Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why Do I Maintain This Blog?

I ask myself this question from time to time. The last time was this morning, after receiving the following anonymous comment:
Such a disappointment.. I fully agree with William. Since being introduced to your writing, you have brought many insights into my life that synchronistically spoke to some very trying personal experiences. Aeolus always struck me as someone who was cracking open in the best sense, and hitting on pertinent truths in a way that would help many others embarking on the very same journey. Having said that, this "Dave" business is such a crock of shit that it shocks me to see you falling into it. I trust you still haven't handed the man A SINGLE DOLLAR of yours. You say you aren't "trying to copy him, be more like him" yet several sentences later you say you "represent" him. You seem to be a very discerning fellow and though I gather you've had a very challenging several years (I am Sebastian as well), I will trust that you won't fall too far down this pit before you catch yourself. Fancy semantics and clever touchettes aside, I trust your innermost knows what the fuck it's doing... Good "luck" Jason.
Apparently some of my blog readers want to “save” me from my latest “folly.”

I cite this anonymous comment as an example of the most annoying sort of feedback I get. It seems like it is friendly and supportive, but the professed concern is patronizing and insulting, and its function is more to soften me up for the blows than anything. It's based on the premise that I have been suckered and that I need someone who knows nothing about it to tell me how I have been suckered.

What does this person want? It’s a complex question, but it’s a question that ties into the main one: why do I keep up this blog when it’s generating this sort of passive aggressive, uninformed “concern.” First he describes how he has benefited from my insights, after which he accuses me sharply of falling for a “crock of shit.” He doesn’t say why it’s a crock of shit. Apparently stating his opinion strongly enough is supposed to deter all arguments. (That’s called bullying.) His actual intent, however unconscious (and when someone is this angry they usually aren’t very conscious) is to belittle me and put me in an inferior position to himself.

What is he so angry about? Why does he mention that he shares a name with my brother?  What is his superiority (combined with a presumptuous sort of intimacy) based on? None of this is revealed. All that is clear is that this person is angry, which means he is afraid, and that his show of concern is just that: a show. It does not extend as far granting me the space and freedom to find myself, but is only an attempt to intimidate me (or others observing) into backing him up in his unintrospected and unproven fears—whatever they may be. (Something to do with being tricked into trusting an untrustworthy teacher/father/brother figure, perhaps?)

This blog offers a service, a free one, and for whatever it’s worth. For someone to benefit from this free service and then to complain about it—to profess to know more than I do about my own “product” (insights)—isn’t just rude—it’s ridiculous. It reminds me of Dylan fans (I was never one) calling him a sell-out for going electric. It’s so illogical, in fact, that there can only be some deeper emotional reaction underneath it. Apparently this person believes, like those angry Dylan fans, that I and my insights belong to him, and is threatened by any extraneous influences jeopardizing his “supply.”

Moving on to the other end of the spectrum, I also receive kind and supportive comments, such as this one:
It's a noble endeavour. As Ray Menezes says, there is no other task more important than getting to the bottom of the this [sic] conundrum. Bravo Jason, if we were sane we'd all be following your lead.
Naturally, I agree with the sentiments expressed here 100%. I very much doubt if this person knows any more about Dave Oshana than the other commentator, but then he doesn’t need to. He's not casting judgment on Oshana, he’s responding to what I wrote. He perhaps goes a bit too far with his encouragement, since I don’t want anyone to follow my lead, exactly, although I do want people to think about what I write and apply it to their own lives. (And I am very happy if I hear someone has checked out Dave’s “product”—why, because I think it’s a damn fine product! I wonder if I would get the same sort of flack if I was recommending a friend’s music or art work?)

In a sense, the first comment quoted here, annoying as it may be, is more useful to me, because it underscores the sort of blind prejudice and emotional resistance that exists out there to the idea of enlightenment, and/or the possibility that it might be a real goal—one which we can be guided and supported towards by others (even at a price—shock, horror!).

I don’t want to make this about Dave Oshana. Really. But anyone who reads this blog who then comes to me with allegations, accusations, or simply voicing their skepticism about him is wasting their time. Why? Because if they want to find out about Dave, they can go directly to his site, online classes, or book a one-to-one with him, and find out for themselves. And if they already know it’s a crock, because it’s so obvious, then instead of trying to save me from my naiveté, hey man, just go back to your early Dylan records, and enjoy the memory of better days.

The person you thought I was, and any the insights you thought I had for you, never existed. There is only this moment. And right now—Aeolus is going electric! (Not literally; I left my guitar in Guatemala.)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Red Herring of Enlightenment

The whole question of whether a teacher is enlightened is a red herring. No one but the supposed enlightened person can know the answer, and all we can judge are the effects of being with them, and of being open to their teaching and guidance. We can only know where they are at by going there. Enlightenment doesn’t actually mean anything to anyone who hasn’t experienced it.

In the same way, love, soul, God, etc. don’t mean anything without the experience of them. For most of us, they are just words for concepts that are beyond our understanding or even experience, which is at best partial, at worst non-existent. And since we can’t know if someone else is enlightened or not, all we can do is believe it or disbelieve it. Since neither of these is useful, that leaves the third option: allowing it to remain unknown.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and nowhere else. The recipe, the cultural history, the chef’s credentials or recommendation, the reviews in The Good Food Guide and The Guardian, can help us decide if we want to order it or not. But until we take that first bite, it’s all just second-hand information and it has nothing to do with the experience of eating.

For me it comes down to a very basic question: Is there a way out? Is there a state of awareness, an experience, that is free from conditioning, delusion, and unnecessary suffering? If I come upon someone who claims to have found a way out, in such a way that seems plausible, I am going to investigate as closely as I can. If I find enough evidence to support their claim, I throw caution to the wind and (without relinquishing my critical faculties or capacity for discernment) put my trust in that person’s greater insight and wisdom. There’s really no other way to test it.

I know that I risk making a fool of myself, being disappointed, disillusioned, even deceived; but the risk is minor compared to the possible gain. Whatever the ego says about having to go it alone, stand on my own two feet, and not depend on anyone else to show me the way, experience indicates the opposite is the case. The only really significant steps I have taken in my life are the result of being pushed, inspired, or challenged by outside agencies.

It is massively significant step, however, to allow for the possibility that the outside agency belongs to entirely different level of being, as different from me as I am from a chimpanzee, maybe more so. The ego is honor-bound to find a hundred reasons to reject this point of view as “unsound.” The question of how to enter into such a relationship without giving up entirely one’s independence of thought is the riddle I am faced with. Perhaps the answer is that it can’t be done because it doesn’t need to be done, because there is no such thing as “independence of thought”?

My body may know the answer, but my mind can still doubt the body. It is what the mind does best. And in the absence of knowing, all that is left is belief. Believing that the transmission is real is useless: it is just an opinion. I have to know. But the only way to know is to proceed as if it were real, in order to find out. That means to proceed without believing, which leaves only trust: trust in the teacher, to a degree, but mostly trust in myself and above all, trust in life. Trust that this is the path that I am meant to be taking. The funny thing is, I really don’t doubt it. But I doubt all the rest, the details, the moment to moment decisions, decisions which always come down to the one decision: to surrender or not to surrender. My self-doubt is projected outward, onto all the things that are stirring the doubt within me. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the doubt. The more real I see and feel transmission to be, the greater my self-doubt becomes, the more I doubt the reality of the transmission!

I seem to be running out of options, as well as time. The more I think about this, question it, or pay attention to my doubts and criticism, the more it feels like I am simply making excuses, complaining, or indulging in denial and avoidance. Sometimes I just want to yell at the top of my lungs that none of this makes sense and that I cannot possibly be expected to live my life according to such a preposterous premise. Yet through it all, there is never, for even a moment, any real or meaningful doubt that this is the only possible way forward for me. Or, I suspect, for any of us.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Gnosis & Agnosis, Open-Minded Skepticism, & "The Transmission"

Why am I here in the Baltics, where the wind blows cold in June? 

The easy answer is that I am here to make a fresh new start in life, in a place with no previous associations. Beyond that, simple practical reasons for being here are few, and all secondary to this first one: I am here to investigate more deeply into a phenomenon which has perhaps always been under the surface of my awareness, but which only recently came all the way into view, a phenomenon which, for whatever reason, seems to be emanating from this part of the world. The Transmission. 

What is the Transmission? A Homing Signal? A form of conscious energy that may take up residence in and find expression through human beings, but which is not restricted to human beings? 

A living agent of awakening that issues from beyond the material realm and that calls us back to its source, which is the source of everything? That wishes to land in and emerge through material form while turning material forms back towards their own true nature, which is that of conscious energy?

I am here to scout for and collaborate with individuals who are able to receive, recognize, and embody the Transmission and thereby increase the strength and clarity of that Homing Signal. 

From what my feeling-sense tells me, the Transmission wants to take over my life; but it has always been running the show, so maybe what is changing is my wanting to have a dialogue with what is running the show - to be a conscious puppet instead of an unconscious one. 

It's an infinity loop: I am here to investigate what brought me here. Clearly, the Transmission does not originate from the Baltics or anywhere in the material realm. There may be areas of greater or lesser concentration, that's part of the investigation. 

I expect to meet with skepticism. Why wouldn't you be skeptical? What's the alternative to skepticism? Belief, or credulousness? 

For most people, "open-minded" and skeptical seem like opposites, but can an investigation proceed on any other basis besides one of skepticism and open-mindedness?  I'd say a little of both are required. I am skeptical about Transmission - if I weren't I would have to be satisfied with only partial knowledge and fill in the gaps with belief. Perhaps the reason skepticism often takes on negative connotations is because we are taught that we must believe in something? It is bad manners not to believe another person's claims, for example, because non-belief is equated with disbelief, so we end up seeming like we are calling them a liar just because we question their claims. 

We can't even conceive that a state of non-believing different from dis-belief could be possible. Belief is like the ground we stand on. Having an opinion, and a "position," is mandatory, unless we simply plead ignorance. Ignorance also has a bad name - as if saying I don't know is somehow less honorable than having an unformed opinion about something.

But gnosis can only occur in/from a state of agnosis. Knowledge can never come from belief, only from an acknowledgment of ignorance. Investigation comes from admitting ignorance combined with an intent to find out the truth, and to suspend all belief until knowledge has been gained. Detectives have hunches, it's true, but that's more like intuition than belief, which is a product of mind. The trick is to act on a hunch without believing in it. Because of our need to believe or disbelieve, a hunch often leads to a belief, but it doesn't need to. Why do we choose to believe one thing over another? There are many reasons, but intuition may be among the better, more "organic" ones. Then again, it could also be a subtler less surface sort of self-deception.

The purpose of following a hunch is to test a belief. Then the belief is either confirmed and becomes knowledge, or is discarded as a faulty intuition.