Buddha At The Gas Pump Interview With David, Part 4

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David: …and insensitive.

Rick: Did your teachers appreciate you, did you feel? Did your professors understand what you were talking about or did you feel like a “pearl before swine” situation sometimes?

David: Mostly appreciation and then some swine. Not too many swine.

Rick: Good. Well you weren’t going to school in Iowa then, I guess.

David: Actually I did attempt one year at, it was called, Maharishi International University.

Rick: Actually I wasn’t alluding to that; it was a lame joke about all the swine we have here in Iowa. I also attended there for a while and had a good time there.

So this took several years and did it sort of build up to a climax and there was a breakthrough after which you felt like, “I have arrived?”

David: Many, but often that breakthrough would congeal. It would re-condense into a solidified individuality, otherwise known as ignorance. It would not be enough and so the key was to continue meditation and asanas and other practices until this crescendo could be maintained at a very, very high level. Not maintained effort-fully but maintained in the sense of stabilized.

Rick: Right, so you went through the, “I got it I lost it” syndrome for a while.

David: Oh yes.

Rick: Which many people do; was there some point at which you felt that it was stabilized beyond disruption? Or is it more of a fluid thing where there is even now the possibility of losing it momentarily or something?

David: That’s a great question. I follow your line of inquiry and I like it because it’s clear and poignant and it gives me an opportunity to think through this with you freshly in this moment.

Rick: Ok, good.

David: The gaining and then losing as we just discussed would simply continue but at ever deepening levels or perspectives within consciousness; and there was a recognition that each breakthrough was leading me into a place of unknowingness, absoluteness. Over time - I say, ‘over time,’ you just have to take that with a grain of salt, the strict Advaitist would not like that kind of statement - ‘over time,’ but that’s their problem. Over time, consciousness appeared to take on definitely a more ultimate form and did; and there were times when there was nowhere to go beyond that and there were even later confessions of being That forever without fluctuation - but I have to be honest with you - I’ve been through every single level of samadhi that’s significant within a human birth and none of them satisfy me. None of them produced satisfaction; the notion that one should be satisfied by one’s realization is a myth. One should become enlightened to one’s satisfaction but you do not become satisfied, satiated, put to rest. There’s always this quality of hunger in the human being, a kind of devotional longing that continues even after the most deep and profound forms of Self-realization.

Rick: I’m glad to hear you say that. Did you want to say more just now or shall I interject?

David: Please.

Rick: Good. I’m glad to hear you say that for a couple of reasons: first of all you mentioned the “strict Advaitist,” and I’m not sure exactly who you are alluding to but there is a whole kind of a gang these days of non-duality teachers, neo-Advaitans, they are sometimes called, who are very much opposed to the notion of levels, of progress, of any sort of path that one treads. When you talk that way to them it’s a little bit like talking to a Christian fundamentalist in the sense that you just can’t (or at least I can’t) seem to dislodge that notion. They feel that I’m misguided, I feel that they are misguided - there is some lack of communication going on - and I would suggest that the most respected traditional teachers of Advaita didn’t think that way. Shankara, Ramana Maharshi - they all acknowledged that there are levels of development and that people progress through them. Sometimes you have to go through a certain type of practice or a certain stage to make you eligible for the next stage and so on. To me, the idea of, “Are you enlightened?” is like asking, “Are you educated?” Whatever your level of education you could always say, “Yeah but there’s more,” there’s more depth, there’s more clarity - in the case of education, more knowledge. So that seems to concur with what you were just saying about as long as you’re human - if you’ve got a human body - there’s room for further exploration. Do you agree with all that?

David: Yes, to a large extent; and I don’t disagree with that small extent, only I wish to clarify something about the word “exploration.”

Rick: Ok.

David: You can’t speak of being realized until you know that you are all-permeated with the bliss of the Self. That, by the way is a phrase from Ramana Maharshi if I’m not mistaking: “The bliss of the Self.” The Self is Absolute consciousness as you know very well in your own understanding and experience. There are degrees to which that can permeate. You can have a cloth that is dyed lightly or you can have a cloth that is dyed very deeply - deep blue almost black with blue - or you can have a very light form of blue; they are both blue. They both conform to the description of blueness but there is a sense of depth in one that is not in the other. For that reason I would postulate that there are states of consciousness until you arrive at this all-saturated condition, this all-saturated bliss consciousness that makes it known to you that not just you are That but everything is That, that there’s only That. Now there is no talk about enlightenment - real, full true Self-realization until you can claim knowledge of that.

You brought up the neo-avaitic lineage that has come to pass for the last 20 years or so, maybe 25 years, mostly stemming from Poonjaji also called Papaji of Lucknow, who was a professed student of Ramana Maharshi. With all due respect to the people who teach in that lineage, I can appreciate their urge for a democratic notion of enlightenment where there are no levels, there’s no elitism, there’s no specialness. That seems to be one of their big things. They don’t want anybody being more special than anybody else. That all sounds wonderful on paper but when you want to go to an expert you go to one to learn. It wasn’t that way with Ramana Maharshi. Ramana Maharshi held himself in very high spiritual esteem and I also wish to add something a bit disturbing that should be noted by the people who claim to proceed out of his lineage; he gave clear instruction at the end of his life that there would be no successor to his teaching. I find it a bit plagiaristic - to say the least, a bit dishonest - for people to come out and claim to be vehicles of his teaching when he made a cautionary statement that no one should do so. So there’s a lot to be said on this matter. I don’t mean to be overly severe but people should be careful about claiming relationships that are inherently prohibited by the founder, by the people that they themselves have invoked in order to make themselves believable as teachers.

Rick: And to play devil’s advocate to that I would say for my familiarity with the various students of Papaji they are not all colored with the same brush.