When the counterfeit becomes more widely distributed than the genuine article, inflation occurs and currency loses value. So it is with love, truth, and spirituality: what we generally refer to by these names no longer amounts to much. The good that can be named is not the true good. Words have been coopted by commerce. So how to testify to love in a climate in which everything has been commodified and cheapened, where wariness and skepticism seem like the only intelligent responses? How to present an experience that defies all categorization without resorting to cliché?
I have spent my life as a writer sharpening my critical faculties and applied all the intellectual tools at my disposal to deconstruct a series of subjects. What happens when I encounter a subject that will not submit to these tools? Do I abandon the subject or relinquish the tools? Is there a third way?
What I (Think I) Know About Dave Oshana
“You are never more than six feet away from a bloke called Dave, researchers have discovered. The Institute for Studies found that every single person in the UK knows at least seven Daves at any given time and the Daves are now spread evenly across the entire country.”
—Daily Mash, February 24 2018
Before I get to why I want to write about Dave Oshana, let’s start with what I know about him, both objectively and subjectively speaking. Oshana is a Cockney from England, my own generation (circa 1967). By his own account, he began meditating at the age of five and was seeking enlightenment throughout his childhood and teenage years. He studied psychology at university and continued to explore spirituality into his twenties. In his own words:
By the age of 30, I was a trained psychologist, body worker, and computer scientist who dabbled in stand-up comedy. I had sought, tried, tested, and explored almost every available spiritual group and teaching in the neighborhood. And yet I was still unenlightened. I started to wonder if Enlightenment actually existed or if it was just a word, like “Christmas” or “Heaven.”
Oshana also attended at least two John de Ruiter’s meetings, both recorded, one transcribed in de Ruiter’s book, Unveiling Reality, a fact I mention only because of my own subsequent interest in de Ruiter. On the morning of June 19, 2000, according to his recollection, Oshana became enlightened.
I awoke to discover that I was not the same “person.” I could not recall what the experience of being “me” had ever been like. I was stunned, amazed, disorientated, and euphoric. I was lost for words and feeling tickled all over. I had no idea what had happened to me but I was extremely impressed and very curious.
Soon after, he began hosting meetings, giving intensives, teaching energy work, and organizing retreats. He moved to Finland, where he lives with his family.
I first met Oshana in Hampstead, London, in December 2007. I had heard about Oshana by pure chance. Someone had read my book Matrix Warrior and wanted me to help them write their own book, called “Solar Being.” This person believed they had had an experience of “kundalini rising” and that they had undergone some sort of enlightenment (later it passed). In the course of our correspondence, they mentioned Oshana. They hadn’t ever met him, but had heard that he was coming to London. In fact, Dave was coming to my own neck of the woods, Hampstead, where he would be giving a presentation over two days, just ten minutes’ walk from where I lived. I went with my mother and, though I was skeptical about Oshana’s “enlightenment,” I liked him at once. I attended two meetings (paid) and later accepted an invitation to an informal one-to-one (no charge) in the lobby area of the Hilton on Edgware Rd. This meeting lasted around three hours.
Oshana and I remained in contact by email until 2010, when my mother passed. At this point, our involvement level increased dramatically, and I began to relate to Dave as a spiritual teacher. Our correspondence remained informal, however, and Dave’s focus was mainly on my interest in John de Ruiter. Soon after, in November 2010 (immediately after I attended a week-long de Ruiter seminar in Edmonton), Dave and I began regular (daily) informal communication via Skype, to discuss de Ruiter. In the midst of this informal relationship, I first sought Dave’s formal (i.e., paid) guidance, about my marriage difficulties.
This more formal relationship culminated in December 2011, when I traveled to Finland to attend a five-day retreat. I was at the end of my rope and felt I had nothing to lose. I also wanted to ascertain, once and for all, if Dave was enlightened and whether he could help me rediscover my own sense of purpose and meaning, which had taken a near-fatal series of knocks in the previous year. I left the 2011 retreat one hundred percent convinced of Dave’s authenticity as an enlightenment teacher, and of my own commitment to what he calls “the Enlightenment Transmission.” While I couldn’t say with any certainty that Dave was enlightened—I didn’t know what enlightenment was—I was reasonably sure of Dave’s desire to help me, and his capacity to do so.
The Conundrum of the Spiritual Teacher
“Oshana is a spiritual teacher”—right there the grape dies on the vine. Because, in my experience, Oshana is not really a spiritual teacher; or if he is, this is perhaps the least interesting thing about him. Yet without that denomination, it’s safe to say I would never have met him, because how can something be encountered if it’s not first named?
My impressions of Oshana as a human being are that he is an honest person, considerate, gentle, caring, and compassionate, with a keen sense of personal integrity. He has helped me recognize areas of delusion, blind spots within myself, and to identify destructive patterns, habits, and defensive reactions. This has allowed for a “clearing out” of the psychic junk in my system and a lightening of my ego-load. It has led to a clearer, more constant and tangible awareness of my potential—and responsibility—for awakening, surrender, and alignment with truth, reality, goodness, and a more honest, open, authentic way of being. This both results from and leads to a letting go of ego-centered desires, fears, and agendas. In short—so far as I can determine with the faulty instruments at my disposal—Oshana has been not only a good friend but a trustworthy advisor, a positive role model, and a benevolent influence.
Doubts still remain, however, presumably in part because Dave requires monetary compensation if our relationship is to continue to grow, which creates a corresponding “threat” to my sense of self-esteem and self-determination. The money-exchange reinforces the idea of inequality between us. It keeps me in an inferior position, dependent on an enlightenment teacher to “get my shit together,” and even—in extreme moments—to save my soul.
It has occurred to me over the years, while interacting with Oshana, that the benefits of having an enlightened guide might be cancelled out by the almost insurmountable tendency to seek a solution outside of myself. In other words, even if Oshana is helping me to connect to my inner essence or authentic self, might that assistance only reinforce my habit of looking outside of myself for answers? The knowledge that, in the end, I need to connect to what is true within myself without anyone’s help or guidance, has at times thrown into question the apparent need (or at least strong desire) to look to Dave as a “compass” to point me towards the straight and narrow. I have been divided by this awareness.
Balancing these two “facts,” I have still been inclined to make full use of the opportunity which Oshana has presented. It seemed to me that the greater risk was to reject that opportunity, for whatever reason (and there were many), and attempt to reach the truth without his guidance, as compared to the dangers of becoming dependent on (or being deceived by) Oshana in the process of allowing him to guide me.
The week after I wrote this piece, while waiting to share it, I dreamed that Oshana came down from my attic space, which is where I write, and which I first mistyped as “attack space!” He was carrying something in his cupped hands which he extended towards me. He explained that it was some weird scummy residue from his bathwater and that I should consume it quickly if I wanted to receive my blessing! In the dream, I was torn between the risk of a) being such a sucker that I would drink Dave’s dirty bathwater on the off-chance that it was somehow miracle-bestowing; and b) being too closed and skeptical to recognize a true opportunity when I saw one, and so miss out on the blessing. My wife was there in the dream, and joked about my dilemma.
Evidently, there is no safe or guaranteed path to the truth. Nor is there any way to avoid these kinds of mind-twisting, potentially paralyzing doubts and fears from being stirred within me once I embarked on such a path. It is all part of learning to trust, not in anyone or anything outside of myself, but in my own internal sense of what is real. Without that inner sense, I will always be prey, not only to gurus and enlightenment teachers, but to everyone and everything.
Learning to Trust
This is the problem I encounter when writing about Dave, doubled or cubed exponentially by the self-conscious awareness of either the skepticism or the gullibility of potential readers. I feel the need to stress my “credentials” as a critically minded person who does not subscribe to the basic model of spiritual gurus or followers, at all, but who has a strong visceral distaste for all that—a distaste that seems to be shared by Oshana.
In my view, the central problem of spiritual mentoring or sponsorship is outlined above—that guiding people towards autonomy holds an inherent contradiction and tends to be counterproductive. I think Oshana is fully aware of this contradiction, and that a large part of his efforts are directed towards undermining the transference dynamic by acting in ways that undermine his own “status” as a “spiritual teacher.” This presents a curious conundrum: how to instill people with enough trust to be open to his influence but not so much that they lose their powers of discernment (as happens so often around spiritual teachers). How to guide people into trusting their own capacity to discern who to trust, exactly how much to trust, and when to trust them (and when not).
If I am learning to trust myself to trust Dave, that is only the beginning of a process that ends with a shortening of the sentence: I am learning to trust myself to trust; I am learning to trust myself; I am learning to trust.
Here’s what I know: In the ten years since I met Dave Oshana, my life has improved immeasurably. It is not so simple as giving Oshana credit for this improvement. The last decade also coincides with my turning forty, meeting the woman who became my wife, moving to Canada and becoming a landed resident, the death of my mother and brother, and later my cat, the finding and painful loss of a guru figure (John de Ruiter), the buying and renovating of an old house, and the taking over of a second-hand store in a small town, thereby becoming integrated into community life. These last key developments coincided with the years in which I became fully involved in Dave’s “project,” namely from 2012 to date (though I took a couple of years off from involvement in 2014-16).
If anything, the lack of a clear causal connection between the steady improvement of my life—a movement towards wholeness and wholesomeness—and knowing Dave Oshana only strengthens my sense of the rightness, the goodness, of the relationship. Why? Because the more orientated towards healthy living I have become, the more committed to and aligned with Dave’s project I have grown, and vice versa. The more in tune with the enlightenment transmission I have become, the more comfortable, grounded, and centered I am in my own life and skin. This is not two things then, but one: a steady and observable—to some degree even mappable—movement towards embodied, soulful existence. I see no way to separate Dave’s positive influence in my life from that of life itself, nor do I wish to. This is not (exactly) because Dave himself is so rare or special but (a mysterious but I think real distinction) because what he embodies, expresses, communicates, and shares truly is. At the same time, paradoxically, what Dave shares above all—by directing my awareness to it—is the easy and constant availability of that which restores purpose, meaning, and goodness to life: a living, breathing connection to my essential nature.
This latter is something I feel I have encountered—in ways subtle and at the same time profound and lasting—via Dave’s influence, though not exactly via his direct intervention. Dave’s gift is for creating the necessary circumstances—the set and setting—within which a person might have an experience of their soul, without the misapprehension that their experience in any way depends on Dave or the circumstances he has helped to create.
I am aware of how paradoxical this sounds; but there may be no other way to phrase it. Perhaps it is best to state it this way: over the last decade, my soul has been busy summoning and arranging the necessary set of circumstances by which I might have a fully tangible, sensory, and somewhat conscious experience of it, i.e., of myself. As a central part of these movements, it has been guiding me into a working relationship with someone who much more fully embodies their own soul life; namely (because to encounter we must first name), Dave Oshana.
Words without End
In trying to articulate all of this, I am loathe to pretend, to make premature and presumptuous claims to some special experience, by using words to concretize something so abstract (though tangible) into a set of fixed and lifeless concepts that only risk obscuring the thing they are meant to point towards.
On this task of testifying to love, I feel palpably how words have become much more of an obstacle than an assistance. If I am endeavoring anything here, it may be less to represent Oshana, or the enlightenment transmission, than it is to drag myself to the abysmal limits of my own skillset—what Dave calls cunning linguistics—and to peer glumly over the precipice and see what, if anything, arises from it, as a phoenix from ashes.
This brings us to the crux of things, namely the awareness of the spaces between, where the signal of the Soul that transmits from outside the realm of space and time can be gleaned. These are spaces that, through my time spent with Oshana, I have made the slow, steady transition from “knowing” conceptually, to doubting the truth of concepts about, to experiencing more directly and viscerally. The conundrum this presents is that, to testify to the effects of the enlightenment transmission is to risk doing a disservice to those effects, to the transmission, and to Oshana himself.
Recently, some participants suggested that the words Dave uses are unrelated to what is happening at Oshana meetings. In my opinion, this is only partially true. To say that words are unrelated to the transmission suggests that words are somehow irrelevant and this is clearly not the case. It might be fairer to say that Oshana’s words are “only” carriers for the transmission, but then, if words are potentially the carriers for our soul’s transmission, doesn’t that imply that they have enormous power, something close to the power of creation, the power of Logos? In my opinion, when Dave talks it isn’t merely to distract, lull, or entertain his audience while his transmission does its thing. His words act to massage and subtly (re-)direct my attention in such a way that I become slowly cognizant of the signal of my own Soul. This opens an opportunity for me, gradually, over time, to give my conscious consent to it, to give my soul permission to take over the reins of my awareness.
In my experience, Oshana’s “teaching” is not so much nondual as a harmonizing of a polarity and making it complementary, a perfect balance of gravity with levity when the dark intensity of Oshana’s words is carried and complemented by the buoyant energy of their delivery. The mass and weight of the truths being delivered indicates the power of the wave that carries them.
Dave said recently that there is hope but there is also no hope. This is a clear-cut example of how he uses words to reconcile opposites: he is literally stating a truth and its polar opposite in the same sentence. Yet the result isn’t gobbledygook but a higher kind of coherence. The only real hope is the hope that can withstand full immersion in a state of no hope, and a hope that exists beyond hope is like a light that can exist even in seemingly absolute darkness, a flame that cannot be extinguished even when all air is gone. A light that’s subtler than the human eye can see and yet is somehow detectable opens the senses to a layer of our being that we have previously ignored. It invites us to see—with something other than the mind’s eye—that there is no darkness, only varying shades (or densities) of light that allow form to exist. In a similar way, words can express the inexpressible, but only when they are carried by—in service to—that which they are formed to express. Bizarrely, they become an expression of something via its apparent negation, a hope conjured by the evocation of no hope.
The voice that truly serves the Soul is served also by the Soul. The word that is with God, is God.
Arriving at the Space Between
A space opening up between the thoughts, between the words, between the cells and organs of my body, between the five senses, between the present moment and my faculty to perceive it. As it happens, the space between is a shared interest for both Oshana and I: an interest in the liminal, in the built-in limitations of language, in what language is useful for despite (or because of?) these limits. Not what language is able to convey directly—because words cannot ever encapsulate, or even approximate, the infinite—but in what a more conscious use of language might allow to happen. Language as a symbolic bridge that spans the distance (a big zero) between subject and object, between you and I, between two discreet awarenesses as they meet, or try to meet, across an infinitesimal abyss.
In the beginning was the word? Yet conversely, it’s only in the spaces where words lose all meaning that true awareness begins. And such a state of pure existence—or a bright and lucid approximation of it—is to sheer sensation as sensation is to words: almost unimaginably fine, less than a fragrance, less even than the softest touch on the skin, yet deeper and more devastating than death itself. It is a grand dark emptiness that all the layers of existence are enfolded into and expand timelessly out of.
This is a trajectory that has taken me ever further away from the lurid melodrama of my ego identity and the surface stimuli of extreme body sensation, away from big stories and grand events, illusions, and accomplishments (or goals), into increasingly subtle, uneventful, yet profoundly resonant experiences of the ineffable and seemingly eternal (compared to what?) nature of (my own) being.
What am I truly, beneath all these layers of identification, where love at its deepest and most enduring both emanates from and extends towards? Love without subject or object because encompassing and transcending both? An encounter with what I am, essentially and unchangingly, that is so difficult to describe because there is so very little to say about it, because at first (and second, and third) pass it appears almost infinitely less than we expected. It is a presence whose arrival changes everything, not least because it changes nothing, because it brings with it the realization of always having been there, at the core of us, a silent witness to our existence that has only failed to articulate because we have failed to lend it ear or tongue. Using something infinitely subtler and more elusive than words, even while, for my familiar self, words are all there is with which to identify it.
So it is that, to testify successfully to this—this love most true—means, to that old familiar self, to fail, epically, and let the testimony become instead a petition, meant for the part of me that has until now been silent. It is an invitation to my soul to occupy the null and void of this writer’s contract. And being of sound mind and body, I hereby sign over all my wordy belongings to this empty space between.
In a certain sense, it doesn’t matter; except that, of course, nothing matters more than this. I would like others—the reader who does not yet exist—to have an experience of their true, essential nature, as a love that is everlasting and completely free of conditions, with neither judgment nor expectation possible. I would like you to encounter your own soul, being both what is within you that you most love and long for, and that part of you which loves most deeply, purely, and truly—yourself. To say there is no substitute for such an experience—no counterfeit—is only to (re-) state the obvious. Who says what to whom, and why?
Of course, there is no way to communicate such an experience or to cause it to happen for anyone else, unless it be by the grace of God: via the right time and space in which a few carefully chosen words, images, or sounds might trigger an event that was always present, not waiting to happen but only waiting to be noticed.
This is an experience of love that reassigns the rest of existence forever to its proper context, and it requires simply this: that we finally arrive at exactly the spot where we are situated.
For where else would we expect to find ourselves?
—With love and thanks to the Dave that made a world of difference.
Jasun Horsley, August 2018.
 For example, “He uses words as a way of occupying the mind of the listener in ways that they are accustomed to thinking, seemingly allowing them to remain in the portion of themselves they are used to, whilst in fact interacting with them at a vastly larger scale.” Or this: “The Enlightenment Transmission appeared to be unrelated to the words you were using. The words appear to have a function more like martial arts, to lull the mind into a sense of security.”
Dave’s free event in Portland, Maine, Wed, 26 Sep 2018, 18:45 – 22:00: