I learn a great deal from the Lady, and love and respect Her as much as as much any of you. If She remains legal and available, I would continue from time to time to check my coordinates in Her gracious presence.
But it's not going to take many reports like this one (about a 20-year-old who led the cops on a high-speed chase and then claimed to be stoned on Salvia) to trigger scheduling by the Feds. Luckily no one was injured in this particular incident, but I can guarantee you that if someone had been, we would find ourselves a whole lot closer to seeing Lady S. right up there on the list next to LSD, etc. I also think that scheduling is almost inevitable, unless some sort of major miracle occurs - i.e. Salvia's antidepressant qualities come to the fore and a 'medical salvia use' similar to medical pot evolves.
As I mentioned a while back, I've been easing off the Lady because the contrast between where I love finding myself whilst besaged and my 'ordinary' state is just too great. I appreciate the advice given here to try tapering down to tiny doses to bridge the reality gap, so to speak. I do try that, but also meanwhile I am working hard on meditation techniques to see if I can move myself into a permanent and unsupported state of consciousness/bliss that's as rewarding and complete as the one She provides me.
Currently, the most help I have found are on these four lists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AdvancedYogaPractices run by an anonymous teacher, which I think says a lot for his/her lack of guru-ish-ness. Also I very much appreciate reading the bliss experiences posted by people practicing the 'wet' Theravada/jhana techniques (Vipassana) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/ and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ecstatic_Buddhism/ and those experiencing kundalini symptoms at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kundaliniheat/ The last three groups all are moderated by the same guy, who meditates three times a day, two hours each, with the noon sitting a public one at the local university.
Now I very much doubt I'll ever sit as long as he does, which is partially why I lean more toward #1, the Advanced Yoga practices instructor who recommends starting with some breathing (pranayama) and then a short sitting before then moving on to various mudras and body locks, most of which I've tried in slightly different variations. But I like his/her approach a lot because the results, at least for me, are almost instantaneous.
Anyway, I don't intend to rain on anyone's parade here, and once again I have total admiration and love for the plant teacher paths. But the day may come when I'm sitting naked on a desert island with none of my favorite get-high toys, and I'd like to be able to pop into total cosmic consciousness unassisted...
The ultimate definition of a Real Man/Woman, to my humble way of thinking, is the person who can give themselves unending and total body-mind-spirit eudaemony from the inside out just through sheer... willpower? Total surrender? Complete Understanding? Absolute Love?
Deep Inhale: Aspire to the Heights. Hold the breath for a moment: Calm stillness without thought
Deep Exhale: Let go, relax, but keep the calm. . . Hold for a moment: Calm stillness without thought
Sometimes I think it's the breathing we do to toke on Salvia as much as the Salvia itself. Am I nuts? Yes!!! Speaking of salvia-inspired art and exercise, you can check out: http://www.raysendercom/homonoeticus.html My latest graphic, posted a few days ago, is more meditation-inspired. http://www.raysendercom/kasina9final.html (A kasina is a round disk about a foot in diameter (there are at least eight different types used in Theravada meditation training) to fix the gaze. Gradually you produce a more or less permanent afterimage on the closed lids and you meditate on that.)
Two symptoms of Awakening, in my humble o-pin-yoni:
1) A wave of TOTAL COMPASSION for sentient beings everywhere. (a very interesting quote about this below)
2) An overwhelming eagerness to help other sentient beings in any way possible to cross over.
Regarding 1): Here's an interesting quote from George Dreyfus's essay, "Is Compassion An Emotion?" from "Visions of Compassion - Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature," edited by Richard Davidson and Anne Harrington. It's worth the hard cover price just for the Dalai Lama's chapter -- this is one of a series of titles issuing from the Mind and Life Institute's annual conferences:
"There is in the Buddhist tradition a distinction between bodhisattvas who are beginners and those who are more advanced. Both types cultivate compassion, but only the former seem to exhibit the kind of psychological and somatic characteristics that we usually associate with emotions. Beginning bodhisattvas are often described as being overwhelmed by compassion. They can be deeply moved by compassion and sometimes cry... Such an emotion is positive in that it does not disturb the peace of the mind, but it does arouse the mind. When bodhisattvas progess, however, their compassion seems to change. It is less clearly emotion... Such a compassion is described as being equanimous. It is very strong, even stronger than that of beginning bodhisattvas, but it is more balanced and does not lead to the kind of emotional outbursts mentioned previously."
I believe that compassion can be cultivated through a facial 'gesture' [actually learned from a David Spero photograph] -- following Dr. Paul Ekman's (UCSF) http://www.paulekman.com research in how brain functions can be changed by holding a particular facial expression. The expression I'm investigating involves first smiling and then pulling up the muscle in the front of the chin. If I don't smile first, the corners of the mouth turn down, and I turn into Benito Mussolini. But if I smile first, I get a warm heart chakra chi rush as well as the radiance that the eye-crinkling smile produces.* Check it out. So it's just an experience, but some experiences are more 'equa-noumenous' than others!
* Please see also under The O-BE-ATA Project's 'Some Quickies' for a further development of this into an exercise.
First of all, many thanks to everyone who replied to my 'ruminations.' I am truly honored by your interest and remarks. I also honor all plant substances as 'teachers' and possible add-ons to my 'diet.' If we were living in a free society, we would be free to pick and choose what we grow and eat according to our particular needs and tastes. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, we live in a society that includes people in power who are convinced they know what are in the best interests of others. In the "Common Good." That always creates problems, whether in religious groups or in the wider world.
The difficulty I think lies with misplaced desire. Not many people are willing to desire desirelessness, even though it's only through desirelessness that it's possible to see clearly, understand, wake up, and be free.
Bill, I think the emphasis should be on 'misplaced desire.' Although some practices concentrate on desirelessness, it's not the easiest way. As our co-aspirant P would point out, an intense desire to merge with That whom he calls Krishna, the divine object, is not a bad thing. Quoting from the Advanced Yogic Practices list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AdvancedYogaPractices/
"In the language of bhakti, it is called "ishta," which means "chosen ideal." ... that which burns like a beacon in your heart. Maybe it is Jesus. Maybe Krishna. Maybe Allah. Maybe your guru. Maybe the light inside you. It can be anything. Only you can know. Whoever or whatever it is, it is yours. It is personal. You will know it when you see it because it will burn like a beacon in you. It will be all goodness, all progress, projecting no harm toward anyone. It is that which leads you home to pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy."
Desire transformed into devotion is a good thing, and all desire ultimately is misplaced god-thirst. Just depends how slow you wanna go. For example. alcoholics go verrrrrry slow, and the body usually self-destructs before true god-thirst is slaked. A good write-up on desire as a useful force from the same list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AdvancedYogaPractices/message/12 A brief quote: "It is not always an easy life being constantly consumed by spiritual 'hunger and thirst,' but it puts us on the royal road to enlightenment."
> Judicious use of entheogens such as Salvia, by jolting us awake to the wonderful unifying reality of sheer being and awareness, helps in the process of becoming high.
Bill, I totally agree. Salvia has taught me ever deeper stages of the death of the small self. Marvelous instruction, but then once awakened, then what? Do I still deal with all the paraphernalia and acoutrements involved in, as you pointed out, 'getting' instead of just 'being?'
I guess I 'get' a little impatient with the slow pace of my own progress -- although I have collected quite a 'bag of tricks' -- exercises that channel various flavors of chi through the old bod. But I still have not achieved what Master Aziz would call the state of _Permanent_ Presence in the center of the head. It comes, it goes... (talking of Michaelangelos... )
Bill writes: >When Ramon says "Real Man/Woman," that could either be interpreted as machismo, or it could be interpreted as a spiritual technical term, "realized" or just simply being Real. Ramon, could you clarify?
Thank you, brother Bill, for clarifying my meaning. You are correct, although I was also indulging in a little word play. In my more 'macho' days, I USED to say, 'A real man can give himself a total non-genital-focused body orgasm -- ripples of energy coursing up from the toes to the top of the head -- by just WILLING it.' But I don't say that any more -- although I think the goal of classical Raja Yoga could be described that way, with a little pranayama thrown in for good measure -- and perhaps developing a very good Kechari Mudra (where the tongue ultimately is trained to enter behind the soft palate into the nasal passages).
Quoting again: "With kechari do we 'fly though inner space?' The greatest part of the kechari experience is the rise of ecstatic bliss. The senses are naturally drawn in and it is like we are flying inside. Our inner dimensions are vast, and we soar through them in a constant reverie."
Ultimately aspiration absorbs all desire. And time does go by, dear friends, perhaps more noticeably for those of us longer in the tooth (like myself). Maybe that's why I really don't want to stack up more 'experiences.' I've got books full of experiences. I've got pages of drawings and esoteric diagrams and mystical exercises that truly get me very high, and shelves of esoteric books that all read like places I've been, and resonating devices and instruments of amazing musical subtlety. I've published various books under various names, and I think I've left enough of a vapor trail without overly honking my horn (to mix metaphors).
I have only one personal desire left: and that is to achieve unsupported samadhi/enlightenment in this lifetime, because it's the best thing I know that I can do towards helping achieve world peace. So then, "Why don't you get along with it?" you ask?
I've set myself the goal of creating a Permanent Puddle of Peace at least 12 feet in diameter around me by this springtime. I think that's a goal worth striving for without straining my inner resources. Meanwhile, I'll keep occasionally checking my progress with y'all and of course the dear Lady, who always smiles so sweetly on my efforts, wondering what the fuss is all about!
February 10, 2004
Bunch of Good Quotes
Hallo friends: It's me off-topic with some meditation stuff. Do let me know if I am wandering too far afield for this list!
Jeff Brooks, moderator on the Buddhist Jhana list I mentioned, wrote the following that seems to apply to Bill's mention of giving up desire:
"What I have found central to the practice of giving rise to jhana (absorption states): relinquishment of all grasping and aversion; developing a daily contemplative practice regimen that is "sensitive to the arising of a pleasure that is not of sense contact;" cultivating moment-to-moment awareness (Sati); giving rise to tranquility (calm abiding); and sustaining that awareness and tranquility throughout the day."
One could then ask: "What is a pleasure that is not of sense contact?"
I presume that would be a pleasure that does not arise through hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting. Once again we are being pointed towards my definition of a "Real-ized Person..." To discover this kind of pleasure, we must cultivate what Jeff translates as 'right-awareness:"
"And what is right awareness (samma-sati)? This is where an aspirant remains focused on the body in & of itself -- ardent, alert, & aware -- putting aside greed & unhappiness with reference to the world. One remains focused on feelings in & of themselves ... one remains focused on the mind in & of itself ... one remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves -- ardent, alert, & aware -- putting aside greed & unhappiness with reference to the world. This is called right awareness (samma-sati)."
Ramon Comments: You will notice that a certain amount of 'focus' - i.e. concentration, is required for starters. Personally, I balance this focus on pure awareness (during the inbreath and pause) with a complete letting-go on the outbreath. If you have trouble concentrating, try just slightly drawing the eyebrows together towards the center of the forehead. That's the 'concentration' mudra for me. A very light 'frown' does it, with also just a very light 'lifting' of the forehead muscle.
Jeff describes the four lower jhanas briefly as follows (slightly edited):
"The First Jhana: joy & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by applied and sustained concentration. With the stilling of applied and sustained concentration one enters & remains in "The Second Jhana: joy & pleasure born of tranquility, unification of awareness free from directed applied and sustained concentration -- internal assurance. With the fading of exuberance, one remains in equanimity. (Aware), alert, physically sensitive of ecstasy, one enters & remains in "The Third Jhana: equanimous & (aware), one has a pleasurable abiding. With the abandoning of (grasping and aversion for) pleasure & pain -- as with the earlier disappearance of pleasure & pain -- one enters & remains in "The Fourth Jhana: purity of equanimity & awareness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right absorption."
Jeff continues: "If you are intent upon enlightenment (nibbana) in this very lifetime, then cultivating absorption (jhana) should be the most important thing on your mind. That however does not mean that you have to renounce all of your material possessions and relationships to arrive at a "pleasant abiding in the here and now" (jhana). All you need do is develop right awareness (samma-sati) which leads to right absorption (samma-samadhi), which leads to cessation (nibbana)....
"At each practice session, simply sit as though it is your last act in life, and sit with no intention to end the session. The session will end itself. Then either begin your day if it is the beginning of your day, or go about your day if it is the middle of your day, or go to bed if it is the end of the day. I know that if you practice as little as 5 minutes three times a day you will have far more success than the person who attends a 10-day retreat every year, but never meditates in-between."
A second encounter with Ska Maria Pastora -- I took some notes, which of course are somewhat garbled. Spent the whole three hours on earphones listening to the ocean and seagulls.
Great Divine Mother EXHALE: T haw-wa-wooosh-nee-
Ska Maria Pastora arrives with great love and nobility -- with
a retinue. I found myself begging her PLEASE never to leave
me again! NEVER! She smiled lovingly and benignly, and
again repeated her previous offer to remain if a proper 'seat'
was prepared for her -- or perhaps 'caballo' would be a
better term. Or 'burro?' It reminds me of an essay I've
been polishing about Eeyore.
For my next meditation with Her I think I will have a friend in the next room. and try THREE dropperfuls. The Sage is definitely a new level of insight.