After attending the most recent Dave Oshana online event, “Re-Parenting: Fixing the Mess that Your Parents Gifted You (Resolving Ancient Love Problems)”, I asked my wife: “Did Dave get enlightened on his last trip to the US?”
Dave is already enlightened and so of course I was making a joke, though not without purpose. Outside of retreats, Dave has never seemed so enlightened to me as he did during this event. He was on top of his game. Maybe the change was partially in me, after my one-month trip to the UK to energetically support my sister with her recovery, which was like a kind of extended Oshana retreat without Oshana. But I think something has also changed observably in Dave.
Normally, Dave’s online events tend to be unstructured, full of digressions and jokes and unfinished points, and I almost always find them unsatisfying at a purely intellectual or informational level. Not so this time. The event had all the focus and cohesion of a two-and-a-half-hour power-point presentation. It covered all the primary areas of Dave’s “teachings,” by which I mean, everything pertinent to human existence. A bold claim, I know, but I think this event could serve as a template for an entire book about what enlightenment actually is and how to reach it, and one that would be almost wholly free of spiritual jargon (I don’t think Dave named “the transmission” once). But that’s for a future project.
Speaking of scribe dharma (or karma), by some odd case of prescience, I decided before this meeting to take notes, something I have rarely if ever done before for an online event. Because of my foresight, I am now able to re-present some of the highlights of the talk, which I will then attempt to weave together with my own recent insights in London, during the period I was absent from this blog and the podcast (as some of you may have noticed). What follows is only a loose summary based on those notes; it is not an attempt to recreate the experience of attending the event, which is beyond my capacities within the current time frame. If you want to have your own experience, either sign up for a replay of the event, or sign up for the next Dave meeting, and hope for the best.
Dave began this event by stating that his job, above all else, is to relax our nervous systems. This is because we have all had our nervous systems disrupted by adverse formative experiences (beginning inside the womb), and because the disruption affects everything our nervous systems are hooked into, starting with our internal (and external) organs. And our nervous systems, healthy or not, are the foundation of all our perceptions. He invited us to observe our nervous systems in the present moment, and to consider the degree of disruption along a scale of extremely disturbed to undisturbed.
Our nervous systems are affected by varying degrees of pressure, both outer and inner, and this pressure relates to what we hold onto, and what we let go of (experientially speaking). At any given time, the many areas of our nervous systems are in a state of contraction or release; relaxing them allows for: a) letting go; and b) improved perceptual and cognitive performance.
When our nervous systems are contracted, they are holding onto past experiences, and those trapped feelings cause us to generate projections onto reality. These projections not only perpetuate tension within our nervous systems, they also prevent us from receiving what is happening around us, in any given moment, from noticing and responding to all of the information coming into our nerve endings, all of the time.
Dave spoke then about ideas of spirituality that include not having thoughts, emotions, or sensations (or sexual responses). He declared these ideas ridiculous and insisted that the only problem with our thoughts, emotions, and sensations is when they “go retrograde,” when they come back on themselves. At this point our nervous system begins fighting against itself. In the optimal state, being alive is a multidimensional experience consisting of thoughts, emotions, sensations, intuitions, and perceptions, both inner and outer. What we are seeking, all of the time, is a full experience of love: for every nerve ending and brain cell to be seen, accepted, and loved by existence. The message of life we are seeking is simply this: “It’s all good, and it’s going to get better.”
A shocked nervous system can’t receive this message, however, because it carries unprocessed trauma which creates a gap in the circuitry of our being, a gap we try ceaselessly to fill (as in the Freudian example of oral fixation: a baby denied or robbed of the breast that grows into an adult constantly looking for oral gratifications). Because of this trauma-generated gap, the things we think will satisfy us, never do. Consequently, when we experience a lack of these things, we may start to experience a new kind of satisfaction.
This closely echoed my experience in England, when I spent a month more or less focused on supporting my sister, and consequently had to put my own life (and the moment-to-moment quest for gratification) on hold. Since I was no longer focused on my own desires, but responding to cues outside of me, I think my nervous system was much more in “letting go mode” than usual. This meant I was receiving unusual amounts of information, guidance, and validation, and hence a deeper kind of satisfaction.
Sometimes the less we have (as Dave said), the greater our sense of aliveness becomes. Enlightenment is not about more, but less.
Me attending the Dave event (my wife was inspired to take a snapshot)
Reparenting is a matter of feeling our needs and recognizing that our parents, either in the past or the present, could not and cannot fulfill them. Using his favorite metaphor of food, Dave pointed out that the point of eating isn’t merely to stimulate the tongue but also the stomach, for the whole body to feel good. Likewise with love. The definition Dave gave of love was: “That force or energy or atmosphere that allows something to develop to its natural potential, in nature’s rhythm and nature’s time.”
He mentioned then the three treasures that every living thing is given: awareness, energy, and life purpose. Our goal is to let our life force lead our lives rather than parental programming. Parental programming pertains to an “anti-life program” installed in our minds. We have the option of separating our life force from our family line, to become independent from, but also reciprocal to, our family.
This also echoed my experience in London. Because of the unusual circumstances (crisis), I felt I was released in some way from the limitations imposed by my sense of being someone’s brother, uncle, or family member. As a result, I was freed up to transmit love and caring (as opposed to “mind-ing”) in a new way. By serving the life force rather than family conditioning, I was experiencing the love of my soul: both by receiving it, and (by becoming increasingly aligned with it) by transmitting it.
Dave described himself as a network repair engineer whose job is to help us link up our everyday bodily awareness to the awareness of the infinite, and allow our nervous systems to experience everything they are capable of experiencing. When the cells of our bodies are no longer talking to us in this way, we are at the mercy of what other people tell us. Our parents enter the picture as psychic usurpers, interstitials, intermediaries or middle men, coming between ourselves and our life force. By installing a guilt-script inside us, we learn one thing above all others: how to make ourselves feel bad.
Dave compared this guilt-script to a perverted Bodhisattva principal that prevents us from giving ourselves permission to access our life force. A healthy nervous system, on the other hand, is non-hierarchical and is wired up for the give and take of love. The right way is like the sunshine: plants aren’t forced to grow, the sun doesn’t tell a sunflower to get out of bed and get to work. It only shines. A relaxed nervous system is like a flower that opens to the sunshine.
The parental image, on the other hand, prevents us from coming home to ourselves. It functions via a combination of the parental programming in our minds with the shock installed in our bodies. The two work hand in hand with each other. The compulsive movements or mannerisms (as I described in a previous blogpost) which we all make are a distorted form of body language, or “Babel,” that forces us to leak our secrets. Our nervous systems are constantly trying to tell the story about what happened to us, and since our nervous systems are all communicating with one another, like trees with roots connecting under the earth, we are all electrically interconnected—a living network.
The first sense we need to get with, then, is our sense of the life force energy. All other impressions are secondary. Our concepts about “people,” especially, are part of the original parental programing that branded us and that comes between us and life. Our mother and father, at best, were conveyers of mother-father love, drawn from the reservoir of a pure parental love that seeks neither to take nor to hold itself back. As we tap into that original source, the mother-father love comes into us, and it naturally comes out of us; regardless of our surface behaviors, it flows outward to those in need.
(This also perfectly encapsulates my experience with my sister, and of the nature of soul love.)
Towards the end of the meeting, Dave spoke eloquently about how our life force energy is talking to us continuously through our nervous systems—like a pianist playing a piano. By separating from our parental programming, we are able to connect to the pure parental energy that exists outside of the material world. Our ancestors are trying to work with our life force energy (though there are good and bad ancestral influences), and we can also connect to them and work with them. On the other hand, we can also bypass our ancestral lineage and go direct to the original source, which is the human spirit.
Dave wound up by reminding us that we have an animal body, one that, only a few thousand years ago, was living wild in the forest, without a roof over its head or electricity, eating berries straight from the bushes. We still have all of that natural wisdom and ability within us to draw upon. We only have to stop certain behaviors to reenter our natural state of being.
During the first couple of weeks of my time in London, my sister was still in the hospital and I was living in her house, taking care of her cats, and meeting with her friends. Essentially, I was transposed from my life into hers. After the first few days, I fell quite severely ill with intense body nausea, so ill I could barely move. After a couple of days, I realized that my sense of being unable to move was at least partially in my mind. I had no will to move, because my physical state was so awful that my usual sense of mental volition (which is hooked into the endless quest for satisfaction) had been neutralized.
I decided to get up anyway, to act as if I were not ill. I showered, did some laundry, and went for a short walk in the football field nearby. I didn’t stop feeling terrible, but I realized that I didn’t feel any worse than when I was lying down, doing nothing. I also realized that it didn’t require any more will power to act than not to act. Both were equally within my power physically, and both were equally unappetizing to my mind. I began to wonder if enlightenment might be a bit like this; or, more precisely, if I might be experiencing what my body actually felt like to my soul (experiencing the toxicity of parental programming, for example). Was I learning to let my life force move me, rather than my mind, my false identity, or my will?
During this period, I had a number of dreams that seemed to signify some sort of awakening. Below is an audio clip of one of them. It will not make much sense to anyone who hasn’t had similar experiences, however (and perhaps not even to them), so feel free to skip it.
At this time I also recorded some insights that correspond, in unexpected ways, with Dave’s event, several weeks later. This confirms my sense at the time that my own “process” (or mission) in the UK was somehow sync-ed up with Dave’s in the US. For those who prefer to go to the horse’s mouth, here’s an audio clip. Below I have made a partial transcript.
My constant experience in London (though it’s really everywhere) was: “How is this person lost, and how can I help them to be less lost, or to be more aware that they are lost?” That sounds quite compassionate and benign, put in this way, but it may also sound something else. And it is something else, namely, how I am relentlessly looking for the ways in which a person is getting it wrong. The point of comparison is not exactly myself (but of course it really is, because I’m the only point of reference I have), but me in relation to Dave. “That’s my point of reference, what’s yours? That’s my orientation.”
Not that Dave is my orientation (I don’t conflate those two things directly), but what Dave has helped me to recognize. But it is very difficult to separate the two. Central to that is the rarity of what Dave embodies, the subtlety of that orientation: how easy it is to get it wrong and not know it. Because presumably there are many lesser or counterfeit versions in proximity to the real.
In London I became aware of how so many people (and it’s probably symptomatic of desperation) are emphasizing the ways that they’re getting it right, their belief that they have found their orientation, though they wouldn’t say it that way. This is so general that it’s almost invisible, even meaningless to talk about. But I think it would become more and more meaningful, and visible, if one were to truly find one’s orientation, because then one would see the ways that others had not.
This has to do with how people cling to (their belief in having found) some kind of orientation. The paradox of Dave—and this is liminalism—is that his orientation is observable in his lack of a need for any orientation. That’s it in a nutshell. He is absolutely on track, it seems to me, and the evidence is that he’s not clinging to anything, or asserting anything, as evidence of who he is or where he’s going. He’s just on his way there. He’s already there, but that being there is also being on one’s way somewhere. That’s the thing that people don’t have, and it’s a delicious irony, because for me to try and reorient them by sharing my orientation would of course invalidate it, it would neutralize my very intent, by trying to do something that can’t be done, by trying to tell something that can only be shown.
It’s the Tao that cannot be spoken, and yet, one can speak about the Tao while being in the Tao, even though the speaking isn’t the Tao. When the two come together, something remarkable happens, but even with Dave that’s rare. With Dave, it’s really just watching his body, which is him, his life force, and observing, if possible, the enjoyment of being. That has a quality of checking for inauthenticity, for me—“How authentic was that move?”—and waiting for the frisson of pure authenticity, rather than something diluted, slightly filtered, or not quite coming through.
It’s a question of tuning in, tuning in, and then getting a throb of a signal. Presumably, this has less to do with what Dave is doing than what’s happening for me. Dave is there as a resonator for me to tune my instrument better. This is a weird thing to observe, because it’s like a tuning fork that is there to tune things, but in order to be able to function as that, it has to calibrate itself by listening to the things that are both out of tune and in tune. So it is all about discernment—having someone to attune oneself to who is mostly in tune makes it that much easier to tune that instrument: because it’s a more consistent point of comparison.
If one doesn’t know if one’s instrument is out of tune, or the thing that one is trying to attune oneself to is out of tune, that can be impossible. One can’t recalibrate either. When one is with somebody who isn’t really themselves, one isn’t able to be oneself either, and that creates a negative feedback loop: the noise just increases until, at a certain point, one has to disengage.
My sister needs to find experiences—transmissions—to retune herself to, with, and against. That’s what we all need, because we’re all brain-damaged. We need to let it happen, and socialization prevents it from happening. This presents another weird paradox: what we need to happen is to get free of socialization but, if it wasn’t for socialization, we wouldn’t need to get free because we would always be in tune. But then we would be animals, so we have to retain some degree of socialization. There is this transitional, liminal period, which takes thousands of years for humanity but a lifetime for human individuals—if they’re lucky. And if they are Dave, then they’re really lucky and it’s only half a lifetime. But most humans would be damn lucky to accomplish this in a lifetime, to become fully attuned to the life force and to nature, while remaining socialized beings.
One thing about being in London: the difficulty of it is inseparable from the opportunity of it. Because I’m English (this is my social group), every encounter is a particularly rich opportunity for tuning the instrument and observing the ways in which it’s out of tune. It’s confusing though, because we are trying to use instruments as tuning forks for tuning instruments to. You can tune an instrument by using other instruments, but not if they are of tune. We’ve got a whole planet that’s full of human beings that are instruments that are out of tune, and there are no tuning forks. You could say trees and nature and animals are tuning forks, but as far as other human beings go, they’re not tuning forks, they’re other instruments. So our best chance is finding another human being who’s completely in tune, because then we can simply match it. But in the absence of that, we’ve got trial and error.
It’s very intuitive a process, because one’s sense of being in and out of tune is impaired because one’s whole life has been out of tune; but there’s still an instinctive sense of tune, and of course, with another person, one becomes more aware, not just of their tuniness, but also of one’s own. One is finding the right mirrors within which to see oneself, but one is also seeing the imperfections in the mirror while one is looking for one’s own imperfections. One is learning to distinguish between distortions in oneself that one can then correct—or that dissolve for being seen—and distortions in the reflecting object itself, which may also then dissolve in the other person, as a result of being seen. And the more they dissolve, the more clearly one can see oneself, the more clearly one can see one’s own distortions, the more they dissolve, the more the other can see themselves in us, and so on.
It’s a remarkable process, and it’s amazing to consider that this process, poetically described above, is more or less what we have now, and that it is looking more and more like hell on earth. People are having to gaze into each other’s reflections and see monsters there. And not being able to look but not being able to turn away, not being able to converse, we just keep smashing into each other, creating more and more shattered mirrors.
To round out this blogpost, which I realize is very rough and rudimentary but which I hope serves a purpose, I came away from Dave’s last online event feeling inspired, enriched, and excited, and not only (or even primarily) for myself, but for those who Dave may finally be reaching. My impression was that Dave is ready for “the big-time,” which is to say, to reach a wider, more skeptical and secular-minded audience. I think he has achieved a new level of condensation, coherence, and streamlining (transmission) that gives his info-delivery package an unprecedented punch. I find it hard to imagine anyone with any degree of awareness, discernment, or genuine interest in life, truth, or meaning not being deeply moved by this latest presentation.
Of course, I am thinking specifically of my own readers and listeners now (you), who may or may not have a particular degree of discernment, but also a rather skeptical, overly intellectual (or at least word-and-information-based) bias. I think you will be impressed, swayed, inspired, by Dave’s most recent package, but I am also aware that part of my reason for thinking this is that I found it unusually satisfying at a mental level, and food for thought is not what Dave is interested in providing. Or indeed what is of most benefit to anyone who is sincerely seeking freedom.
On the other hand, I do feel that many of the people I reach or encounter are lost without orientation, and that, when it comes to Dave, they are pretty much clueless. And if you are clueless, then that is at least partially because I have failed to present you with the sort of clues you can receive and respond to, that you can easily follow to the necessary body of evidence that will interface with your particular nervous systems, and provide you with the loving download you are, I am convinced, so sorely seeking.
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