Monthly Archives: August 2013

There Is Always Grace: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Three — Life Is a Sickness … for the Purpose of Getting Us Well

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Love Is “Just a Membrane” Away: No Matter How Bad It Gets, There Is Always Something to Keep You Here … to Comfort You When You Really Need It

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chiron_by_summitstudios_thumb0017-chironachillesthetis(continued from We Are Always and Only “Just a Membrane Away” … from Understanding Everything: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Two — “Juicy Caring” and the Answer to Pain [Footnote 1])

The Real Reasons for Being Alive

541404_132777083566784_1428132205_nAnother thing I was thinking about in the course of my session was what good work this holotropic breathwork is and how—regardless of what I had been thinking about it when I was doing it with Stan Grof a couple of weeks ago—that I feel like this is certainly taking me to all kinds of goddamn places. It’s certainly getting me past where I was in primal, getting me beyond that; so certainly it’s damn good stuff.

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1345645KUAN YIN GODDESS OF COMPASSION,LOVE & MERCYI mean I just kept thinking that this is something that reminds people of the real reasons for being alive; and if that’s not important, nothing is. But, if nothing else, I sure as hell felt: it works! The music was great; it did all kinds of wonderful things to me, taking my mind into all kinds of incredible places; it was almost like being stoned or like being on acid.

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Cosmic Frown

images (3)jesus20at20gethsemaneI remember thinking at one point about Mary Lynn and the cat and the dog that I had when I was a kid. I was thinking about how much pain there is in angry dadexistence, and how my life has been in pain. For example, there was one time when my face just angry-dad1went into this incredible frown, and I was crying and crying after the frown happened. I began to realize how that was my essence: this Frown, a big part of me—there’s just so much sadness in my life. I was thinking about what just happened recently with my father and all kinds of stuff. There was just so much sadness.

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But There Is Always Grace

487085_405457372846821_2017737770_n199706_344732748948898_302708152_n_thumbI was grieving hugely for that, and then I was also thinking about how there were also things in my life that were good—like Mary Lynn and the cat. And I was thinking about our trailer, and about the kind of a life I have now, the cozy times we have. And then I was thinking about how there was that dog when I was younger, various cats, and so on. And I was thinking about that time in Puttaparthi when that cat came to me, and I realized how there had always been something—that no matter how much pain there was, there was never too much pain. That’s when I got into the feelings about the membrane, or maybe that wasn’t when I got into those feelings.

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Life Is a Sickness … to Get Us Well

occupydenver-2_thumbIt was as if your needs are taken care of in some way or other. Life really was a sickness. But the sickness was for the purpose of you getting eventually healthy, that you weren’t given more sickness than you could handle; there was always something to alleviate the pain, to enable you to continue on; that you would always be able to stay one step above the “pit” so to speak. You would be kept above it.

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The Fact That You Only Get as Much as You Can Handle Is Evidence of the Divine in Life

Your purpose here was not to be “tortured” or irrevocably damaged by pain—it was to be able to learn from pain, but mercifully so, so there was always something to keep you here and to comfort you when you really needed it. And I was feeling like that was God’s evidence in our lives, that He’s always just a membrane away making sure it doesn’t get too extreme here.

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Joyful Compassion

kwanyin10034-chironwoundedOne last thing I should mention is that after this final crying during my breathing session—about all these people in my life and my connection with them and that juicy feeling I had when I was a kid caring for everybody, really wishing I could do something to help all my family, and not feeling that I was helpless, but really caring, really wanting to help—well there was this feeling of huge compassion, and it was a good feeling. I mean it was actually joyful—it’s hard to describe.

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A Place on Which to Stand

p105606_2387765_308339679179024_203799022966424_1348799_1719099873_nBut anyway after that I was left with this huge, very deep feeling of relaxation like I have rarely experienced, if ever. And I didn’t want to come out of it. I lay there for a while after that feeling like I was an energy field, especially in my hands. I felt like a locked-in energy field just buzzing, and I didn’t want to come back. I was so calm, not in pain, so comfortable that I felt like I wanted to keep this feeling with me always; it would be a wonderful place to come from in the world, to have inside me, to stand on, from which to view the world …

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Continue with Past Lives, Other Lives, and The Vast Hole of the “Not the Tribal”: A Foray Into Cellular/Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Four — Sidling Up to the Implicate Order

Return to We Are Always and Only “Just a Membrane Away” … from Understanding Everything: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Two — “Juicy Caring” and the Answer to Pain

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Footnote

1. Cellular/ Transpersonal Experiences

Having established the legitimacy of transpersonal aspects of prenatal, and especially cellular, re-experience, it remains to be seen what light this new perspective throws upon traditional formulations. I suggest to you that this perspective is a catalyst to a radical reformulation of traditional concepts of consciousness and development. My understanding is that it supports a view compatible with Eastern, Platonic, and “primitive” philosophical renderings—which can be characterized as Emanationist —and completely undermines the dominant Western evolutionary paradigm. I delineate such a perspective, which I call the Falls from Grace Theory, beginning in the next chapter.

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However, let us first take a look at a sampling of the kinds of experiences and perspectives that are possible at this cellular and prenatal level of re-experience before attempting to see deeper into the structure of consciousness and development, presented immediately afterwards, which contains and makes sense of them. The current chapter—A Foray Into Cellular/Transpersonal Consciousness—contains transcripts of cellular/transpersonal experiences I had through the modality of holotropic breathwork. In order to retain the flavor and potency of the raw experience itself, these transcripts are only slightly edited and are from the descriptions of my experiences I recorded immediately after having them.

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Continue with Past Lives, Other Lives, and The Vast Hole of the “Not the Tribal”: A Foray Into Cellular/Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Four — Sidling Up to the Implicate Order

Return to We Are Always and Only “Just a Membrane Away” … from Understanding Everything: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Two — “Juicy Caring” and the Answer to Pain

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“Juicy Caring” and the Answer to Pain: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Two — We Are Always and Only “Just a Membrane Away” … from Understanding Everything

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“I Couldn’t Believe How Much Caring I Had Inside of Me”: Underneath It All the Only Juicy Thing That Makes Life Worth Living Is this Feeling of Connection with Everybody

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(continued from The Spirituality of Cells and Seeds of Light in Every Darkness: All the Things We Do in Life Are Distant Reflections of Our Earliest Life as Cells [Footnote 1])

Cellular Beginnings of Desire: Sperm and Egg … Reflections of Universal Love/Attraction

kohaku_open_armsjuliacrop.gifI did have a lot of opening and closing of my legs also. I even had some egg-welcoming-the-sperm feelings at the same time as I was feeling like I wanted something, I wanted to reach out and hug the music it was so beautiful.

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And the movements of my hands made me realize I was like the egg pulling in the sperm. I had an insight into how the egg wanted to unite with the sperm and what it’s like to want to unite with something—to have something wonderful on this physical plane with all this pain … that there are some things that you want, and that’s why the egg pulls the sperm in.

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Being One Cell … You One-Celled Animal You!

Again there was a lot of lying there and feeling like a one-celled animal, and that being both good and bad and if nothing else, being different. At one point I remember focusing on all these feelings and they weren’t good and they weren’t bad, just different. They were interesting.

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The Immensity of Experience

602778_245883608875356_79184419_nI kept on thinking about the immensity of experience. The music kept having me look into all these areas of experience from all these times and places and everything else—physical and non-physical, never been physical, and so on. All this universe of experience … and I just kept tapping into it, all these spaces. And a lot of it wasn’t great or bad; it was just different. I can’t say I really liked it; but if you’re going to be here, it’s interesting to see what all there is.

And I went through a period where I wasn’t quite feeling conscious; and all kinds of things were happening that were almost on a dream level, that had to do with shapes and forms.

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Juicy Caring

Finally, towards the end, music came up that made me really cry. And it had to do with feeling or thinking about all the people in my life and all their pain … and my pain, but mostly theirs, and all the people that are sad. I had a strong sense of connection and caring for them. I couldn’t believe how much caring I had inside of me. It was a real juicy feeling. I felt like I was feeling something fundamental, like when I was a kid.

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Connection With All and Everyone

I kept thinking about how when we are in our hylotropic mode [i.e., the everyday consciousness mode], we go away from these kinds of things, from those kinds of feelings. We get caught up in things and plans and duties, but underneath it all the only juicy thing that makes life worth living is this feeling of connection with everybody. I kept thinking as an example how Mary Lynn and I, when we watch TV and see all the pain of people around the world, and how we really feel a connection with these people and we cry for them and their pain.

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Why We Turn from Caring

unnaturalself-coil-unnatural-history-crpd_thumb0034-chironwoundedAnd that’s how it felt, that’s how it felt when I was a kid before I had to shut down because the pain was overwhelming. It’s just too overwhelming to see people like my father and my mother, my brother Chuckie, all these people in my life who have so much pain.

“I Really Want to Help” — The Answer to Pain

I felt like I was actually primaling for them, for the world; letting out the feelings of pain for the whole world, and I felt like I really wanted to do that; I really wanted to help. I realized how that is my major motivation: I really want to help.

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I realized that is the answer to pain, that’s why I’m doing all the reading, looking so hard in all those books I’m reading. There’s no end to the amount of books I want to read, because right around the corner I may find the answer to pain. And I’ll be doing it for myself but mostly for the whole world. I want to help the pain stop.

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Just a Membrane Away … from Satori

homepage1393387_203310446466006_1056465244_nAnd then at another part of it, it was almost like there was a membrane around me. And I could sense there was something wonderful which was like the spiritual reality, that we were just a membrane away from it; we’re always just a membrane away from it.

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And especially me, my whole life I’ve felt like I’ve been on the edge of this spiritual reality and caught on the physical plane, caught in my own consciousness and just a fuckin’ short jitterbug away was this wonderful bright yellow existence, this whole wonderful perspective about everything.

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Feeling “Juicy”

Actually it’s this juicy feeling about everything, and what makes life meaningful is the occasional upsurge of this juicy feeling that just gives you a feeling of something that makes it all worthwhile—some reason to be here.

And I feel like that is probably the reality on the spiritual plane all the time, and that we just get glimpses of it here; and I feel like it’s just a membrane away. And my whole life I’ve been just a membrane away from it, and just striving to find the answer to getting there, to find the answer to what this is all about.

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Continue with Life Is a Sickness … for the Purpose of Getting Us Well: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Three — There Is Always Grace

Return to The Spirituality of Cells and Seeds of Light in Every Darkness: All the Things We Do in Life Are Distant Reflections of Our Earliest Life as Cells

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Footnote

1. Cellular/ Transpersonal Experiences

Having established the legitimacy of transpersonal aspects of prenatal, and especially cellular, re-experience, it remains to be seen what light this new perspective throws upon traditional formulations. I suggest to you that this perspective is a catalyst to a radical reformulation of traditional concepts of consciousness and development. My understanding is that it supports a view compatible with Eastern, Platonic, and “primitive” philosophical renderings—which can be characterized as Emanationist —and completely undermines the dominant Western evolutionary paradigm. I delineate such a perspective, which I call the Falls from Grace Theory, beginning in the next chapter.

246489_213601765436874_1705444143_n

However, let us first take a look at a sampling of the kinds of experiences and perspectives that are possible at this cellular and prenatal level of re-experience before attempting to see deeper into the structure of consciousness and development, presented immediately afterwards, which contains and makes sense of them. The current chapter—A Foray Into Cellular/Transpersonal Consciousness—contains transcripts of cellular/transpersonal experiences I had through the modality of holotropic breathwork. In order to retain the flavor and potency of the raw experience itself, these transcripts are only slightly edited and are from the descriptions of my experiences I recorded immediately after having them.

269823_220951214701929_2125157710_n

Continue with Life Is a Sickness … for the Purpose of Getting Us Well: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Three — There Is Always Grace

Return to The Spirituality of Cells and Seeds of Light in Every Darkness: All the Things We Do in Life Are Distant Reflections of Our Earliest Life as Cells

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All the Things We Do in Life Are Distant Reflections of Our Earliest Life as Cells: The Spirituality of Cells and Seeds of Light in Every Darkness

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The Experience of Simultaneous Fractals That Is Life … The Toilsome Life of Cells: Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part One — It Ain’t Easy Being Sperm

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Cellular/ Transpersonal Experiences

Having established the legitimacy of transpersonal aspects of prenatal, and especially cellular, re-experience, it remains to be seen what light this new perspective throws upon traditional formulations. I suggest to you that this perspective is a catalyst to a radical reformulation of traditional concepts of consciousness and development. My understanding is that it supports a view compatible with Eastern, Platonic, and “primitive” philosophical renderings—which can be characterized as Emanationist —and completely undermines the dominant Western evolutionary paradigm. I delineate such a perspective, which I call the Falls from Grace Theory, beginning in the next chapter.

246489_213601765436874_1705444143_n

However, let us first take a look at a sampling of the kinds of experiences and perspectives that are possible at this cellular and prenatal level of re-experience before attempting to see deeper into the structure of consciousness and development, presented immediately afterwards, which contains and makes sense of them. The current chapter—A Foray Into Cellular/Transpersonal Consciousness—contains transcripts of cellular/transpersonal experiences I had through the modality of holotropic breathwork. In order to retain the flavor and potency of the raw experience itself, these transcripts are only slightly edited and are from the descriptions of my experiences I recorded immediately after having them.

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Just a Membrane Away (February 8, 1992)

Physicality Just Feels Sickening

An important thing that happened during the holotropic session was that after experiencing sperm feelings, and going into the egg, and the egg swirling around … in the beginning there was a lot of heavy duty nausea, a lot of it. I was very sick. I felt like I remember being sick like that at certain times of my life, and I just wanted to die. And I felt like I was back there at the beginning of life and feeling how shitty it is to be physical, right from the beginning … and feeling like: yes, this is what characterizes the physical plane; physicality just feels sickening.

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And then there was a bhajan tape on. And I couldn’t help thinking lots of times about my Sai Baba connection and even picturing Puttaparthi and everything. There were several different bhajans. And suddenly I got this whiff of incense out of nowhere [there was no incense anywhere in the room]. And then I made the connection that I was feeling exactly the way I was feeling in Puttaparthi when I had dysentery. And it came to me that I had not fully processed the pain I’d gone through over there. And so here it was coming up again prompted by the smell of incense.

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Nausea Goes All the Way Back to the Beginning … Everything That Happens, Even Sickness, Is Part of Spiritual Process

And I was making the connection, thinking about how I haven’t wanted to burn incense since that time because it’s associated with that feeling of nausea. And since that nausea goes all the way back to the beginnings, when we first came into life, it makes sense that I wouldn’t want to be triggered into that. I also realized that Baba had been setting me up to feel these feelings, about sperm and egg and everything, through the getting of the dysentery and how He was taking me to some pretty profound feelings over there—just in getting sick and dealing with life being a life and death matter and wanting to leave it and deciding to stay and everything.

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Primordial Evil and Its Relation to Pain

Other things that happened: I got a glimpse into some primordial evil. At one point I started to feel real powerful, and there were a series of images of war in my consciousness. And I could understand how people could murder and rape, because it was so powerful to be caught up in stuff like that rather than to feel the pain of the body. And it dawned on me that I could easily have been murdering and raping in other lifetimes and that other people do also.

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Even Warring Feels Better Than Feeling One’s Emotional Pain

And it’s got to do with how we come into this life and there’s all this pain in the physical body, and we act it out in all kinds of ways, including getting caught up in wars and things which are just this hyped-up organized energy which seems better than feeling the pain. And that was a pretty grisly area to look at about physicality and the horror that exists in it.

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It Ain’t Easy Being Sperm

297289_219836374813413_1020054870_nI also realized that I was feeling tremendously exhausted going through the sperm … egg … and I was having some blastocyst feelings for the first time. I was feeling like I was multiplying. At one point I felt as though I were trying to connect with the uterine wall and all kinds of things like that. There were, occasionally, good feelings, but mostly it was pretty uncomfortable and not nice.

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Understanding The Core of Pain … “Life Is a Prison.”

One thing that occurred to me: Of course I want to transcend the physical plane! I said when I introduced myself in the go-around before the workshop that I’d done this hundreds of times in the last twenty years; and I’ve been born literally into hundreds of lives, and I’m tired of coming here, and feeling this pain. And it occurred to me that that is what Baba is doing to me—having me get right to the core of understanding pain, so I can decide finally to give up this addiction to the physical plane and stop coming back here. At one point, for example, at the end, it occurred to me, as Baba had said: “It’s a prison.”

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The Experience of Simultaneous Fractals That Is Life … The Toilsome Life of Cells

After the sperm and egg feelings, and the egg getting nauseated going down the fallopian tube, and the conception feelings, I was having these feelings that were like cells multiplying. I was also feeling like a zygote and my hands were going out, taking things in and throwing things out. I was thinking how everything in my life is a reenactment of these early things, like right down to the tiniest things like taking tissues in and throwing phlegm out while I’m lying here in this workshop.

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Seeds of Light in Every Darkness

Animus AnimaloversI remember one spot in the experience where I was feeling the imperfection on the physical plane, and then at one point in that Mary Lynn had water ready for me. And so I realized there are some good things here too, that there is love, and so on—some flashes of light in it all.

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Continued with We Are Always and Only “Just a Membrane Away” … from Understanding Everything: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Two — “Juicy Caring” and the Answer to Pain

Return to The Agonies and Ecstasies of Exquisiteness: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Thirteen — The Psyche Heals Itself … If Only Allowed to Do So

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The Psyche Heals Itself … If Only Allowed to Do So: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Thirteen — The Agonies and Ecstasies of Exquisiteness

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“The Only Way Out Is All the Way In”: The Eye of the Hurricane, The Cosmic Adventure, and Being Here … Why Would Reality Not Be Real?

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Such it is that we can be in the midst of life, fully experiencing it, and yet be aware of its illusionary quality, hence be unattached to it and more able to flow with it. Let us say “Zorba the Buddha.”

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The Eye of the Hurricane

From this view we see that it is our attitude toward intense experiences, not whether or not we have them, that is important. The I Ching addresses this in the hexagram, “The Arousing (Shock/Thunder)”: “[T]he shock causes no loss, because one takes care to stay in the center of the movement and in this way to be spared the fate of being tossed hither and thither” (p.200).

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“The Only Way Out Is All the Way In”

18108_519324861411937_1438199268_nOne is reminded of Heider’s statement that new members of a group may be badly frightened in viewing another member who, in the midst of catharsis, feels no feelings of fear about it (1974, p.37). Or, as one primaler put it, “It is not feeling one’s feelings that is really painful” (cf. Janov, 1970, pp. 98-99). Thus, by plunging in and surrendering to it, one can be aware of a calm center within the chaos that is imperceptible on the periphery. Or, in another primaler’s words, “The only way out is all the way in.”

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Again, Be the Observer

230px-NatarajaHAforsaleThus, it is a matter of whether or not we get caught up in intense experiences and make them part of a personal drama … “acting out” is the primal way of saying it … or we simply allow them to flow through us. In the first case, we give these feelings a status in our lives they do not deserve and increase the time required to work through them; in the second, we maintain an attitude as of a channel for experience, not an originator of it.

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Cosmic Adventure

In this regard, we note Grof’s statement that at advanced levels of transpersonal experience, beyond ego death and rebirth, “it becomes . . . a cosmic adventure in consciousness aimed at solving the riddles of personal identity, human existence, and the universal scheme” (1980, p. 215). Or in other words, we still carry water, but we are not attached to it.

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Process Is Process

Therefore, I am saying that much has been made of a difference between primal and meditation for what is primarily a difference in technique. Both can be seen as ways of attuning us to a spiritual/growth process that is common to us all, affecting our daily happenings and the life choices and directions we take in either direct or distorted fashion.

Meditation Is Technique. It Is not the Process Itself

For meditation the confusion seems to have arisen from viewing it as the sole means to growth, rather than simply a means to get in touch with a process that is growthful both inside and outside of meditation. And when we open up, what arises always is different from what we expect and includes all sorts of phenomena and experiences, all linked to our growth and resolving our blocks.

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Primal Aids Learning Surrender

Likewise, an important benefit of primal is that it can teach us an attitude of surrender to process. That we can throw ourselves, time and again, into the maelstrom of catharsis and still, somehow, be upheld and even embraced, despite ourselves, gives us confidence in a beneficent universe and allows us to foster surrender in our attitudes to the pushes and pulls of process as it makes itself known to us in our daily life.

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Being Here

Both meditation and primal can be seen as techniques to help us “be” where we are “at.” And to be most fully where we are means to be most fully in process. So it is just that at times they employ different means to get us in touch with the underlying flow that is the epigenetic protagonist of healing and creation, growth and transcendence.

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And once attuned to process, one can “be here” while working, walking, primaling, or engaging in “zazen”; it then becomes ludicrous to talk of different techniques or different levels of growth. Ultimately, when we are “on track” the process takes over, leading us onward to more encompassing realms, regardless of how we get on track.

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Evidence for this is given by meditation research as cited by Earle (1981). Although physiological correlates differ with different techniques at beginning levels, later stages show a convergence of the correlates.

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The Psyche Heals Itself

… If Allowed to Do So

There are striking similarities in the descriptions of the deep-level growthful experiences found in the spiritual literature, the psychedelic literature, the ethnographic literature, and in some of our primal reports. But what we find, in primal anyway, is that the psyche “heals” itself, if only allowed to do so, and in a way that is reminiscent of the way the body does. And so it is not so surprising that the manner in which it does so would be so similar in different places, at different times, and using different techniques for allowing it.

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Why Would Reality Not Be Real?

It is equally not surprising that we should find examples of spiritual phenomena occurring during primaling or “primal” phenomena occurring during meditation, or either occurring under LSD. For why would we expect to have anything but a common heritage and for reality to be other than itself? Is it not only our dichotomizing mind that construes such dualities to obscure and make more difficult the path that we commonly tread, that tragically serves to neutralize the compassion and interrelatedness that we would otherwise feel?

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The Agonies and Ecstasies of Exquisiteness

The point being made is that the primal process of which we speak is the same as the spiritual process. Both catharsis and calmness are natural parts of the same flow, mingling and alternating with each other, and emanating from each other, sometimes in a linear way. This flow is a natural process of creation that encompasses both types of phenomena, the agonies and ecstasies of existence, and harmonizes all of reality, both internal and external, in a pattern that is unique for every individual and oriented toward one’s patient unfolding in the path of exquisiteness.

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Summary of “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality”

Contrary to Janov’s assertion that spiritual experience is derivative of primal pain, there is evidence that primalers are encountering transpersonal phenomena at a deeper level of the primal process. I relied on my experiences and those of other long-term primalers, along with the evidence of meditation and LSD research and the current spiritual literature, in proposing an alternative explanation of the relationship between catharsis and spiritual process in which they are seen as complementary, not opposed, processes.

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At a certain level of the spiritual process “primal-type” experiences often occur, no matter how interpreted. A primal-type therapy, therefore, can be an invaluable, perhaps indispensable, aid in higher consciousness. Primal therapy reduces the symbolic clutter and cerebral “noise” that characteristically obscure the perception of spiritual realities. It thereby enables spiritual access that would be unavailable to some people conceived into less than ideal life situations. Beyond the primal-type levels of the spiritual process, deeper levels are encountered that do not give indications of containing elements of repressed pain or need, and that can be accurately termed transpersonal.

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Therefore, primal therapy and meditation represent an identity of ends and an antithesis of means. Both catharsis and meditation are techniques to help us to “be” where we are “at” and thereby to be more fully in a “process” that transcends techniques. For “when we are ‘on track,’ the process takes over, leading us onward to more encompassing realms, regardless of how we get ‘on track.'”

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Continue with The Spirituality of Cells and Seeds of Light in Every Darkness: All the Things We Do in Life Are Distant Reflections of Our Earliest Life as Cells

Return to Enlightenment as an Attitude of Adventuring … Eventually It Is Simply About Staying Open to Experience/Process: A Primal Perspective, Part Twelve — Zorba the Buddha

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Zorba the Buddha: Enlightenment as an Attitude of Adventuring … Eventually It Is Simply About Staying Open to Experience/Process

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Ecstasy Is Intensity … Catharsis and Calmness in Spirituality: Spock Should Hardly Have Been the Poster Child for Mysticism … What’s so “Alive” About Acting Like a Machine?  292766_217737858356598_441894144_n

images (1)eastwoodSpock is hardly a role model for spirituality … quite the opposite. Do you not think it awfully convenient that the role models for mysticism promulgated in the media—Unfeeling Machine Men—would be exactly what totalitarian societies want to create?

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The Big Primal ~ Instant Satori

Buddha enlightenmentAnother perspective on this subject is suggested by Heider (1974). He says that an emphasis on catharsis is rooted in “a model of growth and transcendence based on the concept of the sudden satori” (p.41), which is considered unrealistic. It is true that this situation existed among many primalers. Many of us initially, and in line with Janov’s assertions, did assume this dependence on and/or expectation of the “big primal”: 297289_219836374813413_1020054870_nthe primal that would make it all different and change our lives forever. In fact, letting go of this expectation began to be seen as a mark distinguishing advanced from beginning primalers. More experienced primalers began to see primal as a tool, not an end in itself. We began to see ourselves as growing and living both inside and outside of our primaling, and to see feelings as going on all the time, not just when we were lying down and “catharting.”

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…if we do not “be” with our illusions, we cannot know them…

The initial confusion, however, is understandable, considering the inaccurate impression engendered by the early primal that all feeling that is not primaling is somehow unreal. jesus20at20gethsemaneThis myth serves to negate all that passes through one and all that one feels between primal experiences. Janov was trying to make a point, and an important one at that: Much of what goes on inside one’s self is, in fact, elements of primal complexes and therefore is not accurate perceptions of self, others, and world. But an important facet to this is that it remains important to “be” with all that material, whether objectively valid or not, in order that one may link it all together and have the connections and insights that can occur during those catalyzing events called primals. For if we do not “be” with our illusions, we cannot know them. Hence, how can we discard them?

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Certainly the awesomeness of some forms of catharsis, the energy release involved, helps one to downplay the significance of the in-between times. But subsequently such plateau or calm spots, preparation or postcathartic periods, even the activities of our daily life, took on an importance previously unacknowledged. We began to understand that it is not a matter of catharsis for catharsis’s sake, or just of emptying one’s “Primal Pool,” in Janov’s terms.

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In that sense I am in agreement with Heider’s (1974, p. 41) direction in leaving an emphasis on catharsis and beginning “to rely heavily upon spiritual disciplines, both as preparation for the release of tension and as a maintenance program designed to enhance and prolong the desirable effects of the encounter experience.” For, using meditation in the sense that Rajneesh (1976) does, that of being with where one is in the here and now, it makes perfect sense to me that a spiritual regimen can and should be used during the in-between times to help us to stop and be aware of the continuing process within us, if that is what it takes.

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Being Where One Is

An important sidelight, however, is that for many primalers this sort of structuring may be unnecessary. As mentioned, the results of primaling, in the postcathartic period, may be the same as the results of meditation. Consequently, for many advanced primalers access is only too apparent during the between times. Therefore, to “be” where one is often only requires that we leave off avoiding, through distracting ourselves in work, sex, alcohol, drugs, food, and various other ways, the primal/spiritual process that continues within us between sessions. At this point it becomes a matter of staying open to Experience/Process, allowing it to flow through and teach us.

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Meditation Can Be Anti-Spiritual

In fact, there is the known danger in using a spiritual technique that it can be used to defend against “process.” As Epstein and Leiff (1981, p. 145) put it, “Meditation experiences may be used in both adaptive and defensive ways.” And a meditation that is used solely to force us into relaxation or into a concentration with a specific focus as a way to defend against “process” and the occasional peaks and valleys that are part of it would, in my opinion, be antiprimal, indeed would be antispiritual, antimystical, antigrowth.

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Zorba the Buddha

The-Atonement-of-Jesus-Christ-Landing-2011-01-24Therefore, in general I agree with Heider’s shift in emphasis away from catharsis and to the postcathartic period, but not nearly to the extent to which he apparently has. For I do not see a need to “transcend” catharsis or go “beyond” it as he does. Certainly Grof, Muktananda, E23439Pic13374and others would concur that even the outer reaches of transpersonal experience do not entail a cessation of conflict, resolution, growing, and learning. Similarly, Epstein and Leiff (1981, p. 144) have pointed out that “meditation can be viewed as a developmental process which can produce side effects anywhere along the continuum,” and so one would wonder why we would leave off catharsis as a tool for dealing with such blocks.

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Ecstasy Is Intensity … What is so Alive About Being Machine-Like?

asfadfa553096_245884038875313_518942495_nI should point out that the experience of nearly all primalers is that the need to cathart becomes less as time goes on. But additionally, I do not see a need to posit a point beyond catharsis, for I do not see anything wrong with catharsis, with enjoying the capacity to experience intensity of ecstasy, desolation, or insight. It seems to me that this capacity can add color and vitality to our lives. Indeed, it may be that which, at times, makes us feel we are alive!

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It Wouldn’t Be “Up” if You Never Came “Down” from It

475px-rembrandt_christ_in_the_storm_on_the_sea_of_galilee-web_thumbBut Heider certainly does find something wrong with catharsis, and our differences bring up an important point. He points out that he left off inducing catharsis because of post cathartic depression that would ensue. it is my opinion that occasional catharsis can have just that sort of effectGrofChristStan_StormySearchicon if we acknowledge the depths of primal and perinatal phenomena extending all the way back through birth and womb material. Therefore, anything short of a thorough working through of these deeper levels always will leave one susceptible to relapses, postcathartic depressions, and return of symptoms in that these catharses represent further access as well as resolution.

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Enlightenment as an Attitude of Adventuring

To that extent, I believe that Heider has not gone far enough with catharsis to those areas where the most substantial gains can be made … although even then we can expect”relapses”happiness if we employ the model that Grof, among others, presents of “enlightenment” being an attitude toward the process of becoming, of adventuring deeper into the cosmos, rather than a static serene state of inaction. Grof has shown us how deep one often must go before one can expect real resolution; or, in other words, just how deep within us, and how far into our past, the roots of our present concerns extend.

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Spock is Hardly a Role Model for Spirituality

we-seek-to-keep-out-these-filthy-others448 Saint Spock webA passage from the I Ching may help to clarify this point. It is possible that because of our Appolonian Western heritage we have a tendency to view an unaffected, somehow undisturbable state … as in our common conceptions of the results of meditation … as a goal. But not all cultures and spiritual disciplines posit it as such. In the Wilhelm/Baynes classic translation of the ancient work it is written,

While Buddhism strives for rest through an ebbing away of all movement in nirvana, the Book of Changes holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that always posits movement as its complement” (p.201).

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Apparently, an unmovable state is seen as neither desirable nor possible; it is indicative of death rather than greater life.

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It continues further on:

True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and going forward when the time has come to go forward.

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In this way rest and movement are in agreement with the demands of the time, and thus there is light in life.

ShivaShaktiWhen a man has thus become calm, he may turn to the outside world. He no longer sees in it the struggle and tumult of individual beings, and therefore he has that true peace of mind which is needed for understanding the great laws of the universe and for acting in harmony with them.

Whoever acts from these deep levels makes no mistakes.

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Such it is that we can be in the midst of life, fully experiencing it, and yet be aware of its illusionary quality, hence be unattached to it and more able to flow with it. Let us say “Zorba the Buddha.”

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Continue with The Agonies and Ecstasies of Exquisiteness: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Thirteen — The Psyche Heals Itself … If Only Allowed to Do So

Return to Science Has Uncovered Something Subtler Than the Physical, Undergirding One’s Life, and Interconnected with All and Everyone: Deeper, and Higher, Spiritual Realities

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Zorba-the-Buddha-in-Antelope

Deeper, and Higher, Spiritual Realities: Science Has Uncovered Something Subtler Than the Physical, Undergirding One’s Life, and Interconnected with All and Everyone

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Essence of Archetype, Desymbolizing the World, and Removing the Mask of Mysticism: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Eleven — The “God Above God” castles_in_the_sky_by_raflames

Clean Mysticism

The “Monsters” Are not Real, A Pronoic Perspective … An Essentially Benign Universe Characterized by Grace and Love

75508_419570561463441_388329903_nThe contribution of a primal perspective, then, is twofold. First, it becomes obvious that the “demons,” the “monsters,” the resulting fear are not “real” (in terms of being rooted in transpersonal or “objective” reality). Rather, they are personal elements invading the perception of transpersonal reality. Behind the personal fear and pain we discover a more pervasive beauty and bliss, we sense an essentially benign universe characterized by grace and love.

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Exotic Phenomena ~ Spiritual Cotton Candy

Second, the primal perspective allows us to see that much of the exotic phenomena as described in the spiritual literature is a consequence of personal pain and predilection and is not real in the transpersonal sense.

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Desymbolizing the World

Making Exotic Phenomena Superfluous

0026-tumblr_lcz2t5kl5x1qag9hro1_400These two conclusions are sustained by the evidence that primalers are finding access to “cosmic life force” and “bliss” feelings often described in the spiritual literature, without having to contend with the monsters and demons, nor with the extravaganza of other-worldly description, which are concomitant to the life-force descriptions in the spiritual literature. Although one may reach deeper levels through various techniques, the deeper perceptions often are interpreted in terms of the highly symbolizing cortex. Bliss or life-force feelings are felt as immensely stronger and bigger than one’s self, in relation to a consciousness narrowed by personal pain and culture. And thus, they lend themselves readily to hyperbole and transpersonal descriptions.

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Demythologizing Reality

angry dadPrimal therapy performs its desymbolizing function, making the exotic phenomena superfluous, by connecting the symbolic material pervading normal consciousness to real-life events. This dissipates the value of any such symbolic material as something in its own right. In primal this demythologizing process is apparent where many of the activities and fantasies of daily life are found to be “act outs,” that is, symbolizations of past pain: angry-dad1One reaches for a cigarette as symbolic of an unsatisfied need to nurse; or one becomes a writer because one was never listened to; or one travels the globe as symbolic of a need to be free of a constricting home environment in childhood.

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Essence of Archetype

200278333-001But it seems that some of the deeper and more sensational experiences also are symbolic of primal pain. Even some of the “archetypal” experiences appear to be derivative of still deeper material. 7866082-newborn-baby-being-examined-in-delivery-room-by-doctorFor example, I have relived a postnatal experience that involved the cutting, scrubbing, and general abuse of my body (which was part of postnatal infant “care” in hospitals when I was born).

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I can see where I could easily have imbued the experience with fantasy elements of an archetypal “Terrible Mother.”

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witch_s640x427_thumb 43485149e141d96291000c76c297afb3_viewI did not choose to do so, because that would have meant turning what was obviously a personal reality into a fantasy and into something “transpersonal.” Yet I can also see where someone without access to the personal memory part of the experience would be left with only the fantasy.

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Archetypal Universality ~ Biological Universality

The experiences evident in primal therapy strongly indicate that much of what has usually been termed “transpersonal” are, in fact, symbolically derived from personal life experiences in the “personal unconscious,” and that their seeming universality is related to our biological universality, especially as it concerns our gestation and birth.

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253552_204561353007582_529440981_nGrof’s research also indicates that much of the exotic phenomena is symbolized preverbal pain. Concerning first-line or perinatal phenomena under LSD, he notes

[T]he encounter with death on the perinatal level takes the form of a profound firsthand experience of the terminal agony that is rather complex and has emotional, philosophical, and spiritual as well as distinctly physiological facets. (1976, p. 96)

Prenatal and Perinatal Roots of Spirituality

417002_520498194627937_1765380096_nBut then he also points out:

In a way that is not quite clear at the present stage of research, the above experiences seem to be related to the circumstances of the biological birth. LSD subjects frequently refer to them quite explicitly as reliving of their own birth trauma. Those who do not make this link and conceptualize their encounter with death and the death-rebirth experience in a purely philosophical and spiritual framework quite regularly show the cluster of physical symptoms described earlier that can best be interpreted as a derivative of the biological birth. They also assume postures and move in complex sequences that bear a striking similarity to those of a child during various stages of delivery. In addition, these subjects frequently report visions of or identification with embryos, fetuses, and newborn children. Equally common are various authentic neonatal feelings as well as behavior, and visions of female genitals and breasts. (p. 96)

I am reminded of Muktananda describing one of his spiritual experiences in which he visits “hell” (1974, pp. 114-115), which is a world filled with excrement. His description has striking parallels to some LSD experiences noted by Grof (1976), wherein this is said to be associated with “the contact with such biological materials and the termination of the agonizing experience of birth” (pp. 130-131).

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Biological Basis of Myth

159849849494_thumbThe fact that primalers relive these intrauterine and birth experiences without all of the accompanying symbolism, as exhibited in both the psychedelic and spiritual literatures, is evidence of a desymbolized cortex, less obscure in its perceptions. In fact, there is a pattern seen in the LSD research as well as, to a limited extent, in primal therapy:images Upon subsequent relivings of a traumatic experience, such as one’s birth, there is a tendency for initial, highly symbolized encounters with the material to be followed by sessions containing less symbolism. Typically, this occurs until the event finally is able to be accepted and relived in its real-life historical detail and, often, biological brutality (cf. Grof, 1976, pp. 68-69, 56, 58-60; 1977, p. 12).

The “God Above God”

But although the experiences of primalers and LSD subjects serve to dispel much of what is thought of as transpersonal phenomena, there still is much that cannot be explained away as derivative of primal pain. I’m not sure that I agree with Grof in the extent to which he attributes transpersonal status to certain elements that are intermingled with perinatal phenomena. He writes, for example: “Perinatal experiences represent a very important intersection between individual psychology and transpersonal psychology” (1976, p. 99).

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Deeper, and Higher, Spiritual Realities

But even without the pain-tainted elements, many of which have been called archetypal, it becomes increasingly hard to disregard his evidence for transpersonal phenomena on what appears to be a deeper level of the unconscious than even the perinatal. Certainly the prenatal arena has transpersonal overtones. Sperm and egg experiences themselves, in that they transcend the normal space/time boundaries of the personal in implicating a mechanism of memory that is nonphysical, are categorized by Grof as transpersonal experiences. Furthermore, beyond even that, the evidence from LSD research and the current spiritual literature suggests that the transpersonal level may be more expansive and varied than even Jung had envisioned.

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66063_226823157448068_1342750833_nJanov might dismiss these transpersonal experiences as “overload” phenomena, that is, as fantasies occurring out of released, painful energy that is too great to be dealt with. But because they occur when the perinatal phenomena have been thoroughly, not incompletely, worked through, and because they have such far-reaching and positive effects on personality and later behavior, I do not think they can be so easily discarded.

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Proof of “God”

Some of these experiences, especially in the parapsychological realm (such as ESP, clairvoyance, and ancestral memories), have even found verification with an astonishing degree of accuracy in Grof’s follow-up research (1976, pp. 164-167, cf. p. 207). Even the primal perspective, which points to the existence of memory and consciousness at the fetal, single cell, and sperm and egg level, certainly would have to acknowledge such awareness to have more subtle underpinnings than the brain and spinal cord.

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All of this points to the existence of something that is subtler than the physical body and undergirds the entire length of one’s physical life. The evidence also seems to suggest that this subtler self permeates much of matter and life in realms outside of the personal domain and therefore can be accurately termed transpersonal.

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Continue with Enlightenment as an Attitude of Adventuring … Eventually It Is Simply About Staying Open to Experience/Process: A Primal Perspective, Part Twelve — Zorba the Buddha

Return to A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Ten — Clean and Unclean Mysticism: The “Monsters” and Demons and Fear Do Not Exist Outside of You

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