Mystic [from mysticism]: a person who has, and tends to,
experience unity with, or absorption into the Deity, or the
absolute, beyond all awareness of self-consciousness and
the intellect; this unity being Nothing (nothingness) but the
oneness of power in the radiance of total light, yet with the
fullness of darkness
The main theme and purpose of this account are to advance not only the credibility of the mystic experience but to advance it in light of the conscious transformation we are undergoing in our times. This conscious transformation
encompasses the "God-within" reality in relation to a human-transcendent wisdom essentialized by Love as the bond of all unity that is, World Love or Essential Love, as I would put it.
Our next stage in the conscious transformation movement is to "prove" the existence of the God-within reality. Of, course, in the ultimate sense of the word, there can be no proof of God, just as in the ultimate sense, there can be no name for God.
But we experience incontrovertible intimations of this Other Reality, visually, conceptually, and experientially; and so, being human, we must name, and record, and communicate, these inner experiences, these mental thoughts, that come to us from we-know-not-where. Yet can we irrefutably prove them logically? No. Philosophically? No. Psychologically? No. How then? Well, discarding the qualifier "irrefutably," these intimations can be proven experi- entially. If I have had a transcendent/mystical, experience that concords with,
is similar to, the transcendent/mystical experience of other persons, from all cultures, from all times, from eminent persons to perceptive persons, to the average person, then we can safely conclude that there must be truth to the reality of these transcendent/mystical, experiences.
This truth, then, has its factual basis in common human, mental experience. As to whether this transcendent-mystical experience is in fact God, or Soul, or Love, or our immortality informing us, this we cannot presume; though it might be. We can't say with certainty, in either case.
But this we can say: There certainly is a conscious reality beyond our normal consciousness, beyond, I would say, our unconscious, or even our collec- tive consciousness I term it our transconsiousness; and it accords with the one principle, power, that has been recorded immemorially, and named in its sundry ways according to the peoples of various cultures and ages.
Whether this transconscious state proves that God exists, or that our soul is immorttal, or that we are essentially God ourselves well, as mentioned, that is conjecture. But what cannot be denied is, first, its actuality; second, its pur- ity beyond our familiar three-dimensional conceptual reality; and third, that the wonderment of it inspires us beyond our little self-loving selves, and intimates an eternal reality that possibly we essentially are. Without having experienced, or believing in, this transconscious state, this possibility would be one dimen- sion removed from us. All we would have and have had for centuries would be our concepts and rituals, and Bibles, and churches, and theologies.
The following selections validate the transcendent/mystic experience of "the God within".
NOTE: Regarding my own experiences, I have always hesitated to speak about them, mainly because it is so personal, so real, of such sanctity, that the very mention of it lessens its reality to me. Perhaps this is what Wittgen- stein, the logician-philosopher, really meant by his closing statement in his Tractatus, "Of that which we cannot speak, we are to be silent." However, that it is imper- ative to spread its gospel, its "good news," outweighs my personal considerations; and so, we must get on with it.
There happens to many of us on rare occasions a suffusing sensation of such pure, beauteous, glowing elation that we seem transported into a world of radiant conscious bliss. It generally is of only short duration; seconds, min- utes perhaps; and then is gone in its intensity. It is the type of experience one never forgets, and one which we long to experience again. It instills in us a new understanding of ourselves in relation to the world. There are lesser experiences of the same, but none ever quite reach the intensity, the purity, the divinity, of that one "big" experience. Some people consider it a spiritual or mystic vision; but whatever it may be, it generally manifests itself as a one- ness with the totality of the world; a sublimity surpassing all sensuous and natural beauty; a benign resignation to one's mortal fate. It is an experience that makes one gasp with its ineffability; an experience that moistens, if not floods the eyes with emotion; an experience that etherializes us for the mo- ment; one that makes us shake our head in sheer wonderment. The cause of
it may be a delicate fragrant breeze that wafts through the nostrils, a glorious sunset, the vast sea or sky, or the presence of a saintly personage, or a sud- den illumination of understanding, or of any of the myriad natural phenomena.
Whatever the source, or the meaning, or the significance of this supra-phenomenal experience, it nonetheless transcends the dualities (time-space, good-evil, life-death, etc.) of the earthly human condition. It is a real experi- ence of a higher reality here on earth in the human consciousness, and not exclusive to the very few. It is this perception that will not permit us to remain only earthbound, only concerned with and for man. This experience suggests the core of our spiritual yearnings and strivings for a higher, deeper feel be- yond our mere humanity -- which is recognized of extremely small signifi cance compared to our universal self; compared to the infinite, eternal possibilities inherent to the world. With such a vast spectrum, how could the sensitive indi- vidual be content to live only for man who, taken all in all in his lower extremities and leanings, is of not much worth: we all know how insig- nificant and indispensable mere life is, whether insect, animal, or human.
Many men and women gradually come to the realization that they aspire to more than what humanity has to offer; and it is a sense of a higher reality that they want. And because of their periodic sublime and purifying sensations, and for other reasons, they know that somehow this higher sense of reality is attainable; not because religion or philosophy or poetry, or spiritual master has declared it so, but because they themselves, in their own small way, too, have had their spiritual, or mystic, or aesthetic, vision of a kind. They sense that there exists something beyond, transcendent of their self-consciousness; and they desire to eventually come to live in and for it primarily. But they also realize that this experience cannot be had for the asking, and so they seek various means to attain it once again, for longer periods of time. And so they turn to intoxicants, meditation, and the like without realizing that just as their vision sprung from within themselves, and not through the teachings or serm- onizing of others, so it can be attained through themselves again; as a matter of fact, can be a way of life for them. IF THEY ONLY KNEW HOW! This heart-cry resounds through them. It is as though their one or two peak experiences were a bait "to make the taker mad"; being never attainable again.
No, I don't think so. The vision, or spiritual experience, they had, though it did not occur through their own willing of it, was nonetheless a cumulative, synchronized total convergence of all that the individual is in the eternal evo- lution of his human self. All psychic variants gelled evolution of his into that one momentary vision of the eternity of his existence, of existence itself. There are fainter experiences of the same, but rarely do they ever reach the intensity of that one, rare, sublime, divine moment. These are the moments that the mystics and sages strive and aspire to all their lives. They live in and for this Higher of Eternal Reality, waiting for those rare illuminations of what they deem to be the final Truth. In the meantime, they live a relatively tranquil, serene self-transcendence.
Their experiences and lives of this of this Inward-Eternity are not illusions, then; not wasted; but living in the highest, deepest, fullest sense of the word. This transcendent consciousness is no chimera, no figment of the imagination. It is an actual experience, and we have all experienced it in one manner and degree, or another. This is what the old sage, Koheleth, meant when he wrote that God put Eternity into the minds of men. It is this visionary, or spiritual, sense of so many of us that has engendered the notion of God in our breasts; not necessarily only the fear of self-annihilation.
We are not able to capture this divine sense of our inner eternity in any lasting; fruitful degree except through our own efforts, our own self-refinement, our own growing understanding. The example of others, the majestic beauty of temples and churches, the rituals and dogmas of religion, the teachings and sanctification of sages and saints, can only verify, clarify, guide, inspire us; but cannot instill in us on any permanent basis the divine influence of this inner sense of eternity. We have no other recourse but to come to it our- selves by putting into practice the necessary requirements for this attainment; which briefly, is a self-refining, self-transcending process. Not an easy road, by any means, and not particularly attractive for the average aspirant but one which is fraught with all manner of high and rich inner adventure. Only the brave and daring spirit could embark on such a venture. Any other might carry within himself the faith in such a divine reality beyond his self-consciousness that is eternally himself, and let that be a source of strength, adoration and salvation for him; but that he does not, cannot, live this faith, keeps him ever vulnerable to the contingencies and relations of his life, which he may very well prefer; and which is fine so long as his life takes on a higher meaning in his faith that supports him in his daily life and in his relations with others.
Joseph Whyte, author of this book, Spiritus
As I consider [our] essential being, as [our] "the God within" (our inward God) it would be appropriate to explain what I mean by "the God within." The following writings serve as this general explanation.
The following thoughts (#s 1 through 6) were thought, felt, and written at different times under different frames of mind, but with the one purpose in mind: to emphasize our inward God in contrast to an outward God. Rather than say anything further at this point, I will let the following thoughts speak for themselves.
Having read these thoughts, they will have primed the receptive person to move to the next stage which identifies this God within as Love [as-the-bond-of-unity].
The following personal account is true "to the letter", and was written and tape-recorded as the thoughts and feelings occurred to me, "on the spot," so to speak, when I was between 40 and 41 years old. Rather than tamper with the authenticity of these thought-feelings, I leave them as they were recorded without editing other than the odd lack of clarity or grammatical correction.
To offset any skepticism from my readers, let me say right off that my life at this point has been mainly contemplative, private and uneventful, except for the adventures in my mind. I am normally heterosexual, am fairly much emo- tionally and psychologically stable, am university educated in philosophy, and am concerned with the advancement of our species through my writings. I have never taken drugs nor have I drunk alcohol except minimally on one or two occasions in my early twenties.
First day, October 8, 1981
All this crazy optimism in people in myself.
We die and that's the end of it all of all the bubble world and words of other-wordly seekings.
And those closest to us now will one day most likely be furthest from us.
Nothing outside of us is really ours. We are essentially alone in ourselves; and this can be very lonely at times.
We don't really change.
Nothing is certain but even that is not certain. So where are we?
I think as though I want freedom, but I don't live as though I do not for more than a day or two anyway.
I'm tired of all this seeking for the so-called ultimate of things, the essential reality, and all those nonsense words. It's nothing but a grasp a gasp, in truth for air, as far as I can see.
RIGHT! This is the word that seems to have any meaning to me now.
I overeat and I'm overweight and I can't stop it. The incentive is not there; but I feel that I need that incentive, however illusionary. I don't think anymore that it is a spiriitual incentive. More realistically, it's an aesthetic incentive I can't bear the ugliness of my having a protruding stomach. Slender is beautiful in my eyes, is indicative of a person more concerned with the mind than the body, and so of a fine cast. Besides, I like the idea of appearing slender to the opposite sex. I want to feel as an artist not only in my writing, but in my form, my appearance, my gait. That's more to the truth, I think, than any spiritual incentive not to be overweight.
Sexual arousal this has been the thorn in my spiritual side for all these many years that I can in no way, it seems, extricate. I love women and I love lust and this is as candidly honest as I can get. Anyone can fill in the details from there. I could never admit this to myself before now; but there it is in words, out in the open: I love my lusts. Actually it's a love and hate relationship in that I really hate them, but at the same time - or at another time love them for their pleasure and ease of tenions. I don't want them, but I really do, since my body and mind continually call on them. I'm embarrassed by them, and was for a long time ashamed by and disgusted with them; but what can you do; there they are. I have a strong sense of modesty in front of people, but when the old letch is on me, sexual release is all that matters.
But all this is nothing new with humans, is it? It's just that I'm saying it.
I want to suspend all hope. I don't know if I can.
I feel discouraged, despondent; and I don't care.
We die and that's the end of it all all of the bubble world and words of other-wordly seekings.
Protagoras: Man is the measure of all things.
Pope: Know then thyself, presume not God to scan.
The proper study of mankind is Man.
Precisely my sentiments at this time.
I'm afraid of being afraid, that I'll fail myself in time of trial, in the "evil days." Spiritual enlightenment and commitment are supposed to quell this fear; but I wonder, as in my case, whether it is not fundamental manliness that quells it. In the few times that I've faced up to the fearsome, I've had no sense of spiritual strength, but rather the strength in knowing that I am doing the right, honorable thing. This type of fearlessness is essentially has to be essen- tially moral and manly; not spiritual.
I intend to block out all transcendent thoughts and that's all they are: thoughts. I don't want to be concerned with spiritual matters anymore. As a matter of fact, I feel quite indifferent to higher matters right now; and it feels good; and it feels like a mighty load off my mind.
To just not care anymore. What a release!
For so many years I've been on this spiritual gig and that's the way I feel about it right now: that it's been a gig and my whole life's endeavor since my mid-twenties, and my writings, have been mostly based on it; and now if I have to give it all up, and if it's all been a waste, a chase after wind, then very well, let me start afresh; let me get closer to the truth of the matter. I'm living, I'm thinking, I'm feeling, I'm eating, drinking, eliminating, working; one day I'm up, next day I'm down; one day optimistic, the next pessimistic; happy, sad; hopeful, despairing, angry, happy, loving hating, assured not assured, excted, calm, wanting to be alone, wanting to be with others, interested, disiinterested the whole gamut of opposites and diversities, and diversions; all this life-play of tensions. This is it, here and now. Why am I up in the clouds?
For some time now I've held that it's not that I want to end suffering the Bud- dhist way, but that I want to bear suffering. ... I wonder, though, if that's true; whether in fact I want to end suffering; that the wanting to deal with suffering is in fact wanting to end it, or at least ease it considerably knowing that I have a transcendent entity supporting me. Oh, we are devious in our minds when it comes to pleasures and pains! We set up our theories that seem transcendent of our humanness, but in reality they seem ultimately to be reduced to the rather simple physio-psychological truths of elemental needs and wants. . . . Or is there really some "Beyond" that I intuit I'm getting tired of this word "intuit"? Stop it! Don't even think of it.
Sense pleasures! They get me every time. There's no getting around them, that's for sure, regardless of all spiritual endeavors and devotions, regardless of the promise of spiritual serenity and joy. They tingle, they thrill, they domin- ate; they're intense, they're momentary; they release physical and psychic tensions, are indiscriminate, and want their due regardless of judgment, control or resolve; relax these an iota, and pleasure runs free, if not wild.
What tensions and pains do bodily pleasures relieve? those of hunger, boredom, sex, restlessness, futility, emptiness, rejection, failure, confusion, humiliation, thirst, cold, disappointment, malaise, loneliness, guilt, self-abne- gation, of not being loved or needed, of the awareness of the injustices and horrors in life and human life and on and on.
And what kinds of pleasures do we turn to, and are impelled to, to soothe the blisters of our human condition? those of the palate, of the genitals, of alcohol, of pills and drugs, of entertainment, travel, of love affairs anything
for release! Ah, the sweet balm, the Lethe, of pleasure!
And what of psychological pleasures that relieve tension and pain? Self-pity does it; so does the bent for self-destruction; and then there are our sundry fantasies, illusions, and delusions that help; pride and the sense of superi- ority help too; intellectual diversions are a great antidote as well. And if I were to go into the collective mind of our humanity, I would witness a kaleidoscope of such pleasuring thoughts as:
"I'm somebody. I'm loved. I'm needed. I'm successful. I'm doing something worthwhile. I'm rather quite good looking. This child is mine. This woman (man) is mine. Look at all my possessions. I'm eight miles high.
"Look how people look up to me, love me, admire me, honor me. How important I am, how special. I have the world in my hand. ... I am the world! What power I feel! I'm bursting with energy and verve!
"I have an idea that will capture the minds of everyone; will make me a fortune; will benefit the world.
"I'm an artist. I'm a scientist. I'm a poet. I'm a philosopher. I'm a tycoon. I'm the boss. I'm the president. I'm a millionaire.
"I'm a man. How manly, how masculine, I am; how desirable to women. She cares for me! I can't stop the rapture of thinking of her all the time.
"Ah, this music! How it lifts me, how beautiful it makes me feel. I'm going out tomorrow and conquer the world, do what I've always wanted to do, win that woman. How music gets to the primitive in me, the emotional in me, the sentimental in me.
"Here comes the urge again! Damn!...Good! I don't want to give in to it ... but then I do I must. Can't help it! Quick! To the refrigerator, to a drink, to that arousal, to that lust. Got to get out of the house: to where people are, to where things are happening. I think I'll go to a movie. I think I'll go shopping. I have all this money; I've got to spend it on something. I'll read. I'll watch television. I'll do the crossword puzzle. I'll call my friend I've got to do something; I can't just sit here doing nothing, or meditating. Why don't I join some group.
"I need to be stimulated; to be seen; to shine among others. I have to express myself. I can't just waste my talent. Life is passing me by. I have so much to offer: my knowledge, my expertise, my personality, my example, my desirability. I've been put here for a reason; I'm going to help change the world.
"The money that's rolling in! And the offers, and the letters. How lucky can a person be! I'm the man of the hour.
"Ah, what a delicious meal; and this soothing wine. Oh, good, here comes the dessert. Nothing like the palate to soothe the body and mind.
"What's that, sir? You say that all these pleasures of the flesh and mind are naught but vanity, are but straw compared to the joys of the soul? No doubt you are right, dear master of eternal wisdom, and I'll listen to you with all my heart and mind and soul; and, yes, you inspire me to the heights, to the upper regions of pure consciousness. But then I have to go home later, and you won't be with me, and I'll be back at the mercy of my moods, impulses, urges, desires, passions, needs, fears, anxieties, problems; and when these hurt, which is often enough I can tell you, I know only my familiar pleasures to ease them. I get immediate sense and appetitive pleasure; I don't have to meditate, contemplate, or pray to feel pleasure. All I have to do is put a sweet in my mouth, and pleasure happens; all I have to do is turn on the television set or music, and pleasure happens; all I have to do is think sex, and off I go. It is instant pleasure that I need to soothe my "troubled breast." What do your joys of the soul have to offer to match these pleasures? I have felt your joys of the soul often enough I'm no novice to this area but then a woman, who "walks in beauty" passes by, and back to my humanness I am. I'm slighted or insulted, and all inner calm vanishes; I'm ready to attack. My anger and strife seem always to get the better of me; they throw me off course without warning.
"What, by the way, is your particular 'thorn in the side,' sir? And isn't solitude a necessary component in the tranquil life of the spirit? But I can't be with my- self for any length of time; I'm too active, too energetic, too hyper, to sit in still and silence for long. What is your antidote to this spiritual failing in me?
"Perhaps when I'm older and slower and freer from the tensions of pleasure and pain, wants and needs, solitude will have more meaning to me. But what about now? Am I cut off from a consistent joy of the spirit until I age. But will I want it then? Will it have any meaning for me then when I'm troubled by so many aches and pains accompanying old age? Where does spiritual solace come in then? So, either I'm on the wrong track, sir, forgive me for saying it you are.
"I know I'm drowning in my world sense pleasures, and I don't know how to swim; and it looks as though I don't much care to learn. So you doubtlessly have wasted your time on me. I'm a lost soul, I suppose. But I have the con-
solation of being in my majority. If you're going to teach me anything, teach me how to live amidst my pleasures and pains. Please don't suggest that I eliminate them; you won't succeed, you can't succeed. Let us praise diversity as well as unity. Let us not lose our humanness, however base it can get. If any- thing, let us integrate our so-called soul with our humanness. Let us have a cheerful wisdom, not an austere one. What? You say that pleasure and joy can never be reconciled, harmonized? Well, that may be your experience your limited experience, if I may be so bold as to say but your experience is not the total human experience for all times.
"You have said that if one out of a thousand gets your message, and puts it into practice, you have succeeded; you have saved a soul. Well, surely you can do better than that, sir! I would think you need a more effective approach to get across your truth which, don't misunderstand me, I am very amenable to. Please, my dear master, come back to reality my reality, which as I've said, is not in the minority. You're overlooking a whole side of human life in your teaching or if not over-looking, then minimizing it which makes your fine teachings of the beautiful and the good and the pure and the spiritual a two dimensional image. Probe the phenomena of pleasure and pain, desire and evil - not from the old Buddhist or Hindu or Christian or Judaic approach, which are, for all practical purposes as outmoded as the Olympian gods. These religions addressed a far simpler mentality than ours. What ordinary man could eliminate desire? Go egoless? Think of God always? Turn the other cheek? End thought? Have you not heard of Descartes' "I think, therefore I am?"
"And so, my gentle and compassionate teacher, open up to diversity, to complexity, to opposition, to the blood of life; and then will your wisdom of eternity and unity and bliss take on meaning for me. Don't kill my ego; refine it."
But there is a pure Reality! And in life! I've experienced it. It's real, and it's in the mind. And if only one man experienced it, it would thereby stands as a testimony, a reality, for all men whether they experience it or not.
I can't deny this pure reality, because I've experienced it directly twice; and not to mention all the sages and mystics and unknown individuals who have experienced it as well.
The first time I experienced It (I capitalize "It".) was in a dream a year or so ago. I was about to be executed by rifle. A blindfold was put on me, and I waited. The shots were fired, and in that instant I was projected into a pure conscious dimension of effulgent bliss. I not the self-conscious "I" was nothing but this pure bliss consciousness. It was glorious. Continuing in the dream, my mind was brought back to reality again; and again they fired at me; and again I was projected into this pure conscious state of bliss. It happened once more that I returned to my self-consciousness, and again they fired on me, and I died on the instant, being projected into this pure state again. In
this pure reality, nothing existed but an infinite sea of radiant consciousness. It was consciousness, pure and simple, and nothing else. It was not a con- sciousness of this or that, or of anything; but simply consciousness itself.
I awoke from the dream and was emotionally overcome with awe and wonder and ecstasy. I said to myself, "I've tasted death; I was dead, and death is glory." I couldn't believe what had happened to me. And though my "death" occurred in a dream, the reality of it seemed more real than my waking con- sciousness. But then my questioning mind entered, and brought home to me that it was only a dream; I was not actually dead, and so this pure reality I ex- perienced (if I may called it an experience) was merely a dream state. Though somehow I couldn't accept rational analysis in this case, for it seemed too real to be a chimerical dream; and furthermore, such a pure state of consciousness has no reference point of empirical experience.
I quickly leapt out of bed and turned to my books for some verification of this divine experience, and found, to my great joy, the following reassurances from ancient and modern Eastern sources I knew none from Western sources:
When the soul is in the land of dreams, then all the worlds belong to the soul.
-The Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad
The Spirit of man has two dwellings: this world and the world beyond. There is also a third dwelling place: the land of sleep and dreams. Rest-ing in this borderland the Spirit of man can behold his dwelling in this world and in the other world afar, and wandering in this borderland he beholds behind him the sorrows of this world and in front of him he sees the joys of the beyond.
- The Supreme Teaching
If God be real He must remain always. You remain in sleep and in wake-fulness just the same. If God be as true as your Self, God must be in sleep as well as the Self.
- Sri Ramana Maharshi
It is through dream and sleep of trance which can be regarded as a kind of dream or sleep-that the surface mental consciousness normally passes out of the perception of objective things into the inner subliminal and the superior supramental or overmental status. In that inner condition it sees the supraphysical realities in transcribing figures of dream or vision or, in the superior status, it loses itself in a massed consciousness of which it can receive no thought or image. It is through this subliminal and this superconscient condition that we can pass into the supreme superconscience of the highest state of self-being. Yajnavlkya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states very positively that there are two planes or states of the being which are two worlds, and that in the dream state one can see both worlds, for the dream state is intermediate between them, it is their joining-plane. This makes it clear that he is speaking of a subliminal condition of consciousness which can carry in it communications between the physi- cal and the supraphysical worlds.
Needless to say, this dream vision transformed my whole mental outlook, dispelled all disbelief and doubt, and ratified the tenor of my spiritual con- sciousness. I, of course, still had my sensuality, and my ego to some extent, with which to deal; but essentially my life had been confirmed in this transcendent realm. It's reality has never been doubted by me since.
But there is more. Not only have I experienced this pure reality in sleep, but in a definitely awakened state as well. It occurred a number of months after the dream vision. It was my second day into a 40-day spiritual retreat I had under- gone in the evenings at home after part-time work. This retreat required that I did nothing but be with myself: with my thoughts, moods and sensations. I went into the desert of my soul, as I called it, hoping to reach the soul of my being and to integrate it into my daily life. This latter aspiration, by the way, didn't work, as I expected it would at the time; still, it was an advancement for me to have undergone such a rewarding "soul-struggle," as well as the divine state of consciousness I slid into. Without saying anything more, let me flash- back to the notes I took of that memorable, ineffable Experience. The evening before, I had been simply observing myself in my thoughts, sensations, feel- ings; and let my notes written or orally recorded "on the spot ", so to speak
on this "self-observing" process, as I called it, serve as a prologue to the next evening's gradual development to my Experience.
But before I do, let me set up the tenor of this spiritual retreat, as I called it at the time, to give a feel of the purpose and activity of this venture.
Actually, this retreat, to which I'm referring, was the third one, five months after the first retreat (which failed on the second day) and three weeks after the second retreat (which lasted three days). I'll cite some passages from the first two retreats to get across my point that they were no "breeze", I can tell you.
I have been in another state
Of consciousness beyond all self:
"Where" nothing is pure everything,
And power radiates in bliss.
This state it comes at its behest,
I cannot bring it on at will;
But this I know beyond a doubt:
I've had to be receptive too.
It comes upon me...just like that!
There I was, then Here I am:
Transported into purity,
Bathed in the light-dark of Power's bliss.
Dec. 13, 1978
My first retreat. I had a sudden desire to go on it this morning where did it come fromible, otherwise, I know I'll throw it over.
2nd day / Morning
Related to Celeste my "harrowing" experience last night, and she suggested that I engage in this retreat in a more moderate way, so long as it is such an ordeal for me. I agree with her.
Well, that's the end of my so-called spiritual retreat. Celeste's suggestion this morning to be moderate in my retreat loosened my resolve to such a point that I returned to my reading and writing, and to my sensual self again. One step led to another, until I just decided, or rationalized myself into thinking, that I'd be with myself an hour or two each day instead of the severe program I set up for myself with no reading, no writing, sparse eating, etc. In no way am I ready for such an exacting retreat; though I wish I were.
Five months later, I made another attempt at a spiritual retreat, which, though it lasted for three days, nonetheless failed. Again, let me quote some of these days' activities or rather inactivities to give an idea of the psychology of this venture.
April 16, 1979
Sitting cross-legged in bed in my undershorts only.
I'm just to sit here doing nothing except to be with myself with no stimulation whatsoever: No reading, no writing, no talking, no television, no eating or drinking not a thing.
The purpose of this spiritual retreat is to come face to face with my eternal nature what others might call the "abyss" as was the purpose of my first failed retreat.
The only way I'm going to be intimately and effectively acquainted with my eternal nature is to quiet my mind and senses and appetites and desires. Apparently, the only way to quiet these is too severely limit stimulation of them; and so, I must sit here inactive outwardly, though dynamically active inwardly. I'll spend my evening hours each day in this spiritual retreat until I become so acquainted with the quiet and still of my eternal nature that I'll come to prefer it to all other mental, sense, appetitive, desiring, lusting stimulation. Not that I expect to efface or extirpate these stimulations, but that they will begin to take secondary importance in my life, and will no longer make me a slave to them. Though I feel more receptive to this retreat than the last one-tonight, at least I don't suppose it will continue to be welcomed. I'm sure my mind and senses are going to object strenuously, if not tonight or tomorrow night, then for sure, sooner than later. They will not sit quietly by while I do violence to them. I realize that I'm going to have to go through "the dark night of the soul" before I become to prefer inner quiet and still to outward stimulation.
I intend to record in note fashion the various thoughts, impressions, feelings that I undergo in this retreat.
In a very lovely way, I can't believe that I'm actually commenced on this spir- itual retreat; that I actually mean it ... But I do! I welcome it, I love it, I want it. I'm now willing to battle for my soul's victory to the end. I want desperately to live more in my eternal nature than my temporal nature. I want my eternal nature to be the master and guide of my temporal nature.
Let me now begin the recording of my inner retreat.
I'm feeling the quiet of the night, and it both quiets and stills me. A very pleas- ant sensation; although my cross-legged position is beginning to bother me.
Questioning of whether I'm going to be able to go through with this retreat are insidiously trying to seep through my consciousness; but I reject them immediately.
Am not able to keep my mind concentrated on the thoughts of quietness and stillness for any extended period of time. My mind wanders to its usual round of trivial thoughts and images. Yet it is this very concentration of quiet stillness that I must nurture, since it is of the nature of eternity that I'm aspiring to reach. Well, I can't expect too much of myself the first evening. I still feel the delight of having thrown myself into this retreat; and so, can't yet give much of myself to the stillness of eternity.
After forty-five minutes, I uncrossed my legs and am now sitting with legs out- stretched. I'm sitting on a pad in my bed which deters me from lying down...at least for awhile anyway.
What if I fall asleep? Well, then, I fall asleep. But I'll discourage doing so as long as possible, since unnecessary sleep is a deterrent to my objective.
How long will this retreat last before I join hands with my eternal nature? Days? Weeks? Months? Can I hold out however long it takes? Can I neither read nor write my two important, pleasant, self-defining activities for an extended period of time? I was about to answer that I wasn't sure; but second thoughts told me that reaching my Soul was far more important than reading or writing, or anything else for that matter. These thoughts inspired further confidence that I'll do without these two important activities until I gain my goal.
A sweet sensation just spread through me of how important, of how right, of how essential, is the inner trek that I've taken upon myself. I must go through with it! I will! I will not fail myself, not this time...not this time. My determination is set; nothing will stop me. I want my inner quietude, my inner freedom, my equanimity, my joy of the Eternal too much for me to fail myself.
This retreat is really, in effect, going into the desert (for forty days?) the des-ert of my soul.
The one advantage of this spiritual retreat, and the advantage that will very well help me to succeed, is that it is a moderate retreat; not a twenty-four hour day-after-day retreat. I do have to go to work for a number of hours, I do have to commune with my dear companion, each day; there are certain welcome chores and errands that I'm consigned to each day. Hence, my retreat will amount to three to four or five hours a day when I am alone with myself.
I have a sound faith that this moderate approach can work, if not as effectively as a total retreat in its intensity and scope. In any case, it will have to do. It will work, I'm positive.
I'll make it work ... yes, even if it takes forty days ... and longer if necessary. Do I really mean this? Yes, I must mean it!
Back to my cross-legged position after a half hour. It feels quite comfortable.
I don't know what exactly I'm going to find in this inner odyssey in search of my inner Self, but I'm confident that it is going to be something quite wondrous. And it is this confidence that is going to, must, give me the necessary courage to go through the crucible that will lead me to me Soul, to my God.
I know I am going to have to fight off the temptation, the seduction, of getting to my writings again. I know my mind will send its siren message to me that my writings are essential, and have to be worked at, have to be finished before I am too old to finish them, that the world needs them, and all other such allurements. I'm familiar enough with this thought-process to know that I've been continuously won over by such inducements whenever I intend to turn predominantly spiritual. But not this time. I have to win over my ego-sensual nature more than ever now ; I have to put it in its proper perspective so that I rule it, and not it me. This is what is essential for me now; nothing else much matters. Without this self-conquest, I'll never reach the inner freedom of the quiet stillness, the equanimity, of my eternal nature. I know this without question.
Another deterrent to previous attempts at this spiritual retreat has always been the thought that I'd be wasting my time just sitting doing nothing. I've been so conditioned into thinking that if I'm not doing something, I'm wasting precious time, am not accomplishing anything, am being slothful.
I no longer believe this. I'm not just sitting here doing nothing. Quite the con-trary, I'm doing what I consider the most important of human endeavors; namely, attempting to transform my egoistic, sensual nature into a more re- fined, universal nature. This endeavor takes intense concentration to quiet one's mind and senses so that he can gain a truer perspective of life and human life, so that he can gain true insight into the eternal nature of the world, and so, into his own eternal nature. This is no small matter, and is furthest from inactivity how ridiculous even to think of it.
I have to remember that when I begin to flag in this spiritual endeavor to read over these notes to reassure and remind me of the crucial importance of what I am embarking upon. These I can allow myself to read briefly and quickly since they are an integral part of this retreat.
My evenings, then, from about eight o'clock to 12 o'clock are to be devoted solely to my retreat until...until what? Until I become strong in the spirit; so strong that I'll never be swayed nor seduced from it by my own inner urgings. True, I know I'll continue to be tempted, shaken a little a little! How about volcanically shaken as well! by the allurements and disturbances of life. This I accept as part of my humanity, and part of life that I love. But, the state I must attain is one that the attractions of the world, however they may draw me, will never, however, possess me again; will not overwhelm my inner quiet, strength, equanimity, joy, so much that I would ever renounce them for the storm of intense pleasures.
During my evening retreats, I'll neither eat nor drink anything. I hope so doing will help lower my food intake when I do eat.
I hope also that the quiet that I experience during these sessions will also carry over into my daily activities. We shall see.
I do have to admit that perhaps this retreat seems so much easier and more welcome is the fact that I am not so interested in reading, music, in television, dining out, in entertainments, in outings, and in other stimulations, anymore. Not that I have become jaundiced with them; but that they have lost their in- terest for me in inverse proportion as my interest, my devotion, to spiritual transcendence has grown. Hence the intensity of my desires, passions, urg- ings, restlessness, impulses, have lessened considerably. And this makes it possible for me to sit here quietly without sense or intellectual or aesthetic stimulation. I am not so driven as formerly; though by no means am I insen- sitive to my carnality. It still reigns supreme. Hence the purpose of my spiritual retreat: to dethrone it. ... As I wrote this last sentence, the thought flashed through me of the futility of such an endeavor, as though my carnality will al- ways reign supreme regardless of my futile, feeble attempts of spiritualizing my existence. But I reject this seductive falsehood. Others have mastered the "flesh" by transforming it, refining, spiritualizing it; and I believe with all my strength, with all my mind, with all my soul, that I too can rise above my lower nature. I have never felt otherwise in spite of all my failings these many years of struggle. These past many years have no been in vain; they have been the groundwork, the forest, that I have had to hew through to reach the foot of the spiritual mount that I am embarking on its ascent. I will never give up! I will win the war regardless of how many battles I lose.
After one and a quarter hours sitting cross-legged which is a first for me I now will lie down, for it is about time for me to go to sleep.
I was just in the process of putting away my books for the duration of this retreat, when I noticed The Odyssey of Homer, and felt a hurting nostalgia that I can't read it. Well, that's too bad; I have taken my step, have picked up my cross, and am not going to look back.
Imagine! It's been three hours that I've maintained an overall sense of inner quiet. Wonderful! Wonderful!
In this retreat, I feel that I'm doing, in my own small way, what Christ did in his forty day desert fast, what Buddha did under the Bodhi tree.
As I continue to move about in my room, doing the odd little thing, I feel an inner quiet dignity. Any levity on my part would certainly break the spell; and that I would not dare do.
I feel myself on the brink of a glorious trek!
In effect, or in actuality, what I'm doing is facing the unknown, the so-called "dreaded abyss." I'm confronting my emptiness but not a vacuous emptiness, but an emptiness full of joy and glory and nobleness and strength.
How do I know this? I know it by the many intimations I've had in the past few years of the felicity of this unknown consciousness beyond my self-conscious- ness.
How did I come to the decision to make this retreat? It just came to me in a quiet, unimposing thought. It came as a natural progression. I simply was ripe for the move.
I know that this inner quietude must eventually lead me to transcendent conscious- ness beyond self-thoughts. Inner quietude is only the beginning stage - and what a gratifying stage it is too! - of the spiritual ascent.
As I'm lying here trying to go to sleep, I'm bathed in this inward quiet. It is so relax- ing, so sweet. How much more must be the joy of transcendent con- sciousness! How much more even the bliss of pure consciousness!
There is a solemn dignity I feel in this inner quietude; and what a marvelous sensation it is. No intellectual nor emotional pleasure can compare with it.
Second day / Morning
I awaken this morning feeling the pleasant effects of inner quietude from last night's commencement. Not as strongly, however.
I feel definitely that this inner retreat is to be carried over all day long, every day; not just in the evenings. Of course, it is intensified in the evening, being alone with my inner quiet, my bare self; but I feel surely that I want to maintain this quietude as much as possible in my daily activities out in the stream of life.
I feel a certain inner strength with this quietude in keeping my eyes restrained, my senses calm, my appetites to their minimum, my thoughts egoless. As a matter of fact, I don't feel much hunger at all this morning, and I haven't eaten since early last evening. I simply feel that I don't want to eat much; and I don't want to upset this inner calm and quiet.
In the midst of women this morning, I for the most part kept my eyes from them; but not enough for my own liking.
I had a little too much lunch; more than I intended to eat.
It is evident to me that being out in the social stream dissipates my inner re- serves. It's as though I have to be charged up again in my room this afternoon and evening to build up the strength and effectiveness of my sense of quie- tude. And this is exactly what I intend to do.
Am spending the rest of the afternoon (2:30-5:30) alone in my room in bed without doing a thing but being by myself.
Yes, the social stream surely dissipates my inner quiet with its attracting and repelling array of distractions. What I have to do is to recharge, so to speak, in inner quietude each day at home alone so as not to be swept away by life's charms.
For now these recharges have to be long and trying until quietude becomes a way of life and preference for me. I never realized this before.
Have been projecting my thoughts beyond self-consciousness into the reality of the "essence of things"; and when in this realm, all personal concerns and feelings, all sense of time and place, disappear. This state of consciousness I call transcendent consciousness, and it is an exquisite state to be in. When I come out of it, back to my self-consciousness, I feel a pleasant glow of plea- sure as though I've been through a wondrous experience. My self-thoughts, in comparison, are so flat, stale, and unsatisfactory.
Yet, of course, it is extremely difficult for my mind to keep in this high state of transcendence for long; and so, it descends back to earthly matters. Even to keep my mind and feelings on the sense of quietude and stillness for long is difficult for me, I who am used to self-thoughts and sense pleasures as my daily way. But, again, this is the purpose of my retreat, to make my mind and feelings accustomed to quietness and stillness; and hopefully, to transcendent consciousness.
I'm feeling a small tremor of guilt that I'm lying in bed this whole afternoon with- out doing anything active or productive. But, this is old, normal conditioning which, however, does not apply to the purpose of my spiritual retreat.
Actually, this spiritual retreat is an extension of my normal meditative sessions. Where I would normally spend only fifteen to thirty minutes a day or almost every day in meditation, I now am spending two to three to even five hours a day.
I am confronting my bare self: bare of sense, aesthetic, intellectual stimulation.
My bare self is in truth my eternal self; my eternal self is in truth the God of the world.
The preliminary and personal intimations of this God are the tranquil, warmly pleasant sense of inward quietness and stillness. This sense can be had here and now. comparatively easily and continuously. The actual transcendent, felicitous state of Eternity (or Eternal God) is not so easily had; since it is so abstractly remote from our perceiving self-consciousness.
Another flash of hurting nostalgia for my writings just coursed through me. I want so much to get back to them; but I can pay this urge no heed.
The siren thought just passed through me: "Why are you undergoing this futile retreat? Enjoy the sensuous, sensual, ego life. That is what you're here for; that is what you are. You are going into an abyss that cannot possibly stand up to, or replace, the captivating worldly life of pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow. This is your dual nature, and so part of your true life, not some so-called transcendent elysian gardens."
I'm up and about now, and feel rather low-keyed, somewhat restless as though looking for something to do. I can't just sit still now. I feel somewhat depressed not sadly depressed, but emptily depressed as though something heavy were weighing my mind and affections down. Accordingly, I'm not feeling very sociable.
I have to be careful that I don't become engulfed by this depression that makes me want to be silently to myself regardless of everything and everyone else.
But this is what I feel now, and is, I suppose, part of the so-called "dark night of the soul" have to go through. ... I have a feeling that this "night" is going to get much darker before I see light.
Well, tomorrow will be different, I'm sure. ... Am I so sure?
Another deterrent thought: Wouldn't it be very difficult for Celeste to live with me were I to grow into this quiet transcendence? Would she not feel that she is losing me? Will I not pain her? Will I slowly grow apart from her? Will I give her the impression of being superior to her? Will she feel inferior to me? Will it be harder to live with me? Will I lose my affection for her?
Disarming questions, these; but I'll not let them deter me for a moment. I'm going to have to wait for the answer to them. ... But, as I write this, I feel they have already been answered in the negative.
I did some housework just now. Why? To assuage a guilty conscience for lying in bed this afternoon? To pacify my restlessness?
I know that my good judgment and sympathetic sensibility are sound enough not to let whatever spiritual development in me be a burden to anyone. Although I'm not about to be concerned as to whether I'm entertaining or not, I will of course continue to be courteous, helpful where I can be, pleasant, considerate, and so forth.
Oh, I miss my writing!
I now know why I am so loath to sacrifice my writing for this retreat, it's because I have so many manuscripts to complete that I'm afraid I'll not have time enough. So I feel this compulsion to write every day.
But, this I know: So long as I don't come to terms with my sensual nature, so long as I'm ruled by my senses, appetites, emotions, ego even in the comparatively small rule that they do have over me I'll never gain the proper and full perspective I need for my writings. Better that I write one book with this perspective than dozens without it. Or, apart from my writings, better I gain the proper and full perspective of my life than gain the world.
Celeste just came in to relate some disturbing news concerning the school where I teach. I'm somewhat upset about it, and decide to call my employer.
A half hour later, and I'm back with myself in my room. My mind is somewhat distracted by the past hour's events, and so it's hard for me to get back to my inner quiet. This retreat seems so remote, so unimportant at this moment as opposed to the problems and issues of my social and working life. I even felt a momentary impulse to drop the retreat; but I can't, I mustn't, even though it seems somewhat cold and foreign to me at this moment. I must try to quiet my mind and get back to the real me.
This retreat, as pleasant as it can be so far, is no "bed of roses," I can tell you.
I just tried mindfulness; that is to say: self-attentiveness, or focusing in on the troubled spot or emotion; but the disturbance is too diffused to narrow in on it, and so is very difficult to even make the attempt.
Let me then relax a little. Instead of sitting here cross-legged, let me lie down flat in bed. Let me try to transcend my consciousness beyond my self, into the realm of Essence, of the Eternal Principle of being. Let me see if that will work. And if I fall asleep in the process, all well and good. At least I'll not have succumbed to the weakness of failure again.
By lying down, I have relieved the physical and mental strain of my alert position. a sigh of relief issues from me.
This I'm discovering more and more convincingly than ever before: that it is better for me not to think of an arousing or disturbing thought than to be mindful of it via Buddha. Self-transcendence is the key. Just don't think self-thoughts except those which are absolutely necessary. Think transcendently!
I'm not thinking so transcendently yet; but by lying down, I've calmed down considerably; and my retreat begins to take on meaning again.
Thinking of the Essence of things is not so effective for me tonight. I'm more inclined to think of nothing at all.
With mask over my eyes, I stare into the darkness between my eyes. And in this "darkness" I see a kaleidoscope of colored, abstract figures: triangular, rectangular interestingly colored shapes. I haven't experienced this phenom- enon before. It's very soothing.
Third day / Morning
I awaken and my retreat seems to have lost its savor, its luster and purpose. Even so, it matters not; I'm to stay with it regardless of my moods.
I've been too busy at teaching this morning to give much attention to my inner quiet; but I notice that overall I'm being short with my students. I don't feel relaxed. I feel as though I'm being driven, pressured, by I know not what; as though every little thing matters much more than it should.
Have controlled my eyes much more this morning.
Again I'm tempted to drop this retreat and to return to my normal, fluctuating, unsatisfying little groping self. Still, I'll not think of it.
My retreat is over again. I have once again fallen back to my normal daily routine. I'm still not strong enough, still not ready enough; the world is too much with me.
I don't feel crushed, nor even disappointed; I'm simply not thinking of it. I'm too accustomed to my vagaries to be surprised at my failings, weaknesses, vulnerabil- ities.
Oh, well. At least I lasted longer at this attempt than my first one.
It was during the next retreat three weeks later that IT happened, and which kept me on a forty day retreat. Since this retreat is the one that tipped the scales for me in my transition from a primarily intellectual life to a primarily transcendent life not religious, nor even a spiritual life in the sense of a be-ing a devotee of God. I'll go through the main highlights of my notes to get the proper perspective as to what I gained by my Experience.
May 9, 1979
Well, here I am again at another attempt at a spiritual retreat. This time, how- ever, I'm not so intense about it. I simply slid into it, so to speak. I simply want to; and that is all there is to it. Somehow my subconscious faith in the efficacy, the rightness, of this retreat predominates, and has quietly moved me to try again. I feel much more relaxed this time, with no set determination to do this or that. I just want to quietly sit or lie alone with myself, and let what happens happen, let what thoughts come, come. I'm tired of reading the spiritual ideas and experiences, and theories of others: Zen, Buddhism, Vedanta, and the rest. Somehow their way, their spiritual psychology is too unrealistic for me, for the average sensual, though sensitive, individual living in a practical world. There are too many conflicting, short-sighted, statements in these religious or philosophical theories. They somehow do not get to the pith of the spiritual dilemma of Western man. What they claim as natural is in fact supernatural. One religion says don't think at all; another says don't resist thoughts for that is simply continuing the I-process with all its memories and conflicts; another religion says think of God and it goes on and on.
I want no more of it. I'm going to find my own way, through my own inner delving. Of course, there is some truth to what all the various religions have to propound; but there is too much bewilderment for me, and so continuous unrest; and it is this unrest I don't want. And so, here I go again into my self. I want to make my own distillation of all that I've read without any distractions.
The normally expected desire to write just past through my mind; and instead of rejecting it, I simply accepted it, observed it, and adopted a smiling attitude of an observer quite familiar with such desires, but with no intent of satisfying them; simply because it is not worth satisfying. This is what I feel now; yet, will I be able to continue to be so relaxed and objective about such normally pervasive desires? We'll see.
Relaxed acceptance that is the key. This is by no means a passive, uncon- cerned acceptance, but a dynamic, observant, active, creative, effective acceptance.
Another key: self-observance just quietly observing oneself in a relaxed manner; not falling prey to oneself so as not to lose this quiet, relaxed observant attitude.
This self-observance is not a probing, nor a psychological, analysis; but is rather a passive, though controlled, acceptance of one's mental and physical states.
Paramount to both relaxed acceptance and self-observance is a quiet, re- laxed, smiling attitude even to the most intense and meaningful psychic and physical states. Hard to attain, yes; even harder to maintain, I'm sure, and as I will surely find out.
What is the prerequisite of such a continuous, ideal state is a strong sense of Trans- cendence, of Eternity. Without the force of this sense, this inner Pres- ence, how could it be possible to be consistently relaxed, smiling, inwardly quiet, up against the potent life forces and urges and appetites and needs?
Whatever thoughts or sensations arise, let them. I want to feel and be com- pletely relaxed about myself. I want to take a smiling attitude to my frail hu- manity that wants and needs so much stimulation, so much pleasure, so much security, so much meaning; my humanity that is so anxious, so fearful, so limited, so needing, so petty, so vain.
This relaxed, smiling attitude is not to be misconstrued as cold, remote indif-ference and calculation. To the contrary, it is an intensely serious business; for such an attitude is to observe and understand life and human life in their prop- er perspective; and this perspective is to see the inevitability, order, and unity of things, of human life.
This smiling attitude can just as easily turn to grief at the loss of a loved one,
or to indignation at injustice; but ever this attitude of self-observation and ac- ceptance in one's consciousness is that life is as it is: at one time it pains at another time it pleasures.
I do believe that already I'm beginning to find my own way in these two notions of self-observance and relaxed acceptance. Certainly nothing is new about these ways, but they are beginning to be more clarified to me now.
No more spiritual reading for awhile. I'm to let my own thoughts lead me exclusively.
I feel I want to let my mind roam at will; but with this one exception: that I re- main observant of its rovings.
It'll be very interesting to observe (speaking of self-observation) whether I'll be able to maintain this relaxed, self-observant, accepting attitude when once again I'm hungry or sexually aroused, or slighted or disregarded by others, or anxious, and all the rest. I'll keep myself posted.
Better to be relaxed and smiling about the inevitable wayward ways of men and women, oneself included, than to be tense, angry, vindictive, resentful.
Let your inner world be your treasure, your glorious preoccupation, your ladder to self-transcendence, to eternal Transcendence.
Do you feel yourself becoming tense about something? Immediately relax yourself, accept the situation, and act accordingly to your best judgment that you know will maintain for you this relaxed equanimity. It will not always be easy, but it will always be possible-well, not always, but mostly, especially if one makes this his life's way; and I suppose not even mostly with those who are married and have children, or who are excessively bound to their careers or themselves.
The main plan for me to follow in this spiritual retreat is to be with myself for three or four hours each day without any outward stimulation. For how long? I'm not sure. Again, I might only last a short while before falling back to my old vulnerable ways. And if that happens, then again it'll be clear that I'm not yet ready for such a momentous step, such a transcendent transition. I feel completely relaxed about the whole matter. I don't expect any more sudden changes, sudden transitions, sudden illuminations. I'll take these matters rather casually, though in unflagging decisiveness.
The one essential guiding principle of this relaxed self-observant attitude is self-transcendence. Without its support, the whole matter becomes no more than a game.
Self-observance. Who is doing the observing? Who is observing the self-another self? Psychology would laugh at such a notion-not to mention any so-called "self". Who, or what then is doing the observing? This I'm not able to answer; but this observing element of me is surely a remarkable conscious phenomenon.
I've been alone with my thoughts for more than three hours, and have enjoyed every minute of it; no impulse to flee my inner solitude.
As soon as I set myself up as an objective observer of my thoughts and sensations, doing so reduces the intensity of them, and their importance; they simply wash away.
This inner vigilance, or solitude, has certainly a quieting, strengthening effect on me. I notice it markedly when I get up to do something. ... Why can't I be satisfied with only this state of being? Will I ever be? The disconcerting answer comes to me: Not so long as you are in the flesh. Discouraging? Surprisingly not; why, I don't know.
Trust myself. Stay with myself, regardless of the boredom, of the pain, of the ap- prehension. I will reach the other side of my mind my soul!
May 10 1979
Am looking forward to this day of inner solitude.
This inner solitude, this dive into the, into my, abyss is not so forbidding to me anymore, or so I feel today.
It's 9 p.m., and I'm sitting in the living room in semi-darkness observing my thoughts and sensations. Very pleasant.
Six months ago I sat here for two hours in the first of my attempts at this spiri- tual retreat, and it was mostly an ordeal just sitting doing nothing but being with myself. Let me see what happens tonight.
Well, to start the evening off with a trial, I'm now tempted to view a television show that I want very much to see; but I'm going to have to pass it up.
This idea of an inner, objective observer intrigues me. Who is this observer, I ask again? It is as though it issues from eternity, from somewhere beyond my self-consciousness my, what I might call, transconscious. I'm finding that if I acknowledge it, make an effort to bring it into my consciousness, that it would have the power to resolve, dissolve, the urgings of my ego-sensuality.
It's as though my observing self let me call it my eternal self is completely free from the promptings and urgings of my physical, mental self. It stands apart as an abstraction having a catalyzing effect on my physical-mental self. It seems at this moment very intimate to me, very much my true abiding self.
Forty-five minutes have passed by as smoothly, as pleasantly, as a free-flowing stream.
Oh, if I could only grow into, be intimate with, this observing, abstract self! Then I would surely be free, surely be enlightened, surely live in and for eternity.
Last night when I inadvertently came upon this notion of self-observance, which in turn, inadvertently led me to the question: Who is doing this observing, and yet is not itself part of the phenomena being observed? - I inadvertently (and I stress this word "inadvertently") have hit upon the Vedantic notion of the Atman, or Self, in Western terms. There is truth to this notion; it has infinite significance of which I am now only beginning to tap. It is a valid and most sound-question to ask who or what is doing the observing; and why this "observer" has such a potent effect upon my physical-mental nature without itself being affected in any way. I might call this observer the eternal Catalyst.
I see now that it is incumbent upon me to become increasingly aware of this Observer, to make it more and more a part of my consciousness; in other words, to become more and more Self-conscious and less self- (or ego)- conscious. And this I can only accomplish by inner solitude through which acquaintance will become intimacy, ineffectiveness will become effectiveness.
No sooner is my vital self, or nature, aroused than I turn my observant focus on the arousal, in which case the arousal dissipates. God, what a miracle! Is this Observer my eternal nature that I have felt and thought and written and spoken about these past three years? Is it the pure-bliss Consciousness of which I experienced in my dream? I hope so! I hope so! If so, I'm saved, I'm free, I'm delivered. I have found eternity in my daily life.
Just by willing it to be, this observing element in me comes into mental ex- istence, turns into a living potent supernatural reality or force. I'm reminded of Aladdin's magic lamp that needed only to be rubbed a certain way wherewith a genie would appear to grant all wishes.
I feel so close to it. What should I call it? I certainly must capitalize the 'i' in referring to this supraphenomenon as It; for It certainly is no ordinary 'it." As I said earlier the Hindus called It Atman, which is translated in English as the Self with a capital "S". This seems the most appropriate term for this ineffable "something." I'll use this term, as well as others, as the conception strikes me at the moment. When I see It as my inward observer, I'll call It the Observer. When I see It as a catalyst, I'll call It the Catalyst. When I see It as a genie granting such graces as freedom, tranquility, joy, bliss, strength, bliss, wis- dom, then I'll call It the Genie. When I see It as my friend, I'll call It my Friend. When I feel It as a benign presence, I'll call it my Benign Presence. When I see It as my soul or essence, I'll call It my Soul or Essence.
I feel as though I'll never lose this Presence; It is there within me, ready to be called upon at will ? though certainly not always so easily as it is now. It is my Friend: my friendly Genie; and I do not use this term facetiously, or lightly.
An hour and forty-five minutes have passed, and needless to say, the time has been heavenly spent.
In a way, I find this hard to believe. I feel as though I've stumbled upon the wisdom of the ages, the philosopher's stone, the secret doctrine, the fountain of eternal youth. Strange to say, I feel as though I have the world in my grasp, that I have unlocked the key to Eternity, to God, whatever I'm to call It; that I have crossed over into infinity, that I have plunged into the abyss Oh, that it may be so!
I have Eternity in my mind! I am Eternity!
Now back to my pragmatic self. Am I making too much of this? Will this pro- cess of self-observance really have a long-range effect on my mental-physical being? Can it?
Am I poeticizing this self-observing process into a personal ideal that in reality is a simple matter of physiology, and that in reality has no more permanence that any other thought or image or biological process.
I'm in no position, or mood, to answer these questions now. The idea and effect of this self-observance is too new, too refreshing, too joyous, to be tainted by reasoning, or for me to have the proper perspective on it yet. Time will tell for me.
My two hours are up (my allotted time for being alone with myself), and they were a breeze. A marked spiritual advancement for me.
I just thought humorously regarding this new experience: "The crazy things I come up with!" But I know I jest with the most serious intents.
As soon as I call upon my Genie, It goes into effect immediately against my wayward impulses.
My Eternal Friend, whatever you are,
My Soul to you is opened ajar.
I want to become more intimate with my Self-observer: this Presence in me that has ever moved me, inspired me, in various guises to rise above my basic nature, that has led me through the paths of moral refinement, self-restraint, through self-refine ment. Something, definitely an integral part of me, is ever present, ever inspiring me toward transcendence. I think I now have a glimpse of Its nature as a transcendent willing motive that makes me will to transcend myself. Very difficult to grasp, and to formulate in words.
I can't believe it! I can't believe it! I have found my pure Self! I think it will be a "dirty trick" of my nature if I lose the significance of this glorious find, if it has no more effect on refining my nature in the long-run than has all my other spiritual discoveries.
It is now so facile for me to turn to my observing Self, and so glowingly serene.
This pure Self, i.e. my Eternal Self, is not an emptiness, an abstract nothing; but rather is a definite abstract presence, a potent reality, a personal force effective over the vital nature. It is our very selves; more so than even our conscious selves. It is the source of their being...but then I'm only speculating on whether this observing self is eternal, or the source of my being; I don't really know ? but I do naturally intuit it to be.
I can't go to sleep; I want only to keep in mind my observing self. When have I ever preferred to think of anything for any length of time except my dear self? Never. But now my transcendent Self has the upper hand.
Oh, I pray, I implore, the "gods" that I don't lose this Presence through my own undoing.
What do I think of as I turn my mind to my observing Self? Do I envision It as some sort of entity? No, I would say more of a process than an entity; more of a force, an effecting agency of an intangible, ineffable sort.
I think of It as an abstract Presence that is intimately a part of me; or better still, intimately me. For, after all, whatever It may be, however abstract and ineffa- ble, still It is me, a function or process of my mind, that has found It (or has It found me?); It is me who has the power to bring It forth into effect at will for now, anyway.
Four hours have passed in this inner solitude; and it has been glorious, en-lightening, in the truest sense of the words.
And now I must go to sleep.
It is real! It is real! Every time I turn from my self-thoughts to It, It is there! Its glowing presence sweetens my whole being. Compared to Its presence, my self-thoughts are meaningless trivia.
Even if I lose the intensity of this Presence, which doubtlessly I will (though my present feeling seems to belie this); still I have had It, am recording it, and will never lose remembrance of It, just as I have not, nor will ever lose remembrance of my dream vision of Pure-Bliss-Consciousness.
Grudgingly, I have to let my mind think in its usual thought patterns, otherwise I'll never be able to go to sleep, since every time I turn to the Presence, my Eternal Friend, I glow. ... Oh, I don't want to lose this glow, this Presence! But I know I will. Damn!
I dare not turn to my abstract, (pure) Self; it is too precious, and I want to stay in Its presence, but I must go to sleep. Tomorrow, if It will so grace me, I'll go into It. But I can't now; It is too felicitous.
I can't help it; It is there! ... It is there, every time I turn to It. It is an abstract Presence that dissolves all self-consciousness. It takes no concentration for me to blend into It. ... I am gasping, heaving, almost on the verge of tears. It is so beautiful!
I can't believe this is happening to me: me, the most carnal of men, me the worst of sinners. Nothing in my conscious life can even come near to what glory I'm feeling now, can compare to the facility with which I am able to transcend my self-consciousness into what I can only call eternal-infinite consciousness.
I keep fearing that the next time I try to go into this abstract consciousness, it won't happen; but it does keep happening! my mind goes blank, i.e. blends into an abstract consciousness, and stays there without coercion, without con- centration; it just happens, and is serenely soothing. Nothing frightening about It in the least.
How could this be happening to me?!
All I do is think of myself as observer, and my self-consciousness disappears; or, as I am just finding out, I just simply blend into the Presence directly without any intervening thought of myself as observer. Incredible! The "dreaded abyss" has become to me a heavenly haven!
This enlightenment has surely tipped the scales in favor of my transcendent self as opposed to my vital self. Nothing of my vital nature can at all compare to this felicity I am presently experiencing.
I can now keep my mind affixed to this ... what? infinite Consciousness? Is that what It is? longer and more easily than ever before. A second or two was the maximum time I could keep from self-thoughts. But tonight; much longer, much, much longer. My mind feels like a wild horse that has finally been broken in, finally tamed to a transcendent consciousness.
But will it be the same for me tomorrow? The next day? And the next, and the next?
Now I have experienced the felicity of the so-called abyss, of transcendent consciousness; now I have not a doubt as to the felicity and freedom it proffers. So, even when I lose this present glow and felicity of blending in with It, I know It now, and so all the more will I live in and for It.
This is the magic moment I've been waiting for, aspiring to, striving for. And now it's here. I'm home!
I simply can't get over how easy, how facile, it is for me to turn off my self-thoughts by turning to my Observer, which transforms me instantly into abstract consciousness. It is too good to be true!
The marvelous - actually wondrous thing about this transformation from self-consciousness to abstract consciousness is that it is the most pleasant thing in my mental world to bask in the sun of this abstract consciousness. It's true, all that I say. I'm not speculating, I'm not intuiting.
I've now been at this for five hours. What glory! What power!
Third Day / Morning
Just awakened. Miraculous! It's still there! the Presence, my Friend.
Have not been too much with my "other" Self today, since I've been rather busy teaching this morning and resting this late afternoon. But I still feel It there in the background of my consciousness.
At the start of my inner solitude this evening I thought of returning to my read- ing and writing, since I've experienced the profundity of my eternal Self last night; but I reject the thought; because I know that I have now, all the more, to grow into the peace of Its realm; and this will take habituation; and so, I con- tinue in my days of inner solitude, living with myself; that is to say, my trans- cendent Self.
I feel no inner pressure to get to my writing as I normally do.
I feel a slight apprehension about sinking into my abstract Self now with the thought that how I will be able to just contemplate this abstraction for the entire evening. ... But just as I am thinking this, I remind myself that I am to be re- laxed in this eternal trek; and so, I don't have to spend the entire evening in such contemplation. I'm to allow my thoughts to roam as they will, and when I want to turn to my inner Observer, I will.
This decision relaxes me considerably. I don't know why, but somehow I felt that I had to contemplate this abstract observer all evening.
However, I do feel like turning to It now, and I will.
It's not so easy now to turn from my self-thoughts; nowhere near as easy as last night. Although I had anticipated this dry period; nonetheless, I feel a little rueful that Its full force is not pervading my being.
I must add, however, that it's not easy because I'm not as willing to turn to It as I was last night when It was in full force..
Ah, there It is again! Here comes that magic feeling ever so slightly on cat's paws. All I have to do is turn my focus on It, and behold Its vastness pervades me!
I am now being conscious of the quiet of the evening, and its sweet calm soothes me; but now that I have experienced the felicitous glow of my Friend, I recognize that though the two sensations are related, the felicitous glow is much more divine a sensation than the sweet calm; is much more of an inner force of a personal nature, of a truer reality. The felicitous and I do not use this word lightly glow of this transcendent consciousness [or transconscious- ness] I feel to be of eternity; the sweet calm of an inner quietness I feel to be of life [of an intimation of eternity]. Both are certainly welcome into my con- sciousness. Do come in!
As a matter of fact, the felicitous glow is actually a resultant sensation of this state of transcendent consciousness; I don't feel it while in this Transcendence. What I do feel or experience if I can use these words I can only describe now as a vastness, a power, a force beyond the human sense of these words. I am that vastness, that power, that force! And I do not exaggerate.
I'll have to be excused if I'm not able to describe this inward divine experi- ence as precisely as I normally might with more familiar and normal sensations and states of consciousness; It's too ephemeral, practically ineffable to describe. The profundity of feelings that I am undergoing is too new and unfamiliar for me to catch them except "on the run," so to speak.
Self-observance, as I've been describing it for the past three nights, differs from Buddha's process of mindfulness, in that mindfulness is the process of being mindful of all mental states; whereas self-observance, though it includes mindfulness, is concerned not primarily with observing mental states but with who or what is doing the observing. This is the pith and purpose of self-observ- ance; and if one is spiritually graced, in asking this divine question, he will then naturally blend into the who or what which is doing the observing; which is to say, into a pure (abstract) state of infinite (abstract) consciousness. Believe me, it will happen. I do not lie nor exaggerate.
And, again, what is the experience of this pure consciousness? A state of in-finite vastness abstract of all perceptual phenomena that transfixes one's con- sciousness into bliss, into sheer power. And in coming out of this transfixa- tion, one feels a tremendous inner peace, freedom, strength, equanimity, glow, that far surpasses in scope and duration sense or ego sensation.
May my consciousness blend into the Vast,
Oblivious of my negligible past.
But when I'm back to my self down from the Height,
May It guide, protect, and keep me aright.
Tonight I feel more a sense of my Friend than am I blending into It.
What is to be done in this process of self-observance is to assume a stance of a transcendent (abstract) observer observing objectively the various mental events (thoughts, sensations, impressions, images, etc.) as they occur in one's mind. In so doing, the mental energy applied in assuming this observing stance, dissipates the energy employed in the self-induced mental states.
This is the non-spiritual, physiological way of interpreting this process of self-observance; in which case, no transcendent Self need be postulated. How- ever, one must have a finely tuned transcendent sense for this self-observing process to have a consistent effect upon his life. One must recognize a divine-like transmuting process occurring, and not just a merely physical transformation of chemical -- electrical processes though, to be sure, these are involved in the process. One can hardly, cannot, avoid the consciousness of an infinitely vast power transcendent of all consciousness of time and place that is occurring when one effectively turns himself into an objective observer of his mental states. Everything mental then become abstract; not an abstract vacuum, emptiness, nothingness; but an abstract consciousness of an ineffable sort. Hence there is no breach of scientific or philosophic analysis of this phenomenon to call it a transcendent process or a transcendent consciousness [the transconscious].
Before happening upon self-observance, I had become fairly adept at stop- ping unwanted thoughts; though it was largely a mechanical procedure. It even became pleasant to do so; but it had its limitations; it didn't have a forceful and consistent effect upon my more intense ego and sensual inclinations. But with self-observance, I don't directly stop unwanted thoughts or sensations, but rather indirectly stop them by turning to the vast consciousness of my observing Self; they simply disappear of themselves when I turn to It. This is turning out to be a far more effective, more desirable, more transcendent, divine manner of delimiting my self-thoughts, of subli- ating the thrust of my vital nature. It isn't a mechanical process, but a natural one, so it seems to me now.
Fourth Day / Morning
Today is Saturday; I have the whole day to be in my inner solitude, with, of course, intermittent times spent with Celeste.
This day will be a good test for me, since Saturday is normally a restless day for me having so much time on my hands.
I'm now in my room sitting cross-legged and feeling very peaceful and serene inside. Just the sense alone of my inward Presence, my Observer, being present in the background of my mind is a warm and pleasant security.
This sense of a Presence is a very personal feeling toward this something. This is my personal God. It seems to me now so close, so intimately a part of me. It is my Friend; it is my other Self.
Could it be that this observing force, power, in me is what is normally called conscience?
I just felt a pain in my ankle as a result of sitting cross-legged, and I turned to my Observer on it, and it dispelled.
I notice now that as I turn to my Observer, that Its force has diminished some- what, Its vastness not so real. I have definitely lost its full reality, its full per-vasiveness. Yet, on the other hand, the thought, the sense, of It has still a mildly pervasive effect upon me. I still feel Its presence even though it is not so all engrossing.
This sense of the Divine Presence in me is of Itself quieting and stilling me so that I've been able to sit cross-legged, as still as a rock, for a longer period than ever before with hardly the slightest need to move; and when this sligh- test need and slight discomfort made itself felt, I simply observed it, and it dispersed.
Celeste and I finished lunch; she then went to her own activities, and I was left with myself. I felt a mildly desperate restlessness as to what I was going to do the rest of the afternoon. I felt like doing anything except quietly being with myself and nothing more. However, my determination to prevail in this inner retreat is too strong for me to give in to my natural restlessness. Conse- quently, I then go and seat myself in a living room chair by myself; and as I do, a diffusing, peaceful sensation settles over me, and I am content.
All my unwanted, arousing thoughts and consequent sensations continue to disappear on the instant that I turn my mind to my observing Self.
Our dog just walked into the living room, saw me, and promptly turned and left to go with Celeste. I felt hurt momentarily, but turned away from the hurt, and it left me.
I have to keep ever in mind the purpose of this inner retreat so that I don't leave my post; which purpose is to confront the intense, desperate restless- ness of my nature for sense and mental stimulation; to live and bear with it. But the marvel of this retreat is that this confrontation has transformed into a welcoming meeting of my vital nature with my Observing Self. Now, I'm not so much confronting my naked self, as I am uniting with my eternal Self. Without this union, I don't think I could last against the thrust of my vital nature and its restlessness for sense and mental stimulation. Conflict only breeds conflict.
Were someone were to ask me if I had seen, or experienced, God, I would reply that in a dream state I was propelled into a state of Pure-Bliss-Conscious- ness; and that in a waking state, I have transcended [transformed] my self-consciousness into an abstract (pure) consciousness of vastness of infinite power and timelessness; and that if these pure states are God (as the Ve- dantists, for one, claim), then surely I have seen with my "third" eye, God. No question about it.
Am out walking, and breathing in the beauty of the verdure about me. I see a pregnant woman in shorts speaking to someone, and a sudden wave of love of life suffuses me. No, I am not remote from life; I am closer!
Yes, life for me remains ever drawing, ever kaleidoscopic in meaning and interest and fascination; but so does the eternity of my being just as ever draw me into its infinite possibilities.
I spent the day very easily in my mind continuously conscious of my observ- ing Self in the background. I am now cross-legged on my bed and drinking in the quiet balm of the evening dark.
I can't get to my observing consciousness tonight, though It still has effective control over my thoughts and sensations; a quite marvelous effect, at that; however, I'm not able to blend into It as I could yesterday a little, and the day before yesterday very much. As an analogy, my present relation with my Observer is like my being in a dark room knowing someone else is in the room too, but not being able to see him; all I can do is sense that someone else is there; and this sense of another presence has a profound effect upon me. This is how I feel with this observing Self of mine.
An hour later. A very unproductive evening; nothing much happening in my mind nor in my soul, at all. I feel rather empty, dry, and flat.
Well, just remember that I'm to be relaxed about everything regarding my thoughts, sensations, and moods. As a matter of fact, I should be observing my present mood rather than complaining about it.
I keep tending to think of how I'm hurting in this somewhat oppressive solitude tonight; but I reject such thoughts on the instant.
Sexual arousal is the furthest interest from me now.
I know why I'm so spiritually depleted tonight; it's because my body is exhaus- ted. I did some heavy manual labor today, and my body is using much of its energy to regain its equilibrium; thereby not leaving much for mental activity which, by the discouraging way, indicates how practically everything mental, or spiritual, is deter- minant upon our physical state; and yet, the opposite state of affairs can be just as true. Strange.
I no longer feel that the world is passing me by while I remain home contem- plating my eternal nature; rather, I feel as though I am passing the world by.
To repeat myself, though with a purpose this time, an important purpose of this retreat is to tame my impulses which whirl me from one indulgence to the next. I have to learn to be acutely aware of them, and check them before they get the better of me.
What motivated this thought was that I just succumbed to an impulse to eat some- thing to relieve this ennui; and I wasn't hungry in the least.
Who is doing the observing? I am. Yet it is not my empirical, or ego-I, but an "I" transcendent of my ego-I; what I might call my I-I: the part of me concerned with eternal divine matters. It is this transcendent-I which effects my empirical-I.
Yet it must not be construed that there are two I's present in me: an empirical and transcendent I. No, rather there is only one "I," though manifested differ- ently: finitely and infinitely. This is the way I interpret this phenomenon, anyway.
This transcendent, observing "I" can negate my empirical "I", as well as mental activities and physical sensations. This is what is so miraculous, so divine, so sacred, about It.
I feel my transcendent Self as Friend,
It puts my worldly mind to an end.
Fifth Day / Morning
Am still very much in the center of my inner solitude. This center is intimately with me this morning; though at one point, earlier, a couple of my actions and thoughts indicated to me that I was slipping back to my old ways, or was about to. But I'm back to my depth-self again, quietly, pleasantly, feeling its presence.
I'm sitting cross-legged on a pillow on the floor this morning instead of sitting in bed; and this, for some reason, sitting on the floor is a more appropriate and proper position than sitting in bed. I feel too high in bed. Being on the floor seems more natural somehow; more to the earth, more steady, more secure.
To focus my mind into an expanded, abstract consciousness of an Observer, that is to say, my pure Self, is most difficult for me now. I aspire to this trans- cendent consciousness; yet, on the other hand, I hesitate, demur, because. I'm not accustomed to this objective consciousness; my subjective consciousness is too familiar to me to easily want to lose it in the vast of eternal, infinite consciousness, even though I'm not able to last but a few seconds in it without returning to self-consciousness. I definitely have made a spiritual advancement, though, in that I'm at least attempting more than ever before to blend into this Consciousness. In the meantime, though union with It is still only fragmentary and brief, I nevertheless have a continuous sense of Its presence; and the thought of It brings it very close to me, is very meaningful and effective.
To remain always, or nearly always, calm and composed amidst life's activities realizing within oneself the presence of a deeper, vaster Consciousness is not this the ideal to attain, or at least approximate
The sense of the Other is washing through me right now, filling me with its nectar.
When desiring what I know I should not,
When hurting in a vulnerable spot,
I turn to my Friend who always is there,
To obliterate each disturbing care.
I now have a Friend who is ever near,
Who, when I turn to, gives me good cheer.
Other than these two verses nothing much with my soul has happened; just sitting and lying down, being with my multitudinous thoughts, with the occa- sional attempt to transcend them, but with little success. However, I'm enjoying the quiet of the evening. And the odd time that I observe my thoughts, I feel a pleasant sensation of the presence of my observing Self.
Sixth Day / Morning
I think of my observing Self: my pure Self, and It becomes soothingly mean-ingful for me.
My observing, or Transcendent Self, is that field of consciousness that has always inspired me toward higher, purer, more universal being. This inspiration has led me through the beauteous realms of aesthetics, virtue, philosophy, religion, love, science.
Isn't it ironic! This morning when I could sit here in sweet contemplation for hours, I have only fifteen minutes before I have to get ready for work. And the past two days when I had full days for this contemplation, I hardly had the feel for it. Even so, I spent those two days exactly as I had planned to according to my retreat. I did not deviate. I was consistent in remaining in my inner solitude despite a temptation or two to deviate. In short, I spent more time alone with myself these past two days than I ever have in my life.
There is an important advantage to my potent sense of myself as Transcend- ent Observer, and that is: that I can turn to It in all my activities, and not only in meditative or contemplative sessions. It's always with me, not only when I sit in quiet stillness. However, for me to be able to turn to It at will, I do have to keep inwardly quiet and tranquil; otherwise arousing emotions will distract and keep me from Its efficacy.
I finally have something, my Friend, to offset the force of my carnal, ego, nature.
I come home directly from teaching without the slightest desire to deviate from my retreat. Retiring into my retreat is much easier now.
Again, I ate a little too much for lunch.
Not only am I to observe myself, but also to observe my surroundings: the details of nature, of man-made objects, of people.
Not being innerly pressured, or rushed, or tense, I can take the time to be more observant of the world surrounding me in a more relaxed and fuller dimension.
So far no tension between Celeste and me; this retreat is not affecting her adversely in any way so far as I can tell
In discovering my observing, or transcendent, Consciousness, I have per- sonalized God, or the nature of the world.
It is my transcendent Self which looks in on, or observes, my phenomenal self, and gives chase to it.
I feel strong in this retreat tonight; no temptation to lure me from it, is itching me. Imagine, this is my sixth evening alone with no sense, or intellectual, stimulation from reading or writing. As for recording these notes, this is not writing in the strict sense of the word for me; for it is just jotting down what is going through my mind rather than letting them go their way; and besides, this writing is only periodic; perhaps one note in a half hour, or an hour, or two.
My transcendent Self is my observing Self: that aspect of my consciousness that focuses in on my self-thoughts, which in turn dispels them.
Just the thought of this transcendent Self thrills me, bathes me in a sense of affinity, friendship, with It. It is me, my very self that is performing this wondrous transition in me. Because of It, I'm able to live with myself in internal solitude without much need for external stimulation; because of It, I'm better able to live with others, better able to cope with the pressures and disappointments of everyday life - at least for these six days.
As I've said before, in my observing consciousness, there is no critical analy- sis or attention involved; but rather, just a relaxed, objective, detached, atti- tude toward the various conditions of my mental imagery and physical sensations.
Why do I consider my self-observing potency as my friend? Because in an instant it dissolves my arousing, troubling self. What more could one ask for of a friend? And why do I consider an abstract potency which has no tangible reality as a friend? Because when I turn to It, I joy, I glow, I strengthen, I feel an affection for, and closeness to, It. It is my rock, my salvation, my freedom, my enlightenment. This is why I call it my friend.
This self-observing agency is no illusion, no figment of my imagination, no ideal, airy, something-or-other; nor is it just a mystic or intuitive or psychic presence, and nothing more. No, It works; It dispels my aching, desiring, troubled self; and in so doing, proffers me tranquility, equanimity, serenity,
and more and more and more.
O joy of joys, I have found my Self!
And now I can put my id on the shelf.
So far, three hours of soothing solitude. During such times, it is hard for me to think that I could feel otherwise. But, of course, I know better.
Still no sexual arousals these past number of days. Wonderful release from that almost insatiable drive.
I am now mildly glowing with the sense of my Find; my eyes a bit on the verge of moistening. I'm not blending in with It; I just feel Its presence in the back of my mind, so to speak.
I have had mild, slight, spiritual experiences, intimations, before, mystic glows; but none have lasted as long as this one. I knew from the beginning of this forty-day retreat that I would discover something glorious! I just knew it!
Well, this is all well and good for now; after all, I am flying now in my new venture into transcendence. But how long will it last, how long can it last before I come tumbling back to my old, familiar ego-sensual, insecure, fearing self? After all, I am only human. . .No, I will not fall prey to this cliche; yes, it is true that I am human, and so will carry with me to the grave all its frailties; but I am not only human; I am more than human, at the core, the soul, the rationale, of my being. That which has the force to dissolve the promptings of my willing self is more than my willing self.
That I am more than my willing self-this is my faith, my belief, my credo my life!
Oh, will I again be as close, as fused with, the vast of my transcendent Self as I was the second night of this retreat!
Here is the simple matter of self-observing. You see, I cannot be both enter- aining a train of thought and observing it at the same time; hence the observ- ing consciousness erases the thinking consciousness. There is nothing mys- terious or mystic or spiritual at all about the process. Why then the mysteri- ous, the mystic, the spiritual felicitous glow in the dissolving of the I-process? Why the sense of transcendence, of infinite, eternal, pure consciousness? Is this because of my particular frame of mind was finely spiritually, or transcend- ently, oriented? Perhaps. But I ask, Why should the sense, as well as the actual experience, of a transcendent consciousness which is supposedly merely an observing form of phenomenal consciousness have such joyous transforming effect upon one's vital nature when our vital nature is so ingrained in us with its intense pleasures and pains for which we so keenly desire? Why do I want to live in an abstract consciousness when all I really know is a tang- ible self-consciousness? Why the sense of freedom, of fearlessness, of almost invincible inner strength and power that only this other abstract form of consciousness can give? Why the tranquility, the equanimity, the serenity, the felicity, the sense of unity with all things? Why a glowing love for all living creatures? Why, why, why? All these ineffably mysterious effects of this other consciousness can be no more than divine, because anything that can have such an effect on the all-powerful vital nature of ours, must be of a divine nature if only divine in the phenomenal sense of the word. But then I think that the truth of the matter is that this observing consciousness is somehow related to the pure principle of existence; which, in fact, is the source of our own existence. And that which is more to our true nature would be more salubrious, if not recognizable, to us.
Certainly, more needs to be said on this crucial matter; but another time. My mind has stopped for now. But this I can say in conclusion: it matters not one iota to me whether this observing Self is purely physiological or purely spiri- tual, related to God or not related; all I know is that it transcends my I-con- sciousness; and that the very thought of It transforms me out of my urging self into a sense of glowing, inner strength, freedom, peace, quiet, fearlessness, and more. This I can no more deny that I can my self-consciousness. If it is no more than this, and that the end of my life means the end of everything, self and transcendent consciousness together, well, this is no concern of mine. I am content with its divine effects upon me here and now.
So, I will continue to treat this observing, transcendent Self, or process, as something more, pure, than my gross, willing self; and so, will continue to treat It, speak of It, feel It, speculate about It, as divine; as something quite mirac- ulous, quite supra Something. And if it is in the end an illusion, then certainly it is the grandest of illusions.
Why do I call this observing process my transcendent Self? Because It is the part of my consciousness that makes it possible for me to transcend, or go beyond, my self-consciousness. It is a consciousness rarefied of the dross of self-consciousness. It is the creative, aspiring, loving, unifying consciousness.
Seventh Day Morning
Still to continue with my retreat, and with great gratification.
How comforting to have my soul-Friend with me, to protect me from myself and from others.
I just had a close call! I was out walking in the midst of people and stores, and a habitual association just flamed me into sexual arousal. But with the help of my observing Friend, I was able to put it out.
I must never underestimate this ultimate force of nature for one moment. I must never let my guard down for a moment, else I know it will pounce on me like the savage that it is. I'm reminded of Gandhi's words regarding his lifelong vow of chastity:
"But if it was a matter of ever-increasing joy, let no one believe that
it was an easy thing for me. Even when I am past fifty-six years, I
realize how hard a thing it is. Every day I realize more and more
that it is like walking on the sword's edge, and I see every moment
the necessity for eternal vigilance."
And then there is this that Aurobindo, the great Indian seer, has to say about the almost irresistible force of the sex-impulse:
"The sexual urge is something that rises to take complete hold and leaves no room for inhibition or control. It has a power of temporary possession which no other passion or life impulse has to the same degree, more even than anger which comes second to it. That is why
it is so difficult to get rid of because even when the mind or higher
vital refuses, the vital physical feels this possessive force and has
an ingrained tendency to be passive to its urge."
Relatedly, the phenomenon of temptation, sexual and otherwise, is decidedly settled in The Imitation of Christ, in these words:
"There is no station so holy or any place so secret that it is fully with-
out temptation, and there is no man so fully free from it here in this
life, for in our corruptible body we bear the matter whereby we are tempted, that is, our inordinate concupiscence with which we were
born. As one temptation goes, another comes; and so we shall
always have something to suffer....First an unclean thought comes
to the mind, then follows a strong phantasm [image], then pleasure
in it and various evil motions, and at the end follows a full consent;
so, little by little, the enemy gains full entrance, because he was
not wisely resisted at the beginning. The slower a man is to in
resisting the weaker he is to resist, and the enemy is daily strong-
er against him."
A leaf tossed by the wind is what we helplessly are unless ... unless what? Well, I don't feel like answering that right now, even if I could.
I'd like very much to keep calm, pleasant, relaxed all morning in dealing with my obstreperous students.
I was able to follow through with my intention of equanimity toward my students. Good. Now, the same thing tomorrow, and tomorrow, and ...
I've fasted for twenty-four hours, and with the exception of a couple of tempta- tions to break it, I made it through.
A friend has been somewhat distant with me the past week or two, and when I briefly think of it, it hurts a little. Yet, when I turn to my true, enduring Friend, then it matters not in the least how distant he is.
As soon as I turn my sights on my observing Self, I immediately transcend consciousness of myself.
For me, this inner retreat in particular, and my spiritual quest in general, are the highest of adventures, the most sublime of human activities and feelings.
Before my awesome Find, I would just stop my thoughts, but then would be alone with myself at the mercy of my next flow of thoughts. Now, in turning to my observing Self, I not only have my unwanted thoughts stopped, but I have my dear Presence with me.
For the remainder of my retreat, however long it will extend, I'll eat nothing after dinner.
I am much concerned. Sitting here in the quiet of night, I am not even able to invoke a sense of my observing Self; nothing seems to happen to me, no feeling at all. Am I losing It, my divine Presence!? If I am, then I know I'm lost; that I'll return straightway to my willing, fluctuating, desiring, lusting self. I'll have no anchorage. My own basic nature is not able to support itself on a higher plane of Transcendence.
Well, let me return to the quiet of my mind, and see what happens.
I just thought: What if I don't feel anything of Its presence? I know It is there, that It has uplifted my existence into higher meaning and activity and thought this past week. I can't deny that. So, if I can't feel Its presence, then I'll think Its presence. I'll keep it ever present in my mind even though It is gone for a while and I hope only for a while. Just as a lover keeps ever in his thoughts his beloved in her absence, waiting patiently for her return, so will I do the same with my Beloved: my divine Friend. With me, or away, It is still the Heart of my heart, the Soul of my soul. I'll think and act just as I would were Its presence pervading gloriously my consciousness.
I definitely am in love: in love with the divine in me. I want that I be intoxicated with It.
I just walked downstairs for something, and I felt as though I want to live up to Its high expectations of me as self-refined in matters of self-respect, self-dig- nity, equanimity, inner quiet, affectionate understanding and kindness toward others, strength and decisiveness in trials and adversities, self-restraint, moderation.
In moving about downstairs, these thoughts of my Beloved make me want to walk straighter, act rightly, be at my best. If this is not love, then I know not what is.
Again, then I'm to think of my divine Presence as my Beloved-mostly absent beloved; and so, I need not always be feeling Its presence; all I need is to keep the sense, the thought, of It ever present in my mind. And in so doing, perhaps now and then, It will grace me with Its divine effusive presence.
All this talk about a divine Presence, an observing Self, may seem like a little less than sheer fancy to those who are not receptive to, nor understanding of, such a real phenomenon or I should say, trans-phenomenon. And I have little else to answer such skeptics except that it is the easiest thought in the world to doubt, or to prejudge, or to criticize, that of which one has not ex- perienced himself. Not too long ago, I would have been one of the first to question seriously such a transcendent transphenomenon as I am presently experiencing. But, to repeat myself, now having experienced It, I could no more doubt Its reality than I could my self-consciousness.
One need only feel the slightest sublimity of this Presence to attest to Its re- ality. And no doubt most people have some glimmerings of It in their sense of beauty and wonder through art, nature, science, love, goodness.
After all this declamation of my inner Divinity, I'm now feeling a moderate sensation of Its presence. Just the thought of It quiets and stills me; and so I feel the effect of, or manifestation of, Its presence. If I could only maintain these quite marvelous feelings of quiet and stillness, I could not want much more, believe me.
On looking briefly through my writings of the past two years or more, I see quite evidently my preoccupation with Eternal Reality, and with seeking signs of my own eternal nature, and with the fleeting spiritual sensations, feelings, and thoughts that I recorded at the time they occurred. So this retreat and its marvelous results are not a sudden insight or transition or conversion; it is cumulative; it has continually grown to such a degree that this retreat and my discovery of my observing Self are the natural consequences.
Eighth Day / Morning
My way of life, my art of living: to keep in mind and in effect my transcendent, observing Self as the Eternal Reality of my nature and of nature itself; to keep myself inwardly relaxed, calm and quiet; to act rightly in moral and everyday matters; to foster an affectionate and understanding kindness toward all as far as that is possible; to accept nobly life as it is.
Now, of course, for me to maintain these noble sentiments, I must maintain a moderation in all my thoughts and actions through self-restraint, self-sublimation, and self-control; in short, mind, or thought, control.
All these matters I've enumerated as my way of life must be kept in mind at all possible times much to the exclusion of self-thoughts. My retreat and my consequent discovery of my observing Self are making this possible.
My so-called friend I believe is actually snubbing me. In passing him in the hall at work this morning, I was my natural affable self with him, but he hardly even looked at me. The other day he just barely greeted me; today he seemed to actually ignore me. Again, this hurt; a little more than the other day. Yet, I was able to turn my mind from the hurt to thought of my observing Self - but I have to admit, not with the expected success. Doing so eased the hurt a bit, but it still remains in the background of my consciousness making me think of his negligible behavior. I thought that perhaps something is bothering him exclusive of me, but this doesn't ease the hurt any. The main point is that personal problem or no personal problem, he's not being friendly with me. He has a new friend, I notice, and that may well be his reason for snubbing me; he doesn't need me anymore. I think Celeste is right about him.
In any case, turning from the thought of him by turning to the thought of my observing Self, is helping, if not as effectively as I would like.
It seems as though the sense, the thought, of my observing Self is lessening in effect. Well, be it so; I'm not going to renounce It regardless of whether or not I feel or sense Its presence. Its past transforming power on me these past seven days are too convincing for me to throw It over simply because It is not bathing me in delight or felicity. I go on as I have been, being fully convinced of Its presence whether or not I feel or sense It.
Again today I was relaxed and calm under the pressure of teaching. I made it a point to remind myself to keep relaxed and calm, and I was able to,
In regards to my condition this morning of hardly even sensing my observing Self, one reason might be that being amidst people and concentrated on my work for so many hours, it's rather difficult to transfer my social consciousness to my transcend ent consciousness so readily. I say this because now that I've been home with myself for almost an hour, and am relaxing my mind from external matters, I'm beginning to return to a sense of transcendence, including inner quietness.
Celeste asked me to watch a television show with her earlier this evening, and I didn't want to refuse her. Well, it was a very glittering, glamorous show with many celebrities, and I could feel myself being mildly sucked into the sensuous lure of teeming life and love again; but not so strongly that it has offset my retreat in any way. Yet, the lure is ever there, and is bewitchingly deceptive as it draws our blood into the seductive whirl of erotic love and lust, of ego and power, of sensuousness and sensuality, of pride and prejudice, or rage and anguish.
The only way out of this wheel of samsara is through love of the divinity of the world, both without and within us. And this love is growing more and more intense, fuller, more meaningful for me now that I've found the soul of my being, the soul of my mind.
Where will I be in this love a month from now? six months from now? a year, two years...?
I just came upon an interesting idea for one of my courses, and I become excited about it. My first impulse was to celebrate and indulge this excitement by getting something delicious to eat. But, of course, I stop myself, since I've resolved not to eat anything after dinner while on this retreat. How vigilantly careful I have to be of my impulsive nature that craves mental and physical stimulation.
Ah, when faced with the fearsome alarms of life: death, sickness, aging, di- sease, terror, violence, rejection, failure all these, happening to oneself or to one's loved ones how could my peace-abiding love for my eternal nature protect me from such mind-searing, soul-troubling agitations?
I had to do some preparation for my logic class, and observed of myself my impatience to return to my inner solitude.
Am thinking of this observing Self as my soul: the soul of my willing-self. My vital-psychological nature wants its gratifications, and so, my willing-self is naturally drawn to its service. This is my phenomenal nature being gratified. However, as I think it, the soul (or essence) of my willing-self is transphenom- enal, and is the foundation of my physical and psychological nature; it is my true Self, my eternal nature, my Soul. To be sure, it is the life-principle of my being; but as the principle of my phenomenal life (or being or existence), It itself is not phenomenal life, being, or existence. It is the power of my human nature; but not the phenomenal power, but a virtual (transphenomenal) power.
My Soul then is the life principle determining my general nature (or form or essence) as this particular human being.
My Soul manifests itself in my willing-self in all its human and transcendent willing patterns. But that I will, is my Soul. And I capitalize the word in my usage in order to contrast from its many phenomenal connotations.
This conception of my Soul, then, is my particular vision, or understanding, or possible illusion, of It.
In reviewing my morning, I find that I was again able to keep calm, relaxed with, and considerate of, my students. Also, this friend that I spoke of yes- terday, made a special effort to be friendly with me today as though he were apologizing for his shabby behavior toward me.
Had to go to a bookstore today to inquire about a new textbook for my logic class. In being out in the enticing whirl of people and stores and women and music and appetizing flavors of various foods, I felt my old familiar arousals stirring me again. But because of the profound meaning of my retreat, I was able to pass them all by without indulging myself. In doing so, I felt very inwardly strong and in control.
Here is the way I feel about meals in general, and the meals Celeste feeds me in particular: if they are delicious then I enjoy them as such; if they're mediocre, then I eat them as such without a hint of disgruntlement. A well-balanced attitude, I think.
One might ask me, that if I gained such a profound enlightenment of my per- sonal Soul the second evening of my retreat, why then am I continuing in it? To which I can reply, that an enlightenment is one thing and surely a tremendous thing at that but that alone is not enough to alter, or transform, my lower nature that for so many years has been accustomed to being sensually and sensuously satisfied at its every whim. It will take not only the tremendous force of my Soul to transform this wayward nature of mine, but the tremendous effort of habituation to living in and for this force of Soul. I am to keep myself receptive, open, to the higher consciousness of my Soul so that I become a vehicle of and for It. To be alone in the calm and strength of my Soul is right now of much greater importance than sense diversion.
Keep relaxed, keep relaxed. That is all for now.
So far this evening, I can think of nothing except self-involved thoughts. I seem to have lost touch with my sweet, wonderful Soul. I attempt to think of It, and my mind feebly returns to my dear self.
Tenth Day / Morning
For the first time on this retreat I fell asleep last night during early evening. This evening I'll sit in the living room to offset the same thing happening. Falling asleep during early evening is an easy way out of this inner solitude, and I won't have it.
I'm reminded now that years ago, I attempted to spend a whole day by myself doing nothing for whatever reason, and I slept the whole day. It was a decided fiasco.
There's a thought that keeps recurringly saying to me: If you can't think of the Presence, of your Soul, then don't think at all; suspend your thoughts, and be this Presence instead of thinking or sensing or feeling It. I know that this the ultimate step, the ultimate truth; yet, I also know that I still want to feel some- thing of this divine element in me than just be, without the feeling of, It.
The truth, or psychology, of the matter is, that so long as I am seeking a thought, a feeling, an experience, of this Eternal element in me, I'm still in the realm of the I-process; I'm still retaining my self-consciousness even though it is not egotistically oriented. I'm attempting to transcend myself through myself, which, of course, is like trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. The true way is to empty my mind of all thought, not only of myself, but even of the thought of my Soul, or of any other transcendent thoughts.
I am to become my Soul, not contemplate it. This is a hard way, a hard truth, and I'm not sure I'm up to it. Actually, as I think of it, I had been attempting this procedure of no-thought just prior to my retreat with some success in curbing the thrust of my self-thoughts; but I was not able to maintain my mind in a state of transcendence longer than a second or two before returning to my self-consciousness again.
So, mostly the process of no-thought for me at the time was just a matter of stopping one self-thought to make room for another to enter my mind. and on and on it went ceaselessly. Mind you, this process was helping quiet my un- ruly nature considerably more than any other method I had tried; but it never really got me in touch with the eternality of my being of which I was so inspiring.
Actually, I'm torn between two apparently opposing ways: the way of Zen, which is no-thought; and the way of Vedanta which urges that you think of God at all times; or in my case, of my Soul (or God) at all times. Perhaps both ways really amount to the same reality in that by thinking of God, in the fullest sense of the word, one does not think of anything.
With all this above analysis, it seems to me that I'm no closer to my transcendent Self than I was before my retreat ... As I just wrote this, I felt a darting thought say: "Release yourself from this futile endeavor then." A mild, sinking sensation of defeat just spread through me with the accompanying impulse to dissipate myself in sensual pleasure. But, it's gone now.
I'd better hold on to myself!
This is certainly going to be an interesting day as to how it's going to turn out for me. Will I, or will I not, be able to maintain this inner retreat, that is the ques- tion.
At this moment I am confused, confused, confused! and I hope this does not undermine my whole endeavor. What a waste if it does. ... No, it will not be a waste. Even if I do fail, I've made considerable spiritual advancement these past nine days. After all, I did that enlightenment my second day of the retreat; I must not forget that. Also, I've been able to last these nine days quite comfortably and pleasantly. So, don't think such nonsense that this retreat has been a waste if I'm not able to go through with it all the way.
But don't give up yet, Joseph; don't make it easy for yourself by adopting this defeatist attitude. Keep going on with it; you can do it. Don't stop now at the slightest temptation. Be manly; win the race; defeat the foe.
Safe at home! I surely almost chucked my retreat this early afternoon while out in the rush of social activities. I was sexually aroused and impulsive, almost given to break my comparatively sparse diet. Believe me, I was one second away from indulging myself with the seductive rationalization that it wouldn't make much difference to my retreat, that I could easily pick myself up and resume the retreat this evening after my indulgences. What delusion this is, and I knew it; and it is this knowledge that probably saved me from giving in.
And so, here I am home safe for now.
Not only has my observing Self seemed to have lost its savor and meaning, but my retreat seems to, as well. Matters do not look too bright for me. Per- haps the one thing that can save me is a strong dose of the sense of my Pre- sence.
Another small impulse to throw over this retreat accompanied by the thought
of what is the sense of it; I'm certainly not accomplishing anything just think-
ing my natural flow of self-thoughts with the occasional attempt to project my consciousness beyond my self, which, in fact, lasts no longer that a few sec- onds at a time. I seem to be no more advanced in my mental state than I was before the retreat.
This retreat certainly is spending my time in a desert: the desert of my soul; and it is barren and dry and alone devoid of natural comforts. I really am bored with the flow of my ordinary thoughts; and when I try to transcend them, nothing much happens ... But, strange to say, I almost welcome this barren wasteland I'm undergoing. I welcome the challenge, the trials, the effort, the boredom, and so forth. As a matter of fact, I'm going to make a resolve to continue in this retreat a full forty days. This seems to be the historical time spent in the "desert" in my case, the desert of my soul.
However pessimistic I may feel now as to the minimal effects of this retreat, it does seem quite likely that I'll surely find my way after these forty days. Even though I might get stricter with myself, by myself, in this retreat, I still intend to keep it relatively moderate; in which case, I'll continue to work my few hours a day, not be socially offensive to others, nor cause Celeste any inconvenience. I'm to spend at least four hours a day with myself, confronting my existence; and whatever time is left over, I'll fulfill my social obligations, which fortunately, are few in number. The average time I've been spending so far with myself each day, doing nothing but being, are six hours, which is a long time to confront one's existence. But this is as it must be for now. After my retreat is finished, I'll lessen the number of hours so spent, because then I will have to return to my "works" good works, I can say. I expect that when I do return to my works, so to speak, that I'll have the proper perspective of them as well as of my life which is to seek a balance between my spiritual and human sides; to somehow assimilate my mystic Experience into my daily life.
The idea is to become so bored with myself, that my mind will want, need, nothing more than to transcend itself into a broader consciousness: a con= sciousness that it now knows from its own experience (and not only from hearsay and from books) is an indescribably wondrous state.
Earlier this evening, when saying good night to Celeste, she said good-humoringly "Go be with your Companion," and I replied: "What Companion? It's left me." And sure enough It has left me; but not for good; It is still there somewhere in the vast of my mind.
In my present condition of life, were I to have a manuscript of mine published, and it met success, I'm not sure I'd be able to resist the lure of recognition and all its entangle ments, whether I wanted them or not. I say that I could resist them, but whether in fact I could, I'm not entirely sure. And this is the main reason why I haven't attempted to publish for the past year. I don't want to get sucked under the current of social success; and I know I'm still somewhat vulnerable in this regard. This retreat, I hope, I expect, if it is successful, will proffer me the necessary inner strength and resources to "work without thought of reward." (The Gita)
I know that I'm expecting much from this retreat perhaps too much; but at the same time, I'm giving much of myself to it.
To determine which is the best way for me, either to keep my mind from think- ing at all of Transcendence or anything at all; in which case, I'm to simply be that Transcendence; or to keep my mind concentrated on the thought of the word Transcendence and in this way be that Transcendence. I think I'll have to try each way until I find the way for me.
In deciding which procedure to attempt first, my mind naturally bends toward the thought of Transcendence rather than no-thought of It which is a matter of suspending all thought. Does this mean that this is naturally the mode I'm fitted for; or does it mean that it is the easiest way, but not necessarily the best or true way? I think this latter is the case, because my mind is not strong enough to transcend self-consciousness for more than a few seconds; and so it has to think in terms of the I-process; and in this case, of thinking-of-Transcendence, it is, after all, "I" that am thinking of It; which is in the final analysis, simply another of my myriad concepts, though a much more important, essential concept; in which case, I continue to retain my self-identity even though I'm thinking beyond the I; that is, not thinking of myself in particular. In which case, instead of thinking of the concept, 1 + 1 = 2, I'm thinking of the concept "Transcendence".
In consequence, then, it is easier for me to think of the concept of Transcend- ence at this present stage of my spiritual development than it is to just cease all concepts and be that Transcendence-nothingness, a mental blank.
Are these two the same "nothingness" and a "mental blank"? No. A mental blank is what occurs when I cease all thoughts; but that is not what occurred in my bliss Experience; It was devoid of everything phenomenal: time, space, objects, forms, images, concepts. All that "was," so to speak, was nothing; yet that nothing was "everything" as pure-power-bliss. In this sense, this nothing was what I would term as nothingness.
Could it be, then, that by eliminating all thought, which results in a mental blank-meaning no thoughts, no images, no sense of "I". that this "nothing" in the mind, is related somehow to the nothingness beyond the conscious mind-that divinity? The thought is intriguing. I'll have to try it.
Yet there is also this to consider: I can either stop my thoughts directly, or I can turn my mind to that which does the stopping: my observing Self; and thereby stopping the thoughts indirectly. I much prefer the latter because of its divine efficacy over me. The former course is rather a dry, perfunctory, though satisfactory, process. The problem is, as I've come learn these past days, is that I can't always feel or invoke the presence of this observing Self. It loses its meaning and significance for me.
So there are three ways, from which I have to determine which is proper for my frame of mind, or soul: no-thought, Transcendence-thought; or self-observing thought.
No wonder I'm so confused!
My mind is teeming with sexual imagery, and I'm appropriately aroused. I had better put an end to them, and now or else!
This little recorded conversation between Celeste and me this afternoon.
Celeste. If you do find It (my Soul), and become detached from the world, that would affect me too, but it wouldn't alter my love for you; I
still would love you.
Joseph. Do you think I'd become remote from you?
C. Oh, Yes; but you would keep up an appearance of courtesy and concern. I know I would become less important to you/
J. Would that hurt you?
C. Yes. But it's not what I like; but what you must do. After all, it is
your life, your soul.
J. I wonder if I would become remote?
C. I don't see how it would be possible that you wouldn't. You're
striving to be more universal, more universally kind and consider-
ate, more detached from disturbances.
J. But isn't it possible that in coming to universalize myself more,
you would become even more a part of me?
C. Well, I don't see it that way; but we aren't there yet, so we don't
really know. But even if it does evolve that you do become more detached from the world and me, as I think it will, as I said, I love
J. I think I can only come to love you more, since in becoming more universal, more transcendently conscious, I have a growing sense of oneness with you; I see things in you that I love that I never noticed before, being less bound to my own self-image and importance. I am
no longer competing with you: my ego against yours. My self-refining process has made me more sensitive and aware and understanding
of you as a person, and I feel my affection growing and deepening
for you. Don't you think, then, that as I grow transcendently if I do,
that is my love for you will grow as well; though I admit not so
much for you as your ego-personality, but for you humanness, your womanhood?
If only I could evoke the feeling again of my observing Self as dear Friend, close to me!
Contrary to popular belief, as I'm growing in my sense of Transcendence, I'm coming to love life even more than I ever had when totally engrossed in my ego-self. This growing sense of Transcendence has made me more sensi- tively aware of the myriad details of life: nature, animal, human, than ever I was before. After a session of intensive Transcendence, I'm eager to get out into the stream and rapids of life once again, to taste its bitter-sweet flavors, to pit my expanding inner strengths against the "slings and arrows," to feel myself becoming more and more understanding of people, and so feeling affectionate toward them, more at one with them.
No, this inner Transcendence is not a lessening of life, a departure of life, but an increasing of life, a drawing nearer to it but with this one exception: that I'm not as ego-bound and dependent upon its vagaries anymore. My first priority is my transcendent life; for it is this life which gives me life in the fullest sense, which is turning me into the man I have always aspired to; without It, I am noth- ing but common humanity shot through with ego-strivings and failings and pet-
tiness. It inspires me to live rightly, more nobly, more lovingly, more fearles- sly; It gives me strength, equanimity, freedom, serenity, courage, under- standing, wisdom. What more could any man want of the meaning and pur-pose of his life? So, hail to Transcendence! Hail to the spirit and giver of life!
One most important gain, in particular, I've come to in the past year of my growing sense of Transcendence is that I hardly any longer have to be right all the time with others. It no longer hurts my pride to be wrong. Nor does it hurt my pride to be ignored, passed over, even insulted. I'm mostly free from such hurt; but only due to my inner resources of transcendent consciousness. Because of this Transcend -ence, my pride is not so much a stabbing pain, nor a tickling pleasure.
Twelfth day / Morning
I was just thinking of what I would do the day I go off my retreat, and a sen- sation of sensual dissipation courses through me as I thought that I would be prey to indulge myself appetitively and sexually, again. I quickly turned my mind from such thoughts remembering that I determined not to think such thoughts, or any thoughts regarding my sensual nature.
I like the idea of having to turn off my thoughts as they arise; the anticipation is pleasant to think of.
A slight wave of futility just coursed through me. I immediately put a stop to all thoughts related to it, and the sensation disappeared.
Another essential purpose of this retreat is to gain a control over my sexual nature, against sexual arousal. In my case, it is complete continence I must attain; in another person's case, perhaps only partial, or moderate, continence is necessary.
Yes, if we let ourselves think of it, sexual attraction between the sexes takes on the role of the most serious and pleasurable and vital business of life. Accepting this as the inevitable way of life cannot but suck one under its be-witching though deceptive current. With such an attitude, there is no way out
of its swirl except through dissipation of one's sexual energies, and so of one's life energies. Sexual release is its only, but temporary, way out unless one has sublimated or redirected most of life's energies into other channels: intellectual, physical, altruistic, spiritual, and so forth. But even these are mostly only a temporary stopgap against the onrush of sexual impetuosity in all its sensual and sensuous modes. I remember something Leonardo Da Vinci wrote "Intellectual passion drives out sensual passion"; and I remember also my response to this: "Yes, temporarily."
What is most needed in my case is the way of life of not-thinking-of-it; and this is the way I must go; otherwise, the erotic phenomenon is too much for me, as it has always been except for days, sometimes weeks, even months, of respite from its thrust.
Don't think of it! My only salvation; my only freedom; my only strength.
I want God more than woman! But, oh, the price that has to be paid!
As soon as I settle down on the floor, cross-legged with mask over my eyes, a quiet stillness settles over me, and now at this moment is a divine sensa- tion.
I can understand now why I haven't been able to be consistent in this position, in this stance; because I have not always wanted to feel such inner silence; it's been difficult to settle myself down to such torpid serenity.
Twenty-five minutes later, and I've come out of my quiet-stillness feeling refreshed and tranquil a very pleasant respite from the wasteland of feeling I've been experiencing the past few days.
Remember that one purpose of this retreat is to confront my naked existence with the barest of sense stimulation and diversion. So, don't complain if I'm bored, if I feel out of the stream of the pulse of life. This is what I took upon myself, so I should expect to live with it. I have to learn to live with myself in all the starkness of my life.
Eternity is in my mind. I am of Eternity. Even the Bible says as much: "God has put eternity into the mind of man."
Thirteenth Day /Morning
Thought of my observing Self is beginning to take on meaning again after nine days of practically nothing. Again, I'm beginning to feel It a little as a definite factor of my consciousness, as something essentially me.
I was about to get up from my cross-legged position because my legs hurt a little, and the inward excitement of finding again my Friend is making me a little too restless to sit quietly; but I stopped myself and remained in position. I wanted to stay and feel this mysterious Presence a little longer before I have to get ready for work.
Its reality is beginning to take shape again; just a little though.
Dear Friend, You are my mysterious one,
You touch me with your Wand, and then are gone.
When I begin writing verse again, then be sure I'm in my proper element.
With the coming of my Friend again, I feel my true identity, who and what I really am.
I begrudge a little that I can't stay in contemplation of this Presence, having to go to work; but I'm grateful to even have had this small intimation of my Friend, because my faith and belief are renewed. So, if It goes, I know It will return; when, I don't or can't know.
In class now. My students are writing, and I'm at my desk mildly basking in the presence of my dearly found Friend. Am mildly glowing at the anticipation of being with It at home.
When this glow is on me, however slight, there is no other feeling quite like it except perhaps that of being in love; which, in fact, is what I feel toward It.
At home now in bed for an hour or so in the lap of my divine company.
No temptations to swerve me from my retreat.
There are four distinctions to be made regarding my relation to this divine element in me: there is the thought of It with no accompanying feeling; there is the sense of It with a mild accompanying feeling; there is next a definite feeling of It that beams in me; and finally, there is the ultimate being It with an accompanying sense of infinite vastness beyond time and place.
At this moment I have a sense of Its presence.
These sudden little urges of anticipated enjoyments: to eat something sweet, to watch television, to go to a movie, to go out among people, to read a magazine or book, to write-all these periodically smart me like Lilliputian pinpricks; but today they leave me as quickly as they arrive.
Well my Friend is gone. It came in a whisper this morning and left in silence this evening. I simply can't evoke or invoke It. As a matter of fact, It comes of Its own accord, not through any invoking or evoking on my part.
That It came to me this morning reassures me that It is there and will return if only I'll be patient and receptive.
In looking over my notes these past thirteen days, I didn't realize that the sense, if not the feeling, of my Presence lasted seven days. It was on the eighth day that it really began slipping away from me. How easily we lose the proper perspective of things. I was under the impression that I had been undergoing a barren wasteland for about eight days, when in fact it has been only five days. This is the inestimable values of writing down these notes so I don't lose the truth and proper perspective of this wonder-full (full of wonder) retreat.
When I stop to think of it now, it is a tremendous feat on my part to have put aside my writing for the duration of this retreat, since it's been so much a part of my daily life for so many years; not to mention my reading which I miss as well, though I haven't been reading much these past few months. I do, how- ever, have this consolation as regards my writing that I am recording these thoughts; this gives me some semblance of writing.
It's hard to drag my mind from my ordinary consciousness to thought of the ultimate determinate of this ordinary consciousness.
I try and try again to reach my observing Self, but with no success. All I get is the faintest idea of It of no effect whatsoever; and so I return to my ordinary thoughts.
I'd say that I'm remaining about 85% faithful to my retreat. Am not as strict as I know I should be.
Sixteenth Day /Afternoon
I Have to keep my mind free from judging the failings and shortcomings of others as I listen to or observe them. I still haven't gotten on top of this shortcoming in myself.
I'm feeling blank this evening, and I now know the reason. Yesterday I recon- ciled a breach between my employer and an employee; and my sense of gratification is still lingering on. And so as much as I prefer to turn to and stay in Transcendence, I keep returning to this incident, and other related matters. This is a key point of spiritual progress for me that I hadn't realized until now: that I do prefer to remain in my sense of Transcendence, even though old mental habits keep me grounded to my ordinary consciousness. This is a major step forward. So, what I am to do is to continue ceaselessly bringing my mind back to Transcendence however much it strays....Or should I relax and let whatever thoughts come to mind come, and simply observe them objectively without thinking what it is that does the observing?
Could it be that by seeking It, thinking of It, I actually dispel It?!
Let me return to my relaxed, observing attitude of the first two nights of this retreat when I found my Soul. As long as I'm trying to for something, there is a tension, however slight, or unconscious of it I may be. Let me simply relax and observe without categorizing, without cataloging, without naming. In short, let me be this transcendent Observer instead of thinking or sensing It.
Am I back to the Zen way of no-thought again?
Don't try for anything; just be.
But I must be careful that this relaxed attitude does not lead me into laxity or idleness.
One thing at least: I'm now able to be with myself regardless of the barrenness or tedium of my mood.
Even though I intend to keep myself in a relaxed, observing attitude instead of seeking or thinking of Transcendence, I nonetheless know that I hope by this attitude I'll revive the feeling of Transcendence again. So, really, I'm still seeking sensation, however transcendent it may be. I'm still seeking even though I intend to be relaxed about it. I believe I'm deceiving myself very subtly.
Why do I have to experience transcendent feelings all the time. Why don't I just live with the present feeling or mood that I happen to be in at the time, however painful or sorrowing or boring or hurting. Why must I always feel good? Let me live and bear with even the most unpleasant of feelings. Be the mood or feeling or sensation that I'm in instead of hoping, expecting, yearn- ing, striving, for felicitous sensations. If they come, fine; don't seek them.
Is this the true way? Or am I not justified in believing that I should strive to be the very Transcendence that I've felt as so beauteous, so caressing, so warm, so close, so loving. Should I not keep in mind as best as possible this sense, thought, of Transcendence? ... Here again situates my present diffi- culty as to which is the best, truest way. I'm very confused about this matter. No-thought, or observing-thought, or transcendent-thought, that is the ques- tion. But is no-thought and observing-thought not actually Transcendence itself?
The main question is: Why do I strive to live on such a highly sensitive state of consciousness and conduct, as I've been recording? Why? Because for some unknown reason I recognize such a life as the most suited for my temperament, for my needs, for my meaning. Living rightly, and in goodness, and in self-control, and in inner strength and fearlessness, and in nobleness-all these seem to be the completeness, the fulfillment of my particular nature. Why, I don't know. No rewarding and punishing God enters the picture at all; neither does heaven nor hell; nor does immortality or mortality. These are all immaterial to me; they do not concern me. But that I mature into the man I aspire to, that I acquire the wisdom of life and of true Reality, whatever it may be, these are what concern me. That there is a consciousness transcendent of my little, fragmented self-consciousness, I could no more doubt than my own existence. This transcendent consciousness is what concerns me, and deeply; because whatever intuitive understanding I have of It, whatever personal experiences and glimpses of It, is too meaningful to my life for me ever to be capable of denying It. And perhaps because of this faith and belief in It, is why I'm so concerned with self-refinement. I feel this self-refinement is necessary for me so that I transcend my self-consciousness as a way of life rather than just periodically experiencing It without a dramatic inner change of my ego-sensual nature.
This, then, is my story, my life, in a nutshell.
To show that I'm not off the mark in this attitude, I quote the following excerpt from a letter of Aldous Huxley, a spiritual aspirant himself:
In Hindu phrase, they [those who attain bliss-consciousness] reach
a point where thinker, thinking, and thought are one, where samsara
and nirvana are perceived to be one and the same. And that, as Bu-
dha says, is the ending of sorrow and for anybody who remains
short of that consummation there can, in the nature of things, be only sorrow, mixed of course with pleasures and distractions, which them selves are the cause of more sorrow. And the more one sees of the world, the more certain does it seem that this diagnosis of all the mas-
ters of the spiritual life is substantially correct. And the only sensi-
ble thing to do seems to try, however feebly and with however many
failures and backslidings, to regulate one's life in conformity with the diagnosis and the empirical findings associated with it [my italics].
Juian Huxley, May 27, 1945
I'm beginning to be convinced that all ideas and methods to refine or trans- cend oneself, such as my idea yesterday of presence of mind and no-thought, and self-observing, and on and on, are superficial and defeating, flat, uninspiring, and meaningless in the long run without a definite sense of Trans- cendence being the foremost importance in my mind. And I simply do not have this "definite sense" consistently enough for it to have an ongoing effect on my life at this stage of my development and understanding.
This said to me today: "Without my inner life, everything else seems so futile." And so it is for all spiritually sensitive people.
Eighteenth Day / Morning
Today begins the Memorial three-day weekend, and so I will have these full days to be alone in my solitude excepting short intervals spent with Celeste. I'm a little apprehensive about all this time in solitude, but not unpleasantly so, because I have fairly much accustomed myself to this retreat; and I believe I'll get through these three days relatively well.
The wonderful thing about this sense of Transcendence is that It inspires me to live in the world and not out of it floating in an airy atmosphere-this latter I need, yes; but spending some time in It each day inspires me-induces me, I would almost say-to go out into the stream of activities and of people, and deal with them effectively, rightly, affectionately, strongly, fearlessly, equani -mously - though always with this sense of Transcendence guiding and sup- porting me. Without Its presence, I return straightway to my basic humanity, my ordinary consciousness.
Ate too much breakfast, and I notice, as I have always noticed, that on a full stom -ach, I cannot get to a sense or feel of my Transcendent Self. This also applies to sexual arousal. These are much too distracting, too animal, for the sensitivity required for this Transcendence.
I said this morning that I was slightly apprehensive of having to spend three full days almost completely alone with myself, with no mental or physical stimulation. ...But wait a minute! I'm not alone; I have my transcendent Friend with me. I admit that It is not the liveliest company, but It certainly is the deep- est, the most significant, the most supreme, the most comforting, the most endearing. If It were only not so re- mote most of the time. But It is remote because I keep It remote by ever returning to my ordinary consciousness
with all its venality.
My day turned out badly; quite a setback on this retreat, and I really don't feel like writing about it. I'll just pick myself up tomorrow and go on with my retreat if I can.
Nineteenth Day / Morning
After yesterday's "fall from grace," or more specifically, my fall into sex; and even more specifically, my fall into self-sex, I could easily drop this retreat, or reduce its intensity and number of hours considerably. By this I mean that I could return to my writing and reading, and other ways, on a moderate vein while still going in retreat perhaps one or two hours a day instead of four or five.
Well, why don't I? Because I know that I'm first and foremost spiritual-minded; it is the completeness of my life, the natural inclination of my nature that is, and always has been without my knowing it until fairly recently, the main thrust of all my worldly en- deavors. Literature, philosophy, psychology, music and poe- try, all are, and were, only steps to the raising of my spiritual consciousness. As much as I love these subjects, they are not my prime concern and inter- est; rather, they are the instru- ments, the channels, of my spiritual maturing, as well as of my writings. Now that my spiritual consciousness has been of late more and more sensitive, reading has mostly lost its attraction for me other than as instrumental to my writings. So, I'm not primarily literary, nor scholarly; nor am I primarily a writer. I write because the cosmic purpose for the spiritual enlightenment of mankind inwardly impels me to write of my spiri- tual advances. This is all I know, and all I want. This is my purpose, and a mighty one it is, for my earthly existence. I have always felt an intimation of this purpose, even when it was furthest from my awareness; and now I know it. And yet I know that even the deepest conviction of this mighty purpose will not transform me spiritually until love of my Transcendence overtakes me.
With this understanding, then, it is beholden upon me to develop my own spiritual way as far as that is possible in my "mortal coil." Thus, the import of my spiritual retreat. It is a stupendous responsibility, one that I am unable to shirk.
It would also follow, too, that I could not rightly resume my writing without the proper spiritual perspective that I believe fully this retreat will give me.
Thus I have no other alternative but to continue this retreat; and so, let me speak no more about this matter of dropping my retreat. It is settled once and for all, just as is the final pronouncement on my life is that it is first and fore- most spiritual.
Twentieth Day / Morning
I'm back to myself in transcendence after two days given to my sensual / sexual / frivolous side.
When I use the word "transcendence" with a lower case 't', I mean it in the sense of consciousness beyond self-consciousness, as experienced in the contemplation of works of art, of metaphysical formulations, of nature, of creative imaginings, and of thoughts and actions toward oneself and others that go beyond the ego.
When I use the word "Transcendence" with an upper case "T" then I use it in the sense of a consciousness beyond all forms of perceptive consciousness, beyond all categories of reason: time, space, cause and effect, etc. In this transcendent Consciousness, all that obtains, exists, is consciousness itself, pure and simple: consciousness with no content except itself ? the Conscious- ness of the world.
Consciousness is the miracle of the world!
Twenty-first Day / Morning
I feel so forlorn without the intimacy of my divine Presence pervading my being.
Oh, my divine One, I do so regret
Having turned from You in sensual neglect;
It tells on me in disquiet of mind
When I lose your Presence by turning blind.
It should be obvious to the reader, as it indubitably is to me, that there is a further dimension of consciousness that first is pure of all perception and self, and is a state of radiant bliss. It is not a state, obviously, that one can volun- tarily or willfully project himself into unless somehow it "descends" upon one, or as the mystics would say, it bestows its grace upon one. If anything it is spiritual in life, at least this is it as far as I'm concerned. Of course, the brain had something to do with it, which materializes the whole process; but we are coming to understand more and more that the material is not that of a different kind than the spiritual (or non-material); it is a matter of degree-matter transforms into energy, and vice versa, as we all know now, thanks to Ein- stein. Is that the end of the process? In any case, this transformation is miracu- lous in itself, divine in itself, ineffable in itself.
That sacred experience seems so far away now. Even so, it still has a power- ful meaning to my life, though I may not be able to apply this meaning to my everyday life as far as I would like to. Its meaning is always there in the back- ground of my mind; and it is what keeps me transcendently-minded most of the time. It's just that I can't get the feeling, the sense, of it in my life, so that I can love it and live in and for it. That I have not been able to do, and earmarks the basic frustration I've been undergoing since that Experience, including my dream vision. Oh well.
So that the reader, who is unfamiliar with this transconscious phenomenon, might not think I'm exaggerating or hallucinating, I'd like to quote some pas- sage from Krishnamurti, the great modern spiritual teacher, which delineate the same experience that I underwent, though his lasted on and off for a number of months. His states of consciousness had not been induced by drugs nor fasting, as mine had not.
June 18th / 1961, New York
In the evening it was there: suddenly it was there, filling the room,
a great sense of beauty, power and gentleness.
In the car on the way to Ojai (California) again it began, the pressure
and the feeling of immense vastness. One [Krishnamurti] was not experiencing this vastness; it was simply there; there was no centre
from which or in which the experience was taking place.
It's as though everything stood still. There's no movement, no stirring, complete emptiness of all thought, of all seeing. There's no interpreter to translate, to ob- serve, to censor. An immeasurable vastness that is utterly still and silent. There is no space, nor time to cover that space. The beginning and the ending are here, of all things. There is really nothing that can be said about it.
Woke up in the middle of the night, with a sense of immense and measureless strength. It was not the strength that will or desire has put together but the strength that is there in a river, in a mountain, in a tree.
It is in man when every form of desire and will have completely ceased.
Woke up early with that strong feeling of otherness, of another world that is beyond all thought.
The following personal accounts of the mystic experience similar to the one I experienced give a further demonstration of its divine visitation.
Ancila, the pseudonym of an American writer (1957)
"Then, precisely as if that moving off the centre of my own consciousness had set some machinery going, it happened. How can I explain! I can only use negatives,
I saw nothing, not even a light.
I heard nothing, no voice, no music, nothing.
Nothing touched me. Now was I conscious of any Being, visible or invisible.
But suddenly, simply, silently, I was not there. And I was there. It lasted for a moment, yet it was eternal, since there was no time.
And I knew, as certainly as I know I am trying to write it down, as certainly as I know that I live and eat and walk and sleep, that this world, this universe, is pre- cisely as we see it, hear it, know it, and is at the same time completely different. It is as we see it because we are of it; it is also and at the same time wholly other.
A completely colour-blind person suddenly aware of colour? More fundamental than this.
A dog in a library sniffing his master's familiar book suddenly enabled to read it?
Robert Bridges's wolf and the first inklings of thought? But it was not an inkling, it was complete. Yet I do not know in what ways the earth appear- ed different. It was not different materially. It still had form, and colour, even good and evil, and animals and people, but it was conceived dif- ferently, as a whole, perhaps, as a spiritual entity. And it filled me with
awe and grave joy and certainty, since I knew for always that so it was
and no other, and that all was well; that it was the answer to all questions.
I had no vision of God, or of any person, no vision of Christ, or of any spiritual being. Yet it was all that is, and there was no God, and equally no Not-God. It was whole and of the spirit. No words can make it clear.
All I can say is that the wholeness seemed akin to that part of me that I could call spirit, as if my spirit were part of it and could not be separa-
ted from it.
How long the experience lasted I have no idea, but I think it was mo- mentary. When it ceased I felt as though I had expanded a great deal of time, and that, equally, there was no time in that moment. That timeless- ness was the clearest impression.
I came to, as after an anesthetic, rather slowly. I recollect three clear and definite stages. First, the timeless moment distinctly ended, as if a curtain fell, and I returned to my bodily senses, proclaiming in a kind of fierce silence: 'So now I know, and it is all true, and I have always known it.' That phase was happy, wondering, elated. It settled later into an asser- tion in my mind that the world is spiritual; but the words did not mean what they would have meant the day before. To me their content was fuller, and deeper, and contained the notion that I b-e longed to that world in my essence, being fashioned for it and newly born into it.
The second stage I disliked intensely, feeling it to be humiliating and gross. I still dislike the idea, since it seems ribald. Yet it happened, and I think that it anything else had happened I might ultimately have persuaded myself that I had imagined the first part, but I should never have imagined this. I think now that my senses had been out of action and were returning, the oldest and most stable perchance, first. I know that I gradually saw the shrine again, that I looked round hastily to see if anyone was there who might have noticed anything strange about me. I think a bell rang, or a clock chimed. But, before any of these things happened I tasted food, yet it was not food in my mouth with bulk that can be felt, rather was it the idea of food, a taste-image only. And how it enraged me! So sordid, such a bump to the earth!
During the third stage of my coming-to I experienced a definite prohibi- tion, not in words yet clear and precise, that I must tell no one at all, nor write it down (hence the seven cryptic words standing alone in my jour- nal), nor even hint at what I had known. It was there, as one puts a secret into a child's hand, and closes his fingers over it. It was whole, complete, and not to be analyzed, fussed over, frittered away. It was within me and would grow like the mustard-seed of the parable and fill all my mind, though I did not know that then.
I shied off it, I dared not even finger it; I held my mind still and looked within; and I was desperately afraid that it would happen again, since I felt that I could not bear it."
Anonymous (This contemporary Episcopalian author (a woman), prefers to remain anonymous
"There came a night when I passed beyond Ideas, beyond melody, beyond beauty, into vast lost spaces, depths of untellable bliss, into a Light. And the Light is an ecstasy of delight, and the Light is an ocean of bliss, and the Light is Life and Love, and the Light is the too deep contact with God, and the Light is unbearable Joy; and in unendurable bliss my soul beseeches God that He will cover her from this most terrible rapture, this felicity which exceeds all measure. And she is not covered; and being in the last extremity from this most terrible joy, she beseeches Him again: and is immediately covered from it.
Wonderful, beautiful weeks went by, filled with divine, indescribable peace. The presence Of God was with me day and night, and the world was not the world as I had once known it-a place where men and women had fought and sinned and toiled and anguished and wondered horribly the meaning of this mystery of pain and joy, of life and death. The world was become Paradise, and in my heart I cried to all my fellow-souls, "Why fret and toil, why sweat and anguish for the things of earth when our own God has in His hand such peace and bliss and happiness to give to Every man? O come and receive it, Every man his share.
Four Hours Later
I have experienced God in its Pure-Bliss-Consciousness in my dream vision, and have experienced God as a Transcendent Presence in my awakened state. I cannot deny these experiences. I am thus obligated to grow into this Transcendence as one with me in the guidance and direction of my life so to serve as a testament of this divine Presence in our nature. This thought of my obligation my sacred obligation came to me a few minutes ago very strongly and very definitely; so much so, that everything beside it is as nothing without it.
Tomorrow I'll resume my retreat in full force. I feel in myself a definite world purpose that I can neither deny nor shirk.
Twenty-fifth Day / Morning
In meditation. I'm thinking now of how natural it is for the human being to be contra- dictory and fluctuating in his moods and attitudes; that it's normal for him to shift from carnal and material interests to spiritual and intellectual inter- ests, from realism to idealism, from the need for sense and stimulation and excitement to solitude and tranquility. And as I am thinking and approving of this fluctuating, inconsistent nature of ours, I feel myself becoming aroused carnally, egoistically, sensorially; stimulation is what I want.
Well, I recognize this shifting complex process of our nature and have for some time, so why can I not accept it? Isn't it rather unrealistic of me not to accept it? Yes, it would be, if I didn't have such a strong aspiration, even need, to live a refined transcendent life. I can't be satisfied for long with anything less. My whole life, edu-cation, and writings, all point to this one aspiration. I really am not my own man, but belong to my destiny toward the divine in me. Judging by all this, it is absolutely impossible for me to deny, or even reject, this divine thrust driving me toward the "goal supreme". I might not make it in this life, but this does not deny the divine thrust in me. . . . But I must make it! or my life will have been in vain. But what is so unusual about one more little life out of billions being in vain? Why do I think my life so special? It is special in two ways: first, I've had enough personal proof of the di- vine efficacy of the Eternal God in me; there is no more confusion or bewilderment or doubt or fear on this matter; I'm no longer seeking; I have found my God.
Second, my whole educational, intellectual, aesthetic writing, moral, spiritual back- ground has all been a preparation to pass on my spiritual experiences to my fellow man. For me to remain spiritually incomplete is to defeat all that my life and writings purport to be. To remain stuck to my fluctuating nature is to nullify the very import of my writings of whose theme it is to show that a very normal carnal, egoistic, realistic individual can gradually transcend his vital nature in this life while living in and of Transcendence, though not for it prim-
arily; that, in short, he can spiritualize his exis- tence through experiencing the Divine Nature. Without the perfection of my spiritual nature (as far as that is possible for me), the transformation of my vital nature, my writings, and my life, are meaningless, and of no use to anyone. Because just to write more books on the suffering, futility, tragedy, fluctuation, perversity, of man and life, I believe is really a futile endeavor for me unless there is a sure way out of it all, even though not many may be able to break out of the cycle. At least there will be a living truth to behold, a hope to cherish, an ideal to strive for, even if it cannot be reached. This I believe, and of which my life and writings attest is my purpose, my obligation, in life. I'm to be a modern, Western, spokesman, so to speak, of the eternal wisdom of man of life, and of the un- iverse. My particular, spiritual contribution is an autobiographical one appro- priate to the realistic pragmatic existential, Western turn of mind.
From these considerations, then, it would be unrealistic of me to continue in my fluctuating ways than to discontinue them. And even more so, knowing that the sensual part of me is much more intense, demanding, overpowering, insatiable, than the quiet profundity of sensitive awareness and refined Trans- cendence. My spiritual part hardly stands a chance up against the voracity of my vital, sensual, egoistic nature. This is the way of all flesh, and there is hardly a way out of it except through a faith, belief, love, understanding, sur- render, and maturation in the Divine Transcendence.
All this I understand, and in which I believe emphatically; but the main ques- tion re- mains, and that is whether this understanding and belief will be forceful enough to balance my fluctuating nature into an integrating, harmoni ous whole under the guid- ance of my Transcendent nature. I know I will have to channel, sublimate, conserve, my vital energy into the more refined, widening, quieting channels of Transcendent Consciousness. This will take a love for It, a surren- der and consecration to It, an attentiveness of It at all times. I must pursue It as does a lover his beloved until It is mine. I know that my Divine Presence, my Beloved, does want me, for It has smiled glowingly in me to inform me of Its affinity toward me. But like the coyness of a wo- man pursued, It disappears and waits on my calling. If I want the Divine-in-me as a permanent presence, I'm going to have to go after It, woo It, win It. It is there for the taking; but It is a jealous mistress and will not share Itself with my sensuality and ego. I have to wait on it consciously as though no- thing else matters as much, and then I know It will come to me.
Back to the present now.
These selections fairly much highlight the phenomenon or rather transphen- omenon of my bliss Experience, its lead-in and aftermath. I did complete the forty-day retreat I had set out to do. The remaining twenty-nine days con- sisted of much of the same back-and forth struggles to stay on course; the inquiries into what metaphysical, spiritual terminology best suited me, what path I was to take to apply my spiritual Finding to my everyday life; and the occasional visits of my Mysterious Friend who would just touch me enough that I would glow, then leave me in embers.
There obviously doesn't seem to be any reason for me to go on with this renunciation, since I'm more than convinced of the direction in my life It's taken so long! I keep forgetting! now. So, even though I'm in this fallow, skeptical frame of mind at present though not so much now, since I've reviewed these notes and I don't seem to know where I'm going, I'll just keep myself open to my next "inward move- ment," and follow its course. Something's bound to happen. What, I have no idea other than I'm on a glorious course, however divergent, to make something trans- cendent happen. Perhaps a new wisdom.
As a closing remark, I had one last, but fleeting pure conscious Experience about the time of this writing (1981). In my research on my John Lennon book to be written, I recall one evening listening over and over again to his magni- ficent mystic inspired song, "Across the Universe" with eyes closed, when in an instant I was propelled into the universe of "limitless undying love / which shines around me like a million suns," in which nothing existed for me except this pure transconscious "world." I remember coming out of It back into the reality of my living room and leaping out of my seat and walking back and forth totally immersed in joy of that Pure Bliss moment - and that's all it was: a moment it seemed. And then I settled back into my ordinary consciousness. That's when I knew that Lennon was an Artist in the fullest inspired sense of the word, who had communed with the eternal-infinitude of Love.