Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Means of Knowledge

I know I am Awareness, and that Awareness is having its way with me. I feel an unnameable presence.

It took this hard head a long time to realize. Like 40 years. I first started running into the word "enlightenment" when I was in my twenties. For some reason the word just stuck to me like glue. Their was some intuitive sense in me that there was another profound way of seeing. A way out of the suffering I felt. That word offered hope that there was some other way of experiencing the world.

I didn't know about Jnana yoga at the time. That is yoga for the mind. I was a pathetically intellectual person. I was a very repressed person. In college I had tried to outrun my feelings of pain by thinking, but that didn't work. I had to do therapy for that. Getting my feelings felt, especially the pain, quieted my mind down tremendously. Enough so that I could think more clearly. It destroyed a good deal of my projections which were distorting my world.

Reading J. Krishnamurti took my head apart and through me into a number of mystical experiences. They were profound and meaningful beyond measure. They came with such authority that there was no possibility of even questioning them. But there was a problem with these experiences. When they left, I was back in my normal ego state. That normal was now compared to those states.

The comparison was like knowing about heaven, and being in hell. It was as if the most meaningful possible existence was reduced to meaningless mundane subsistence. I had no choice but to live with the meaningless and work my way out. If I could have reproduced those experiences, I would have. But it doesn't work like that. The experiences were pointers only.

Being cursed with an undeniable intellect, I could only continue to read and contemplate. Meditation never did a damn thing for me. Believe me, I tried. But reading enlightened teachers did help. They gave me hope. It also came about that when I needed new direction, someone out of the blue would send me an email and specifically give me a pointer, another teacher or book to read. You know the old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." It's true!

There were many years during which I did not know anyone who read more than me. I'm not bragging, I'm just pointing out the level of conditioning I had to work through. I needed challenging thoughts to destroy whatever lesser thinking I was holding. As Ramana, said, "You can remove a thorn with a thorn."

For me, the most exacerbating problem was that there were so many descriptions of enlightenment. Without being realized it can be hard to know who is providing half baked experiential based crap, and who is teaching the truth. I had to kiss a lot of frogs. But the process was worth it.

I cannot name all the teachers who helped me along the way. They know who they are. Obviously for me, the final ones are most prominent in my mind. It may be helpful for me to write about those, because, in the end, what we want is realization. If my final steps are helpful to others, then writing this is worthwhile.

I began to think I was getting close. It was just a peacefulness coming into my life. One interesting thing I became aware of, was that I could pick up a book and have an intuitive sense after reading a paragraph or two, whether or not the writer was enlightened. That begged the question; "How could I do that if I wasn't enlightened?"

That knowing propelled me to the final question. How will I know I am realized?I also knew that with my intellect, that I would have to find an answer that satisfied it. There was going to be no way around this one, as it was my intellect that still had doubts.

How will I know when I am realized was the final quest, and I knew it. I needed to know what the goal was. Only then would I know how to get there. Only then would I know I had arrived. In thinking about this, it crossed my mind that I would not accept any definition except the definition and explanation that came from the original sources of this knowledge. I went looking for the source.

Although the West has a long tradition of mystics, they didn't talk about enlightenment. And although I knew many of them were in that space, I needed something more rational than prayer. I didn't want to beg, and though I loved the mystics of all religions, but they didn't have a path I could follow. That's when I went looking back to ancient sages of India to see what they had to say. They originated the texts on this subject, and I wanted their definition and descriptions.

That's when I discovered the books and videos of James Swartz.
What drew me to Swartz was that he knew Sanskrit, knew the ancient texts, and taught them. He said things that brought to my heart. He said I didn't need and experience to realize. So many teachers do teach that you  have to have some experience. They taught that the experience would make it obvious. But what experience. They each had different experiences!
so many different stories. I had had plenty of those. It didn't do it for me. Which experience was the right one? How would I know? It drove me to what the originators the knowledge of enlightenment taught. I wanted their definition and their teaching.

Through the work of James Swartz I was informed that the ancient sages taught that it realization was knowledge based. Surprised the heck out of me! You mean I don't have to be waiting for the next experience? Swartz also stressed that the ancients had a "means of knowledge." Five thousand years ago some brilliant people had this revealed to them, and they wrote the means of knowledge down.

As I listened to the Swartz videos of this ancient teaching, I could see that they had really worked this out. They did a damn good job of it. And Swartz does a full out beginning to end teaching of it. Finally I was getting the whole story, the whole teaching, the whole science. It wasn't some mystical unrepeatable experience, it was knowledge!

I knew the big picture of the current scene. I knew that a lot of teachers seemed to be realized. But that had no teaching. They were entertaining, but I literally found them unhelpful. Reading Swartz's books made it clear that what I felt was accurate. Much of the means of knowledge the ancients taught had been dropped along the way. They taught their experience, and their experience wasn't a means of knowledge. You could try to feel your way into their experience, but we are all different, and personal experiences aren't easily repeatable.

For me, once I started following the ancient teachings the knowledge just fell into place. For a damn intellectual like me, it was like falling into Nirvana. The knowledge just started working, doing its own thing. I found myself changing because my mind couldn't challenge the teaching. The knowledge was humbling. My mind had to work to understand, but it gave itself whole heartedly because it made sense. I read the Swartz books, and watched the videos.

At this time I also happened on the work of Robert Wolf. From Wolfe I got more clarity on the effects of understanding. Understanding started to fall into place. All the paradoxical statements suddenly began to make sense.Apparent paradoxes just peeled away. Wolfe told me two things. He said the two predominant myths are, "It can't happen to me. and "It may not be some big experience."

With the understanding from Swartz, and reading Wolf my mind relaxed. Wolfe had told me "Your search is over. What you are looking for is right here now." The way he said it, it just went straight to my heart, deep down. It cemented the knowing. At that moment I realized that I knew. Knowing that you know is like a rock.

There was no big bang for me. No earth shattering experience. I just felt a peace come over me in knowing that what I had been searching for all my life was what I was. I was complete. It was so satisfying that I went to bed and had a sound night's sleep.

I don't think that final knowing would have happened without James Swartz work that puts in current American English the knowledge of the ancient texts. My intellect just demanded that level of knowing. The humbling of that knowing is wonderful. 

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