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.


  1. I like the saying in the I Ching, " Think before you speak and speak before you act." We in the US have the great luxury of acting. In many places in the world information is suppressed and acting is limited to what is in conformity with the present order. Otherwise you wind up in jail or worse. This is a very American line of reasoning and is the real value of our freedom here. To paraphrase a popular phrase these days, "With great freedom comes great responsibility."

  2. "... how we might speed it up in order to avoid the pitfalls of negative emotion, greed, war, racial hatred, wanton violence."

    Would it be premature for me to say that humanity has already gone too far down that path? I look around at the state of the world from a macro-scale and there are regional wars swelling up into broader wars. The US economy and its gatekeepers are corrupt to the core while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer while the masses pay daily homage to a media that teaches the wrong path. How can things change when those who have the means do not have the will to do what is right and good? How and where can a shift in thought begin in lieu of such an insurmountable wall of greed? I know nobody has all the answers to these questions but it would be nice if someone came along and told me otherwise because I am having hard time seeing past what appears to me to be the inevitable.

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    2. In the 80s here in Perth Western Australia there was a billboard put up by Subud, and Indonesian religion that arose around the time of the Second World War based of the mystical experience of one man. It said simply "If you want to change the world, first change yourself." For what it is worth, I think that is the kind of 'doing' that JJ is talking about and I still have to deliberately shift my attention away from the endless spectacle on TV,about which I can do nothing, to the work I can accomplish on the inside through meditation. Yes there are things we can do in the world to try to make it better, but the more we transform ourselves the less likely we are to do more harm than good.

    3. This is an issue I've been wrestling with for 40 years, ably expressed by Lorenz. I agree; the more you watch TV and surf the Net, the bleaker it looks. Nevertheless, we're dealing with evolution, not history. History is a record of man's accomplishments and nature, be they venal or exalted. Evolution covers cosmological actuality; it doesn't stop at death. It's renewal, the accumulated learning through one life to the next.

  3. I couldn't agree more with this last comment. In my experience there are three stages to Enlightenment; 'know thyself', 'know THE SELF' and 'Know THE ONE'. The longest and by far the most arduous is the first one and it is the one that so few people are willing to do. There is a certain amount of scratching the surface of this when one begins spiritual practice in that the practice begins the activation of the nervous system and so some insights are possible which usually precede some spiritual/mystical experience but this is not the end of the story. Unfortunately what is happening (and I think that it is this more than material corruption which is creating the chaos in our world) is that too many are having a glimpse which is so common when the nervous system activates and are going out and forming companies, and declaring themselves to be spiritually awakened/enlightened when what is actually happening is they are speaking from memory not from a deep abiding transformative state of consciousness. What is required from the explosion of non-dual teachers and teachings that is proliferating at a concerning rate is a deeper level of spiritual analysis and authenticity. I am sure that deep down at an intuitive level we can all tell the difference between a glimpse and something permanent. I assert that if there was this level of honesty and authenticity about this whole area that the world would be far happier because it would be as the last comment said the honesty to accept 'this is a glimpse and so I should stay quiet and keep practicing and doing everything to 'know myself'. The tragedy is that there are so many teachers now who are quite famous who have skipped this all important phase. Great comment thanks for writing it.

  4. My search led me to Yoga and Kundalini, back to the very essence of my Being, like the following Tagore poem suggests, coming back to where I started:

    The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.
    I came out on the chariot at the first gleam of light, and pursued my voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.
    It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.
    The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.
    My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said 'Here art thou!"
    The question and the cry 'Oh, where?' melt into into tears of a thousand streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance 'I am!'

  5. It strikes me that there needs to be a common method for all spiritual seekers at any level of development: single minded focus on practicing the way of balance. Honing the mind does indeed require getting past dualistic tendencies and practicing moderation in all things. We can say with certainty that this is consistent and is a pre-enlightened and post-enlightened mandate for all spiritual development. Thus any spiritual teacher needs to teach this through example, and explicitly as a part of any discipline being taught. We can say that extreme deprivation or extreme pleasures of all kinds are not the way. Extreme self denial, self deprecation, and self abnegation are illusory mentalities that go away from spiritual development. So are addictive behaviors of all kinds. The Way is not always easy, but it is clear: maintain your balance in all things.

    1. Yesterday I came across a post from someone who started a spiritual practice and quite quickly experienced an expansion of consciousness which resulted in a psychosis. There is a very fine line between mystic and mad, sometimes it's just down to who the person spoke to and that initial first reaction which is so important for how the rest of the journey goes. I came across this quote by Goethe (1949) which really spoke to me and gave me some ease for why I feel so strongly that psychological growth must go alongside spiritual practice. Goethe says "whatever liberates our spirit without giving us mastery over ourselves is destructive". I assert that Kundalini is rising in many who not only don't have mastery over themselves but don't even know how what Gurdjieff termed the 'false self' gets created.

  6. If one is learning to practice semen (i.e. menstrual fluids) sublimation and transformation/transmutation in his (her) body and is having success then that one is having mastery over body and then he (she) may step forward with kundalini having mastery over the other invisible "bodies" or whatever are called, including mind, thought, emotions, dream state... and that one will be in no danger.

    More then that, after becoming master of his (her) own body, that person may achieve many results in practicing meditation. My path had been from the transformation of body towards the transformation of mind. One cannot transform the mind using the mind... but one can transform the body using the mind and, as a consequence, this body transformation (controlled by the mind) eventually lead to the transformation of mind also.

    However, this kind of experiences and phenomena need more studies, especially scientific studies and scientific experiments in order to avoid negative results or minimize the side effects.

    1. "One cannot transform the mind using the mind... but one can transform the body using the mind and, as a consequence, this body transformation (controlled by the mind) eventually lead to the transformation of mind also."

      I agree. In fact, I go into this in detail in Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time. I knew nothing about this processes 40 years ago when I started to meditate. I learned by watching and observing sensations and activities in my body as the meditation began to take hold — diaphragmatic breathing > sublimation > gathering of energy > backward-flowing method > life force energy into the nervous system (the spinal column) > finally into the brain. My mind followed what was happening and tried to make sense of it, eventually becoming an ally in the process as it (my mind) realized what was happening was itself as REAL as aerobic exercise or any other physical discipline. And, as it progressed, the mind acted as a kind of detective, making sure that my persona was able to integrate the progression from physical to metaphysical.

      But the process started in the laboratory of the body — sensations, activities, effects that never would have occurred had I not practiced meditation. In fact, I'd still be back at square one — among the listeners — dabbling in various pastimes, slowly drinking myself to death.

      When you're on the outside, looking in, listening to all the spiritual chatter, it's hard to imagine that these processes are observable and real. That's why doing is important. Listening may be a start, but you get nowhere without doing.