Thursday, December 31, 2009

Amritayana Pranayama

There are three basic kinds of Buddhist meditation: (1) Samatha or calming meditation, (2) Vipassana or insight meditation, and (3) Bhavana or cultivation meditation. These three form a unity in that all three are always present in every meditation that we do. In the beginning, we focus on calming the mind, then having insight into the nature of the mind, and then evolving ourselves beyond the grip of sorrow and actualizing the potentiality of our true nature (evolution). The reason for starting with mental calm is likened to a bowl of water that is constantly stirred up and has waves on its surface. Because the water is not calm, it cannot reflect reality in any clear way. But when the surface is calm, it can perfectly reflect a full moon like a mirror would. When the mind is calm enough to reflect everything as it is, then insight meditation begins. This is about learning to look at the nature of reality, simply look, without interpretation, without identification, without clinging and without resistance. We learn to let go of the "analyzer", the "judge", and the "interpreter". We learn to look with a silent, sensitive, and curious mind, like the mind of a child when it is curious about a flower, a book, a bug, or a tree. The interpreter is our thinking mind that feels a need to do a run on commentary about everything that we see. At a certain point in our lives, we start to look at everything through a screen of words, through a screen of interpretations, and through a screen of everything labeled and catagorized in such a way that the mind thinks it knows everything. Yet there is another kind of knowing that is not dependent on the interpreting and thinking mind. In the beginning, we simply spend time looking at everything in silence, being with everything in silence, and even looking at the habitual flow of thoughts in silence. Even when we are looking at thoughts, we are not adding thoughts to thoughts. We are merely looking at how our thoughts usually flow. This may be hard to do in the beginning. It is easy to have thoughts about thoughts. The Tibetan Buddhists call this "the spreading out of thought". It is where thoughts multiply upon itself, having a meta-commentary about its commentary and even a meta-meta-commentary about its commentary. We learn that we have to keep it simple, make our interpretations very minimal, like saying, "this is an angry thought", "this is a lustful thought", "this is a fearful thought", or "this is a sad thought". To merely label things this way does not get us entangled into a complex situation. It makes us a little more conscious about what is happening inside us. We are often flowing with all kinds of thoughts and do not notice how each thought wave is being replaced by another thought wave. Sometimes our minds are running thoughts so fast that others who are trying to listen to us can barely follow what we are saying. If they are having trouble following our thoughts, chances are we are going to have trouble remembering what we are saying. If we do not cultivate a level of awareness about what is happening, start noticing what is happening in our minds in present time, then we cannot really learn about the nature of thought and the nature of reality. We are just accumulating more opinions and having opinions about those opinions. If these opinions are not grounded in some direct experience, then we are getting more deluded. The mind becomes the merely a clever guesser about what is out there. Even if the guesses are correct, it is not the same as directly experiencing and noticing what is.

Vipassana meditation is about "staying with the sensation". When we clap our hands together and feel our hands tingle, then this tingling is a sensation. When we tighten a muscle in our body, we produce a sensation. When a person says some words that sting inside us and make our belly feel tight, this is also a sensation. When a person smiles and a pleasant wave goes over our bodies, this is also a sensation. All the body senses produce sensations. They are more basic than even emotions. Sensations can be pleasant, unpleasant, and dull. Our usual approach to them is to cling to pleasant sensations, resist unpleasant sensations, and be unconscious of dull sensations. These eventually develop into the three poisons of the mind which are the sources of all our sorrows. Clinging becomes craving for repetition of pleasant sensations, resisting unpleasant sensations becomes negativity, and being unconscious of dull sensations becomes delusion. In a more complex development, when we crave something and then find it, then we will cling to it and form an attachment. We will feel sad when we lose what we are attached to. We will feel afraid when our attachment is threatened. We will feel angry when we mobilize energy to protect our attachments. When anger reacts to the threat it sees to its attachment and its security, then we have "impulses to do" arise and which in turn create karmas, samskaras, and habitual tendencies (vashanas). Since behind them is the desire to repeat a pleasant sensation or a desire to not repeat an unpleasant sensation, we are caught in a subtle wheel of repetition in our lives. Our present lifetime becomes like our past lifetimes and our future is not really the ever unfolding newness that it could be.

The Buddha mapped out the "wheel of sorrow" in Bhavachakra. The Tibetans made this chart into a beautiful visual memory of his whole teaching on the subject. In the Abhidharma the Buddha maps out about 100 different factors that interplay with each other to create our sorrow and also to create a peaceful way of life. This gets simplied down to 12 interdependent factors, but this summary is only a loose description of a living process that we need to get in touch with and feel inside ourselves in meditation. 12 signposts is enough to get a basic feeling of what is happening inside us. In the above paragraph, I am painting a similar map and showing some more details than the usual presentation. I am extending the map so that emotions can be seen emerging from our interpretations on one side and our direct experience of sensations on the other side. The descriptions do have some value, because the chain reaction of sorrow moves so fast that by the time we notice what has happened we are already suffering. A body sensation is felt, we experience a pleasant, unpleasant, or dull sensation, something inside us reacts to the sensation by clinging, resistance, or delusion, then a samskara (conditioned response) leads to an impulse to do. If we carry this out, we are likely to repeat a karmaic pattern in our lives and continue to suffer. There are many gates beyond sorrow. The Buddha mapped out three places where we can stop the flow of sorrow. The most basic is "remaining with the sensation". We can also resist the impulse to do and practice "ksanti parmita" (patience, endurance, and humility). We can become conscious of our thoughts and simply let them flow without getting caught in them.

In the beginning, we do not try to change ourselves, because any impulse to do is merely reacting to what is, rather than producing a lasting change. One of the phrases in A COURSE IN MIRACLES is "I need do nothing". We learn that we do not have to do anything in order to feel happiness and peace. Sorrow is an activity than can come to an end. Peace is simply being with life as it is. Without trying to change what is, we start to change. Acceptance of what is catalyzes the transformation, because it ends the activity of sorrow.

The Buddha taught a pranayama, a breathing method, that he called "anapannasati yoga". This yoga involves watching the breath and letting throughts flow inside us without getting entangled in them. In this yoga, you watch the breathing without trying to control it in any way.

If you create a chart of some basic breathing techniques, you can map some of them like this:

anapannasati yoga (inhale unintentional, pauses unintentional, exhale unintentional, space breathing)
breath of fire (inhale unintentional, pauses very short, exhale intentional and forceful, fire breathing)
rebirthing breathing (inhale intentional and full, no pauses between inhale and exhale, exhale unintentional and soft, water breathing)
kumbhaka (inhale intentional and long, pauses intentional and long, exhale intentional and long, earth breathing)
ujjayi breathing (exhale soft with a whisper "ha" sound, inhale soft with a whisper "eh" sound, smooth transition pauses, air breathing)

The yoga that Buddha taught is somewhat hard to do. We usually do not notice how much we are always controlling our breath, inhibiting it, making it too shallow to deeply feel our emotions. When I am doing a class on breathing and ask people to pay attention to their breathing, people automatically change the breathing. To notice something without changing it takes some time. When we stop controlling our breathing, then many things spontaneously happen. We start gathering our energy, not leaking energy out of ourselves (asava), our breathing quiets down and becomes very subtle. It becomes so thin and imperceptible that our ego panics and tries to gasp for air, tries to anxiously control the breathing in order to survive. But if we persist in not controlling the breathing, then the ego vanishes and we are left with "anatta" or no self, a vast peaceful empty aware space that has no thought created identity. In the pauses between the breaths, the small self vanishes and we are free from its grip on our lives.

The other forms of breathing have their evolutionary logic to them also. Mastering breathing (pranayama) is a very large subject. I am still learning about the breath after practicing every day for over 27 years. What happens over this time is that you feel "the unity of thought and prana" which is the basis of the psychic heat yoga of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a key to regenerating the physical body. The feeling of air becomes a feeling of prana. You learn what is means to breathe, from feeling, in such a way that you draw in fresh prana and hold it in our body, rather than let it dissipate out (asava). There is a strange parable that Jesus mentions in the Gospel according to Saint Thomas (a sacred gospel that was respected in early Christianity as scripture in many Christian churches, but did not become part of the Nicene Canon) where a person is carrying a bag of flour and it is leaking, leaving a trail behind, until the bag is empty. This parable is about how our cravings make our energy leak from us and eventually causes us to die. It is something done silently below the surface in our daily lives. Flour is a symbol of very refined nutrition, yet it is not yet "bread". In other words, there are a few alchemical stages yet to process and use this energy inside us that correspond to "yeast" (leaven, starter, enzymes), "water", "heat" and "oven"(container). Creating the right kind of seal so that we do not lose energy is important. Some of the stages, like fermentation, happen automatically as long as we do our part (circulation/water, maintaining concentration aka heat, and starting with the small feeling of energy and letting it spread aka yeast). Bread is a very important symbol in the New Testament and starts with Jesus being born in Bethlehem (literally "house of bread").

What also happens is that you start to feel a "spinal pulse" and then a spinal wave. If we are breathing deeply, smoothly, and fully, then we will notice that our spine is responding. We will feel some parts of the spine are stiff and do not oscillate with the breathing and other parts will do a micro-movement, a small energy wave, and pulse up the spine. At first the breathing is done with a belly movement, then it is done with the chest expanding and relaxing with each inhale and exhale. Every exhale is a micro-surrender into the universal prana (Mahavairocana Buddha). The stiff parts of the spine hold karmas that usually have to be processed. The lower vertebra tend to hold karmas from our earlier life and the higher vertebra from our later life, though sometimes the karmas are related to lower belly holding fear/trust issues, upper belly holding anger/boundary issues, lungs holding grief/letting go issues, throat/jaw holding expression, creativity, control, and repression issues, and third eye and two eyes holding willingness to see the truth about something issues. Opening up the breathing so that the prana can flow through the chakra system enliven all these areas is helpful and necessary. There are emotions that need to be relived, completed, and released along the way. They are buried in the tissues of our bodies. When prana floods into those tissues, the emotions get enough energy to be felt again. We will be tempted to push down those emotions and move our attention away from those areas and we need to commit to being present for those emotions until they process completely through and get integrated. They become a kind of wisdom energy in the end and get absorbed into our understanding of life. Then they dissolve "back into emptiness" and become a part of us.

There are three emotions that we need to integrate, they are anger, fear, and sadness. These become the three higher emotions of creativity, wisdom, and love. Our culture does not see creativity and wisdom as emotions, but they are. We cannot be wise and creative without being "emotionally connected". When wisdom is present, there is a warm feeling also present. It illuminates and connects us with life, just as emotions do. Wisdom has an intuitive and creative side, and allows love to be more deeply present. Creativity needs the support of wisdom to guide it. Love, wisdom and creativity synergize and are always found together, though one can be dominant in different situations. The same is true for anger, fear, and sadness, they are usually found together as well, though one can be dominant in different situations. I have found that the emotion that a person is not talking about is being repressed and holds the key to integrating a specific emotional activation.

Amritayana Pranayama differs from the usual Buddhist meditation is several respects. The physical body is considered the basis for meditation, practice, and enlightenment. The mind, heart, and body unity is worked with. Although this principle is implicit in all forms of Buddhist meditation, because interdependence is the key to Buddhist physics and psychology, Amritayana Buddhism sees that aging and death must be reflected in our mind and heart. It has a clearer understanding of the depth of our psychosomatic unity and treats aging and death as psychosomatic illnesses that can be cured. Aging and death are "emptiness" in the sense that they happen due to a vast number of interconnected and interdependent processes. There is "no thing" called aging and death inside us. If we look within, we will not see any kind of thing called "aging" and any kind of thing called "death". We will see all kinds of processes happening inside us and none of them can be isolated to be called aging or death. All the processes that cause aging and death can be shifted. Aging and death are more about stresses on natural processes, unnatural emotional repressions disrupting our regenerative processes, lack of good nutrition and wise eating habits, lack of taking care of our bodies, lack of keeping all our meridians open and flowing, lack of pranic breathing, karmas like accidents, fights, and diseases, and so on, and also harboring certain kinds of thoughts about life and others. Even the thought of simply not wanting to live forever.

I find the last item interesting, because a lot of people I know do not want to live forever in such a horrible place as Earth. This reveals a lot about why people want to die. Earth has gone through some rough patches, but it is part of our karma that we ended up here. As we heal our karma, Earth will be uplifted with us. This planet is a very beautiful planet and has even more mysteries to reveal to us. It has been regenerating and healing even with all kinds of corporations foolishly dumping pollutants into the environment. Earth is cleaning it up as fast as it can, but there is a time lag involved and toxins can build up in the time lag. But just as we do not have to die as individuals, we do not have to let this planet die either. All the processes that are making Earth die are very controllable as humans beings start acting more wisely, lovingly, and creatively with each other and the Earth. It starts with breathing.

When I talk to a number of friends, they all believe that when they die they go to a better place. They plan to escape the Earth. Yet many of them are remembering countless past life times on Earth. It is interesting to see them not "make the connection". It is clear from those memories that they had intended before to go to a better place and ended up back here, and they are doing it again. Whatever karmas that are killing off their bodies is also making them reincarnate where ever they are going. I find it curious that my friends feel out of control about when, where, and how they are going to age and die, but in control about where they are going after they die. There is a lot of food for meditation and contemplation in all this.

Part of Amritayana Buddhism is to "accept karma". I might end up aging and dying anyway. I am not fighting aging and death. I am taking responsibility and nourishing my life force, and learning an enormous amount through this commitment and intention. I am exploring how my life forms, what regenerates it, what stresses it, and what I can do about it. The process feels open ended. I do feel that if I age and die that I will reincarnate with all the gains of having grown in wisdom about how to live. I do feel that, at the very least, the process will have helped me to gain more years of healthy, happy, and compassionate living. There is also a good chance the process will simply continue indefinately, in the body, and keep on moving forward. But if I do age and die, I will not blame some mysterious external force for killing me off or assume some god is killing me, and if I decide to let go of this body to go to another dimension, it will not be because of having damaged the body so badly that it can no longer be used. I will "gently lay it aside" having been thankful for all that it did for me or take the body with me by letting it partcipate in the vibrational shift needed to go to another dimension. Much will depend on how much mastery I gain over my life processes.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Biological Spirituality

I wanted to share in this essay something about "biological spirituality". Much of human spirituality has been centered around religions which have inherited a mind/body split and which have taught that the real life is somewhere else, like in heaven, after you die or shed your physical body. There are many variations of this split which influenced how we form our spiritual view and how we form our attitudes to the body. For instance, some gnostic sects and early platonists saw that our spirit, our real essence, was somehow even trapped in the body and thereby doomed to experience suffering and imperfection. Phrases like, "imprisoned splendor" were used to describe how our essence was trapped in our bodies and wanting to break free of "this mortal coil". During one phase of Egyptian spirituality, it seemed that the whole civilization was mainly trying merely to prepare for death. The Moses who started Judaism did not want the followers of his religion to live for death, but to live their life in the body for the sake of their G_d. This is why the Old Testament of the Bible hardly talks about the afterlife. It talks about "Sheol" which is a shadowy kind of half life that both saints and sinners go to when they die. Moses did not want the after-death state to be the focus of his religion, because he saw the obsession with death in Egyptian spirituality as unhealthy. There was something intrinsically valuable about life in the physical body, living ethically, fairly, and compassionately with others, and celebrating the simply joys of human life, like finding a lover partner to share your life journey with, and like finding creative work that serves and uplifts humankind and satisfies genuine needs. Moses wanted people to find it and feel that spirituality was about living here and now in the body and not about finding a "better place" when you die. Buddha, too, taught that those who follow his dharma would be "happy in this life and happy in the next". The Buddha himself attained to physical immortality through whatever he had realized, even though he chose to sacrifice his immortal body. He did this so that they would suffer less on their spiritual path and realize enlightenment more quickly and easily.

The last to obstacles that the Buddha felt a person needed to face in order to realize enlightenment he called "craving for existence" and "craving for nonexistence". The former leads us back into habitual and compulsive rebirth in a physical body and the latter leads us to age, die, and leave our bodies. The latter was later on called "the death urge" in Freudian psychology and in the Rebirthing movement. It is a psychic mass that can be felt within us and that is the sum total of all the thoughts we hold inside us that make life feel not worth living. In Rebirthing, there are "five biggies" that need to be overcome in order to fully heal and to fully go beyond aging and death. They are (1) parental disapproval syndrome, (2) birth trauma, (3) helpless infant syndrome, (4) past lifetime carry overs, and (5) your personal law. These thoughts patterns create psychosomatic disease states, including aging and death. In the Medicine Buddha Sutras, the same basic teaching is elaborated in great detail. The three poisons of the mind, craving, negativity, and delusion are seen to be the root causes of all the illnesses that the body undergoes, including the ones that seem to come from the outside. It is not that the outer causes of illness are illusory, but that they are not fundamental. The three poisons of the mind weaken our immune system and our regeneration system so that we eventually fall subject to the external illnesses. The insight of the Medicine Buddha Sutra actually explains why the enlightenment of the Buddha allows his body to move beyond aging and death. The point of the discourse is to show, step by step, how aging and death are psychosomatic illnesses which will end when their underlying mental cause is felt and released.

When seen in this light, the body is seen to have been blamed for what it never did. It has never been the root cause for its own illnesses. The body has been an effect of our karmaic process and not the cause of our sorrows. Viewed from the standpoint of our individual karmaic journey, our thoughts and deeds have set in motion the karmas that our body must endure. Then we have blamed the body for being weak, frail, crude, limited, and painful. We then feel trapped in the body and want to escape to a better life, rather than to own that we caused the body condition or life condition that we have, owning this process, and making our life better. In this view, every illness we undergo is an opportunity to process and release some karma so that we can live a healthy, loving, and happy life. The illness did not appear out of nowhere, but was the lawful result of causes and conditions we set into motion in the past. Everything that has happened to us is the return of old karmaic seeds that were planted in the past or in some past life. If we accept this, then when adversity happens we can see it as a "good thing", because some old karma has ripened and can completely come to an end. We can also enter a path of "accelerated transformation" and burn away more karma more quickly through meditation practice.

The viewpoint of physical immortality revises the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path very slightly. The Buddha had taught that death was inevitable, partly so that people could face their craving for existence and let it go. The more advanced teaching of physical immortality is taught partly so that people could face their craving for nonexistence and let it go. Death is relatively inevitable, given the karmas that people have set into motion to create their lives. If people do not live differently than they have in the past, then they are destined to age and die. There is a similar tweak in physics. Newton taught that F=MA (force equals mass times acceleration). After Einstein discovered E=MCsquared, Newton's equation was tweaked to F=MvA (force equals mass with respect to velocity time acceleration). In other words, aging, death, bardo, and rebirth are inevitable to ego consciousness, but when the ego is transcended then aging and death are also transcended. In page 384 of A COURSE IN MIRACLES, there is an interesting verse that goes, "If the mind is fully healed, the body will not die" (It seems that the verse was later editted out of some editions, a careful comparison of certain texts will show a few verses omitted in some editions). The word "mind" is used in the Course to refer to both the conscious and subconscious minds and attributes all illness to some part of the mind that is holding an unloving thought which when released will allow the illness to be healed. Because it is not inevitable that we have an ego conscousness, aging and death are not inevitable.

Inspite of the desire for people to go to a "better place" when they die, it seems that people do keep on reincarnating in life conditions similar to the ones that they have left behind in their previous life. Perhaps we keep on reincarnating into bodies because that is where we are meant to live and perhaps we keep on reincarnating into bodies until we learn how not to age them and not to kill them, and then later on learn how to gently mutate our physical body into a light body.

The main difference in view of the older spirituality and the biological spirituality that I am proposing is that the body is not being blamed for what has happened to it. The deeper cause has been in our minds. We have repressed emotions into the muscle tissues of our bodies so that we do not feel them and then have gotten sick from this. The body is blamed, microbes are blamed, evil people are blamed, the space time fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden is blamed, but we do not see our input into the condition of our bodies. When this higher view of the body is embraced, then we can take responsibility for our health, prosperity, happiness, and lifespan, rather than see ourselves as a victim of adverse external conditions. All this is interesting because the Course mentioned has another verse, "Forgiveness offers everything I want." If we take forgiveness as the release of blame, then it allows us to re-own the power to heal our lives.

On a larger scale, life on Earth is meant to become a Pure Land. Rather than expect to go to a Pure Land when we die, we commit to healing the Earth to the point where it once again becomes a Pure Land. When we learn how to do this, then we will have learned in our bodies everything we need to know to be truly happy. We include our body in our spiritual path and learn to "take the body with us". Many Tibetan Yogis did take their bodies with them. The teaching of kosen rufu is that eventually there will be a mass awakening to enlightenment by humanity and then world peace will be the result. Within the interdependence of humans with each other, harmony will appear and gradually evolve into world peace. The life condition of humans will be raised to the point where all aging, all death, all poverty, all disease, all emotional pain, and all wars will end. According to the Nicherin Buddhist sects, this will happen when a certain "critical mass" of humanity gets fully awakened and lives enlightened compassion towards each other and towards everyone. I do feel that they are correct about this eventually happening and this will complete the purpose of the Buddha when he taught his dharma on Earth. The insight that I feel me and others have is that it will include physical immortality and light translation. When this happens, too, we will see that the Buddha did not ever really leave the Earth, but is still present in a light body teaching advanced students the higher aspects of his dharma and preparing them to be world servers to help further evolve humankind. Many others, too, who did not get as well known as the Buddha, who lived a more anonymous spiritual life, will be found to have transcended aging and death, attained a light body, and who are still here serving humanity in a physical body or light body.

Babaji, who attained physical immortality (soruba samadhi) in the year 800 CE and who lives near Badrinath, India, one time said, "Few understand that the kingdom of G_d extends to the Earth plane." What he meant by this was that the usual world of ordinary material events and our life on Earth is a perfect place to fully live our spiritual life. It is not meant to be merely a place to pay our karmaic dues and then leave to some truly spiritual place where nothing bad ever happens. It is not meant to be merely a testing ground to see if we can be tempted to sin and when we learn not to get into temptation then we graduate to where the real living in heaven is. In many versions of the spiritual life, there is always some other place without our bodies where the real life is being lived. But what Babaji is trying to say is that the omnipresent energy which has unconditional love, intuitive wisdom and infinite creativity permeates all worlds, blesses them, and includes them in its dominion as a valid place to fully live life. Earth is part of this and therefore can fully express the infinite potential of this energy field. This is no place anywhere that is not like this. And if our karmas make this less so than what it could be, then when we go to another place our karmas will manifest there also and recreate what we are expressing and processing on Earth. When our afflicted karmas are finished, then our Earth life will also express a healed, healthy, happy, and pure life.

In my own spiritual life and meditation life, I did reach a point where past lifetime memories began to flood me. It was like an amnesia fading away and a deeper and more natural memory system slowly started to rebuild itself. This seemed to happen after my enlightenment experience and after a certain portion of present lifetime issue processing had happened. It seems that part of the reincarnation process does involve forgetting our past lifetimes so that we can concentrate in living in the physical here and now of our present lifetime. When remembering more of our past lifetimes is useful again, then a gate opens up inside us and we start to remember our past lifetimes and this keeps on expanding to include more and more lifetimes and memories. What usually arises first is memories of very traumatic experiences which need to be relived and reprocessed so that their imprint on our consciousness does not limit us or cause us sorrow anymore. What also arises first are very exalted states where we have touched deep truths about the nature of reality and life. My most cherished memories have to do with meeting the Buddha when taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and then later on when he channelled the Heart Sutra to Earth through a very slow and long chant. I still remember his eyes in a "third eye lock" (physical eyes turned towards his third eye) and intoning syllable after syllable, very slowly and with great reverberation, in Sanskrit. There are some Theravadin scholars who do not believe that he sourced the Heart Sutra, but I do remember it. I later found some Mahayana scholars who shared oral transmissions of the same event and eventually wrote down these handed down testimonies. Being the son of a king, Buddha would have learned more than one language and did not know merely Pali. This would not have allowed him to reach as many people as he was reputed to have reached in his dharma teaching lifetime. The historical accounts that I later found, after having the memories, do agree fairly well, though the memories I hold have more detail. Both of them remember many of the senior monks going into shock about what he was sharing, since he seemed to negate the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path (even though he taught from the beginning that the "raft is not the shore" and that when you reach the other shore of enlightenment you are meant to abandon the raft, in another sermon he likened his dharma teachings to medicine that you take and when fully healed you throw the medicine away to truly live again).

There is a different feeling of life when a person remembers his or her past lifetimes, remembers more than a few random and isolated past lifetime memories. One metaphor that I found useful to decribe it is imagining that you have always lived on an island, and a fairly small island at that. Then one day someone takes you up in a helicopter and goes really high up. From this vantage point you see that the island which seemed so big when you merely lived walking about its surface is actually very small and then you see that your island is one of many many islands. Even if you go back to living on your small island, it will never quite be the same again. You live your life on your small island with a living memory of a larger picture of what reality is about. You know that there are other islands with other people living on them. In a similar way, there are things that you notice and feel when past lifetime memories flood into consciousness enough to feel a larger temporal landscape. This larger temporal landscape can even include possible future lifetimes. These future memories come from aspects of consciousness that act like scouts probing possible futures and reporting back what could happen. We sometimes feel these scouts reporting back when we get an uneasy feeling about going somewhere and sometimes when we go anyway we are not surprised when something painful or unusual happens.

One thing that happens when you interact with others from this larger temporal landscape is that you understand that human beings are on a journey together. Even though there are exchanges, where animals and aliens become humans, and visa versa, there is a mass of humans which reincarnate, lifetime after lifetime, back into the human community. We meet again and again with each other, build our lives together and grow together. What I have also noticed is that many people operate more on past lifetime memory than they realize. We often have strong reactions to meeting people for the first time. Much of this is not from prejudices, but from having met people before. There are people who feel familiar to us. Very often we remember having met them earlier in this lifetime to confirm that we met them before. Other times, there is an earlier meeting from a previous lifetime. Very often our past lifetime memories, and even our present lifetime memories, do not operate with tremendous detail and precision. Our memories are often jumbled up with our reflections about them, with our wishes, with a certain amount of blurring of detail and even some actual forgetting, and sometimes we can remember something very vividly and bring the whole event back to life for us.

What I can see from this vantage point is that many of the people who believed in other lifetimes that they would die and go to heaven forever are back here on Earth. They have believed that they could escape and leave the Earth in other lifetime, done death rituals in other lifetimes to go to heaven, to all kinds of paradise worlds, and many other places according to all kinds of belief systems that the many planetary religions have had. Some of these religions have been more scientific than others about this, and perhaps there is enough of an element of truth in all of them to give some real preparation for the bardo journey, the movement of our energy body between death and rebirth, and give us some options about where and when to reincarnate and how. What determines our rebirth is partly past lifetime karmas, partly external support, and partly conscious intention, much the way we create our present lifetime on Earth. But it seems that life does not function in extremes, but moves forward, hopefully with each lifetime generally better than the one before, with some occasional situations where some adverse karma ripens and causes us much trauma and causes us to start over again. We usually do not leap to super blissful heaven worlds, except in "flash forward" visits of where we may eventually abide in when our inner work has matured enough. We also do not fall into super horrible hell worlds and stay there forever. Our heavens and hells tend to be temporary. Life constantly changes and evolves. I think this is because life is bigger than its heavens and hells.

What is felt is that there is a reason we keep choosing to reincarnate on Earth and in a physical body. We feel that this is where our real growth is and keep choosing to continue here in a physical body. I think also that if more people recovered this kind of sense of their life on Earth that it would shift things. We would focus more on building our lives on Earth, focus more on creating peace on Earth, focus more on creating peace, forgiveness, and harmony with each other, focus more on making survival easier to do for all of us, and focus more on wishing that each of us live healthy, happy, and pure lives. I think that there would be less energy around trying to get rich by taking too much from others, less energy about feeling some us versus them orientation, since the alliances of different lifetimes changes (some do remain the same), and less energy about getting angry with certain people and staying angry with them. We begin to understand that we are already living our eternal life right here and right now, and that it is already a mix of eternal heaven and eternal hell, and that our present choices, future intentions, and past life karmas are already shaping our lives, and that this is how it will always be.

I think there is also a time when the cycle of birth, life, aging, death, bardo, and rebirth is shed, when it no longer is needed. Part of when that cycle is transcended is when we learn how to value our life in the body in the right way and learn how to not kill off one physical body after another. If you assume that our physical body is like a vehicle, like a car that gets us around, then we can run our car into the ground and get another one, or we can take care of our car and have it serve us for a very long time. Like cars, a human body can last a very long time or get treated roughly and burn out quickly. A lot has to do with the kind of care and attention that we give it. Unlike a car, though, which can only change by us removing old parts and getting new ones, our bodies are self regenerating and self evolving. One interesting story that appears in the Hadith is where Allah shows Mohamed the mysteries and wonders of the universe in a vast vision. Mohamed is awed by what he sees, and then Allah says, "And I have created the physical body even more marvelous than all this." Inside the body there are mysteries waiting to be discovered, inside the genetic code are patterns and processes than can bring forth all kinds of latent abilities. Deeper than the genetic code there are quantum levels of information and creative potentials that are even deeper and vaster than this, and which are constantly getting upgraded as we all learn. We have not fully reflected on the physical body and its mysteries, so we are not fully in touch with them and feel them. Yet, for instance, inside the genetic code is enough information to make our best libraries seem very small in terms of what is held there. Inside our brains is enough processing power to make the most advanced computers look very crude. We take one cell, a zygote, place it in a female womb, and it grows into a full human adult in 25 years. Something so small that we need microscope to see it becomes one of us. We get a cut and within a few moments it is sealed and then in a few months even the fingerprint lines around the cut are lined up again with the rest of the skin. Inside these mysteries is enough regenerative power, that if harnessed wisely, supported with a good diet, supported with breathing well, supported with living a compassionate, wise, and creative life, can regenerate us. My feeling is that this is the direction that we are meant to grow into and as we do, we will find a "light body" inside all these processes and actively creating our physical body and its life. There is a Buddhist scholar that I studied who did understand how physical immortality was implied in the Buddhist teachings and who shared a key in a sentence, "The root of the physical body is eternal." I hope to share something more about this later on. But perhaps one can get some feeling about this from what has been shared so far.

This leads again to something I wish to share in this context. It seems that Americans are very success and status oriented. They also seem more shame driven and goal driven than I sometimes think they understand. I have noticed a kind of fear of failure that often looms behind a lot of their activity, a fear of not achieving enough, of not being a good enough mother, of not being a good enough father, of not making enough, of ending up poor and homeless, etc. There is some basic goodness to this process, but often there is a lot of pain and sorrow behind all this which is not necessary. When I sometimes share about physical immortality, there is a belief that it is very hard to do and therefore why try. Being a personal scientist, I cannot say that it is hard to do and therefore not worth trying. This is because something can only be considered hard if a whole lot of people commit to doing something, put a lot of energy and intention into making it happen, and then mostly fail in this process. I have found that very few people I have met have made a commitment to regenerate their physical bodies to this point. It is definitely less than 1 percent of the people that I know and meet each day. The people that I know and meet have done a lot of things that are somewhat hard to do, like build a house, birth and raise a child into adulthood, create a business, grow veggies in a garden, etc. These people have a right to say that some of these things are hard to achieve, because they have tried and found the level of effort needed is a lot (though I think that life can also be lived in ease and grace, and everything we wish to do does not have to be felt as being hard to do, and we are meant to learn how to do this). But when no one is trying, then it is really not objective to call doing whatever it is easy or hard. Physical immortality gets this judgment about it being hard or impossible, with a lot of people believing, without doing any real research about the subject, thinking that there is not enough evidence for it. I would like to invite people to really look at what is going on there and to see how much comes from projection from beliefs, emotions, and opinions, and how much is really there. I also find it interesting how many people "do not want to be here forever" because they feel it is not a great place to live. This is very revealing that people will say this when in another context they will talk about being "happy, successful, and fulfilled" because that is the hip and cool thing to believe you have done with your Earthly life. I do think the world would be a lot better if people knew that they were always coming back. I think people would be less inclined to trash this world if they knew they were going to come back here and live in whatever they have made before they left. I think the reason why the planet is still worth living in is that because the Earth itself has tremendous regenerative power and heals a lot of what we do to it, and our bodies emerge from the Earth and have this same power.

The reason why I have committed to physical immortality has to do with feeling a truth about life in the body and life on Earth. It is based on an insight into the nature of life itself and how it is meant to be lived. It is based on how our mind, heart, and body function as a unity and how thoughts and emotions affect our bodies, and what happens when we learn to loving and kind with our bodies and our life on Earth. Whether I succeed or not in achieving physical immortality or proving it to others is less important than living a truth about life in the body right here and right now. I have already been rewarded for living this truth. It has already come back to me a thousandfold in terms of greater aliveness, greater compassion for the sorrows of others, greater ability to heal more disease conditions, and more understanding about the worthwhileness of life to be lived. I find that in some sense that I only really know something when the very cells of my body get it, that merely intellectual knowledge is not real knowing (though it can be a part of real knowing). But when we get something in our bodies, then we really get it. Getting it in our bodies means learning it in the thick of our lived lives on Earth.

The 5S5N Diet

One of the longevity factors to me is diet. This factor is implied in three places on the Eightfold path of the Buddha. The first behavioral precept is "not to kill" (but to cherish all life) which extends beyond not killing humans to also not killing animals. The second behavioral precept is "not to steal" (but to take only what is freely given) and can extend to include not stealing eggs from chickens and not stealing milk from calves. The fifth behavioral precept is "not to intoxicate" (but to keep body and mind pure and clear). This suggests not drinking alcohol to the point where you get a "buzz" and to the point which it does brain cell damage. This precept also suggests positive discipline of fasting and cleansing. After much personal experiment, I find that I have moved away from pure water fasting and use herbal formulas. I find it works in my schedule to have a kind of "morning fast" where I drink a cleansing herbal tea formula and do not eat anything until 1pm (when the second digestive fire meridian cycle activation happens). Traditional Buddhism has a reverse strategy where they do not eat anything after 12 noon, making the later day and evening into a kind of daily fast. This discipline is usually designated for monks and nuns. I suspect it is because the rule may not be optimal for all the lifestyle patterns and time schedules of modern life. The principle is valuable. It is to give our bodies a break from perpetually digesting food so that it can "shut down" and "do routine maintanence". Another possibility that I experimented with is to take one day off per a week for a whole year, usually Sunday (whatever day you choose becomes the rule for the year, the body likes consistency). I found that after about two months that my body looked forward to having a day without eating. In terms of pure water fasts, I think that three days is the maximum that one really needs to do. The 48 hour point is usually when the body unloads a lot of toxins and where we may need to rest a lot. It is helpful to do a little running for 15 minutes twice a day when fasting. It seems to burn up some compounds in the body that would otherwise be slightly toxic and make one restless. A person may be guided to extend the pure water fast if the body wants more time to unload toxins. Again, I have found herbal brews to be a gentler and easier cleansing experience, but it may take some wisdom to learn how to use them and which herbs to choose.

There is an Chinese medical principle that goes, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food". The general American diet tends to be pleasure oriented, emotionally repressive, and toxic. It is a surprise that Americans live as long as they do. In order to have a chance for longevity, this dietary paradigm needs to shift. We should not have to spend our time reversing the ill effects of a poor diet. Our path of eating needs to be medicinally oriented so that EVERYTHING that we eat is nutritional, cleansing, and healing. Such a diet can be very flavorful and can, in fact, be more tasty than highly processed starch with flavoring agents that passes for American food.

I found that it is possible to have a mnemonic to orient a new selection of foods to eat which is based on 5S and 5N:

Steamed Veggies

No Animal products
No Eggs
No Dairy
No Refined Flour
No Refined Sugar

The smoothies are the "raw" or "live" part of the diet. I also use a vegan protein supplement and practice "protein cycling". It seems that our bodies must work a little harder to break down proteins. Our bodies do find it easier to break down vegan protein than animal protein. This should not be surprising, since animal muscle tissue is designed to survive combat situations in an animal eat animal environment. It is meant to be tough and break down resistant tissues. While plants, too, have defenses against certain environmental factors, the nutritious parts of plants are designed to be food and sometimes even designed to be food for animals. Certain plants create fruit that is meant to be eaten by animals so that the seeds can be transported by the animals to new locations. This is why very often in compost piles one will see plants growing there. In any case, vegan protein supplements come from soy beans, potatoes, hemp, peas, and rice. Peas and potatoes are highly underrated sources of protein. Peas are about 1/3 protein and it seems that its protein is very usable and digestible. Peas seem to add well to a wide variety of dishes and make a delicious raw food soup when combined with tahini.

Saute or stir fry is a very good way of cooking. After having been into a raw food diet for over a year and a quarter, I returned to cooked foods. I felt intuitively guided from within to do so. What I learned from my journey is the a raw food diet is very cleansing and makes an ideal diet to do for 3 months. At a certain point, a person will get "protein cravings" and it is a sign that a certain level of detox is complete. I have known many people who, on a raw food diet, will, after 3 to 5 months, start craving raw food sources of protein and overdo eating nuts in particular. My feeling is that it might be wiser to just include some cooked foods that are high in protein at this point, rather than to try to be a purist (however, if it is working for you then go full steam ahead with being completely raw). Traditional stir fry is a kind of flash cooking process that does preserve a certain amount of nutrients and enzymes in a way similar to raw foods. The main weakness of stir frying is the oils. But it is possible to do "water stir fry" where you use a little water, rather than oil. This extracts some flavors from the veggies that can later be made into a sauce. The oil can be added later, after the heat is turned off, so that the oils do not get heat compromised. Coconut milk can be added to enhance the sauce. To make a gravy without flour, I found blended potatoes to be a very good substitute.

Soups are on the opposite side of the cooking spectrum to raw foods. I find that vegan cooked soups are very digestible even though they are enzyme compromised. I think that this is because the slow cooking process is similar to what we have to do in order to digest our food. Soups are also an ideal way to eat the legume family, the bean family. This group has highest amount of protein of the vegan food spectrum, but is a little hard for many people to digest. I found that even when raw and sprouted that legumes did not digest easily for me. I found that in soups that they were very easily absorbable and left that nice warm feeling in the belly of having had a good meal. Raw food soups are also possible and they are very good. There is a recipe for raw food pea soup on my website. They can supply enzymes that are missing or compromised in most cooked food preparations.

Salads are the most universally accepted raw food. They are always reliable nutrition and are good to get the "green" aspect of the rainbow spectrum. Ideally we should be eating a rainbow of colors in our weekly diet. Green is the most missing in the American diet. The "overeating overweight crisis" in the American diet is partly an illusion. Americans are often eating less than they used to but are still getting overweight. However, the green band of the rainbow spectrum of foods is eaten less than ever before. The American diet of animal flesh, cheese, milk products, carbonated sugar water (or exitotoxins as artificial sweeteners) with artificial flavoring, flour products, french fries, and sugar snacks is very much missing anything green and is very fattening (along with cortisol stress induced fat production). I found it interesting that several companies were selling powdered dehydrated veggies as a nutritional supplement and finding that several "miraculous cures" were happening when taking them. Salads are now easier to prepare and take with the advent of these "mixed greens" packages already triple washed and ready for use.

Steamed veggies is the last of the five S factors. Steaming seems to do well for carrots, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes (yukon gold potatoes are my favorite), brocolli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, zucchini, and squash. Steaming veggies retains most of the vitamin content without creating the carcinogens of frying foods. It is also a good sterilizer if there is a suspicion of surface contamination (combined with water rinsing before steaming).

The five N factors are targeted towards foods that both karmaically and nutritionally are weak for us. I do feel that getting involved in the karma of killing and eating animals is not wise and not compassionate. It is something that our socialization process has dulled in our conscience. It is partly marketing making animal flesh foods look good and never showing certain parts of the process of getting the animal flesh, never showing how an animal gets terrified and runs for its life, fights back, or struggles when it realizes that it is going to be killed. It never shows the life condition of animals who live mostly a caged life and are waiting to be killed for food. If you want to get a sense of the karmaic interdependance behind the animal flesh industry, it may be wise to visit a slaughter house or to watch some videos about it. You can also get a sense of the dulled conscience if you just look at your pet cat (or the pet cat of a friend) hold a knife in the air around it and feel the intention to kill the cat for food. You do not have to carry it out, but just feel what it would be like to slab the cat (or dog) with the idea of eating it. You might even notice a response from the cat from just feeling your thought vibration. There are a lot of rationalizations that can come up to defend animal flesh eating. I would suggest putting them aside and asking yourself if you could eat a pet, a cat, dog, or horse that you have bonded with and that you have formed a friendship with. These animals are not so different from the ones that are killed and eaten. It is true that many animals eat other animals, some seemed designed to be carnivores, though it is possible to train them to eat vegetarian. Animal flesh eating eventually forms our digestive processes so that we develope enzymes and acids to break down those foods. Our bodies are not rigid and solid entities, but are transitory and always changing. If we change our diet, then we will evolve new enzymes and acids to digest the foods that we were meant to. Carnivores can learn to do this. I had a friend who had a very healthy dog who had learned to eat vegan. Some argue that killing plants for food is "just the same" as killing animals. The phrase "just the same" is actually not so clear in what it means. There are a lot of similarities and differences between "killing" plants and "killing" animals. The differences are worth mentioning. One is that animals are killed in their prime, when they have many more years of good life that they could live. Animals are not killed and eaten near the end of their life, when their animal flesh is dried out and disease ridden. Plants are eaten, if at all, near the end of their life cycle. Plants do not have to be killed to be eaten. If you hand harvest them, you can even make them grow more, and even help the plant become healthier. You cannot help an animal by harvesting a limb to eat. Plants also do not seem to have an individualized soul. You can cut a plant in half and both halves can grow. Plants can be multiplied into many forms through all kinds of method ofs cellular division. Animals seem to have an individualized soul and which dies when the heart, gut, and brain are impaired beyond a certain point. In terms of breaking down animal flesh, it uses a different path than carbohydrate digestion. It produces more toxic compound in our system. Carnivores have half the intestinal length than we do and double the acid strength. The intention is to rapidly digest and evacuate the animal flesh so that they do not get over toxified. Even so, carnivore feces stinks of toxic compounds, whereas herbivore feces does not. Even the sweat of carnivores wreaks of toxic compounds, so much so that carnivores have to hunt their prey from downwind in order to avoid detection. Carnivores also are not known for long lifespans. In the Genesis Flood story, humans are reported to have lived from 1,000 to 600 years, but when they start eating animal flesh, their lifespan goes down to 40 years (ref Genesis 9:2-5 which also shows that humans were generally vegetarian before the flood). I consider the vegan diet to be a necessary foundation for a complete life extension and physical immortality program.

The second N is related to having no dairy products. It seems that dairy products are the basis of having all kinds of allergies. I found in my own life that my severe childhood allergies weakened severely when I stopped eating animal flesh, almost became nonexistent when I became vegan, and disappeared for long periods of time when I did some energetic emotional processing. There is still a trace of allergic reactions which still happen, but they are very diminished and I have not needed antihistamines for symptom management for a very very long time. It seems that eggs and dairy have a way of transmitting species specific programs to the offspring from mother to child. We are getting a subtle hormone soup that is designed to program cows and chickens. This is now further combined with bovine growth hormones that artificially stimulate the cows within their very artificial lives in caged environments. The milk is stolen from the calves who need it and the calves are even sometimes fed the blood of their mothers as a replacement. I found that many Asians, who are used to not having any dairy, will start getting allergies within 7 years of taking dairy products. Dairy has an enzyme which scars arteries and require us to generate cholesterol compounds to paste over those scars and eventually clog the arterial pathways. Casein, which is abundant in those melty cheese dishes everyone seems to love is actually used to make glue. It is a binding agent which can create mucoidal strands in our intestines which later become hiding places for pathogens to launch attacks on our bodies. Water fasting does not generally remove these strands, but fasting with certain herbal formulas does. Every cheese lover has them and may need a surgery for removal of part of their colon in later life in order to avoid colon cancer.

The third N is similar to the second in that eggs are little packets of information designed for a baby chicken. The hens tend to want to possess, nurture, and defend both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Although they are useful sources of protein when transitioning away from eating animal flesh, they are usually loaded with hormones. The nice very white eggs are generally the product of factory farms where the chickens go crazy and start pecking each other until they are debeaked. Even a lot of the free range chickens are raised in the same conditions. The main difference is a small amount of time on a small patch of grass. It is kinder to support the family chicken farms where at least the chickens have some kind of life before they are killed for food. It seems that the hormonal information packet can throw off the menstrual cycle in human females. The animal protein is still harder to break down and generally does not produce the cleaner feeling of processing vegan proteins. If the protein cycle dominates too much, then some of the protein is converted into energy and produces more acid compounds that carbohydrate combustion. It is partly this cycle that produces the sweat smell associated with carnivores.

The last two Ns, no flour and no refined sugar, both relate to overprocessed food which turns into a "sugar high" and a "sugar low" in the blood stream. Flour products, with some exceptions, turns into sugar so fast that it is sugar. When refined sugar hits our system, we have to use insulin to neutralize what it is doing to us. When we exhaust our insulin, then we have diabetes. The "sugar low" puts our brain into a crisis, since its steadily flow of glucose that it needs to function and survive is disrupted. Our brains need a constant supply of oxygen and glucose or brain cells start to get destroyed. There is a two minute window to this refined sugar induced crisis. It can be buffered by building up a reserve of the amino acid glutamine (which can convert to glucose if needed and which is stored in the brain). When we underbreathe, too, we create a state where the brain starts to atrophy. Colloidal and ionic minerals also buffer the sugar. Oils slow down sugar combustion. Adding, for instance, a tablespoon of flax oil helps to slow down the sugar reaction. Our bodies need a sustained level of blood sugar, rather than peaks and valleys.

The 5S5N formula defines a basic diet that can help people to ground in a healthier way of eating. This formula does not go into certain healing herbal teas and nutritional supplements that are useful to do once this foundation is established. It also does not talk about addictions to coffee, chocolate, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco which are worth eliminating. The curious thing is that it seems that small amounts of dark chocolate may be useful, since chocolate (without milk and milk fat mixed into it) has a ton of antioxidants within it. Alcohol, too, is small amounts has anti-aging compounds like reservatol when taken below the level of creating a "buzz" or inebriation. It seems that people need to take an honest look at themselves to see if they have an addiction and to take steps to heal themselves of these conditions. Addictions have an emotionally repressive element to them. We get addicted when we do not want to feel and move through our emotional pain into complete healing. We are tempted to indulge in our addiction when our emotional pain is surfacing. Alcohol represses our fear, tobacco repressed our anger, marijuana represses our sadness, sugar represses our sadness, chocolate represses our sadness, overeating represses our anxiety, coffee represses our anger, and LSD represses our repression. In mentioning this system of correspondences, I feel obligated to add that the repression is only about the first felt layer. Behind some sadness is repressed anger. We can use one emotion to repress another. Thus, while marijuana represses sadness, anger could be below the sadness. Some of the people I have met who have been addicted to marijuana can have rage issues hidden behind the sadness layer that marijuana represses. The hot gases that are inhaled with marijuana and tobacco smoking burn out the aveoli in our lungs which we do need for efficient oxygen gain and prana gain from our breathing. Having said this, there may be a skillful use and right dosage for any of these substances within a healing path. I do not recommend breathing in hot gases because of the impact on the lungs, especially when people are already underbreathing. It is very easy to rationalize an addiction and use the idea of its right use to justify its unhealthy use. Ideally we are meant to be very scientific about what works for us and what does not, rather than letting attachment oriented addictive cravings run us with their unconscious motivations. I think this is the reason why the Buddha recommended not drinking alcohol, not eating animal flesh, and watching our sex drive, since these can become unhealthy addictions and hurt our lives.

This is roughly how I see the dietary discipline that is supportive of health in general and physical immortality in specific. There was a teacher named Shivapuri Baba who named that we have three kinds of conscience. One was spiritual and mental which is satisfied when we live our spiritual purpose. Another was emotional and interpersonal which is satisfied when we learn how to be kind, honest, and fair with all sentient beings. The last is biological and evolutionary which is satisfied when we learn how to take of our bodies. There is a kind of "organic shame" when we do not treat our bodies well, when we indulge in addictions, when we indulge in sweets to the point where we hurt our bodies, when we misuse sexual energy, and other things. The very cells of our bodies start a kind of silent screaming after a while and start feeling duller when we do not honor our organic conscience. Inside our organic conscience is a kind of wisdom which can help us to heal. It takes some time to learn how to be true to these three forms of conscience. It is part of "prajna parmita" in Buddhist (intuitive wisdom). If we eat with awareness, we will feel occasional regret when we have eaten something that does not serve our real needs. As we do conscious energy breathing, this conscience will naturally become stronger and require us to change from within the process.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rechungpa and Physical Immortality

The following is from A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY OF RECHUNGPA by Thrangu Rinpoche, translated by Peter Roberts, based on THE RADIANCE OF WISDOM: THE LIFE AND LIBERATION OF THE VENERABLE RECHUNG DORJE DRAK, ISBN 81-7030-699-X, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India, 2001, pages 14-16:

One day Tibupa told Rechungpa that he should into town and take a look around. So Rechungpa went off to see what this town was like. On the way he passed a very tall, thin yogi who took a very good look at Rechungpa and then said, "What a sweet handsome youhng Tibetan you are, but it is a shame you've got seven days to live." This gave Rechungpa a fright and he thought, "I've got only seven days left, what am I going to do?" He went running straight back to Tibupa and told him, "I've just met a yogi in the street and he's told me I've only got a week to live. What shall I do?" Tibupa asked Rechungpa, "Are you afraid of dying?" and Rechungpa replied, "Well, actually I'm not very frightened of dying, but I've gone though a lot of trouble to come down to India and receive these teachings of the formless dakinis. If I die here, it will all be completely meaningless. I've got to take these teachings back to Tibet and give them to Milarepa." Tibupa then said, "Actually I knew you didn't have very long to live, so I told you that so that you would go into town. I knew you would meet this person who told you that you didn't have long to live. But there's no need to be afraid of dying because there is a woman called Machig Drupijalmo (which means "one mother, queen of accomplishment") living in a cave. Machig Drupijalmo has achieved the practice of long life and is five hundred years old, but she looks like a sixteen year old girl." He told Rechungpa to go see her and so Rechungpa went to her cave, met her, gave offerings, and prostrated to her. She said, "Well, what do you want?" He said, "I've been to town and I've met this yogi who told me I only had a week to live. So please give me the siddhi of long life." Then Machig Drupijalmo asked Rechungpa, "Can you do without sleep for a week?" and he replied, "Yes, I can." She then gave him this long-life practice to do and he did it continuously night and day for seven days. At the end of the seven days, he had a vision of Amitayus who taught him the long life sadhana in a long form, a middle form, and a short form. After this Machig Drupijalmo asked him how long he wanted to live and Rechungpa replied, "I want to live until I don't want to live anymore." She asked how old he was now and he said he was forty-two. She said, "You wicked Tibetan with such a great desire to live so long. Your teacher Milarepa is now eighty-three and is gong to live until his eighty-fourth year so you can do the same." Then Rechungpa received from Drupijalmo the empowerment and transmission and instructions of Jina Sumudra of Gyalwa Gyamtso (red Chenresig). One night after receiving this empowerment he had many dreams and of these dreams was a pundita dancing in the sky. Then it began to rain flowers and in the midst of this rain of flowers were dakinis who said that he had received a very good empowerment and practiced well. They then sang a song to him. Rechungpa thought the song sounded so beautiful and he paid very close attention to the wonderful melody. When he woke up, he realized that he didn't know what the words of the song were. All he could remember was just one line and this line had been written on Tibupa's doorway.

Rechungpa received many other instructions from Tibupa and Machig Drupijalmo and these teachings were translated into Tibetan. But Tibupa said that the translation was not perfect and he didn't really know how to translate it completely correctly, but made the prophecy that it didn't matter because in the future other people would go through and remove the mistakes in the translation.

This ends the third chapter in this section of the second original text.

I wanted to add more and more bibliographical footnotes into the blog. This is partly so that those reading these blogs can understand that Amritayana Buddhism, while representing an evolution of the Buddhist spiritual teachings, has its precedents in previous versions of Buddhism and the many teachers who came before. The passage is interesting, because it reports of historical events during what I call "the great Dakini period" which was roughly 1,000 years ago. It is clear that the dakini who initiates Rechungpa is very advanced. She shows the sign of accomplishment by being 500 years old at the time of meeting Rechungpa. She also looks like a 16 year girl. My sense of this other sign is that 16 years old in this harsh climate region of the world at that time would be equivalent of about 25 years old in 21st century America. It would be full maturity before the aging process starts to happen.

She works on the arrogance of Rechungpa. The Buddha had taught that you first weaken the three poisons of craving, negativity, and delusion, and then you work with arrogance and sensual craving, and then pass on to a certain level of being enlightened. Rechungpa is working on this level. His teachers work on his arrogance which is a block to his being able to extend his life beyond 84 years. The text shows that the right motivation is needed to successfully engage in long life practice. Rechungpa already does not seek long life out of fear of death. This is a correct motivation. Fear tends to manifest what we are afraid of and therefore is not the right motivation to succeed in living a long life. However, arrogance, trying to be better than another person, cannot be the right motivation either. The text does indirectly link aging and death with a karma that can be psychically read by advanced meditators. This karma, however, is workable rather than inevitable.

Rechungpa is given a special initiation that involves not sleeping for one week and which leads to a dreamtime initiation into three practices connected with Amitayus Buddha, who governs health and long life. The long form may have been connected with the seven days practice that he is initiated into. The middle form is a probably a visualization process involving Amitayus pouring elixir into the soft spot at the top of the head and nourish the pituitary/pineal gland with HGH, releasing negative energies projected into us from others, gathering back our intrinsic life force from people who have taken it from us, and then forming a protective bubble to seal out these kinds of energy events from happening to us. The short form would be to chant the mantra of Amitayus Buddha to enliven our energies after we have practiced the long form once, the middle form for 21 days, and then the short form until the whole process fully integrates. By practicing during sleep time, the practice involves the subconscious mind and makes changes there.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christus Victor and Tonglen

There is a book that was written some time ago called CHRISTUS VICTOR by Gustaf Aulen. This Swedish theologian was one of the few who deeply questioned the "propitiation theory" of the atonement. This theory has several forms to it and is usually behind evangelical Christianity saying "Christ died for your sins". It is worth mentioning a few of the variations of this theory, because historical Christianity believed them all at one time or another. The main version is that we have violated the moral commandments of G_d so badly that we all deserve to roast in the fiery depths of eternal damnation forever and ever and that G_d was going to throw us into this fiery pit when we die. Then Jesus came, took on all the punishment that we would have had to endure, paid the price, and released us from this judgment. Being the "son of G_d" allowed him to endure the infinite torture of such a punishment. One variation of this teaching is that we all inherited "original sin" from Adam, a kind of genetic and family lineage kind of sin, and that we were doomed from birth to burn in hell forever. Another variation is that somehow the devil has a claim on us because of sin and has a right to take us to eternal hell when we die, that Jesus did not paid the price of our sins to G_d but to the devil.

This propitiation theory is the main reason why evangelical Christians believe that all the other religions are false paths and that Jesus is "the only way", and that no matter how good people of other religions seem to be that they have sinned or inherited enough sin to be doomed to burn in hell forever, and that their religions cannot save them.

There are problems with this theory, both philosophically and historically. Many evangelical theologians are aware of them and have evolved supportive beliefs and arguments to justify the issues this theory creates. One is that the theory violates all sense of "just proportion" that the punishment must fit the crime. It is part of our sense of justice that a finite sin should not have an infinite punishment. It is also hard to imagine anything that a baby who dies in childbirth could do to sin enough to deserve to be tortured for eternity, especially from a religion that does not even believe that one has past lives to commit such sins in. This dilemma is resolved by introducing the idea that you still go to heaven if you die before you reach the "age of responsibility", though it is unclear when exactly this is in the life of a human. Does it mean upon entering adulthood? Or does it mean when you are 6 years old and have some power to choose? Another problem with this is that it is hard to not justify slaughtering nonbelievers before they reach this age of responsibility so that they can avoid going to hell when they die. It seems some evangelicals sometimes did this, killing many native americans and heretics after being tortured into accepting Jesus (in early American history and in some parts of European history). After all, if the stakes are so high that a person will suffer for more than a few quadrillion years, what we all do in the short lifespans that humans seem to have is largely irrelevant, and saving humans (by torture and brainwashing to believe the right beliefs) so that they experience infinite bliss forever...well, they will thank you later.

There are three other problems with the propitiation theory. If Jesus paid the price, then why is believing he did so important. If I pay the bail for my son who is in prison, for instance, it does not matter if the son believes what I did, the price is still paid and the person still gets out. In a similar problem, why is it that I can inherit sin from Adam without believing in the sin? So I get sin without believing in it and do not get forgiveness unless I do believe in it. This seems a bit unfair, especially if G_d is putting people into wombs that are going to get aborted so that I go straight to hell before I get a chance to repent or I go straight to heaven before I get a chance to not repent (the age of responsibility theory), while others who just reach the age of responsibility and get run over by a car then have to go the eternal hell because their mothers did not abort them when it was "safe".

The third problem is that it seems that G_d does not seem to need to expend its wrath on some innocent being in order to forgive someone. This is one reason why many Jews do not believe in the validity of Christianity, because the premise that G_d must torture to forgive does not make sense to them. It also did not make sense to Jesus either who taught to forgive people because they did not know what they were doing. He does not say forgive them because I have taken on the torture that they deserved. Jesus teaches people to "be merciful as Abwoon is merciful", in other words to forgive without needing to torture anyone or to vent our wrath upon anyone. We release our condemnation upon people through choosing to love them unconditionally. Jesus likens the mercy of Abwoon to the sun which shines and the rain which falls upon all unconditionally, Jew and Gentile, righteous and unrighteous, saint and sinner, believer and nonbeliever, male and female.

The propitiation theory, according to the research of Gustaf Aulen, only takes systematic form as late as the 1400s. Before then, there was no propitiation theology, just some slogans like "Christ died for your sins". For some reason, very few protestant Christians questioned this dogma or asked if it was biblical. Saint Anselm was the first to give this idea full formulation in the 1400s. He was disturbed by the lack of just proportion between finite sinning and infinite punishment both in terms of intensity and duration, and evolved the theory of propitiation to address this issue.

To bring these issues down to Earth, imagine that someone does something wrong to me and comes to me to ask me to forgive him or her. Imagine I say, "Yes, I will, but first I must vent my righteous wrath upon my pet cat for the sin that you committed against me, and furthermore you must believe in the sacrifice the cat made for you so or otherwise when you die you will be subject to my wrath anyway, and I should torture you anyway, because a distant relative of yours sinned a long time ago." If you heard this, you would consider me pretty insane and also that I did not really get it about "forgiveness".

From a Buddhist viewpoint, the problem has to do with having a personal god or anthropomorphic idea of god. In Buddhism, there is the Dharmakaya instead. This is a vast impersonal energy field which permeates the universe and which is loving, wise, and creative and which allows all the quantum physical laws to operate with consistency and order. One of the laws within this field is the "law of karma." It is reflected in the Newtonian law that for every action there is an equal opposite reaction. In Buddhism, this principle does not merely work with physical matter, but also mental and emotional matter, and therefore governs how our choices link with the effects that ripple out and come back from those choices. Like the law of gravity, too, there are other laws that allow us to fly. There is the law of karma and the law of grace. Unconditional love can neutralize karma.

If you do not take the propitiation theory too literally, you have a story or parable about grace and forgiveness. Gustaf Aulen has a favorite verse, "G_d was in Christ reconciling the world to itself." He points out that Jesus is healing people because of this loving energy and evens says, "I have not come to condemn the world". He believes, too, that whatever Jesus does on the Cross, he creates "mercy seat" from which he can still heal to this day. The propiation theory has a hard time explaining how Jesus can heal before he pays the price for sin and has evolved an explanation that he had a kind of credit card where he could charge to his account with the creditors anticipating a lump sum payment in the future on the cross. But nowhere does Jesus ask anyone he heals to have faith in his future sacrifice. He is able to heal people who do not believe in this dogma. The propitiation theory also has trouble with the emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus. To propitationists, the crucifixion is really all that matters, the paying of the price, and usually the resurrection is seen as a kind of "proof" to having paid the price at best. But resurrection does not really prove this. Regular medicine has revived many clinically dead people and it would not prove that they paid the price for the sins of anyone. The resurrection, though, is grace transcending the karma of death itself and would prove that even death can be healed.

There is a practice in Buddhism called "Tonglen" which means "exchanging". This is where a person takes on the karma of another person and burns it in his or her energy field. Guatama Buddha, according to some Buddhist traditions, had an immortal physical body, but took on enough planetary karma so that his body could die. He dedicated the merit of this sacrifice to the well being of the Buddhist Sangha so that meditation on to liberation would be easier. He did not require faith in what he did and kept this sacrifice relatively secret. Many Buddhist masters have done this level of tonglen, like Milarepa and the previous Karmapa. The latter had scientists examine his body as he was dying and the scientist saw one disease after another move through his body as if he was taking on plagues so that humanity would not have to suffer through them. He seemed to be healing each plague inside himself until his body got exhausted enough to die. My sense is that this is what Jesus was doing during his crucifixion tonglen. It is a powerful advanced practice and, yes, it is centered around a sacred way of breathing (you intentionally breathe in dark energy, let your heart transmute it, and then breathe out compassion, appreciation, and gratitute as white light energy). This practice of exchanging deeply releases our "ego clinging" by doing the reverse of what we are normally trying to do (seek pleasure and avoid pain). This viewpoint would also explain a verse in Saint Paul, which I think is in his epistle to the Romans, where he says, "in order to make up what is lacking in Christ's sufferings". There is still more planetary karma to take on and heal. In the propitiation view, all sin got wiped out. Buddhists would be puzzled, because when you remove the cause, then the effect ends. If all the sin is wiped out, then negativity and sorrow should not exist on this planet. If the "price is paid", then the prisoner is out of his or her prison. It is very clear that Christians still suffer from the three poisons of the mind (craving, negativity, and delusion) which are the root karmas that cause the effect of suffering.

The word for "grace" in Buddhism is called "tariki" which means "other power" (versus self power). This is seen as a fire which burns away karma on the level of the samskaras or imprints in our subconscious mind. These need to be released in a meditation or healing process. It is our part in our healing process. This would be explained in some of the verses in the epistles of Saint Paul, especially in Galatians, where he says, "Keep on yielding in the breath and you will keep on being saved." Greek has an extra tense than English, called the Aorist tense, which is more process oriented. The verse is usually translated, "Yield in the Spirit, and you will be saved" as if it were a one time event. But the Progressive tense in English is the most like the Aorist tense in the Greek and ideally we should be translating more this way. The Amplified Bible does.

In this process view, part of what we need to do is forgive others in order to be forgiven. If we see that they did not know what they were doing when they sinned, then we can see that we did not either. We apply the process to others through doing tonglen with them and for them. Then Jesus "taking on the sins of the world" becomes something that we also do as part of our own healing process, just as it was part of his. As we do this, then we have "faith in the process". Jesus becomes an "evolutionary accelerator" for this process because he goes all the way to the very end.

The Buddha, by teaching the 12 nidanas, the 12 interrelated causes of sorrow, he kept the understanding of this process psychological. The first sermon he speaks has a kind of summary of this process:

A person's life arises with his or her thoughts,
speak or act with an impure mind,
and trouble will follow you,
as sure as a cart follows an ox.

A person's life arises with his or her thoughts,
speak or act with a pure mind,
and happiness will follow you,
as sure as your shadow.

"Look at how he or she abused me, abandoned me,
betrayed me, and hurt me,"
dwell in such thoughts, and you live in pain.

"Look at how he or she abused me, abandoned me,
betrayed me, and hurt me,"
let go of such thoughts, and you live in peace.

Hatred never cast out hatred,
only love casts out hatred,
this is the dharma,
ancient and inexaustible.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gospel of Saint Luke Chapter 17

I wanted to continue to share some more thoughts about how the teachings of Jesus relate to the attainment of a light body. These thoughts are in response to some discussions that periodically happen with friends and people that I meet. A number of people have shared that they would like to see some of this get into writing, preferably in a book, about what I had learned during the intensive 8 year study of the Bible that I did and in which involved getting into the original languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, Chaldee, Koine Greek, and Classical Greek) of the texts involved. I would like to say, too, that, inspite of the intensive focus, I do not consider myself to be a biblical scholar. I feel that in order to really be a scholar you would need to take doctorates in all the languages I mentioned above, plus doctorates in Archeology and Ancient History. Even with this, it would be good to take some courses in carbon dating, geology, and forensic science. But having understood this, it is possible to track some of the research done by people with such backgrounds and find out what they have to say. Although there are a diversity of opinions to sort through, there are some interesting points of consensus also.

In the Gospel according to Saint Luke, chapter 17, verses 20 to 37, the Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of G-d is coming. Jesus answers them and says, "The kingdom of G_d is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of G-d is in your midst." This section in the New Testament is interesting, because Jesus, again, uses the present tense. He sees the kingdom as something already here, already present within and among everybody (the Aramaic word used means both "within" and "among " at the same time, Aramaic words can carry multiple valid simultaneous meanings, whereas in English a word usually has only one meaning in one context). He also negates the looking for signs of its coming. Given the popularity of looking for signs of prophecies being fulfilled that certain popular apocalyptic books have had and which are keyed into using the Book of Revelation as source material, this message feels relevant to modern times. Jesus is basically saying that the kingdom is within us and all around us right now. This links in with his first message to "repent" (metanoia aka "change consciousness") because the kingdom is "at hand" (again present tense and within reach). This suggests that a change of consciousness is needed to feel its reality. Jesus further tells people to not chase after signs when people say, "Look here!" or "Look there!". Yet it seems like this does happen a lot. In verse 27, Jesus says that people will be living pretty much as they always have before the advent of the son of man (the next evolution of the species). They are eating, drinking, buying, selling, marrying, planting and building. He shares that the advent will be like lightning striking and illuminating everything all at once. This is a favorite metaphor for satori, the flash of enlightenment that Zen meditation opens one up to. In verse 33, Jesus gives his own Zen koan, "Whoever seeks to save his or her life shall lose it, whosoever loses his or her life shall preserve it alive." This release of "self clinging" is at the heart of Buddhist meditation. It is the way beyond feeling anger, fear, and sadness.

In verse34, 35, and 36, there are parables about pairs of beings, two men in one bed, one taken and one left, two women at a place of grinding, one taken and one left, two men in a field, one taken and one left. Evangelical Christians have taken this verse as referring to the "rapture" where true believers are taken up into the sky and the nonbelievers are left behind. But it would be odd for such an anti-homosexual religion to have a believing male in bed with another male. The curious thing is that this "one taken, one left behind" theme is that it is also found in the Upanishads of the Hindu religion. It refers to two parts of our inner self. The outer personality self (jiva) drops away, while the witness self remains. The witness self, the atman, is the eternal part of our being. The coming of the son of man, the next evolution, is based on the witness self becoming conscious of itself, while the outer personality self is seen to be an illusion that disappears. When we look within, we do not find a personality self, but only transitory thoughts, emotions, sensations, and reactions. There is a moment, "in a twinkling of an eye," where all this changes and the eternal shines forward in our experience. The bed and the field are symbols for consciousness in general. It is the part of our being that we rest in whether we are aware or not. The grinding of grain into flour is a symbol of emotional work in meditation, of making our coarse emotional experience experience more and more refined.

It is interesting that Jesus uses the term "son of man" to describe the advent of the kingdom and not "son of g_d". He talks in verse 25 about the son of man suffering and being rejected by "this generation". This could be a symbol of how the present human species usually rejects the next evolution which wants to happen and will continue to do its own thing, like buying and selling, marrying, and building. The next evolution will have different values and different abilities, and most especially a different kind of consciousness. There is a temptation to "turn back" mentioned in verses 31 and 32. In Nicherin Buddhism, this is called "sansho shima," where we quit the process right when the mutational shift is happening, right when the "son of man" is revealing itself. The hidden potential is coming forward from within. Again, if the advice were meant to refer to a literal outer apocalypse, it would not make much sense. If you are on top of a housetop or in a field, and fire and brimstone is coming down from heaven, it is the last place you would want to be. You would want to go for some shelter and even this may not do any good. But the key theme is not quiting the process, to keep "watching and praying" until the very end. Jesus talks about persistence in prayer, about not losing heart, until the death and rebirth fully happens. It is interesting that he recommends "watching and praying", because in Buddhism, awareness is key to meditation. You do not "know the hour" which the son of man will be revealed. This is because it is different for everyone. Some people may need to persist for a long time and others get it in only minutes. There is an inner ripening at the heart of this process and the harvest cannot be hurried.

Staying on the rooftop of a house is a symbol that connects with the parable of the burning house in Buddhism. The personality is on fire, is suffering, and you want to stay above it. You do not want to be submerged by your personality. Going back into the house is returning to the personality, rather than to stay in awarness until the witness shines forth.

To further show the difference between this and the rapture theory, the people who are hearing Jesus talk ask where do the people who are taken go in verse 37. He replies cryptically, "Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered." The personality simply falls away or dies. He does not say that they get taken up into the sky to be with him. It is another way of saying that it is not about an outer event, but an inner one. There is some hint, though, of a mass awakening of humankind. The Nicherin Buddhists call this shift the "kosen rufu". It will happen when a kind of critical mass is reached, when enough beings become enlightened and radiate compassion. It hints that the "second coming" is about a mass awakening of the "son of man" in all of us, rather than the return of a single enlightened human personality. Verse 24 suggests that whatever happens will be seen everywhere and by everyone, and then lasting peace is possible. I say "hint", because the 17th chapter of the gospel of Saint Luke is more about individual transformation. Jesus is wanting to focus on something that is here and now, in the midst of everyone, and within everyone, and then points to the process of realizing it, of having it revealed to oneself. He talks about the "self clinging" that makes one retreat from the process of dying and being reborn, and how it is important to "not turn back". These themes have been explained in other passages and connect with them, like Jesus talking about the need to "watch and pray", to "persist to the very end", and "die daily". Looked at from one viewpoint, Jesus talks only about this process.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Working with Emotions

The Buddha had said that progress in meditation proceeds "step by step" with later stages being based on the gains of the earlier ones. Padmasambhava likened this progress to how a baby learns how to walk and how to gain strength. While Zen Buddhism has emphasized "sudden realization", for very deep and valid reasons, I do find that there is still a "ripening process" that allows the flash of enlightenment to illuminate the landscape of our inner being. Even here, there is an after enlightenment process, fugen kensho, or what Shunryu Suzuki called, "being enlightened before you are (fully) enlightened". The full realization that is called "Annutara Samyak Samadhi", complete perfect enlightenment, is a very fast, full, and deep state that does take a long time to happen. It means the complete emptying of the subconscious mind of all the potential "samskaras", embedded thought impressions that attract experiences to fulfill themselves and then react to these experiences according to a conditioned pattern of response. The opposite of operating from these samskaras is "out of emptiness", a vast living energy field that feels like crystal clear radiant space, and can respond to the moment without rehearsal and without ancient drives moving from past to present to future to time bind our lives into rigid automated habit patterns of thinking, feeling, and reacting (vashana). Jesus would call beings beings who live in these patterns "the dead" as in "let the dead bury the dead". When deeply awakened, ordinary consciousness looks somewhat zombie like and half alive. It is an actual experience that happens on the journey. Everyone looks like they are drugged. Their radiant consciousness looks like it is submerged in a kind of stupor, drunken on thousands of thoughts that color consciousness and keep it operating in a kind of haze.

There is an ancient theme that the very first thing that a spiritual teacher says when he or she starts his or her teaching cycle is called "sounding the doh note". It is the key note that will build and develop throughout the teaching process. It is "the (corner) stone that the builders rejected" which becomes the chief cornerstone upon which the whole foundation and house is built. For Jesus, it is normally translated, "Repent, for the kingdom of g-d is at hand." Although this translation is standard, it does not usually convey the full meaning of what Jesus was trying to teach. The word "repent" is "metanoia" which roughly and literally means "go above ordinary consciousness". The root "meta" means "above" as in "metaphysics" (literally "above physics". The root "noia" means "consciousness" as in "paranoia" (fear consciousness). Just one word and already there is so much being said by Jesus. The word "metanoia" is very much like the Zen Buddhist term "satori" (flash of enlightenment) or "paravritti" (a deep turning in the innermost consciousness, a deep turning being what repentance ultimately really is).

The phrase "kingdom of g-d" or "kingdom of heaven" (Saint Matthew followed the more Orthodox Jewish tradition of not using the name of g_d and makes this substitution consistently throughout his writings. Buddhism does not really believe in a personal g_d who runs the universe as a being with a supreme personality, but rather teaches that there is a "Dharmakaya" which is an energy field of love, wisdom, and creativity which permeates all of existence and is the basis which allows "cause and effect" to operate as well as "divine grace") is another phrase which is hard to translate into English well. In Greek, the nouns and verbs are less different from each other than in English. In Sanskrit and Pali, there are some similarities to this. The Buddha taught that there is no solid substantial thing as an ego personality and that when we look inside all we see are transitory thoughts, emotions, sensations, impulses, and reactions. We do not see or ever really feel anything like a solid thing which is a "self". This is a simple scientific observation that the Buddha made and upon which the Buddha saw was key to find a deep relief from unnecessary sorrow. We have this illusion about what we are and who we are, an idea of self, which has no basis in reality but which grips our consciousness and locks it into a certain kind of existence. One time the Buddha said, "Unless one understands the illusion of self, there is no end to sorrow." Satori, metanoia, enlightenment, or paravritti is all about a shift outside the grip of this illusion, where the feeling of self that we are normally attached to, ends completely and when we are also aware of its ending . This feeling of self weakens and almost disappears when we are asleep and unconscious, and apparently under certain hallucinogenic drugs it also almost disappears. These kinds of experiences can show how the feeling of self is not solid, permanant, and continuous. The Sufis have found that if you are very aware that you will notice that 2 seconds out of every twelve seconds it also spontaneously disappears in what is called "a moment of freedom". It is like a mini-satori that life gives us for free if we are aware enough and sensitive enough to notice it. Sri Yukteswar, the teacher of Yogananda, said that, "God can be found in the space between two thoughts," and pointed to a similar realization.

Rudolf Bultmann, who was a very brilliant Bible and Christian history scholar, mentioned that the phrase "kingdom of g_d" was more like a verb than a noun. It pointed to some kind of sacred process we could enter into. I think the current phrase "being in the zone" is like what Jesus was trying to describe. What is interesting is that Jesus nearly always talks of "kingdom of g_d" in the present tense and always talked as if it was impending, coming soon. The some Jews and later on Christians took this mean some kind of reign of a personal g_d on Earth through some Messiah or son of g_d. Many liberal Christians assume that this was a misprophecy and many Jews consider Jesus not to be the Messiah because he did not fulfill this seeming prophecy. As mentioned earlier, I do feel that Jesus did fulfill "the son of man coming into his kingdom" when he transfigured his body into a light body before certain of his disciples. It is actually the only interpretation that I have found that makes sense of "some of you standing here will not taste death" until they saw this, since all of the disciples are either now dead or had converted into a light body themselves. This is, too, the only verse where the kingdom of g_d is actually talked of in the future tense and it makes sense that it is a short range prediction that is fulfilled in the very next paragraph of the narrative.

In the parables of the kingdom, Jesus does mention something interesting. When a person discovers this, they go through a profound emotional shift and "sell all that they have to obtain it". I take this to mean that there is an evolutionary impulse within us, motivating us behind all our desires, that when it tastes enlightenment does feel this is what it has wanted behind every thing it has wanted. When we recognize this, this some profound shift happens to us, a paravritti turns, a metanoia conversion, and a flash of lightning which illuminates the dark landscape within us, and we are free. This seed realization eventually grows until a deep mature enlightenment and an eventual light body. In this process, emotions are deeply and profoundly felt. This is what I want to discuss at this time.

The Buddha talked about nirvana, enlightenment, happening when the three poisons of the mind end. These poisons are craving, negativity, and delusion. Jesus taught the ending of negativity through "faith and forgiveness". Buddha mainly talked about letting go of craving, while Jesus mainly talked about letting go of negativity. Much of Christianity has been influenced by its evangelical form which has emphasized "salvation by faith". But if you read carefully, both faith and forgiveness are needed. In the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, in commenting on the prayer of Jesus, it says you will not be forgiven unless you forgive. This is psychologically valid. It is something that a meditator would understand. When we look within and spend time with our inner being, we will notice all kinds of thoughts and emotions floating by and our relationship to each one. We will notice that the same thoughts that float by the mind of a psychopathic killer as also inside us. We will notice a kind of river of thought that runs through all of humankind, very ancient and very filled with deep sorrow. When Jesus screams, "My g_d, my g_d, why have you forsaken me?" it is coming from the depths of someone who has gone within deeply enough to feel what is inside of us all. Every meditator who has gone deep enough knows exactly what Jesus touched into when channelled this emotion for collective humankind. He is reaching a place where the three poisons emanate from the same source, a feeling of abandonment, loss of love, and deep separation which is at the heart of the illusory sense of self that binds us and holds us in pain. It is from this place, too, that Jesus can see all the karmaic processes which create all the lives of all sentient beings and say, "Abwoon, forgive them for they know not what they are doing". This delusion, this unconscious ignorance, is the deepest root, deeper than our cravings and deeper than our negativity, and motivates all sentient beings until they awaken from the trance of self No one knows what they are doing when they "sin" and therefore all sentient beings can be forgiven. In all the passages in the Bible, this is the only reason ever given to forgive anyone. The commandment to forgive is given all over the place, but the only reason to forgive is given by Jesus on the cross. I find this very interesting. I noticed when I would listen to various sermons, teachings, and study various writings that I found no one else who answered why so clearly and succinictly as Jesus did. It is a profound key to unlock the door. Forgiveness is the undoing of our condemnation, our negativity, upon anyone or anything. It needs to be linked with this reason, that when others have hurt us that they did not know what they were doing, that they were lost in unconscious ignorance and therefore can be forgiven. There is no such thing as "conscious evil". This also is true of us and allows us to be forgiven and to feel forgiven. The same realization is behind us feeling forgiven and forgiving others. Through forgiveness, the emotional obscurations that cover our true nature, our radiant awareness, can dissolve and allow us to shine forth as love and light. As such, it is an integral part of the process of attaining a light body. It also is a cure for spiritual arrogance on the spiritual path. When we are aware of all the negativity inside us, it humbles us. We enter into what the Buddhists call, "the wisdom of equality". None of us is superior or inferior to another of us. We are never better than or less than another. We are, in fact, exactly the same inside, "in Christ", in our true nature as radiant love or radiant awareness. Jesus, too, likened "Abwoon" (translated weakly as "God the Father") to this wisdom that "causes the sun to shine" on all alike or "causes the rain fall" on all alike (I always found it interesting how many times Jesus linked his observations of Abwoon to natural processes, like the sun shining and the rain coming down, to the lilies of the field and birds in the sky, whatever divinity Jesus associates with this more intimate name of g_d it is a divinity he found in and through nature, this is also found in the life of the Buddha when he talked about "the Earth is my witness" and when he described enlightenment being like flowers blooming).

The process that I feel Jesus was describing was an "entering into our hurt" into the pain of separation and forgiving that hurt through a sacred breathing process, the holy breath. His final act of forgiveness, which finishes the whole process (as in "it is finished") is done with a breath release (paradoxically the word "nirvana" means exhale, nir=out and vana=wind). This is the moment when our ego grip on our breathing, a subtle movement of craving, grasping, holding, and controlling, completely lets go and life breathes in us, through us, and for us, and our separation from life completely ends inside the depths of our breathing. It leads to what the Hindus call "nirvakalpa samadhi" where the breath completely stops and the cells shift beyond the need to age and die. In the Rebirthing tradition, it is called "breath release" which is slightly different, because it matters less whether the breath completely stops and more whether the ego grip releases from the breath. It is linked with going back to the moment where we struggled to breathe our first breath in this lifetime and letting go of the struggle. From my own experience, I did find that the breath stopped for what seemed about five minutes and there was no urge to breathe. It was not like holding the breath, because you are struggling with something that wants to breath. There is nothing that wanted to breathe. It think it is partly due to how much the blood stream is oxygenated and literally does not need to breathe. It was a quiet and peaceful place with no thought traffic running through the mind. It was after entering into and embracing painful emotional places held in the body and then feeling blissful waves running through the body, and even past these shimmering lights which emerged from the bliss.

When Jesus teaches us, "Resist not evil." He also taught another profound key to this process. We tend to resist all the hurt that is inside us, avoid going there, avoid entering into this level of energy inside us. By doing so, the life force, holy breath, or prana is withdrawn from our body and aging and death are set into motion. First we push all our unwanted emotions into the body and then we withdraw our energy from the body so that it ages and dies. Our bodies cannot regenerate without life force or prana circulating through us. Life force, too, needs sacred breathing to be generated and circulated within us. It is no accident that if we hold our breath too long that we would die, though life is merciful and if we hold our breath too long we go unconscious and start breathing again. Not resisting evil means not resisting hurt, pain, and anguish inside us and not resisting the causes of these pains outside us (our blames, our condemnations). If we understand what Jesus is trying to teach us here, this "not resisting" is another way of teaching immediate forgiveness. It is our condemnation that makes something feel evil and then resists the evil that we feel. It sets up the struggle. The very moment we stop resisting it the war ends. It feels like we are letting ourselves get crucified when we do this. But we are letting ourselves enter and pain and go beyond it. To me, this is the key process that Jesus is modelling in the crucifixation story. It is clear from other passages that this process is meant to be done by us and is not meant to be vicarious (he does it for us). He clearly teaches in one passage to "pick up your cross" and to "die daily". Taken literally, we cannot really do this, unless we master bodily resurrection 101 in life university. But what it means is to use all the circumstances that life brings us to keep this sacred process alive. We only have to notice the little crucifixions that happen as people who do not know what they are doing do to us do things to us. We will then have micro-crucifixions (cross-i-fiction) and micro-resurrections. You may want to notice, too, if you are holding your breath when you are reading this or whether you are breathing through even imagining doing this.

What was called "conviction of sin" in ancient Christianity is about admitting that we have "psychological baggage". We are all neurotic and we put our neurosis into the very tissues of our body, cause it to age and die, and then blame life for killing us. We enter the process when we admit our baggage, do not run away from it, enter into it, and move through the process to the "other shore". The Buddha likened this process to taking a raft to from shore to shore. From the shore of ordinary life to the shore of enlightenment. Water represents emotions. We can drown in them, avoid them, swim through them, take a raft across them, or use the holy breath to blow our sails and move us across them.