As the slow, painful awakening from the nightmare of (my own personal) history continues, just as I have long suspected would be the case, the experience becomes (in certain ways) increasingly nightmarish. This does seem to be a necessary procedure, that the dream becomes sufficiently nightmarish for me to really, truly, want to wake up.
To that extent, I should probably thank the “cartoon snarks” who have been persistently lobbing my way, if not Molotov cocktails then piss-filled condoms, ever since I officially came off the fence and laid my cards on the table, vis-à-vis my association with Dave Oshana and my quest for truth, beauty, goodness, and the fully embodied, virtuous and wholesome life—a.k.a., enlightenment.
Traditionally, when the sinner embarks upon true repentance, all demons in his vicinity will be assigned to his case. Their job is to ensure the repentant sinner is suitably discouraged, every step of the way, until, like poor Cypher in The Matrix, he is so haunted by wistful dreams of rare steaks and celebrity that he swallows the aspartame-coated blue pill, and vows never to taste real gruel again.
More optimistically, this process is also known as “negative reinforcement”: the more the cartoon snarks and their invisible handlers hurl their slings and arrows my way, the more en-couraged I am, fueled by the certainty, and the faith, that I am moving in the right direction—through and past the legions of slavering, backbiting, two-dimensional trolls, on to the next level of the game.
The proof is: you get another blogpost, this one inspired by a response (of the three-dimensional, soulful sort) to my last YouTube live event, suggesting that I share the highlights of the talk here, ensuring it reach all the hearts and souls it is meant to reach.
Below is a 23-minute video of the highlights from the event. Below that is a poetic reworking of a transcript of the video, which I hope cuts mustard as a written piece in its own right. The good news is that ~ the good news can now be received in whichever medium you prefer!
Before I get to the transcript-essay, a brief reminder: Dave’s free online event, “A Taste of Formlessness: From Something Comes Nothing” is April 6th, 2019, from 9 am PST (12 pm EST; 5 pm UK time) to . . . whenever (Dave events of this sort have been known to go on 7 hours! More likely it will be between 2 and 3 hours).
There are currently about 25 spaces left, making this your last chance to participate in this great research project & experiment. Your testimonies ~ provided they are sincere and respectful ~ will be received with great interest. Be sure & sign up soon, as you will need time to receive and respond to the email orientation before joining the meet.
If you have booked but not received (or answered) the orientation, that means Dave has not received your answers to the questions email yet. Dave writes: “Late registrations from newcomers might not be accepted, it’s an issue of timing and resources. All questions must be answered before Friday 3 pm UK time” (5 am PST, 8 am EST).
Come hell or shark water, I will be there. This means I will not be doing my own live event that day. Instead, I will create an open space for people to share their experiences of the Dave event on the following day, Sunday 7th April, around 1 pm PST on Zoom. Here is a link for that which will not be active until the time comes, but if you are interested, be sure and email me [my first name [at] protonmail [dot] com] first to let me know. Since that day also happens to be my 52nd birthday, I will only host the event if there is sufficient interest & commitment to make it worth my time! Please let me know no later than Saturday night (US & Canada)/Sunday morning (Europe).
The reason I came up with this subject of “Losing One’s Cool” was because of the knee-jerk responses I received to sharing my experiences with Dave Oshana. There were quite a few of this sort:
“What are you doing?”
“Why are you taking on another guru?”
“What if he’s full of shit?”
“You’re going back into the past, you’re repeating a habit, you’ve got father hang-ups.”
And so on.
It struck me as very odd, considering that, if these people were actually interested in what I’m doing, they only had to wait while to check out Dave for themselves, via his free event. After that, if still inclined, they could actually tell me, “I don’t think Dave is any good, and here’s why.”
In fact, that’s partly why I want this event to happen: I want to get people’s feedback about Dave. I’m open to critical feedback. I’m not open to people doing drive-by shootings, saying things completely devoid of heart, soul, or insight, things I’ve thought of a thousand times before and have been wrestling with for years. None of that is helpful.
It’s not like I don’t know that this is a risky endeavor. Of course it’s risky to give someone the power to influence my behavior or defer to someone’s greater wisdom. But the cool, defended, avatar identity doesn’t say it’s risky. It says: “This is bullshit; we’ve seen the movies and we’ve done the paranoid awareness deconstruction, and we’ve proved it’s all a lie!”
But is that really true? We’ve deconstructed several layers of deception, perhaps. But we haven’t got to the final layer, so how can we say that there isn’t a pristine essential self nature underneath that final layer that is true and pure and good, and that is the whole purpose and reason to embark upon this deconstruction in the first place?
If it’s all shit, what’s the difference? We might as well keep on pretending and enjoy the distractions: out of the 51 flavors of shit, pick your favorite flavor. But the whole impetus of this quest I am on has always been to get to the truth, with the understanding—the absolutely felt sense, the belief, the faith—that the truth, in its inherent goodness, will set us free.
A central part of the illusion that cool provides is illusory autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency. It’s the part that says, “I’m cool man, I don’t need any of this shit. I can pick and choose. I make my own choices.” The narcissistic nihilism of our times doesn’t allow for the recognition of a higher authority (unless we end up in the AA), and it certainly doesn’t allow for a human embodiment of virtue. And yet, clearly, the only hope we have is to become exactly that.
And if we aspire to becoming that, surely we would be on the lookout to see if anyone else has made progress on that path, anyone who might be exemplifying the thing we’re hoping to become? Maybe we won’t find it. Of course that’s possible. We are living in a fallen dimension of being, after all. But would we recognize them if we did find them, and if so how, how long would it take, and what would it look like and how useful would it be?
It seems to me it would be incredibly useful to find somebody who is relatively free of the mind. In fact, in a certain sense—a limited sense—it may be the only hope there is. I say a limited sense because, in the end, it may be that nothing outside of ourselves can save us or rescue us, finally, because we have to take the final step towards God, and only God can retrieve our souls. But at the same time, none of this is going to happen without reference to what’s outside of us. I’m less sure I can trust my own dreams, than that I can trust certain things outside of myself; and this includes, at certain times and moments, other people.
This isn’t blanket surrender to a guru. It is blanket trust in the immanence as well as the transcendence of the divine. Trust that there are pockets and corners of this fallen realm in which the divine shines through. There are rays of light. My whole life has been about trying to locate that light and to follow it.
It is like being deep down inside a labyrinth of caves and trying to sense where there is more light, where there is less, and to keep moving forward until I can see an actual ray of light. Then I know that the opening is that way. I don’t know how far it is or if I still have the strength to get there. But I know it is that way and that I will keep going towards it. Maybe I still won’t make it, through my own failure, through my own lack of nerve or commitment. But at least I know the way, or believe I do; and that makes commitment a lot easier.
This does raise a certain conundrum, because commitment isn’t effort. In the nightmare I recounted on the March 30th live event, the only thing I’m able to do when I truly recognize the trap I’m in, the inescapability of the identity trap, is to fully allow myself to see, feel, and experience the anguish of being so situated, and to communicate that anguish, to express and experience it, in a way that is directed towards the light that I cannot actually see. It is faith that, if my cry is heartfelt enough, if my prayer is true enough, it will be answered. That’s all I’ve got in those nightmare situations. That doesn’t require effort, but it does require a willingness to be absolutely vulnerable to the situation, to not try and hide from it, and to allow myself to experience the powerlessness of it.
Who among my readers and listeners is ready and willing for that? This is not a familiar calling. It doesn’t happen much in life because we direct our lives towards avoiding it at any cost. It has required, generally speaking, extreme sorts of circumstances for me to find the willingness to experience powerlessness and humility, to surrender my inability to understand or control or direct my situation, and to trust that, somehow, something will save me from my impotence, my confusion and despair. Besides my marriage, the place this most happens is probably my relationship with Dave Oshana. In my marriage, it seems to have been worth it, though it’s not over yet, and it’s still very hard. And I would say I’ve been through this also with Dave, particularly on this last retreat.
On the last retreat, the question of trust came up. I said to Dave, and to the group, “There’s no way I’m ever going to hundred percent trust you, Dave, so if that if that’s a prerequisite for working together, then it’s not going to work.”
What I meant was, in my mind, mentally, there was no way for me to a hundred percent trust Dave or anyone else. But I realized, soon after, that it was the wrong configuration. I didn’t need to have hundred percent trust in Dave as a human being. I needed to trust him just the way I trust my wife or anybody that I know and love, as a natural part of knowing and loving someone. Beyond that, it was merely a question of trusting Dave’s ability to deliver.
So far, there’s only been one occasion in which Dave didn’t deliver, and I responded accordingly. I said, “Okay, you’re not delivering now, so I’m off. I’m on my own.” And so we parted ways, and it was a good experience for me. Now I think of it, the same thing played out with my wife! And as it was with my wife, so it was with Dave: coming back, a couple years later, was easy, natural, and inevitable. There were no hard feelings. Even at the time (with Dave, not so much my wife), it was something like, “Okay, so you’re going this way now, and you’re not really addressing my needs here now, or even acknowledging them, so, so long.”
To me, it was as invaluable a part as all the rest of my experiences with Dave: the recognition that there’s no codependency going on there, that, whatever I’m exploring and experiencing and getting closer to by associating with Dave, it’s not dependent on Dave. And the moment I’m getting further from it by sticking to Dave, I move away from Dave. I keep going, and then, Dave’s there again. Dave is a parallel rider. He’s also way ahead, I recognize that from all the evidence I have seen. But weirdly, as if there’s some transpacial, interdimensional thing going on here, some paradox: we’re parallel even though he’s way ahead.
In case it’s not yet obvious, Dave provides a useful point of reference, in terms of the overall subject of autonomy: the false autonomy of cool, and the true autonomy that allows for a certain degree of deference, and even dependence on another, for us to find our way. We are interdependent. To be cool is to pretend we’re not. It is to balk at the possibility that we might really be much more lost than we know, that we might need more help than we realize.
It also means ignoring the fact that we might be depending on any number of things that are really not beneficial to us, whether it’s Netflix, cigarettes or alcohol, whether it’s casual sex or porn, whether it’s dysfunctional family relationships, and so on. We are depending on so many things, and that includes people, but most of the time they don’t force us to see our dependence, our lack of autonomy. They come under the illusory rubric of “It’s my choice.” Discovering true autonomy, it seems to me, is about recognizing that the choices we think we’ve made throughout our lives were not choices. They were reactions to the advertising.
I’m reluctant to put this into words, but what is most important to me about my relationship with Dave Oshana is simply that, from all I have been able to see in the 11 years I have known him, it is possible to be free. And not only is it possible, but it can happen at any time, without any apparent effort or strategy or subterfuge, or as a result of any kind of methodology.
Dave calls this the journey of zero distance: we’re already there, but something is preventing us from recognizing where we are, and that something, as long as it comes between us and an experience of ourselves and of reality, seems like everything. It a whole labyrinth of organized malevolence. But central to how that labyrinth keeps us trapped is the spell it casts that causes us to believe it’s real, and that it’s all there is.
I have a challenge ahead of me: how to lose my cool without losing the plot. How to put down my primary tools of communication—language, writing, talking—to put down the aspect of them that’s been weaponized, and still be coherent.
I never stopped believing in good. But I haven’t been able to pay lip service to good because I haven’t been able to believe in the words that culture and society have given us to describe the good. And until now I’ve never been able to believe in the examples of good that I’ve discovered—or been given.
There is a metaphoric aspect to my attempting to introduce people to Dave Oshana, and vice versa. Dave is an example of something that seems like it can’t really be good—to many people, obviously not to everyone—because it has the accouterments, the packaging, of the spiritual marketplace and is almost indistinguishable (to the passing observer) from a thousand other gurus out there, who, one way or another, are inauthentic.
On top of that, the very nature of the experience that I sense Dave has access to in his own life, that he lives—an experience of life beyond the mind that he has also helped me to have access to—is by nature an experience that can’t be languified, that can’t be captured by language. That in itself makes it a tailor-made challenge for me, at this stage. Even for that reason alone, it’s worth doing; because I don’t know where else to go with language, at this point, without just polishing those mind-forged shackles.
Where to take the word when I’ve mapped, to my own satisfaction, the prison I was born into? This point I have reached is the threshold. If you see that all of your points of reference up until this point are compromised, that they have been given to you by the enemy, what then? It’s not enough for me to say I won’t refer to any of those points of reference, because then I’m adrift. It’d be like me trying to give up Netflix and Bombay mix and all my other little comforts, thinking that, this time, I’ll become a true formless warrior and I’ll get free of the fallen realm of the flyers and the Eagle won’t eat me and I will live forever! Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit.
It’s not enough for me to see the nature of reality that imprisons us and to think I can figure my way out of it or will my way out of it. Because when you see the nature of it, you see that will and mind and intellect and calculation aren’t going to ever see us out of it. So now I see all the points of reference that I have mapped that are imprisoning me and were incepted in me by a malevolent culture, where’s the point of reference that’s true? Where do I begin, how do I begin, with a point of reference that’s true?
Where else but with other human beings? And where else, if we’re lucky enough, with another human being that may actually have found the way to freedom? They may not have, yes, that’s always a possibility. But it’s not something I’m going to turn away from or play it cool with.
This has all been the quest for that point of reference. Yes for the father, the brother; but also, beyond those patterns, for the truth and freedom that is embodied and incarnate in this realm. Not some abstract thing, not something in scripture or doctrine: something that is here, that is present, now, in the flesh. Something that agrees to meet me.
Lastly, here’s a video edit from a February live event I did, which Mike B. sent me this morning, even as I was working on this post. The timing seemed too precise to ignore.