- Apr 23, 2006Here you go my friend, some interesting reading for you :-)
Be sure to see the article "The Dangers of Pseudo Advaita" below, after his Bio :-)
In kind regards,
Non-traditional Advaita Zen Master
AS PRESENTED IN THE BOOK
"THE HUMAN BUDDHA "
On the 11th day of May 1962, I entered the dimension of time, the plane of forgetfulness. Unexpectedly, I found myself seemingly born in the middle of nowhere. The name of this apparent nowhere was Poland. My family was rather poor and was never accepted by the village for ethnic reasons. My mother was a simple but good person; she was quite unhappy with her life and with her drunk husband, my father. She was a teacher in my school, and unfortunately this distinction isolated me from the other children. From the very beginning my soul refused to live in this dimension of ignorance! I suffered a strong depression from the very beginning which was supposed to last until I reached the age of thirty. I was a complete stranger Here, not remembering my origin; I felt painfully stuck.
At the age of five, I experienced my first awakening. I had escaped from school which made the director very upset and some children were looking for me. Completely terrified and scared of punishment, I hid myself behind the school fence. Sitting there, I asked myself in my child's mind: why do I have to suffer so much in this hostile reality? And what am I actually doing here? when suddenly, I experienced a shift, a radical re-location into the dimension of Pure Consciousness. My mind as a little child could not understand this experience but my heart recognised it clearly - as it was a return to the forgotten Truth. Later, I came to understand that in a past life I had already established the state of Pure Awareness and as such it was easily retrieved. Because my child's mind couldn't comprehend the whole significance of this experience, I returned back to my ordinary consciousness and the dramatic situation. A part of me knew clearly that I was not supposed to share my realisation - in particular with my parents, for they would not understand... The suffering I underwent as a child was so deep, I was unable to develop a way to deal with it. I was always very alone, although this was actually fine as I was in love with solitude. Most of my time was spent in the forest next to our house going for endless walks. I was simply connecting to my Soul, to this intimate place inside. It was never intended, it just came natural to me. I was like a young mystic, often spending whole nights in the forest absorbing the bliss of nature and the silence of trees.
As a teenager, I became well-versed as a chess player, displaying a certain talent which later won me championship in Poland. Playing chess helped me escape extreme isolation and brought some desperate balance into my mystical life. Connecting to the world, I discovered, was a part of my larger journey. Through my travels, I learned how to connect with people and thus to the world. My Heart was sensitive and in deep longing for human contact but my Soul was so introverted that made meetings extremely difficult. I had a lot of heart-ache finding friends and a female companion this problem lasted for a long time. A few years later I started to widen my perception of life by studying philosophy and classical literature. Because of my extreme one-pointedness and concentration, I totally focussed in whatever the task might have been till its completion. For that reason, I dedicated the whole of my time, from morning to night to complete my studies. Reading and contemplating the meaning of life made me so visionary, I lost all interest in making a career out of chess. I thought it was an activity below the dignity of a true mystic. At this point, my heart started to become more conscious of its true longing.. Still, I continued my official, utterly meaningless education, absorbing the distasteful content of the collective mind. Going to school was a real torture. So much trash I had to fill my head with in order to pass into the next class, such nonsense!
At the age of 21, I was forced to join the Polish army. I was completely broken! I was crying, scared to death and thought of crippling myself in order to escape. However, I wasn't clever and self-confident enough to avoid the army. Reality was even worst than I had thought. I found myself among brutal male individuals full of pathological and sadistic tendencies. They took my civilian clothes away, shaved my head and told me that there was no way out of that place. It was my first serious lesson regarding the low consciousness of humanity, as I was previously isolated all my life. There I discovered that humans can be completely barbarian and heartless in their essence. They are only kind when they feel safe. In a situation of insecurity when their basic needs are threatened, nothing is left of their good manners and their mask of morality.
In the beginning, I tried to feign suicide in order to get out. I took an enormous amount of pills, enough to kill an elephant. But my body was so resilient that I didn't need to be rescued. I took it as a sign to accept my strange fate given that this dosage would have killed an average person. So, instead of getting free from the army, I had to run in the snow with full equipment. Soon I discovered that the whole army system was based on a mutual agreement between the sadists and the masochists. I said to myself: they all play this game because they believe it, not having enough imagination to disbelieve in this ridiculous circus. From that time, I decided to pretend that I wasn't a part of that system and that I actually didn't exist. Instead of participating in army life, I did my own thing, which was mainly walking by the river. Eventually they forgot that I existed. My name was still on the official list, but no one knew to whom the name on the list belonged.
Upon leaving the army, I continued my life as a mystic spending time in nature in deep contemplation. At that time, I wrote my first book 'The Name of God.' It was my first attempt to translate my meditative and mystical experiences into religious language. It was the first time in my life that I experienced the meaning of my existence. Later Guidance told me that one of the main reasons for my incarnation was to write a book. It was not That book, but I was at least already connected to the truth of my Purpose. I was instinctively and desperately searching for my Inner Home, the ultimate security. I felt very insecure on the earth and carried a strong depression from my childhood. I was still disconnected from the Other Dimension, all the time trying to just get there, but not really knowing how. The experience of I Am was still not clear, even though I already had a strong connection to the state beyond the mind. From that time, I started to study various spiritual teachings with the usual great intensity. From this endeavour I learnt English as most books were not available in Polish. I read everything: Zen, Tibetan Buddhism (particularly Dzogchen and Mahamudra), Upanishads and Sufism. I studied the great teachers, like Krishnamurti, Rajneesh, Sri Ramana Maharishi , and so forth. I was especially inspired by Krishnamurti, as he spoke to my sense of freedom. Living in the middle of ignorance, I had to really believe that 'I Am THAT.' Where could I find in the middle of Poland a master to whom I could surrender? In the mean time, I connected to a Sufi group to aid my discovery of the heart's mystery. It was a lovely group, but the teaching was utterly ungrounded and did not at all point to Awakening.
One day I came across the book 'I Am THAT' with the teaching of Nisargadatta Maharaj , a disciple of the great sage Shri Sadguru Siddharameshwar Maharaj . At that moment, I knew that I found my master. He spoke to my essence, his spirit deeply touched my heart. From him I realised the necessity of stabilising the State Presence to which I was already awakened. He called this the I Am-ness. For the first time, I received clarity regarding the Path and recognised the necessity of the right effort. Maintaining the State of Presence became a new task; it was a new challenge. I went for long walks, attempting not to lose the State, not for a single moment.
At this time I began to live alone in my house as my mother had just passed away. Not having any money, I sat all day in the freezing house and read 'I Am THAT.' At that time, I was a Freezing THAT. But I persevered as the profound teaching of Maharaj gave me hope. Maharaj was my first real guide out of this cage of forgetfulness.
Feeling the need for formal practice, I joined a Zen group which followed the teachings of the Korean master Sung Soen Sunim. He was quite an original Zen master as his work revolutionised the Koan system. I did a few Kyol Che's (three months retreats) which led me deeper into the realm of meditation. To my surprise, no one from that tradition knew about the State of Presence. I had trouble finding myself as no one directly pointed to I Am. Working with the koan system was quite interesting but there were many shortcomings. The Zen philosophy represents a very profound, pure understanding of reality. However, any understanding is still in the mind, while the actual Awakening points to something much deeper.
The koan system was not an original aspect of Zen, it later developed as a tool for practice but somewhere along the way became a focal point. This was a mistake because the essence of Awakening cannot be limited to any kind of structure. Reflecting reality 'just as it is,' is the principle of Zen. Ultimately this vision points to reality as reflected in the mirror of pure awareness. The problem is that the mind also can try to see reality 'as it is,' not from the place of pure awareness but from its mental standpoint. For this reason, the koan system can be very misleading. One learns how to give the proper answer according to Zen convention, but unfortunately still remains disconnected from the light of I Am. According to Zen, the right answer can only come from the right state, but it is possible that the right answer can come from the wrong place. It is possible that a student maybe fully established in the State of Presence and yet still cannot answer the koan. From the other side, I have met plenty of Zen students who solved many koans and knew nothing about pure awareness. Therefore, koans can become like a game of the mind when we forget that the true koan is beyond the mind. Actually the only koan which points directly to awakening is the discovery of I Am. If a Zen master does not point directly to the State of Presence but makes you work for months on some abstract Zen riddle, it proves some level of incompetence. Awakening can be simple but is often made complicated. I made myself go through the koan system, just to confirm my feelings and to make sure that indeed I wouldn't miss anything. In the end, Zen at least gave me a great deal of inspiration and a solid foundation for practice.
Not being able to make a major breakthrough in my practice, I decided to go East. In the West most seekers somehow believe that the spirit of Dharma is present only in the East. It is something like an inferiority complex. Usually when they go to the East, they become disappointed finding that practice in the West is often more authentic. Nevertheless, to get money for my travels, I went to France working hard picking fruits. After making enough money, I took the Trans-Siberian train to China. The journey took over one week and was rather psychedelic in those post-communistic times. There was total chaos, this train was like a buzzing market place, as everybody seemed to sell everything and from time to time a parade of prostitutes would pass. I spent some time in China and slept in surrealistic railway stations on the latest Beijing newspapers. At this point I decided to leave. From China I took a boat to Korea. It was on this boat that I experienced my first disillusionment. Fleeting the West I was hoping to leave Christianity behind. To my surprise, Koreans who I assumed would be Buddhist, attempted to make a Christian out of me, in our first encounter. It was on that boat that I almost died because of the onslaught of a heavy storm. It was a catastrophe, everybody threw up everywhere including myself. Fortunately, I arrived in Korea in one relative piece. I had only a few hundreds US and no return ticket. I intended to do a traditional Zen three months retreat and let the future work itself out. I entered a Koran Zen Monastery, Shin Won Sa. The location of the monastery was splendid, up high in the Korean mountains. I had a wonderful time absorbed in silence and nature. I used to bathe in the freezing river at 3 o'clock in the morning so I could be fresh for the morning Zazen. Still, I always hated to wake up so early and could never really get used to such a disciplinary life style.
In that period I solved the main set of koans. I needed to solve them because I was uncertain about their importance in the awakening process. Not being able to solve them - I might have doubted the authority of my state. I was quite sad seeing those poor fellows trying to solve these abstract koans instead of directly awakening their consciousness. I had a few arguments with the leading there Zen master, in fact I had arguments with all the Zen masters. This man was anyway a good man, but quite identified with 'the school.' This school of Zen seemed to mould everyone into the same shape, as if they were making clones. Everybody seemed to speak the some language, ask the same questions and give the same answers. The most interesting thing was that none of those masters were actually interested in the inner state. No one ever asked: 'Aziz, what is your state?' Such a basic question! Instead, they asked: what did master Chao Chou mean saying Mu? Who really cares ? It is wonderful to study the sayings of Old Sages, but what they were pointing to is much more important. In awakening to Who I Am one holds the essence of all possible koans, from the past, present and future. Afterwards I stayed in Korea for some time adjusting myself to life in monasteries and doing a lot of meditation. My state was still not fully established and awareness was fluctuating. If felt like I needed to move again to intensify my practice.
Soon appeared an opportunity to go to Japan. I had a strong attraction to the Soto school of Zen and to the teaching of Dogen . Entering Japan, the custom officer asked me: how much money do you have? I had only a few hundreds, but I said two thousand and they let me in. Even on the Path to Awakening you should not always be too honest! A friend of mine gave me the idea to earn money by doing 'takuhatsu,' which is a form of religious begging. The idea was to sit, unlike other monks, Zazen on the street with a begging bowl. My first begging experience was at the railway station in Hiroshima in the middle of the night. I collected some money and a big can of beer.
I stayed for six months in a Zen Dojo near Tokyo. I was studying Dogen's teaching and making money by sitting Zazen. I made a lot of money which helped me to travel later for a few years in Asia. As far as Dogen was concerned, he was a profound thinker but tended to be dogmatic. His concept of Shikantaza was very subtle and profound. Zazen in his understanding was no longer a tool to become the Buddha but an expression of Truth. Zazen is Buddha! I was very inspired by this teaching. His teaching was for me a bridge between Advaita's vision of 'Awakening Now' and seeing Enlightenment as a future goal. However, his concept of a never-ending cultivation proves that he was not fully Self-realised. He disliked strongly the idea that after Enlightenment there is no need for practice anymore .
Another teacher, I connected to was Uchiyama Roshi who touched my heart by his humility and humanistic perception of Enlightenment. Yes, we all have in the beginning an inferiority complex. That's why humility and ordinariness in a master can bring a student that much closer to the truth of awakening. Afterwards I moved to a Rinzai monastery, Sogenji, in Okayama to undergo 'real' practice. I was practicing there under Harada Roshi. The place was perfect for concentrated practice, with a very male atmosphere. The way the monks chanted the sutras was actually scary! I wondered how they could chant so fast, so deep and with such a power? It felt a bit like I was back in the army! Still, I felt this was the place where I could make a major breakthrough in my practice. I was allotted a space. I slept in the same place where I made my meditations. They had quite a strict set of rules and a very organised life style. Harada Roshi liked Zazen and so Zazen was the main form of practice in addition to a one week retreat every month. This practice included the technique of deep breathing and the solving of koans. I was forced to do this breathing even though I hated it. I asked myself, why to make this whole effort when I can just rest in the State of Presence? Disappointingly throughout my practice nobody ever asked about my inner state. The master had his own way of checking our state. His method included listening to the out-breath, particularly of the last stage when the belly contracts. Only later I realised that this way of checking one's state was not so precise. I refused to do this breathing except during interviews with the master. Each morning at dawn there was a private meeting with the master. It was actually quite frightening. In darkness, twenty shadows waited their turn at the sound of the bell. The master screamed at everyone. This interview was like a battle for life! He was extremely dedicated in pushing students to their breakthrough.
After my request, Roshi gave me a special permission to do a solo retreat in a secluded temple in the mountains. I broke my initial desire to fast during this retreat, eating fruits from the local cemetery and drinking the beer offerings left in the graveyard. During the retreat I got frostbite. I could not cure it for a long time as in these places they don't use any heating! Actually they were quite tough. In the morning, during the dead of winter, the first thing they did was open all windows wide! But I got used to it and started even to enjoy the freshness of the cold morning air. Despite the conditions, my practice was excellent. The most powerful time was during December of 1993. In that month I was intensely focussed on stabilising self-awareness. I was so concentrated that I was hardly aware of the outer world! When everybody went to sleep, I used to walk around in a trance of awareness. One night in the middle of this intensity - I let go! When I let go, I saw a new world! Everything was so beautiful! I looked at a tree and this tree was the Truth. I looked at a mountain and this mountain was itself an explosion of the Now! This ecstasy lasted for some time but eventually settled down. Later I understood that my experience was caused by the contrast of extreme concentration and a full letting go. During that time, I had a few more ecstatic experiences. One day to my surprise while checking my breath, the master shouted: yes! He approved of my realisation. Finally I stabilised the State of Presence.
I didn't know what to do next. While working on some more koans, I got into a disagreement with the master. I spent one month trying to solve a koan as he kept rejecting all of my answers. Eventually I found the answer but still I was sure that my past answers were even better! At this point, I realised there were no more reasons for me to stay as I was striving for my own vision of reality. I left the monastery and decided to do a two months retreat, this time in a Soto monastery. I spent a fortune to get to the other side of Japan. When I entered this place, I realised my mistake. This was a typical Japanese monastery - all the monks seemed devoid of any human emotion. They were just like Zazen-robots! This was a sign to leave Japan. Japan is a country of deep culture and precise focus, but emotionally it is like a desert and when the heart closes, one simply becomes depressed. As such, the next day I left.
My next stop was Thailand. The first thing I experienced was a terrible sunburn on one of the islands. The second thing was getting poisoned by 'magic' mushrooms. I was experimenting with the State of Presence, trying to see whether drugs could disturb the state. The hallucinogenic did not take the state away but rather distorted the energetic quality of it. At that time I understood how delicate our brain is and that it needs to be respected (see: Velada Mushroom Ceremony ). After getting poisoned, I went to a Thai monastery to spend the rest of my time in a more meditative atmosphere. The monastery was connected to the famous Ajahn Chah . When arrived, all the monks looked completely spaced out. They only studied the rules of conduct as if Enlightenment was the equivalent of being a 'good monk'.
My next stop was India. I was very excited to finally see the land of the great Advaita masters! After many years of longing to come to this magical land, Existence now gave me this chance. When I arrived in Calcutta, I shed tears seeing the enormous poverty. Slowly I had to get used to it. This was India! I left to Lucknow where the disciple of Ramana Maharishi, the famous Poonjaji was teaching. He invited me for dinner, but I was unable to have a serious conversation with him. But the situation was not right, as I didn't come all the way from Japan just for a social visit.
I had a burning desire to clarify the matter of Enlightenment.
He, Poonjaji, was surrounded by female disciples, who in an air of an infinite admiration kept caressing his head. He seemed to be more interested in talking about his social life - that is by 'whom' he was visited and 'when' he was visited. During Satsang the next day, I asked him an interesting question. In his book was written his story of awakening. He chanted Mantras with great dedication. Soon, a day came when he could no longer chant and so he went to Maharishi with his problem. Maharishi looked at him and said: you have arrived! My question was, how was it possible that Poonjaji didn't know himself that he arrived? Isn't Enlightenment self-evident? And what was the difference between the state he was in, prior to Maharishi's approval and after it? My question pointed to the important element of recognition. For it is the power of recognition which brings value to any state. However, Poonjaji, got quickly annoyed not being able to read the question (as all questions were submitted on paper) and became very rude. I also got very upset, so I stood up and left.
Similar to Poonjaji, I had to admit that I was also looking for the recognition of my state. Guidance told me that in this life time I was not supposed to be recognised by a human master until I became fully confident in my own realisation. It was nevertheless my first disappointment with an Advaita master as all the inspiring literature I read gave me high hopes. The whole scene of Satsang was rather hysterical. All these seekers seemed to be in some kind of an unnatural euphoria. The whole scene was mainly based on projections regarding the legend of the great master of Poonjaji, Ramana Maharishi. In spirituality like in politics, to become popular one has to have the right name and connections. Again, the next day I left.
I decided to visit the Bodhi-tree under which Buddha reached Enlightenment. When I realised that this tree was just like any other tree and the sky above it was blue like everywhere else, I paid my homage and left in peace. Next I went to Dharamsala. There I had a discussion with one Dzogchen master about the nature of Rigpa, the State of Presence. According to this tradition, Rigpa is eternal but only temporarily covered by the ego. My point was, how come that in the deep sleep Rigpa is not present? There is no ego in deep sleep, so no one should obscure the purity of Rigpa! He said that Rigpa is present in the deep sleep in its own way. We couldn't reach any positive conclusion. The reason is that in Dzogchen, they don't differentiate between the state of pure awareness and state prior to awareness. The deep sleep state is simply prior to Rigpa and Rigpa is not as eternal as it seems. I left again as my questions were still left unanswered.
I visited some gurus in Rishikesh. It was all rather amusing. Most of the gurus looked rather suspicious. I attended a Satsang with a surprisingly well-known American woman, who didn't seem to have any clue as to what she was talking about (see) . She gave some disconnected statements about Enlightenment, which showed her lack of basic knowledge and experience. And of course, nobody meditated there. Most seekers in Rishikesh seem to be completely spaced out and without any discriminative wisdom in their choice of a master. Either they smoked a lot or talked about some flighty experiences with their gurus. Because of poverty of my experience here, I was able to appreciate more my Zen training and wisdom. I was very moved being able to visit the Samadhi of Nisargadatta Maharaj. There was a wonderful coincidence because the day I visited his place was also the anniversary of his death. I paid him homage and expressed my infinite gratitude for his guidance. I also used this opportunity to visit two other masters in the area: Ramesh Balsekar and Ranjit Maharaj . Ramesh was a very special man, in love with I Am, but rather identified with a certain Advaita line of logic. He was very humble and beyond guru trips, although our discussions about free will did not get anywhere, as he radically refused such a possibility. He asked me: 'why don't you find the inner essence?' I said, 'I am speaking from that place!' In that case why are you checking out all these gurus? 'Because that is my destiny,' I replied. I used his own argument of destiny to challenge his interrogation of my quest.
Most Advaita seekers go through Bombay to visit Ramesh. It is like the tourist in India who has to visit the Taj Mahal, so the Advaita seeker must visit Ramesh. And he tells them, they don't have free will, it is all just movie. He tells them that Enlightenment cannot be reached through effort for effort is from the ego and ego cannot jump above its own head. So they all realise through this 'logic' how ridiculous they are and they relax. Afterwards they see that the meeting was wonderful but they are still as miserable as before! My feeling is that Maharaj himself was not attached to the concept of destiny. Even though he spoke about destiny in such a fixed way, I feel that he could just say the opposite. This was the same issue regarding the need for practice. In the simplistic interpretation of Advaita, the need for practice is denied because practice takes place only in ignorance. But in an imaginative interpretation of Advaita, the vision of non-duality is more dynamic and includes the need for practice. That's why Maharishi spoke so much about arresting the mind, and Maharaj about keeping the sense of I Am, and so forth. Ramesh did not reach his awakening to the State of Presence directly through his effort, but neither through the dropping of his effort. It was through Maharaj that the energy of transformation shifted Ramesh into a higher state. It didn't merely happen because such was his destiny, but because of the presence of an alive master.
Later I realised that even though Ramesh is a direct successor of Maharaj, his view about the Absolute proves lack of this type of realisation. According to Ramesh, the Absolute represents consciousness at rest; however this is incorrect for, in truth, the Absolute is prior to consciousness. This is not merely a difference in terminology. In the first statement, Absolute prevails when consciousness is suspended, for instance in trance or deep sleep. But when we say that the Absolute is prior to consciousness, this means that it exist independently from consciousness. The reasoning of Ramesh shows that his perception of the Absolute is purely intellectual. He simply knows, while being conscious, that there exists a dimension deeper than this consciousness. But he didn't realise the simultaneous unity and co-existence of both of them. What it means is that being in consciousness, he does not abide experientially in the state prior to consciousness. It was at that time that I also was convinced of understanding the teaching of Maharaj, without actually realising the Absolute. I was telling myself: I am in the state of pure consciousness, but prior to this very recognition of it, in this very Now is present the state prior to recognition, the Absolute. In this way, I was rather certain of being in the same state as Maharaj. It was two years later that I was supposed to realise my mistake.
Ranjit Maharaj was a very pleasant old man who lived in a tiny, little room in the middle of Bombay. He was a dharma brother of Nisargadatta, as they both had the same master. We had one conversation, although it was not very interesting. Maharaj simply repeated the model of reality based on the state prior to consciousness, the Absolute. But it was wonderful to see in the middle of this crazy city an old man with clear eyes, behind which was burning the unbroken fire of pure awareness and who was resting in the Uncreated!
In India one can find many interesting teachers. One of them is U.G. Krishnamurti. He reached the Absolute in a radical shift caused by kundalini energy. U.G. is a very sensitive being but seems to only live in a state of reaction. Battling constantly with past traditions and struggling with different masters seems to be a part of striving for one's freedom and one's unique perception. But when one gets addicted to this battle, one stays at the level of reaction throughout life, not allowing the Heart to open. This was also my problem which luckily got healed by the power of Grace. U.G. has an ambition to explain Enlightenment using the discoveries of science. But he cannot do it, for the limitations of science are not able to explore the mysteries beyond the linear mind. There is something not quite right in his negative attitude towards the issue of Enlightenment. It does not seem to make sense because though he refutes Enlightenment as a myth he also obviously claims to be enlightened.
My next stop was Pune. I found the teaching of Rajneesh rather interesting, inspiring and challenging. The problem was that the way he painted Enlightenment made it impossible to be reached! The self-image he projected was rather super-human. He behaved in a very unnatural way during his discourses not blinking and moving his hands in a slow manner. I was surprised that most of sannyasins, who were actually quite educated, believed that this behaviour had something to do with Enlightenment. Pune is an interesting place. It has helped many people but at the same time it has confused many. Entering the Ashram is like entering a huge mind. It was this type of Mind which called itself 'no-mind.' A strong conditioning was in the air, revolving solely around Osho philosophies and the New Age. For me the Ashram was a place to face some of my psychological issues, to experience a lot of dance, meet inspiring people and to relax.
At the time, I was deeply contemplating the nature of I Am. I discovered the relationship between the State of Presence and the mind. I saw that the presence of pure awareness does not automatically cleanse the mind and certain negativity's can still remain. I observed that there is indeed a movement even in the Inner State. Gradually, I freed myself from simplistic ideas about awakening. It was already in Poland that I had noticed that the State of Presence did not automatically remove my depression. I was wondering, how is it possible to be in the State of Presence and yet feel so sad or depressed? Nobody ever talked about it! Only later, I understood that additional cleansing is necessary to purify the mind.
My Soul was not fully satisfied with the State of Presence. I was looking for a deeper peace, a deeper refuge inside. But the question was, how to reach it? I didn't know and nobody could help me. At that time, I met a man in a crystal shop who seemed to have a great deal of esoteric knowledge. I felt that I was speaking with a real person! His name was: Houman. Soon we became close friends. He initiated me into the secrets of energy and healing. I initiated him into the state of pure consciousness and shared my spiritual understanding. We complemented each other perfectly.
One day, at the end of 1996, during a channelling session of ours, the voice of Guidance came through. It was a real surprise for us, as we seemed to make a breakthrough, connecting to Intelligence from another dimension. It was not a typical experience in channelling, for some new and higher force had made entry. This force seemed to be a specific combination of our two Souls. This force spoke: 'we are not outside of you, we are not beings, we do not exist in a place like another planet. But we know you and we are your future. We speak to you from your future, into your present now.' It was like we met our True Parent or God. That voice answered all our questions and allowed us to understand our purpose. It had absolute wisdom and possessed a tremendous love. We met for the first time the Beloved. I asked: 'am I in the same state as Maharaj?' 'No, you are not.' 'How is it possible that there exists a truth beyond my present total experience?' 'It is simply possible!' 'Will I reach the same state as Maharaj?' 'Yes, and you will go deeper than him!' 'How can I reach the Absolute State?' 'You cannot reach it by will but through Grace only! From your side, you can co-operate through surrender.' Here, I faced a big problem. To admit that I was not fully Self-realised was very challenging for my ego. But did I have any choice? I submitted myself to that mysterious wisdom which seemed to know everything and more. I surrendered to that which I couldn't see but which my heart and my intelligence recognised as a representation of Truth.
Guidance sent me to do a solo retreat in South India and predicted the shift to the Absolute for the middle of December. I went to Kerala and started my retreat by the beach. How to reach the Absolute? Maharaj spoke only about the Absolute as such, but nothing about how to get there! He was saying that I am already THAT, but for some reason, I was not yet THAT! The intellectual conviction of being THAT does not actually help you become THAT. At that time I wasn't THAT in any way. Maharaj spoke about the witnessing of I Am. I Am itself is the witness. How could the witness be witnessed? Soon I discovered that whatever gymnastics I made with awareness, I was still locked within this awareness. It was in Pune that I kept demonstrating everyday to Guidance a different realisation, hoping that it was the Absolute. Each time Guidance patiently answered, 'not yet.' Yes, the only way to go beyond it is to surrender into Being. The key words which pointed in the right direction were: 'no-will' and 'absence.' I sat in absorption and tried various experiments. I contemplated the moment of falling asleep, just trying to recognise the condition of no-will and absence. I discovered that the place where the Absolute lives is at the bottom of the breath. To breakthrough this gate is to move to the Other Side. I was completely desperate! I was full of doubts, anxieties and impatience. It was a very difficult time. All my life seemed to culminate in this retreat. It was the final battle to reach the Absolute.
The shift happened on the 15th day of December 1996 around one in the morning. It was such a relief! I found myself slipping to the Other Side, to the Beyond. This implosion cannot be expressed in words. It was like diving to the bottom of the ocean and piercing through this bottom into the space on the other side. I experienced the absolute freedom. But the next day the passage closed again! I was so desperate and broken. But in a few days managed to slip into the Absolute State again. I needed to use a very subtle will to reach the condition of no-will. Guidance told me that Maharaj himself did hundreds of such attempts. On the 31st day of December 1996 I became stabilised in the Absolute. It felt like I had died and I had not been fully reborn. It was a mysterious time. For many lifetimes on the Buddhist Path, in my Soul there was imprinted a deep longing to reach the Unborn, to reach Nirvana. Upon reaching the Absolute State, I completed my Buddhist karma. I had reached complete disidentification and freedom from the apparent reality. My whole life of search reached culmination. The next few months I was completely absorbed inside, I was without any desire to do anything. The energy needed to settle down and integrate. Contemplating my life, I could see myself sitting in my little room in Poland reading 'I Am THAT' and now already in the Absolute, free at last. At that point I could have said that 'I am THAT,' but it would not have been a precise statement.
I returned to Pune. Shortly thereafter, I met shortly an Israeli guru who was rapidly growing in popularity. Our meeting had been arranged. I was curious whether he like myself might have mistaken the State of Presence for the Absolute. He had a sudden shift into the State of Presence, but he didn't know how he got there and that there were other possibilities of expansion. He didn't seem to recognise anything I said. This knowledge is precious and it is rare to find a Soul who desires to dive into the ocean of its mystery, into the depth of New Understanding. Most teachers convince themselves they have reached the complete state and cannot allow themselves to even doubt it (even that they secretly very much do) for they would lose their role as a true master. At that time, I understood that in order to attract seekers, one does not need to be at all fully Self-realised. It is all a game based on guru projections and creating the right guru atmosphere. Some get around just by imitating Osho. People love it for in actuality they don't really desire awakening but rather someone sitting on a high chair, so they can unload their projections unto them. In my teaching, I look to maintain the right perspective in terms of my ego-image. Since Enlightenment does not eliminate the ego, one has to always practice humility. The problem with most Satsangs is the ego projected from the master and its further reinforcement by disciples. There are many cases of manipulations and even abuse regarding the issue of power and control. It is quite sad. Many of those teachers behave in quite an unnatural way. They walk very slowly, they project some spaced out look into the eyes of their followers, they speak very slowly and so on. It is such hogwash but so many naïve seekers think that it is an appropriate type behaviour! There is probably no cure for all this nonsense. It has to be accepted on some level as a part of the collective ignorance regarding spirituality.
I was invited to teach in Israel. Being in Israel was rather difficult because of its claustrophobic atmosphere and lack of nature. Despite this, I did meet a few very dedicated students. The first of them was Reza, who quickly received the transmission of the Absolute State. I began my teaching work. It was challenging, as I was very shy and nervous of being in front of many people. Because my life was spent mainly in isolation I had difficulties in relating to others. At that time the only thing I was interested in was teaching the Absolute. Only later, came to understand that the Absolute is the destiny of very few seekers. After the shift into the Absolute, I was tired all the time, as my energy system needed to adjust. I was learning how to enter the world from the place of the inner Void.
From Israel I went to Japan and wrote my next book 'Beyond Consciousness'. The energy of this book had a strong Buddhist flavour even though I was already presenting a new vision of awakening. In July 1997 I again met Houman in America. I was very surprised as our work was about to begin again! Guidance said: 'Aziz, you have done well, but now we have to open your Heart and awaken your Soul.' My task was to put Houman into the Absolute State and his job was to open my heart chakra. Working with the heart was not an easy task because the whole area was not very clear to me. The concept of the Soul which Guidance introduced was rather against my basic non-dual make-up. It felt like a naive word but Guidance couldn't find a better term for the essence of our individual creation. According to Guidance, one can be enlightened in a traditional sense and yet have no soul! Later, we started to use more the term Me which had the enormous power of simplicity. Completing our work, took us over half a year. It was an intense time. We were constantly doing energy work on each other, retreats and praying to God. I was coming closer and closer to the Beloved and to the experience of happiness. The Absolute State was not able to give me happiness. I was still very isolated and disconnected from the reality of Creation. I was opening my heart and finally discovering my Soul, the child within. Sometimes I wanted to give up for I didn't see any real progress. But gradually the energy of my heart started to move. There was more and more warmth and happiness around me. This happiness was not psychological but was manifested purely on the energy level. I meditated on my heart day and night, awakening to my Soul and discovering the Beloved. I was becoming free from my Buddhist past. We received constant instruction from Guidance. In moments, we were losing faith, Guidance would always bring healing and encouragement. Apart from opening my heart, Guidance was deeply cleansing my subconscious mind. I began to understand how it was possible that even though I rested in the Absolute, I could still be rather unhappy. It was all about the negative perception of life crystallised on the subconscious level. Many lives on the Buddhist path imprinted in me a negative perception of Creation. This negative vision of life was not conscious but imprinted on the energy level. As Guidance cleansed my subconscious, suddenly something got freed from my infinite past. For the first time, I could truly see this reality as a beautiful expression of the Creator. The complete Enlightenment to the heart and its stabilisation took place at the beginning of December 1997. In the middle of that month Houman shifted to the Absolute. During his retreat, there was a very powerful transmission of the Absolute which transported his soul to the Unmanifested.
Our meeting was absolutely amazing. He was born with an enlightened heart and a strong message to help humanity. I was born with an enlightened consciousness and with the strong message to transcend this dimension. Our meeting brought harmony and balance to our Souls. Houman moved to the place beyond helping and non-helping recognising the low level of humanity and seeing that there is hardly anybody to be helped. And me, I opened my heart to compassion and moved forward towards humanity. During the period of 1997, not only did we reach completion but gained understanding into the secrets of the teaching and transmission. Guidance was continuously preparing us as channels of Transformation. In the beginning of 1998, we reached a further awakening which we called 'Enlightenment to Me.' We understood finally that this fundamental and extraordinary truth was All About ME. Guidance said, 'Aziz your fight against traditions was not about the battle of ideology, but about coming back to your Me. You had to free your psyche from all concepts which negated the existence of your very Me in order to fully meet yourself.' That was so true. All my life was about meeting Me. This realisation was so simple, yet so subtle and profound. From the very first experience of suffering, long walks in the forest, fear and yearning for security and love, in truth, it was all about Awakening to Me.
Gradually the New Teaching was taking shape. The book 'Enlightenment Beyond Traditions' had emerged from the depth of our Intelligence. It was a very precious work revealing the secrets of the inner world. It clarified many misconceptions about Enlightenment. This book for most students is difficult to understand. When one is fed with over-cooked food, one forgets how to eat the raw food of Truth. This book needs to be read many times and contemplated deeply. It is not for a lukewarm seeker but for seekers of the Truth.
Being in America, apart from its thrilling nature was really rather disappointing. I wrote a few articles to the Buddhist magazines about the role of ego, 'Buddha Mind and Christ Consciousness' and other subjects. There was a very little response. Americans are too busy to look for Truth. They prefer to conform to available traditions, like Buddhism, which offer a comforting sense of security. I did do some teaching but mainly in order to prepare myself for my future work as a channel of Guidance. Although, it was only preparation, a few Souls became deeply touched by the energy of Transmission. It was about the time to leave America. Guidance made further prophecy about our next shift, into the State Beyond Polarities. There was supposed to be a state even beyond Awakening to Me, where the Soul fully meets the Beloved. Guidance said that Osho and Trungpa reached this state at the end of their lives and even though they could not understand its meaning, they lived it. In order to reach such a state, one foot has to be in the Absolute and the other foot in the Divine Dimension. Sufi masters get there easier. Rumi was, for instance, in that exalted state. I asked Guidance: 'is it in the realm of Me?' Guidance remained silent for a long time and answered: it is not for us to tell this but yes, Aziz, it is in the dimension of Me Houman decided to move to Hawaii. It was an unbelievable time which in truth we cannot share with anybody. We left deeply moved and completely transformed.
After leaving America, I was sent to work. I started teaching in Israel and afterwards I moved to India. Not used to channelling such amounts of energy, after an intense period in Israel I was completely depleted. There was a day I felt like I almost died. Private work in particular with students (based on consultation and energy transmission) seemed to exhaust me a lot. My being was still weak after the shift to the Absolute State and I needed to sleep a lot.
Teaching in India was quite interesting but very disappointing. At that time, I still had the illusion that somewhere on this planet there were many seekers waiting for Truth. From that time on, I started to realise more and more the sad truth that seekers do not really exist, apart from a very few. I began teaching in Dharamsala where a strong Buddhist community had formed. My Satsang attracted many Buddhist intellectuals who were completely stuck in their minds. One Tibetan Lama wanted to argue that keeping I Am would be proof of attachment, and therefore against the Buddha teachings. But what is the whole eighth-fold path which Buddha offered to humanity but a type of attachment which is supposed to take us to Freedom? Soon I saw that most people were rather satisfied in only shopping for spirituality without any real desire for Awakening. Most are either not serious or simply play ego-games .
My next station was Pune as I decided to return and I had to face the low consciousness of people running the ashram, who didn't want me to teach in the area. According to them I was supposed to teach inside the ashram. But in such a case, I would have no choice but repeat Osho like a good boy, which I was not interested in doing at all. It was the irony that even though Osho had taught about being a Rebel, the place he created turned the people instead into Ashram conformists. After being insulted by a few suspicious individuals running the ashram, I was quite happy to say good bye to this place. Most sannyasins who came to Satsang were strongly conditioned either by pseudo-Advaita clichés or by the naïve idea of celebration. In truth, both ideas complement each other. The first one justifies that one does not need do anything to awaken apart from maybe relaxing. And the other one brings some kind of a simple joy into unconsciousness, so it is more bearable. Most seekers who came were shocked by the idea that they had to meditate and were not allowed to lay down and sleep during Satsang! Very few were able to appreciate that they received actual tools to awaken. Most of them would rather be stuck in their illusory search the whole life, just waiting 'for something to happen.' Still in spite of it all, Pune is a magical place and often special encounters can happen here. Anyway, I did meet a few good people. As Guidance mentioned, only one percent of seekers can be touched by the light of Truth. Afterwards, I moved to Arambol, a gorgeous beach in Goa which is a natural power place. Arambol became one of my bases for teaching in India.
In 7 March 1999, when Uranus transited my natal Saturn, I had the shift into the State Beyond Polarities, as Guidance predicted. In the same period Houman was transported Beyond Polarities in Hawaii. All the three centres of I Am became One and merged with the Beyond. Although I have become One with the Beloved, my human aspect is still evolving. As a teacher, I had to pacify my shyness and nervousness. There is still an emotional evolution for me and space to reach further harmony within my personality. My evolution continues but it is taking place in the dimension beyond Enlightenment. This further evolution takes me deeper into the mystery and cannot really be shared as it belongs to my unique blueprint.
In my teaching work many have become fully transformed. It is all by the force of Grace and Guidance. Many were shifted to the dimension of pure consciousness; a few dedicated students have realised the Absolute State and some have reached Enlightenment to Me. But I am still rather disappointed with the level of understanding and appreciation of most students. So few are able to see the tremendous value of this teaching. It is not just Awakening alone which matters but the depth of sensitivity coming from intelligence and the Heart, and this is lacking the most.
As a teacher speaking in the name of Enlightenment I often have to suffer seeker's projections. Some of them look at me with unnatural admiration; some pass their judgements and some just think that I am just a regular guy because I don't project any guru-image. All of them are wrong. I am not God and nothing could be more false than worshipping me. Next, those who have judgements about me are either ignorant or come from an impure intention. And finally those who want to look at me as a fellow to hang out with are simply not sensitive enough to see that I Am Beyond.
I can say that I was blessed. I can say that it was worth it to be alive despite all my suffering along the Path, it has all been worth this absolute total experience of the Now. I have been blessed for I discovered the Purpose, the Meaning and Truth of my existence. I have been blessed for I returned home to the state of unity with the Beloved. Yes, I have been seen by the Divine and embraced by the infinite wisdom and love which entered my life from the Beyond. I have been blessed for I know beyond a doubt that in spite of all the difficulties in human life, there is Only Love.
Now from my future, I can embrace the small child born 38 years ago in his fear and shock of returning to this plain of ignorance. As I guide him towards his Future Fulfilment, I say onto him: It is OK, everything is OK. You are in good hands. The Beloved is with You.
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience and then proceed to make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
NOTE :Although Aziz does not mention outright the " well known American woman " by name here, and although she could be almost anybody, the name that most often comes up and dominates when such topics as Rishikesh, Satsang , and American woman are typed into various internet search engines is ShantiMayi who, in 1988, met in Rishikesh the man who she eventually studied under, Hansraj Maharajji, said by many to be a majestic, wise, yet simple Indian man. In 1991, under the guidance of her master, it is said, she Awakened to the Truth. If that was before or after Aziz's visit, or even if was ShantiMayi he alludes to, is not clear.
Although not always thought so as such, Advaita actually falls under the auspices of the three main branches of VEDANTA:
Dvaita Vedanta - the dualistic approach
Advaita Vedanta - the non-dualistic approach
Kevala Advaita Vedanta - the pure non-dualistic school.
The main exponent of Vedanta was the great sage Adi Sankara who was an adept of the Kevala Advaita Vedanta path. In western circles it is not unusual to blend the last two together as well as interposing the words Advaita and Vedanta as having the same meaning, becoming in a sense euphemisms of themselves ("satsang" is often included as well). Generally speaking it works OK, but when fine tuning the specifics then a more indepth process is usually required. (source).
Jerry Katz, in a further clarification, in his Nonduality FAQ website, presents the following as well:
Advaita means nonduality. Vedanta means "end of the Veda." The Vedas, the most ancient texts of Indian literature, are books on mythology and sacrifice. Their origins are superhuman, their authority divine, the Orthodox believe. The end of the Veda marked the coming of the Upanishads, which are books on the nondual nature of reality, but which offer different levels of nondual understanding, and have even given rise dualism, which says that God and the human body are eternally separate.
Providing the Introduction:
The Dangers of Pseudo Advaita now proceeds:
We would like to express our concern regarding the recent phenomenon of 'satsang-culture' which in our opinion has impoverished seriously the Orignial Spirit of Advaita. These days many individuals, who have very little or no knowledge at all about the Process of Awakening, feel qualified to give satsang and lead other souls on the Path. Enlightenment has become very cheap these days. Nobody actually really knows what is the meaning of this term as it virtually means everything and nothing. Nowadays, it is sufficient to say 'I am Awakened' in order to give satsang.
Because of the unverifiable nature of Enlightenment, this term has been much manipulated. Satsang has been Americanized. In an average satsang-gathering everybody is laughing, showing signs of euphoric and unauthentic joy, while the teacher tries to look like he or she is in a bliss. Just like a TV show. Very few actually meditate. Why to meditate if we are already all Awakened?
But Is this really Advaita? Is Advaita a poor repetition of a several slogans like 'There is nobody there,' 'You are That,' You are already Awakened' or 'There is no Path', etc.? Has this anything to do with teaching of great masters like N. Maharaj or Sri Ramana Maharishi? Ramana sat in caves for 20 years before he could be really complete. In his presence disciples had to meditate for months and years before they could receive from him the glimpse of the Self.
It is true that New Millennium is a time of global awakening. But this awakening is mostly partial and relative to the level of most people's unconsciousness. It was Jesus who said that there would be a time when many false teachers will teach in the name of Light. It seems to be happening now. Many of these teachers are not necessarily 'bad people' but simply unqualified and lost, in truth. They have believed too quickly in the thought 'I am now ready to teach!'
It seems that the pauper-isation of satsang culture began after the death of Poonjaji. Many of his followers started to claim that Poonjaji approved their 'Awakening.' It seems that they just took him too literally. It is an Advaita custom to say 'you are already Awakened.' This is however more a teaching device than a reflection of reality. And even if some of his disciples had a glimpse of Awakening, Poonjaji knew very well that in most cases neither it was permanent nor the final state.
An example was Andrew Cohen who was sent to give satsang in the west. He was meant to represent Poonjaji and attract more westerners to Lucknow. But he and others thought that Poonjaji actually conformed his Enlightenment. For that reason, Cohen became very hurt when Poonjaji started to criticize him when he began to act as a master. From this wound came later the magazine 'What is Enlightenment?' which more represents Cohen's own insecurity and an unsuccessful attempt to heal himself than a genuine search for clarity. By the endless investigation into states of all possible masters, and not being able to come to any true conclusion, he has been just confusing his students. The only thing which at the end remains clear from his seemingly 'sincere' efforts to find clarity is that nobody has the least idea 'What Enlightenment Is!'
It is not our intention to suggest that nobody reaches Enlightenment. We just wish to make it clear (similar as to what is found to be said in ENLIGHTENMENT: CAN YOU DO IT?) that Complete Enlightenment and Understanding of its nature is still an extremely rare phenomenon on the planet earth, which a plane of low evolution. And equally important, we wish to emphasize that a partial or pre-mature experience of awakening does not qualify one at all to take a role of a Self-realised being.
Enlightenment is not as cheap. Many seekers seem to be unaware of a very simple fact that there are actually many levels of Self-realization as exemplified in the Eight Jhana States, the Wu Keng Chuan (Five Degrees of Tozan) and the Five Varieties of Zen. There is an enormous difference between initial Awakening such as say Kensho and the actual State of Enlightenment. But who cares? Most seekers would not bother to study these matters, for in their case there is really 'nobody there' just a collective seeker's mind. And most teachers would refuse to enquire into the true nature of Enlightenment because they already have a hidden doubt and deep fear concerning the validity of their own attainment.
We would like to suggest not to rush too fast with announcing oneself 'Awakened,' and to rush even less with the idea of giving satsang. In Zen tradition one had to wait 10 to 20 years after Enlightenment before one could guide others. These days we hear about individuals who give satsang the next day after their uncertain Awakening!
We would like to clarify, for the sake of general knowledge, that there are actually several levels of expansion beyond the mind. There are three basic types of Inner Expansion:
1) Awakening to Pure Awareness (the State of Presence behind the mind).
2) Awakening to the Absolute State (unity with the unmanifested).
3) Awakening of the Heart (expansion into the Divine).
In each of these levels there are three stages: Shift into a state, Stabilisation and Integration. For instance, many satsang-teachers do not experience the same state outside of teaching. This is because they are not established permanently in the state they have attained. For that reason, they can have a deep state during satasng, but when they leave the satsang-room, they return back to ordinary consciousness. In such a case only conscious cultivation of the particular state can allow one to establish it permanently. However, if one does not believe in actual process of Awakening, how can one consciously cultivate anything? One does not even know that one is in a State. Here we see the importance of correct understanding. If one just follows in a dogmatic and unimaginative way the Advaita idea that 'I am already That,' how can one cultivate anything?
We recommend to all students and teachers of Advaita to be more critical. Follow Advaita, if you wish but know that Reality is simply much more rich than any linear philosophy, with Advaita included. The Practical Advaita and the Theoretical Advaita are very different. In the Theoretical Advaita, the Self is the only reality, there is no Path and we are all already awakened. But Practical Advaita knows that there is a long way to go before the truth of these statements can become our living truth.
We would like also to create a few practical anti-pseudo-advaita statements: 'You are not Awakened unless you Awaken!' 'You are not That, unless you reach unity with Universal I AM!' 'There is no Path but only for those who Completed it!' 'There is nobody here, but only when somebody has dissolved! Until that time you are simply a suffering somebody who only tries to believe in being no one or entertains oneself by giving 'satsang.'
We have request to all those who experience any type of awakening: PLEASE, THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO GIVE SATSANG and HONESTLY COMTEMPLATE WHAT ARE YOUR TRUE MOTIVES BEHIND THE DESIRE TO TEACH. Perhaps giving Satsang is not really necessary?
Blessings to Seekers of Truth and Clarity who have the courage to renounce the False.