Archive for October, 2009
Yasuhiko Kimura, the Japanese-American author of Think Kosmically Act Globally, is one of those new integral philosophers, whose work embodies many of the traits of this emerging paradigm of transformation.
Passionate about science, he is also deeply grounded in the spiritual dimension of life, having spent several years as a Zen priest in his native Japan. While he is not a spiritual teacher in the traditional sense, he does teach, and in fact has dedicated himself to a wide range of educational activities designed to bring transformational ideas into the mainstream of our culture.
Drawing on a number of fields of study, and open-minded enough to incorporate the ideas of others, Kimura’s work, like that of many of his contemporaries, is, above all, aimed at divining the patterns of evolution at work in the human family and inspiring individual and collective transformation up the evolutionary ladder.
The rising tide of ideas that is driving these new visions-integration, holism, evolution, chaos, complexity, spirituality, choice, emergence, change, and, of course, transformation-seems destined to outstrip the work of any one person.
Kimura himself owes much to others’ trailblazing, but he is also quite dearly intent on making his own mark in this emerging field. And to do so, he has drawn on some rather unlikely inspiration. Born into one of the most collectively oriented societies in the world, Japan, Kimura has, during his nineteen years in America, positioned himself to carry on the traditions of some of this country’s greatest champions of individualism – the transcendentalist philosophers of the nineteenth century; men like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Walt Whitman.
Today, Kimura runs the University of Science and Philosophy, an organization originally founded by Walter Russell, and he is also the executive director of the modern incarnation of The Twilight Club.
Through conferences, educational courses, writings, and the quarterly journal The Cosmic Light, Kimura is working on many fronts to help create a new cultural ethos in which the higher possibilities of human transformation have become established in the culture as essential to our understanding of life, in much the same way that the once-radical ideas of psychology have now become established as essential to our understanding of the self.
In this effort, he and his philosophical brethren are armed with more knowledge about human evolution and transformation than has ever before been assembled in the history of humanity, and they are bringing a fresh spirit of urgency and optimism to this awesome task.
WIE: What is spiritual transformation?
YASUHIKO KIMURA: Instead of trying to define the term, I would like to first look at some of the facets of what we call transformation. Transformation, to me, is a uniquely significant dance between being and becoming. Being is in becoming and becoming is in being. The term enlightenment, or spiritual awakening, points more to the movement from becoming to being, whereas the term transformation points more to the movement from being to becoming. Enlightenment is a movement that is primarily from becoming to being, a return to being. Transformation is a movement that is primarily from being to becoming, into creating. So transformation is a part of this evolutionary cycle, this dynamic complementarity of being and becoming.
WIE: Can you describe the process that the individual undergoes in this movement from being to becoming? What is actually being transformed?
YK: In the last several years, I have been teaching a particular model of transformation, which I call the Triformational Learning Matrix. Tri means, of course, three, and so the formational element comprises three formations:
information, metaformation, and transformation.
Informational learning is what we normally go through in our educational system and in our own lives. We read books, we listen to people, and we gain knowledge and experience. We develop a more and more comprehensive body of knowledge based on some principle of organization.
Metaformation is sometimes called inspiration or intuition; it is a higher form of knowledge that sort of knocks on your door and you become aware of something that is eternal. So when this higher intuition, or metaformation, gets integrated into your own informational learning, you then start to reconfigure the whole context within which you have held the body of knowledge that you already have. And at the same time, you are able to incorporate the higher metaformational knowledge into your own body of knowledge. In this dance between information and metaformation, a transformation takes place.
Metaformation is returning to the source of your being, the ground of your being from which you intuit a new form of insight. Then, when that insight is successfully married with the body of knowledge that you already have, transformation takes place. That is my way of understanding transformation.
So on the one hand, there is a dynamic binary of being and becoming, and on the other hand, there is a trinity, with transformation emerging from the creative dance between metaformation and information. It’s like alchemy. People used to try to transform lead into gold. And spiritually speaking, gold is the symbol of the transformed state and lead is the raw material.
But what happens when this lead becomes gold is that somehow the lead dissolves itself into the noumenon, the cosmic wholeness, and then from there you create the new dimensionality of being, which we call gold. That is the process of transformation, where the ego structure dematerializes itself and then merges into the whole. From there you actually create a new you, so to speak, on the basis of the knowledge that you gain through your metaformation. So you become your own creation, based on the cosmic knowledge that you have received. And once this process takes place, it is an ongoing evolution. Enlightenment then becomes like a trigger, or the beginning of a continual transformational evolution. That is how I see transformation.
WIE: I’d like to ask you about how the process of transformation is changing to accommodate life in the twenty-first century, especially considering that one primary characteristic of the modern age is an ever-increasing rate of change. As the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil recently said:
Centuries ago people didn’t think that the world was changing at all. Their grandparents had the same lives that they did, and they expected their grandchildren would do the same, and that expectation was largely fulfilled . . . . What’s not fully understood is that the pace of change is itself accelerating, and the last 20 years are not a good guide to the next 20 years. We’re doubling the paradigm shift rate, the rate of progress, every decade. This will actually match the amount of progress we made in the whole 20th century, because we’ve been accelerating up to this point. The 20th century was like 25 years of change at today’s rate of change. In the next 25 years we’ll make four times the progress you saw in the 20th century. And we’ll make 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, which is almost a thousand times more technical change than we saw in the 20th century.
Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of Visa International and author of Birth of the Chaordic Age, who is also interviewed in this issue, echoed this point recently, saying that change is not going to happen, nor is it likely to happen, but that change is the very nature of what is happening. So in this context, how must our modern understanding of spiritual transformation take into account our rapidly changing world and the complexity it creates?
YK: It’s interesting because what is also happening with all this rapid change is that change itself is changing. The process of evolution itself is evolving. There is a meta-evolution, or a metachange that is taking place. And in that process what you see is actually an increasing contrast between change and the eternal or the unchanging. I become more and more aware of that which does not change in the context of this continual change you’re describing. So the more you tune in to change, the more you become tuned in to that which does not change. In a way, the contrast between the immutable and the mutable becomes much more distinct. To put this in the language I used earlier, not only is the body of information growing but also the accessibility of metaformational insight becomes greater. Compared to hundreds of years ago, people are really becoming much more aware of that which is eternal. So we live at an exciting moment in history, when both metaformation and information are gaining tremendous momentum. We are transforming transformation itself.
WIE: One characteristic of this increasing rate of change and the complexity that it presents seems to be an increasing amount of stress on our systems. It is interesting that some scientists, including the evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris, feel that this stress may be a critical component in OUT own evolution. In fact, she has said that stress is the only thing that creates evolution in natural systems. Do you agree that stress is an essential part of the transformational process?
YK: It depends on how you define stress. And I have discussed this same issue with Sahtouris. You see, we generally attach negative connotations to the term stress. It can be seen as negative, but it also has a positive impact My definition of stress is that it is the psychophysical response that is triggered by the perception that you are out of control. For example, when you are faced with a problem that you cannot solve by the body of knowledge that you currently have, you are under stress. When you are faced with a challenge or problem that is bigger than anything that you have encountered before, you are naturally under stress. In this sense, it is the most salient element that triggers and compels transformation. That’s why I often tell my students to ask themselves a question for which they have no answer, or read a book that they cannot readily understand. That causes stress. And by the time they become able to answer the question or understand the book, they have evolved. So in that sense I agree with Elisabet completely. You can see that same process in biological evolution.
WIE: What is it, fundamentally, that allows us to transform ourselves at all? What drives this process of human transformation?
YK: What drives transformation and evolution is the very nature of the universe itself. There is an evolutionary thrust for optimization that is inherent in the universe, so the more you are tuned in to that evolutionary thrust for optimization, the more chance you have to utilize that thrust for your own evolution. The universe, to me, is like a drama or a play between zero and infinity.
In between, we have all possible ways of being and this one dynamic flow of evolution. You know, we often use the term guru to indicate an enlightened human being guiding others. But if you look into the meaning of the term guru in Sanskrit, or lama in Tibetan, you’ll find that it means the force of intelligence working inside yourself and the universe as the syntropic (anti-entropic), order-creating, meaning-bestowing evolutionary principle. So the term guru means your own awareness of that principle. The more you tune into this guru, this lama, or this evolutionary principle within yourself and the universe, the more you have the harmonious sense of cosmic evolution, within and without. That is what drives transformation. It is in the nature of the universe. That evolutionary thrust is there within you. You can try to reduce it, ignore it, or be oblivious to it, but it’s like a rocket ship-if you get on it, you’ll be going to the moon.
WIE: So are you saying that to really harness the transformative power of this natural principle, we have to personally decide to join in the evolutionary process?
YK: Yes. Unless you intend to consciously evolve and transform, your spiritual evolution is not going to be able to take place. That’s one of the five salient points, or tenets, of enlightenment that the founder of your magazine, Andrew Cohen, writes about. He calls it Clarity of Intention. You know, it is essential – the volitional participation in the process of evolution is essential.
WIE: I wanted to ask you some questions about Spiral Dynamics, the system of human development pioneered originally by Clare Graves and more recently by Don Beck. I know you’ve used Spiral Dynamics in your own work, and that you postulated at least two stages of spiritual development beyond Beck’s basic mode which includes eight stages (and some preliminary evidence of a ninth stage). What are these higher stages of spiritual development, and why do you feel they need to be added to his model?
YK: I attended Don Beck’s seminar in 1999, and it was the first time that I had seen a model of evolution that has thirty, forty, fifty years of research behind it. Clare Graves, Don Beck, Beck’s former partner Chris Cowan, and, of course, Ken Wilber have done extensive research. It is no longer just a speculation. It’s really based on actual human beings and their experiences. So to me, the value of Spiral Dynamics is that we can use this model for social transformation as well as for personal transformation.
Before I came across Don Beck, I had my own model of evolution, which was pretty much aligned with what he was speaking about. He talks about a First Tier of development with six stages and a Second Tier with basically two stages. But in my model, there were nine stages, so there was one more. When you carefully read the Spiral Dynamics description of the last stage there are people who have actually gone beyond it. In my own life, I have met people who are actually beyond what I would call Homo Sapiens Holisticus, which is equivalent to the last stage, the TURQUOISE stage in Spiral Dynamics. The next stage I call Homo Sapiens Universalis, and it is the fulfillment of the promise and possibility of self-consciousness, which Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke talked about in his book Cosmic Consciousness, published over a century ago. This is the stage at which the involuntary movement of cosmic consciousness takes place for the first time.
At this stage, one has the experience of spiritual illumination; cosmic epiphany, and cosmic awakening and becomes conscious of the ground of being of the whole. One comes to know the causative realm of existence. There are a few spiritual legends (perhaps like Babaji, whom you wrote about in your last issue) who point to an even further evolutionary possibility, Homo Sapiens Cosmicus, which is, I believe, another stage of evolution – the evolution of cosmic consciousness itself. So, based on my observation and my own thinking, I would say that there are other possibilities beyond the eighth stage of Spiral Dynamics.
The individual examples are so few and far between that obviously Clare Graves wasn’t able to interview those people. But through my own experience and through meetings with people I have known, I can infer these next stages of evolution from the eighth stage that Beck and Graves described.
WIE: Are there more stages beyond those as well?
YK: Yes, I assume so, because there’s no end to the process of transformation, there’s no beginning and no end. I don’t know what kind of form the next stage would take, but the process goes on. I don’t think we can really know the stage that is two stages beyond our own stage at this point. One stage beyond is pretty much all that you can have a sense of.
WIE: How does one move along these higher stages of development? In your book,Think Kosmically Act Globally, you write, “In fact it is only when you attain the stage of Homo Sapiens Integratus [YELLOW meme in Spiral Dynamics] that you start to have the awareness of the identity of the spiritual forces acting in the universe and in your consciousness.” That is the stage of integral development, or Second Tier in Don Beck’s model. You describe this stage as follows, ”One becomes conscious of the interconnectivity of all humanity at all stages of development and starts integrating all humanity within oneself.” So are you saying that spirituality, in a sense, really only begins at that stage?
YK: In my book, I talk about this in terms of peak experiences. At any stage it is possible to have these experiences, but until you reach Homo Sapiens Integratus, I don’t think you can really integrate that spiritual force, that spiritual insight, into your evolutionary stream.
WIE: What makes that so significant?
YK: Well, you may have met people who have had some kind of peak experience but somehow their ego takes hold of it and then it is no longer there. It’s become a fortification of the ego structure.
And oftentimes what happens is that people stop their evolutionary growth right there. Some people live off their one spiritual experience the rest of their lives, writing books and teaching. So this state of being, state of consciousness, state of enlightenment can be achieved by anybody. But unless your informational learning leads to the point of integration, or this integral level of development, you won’t be able to integrate metaformational insight into your being and consciousness, and so you won’t be able to use it as an engine of creation, an engine of transformation. However, if you can, then enlightenment becomes a beginning, an initiation into further evolution and further transformation. Until then enlightenment is like a sporadic, almost accidental event.
WIE: So you’re saying that at this integral level, you’re able to consciously take up the process of your own transformation.
YK: Yes. T hat’s what P.D.Ouspensky and many others mean when they talk about conscious evolution. It begins with the initiation of awareness into the further reaches of human potential. And then you see that so much more is possible for your consciousness, and you begin the process of learning and participating in that syntropic (anti-entropic) spiritual force existing within the universe. Many people may have genuine spiritual experiences) even children. I did. But I was not able to integrate it, and it became an agonizing experience for me. My ego was not mature enough to let go of itself and be able to integrate that experience into my own growth.
WIE: Agonizing because you were aware of a different possibility?
YK: Yes, because I had read so many books by that time about the possibility of enlightenment and about the Buddha and all kinds of spiritual people. So I knew there-was something to my experience, but I didn’t know what to do with it. But when something similar but more profound occurred later in my life, then the learning process, the evolutionary process, was able to begin.
WIE: In your quarterly journal, The Cosmic Light, you have written about authenticity. You say that this is one of the characteristics that is most essential in order to prepare for these higher stages.
Authenticity is fundamental, more fundamental than spiritual enlightenment. Without authenticity, no genuine spiritual enlightenment is possible.
Authenticity is the state of being committed to truth ….
Truth is simple, utterly so. …And no matter how simply a truth is stated, only those who have walked the path of understanding and evolution on their own can know and understand it authentically. The path of truth is the path least traveled …. Authenticity is the clarity of being in which there is no self-deceit.
Why is authenticity so fundamental, and why is it more important than even spiritual enlightenment?
YK: You see, our mind is extremely clever, and it has a tremendous capacity for delusion and self-deception. Authenticity is a counteraction for that self-deceit and tendency to delude one-self. I often quote P.D. Ouspensky’s simple statement that the most difficult thing in life is to know what one knows and to know what one doesn’t know and to know the difference between the two. It requires a kind of honesty and authenticity to be aware of this difference and to really examine one’s body of knowledge. What is it that one really knows and that one doesn’t know? This is the kind of discipline that one needs to exert in one’s own life. It is essential for taking advantage of the spiritual experience that one has. Otherwise, it can turn into another form of self-delusion utilized by the ego. So a person needs to have humility and authenticity with regard to the truth of the experience that they do have. And this authenticity leads one to higher and higher levels or into a more whole knowledge and understanding of the truth that is revealed to one.
When one is true to oneself, when one is authentic, one becomes true to the evolutionary thrust for self-optimization that exists within oneself and within the universe. And that evolutionary thrust is a continuous unfolding process.
A CULTURE OF TRANSFORMATION
WIE: .Ken Wilber, in his new book Boomeritis, writes, “Psychologists who track adult lifespan development find that most individuals go through a series of major transformations from birth to adolescence,
whereupon transformation tends to taper off. Although many horizontal translations subsequently occur-the ‘seasons of a person’s
life’ -vertical transformations to higher levels tend to completely stop. From age 25 to around 55, very few vertical transformations occur.” He concludes, “It’s almost impossible to get an adult human being to transform.” And Dee Hock, who I mentioned earlier, also says in this issue that there is so much resistance to change in individuals that it will likely take several cataclysms to provide the impetus for us to truly begin to transform our lives in significant ways. Do you agree with these sobering assessments of the capacity of human beings to transform themselves? And, if so; why is human transformation so difficult?
YK: First of all, in the whole educational system and in our culture, transformation is not a major topic of discussion. Of course, today, you and I and many of us are speaking about transformation, enlightenment, and spirituality, but this group is still ‘a small minority of people. In our society, most people don’t even know that the possibility of spiritual transformation exists.
Children learn from the adults, and what is available for them is what Ken Wilber calls horizontal translation, which is more like an expansion of the same kind of experience and information over and over again. Vertical transformation may take place in the Himalayas, in the ashrams) in the monasteries, where people who are a little bit eccentric go, but it is not a part of the common culture in which we live.
So I think Ken Wilber and Don Beck and several others are making a great contribution to humanity through their writings, which are very accessible. They are helping to make evolutionary thinking and transformational ideas part of the human culture, which is essential for our next evolution. Otherwise, it will be merely a local phenomenon, because most people don’t have any model; they just don’t know. I will give you a very mundane example. People are now into eating sushi in this country. And coming from Japan, sometimes I am appalled by the kind of sushi they’re eating. But they think that it is real sushi, because they don’t know the real thing. They haven’t been exposed to it. And most people are not exposed to the transformational possibilities of being human. Even for very intelligent, educated people, transformation is an entirely foreign concept. So that is something that we must change.
WIE: Yet even for people who do know about these models of transformation, too often that knowledge, in and of itself, doesn’t seem to provide the impetus to change. ‘What other factors make transformation difficult for humans?
YK: Well, even though I’m from Japan, I was educated in the Western kind of educational system, where we are so deeply immersed in the kind of thinking that is reductionistic and dualistic. So when we talk about transformation, we divide individual transformation and world transformation. And there is a difference, but they’re complementary. One does not exist without the other. So one of the points that is very important is that there can be no authentic transformation of the world without an effort on our part toward self-transformation. It is essential for those people who are engaged in the transformation of the world to be willing to be transformed in the process of their own engagement. But what happens is that people go out and try to change and transform the world, but individually they are stuck where they are.
Transformation always and necessarily calls for a transformation of oneself and one’s environment. But I don’t see that happening.
People are stuck with their own positions that never change.
So first, we don’t have a culture in which transformation is an essential component of the conversations that comprise humanity. And second, people are not willing to be transformed in the process of transforming the world.
WIE: One of the people we spoke with for this issue was developmental psychologist Robert Kegan. He speaks about a force that he calls “dynamic equilibrium.” As he writes:
Is any effort at personal change – our own or that of others we may seek to lead-likely to be powerful without better understanding of this . . . force in nature, our own immunity to change? Specifically, is change likely without grasping how this . . . force expresses itself in the unique particulars of our own lives? And yet, one of the things that makes gaining this understanding so difficult is that we tend to be held captive by our own immune systems. We live inside them. We do not “have them “; they “have us.”
We cannot see them because we are too caught up in them . . . . How can we secure for ourselves the supports most likely to foster real change, change that actually escapes the immunizing gravity of our own dynamic equilibria and leads to new concentrations of energy, enhanced capacity, greater complexity?
Is this dynamic equilibrium something you’ve come across or seen in yourself or in others?
YK: Well, it is similar to what Andrew Cohen calls ego, or homeostasis, where people get to a certain point and they just want to stay there. It definitely exists.
WIE: How does one deal with that?
YK: You see, all conscious and cognitive beings are meaning – seeking beings. We’ are – somehow trying to find meaning in life. And unless a human being finds meaning in what he or she is doing, he or she is not going to engage in that action for too long.
Now, some people find meaning in the very act of transformation. And if you consider conscious evolution, ongoing growth, and transformation to be the essential meaning of life, then you will engage yourself in the act of transformation. But for most people, transformation does not provide meaning.
“What’s the point in continuously growing and continuously transforming? I’m fine where I am. I have my house and my job, so don’t bother me. Don’t even try to destroy the edifice of meaning that I have built over the years. ” And I respect that. They’re just being human. They have found some measure of meaning in their lives and they don’t want t o change. They don’t want to see that what they thought was meaningful may actually be meaningless. But transformation, ongoing transformation, implies that you need to continuously dissolve the old meaning of your life and create your life anew. You actually need to recognize the central meaning of your life to be the evolutionary process itself. And unless we build a kind of culture in which that is so, people are not going to ongoingly engage themselves in a syntropic (anti-entropic) evolutionary process. They will want to stay in this dynamic, or static, equilibrium.
A WAKE-UP CALL
WIE: So you’re saying that the goal is to get to the point where the meaning you’re making as a human being in the world actually has to do with a continual engagement in the transformational process itself.
YK: That’s right. In my own life, I was crazy enough to shave my head at age eighteen, go to a monastery, and then spend three years in India and five months in the Himalayas all by myself. Why?
Because I found meaning in the transformational process itself.
WIE: Another way of saying that would be that we have to completely embrace the process of change.
YK: Yes, to stay unstuck wherever you are. Ecstasy means being unstuck, ongoingly ex-static. So you must commit yourself to an ecstatic life.
WIE: It seems that in order to live that way, one would not only have to continually transcend any movement in oneself toward rest or stasis, but one would also have to resist the cultural tendency toward inertia. In fact, you’ve spoken about a “conspiracy of mediocrity” in the larger culture, which one must resist. Could you say what you mean by that?
YK:Yes. Mediocrity is not being average; mediocrity is conforming to the average. And if your value system and your meaning in life is to fit into the society successfully and make a good living and so on and so forth) you are conspiring with others to conform to the average. Mediocrity takes place when conforming to the average becomes the highest meaning of life – to fit in and to succeed in the existing society and make a good living and be happy. And unless a person realizes the meaninglessness and emptiness of success in life at that level) he or she is not going to shave his or her head and become a monk or nun or go to see a spiritual teacher. That is the bottom line. But even within the New Age community and in today’s spiritual culture) the conspiracy for mediocrity exists.
What is missing in the New Age community is real intellectual rigor. If you feel good, you’re enlightened. So feeling has taken the place of real awareness. And that permeates the whole culture. It is mediocrity, and a conspiracy toward mediocrity) and those people who conspire very well can become excellent speakers on the conference circuit and make lots of money.
WIE: Have you found yourself becoming the target of this conspiracy?
YK: Yes. Even within The Twilight Club – particularly with the people who were here before I came onto the scene. I’ll tell you one strange anecdote. I came to this country when I was twenty-eight years old nineteen years ago. and I attended one of those New Age group meetings. I went to this meeting and they were talking about the “hundredth monkey.” Everybody was talking about this hundredth monkey, and I said to them in my broken English,
“What about the first monkey? It is more important for us to really struggle to be the first monkey than the one hundredth:’
Nobody liked that. Then one person in the group called me later and asked me about my background, and he said, “If you shave your head again, wear the monk robe, and make me your manager, I’ll make you rich and famous.” I said, “No thank you.” But when you look at the gurus coming from India, and Tibet, and Japan, most of them are, I’m sorry to say, very mediocre. That has been my experience. So in my own way, through my writings, I have been ongoingly talking about that particular aspect of contemporary spirituality.
But the conspiracy for mediocrity exists in any segment of society. And I have many friends in physics, science, who have the same experience.
WIE: Some pundits and scholars are already calling September 11, the World Trade Center disaster last year, the end of the postmodern age-a culture-changing wake-up call that demands new thinking in recognition of the extraordinary complexity of the world we live in. In fact, Don Beck recently described it as an inflection point in history. So I wanted to ask if you see any signals on the horizon indicating that a new transformation in human consciousness may be under way in our culture.
YK: Yes, it really was a wake-up call, and many people globally became aware of the dysfunctionality of existing systems, and of the fact that no amount of effort based on the old paradigm is going to solve the problems that we are facing. It was a great source of positive stress. One doesn’t need to be a scholar •or an enlightened person to realize the dysfunctionality of society.
When September 11 took place, there were basically two kinds of reactions. To use terms from Spiral Dynamics, one was a BLUE, more militaristic reaction, and the other one was a GREEN, more liberal, egalitarian reaction. In the existing White House, we have basically a BLUE organization, and the people who are criticizing the Bush administration are more inclined to be GREEN. The rest of us are seeing that neither of these approaches is going to solve the problem. The military isn’t going to solve the problem, nor is the egalitarian effort to try to understand the Arabs going to solve the problem. There’s something else that we need. And people can see that.
You see, we want to have a new world, based on your and my profound creative vision for ourselves and for humanity. And that kind of thinking can only be understood by integral thinkers, those who have reached the Second Tier on Beck’s model. So the September 11 event can be utilized as another call for Second Tier thinkers to gather together to really make an impact on society. That’s a fundamental purpose of The Twilight Club. What we are trying to do is to get all of these thinkers together and mutually support and empower one another’s work so that we can actually create a Second Tier, or integral, culture in accordance with the evolutionary prime directive and thereby make a difference in the whole culture of humanity. In the last four years, my colleagues and I have been doing exactly this. So yes, September 11 can be a watershed event for a new kind of civilization to emerge. But a lot more needs to be done.
Enlightening Poems by Rumi
The following poems were written by Jelaluddin Rumi in the 13th Century A.D. His words are often mysterious, yet often refer to his personal search and passionate, intimate connection with the Divine Presence within.
A wander into the wonder of Rumi’s World
I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Parsi, nor Moslem.
I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea;
I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire;
I am not of the spheres, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity.
I am not of India, nor of China, nor of Bulgaria, nor of Arabia
I am not of the this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of Hell
I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Gardens.
My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless ;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
A Rumi poem fused with images and music. see more: Stars on a Dark Night
From, true love rumi Cd, recite By Sina, Music by Hamoon Tehrani, From book of Rumi Pountain of Fire ,by Nader Khalili. http://www.trueloverumi.com,,, create by Sina
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have–and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers… and you are all receivers… assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.
March 18 2007, LA California USA. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani Speaks to an audience of over 5oo attendants at the Zenshin Buddhist Temple. There were Christians, Jews, Buddhist and Muslims in the audience.
Prolific Writer and Lecturer
Mr. Kimura has authored, since 1998, well over 50 articles, essays and translations in the fields of spiritual philosophy, integral science, evolutionary theory, transformational ethics and visionary business. He also has developed interactive programs that serve to awaken creative vision. His work includes:
* The Book of Balance, an acclaimed modern translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Tee Ching
* Think Kosmically Act Globally, a collection of original essays on spirituality, ethics and metascience
* The Twilight Manifesto, a history of The Twilight Club
* THINK: The First Principle of Business based on Walter Russell’s lectures at IBM in the 1920s to 1930s and co-edited with Laara Lindo
* Editor In Chief of VIA: The Journal of Integral Thinking for Visionary Action, a biannual anthology of thought-provoking articles on integrating spirituality into philosophy, science, business, and social issues
* Personal and business interactive seminars focusing on:
o Awakening the Genius Within
o The Passion Workshop
o Alignment Beyond Agreement
o Leadership Intensive Based on The Book of Tao Tee Cheng
o Strategic Thinking for Global Leadership
o Evolutionary Ethics for Corporate Development
* Invited guest lecturer at:
o USC international MBA program, the MIT Sloan Leadership Conference and to a Presidential Key Executive Alumni class at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management
o Cypress College
o What Is Enlightenment? Voices from the Edge — U.S. and Europe
In this video clip, Mr. Kimura shares his thoughts on the very fundamental questions that a spiritual seeker will ask – Who am I, Why am I here, where am I going?, What is the purpose of my life? …
ECKHART TOLLE: AWAKENING IN THE NOW examines the phenomenon surrounding Tolle by presenting excerpts from one of his rare public lectures — this one from Los Angeles in 2007 — and interview segments with Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, who interprets the Tolle phenomenon from both a personal and a cultural perspective.
In the Los Angeles lecture, Tolle focuses on his concepts of the “now”, the role of the ego-ic mind — a key mantra to use in everyday situations — and other major themes of his continuing work.
Flowers calls him “a world teacher… he not only teaches to the world, but he teaches from the world of all the spiritual traditions.”
An interview with Eckhart Tolle by Andrew Cohen
ANDREW COHEN:Eckhart, what is your life like? I’ve heard that you’re a bit of a recluse and that you spend a lot of time in solitude. Is that true?
ECKHART TOLLE: That was true in the past, before my book The power of Now came out. For years 1 was a recluse. But the publication of the book, has changed dramatically very much in teaching and traveling. And people who knew me before say, “This is amazing. You used hermit and now you in the world.” Yet I still feel that inside nothing has changed. I still feel exactly the same as before. There is still a sense of peace, and I surrendered to the fact that on an external level there’s been a total change.
So it’s actually not true anymore that I am a hermit. Now I’m the opposite of a hermit.
This may well be a cycle. It may well be that at some point this will come to an end and I will become a hermit again. But at the moment, I am surrendered to the fact that I’m almost continuously interacting. I do occasionally take time to be alone. That is necessary in between teaching engagements.
AC: Why is it that you need to take time to be alone, and what is it that happens when you take the time to be alone?
ET: When I’m with people, I’m a spiritual teacher. That’s the function, but it’s not my identity. The moment I’m alone, my deepest joy is to be nobody, to relinquish the function of a teacher. It’s a temporary function. Let’s say I’m seeing a group of people. The moment they leave me, I’m no longer a spiritual teacher. There’s no longer any sense of external identity. I simply go into the stillness more deeply. The place that I love most is the stillness. It’s not that the stillness is lost when I talk or when I teach because the words arise out of the stillness.
But when people leave me, there is only the stillness left. And I love that so much.
AC: Would you say that you prefer it?
ET: Not prefer. There is a balance now in my life, which perhaps wasn’t there before. When the inner transformation happened many years ago, one could almost say a balance was lost. It was so fulfilling and so blissful simply to be that I lost all interest in doing or interacting. For quite a few years, I got lost in Being. I had almost relinquished doing completely- ‘just enough to keep my self alive and even that was miraculous. I had totally lost interest in the future.
And then gradually a balance re-established itself. It didn’t re-establish itself fully until I started writing the book. The way I feel now is that there is a balance in my life between being alone and interacting with people, between Being and doing, whereas before, the doing was relinquished and there was only Being. Blissful, profound, beautiful-but from an external viewpoint, many people thought that I had become unbalanced or had gone mad. Some people thought I was crazy to have let go of all the worldly things I had “achieved.” They’ didn’t understand that I didn’t want or need any of that anymore.
So the balance now is between aloneness and meeting with people. And that’s good. I’m quite attentive to that so that the balance doesn’t get lost. There is now a pull toward increasing doing.
People want me to talk here and talk there-there .are constant demands. I know that I need to be attentive now, so that the balance
is not lost, and I don’t get lost in doing. I don’t think it would ever happen, but it requires a certain amount of Vigilance.
AC: What would it mean to get lost in doing?
ET: Theoretically, it would mean that I would continuously travel, teach, and interact with people. Perhaps if that happened, at some point the flow, the stillness, might not be there. I don’t know; it may always be there. Or physical exhaustion may set in. But I feel now that I need to return to the pure stillness periodically. And then, when the teaching happens, just allow it to arise out of the stillness. So the teaching and stillness are very closely connected.
The teaching arises out of the stillness. But when I’m’ alone, there’s only the stillness, and that is my favorite place.
AC: When you’re alone, do you spend a lot of time physically being still?
ET: Yes, I can sometimes sit for two hours in a room with almost no thought. Just complete stillness. Sometimes when I go for walks, there’s also complete stillness; there’s no mental labeling of sense perceptions. There’s simply a sense of awe or wonder or openness, and that’s beautiful.
AC: In your book The Power of Now you state that “The ultimate purpose of the world lies not within the world but in transcendence of the world ” Could you please explain what you mean?
ET: Transcending the world does not mean to withdraw from the world, to no longer take action, or to stop interacting with people.
Transcendence of the world is to act and to interact without any self seeking. In other words, it means to act without seeking to enhance one’s sense of self through one’s actions or one’s interactions with people. Ultimately, it means not needing the future anymore for one’s fulfillment or for one’s sense of self or being. There is no seeking through doing, seeking an enhanced, more fulfilled, or greater sense of self in the world. When that seeking isn’t there anymore, then you can be in the world but not be of the world. You are no longer seeking for anything to identify with out there.
AC: Do you mean that one has given up an egotistical, materialistic relationship to the world?
ET: Yes, it means no longer seeking to gain a sense of self, a deeper or enhanced sense of self. Because in the normal state of consciousness, what people are looking for through their activity is to be more completely themselves. The bank robber is looking for that in some way. The person who is striving for enlightenment is also looking for it because he or she is seeking to attain a state of perfection, a state of completion, a state of fullness at some point in the future.
There is a seeking to gain something through one’s activities. They are seeking happiness, but ultimately they .are seeking themselves or you could say God; it comes down to the same thing. They are seeking themselves, and they are seeking where it can’ never be found, in the normal, unenlightened state of consciousness, because the unenlightened state of consciousness is always in the seeking mode. That means they are of the world-in the world and of the world.
AC: You mean that they are looking forward in time?
ET: Yes, the world and time are intrinsically connected. When all self seeking in time ceases, then you can be in the world without being of the world.
AC: What exactly do you mean when you say that the purpose of the world lies in the transcendence of it?
ET: The world promises fulfillment somewhere in time, and there is a continuous striving toward that fulfillment in time. Many times people feel, “Yes, now I have arrived,” and then they realize that, no, they haven’t arrived, and then the striving continues. It is expressed beautifully in A Course in Miracles, where it says that the dictum of the ego is “Seek but do not find.” People look to the future for salvation, but the future never arrives.
So ultimately, suffering arises through not finding. And that is the beginning of an awakening when the realization dawns that “Perhaps this is not the way. Perhaps I will never get to where I am striving to reach; perhaps it’s not in the future at all.” After having been lost in the world, suddenly, through the pressure of suffering, the realization comes that the answers may not be found out there in worldly attainment and in the future.
That’s an important point for many people to reach. That sense of deep crisis-when the world as they have known it, and the sense of self that they have known that is identified with the world, become meaningless. That happened to me. I was just that close to suicide and then something else’ happened-a death of the sense of self that lived through identifications, identifications with my story, things around me, the world. Something arose at that moment that was a sense of deep and intense stillness and aliveness, beingness. I later called it “presence.” I realized that beyond words, that is who I am.
But this realization wasn’t a mental process. I realized that the world and time are intrinsically connected. When all self-seeking that vibrantly alive, deep stillness is who I am.
Years later, I called that stillness “pure consciousness,” whereas everything else is the conditioned consciousness.
The human mind is the conditioned consciousness that has taken form as thought. The conditioned consciousness is the whole world that is created by the conditioned mind. Everything is our conditioned consciousness; even objects are. Conditioned consciousness has taken birth as form and then that becomes the world. So to be lost in the conditioned seems to be necessary for humans. It seems to be part of their path to be lost in the world, to be lost in the mind, which is the conditioned consciousness.
Then, due to the suffering that arises out of being lost, one finds the unconditioned as oneself. And that is why we need the world to transcend the world. So I’m infinitely grateful for having been lost.
The purpose of the world is for you to be lost in it, ultimately.
The purpose of the world is for you to suffer, to create the suffering that seems to be what is needed for the awakening to happen.
And then once the awakening happens, with it comes the realization that suffering is unnecessary now. You have reached the end of suffering because you have transcended the world. It is the place that is free of suffering.
This seems to be everybody’s path. Perhaps it is not everybody’s path in this lifetime, but it seems to be a universal path. Even without a spiritual teaching or a spiritual teacher, I believe that everybody would get there eventually. But that could take time.
AC: A long time.
ET: Much longer. A spiritual teaching is there to save time. The basic message of the teaching is that you don’t need any more time, you don’t need any more suffering. I tell this to people who come to me: “You are ready to hear this because you are listening to it. There are still millions of people out there who are not listening to it. They still need time. But I am not talking to them. You are hearing that you don’t need time anymore and you don’t need to suffer anymore.
You’ve been seeking in time and you’ve been seeking further suffering.”
And to suddenly hear that “You don’t need that anymore”-for some, that can be the moment of transformation. So the beauty of the spiritual teaching is that it saves lifetimes of–
AC: Unnecessary suffering.
ET: Yes, so it’s good that people are lost in the world. I enjoy traveling to New York and Los Angeles, where it seems that people are totally involved. I was looking out of the window in New York. We were next to the Empire State Building, doing a group. And everybody was rushing around, almost running. Everybody seemed to be in a state of intense nervous tension, anxiety. It’s suffering, really, but it’s not recognized as suffering.
And I thought, where are they all running to? And of course, they are all running to the future. They are needing to get somewhere, which is not here. It is a point in time: not now-then.
They are running to a then. They are suffering, but they don’t even know it. But to me, even watching that was joyful I didn’t feel,
“Oh, they should know better.” They are on their spiritual path. At the moment, that is their spiritual path, and it works beautifully.
AC: Often the word enlightenment is interpreted to mean the end of division within the self and the simultaneous discovery of a perspective or way of seeing that is whole, complete, or free from duality. Some who have experienced this perspective claim that the ultimate realization is that there is no difference between the world and God or the Absolute, between samsara and nirvana, between the manifest and the unmanifest. But there are others who claim that, in fact, the ultimate realization is that the world doesn’t actually exist at all-that the world is only an illusion, completely empty of meaning, significance, or reality. So in your own experience, is the world real? Is the world unreal? Both?
ET: Even when I’m interacting with people or walking in a city, doing ordinary things, the way I perceive the world is like ripples on the surface of being. Underneath the world of sense perceptions and the world of mind activity, there is the vastness of being. There’s a vast spaciousness. There’s a vast stillness and there’s a little ripple activity on the surface, which isn’t separate, just like the ripples are not separate from the ocean.
So there is no separation in the way I perceive it. There is no separation between being and the manifested world, between the manifested and the unmanifested.
But the unmanifested is so much vaster, deeper, and greater than what happens in the manifested.
Every phenomenon in the manifested is so short-lived and so fleeting that, yes, one could almost say that from the perspective of the unmanifested, which is the timeless beingness or presence, all that happens in the manifested realm really seems like a play of shadows. It seems like vapor or mist with continuously new forms arising and disappearing, arising and disappearing. So to the one who is deeply
rooted in the unmanifested, the manifested could very easily be called unreal. I don’t call it unreal because I see it as not separate from anything.
AC: So it is real?
ET: All that is real is beingness itself. Consciousness is all there is, pure consciousness.
AC: You’re saying that the definition of “real” would be that which is free from birth and death?
ET: That’s right.
AC: So only that which was never born and cannot die would be real. And since the manifest world is ultimately not• separate from the unmanifest, according to what you are’ saying, in the end, one would have to say it’s real.
ET: Yes, and even within every form that is subject to birth and death, there is the deathless. The essence of every form is the deathless.
Even the essence of a blade of grass is the deathless. And that’s why the world of form is sacred. It’s not that the realm of the sacred is exclusively being or the unmanifested. Even the world of form I see as sacred.
AC: If someone simply asks you, ‘Is the world real or unreal?” would you say it was real or would you have to qualify the statement?
ET: I would probably qualify the statement.
AC: Saying what?
ET: It’s a temporary manifestation of the real.
AC: So if the world is a temporary manifestation of the real, what is the enlightened relationship to the world?
ET: To the unenlightened, the world is all there is. There is nothing else. This time-bound mode of consciousness clings to the past for its identity and desperately needs the world for its happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, the world holds enormous promise but poses a great threat at the same time. That is the dilemma of’ the unenlightened consciousness: it is torn between seeking fulfillment in and through the world and being threatened by it continuously.
A person hopes that they will find themselves in it, and at the same time they fear that the world is going to kill them, as it will. That is the state of continuous conflict that the unenlightened consciousness is condemned to-being torn continuously between desire and fear. It’s a dreadful fate.
The enlightened consciousness is rooted in the unmanifested, and ultimately is one with it. It knows itself to be that. One could almost say it is the unmanifested looking out. Even with a simple thing like visually perceiving a form-a flower or a tree-if you are perceiving it in a state of great alertness and deep stillness, free of past and future, then at that moment already it is the unmanifested.
You are not a person anymore at that moment. The unmanifested is perceiving itself in form. And there is always a sense of goodness in that perception.
So then all action arises out of that, and has a completely different quality from action that arises out of the unenlightened consciousness, which needs something and seeks to protect itself.
That is really where those intangible and precious qualities come in that we call love, joy, and peace. They are all one with the unmanifested.
They arise out of that. A human being who lives in connectedness with that and then acts and interacts becomes a blessing on the planet, whereas the unenlightened human is very heavy on the planet. There is a heaviness to the unenlightened. And the planet is suffering from millions of unenlightened humans. The burden on the planet is almost too much to bear. I can sometimes feel it as the planet saying, “Oh, no more, please.”
AC: You encourage people to meditate, to as you describe it, “rest in the Presence of the Now” as much as possible. Do you think that spiritual practice can ever become truly deep and have the power to liberate if one has not already given up the world and what the world represents, at least to some degree?
ET: I wouldn’t say that the practice itself has the power to liberate.
It’s only when there is complete surrender to the now, to what is, that liberation is possible. I do not believe that a practice will take you into complete surrender. . Complete surrender usually happens through living. Your very life is the ground where that happens.
There may be a partial surrender and then there may be an opening, and then you may engage in spiritual practice. But whether the spiritual practice is taken up after a certain degree o f insight or the spiritual practice is just done in and of itself, the practice alone won’t do it.
AC: Something that I’ve found in my own teaching work is that unless the world has been seen through to a certain degree, and unless there is a willingness based on that seeing to let go of it, then spiritual experience, no matter how powerful it is, is not going to lead to any kind of liberation.
ET: That’s right, and the willingness to let go is surrender. That remains the key. Without that, no amount of practice or even spiritual experiences will do it.
AC: Yes, many people say they want to meditate or do spiritual practice, but their spiritual aspirations are not based on a willingness to let go of anything substantial
ET: No, in fact it may be the opposite. Spiritual practice may be a way to try to find something new to identify with.
AC: Ultimately, would you say that real spiritual practice or real spiritual experience is meant to lead one to the letting go of the world, the transcendence of the world, the relinquishment of attachment to the world?
ET: Yes. Sometimes people ask, “How do you get to that? It sounds wonderful, but how do you get there?” In concrete terms, at its most basic, it simply means to say “yes” to this moment. That is the state of surrender-a total “yes” to what is. Not the inner “no” to what is. And the complete “yes” to what is, is the transcendence of the world. It’s as simple as that-a total openness to whatever arises at this moment. The usual state of consciousness is to resist, to run away from it, to deny it, to not look at it.
AC: So when you say a “yes” to what is, do you mean not avoiding anything and facing everything?
ET: Right. It’s–welcoming this moment, embracing this moment, and that is the state of surrender. That is really all that’s needed. The only difference between a Master and a non-Master is that the Master embraces what is, totally. When there is nonresistance to what is, there comes a peace. The portal is open; the unmanifested is there. That is the most powerful way. We can’t call it practice because there’s no time in it.
AC: For most people who are participating in the East-meets-West spiritual explosion that is occurring with ever-greater speech these days, both Gautama the Buddha and Ramana Maharshi-one of the most respected Vedantins of the modern era-stand out as peerless examples of full-blown enlightenment, and yet, interestingly enough, in regard to this question of the right relationship to the world for the spiritual aspirant, their teachings diverge dramatically.
The Buddha, the world-renouncer, encouraged those who were the most sincere to leave the world and follow him in order to live the holy life free from the cares and concerns of the householder life. Yet Ramana Maharshi discouraged his disciples from leaving the household life in pursuit of greater spiritual focus and intensity. In fact, he discouraged any outward acts of renunciation and instead encouraged the aspirant to look within and find the cause of ignorance and suffering within the self.
Indeed, many of his growing number of devotees today say that the desire to renounce is actually an expression of ego, the very part of the self that we want to liberate ourselves from if we want to be free. But of course the Buddha laid great stress on the need for renunciation, detachment, diligence, and restraint as the very foundation on which liberating insight can occur.
So why do you think the approaches of these two spiritual luminaries differ so widely? Why do you think that the Buddha encouraged his disciples to leave the world while Ramana encouraged them to stay where they were?
ET: There’s not one way that that works. Different ages have certain approaches, which may be more effective for one age and no longer effective in another age. The world that we live in now has much greater density to it; it is much more all-pervasive. And when I say “world,” I include the human mind in it. The human mind has grown even since the time of the Buddha, 2,500 years ago. The human mind is more noisy and more all-pervasive, and the egos are bigger. There’s been an ego growth over thousands of years; it’s growing to a point of madness, with the ultimate madness having been reached in the twentieth century.
One only needs to read twentieth-century history to see that it has been the climax of human madness, if ifs measured in terms of human violence inflicted on other humans.
So in the present time, we can’t escape from the world anymore; we can’t escape from the mind. We need to enter surrender while we are in the world. That seems to be the path that is effective in the world that we live in now. It may be that at the time of the Buddha, withdrawing was much, much easier than it would be now. The human mind was not yet so overwhelming at that time.
AC: But the reason that the Buddha preached leading the homeless life was because he felt that the household life was full of worries, cares, and concerns, and ill that context he felt it would be difficult to do what was needed to live the holy life. So in terms of what you’re saying about the noise and distraction of the world, that is actually precisely what he was addressing and Why in fact he led the homeless life and encouraged other people to do the same.
ET: Well, he gave his reasons, but ultimately we don’t know why the Buddha put the emphasis on leaving the world rather than saying as Ramana Maharshi did, “Do it in the world.” But it seems to me, from what I have observed, that the more effective way now is for people to surrender in the world rather than attempt to remove themselves from the world and create a structure that makes it easier to surrender. There’s a contradiction there already because you’re creating a structure to make it easier to surrender.
Why not surrender now? You don’t need to create anything to make surrender easier’ because then it’s not true surrender anymore. I’ve stayed in Buddhist monasteries and I can see how easily it can happen they have given up their name and adopted a new name, they’ve shaved their heads, they wear their robes-
AC: You’re saying that one world has been abandoned for another. One identification has been given up for another; one role has been dropped and another has been assumed. Nothing has actually been given up.
ET: That’s right. Therefore do it where you are, right here, right now. There’s no need to seek out some other place or some other condition or situation and then do it there. Do it right here and now.
Wherever you are is the place for surrender. Whatever the situation is that you’re in, you can say “yes” to what is, and that is then the basis for a1\ further action.
AC: There are many teachers and teachings today that say that the very desire to renounce the world is an expression of ego. How do you see that?
ET: The desire to renounce the world is again the desire to reach a certain state that you don’t have now. There’s a mental projection of a desirable state to reach-the state of renunciation. It’s self-seeking through future. In that sense, it is ego. True renunciation isn’t the desire to renounce; it arises as surrender.
You cannot have a desire to surrender because that’s non-surrender. Surrender arises spontaneously sometimes in people who don’t even have a word for it.
And I know that openness is there in many people now. Many people who come to me have a great openness. Sometimes it only requires a few words and immediately they have a glimpse, a taste of surrender, which may not yet be lasting, but the opening is there.
AC: What about the spontaneous call from the heart to abandon all that’s false and illusory, all that’s based on the ego’s materialistic relationship to life? For example, when the Buddha decided, “I have to leave my home behind”-it would probably be hard to say that was an egotistical desire, looking at the results. And Jesus saying, “Come follow me. Let the dead bury their dead. “
ET: That is recognizing the false as false, which is mainly an inner thing-to recognize false identifications, to recognize the mental noise, and what had been identification with mental images as a “me” entity, to be false. That is beautiful, that recognition. And then action may arise out of the recognition of the false, and perhaps you can see the false reflected in your life circumstances and you may then leave those behind-or not. But the recognition and relinquishment of all that is false and illusory is primarily an inner one.
AC: Those two cases, the Buddha and Jesus, would be, examples of powerful outer manifestations of that inner recognition.
ET: That’s right. There’s no predicting what is going to happen as a result of that inner recognition. For the Buddha, of course, it came because he was already an adult when he suddenly realized that humans die and become ill and grow old. And that was so powerful that he looked within and said that everything is meaningless if that’s all there is.
AC: But then he was compelled to go off, to abandon his kingdom. From a certain point of view he could have said, “Well, it’s all here right now, and all I need to do is just surrender unconditionally here and now.” Then I guess the result could have been very different, he could have been an enlightened king!
ET: But at that point he didn’t know that all that was necessary was surrender.
AC: Yet, when Jesus was calling the fishermen to leave their families and their lives to follow him, and, similarly when the Buddha would walk through towns and call the men to leave everything behind, ‘their surrender was demonstrated in the actual leaving, in saying “yes” to Jesus or the Buddha and letting go of their worldly attachments. And obviously there would also be their inner attachment to let go of as well. In these cases, letting go wasn’t only a metaphor for inner transcendence; it also meant literally letting go of everything.
ET: For some people that is part of it. They may leave their habitual surroundings or activities, but the only question is whether or not, they have already seen the false within. If they haven’t, the external
letting go will be a disguised form of self-seeking.
AC: For my last question I’d like to ask you about the relationship between your understanding of enlightenment, or the experience of nondual consciousness, and engagement with the world.
In Judaism, fully engaging with the world and human life is seen as the fulfillment of the religious calling. In fact, they say it is only through wholeheartedly living the commandments that the spiritual potential of the human race can become manifest on earth.
Jewish scholar David Ariel writes, “We finish the work of creation…God stands in need of us because only we can perfect the world.”
Many enlightenment or nondual teachings like your own emphasize the enlightenment of the individual.
Indeed, transcendence of the world seems to be the whole point, But our Jewish brothers appear to be calling us to something very different-the spiritualization of the world through devoted men’s and women’s wholehearted participation in the world. So is it true that nondual enlightenment teachings deprive the world of our wholehearted participation in it? Does the very notion of transcendence rob the world of the fulfillment of our potential to spiritualize it as God’s children?
ET: No, because right action can only flow out of that state of transcendence of the world. Any other activity is ego-induced, and even doing good, if it’s ego-induced, will have karmic consequences. “Ego-induced” means there is an ulterior motive. For example, it enhances your self-image if you become a more spiritual person in your own eyes and that feels good; or another example would be looking to a future reward in another lifetime or in heaven. So if there are ulterior motives, it’s not pure. There cannot be true love flowing into your actions if the world has not been transcended because you’re not connected with the realm out of which love arises.
AC: Do you mean pure action, untainted by ego?
ET: Yes, first things first. What comes first is realization and liberation and then let action flow out of that – and that will be pure, untainted, and there’s no karma attached to it whatsoever. Otherwise,
no matter how high our ideals are, we will still strengthen the ego through our good actions.
Unfortunately, you cannot fulfill the commandments unless you are ego less-and there are very few who are-as all the people who have tried to practice the teachings of Christ have found out. “Love your neighbor as yourself’ is one of the main teachings of Jesus, and you cannot fulfill that commandment, no matter how hard you try, if you don’t know who you are at the deepest level. Love your neighbor as yourself means your neighbor is yourself, and that recognition of oneness is love.