July 1, 2007
If You Say You’re “One With the Father,” They Will Kill You
When Jesus, a Jew, said "the Father and I are One," the people got ready to stone him. "Blasphemy" they cried for his daring to utter such words.
Jesus was simply announcing his enlightenment, but ultimately in the end he was killed for his teachings.
The Moslem al-Hallaj also said he was God and the people killed him, too, in a most horrible fashion. Interestingly enough, al-Hallaj said, "I am the Truth" while Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
For your own edification, I want you to read what Rumi said explaining of al-Hallaj’s words because they tell you what initial enlightenment is from the Moslem point of view. You’ll see it is exactly as I have said, and if you want to match it with Buddhism to prove the commonality of the path and its stages and conclusions once again, just pick up a copy of the Diamond Sutra (you can read it in 10 minutes):
"This is what is signified by the words Ana ‘l-Haqq "I am God." People imagine that it is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say Ana ‘l ‘abd "I am the slave of God"; and Ana ‘l-Haqq "I am God" is an expression of great humility. The man who says Ana ‘l ‘abd, "I am the slave of God," affirms two existences, his own and God’s, but he that says Ana ‘l-Haqq, "I am God," has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and "I am God," i.e., "I am naught, He is all": there is no being but God’s. " [Mystical Union in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Moshe Idel and Bernard McGinn, (Continuum Publishing Company, New York, 1996), p. 19.]
Abu Yazid Bistami, who practiced an Islamic bhakti cultivation method similar to those of Indian Hinduism, wherein he took God as a lover, also attained the experience where his self seemed to vanish and he began to identify himself only with God:
"I gazed upon [al-Lah] with the eye of truth and said to Him: "Who is this?" He said, "This is neither I nor other than I. There is no God but I." Then he changed me out of my identity into His Selfhood. … Then I communed with Him with the tongue of His Face, saying, "How fares it with me with Thee?" He said, "I am through Thee; there is no god but Thou." [A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Karen Armstrong, (Ballantine Books, New York, 1993), p. 226.]
The Christian saint Catherine of Genoa reached a point in her cultivation where she began to say, "My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself,"
Putting aside the fact that many masters who reach the Tao and then teach publicly are killed (Jesus, al-Hallaj, the Tibetan Milarepa, the Indian Zen master Bodhidharma, etc.), and putting aside the higher and lower stages of spiritual accomplishment or realization amongst these people already mentioned, … what exactly is this breakthrough stage of cultivation that these people are reaching? Is it legitimate that they can claim they and God are one, or that they are God? How can that be – what does it refer to?
What is this stage of identification, how do they reach it, and how does it fit into the overall religious path we’re supposed to be following in life?
These cultivators achieved spiritual liberation. They realized the Tao. They achieved self-realization. They realized enlightenment.
They achieved EXACTLY what organized religion wants us to achieve, but doesn’t tell you because they don’t understand it.
In letting go of thoughts and mastering no-thought (the absence of thought), these individuals were able to discard all their thoughts, including those of the "small ego" of self-identification we always have rolling around in our heads as a sort of subterranean undercurrent, to realize the fundamental substrate of ALL Being that is described as empty and formless because it cannot be described as any thing.
Now imagine — you have no thoughts, you reach this fundamental substrate of everything, there are no thoughts of being a self a self anymore and yet primordial awareness from this substrate remains…presto, you ARE that substrate.
What EXACTLY does this entail though? How do you get there?
Please explain it to me, as this is the stage all people are supposed to reach through their religious efforts, and through the cultivation of meditation techniques. If your religion doesn’t tell you this, I want you to know they are definitely misleading you, but you’re going to have to study to prove that for yourself.
In the universe there are many stages of spiritual attainment that still belong to the phenomenological realm, even though we might be referring to very purified, rarefied or high spiritual realms that no longer involve matter. These stages are typically measured or identified by samadhi attainments — degrees of mental purity that mark the beings in those realms.
These samadhi attainments are NOT enlightenment because there is still the vestige of the ego left over with these beings as they use consciousness. As Buddha said, "You can cultivate all the samadhi this very instant and still not achieve awakening." You cultivate samadhi as a way to purify your mind and prepare it for awakening, but even the samadhi are false thoughts and not the Tao or underlying substrate itself.
In initial enlightenment, one breaks free from all mental attainments including even the thoughts of being an ego, a being, a personality and life. One breaks free of these thoughts because they are only thoughts — search for your ego and you cannot find it. Why? It’s just a thought. So in cultivating samadhi, there is initially a false thought doer….a bundle of thoughts that make you think there is a doer. Afterwards these thoughts disappear and you see clearly for what they are. Now you can let go of the self-reflexive, seemingly inherent underlying, always present-because-of-attachment-though-false idea that you someone or some thing to finally achieve awakening.
What do you realize? The original nature, God, Truth, foundational being, emptiness, nothingness, Suchness, Buddhanature, Allah, Brahman. You don’t attain or obtain anything because you were always THAT to begin with. You just realize it, that’ s all. You EXPERIENTIALLY realize or prove it.
This initial stage of enlightenment where you pierce through the veil of the "false ego" is called various things by various cultivation schools. In Tibetan Buddhism it is called "realizing the clear light" because the mind is open and empty of discriminative thoughts or mental obstructions. So it is like a "clear light" existing everywhere because there are no things obstructing it, including thoughts.Meditate enough and anyone can achieve this. WHy? because it’s already there, just covered over because of attachements to thoughts that screen it.
The Zen masters, being a bit more poetic, describe it in naturalistic terms with phrases such as "10,000 miles of clear sky." The skies are "clear" or "empty" of clouds because there are no thoughts anymore, even the thoughts of being an ego. Finally all the obstructions are gone and one is unified with the original nature — "God’s face" if we use the terminology of other schools.
Taoism says that shen (spirit) transforms into emptiness. There’s no doer anymore, so there’s no more effort. Only a doer can make an effort.
Buddhism also describes in a technical way it as "breaking through the seventh consciousness," often called the ego consciousness. You can look it up on the web for more details. If you want a cultivation school that explains what this means best and gives you the clearest guidance for getting to this stage, then I suggest you turn to Buddhism. Buddhism also describes this as breaking through the conception skandha. And it also gives multiple other ways of describing how to attain this, how to go beyond, and al the gongfu or mental scenarios along the way.
Now is this type of spiritual realization really possible? Just read to find out. Read countless cultivation texts from countless traditions from all sorts of countries, races, religions and time periods and you’ll find that this is what it’s all about. Read the materials by saints and sages of various traditons with atainment, not by the intellectual scholars.
Thousands of methods will get you to enlightenment, but you have to practice. Scholars and intellectuals think; sages and saints achieve something because they practice meditation or other spiritual efforts that lead to the calming, emptying, quieting of their mind.
I’ve told you how to do this many times. I’ve told you the principles, too, so you don’t go astray and waste your time in your meditation practice. I’ve told you that you have to set a schedule and work hard. Talk is useless. Study is useless except to get your bearings. Practice is perfect. Practice is what does it.
If you read "Nothing Ever Happened," by the Hindu Master Papaji, you’ll definitely see that he, too, reached a very high stage of enlightenment and described this absence of ego as well. But perhaps a description closer to our own abilities of understanding comes from "Collision With the Infinite," by Suzanne Segal.
After years of meditation efforts she reached this initial stage of realization and yet didn’t know it, but actually became afraid. Buddhism teaches that people who realize emptiness typically respond in one of two reactions based on their backgrounds — fear or joy. Her reaction was fear for lack of a good teacher and proper teachings. It caused her to waste lots of time in her own cultivation efforts.
Fear is the most typical response for those who bump into emptiness. That’s why teachings on realizing the clear light at the time of death, such as found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, are useless to most people. If they haven’t practiced, at the time of death they will be scared (frightened) and will not be able to realize the clear light / emptiness / stage of non-ego. Nevertheless, you cannot criticize such practices. You need to understand them, and recognize who is likely to be able to use them successfully. Unfortunately, people like to turn to the esoteric because it’s interesting, even though it offers them little in terms of the chance of success at liberation or escape. That’s a pity when more reasonable, and higher success rate practices abound. But I have lectured on this previously….
Despite her fear, nevertheless Suzanne Segal wrote in modern English exactly what she was going through, and from these words you can tell that she had achieved an initial degree of awakening. Remember, upon initial enlightenment there is still a deepening required before one can achieve perfect and complete enlightenment, and this progression can be divided into ten great stations called bhumis. So initial enlightenment must be considered partial enlightenment, or enlightenment with a remainder.
The disappearance of the witness meant the disappearance of the last vestiges of the experience of personal identity. The witness had at least held a location for a "me," albeit a distant one. In the dissolution of the witness, there was literally no more experience of a "me" at all. The experience of personal identity switched off and was never to appear again.
The personal self was gone, yet there was a body and a mind that still existed empty of anyone who occupied them. The experience of living without a persona identity, without an experience of being somebody, an "I" or a "me," is exceedingly difficult to describe, but it is absolutely unmistakable. It can’t be confused with having a bad day or coming down with the flu or feeling upset or angry or spaced out. When the personal self disappears, there is no one inside who can be located as being you. The body is only an outline, empty of everything of which it had previously felt so full. [Collision With the Infinite, Suzanne Segal, Blue Dove Press, California, 1998: pp. 54-55.]
I could continue to write about this over and over again but I have already in the articles on the MeditationExpert.com site. Remember, THIS is your target. If you turn to the articles on breaking through the skandhas, you’ll see how deep this information is and how lucky you are to have it. If you want poof-poof meditation teachings, go elsewhere. If you want the real stuff, dig in.
I just wanted you to know what this was all about and once again show you the non-denominationality of the path. Christians achieve it, Jews achieve it, Moslems achieve it, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, and so forth all attain the Tao. But they all practice, they all meditate. That’s how you do it.
Pity the Talmud scholars reading books all day who achieve nothing but a head full of ideas, which incidentally are gone the next life when they are born into another race and religion. Pity the Christians who memorize the Bible but lack the road of meditation techniques and meditation efforts which will take them to the state Christ achieved. Pity the Moslem zealots who are killing others in jihad rather than working to conquer their own minds instead. Pity the Taoists who are spinning their energy channels all day long thinking this is the road to the Tao. Pity the…well, you get the picture. Another wasted life….
Good people. Virtuous people. Devoted people. Well meaning people. However, ignorant people lacking the prajna wisdom of the Tao. What is this prajna transcendental wisdom?
Prajna wisdom indicates that which is able to understand Tao, realize Tao, cultivate the self, release one from the bondage of birth and death and leap over the mundane. This is not common intelligence. It is the wisdom which is the root and origin of the body of Tao. The "so-called" original, or primal, wisdom is merely a name. To use contemporary understanding, it’s that which goes above and beyond average intelligence and common wisdom, that which can understand the essence and origin of life, the original nature. This cannot be the result of cognition. Rather, it’s the great wisdom achieved through complete engagement in the cultivation of one’s body and mind. It is this level of wisdom which is prajna. The word wisdom, which we commonly use, cannot express the full extent of the meaning of the word prajna. Therefore, it is not translated.
MeditationExpert.com is not a guru site. We are publishers whose only goal is to introduce you to the cultivation path from all sorts of cultivation schools, and introduce to you the prajna for understanding the non-sectarian, non-denominational nature of that path. It is very difficult to come upon true cultivation teachings. Nevertheless, just knowing the path and beingintroduced to it because of enough merit is not enough — the efforts you must make for awakening must be made by the self and so are all up to you.
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