caffeine;
  • related to the practice of meditation, as it got stronger the more I meditated over the weeks.
Beyond that, I can't speculate. It had zero other apparent effects, positive or negative, but persisted as a kind of weird “meditation exhaust pipe.” After day 60, I felt it constantly, every second of the day, exactly in the middle of my forehead, pulsing in and out in an unobjectionable, but utterly mystifying way.

It actually persists to this day, however, as I eased off on meditating after the challenge period was over, it is now not as strong and occurs of its own volition. It’s easy to ignore and does not impair my focus or affect me in any way; it just sort of “is.” Still, it is remarkable to me that it has persisted for nine months after I stopped meditating on a daily basis. The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF) book talks about it in metaphorical terms (the circulation of the light), and the fact that Buddhist and Hindu iconography, both of which have centuries-old histories of meditative practice, show a dot or flame in that particular region makes me think it is a common, benign artifact of practice. I’d certainly like to investigate it further to discover if any kind of measurements could be taken of it, whether topical or via EEG. (Does anyone with equipment want to measure my forehead? I’m serious! Let me know!) Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was simply psychosomatic.

Celibacy was practically impossible
I probably shouldn’t have been shocked by this finding, considering that libido is an evolutionary imperative, but it was humbling to find that it wasn’t possible for me to give it up completely. Instead, my repeated attempts to remain celibate for longer than two weeks were actually a rather frightening experience, which certainly gave me some insight into, for example, the difficulties the Catholic Church has had with improper conduct by some of its priests.

It simply did not seem healthy to resist this process 100%... and putting guilt on top of it can’t be good for one’s mental health, either. On the occasions when I did break celibacy, it was because the resistance was actually causing my entire mood and personality to morph me into an ill-tempered beast of a man, distracted, irritable, and unable to focus, which prevented me from entering into a meditative state. Because of this, I can’t recommend complete celibacy unless you find that it has no noticeable side effects. Instead I found that a weekly schedule seemed balanced. (Yes, TMI, but it’s for science.)

Don't miss: Part I