What Matters More than Infinity
In one of his online promotional pieces from January 2019, enlightened spiritual teacher Dave Oshana used the phrase “to infinity and beyond.”
I wrote this to him:
You know that’s the end of 2001, right? It’s part of my case against Kubrick, the self-aggrandizement, hyperbole, reality distortion. By definition, there is nothing beyond the infinite because if there were, it wouldn’t be infinite. I mention it because it’s probably what I dislike most about your publicity, the hype-er-bole.
Yes, you told last month. I half expected to hear it again, and half not to since you don’t often repeat yourself, at least not so soon.
I think this time you didn’t find a suitable word for that expression. Maybe “tautology” would do. . . . I can’t [help] being effusive. Maybe it could help you if you could wear it unselfconsciously?
In my response, I pointed out that my criticism was “relevant since I am participating in your new PR program.” I added this question: Are you ok with risking self-satire?
Dave responded: It seems unavoidable, I can’t be saved afaik; being a guru was always a parody
What I wonder as a “consumer” of your “product” is: at what point do Dave’s words cease to be seriously intended to represent truth, and become parodies meant to amuse? And does it matter if people take the latter literally? Future lawsuits, “False advertising, Dave Oshana promised to take me beyond the infinite and all I got was infinity.”
Dave: LOL! I don’t think they would get very far with that one.
Jasun: It would make a great T-shirt tho; I’d wear it
Dave: You could make and even sell it, to add to the growing OETTC collection. Or you could start with an article and time it with a t-shirt launch
Dave: [Anyway,] I thought you had decided that words cannot represent truth.
Jasun: They can point to it tho. Getting past the mind also entails not triggering its rational defenses by presenting it with patent falsities, absurdities, exaggerations or over-simplifications
Dave: Good, that’s my current research, finding the “right stuff.” I was considering that I used to use provocation as a test to show they were in the zone and could stay there, but nowadays i might use it before they get there. Anyway I try hard to not err with words, so it matters.
Jasun: Yes. And what matters more than Infinity?
Existence Beyond Efforting
It is March 9th, two days after the Dave Oshana February 2019 Finland retreat—if I count them right, my tenth so far.
I just said goodbye to Dave, after talking in a corner of a hotel lobby for two hours, ostensibly for a podcast, but since Dave forgot to hit the record button and I forgot to check (though I certainly knew enough to do so), the conversation was just for us.
Dave seemed unbothered by the loss, and suggested I might be able to extract material from our time together by writing something down.
I am writing something down. Beginning with this:
Don’t trust the words, including the thoughts you have that tell you not to trust words.
Once upon a time, I had a dream in which Dave told me that I was now on a line to God, being reeled towards enlightenment, and that all I had to do was continue doing what I was doing and I would arrive at the destination. I sent Dave the dream in an email; he said it was something he might say to me some day, but not currently.
On this latest retreat, I had another experience of (what I choose to call) my soul. It was an experience of infinite peace, well-being, and effortlessness.
When I mentioned it to Dave during our failed podcast, he remarked that even the word “effortlessness” conjures up the thought of effort. He said something about how most people can’t even imagine a state that precludes the existence of effort, it is so central to our experience of reality.
In this world, not even the womb is easy.
Earlier, when I spoke about my experience of effortlessness on the retreat, Dave said something about how the mind may not notice an experience of (what he called) formlessness because it was only accustomed to dealing with forms. He suggested I might have been having experiences of this kind for some time already, but only recently become capable of re-membering (cogitating) them.
Apparently the mind needs to be trained to notice the soul, or perhaps simply learn not to interfere with an experience of it, not to trample all over it and force it to retreat. A hunter cannot experience an undisturbed forest—because the hunter is a disturbance.
Experiencing the formless as the underlayer of existence included, for me, realizing that formlessness was the nature and essence of my existence. It was a brush with the infinite that in reality I am.
This was not an impersonal experience, and with it came a welling up of emotion. I found myself weeping. I wept for the people I love and the acute awareness of how much they were suffering, had suffered, and needlessly: this effortless well-being was available to us all of the time, and not even for the asking—much less the taking—but simply for the receiving. Yet we cannot receive what we don’t first accept.
I also felt joy, and for the same reason, that all our suffering ends in the moment we accept what we are: infinite, formless existence, eternally experiencing form, with all the ease of breathing.
Setting Off Landmines
My mind witnessed all this, in some sense at least; yet the following day, it withdrew from what it had seen. I began to feel my realization of peace slowly transmogrify into an oppressive weight, a sense of meaninglessness and futility—or worse, impossibility. Received grace became self-imposed despair.
When I recounted this to Dave, he suggested I was split within myself, that I was not one but two. While one part of me effortlessly aligned itself with reality, another part stressfully, stubbornly set itself against it. My mind—or the part that identified with its contents—was experiencing its impending retirement as a terrible burden.
As the retreat proceeded, there followed a form of unconscious revolt as the false identity scrambled to regain control over the body’s experience, to assert its will and become the knowing by turning it into knowledge, and thereby into a “doing.” To wrestle formlessness back into form—not as an expression of it but as a rebellion against it.
Some part of me seemed automatically opposed to the flow of infinite ease; its method—or madness—was to try to add to it or direct it. Ancient wounds bite back. The lack of requisite care during my formative years has shaped an identity that can only connect to reality, and to the other, by trying to use it, even if under the guise of “helping.” And in fact, my “rebellion,” when it spilled out into action, did take the form of a desire to bring the group together.
It took the form of a string of insights that I felt compelled to share with the group, even if it meant derailing Dave’s “program” to do so. I was not aware that these insights (or at least the desire to articulate them) might have been part of my mind’s covert attempt to reassert its control over the situation. Not at least until this unconscious internal revolt eventually led to a kind of public meltdown, when (with some help from Dave) I set off a chain of land mines inside my inner landscape, causing body parts and internal organs to explode all over the room.
While attempting to be the master chef and start making omelets, it was slowly and painfully revealed that I was the bloody chick, raw, vulnerable, exposed, fluttering wildly inside the frying pan of enlightenment transmission.
It may be that the only way to see our distortions fully is to let them be seen by others. There’s no way to look the other way when you are surrounded by mirrors.
A Formless Warrior in Finland
It is not just that Dave Oshana is hard for me to talk about; he is difficult even to mention in passing, besides, “A guy I know in Finland”. . .
To describe Dave as an enlightened teacher, person, or worst of all, being, presupposes that I know what enlightenment is, and that I know for a fact that Dave is it. But neither statement is true.
On the other hand, to describe Dave, as I have done in the past, as “A guy in Finland who claims to be enlightened” suggests I don’t believe him, which isn’t true either. The dilemma of language.
After this last retreat, I am content to say: “Based on my interactions with Dave Oshana over the past 11 years, I am fully persuaded that enlightenment exists and that it is attainable. In other words, if enlightenment exists, the best evidence I have yet found for its existence is . . . a guy in Finland.”
So from here, what. . . ?
Many people on the spiritual scene believe they have found the one true path or teacher; some of them want others to partake in (or corroborate) their experience. While I can allow that “all roads lead to Jerusalem” in the end, I rarely if ever believe these people or have any interest in their chosen paths or teachers.
If I encountered myself talking about Dave Oshana and how he could transform my life, I wouldn’t believe me. So what does that leave?
Discernment, caution, restraint, subtlety, nuance. Dave Oshana is definitely not for everyone. He is, in my opinion, only for the very few. If you are one of these few and he is for you as he is for me, then knowing him will transform your life, as it did mine, in ways you currently cannot imagine. It is not for me to know this, however; only to wonder.
There is something else.
Of all the things in my life that I write and speak about via my creative output, what happens around Dave Oshana is the most meaningful and profound; not just by a little, but by miles and miles. So why do I speak about it so little?
My Secret Life
As much as my marriage (which I rarely speak or write about), in different ways and for different reasons, this is my secret life. It is where the lion’s share of my spiritual transformation is occurring. For years now, you, as audience member, have been glimpsing the after-effects of this transformation. The more sensitive and discerning among you have noticed it.
I have not been ready to invite you all the way in until now. Now time is running out and, at a certain juncture, the risk of withholding or practicing excess caution begins to seem greater than the risk of premature disclosure.
All things are timed according to only partially visible forces, and so, it seems, is this opening doorway of opportunity timed. Having persisted in my folly and faced my fears, have I finally arrived at the beginning of wisdom, at the threshold to the formless?
As I near the 52-year mark (in Mayan belief, a crucial turning point), I look back over a life that has spanned the extremes, like a crucifix, of high and low and left and right. It has taken me through the darkest destitution and despair and towards the brightest and highest of joys. A full spectrum of experience that now feels on the verge of completion—by which I mean, I suppose, the verge of true commencement.
I may not yet make that highest summit towards which I have strived for so long; but, at long last, I think I can see it.
So what happened on this retreat to clear my perceptual field? Being in the field of the Oshana-flavored and facilitated enlightenment transmission is like group therapy squared. Not just days but years of frustration, anguish, rage, indignation, and the shame of an increasingly denuded psyche (mine) was exposed in its primal defenses, even while a herd of paper tigers smoldered and sparkled maliciously in my mind’s eye. Through a combination of self-generated images colliding with the living reality of the other (the Oshana collective), I saw just how defended I was, against life and love.
What I saw in the many mirrors of those eyes, was a soul in self-imposed exile, a raging Cain, condemned to a life of endless wandering, congenitally marked by his helpless defiance of the infinite.
Yet ironically, fatally, it is through the act of defiance that the infinite is invoked. Fear of the formless is the beginning of wisdom. But maybe I shouldn’t verbalize these things at all, if that is part of the problem, part of my system of defense, the desire to languify the ineffable and force it to submit?
What sort of fool tries to make an omelet out of his innermost?
Who wants to know anyway?
Original language, it is not on the page or the computer screen. It will never be found here.
As I let go of my reliance upon words to communicate (without of course letting go of words), with it went the personality (the mask) that had become fully dependent on verbalization to exist. I lost the face that put itself forward via artful (or artless) articulation, and abandoned the original syntax that covered over the original language of the body, the soul, and greater existence.
And with that egg-smeared face—my reliance upon artificial extension/protection—went all the stress of “performance.” Freedom, squared.
No more theory of mind, no more fraught, fearful, or fragile sense of a self seen through the eyes of imaginary others. No more potential—and eventually actual—adversaries to defend against or prove myself to; what an endless drag that was, a ball and chain in lieu of grounding.
Once all this was gone, there was only the communication of soul-body to soul-body that arises within, from, and as the infinite minutiae of experience: from the early trauma-generated habitual tics of a self-care system, to my deepest unconscious fears and desires, all the way to the transcendental echoes of the formless, as it emanates from beyond time and space.
There is a vast ocean beneath us. Uncountable waves eternally rolling, upon which our most carefully constructed verbiage is no more than the misty residue of spray. All words are empty words unless filled with the silence, and predetermined always, in content if not style, by the body of the ocean beneath them.
I had felt compelled to speak out—but compelled by what, to do what? To interrupt the flow of the formless and express my internal angstiness! And having passed through the gauntlet of my myriad neuroses and inauthenticities, having witnessed a psychic defense system turned in on itself—what was there left to say?
All that remained was to repent in the rawest way I could manage.
After that, it became clear how, and why, what I say never really matters, at least not in the moment before I say it, when the pressure to get it right is greatest. It doesn’t matter, because by then it has already been predetermined by the deeper movements within me that end with that articulation. At best, my words are icing on a cake; at worst, they are toxic trinkets that make the cake all-but uneatable, shards of eggshell mixed up inside a slimy omelet.
What that leaves is, really, everything. The fullness of the formless: the love-joy-sorrow and sweetness of encountering the other—meeting the infinite within the other, moment to moment, in every moment. And in meeting being met. When the formless meets the formless, it gives rise to form; or perhaps this: on the outermost edges of formlessness, as the formless comes to know itself, form occurs. And there we are.
This is the threshold which words cannot go beyond. This is the ticket to the infinite.
It does not require knowledge. Knowledge is an echo, a distortion of an original encounter with something that can’t be named, only known. Something we come to know only via the experience of the formless coming to know itself though us.
The Finish Line
Once upon a time, I was impressed by how unimpressive Dave Oshana was. Now I have seen (?) what Dave Oshana actually is (or is not), the tables have turned. I have met the infinite and now I am strangely unimpressed by how truly impressive Dave is. Why? Because there’s no one here to be impressed, perhaps?
The formless is nothing if not nonchalant. This final entry into reality is a non-dramatic event: as the seeker meets the formless warrior, and recognizes what he has sought for his whole life.
As my ticket to the infinite is punched.
As I settle effortlessly into the knowledge (the faith, nonconceptual and bodily) that I have a seat on that infinity train—that it is taking me infinitely beyond anything I can possibly describe or ever understand, to some place that is familiar beyond all words.
The return home has begun.
44 thoughts on “Ticket to Infinity: Dave Oshana, Formlessness, & the Transformational Life”
only read the first few lines… will add for the both of you that the mind can only exit via the form… anyway I will return to the read… appreciate u’all
synchronic that my first email re.dave as I am aware of he per u book
yer write re.d help me apprehend my werk as it were
I look forward to meeting any of your readers, commenters and interviewees. Several were in the first wave to book ‘A Taste of Formlessness: From Something Comes Nothing,’ the 6th April online meet-up, within the last 24 hours since the event was announced. 33% of the available slots have now been taken.
Beautiful piece, Jasun.
A long time ago I was listening to a Rabbi who said “the mystery of creation is in its limitations”. Hearing this, I didn’t understand. Years later, I’ve come to see what he meant is this: the geometry of relationships between objects in physical reality represents universal perfection that has been naturally selected. It is a remarkable beauty which our existent feeling bodies – regulated as they are by existent social realities of reflexive cuing (never forget this! we cannot help but take in the intentional/affective states of other faces/voices/bodies) cannot feel relaxed enough in their body to represent.
Relaxation, calming the autonomic nervous system, is the very root and basis of ‘enlightenment’, as you cannot understand yourself – or self-integrate – if you don’t know what you’re feeling, and why you feel what you feel. This means the brain is designed to know the meaning of its feeling, and not just that, but to communicate these feelings so that the Other will have an improved epistemology in relation to what bothers you. This is a functional gain in social-relations, and more importantly, it will work to relax your autonomic processes so that they don’t represent a threatening social environment.
Everything we do is habit; and knowledge is all we really have to improve how it is we work. The Rabbi who said the ‘mystery of reality is limitation’ was not denying the formless, but impressing upon people how the formless/unconditional is actually manifested in the formal and material. It is misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the signs of external and internal reality which leads to ‘babbling’: to an exaggerated self-agency which puts the “power of now” front and center, as if the semiotics of reality didn’t encompass a wider field of knowledge – and furthermore, it would save us from having to sacrifice the natural world (and other people) so that we can secretly and dissociatively cultivate our addictions while tendentiously insisting that all of reality is the ‘now’ – only the now. As many psychotherapists and anthropologists have noted, shamans and mystics are often extremely derealized and depersonalized minds. They do not know that their system ‘stores’ the trauma of their pasts, and since pain/suffering is entropy, it undermines/poisons the quality of self-experience. How incredible is that? Geometry is the highest science for a good reason: it connects the significance of the parts to the whole so that the part/whole relationship is seen to be a matter of ‘signs’ around “good and bad”. In human lingo, this is the golden rule, whose consequences – if not held to – are epistemology and ontological. Humans cannot think clearly when they imagine that the behavior of their minds isn’t in a tight coupling with the signs/feelings of other bodies. If you can’t see this architecture, you evidently don’t have much knowledge of your own self-experience. Habit. The habits of cognition are connected to the habits of perception…of feelings. We respond to implicit feelings with ego-defenses because we are always deficient – passive: focusing on the external object and not the relational meaning of the internal object.
Reality is much more beautiful – and exciting – than trauma allows us to see. Take the space-program: is that not exciting? Is medical science not exciting? 3d printing? All of these technologies are consequences of our ‘fall’; but they should not be treated as if they weren’t “worth it” i.e. our fragmentation…There is always this part/whole relationship at the social-level which experiences itself asymmetrically with the universe at large. In Human-human relationships, the logic of the Mishna (early Talmudic text) is: if I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?” The logic is: every “I” deserves positive experiences and to feel enlivenment. That is, in order to do so, the self has to selfishly experience its own body to have fun. Allocentric awareness i.e. care/compassion, does not conduce to ‘gaming’. Instead, there is a complex lattice-work of feelings which carry their own structural ontology. Fun will always lead to dissociation of the other; care will always lead to dissociation of the needs of the self (if done too masochistically; i.e. as monks who deny themselves all physical pleasure) if awe for the structure of reality displaces the intention/goal of creation – to have fun. Therefore, care is dualistic: care for the other has to be balanced by care for the self. This is because the Self is an emergent property of the eternal witnessing of love. The self is the Other; the beloved; the world/universe.
Hence, without understanding the nitty-gritty of how we work, we will never know when to shift from one mode to another mode. This is what I’m interested in showing in my work (with the conspiracy stuff tangential to this main arc). Our minds are the exact opposite of what postmodernism seeks to represent; there is a deep and ancient structure, and a continuously changing flow of signs – which are signs because they mean something to me, and can be connected to the logical events of my interactions with the world.
That Talmud riddle is one Dave has explored on a previous meet.
“Relaxation, calming the autonomic nervous system, is the very root and basis of ‘enlightenment’, as you cannot understand yourself – or self-integrate – if you don’t know what you’re feeling, and why you feel what you feel. . . .Everything we do is habit; and knowledge is all we really have to improve how it is we work.”
I am not sure I agree here, or perhaps it’s a semantic difference about “knowledge.” Self-awareness via self-observation seems to allow for a letting go of layers of defense/habits of the false self, since once we see (by having it seen) that a given face is really a mask, it becomes pointless to try & put it on again. But is that knowledge or is it a letting go of an idea?
This brings to mind Daath, the sephiroth for knowledge, that essentially does not exist save relationally, as you say about self – self knowledge is thereby the awareness that the self which knows, as much as the act of knowing that attempts to fix itself as “knowledge” (outside of the moment in which it occurs) is illusory….
the only way to live, truly, is to live spontaneously, which IMO is the real truth of “being in the now” – that the body can only respond to the present moment, never to past or future constructs
Concerning “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”
I recall saying something similar in a recent group event but not the same. This doesn’t mean that what I said was better, only that it was different. Earlier, I have made more direct references. However, I have always felt that the riddle is too pithy and unwieldy to be imported into real-time communication. It is too time-consuming to unpack and could result in a loss of mutuality if the inherent value system is not shared by the listener.
In group meetings, my use of language is very different than usage for everyday purposes, although on the surface it may sound the same. Language lies. Getting to the truth whilst only looking in a fairground mirror requires entering the layer between everyday waking consciousness and dreaming. That’s where most people can be found, which makes most talk simply the incoherent babbling of somnambulists. The imagined meanings are lost upon awakening.
I am curious to know how Till came to use and emphasise the concept of “babbling” since it was a key part of the recent retreat’s experiential exploration Original Language.
To readers who wish to join the Dave event: once you have signed up, you should receive an email request from Dave for some info about yourself; be sure & respond to that, in order to let Dave know a bit about who you are & where you come from.
You did that ‘guru’ chase and a personal guru relationship before. Got burnt, right?
True fact: there is a guy here who is much into spirituality and other corresponding BS, infinity included (!). From teacher to teacher, a nice earnest chap, but jees… twenty years on and he still haunts his 90 year old Californian spiritual ‘teacher’ with visits.
IHe is mid forties. look at him and wonder when he will mature enough to stand on his own two feet and banish every ‘teacher’ out of existence.
Just a thought.
What if Dave possesses something very special, that you and I do not?
What is ‘standing on your own two feet’ compared to learning something of incomparable value from someone else?
Why not take a closer look yourself to see if there is something you might be missing?
No one possesses anything special that comes of mind.
Some play the guitar magnificently though. Or have other life skills.
You risk being misunderstood, Tano. Perhaps you can lay out your argument without the withering comments. Emasculation will not liberate the fellow.
I am used to ‘misunderstanding’.
I don’t know why you mention emasculation; it is completely unconnected to my comment’s content, because standing on one’s own feet is equally applicable to men and women.
As to the essence of the argument… what exactly are you teaching, Dave?
> I am used to ‘misunderstanding’.
I’d like to understand your argument. You clearly are impassioned, or once were.
> I don’t know why you mention emasculation; it is completely unconnected to my comment’s content, because standing on one’s own feet is equally applicable to men and women.
You referred to a 40 year old guy. Not sure why you say the guy is not standing on his own feet. Does he not take care of his life?
Cambridge English Dictionary
to make a man feel less male by taking away his power and confidence:
A lot of men would feel emasculated if they stayed at home while their wives went out to work.”
> As to the essence of the argument… what exactly are you teaching, Dave?
I was hoping that you would bring out your argument, since I can’t find a coherent position but only that you are against certain positions.
I am not having a teaching, and if I inadvertently seem to then I recommend discounting it. What I offer, it seems, is a beneficial experience/revelation/transformation. To know it requires tasting it. Words won’t capture it.
I referred to a 40 year old guy because he is a guy. If it were a woman I would have said ‘a woman’.
Perhaps, I should have said ‘a seeker’, but the individual in question doesn’t think he is seeking. He thinks he has found. Yet, he goes from one ‘teacher’ to anither, quite mindlessly.
I found the parallel between him and Jasun. I don’t understand why the question of gender was specifically pointed out by you. It seems to divert attention from the essence of what I asked: when does a human being stop relying on other minds and goes back to self where all the answers reside?
“What I offer, it seems, is a beneficial experience/revelation/transformation. To know it requires tasting it. Words won’t capture it.”
You offer YOUR personal experience, but it requires ‘tasting it’ by others, as ‘words don’t capture it’. OK. Do you not think people learn from own experience and not from others’ experience, no matter how well conveyed? I mean… when was the last time someone learnt to ride a bicycle from reading others’ descriptions of how to ride a bicycle?
How does one make someone ELSE’s mind grow?
Unless you think it is not about the mind maturing, but about the mind dumbing down, aka ‘silencing’, in spiritual speak.
> Yet, he goes from one ‘teacher’ to anither, quite mindlessly. I found the parallel between him and Jasun.
Actually, to use your own wording, that comparison is “mindless”. You haven’t paid attention to the striking differences between Jasun and the guy, and between myself and “teachers”, which is a pity because I would like to employ your incisive mind and cutting tongue to sharpen my sharing skills.
However, if you rashly make categorical errors then that limits the ability to make useful distinctions that are the basis of new discoveries. Rather than being misunderstood, shunned and mocked for your feisty, difficult manner, as you have been used to, I am seeking to get you into a discussion where everything is clear, not subject to stereotype and projection.
> I don’t understand why the question of gender was specifically pointed out by you.
When woman talks about a man like that, it can be received as a withering put-down.
> It seems to divert attention from the essence of what I asked: when does a human being stop relying on other minds and goes back to self where all the answers reside?
If you had asked a direct question rather than assume it’s implied then it would be impossible to miss. As I mentioned in my first comment to you: your argument risks being misunderstood.
I am glad that you have now made a statement, a surprisingly mystical one given that you seem to eschew all mysticism. To clarify before going on, is it correct that you assert that there is a self and that it has all the answers? If so, I am curious and would like to hear more. What is the antithesis of that self?
> You offer YOUR personal experience, but it requires ‘tasting it’ by others, as ‘words don’t capture it’. OK. Do you not think people learn from own experience and not from others’ experience, no matter how well conveyed? I mean… when was the last time someone learnt to ride a bicycle from reading others’ descriptions of how to ride a bicycle?
It’s a seemingly good point – for use elsewhere – but invalid here. If I invite you to go riding somewhere pleasant, it’s probably because I like the route and you and I would enjoy the shared experience.
> How does one make someone ELSE’s mind grow?
How else to make someone’s quadriceps grow?
> Unless you think it is not about the mind maturing, but about the mind dumbing down, aka ‘silencing’, in spiritual speak.
The mind is only a fraction of a great experience. Which kind of mind quality do you mean?
BTW, you are a bit of a teacher yourself?
No, I am not a teacher. I don’t teach and I don’t charge for whatever comes out of this mind/mouth. Thete is nothing to teach or to charge for.
Incidentally… you haven’t given a clear answer to my question as to what it is exactly you teach. If I were to ask that same question of a medical professor, they would say “I teach how to diagnose and cure illnesses”. If I asked that of a civil engineer they would reply “I teach how to build bridges”.
What do “spiritual teachers” teach?
I am not interested in discussing what ” “spiritual teachers” teach”. When you appeared on Jasun’s podcast you seemed to be evangelically channeling Jed MacKenna’s concepts, reasoning and style. Jed is promoted as a spiritual teacher.
As I have already stated, what I share is not a teaching but a shared experience. However, you have not paid attention to that comment and seem to be casting around. I wonder if you have paid attention to the answers given by Jasun or myself or read the article. My conclusion is that communication is significantly failing here, and I suspect that it will never get on track.
I am not sure why you posted on this page since you could have more easily replied privately to Jasun’s email. I presume you wanted to bring attention to something but that something has never become clear nor understandable.
My guess is Tano isn’t interested in having a discussion but only in doing a drive-by to show off her chops. Snark attacks by folk who think they smell blood in the water are conspicuous for not addressing the content of the article itself and for opting instead for “spray and pray” commentary.
Same deal with the questions I have moderated away, about how Dave should feel guilty for earning his daily bread while providing a service that, for some reason, should be free (ironic, since he is here offering a free event!). If people aren’t responding to the article, aren’t asking meaningful questions, they probably aren’t seeking to better understand what’s happening here but are triggered by the first whiff of “spiritual teacher”—and by the presumed gullibility on my part.
It’s probably an unavoidable consequence of (my) being the go-to guy for rigorous exposés of socio-spiritual fraudulence. Yet over the years, I have tried to show that, done right, delving into the negative underbelly of society and the human psyche reaps unexpectedly positive benefits. Some have testified to this (see recent comments from fellow survivors at my podcast with Heather Tracy). And now an observable result of my own trajectory seems to be an increased willingness to focus wholly on the positive, without fear of coming off as a Pollyanna, and without being insincere.
In my unrecorded podcast with Dave, on several occasions he came back to the question of whether I really know my “audience.” He suggested I might be projecting skepticism or cynicism onto them, and that there might be silent participants just waiting for the opportunity to express themselves. It’s telling, then, to observe this ripple of negativity and “knowing” cynicism which, in the context of my experiences with Dave, feels more like arrogance than discernment, and at the very least as ungenerosity of spirit, not to mention lack of curiosity.
I know Dave welcomes skepticism and appreciates the opportunity it provides, so this isn’t meant to discourage difficult questions or sincere expressions of confusion or doubt. But I’d also like to encourage any readers who get a genuinely good feeling from my new(ish) trajectory to share your perceptions (not to be shy), to let me know you are out there, and that you are interested in hearing and seeing more about this new orientation.
Also, to those who already have their own direct experiences—good, bad, or indifferent—with Dave and want to add their ingredients to the mix, don’t hold back.
You are absolutely correct, Jasun. I am not interested in a discussion. I received an email, went to check it out and saw that you are still chasing the teacher/student spiritual paradigm and are in an attached mode.
Given your prior experiences of the field – it was surprising to see, and I expessed that.
Nothing more to it.
Yes, it was probably a mistake to include you in that email & I am not sure what my intentions were – certainly not to invite this sort of aloof, patronizing, & nonconstructive critical input. Wanting to leave comments but not have a discussion is a sign of an autocratic nature & because of that your input is unusually demanding and hard to ignore. Put differently, you take up a lot of psychic space & I think that’s related to why I sent you the email in the first place: my sense that all of your stubborn assertions about having been awakened, being free of spiritual baggage, standing on your own two feet, and having no interest in human connection indicate (to me) a thinly disguised unconscious cry for help.
It’s ironic, then, that we both see one another as lost in delusion. Certainly, as the comments at our podcast together made plain, your own claims to awakening—since it seems to coexist with poor social skills and, by your own admission, a lack of heart—fails to convince. What I personally see, rightly or wrongly, is an example (among growing numbers) of someone who has managed to use dissociation as a means to isolate herself from mundane & messy human reality, under the guise of some higher “spiritual” (and impersonal) dimension of being. This sort of counterfeit awakening, IMHO, seems to be at the core of the very same spiritual con game you rail against; and ironically, many of the things you claim seem to exemplify the latest, Jed McKenna-boosted version of it.
Anyway, as I said, your comments take up a lot of psychic space, making them hard to ignore, but I don’t mean to feed the fire with my responses, only to try and maximize the potential of the exchange, if not for you then for others.
You are one sensitive chap, Jasun. It is an overreaction on your part.
See my reply to David, it contains the essence of what I asked. No need to jump on my throat.
I rally agaibst positing an overall evolution and development of each individual human mind as some unique achievement tgat everobe should aspire to, aka spiritual elightenment.
It is a fake. I understand that you disagree. It maybe because you have invested much of your life in the search.
Jasun, i communicate with DOZENS of people in my everyday physical life. Face to face. What on earth gave you an idea of dissociation and isolation? Just because I don’t fall into emotional drama in every day existence does not mean I am a robit. God, you have some really strange notions AND are fast to jump to conclusions. But then.. this is what most humabs do. Pull the triggrr first, think later.
Tano – what gave me the idea of dissociation and isolation was/is speaking to you for the podcast & hearing your voice, inc. your written voice here in the present comments; your insistence on the meaninglessness of human connections and of heart; your belief that enlightenment or awakening has nothing to do with empathy or goodness; all this strikes me as a disingenuous defensive position, since I do get from you an emotional engagement and a desire for connection, albeit from someone who views sensitivity as weakness (viz a viz your recent response), and who falls back on faintly scathing mockery, “tough love,” patronizing superiority, and a glib imitation of cool-headedness followed by shallow expressions of warmth (a la J McK with his “love ya”) – not to mention multiple typos that suggest either a lack of interest or suppressed anger & impatience. You seem to have learned from a “master” how to make a lack of ordinary human engagement with others pass for high spiritual attainment, and developed the flawed reasoning to support that subterfuge. It’s also inherently contradictory since this ultra-cool detached state you claim to have attained occurred from reading JMcK book and led to your chasing his ghost-like avatar through bars and souks in the hope of — something…
i do find it ironic that your “trip” is supposedly about exposing spiritual BS, yet you seem to advocate, and to some degree exemplify, what IMO is the very worst sort of spiritual BS, a kind of post-Ayn Randian super-egotism, in lieu of a simple recognition of our inter-connectivity as human beings.
Jasun, I type on the phone, a d my eyes are not very goid these days, hence the typos.
No one says sensitivity is a weakness.. except you But the sensitivity thst takes everything as a personal attack ( you used that word befire,) mskes it hard to communucate. It is like walking on eggshells – one never kniws what will set theur correspondent off.
This is why I didn’t communicate with you, abd I don’t think things gave changed much in that area.
You see… I’d rather talk about what is real, abd our human idiosincracities ARE real, unlike the duscussions on ‘no self’.
I will come back in another year or so
I’m new to your work. I heard about you on the Aeon Byte podcast a few months ago. You mentioned falling into the trap of gurus, and debunking Whitley Strieber. Well, I read up on your blog postings and saw you were also into a guy named John de Ruiter, and now you’re pumping up a guy named Dave Oshana.
I was interested in what you said, on Aeon Byte, but after reading up on your blog, and listening to your podcast, I have to say, I’m not really as interested.
I have to agree with Tano here. You’re not doing yourself any justice. Even though I’m new to your work, I think you’re selling yourself short. I can see you are very talented writer, and much stronger than you let yourself believe. I don’t think you need these gurus in your life. On the contrary, they need you. It also seems like you’re not listening to your art. It’s telling you to leave it behind.
Cfin – it’s always difficult when people show up late to the party and expect to understand what’s going on; one recurring reaction I observe with some curiosity is the assumption that, since I have fallen into a guru trap before (and written extensively about it), I must be more susceptible to doing so again. I suppose this seems superficially logical, as in, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; but it’s based on an erroneous assumption, namely that (as with the alcohol metaphor), all spiritual teachers are created equal and that the only sound procedure, once having spotted the flaws in one (or twenty), is to assume that all are made of the exact same stuff and that “standing on one’s own two feet” is the only self-respecting way to go.
This would be similar to someone who is betrayed romantically & swears, like Tano, “Never again!” Fortunately, as you suggest, I am made of stronger stuff than this, and what Tano and so many others fail to see, or maybe even to imagine, is that true autonomy allows one, in this case me, to risk trusting in others who show consistently to be wiser than we are, and letting ourselves be supported, guided, and assisted in our journey. And that learning to sniff out the fakes – to develop enough maturity and self-awareness to enter into a fully mutual and healthy relationship with the other – is central to this process – and why else develop such discernment in the first place if not to use it? (No man or woman is an island , whatever Tano would have you believe.)
if you hadn’t just shown up, full of opinions and advice, and had taken the time to familiarize yourself with my life and output, or if you’d paid closer attention to what you have already seen (such as this post, e.g.), you might have deduced or intuited that the sort of strength and self-reliance (and listening to my “art”) you’re recommending is something I have been moving past and beyond in recent years, it being a relatively superficial and callow (mind/ego-based) way of experiencing ourselves and others, and of being in the world. I realize there will be people who want me to advocate such shallow self-reliance for their own reasons, and who perhaps want to value my work in a specific way (my intellectuality or literary talent, ironically, the very words I am here suggesting are essentially meaningless); but maybe you can also understand that those voices are of less interest to me at this time?
I am still waiting/hoping to hear a bit more from readers who understand – or at least are curious about – what I am attempting to describe and share here, rather than try to pick holes in it or pull me back from the threshold of the formless where they can keep me “in line.”
It is hard not to see the prevalent anti-guru position of my readers (which in a more nuanced way I share) as a pre-programmed kneejerk response of the culturally engineered, trauma-generated postmodernist/nihilist super-ego wishing to reign in consumer Hell
I’ve been following you now for some months, have had the privilege of interacting with you and taking part in some of your group events. I even made it onto a podcast! (And as for The Liminalist, I’ve been hugely enjoying and learning from that by listening from the beginning – I’m now on episode 40 or so)
When you initially posted this article, it took me some time to adjust to the markedly new, plainly nourishing vibe and I have twice now aborted different comments of gratitude (unless you deleted one of them, I can’t be sure but seems unlikely I hope!). You mentioned however that you want to see evidence of those who are ‘out here’ and getting something positive out of this.
Well, here I be. Now I’ve had some time to meditate on your meditation here, and to rush to take advantage of Dave’s generous offer, I’d just like to say that I truly appreciate this new wavelength and, without blathering on a massive deal, have already felt a small, but definitely there, glow at the centre of my (currently rather chaotic) life. Is it ‘the transmission’ already working its magic? Is it just the benefit of seeing things anew, afresh, acynically? I don’t really care, I just like it, and maybe that’s the point – but it doesn’t matter if it isn’t.
thanks Chris for stepping up and for leading with something other than your mind (heart? stomach? cojones?)
no i never saw any previous attempts at comments
I’m not trying to pull you back from anything, just pointing out the obvious you’re ignoring.
In the interest of making a point, I’ll reveal something personal about myself. I see a licensed therapist. This person has helped me immensely in formulating goals, listen to me unload my problems, and helped me get a leg up over my own psychological issues than have held me back continually over the years. It is a mutual relationship that benefits them, through payment, and benefits me through emotional and psychological review of my life. You could say, that I’m ‘enlightened,’ but that’s not really something you can define. It’s certainly not something you can sell, in my opinion. There’s no single solution to life like this. I’m glad you have found someone who has helped you. It just sounds disengenuous to say words like, ‘enlightenment,’ I guess. It sounds like you and Dave are trying to SELL something. Maybe not now, maybe the session after the free one?
Can you see this at a base level? Minus the spiritual talk. If you look at just the bare actions of what you’re doing, going to a speaker who talks and you pay them money because they make you feel better…okay. What I get from my lite review of your blog and your podcast, is this is a repeat behavior from you, and you openly complain about it. It’s confusing. Again, you’re free to do what you want, and if you’re with the right person now, that’s great. Maybe that’s all it was, finding the right therapist isn’t easy. I have had ones in the past that preach this ‘spiritual enlightenment,’ it’s just not for me, and had always made me felt they were being dishonest.
You have said, Dave is the right one. You have said he’s been your rock for 11 years? How can you redefine ‘enlightenment’ to something that sounds genuine and worth that second session?
Thanks for clarifying but it still seems like a muddy blur to me. Is the obvious thing I am ignoring that you don’t like the use of the word “enlightened,” or that you don’t like it when people attach the word to what they offer while charging for their time, even tho you are OK with it when it is called “therapy”? If so, neither of these points is remotely new, so it could be I was ignoring them because of how obvious they are; but they weren’t expressed in your original post anyway, so glad you cleared that up at least.
To ask for something to confirm the worth of a second session with Dave when you haven’t yet attended the first one seems bizarre to me. It is only two weeks away, why not just wait? If you want to find out more in the meantime, why not ask from a place of curiosity rather challenging my choices and trying to set me straight like a spiritual parole officer. If you have spent a lot of time in therapy, or in a relationship of any depth, you must know this is the worst possible way to get results?
My impression is you seem to be leading with your head, like a ram expecting resistance and thereby creating it. (& and yeah, it takes one to know one)
it’s a funny thing to see how much resistance there is to claims of enlightenment – how few people seem able or willing to approach them humbly & openly, and how the default setting seems to be the exact inverse of that, haughty arrogance and assertion of knowledge (and even enlightenment!). Ironically, this fact itself IS a decent argument against Dave, or anyone, making such claims – inc. claims to be a spiritual teacher – namely, how much they tend to trigger people’s defenses (and/or play into their delusions), and so prove counter-productive.
But I don’t think the best alternative is just to conceal or feign un-enlightenment (tho I agree the word is problematic, but i address that in the piece). As I quote Dave in the article, there may be no hope for him in this artificial context of guru or spiritual teacher. Or for me as his collaborator, evidently.
I’ll comment here because there are some important issues, but hope I don’t set off a firestorm hahaha.
I would say after a careful reading of this post that you are simply aligning psychologically with the optimum conditions for enlightenment. This is usually how a person becomes enlightened because it is indeed a psychological process of retreat from error. It can happen naturally as a person gets older and they realise that their old motivations and outlooks were flawed and that indeed “all is vanity”. For that reason you don’t really need a guru, you simply need to refine your psychology further and come to an understanding of what must be done.
I don’t buy the “transmission” stuff I’m afraid. I’ve never in all my years of studying Zen Buddhism come across a Zen master who claimed to be able to transmit enlightenment. They all say you must do it for yourself and even the Buddha didn’t claim such an ability. Transmission was a formal process of transfer of authority by the Zen master to his student AFTER the master had determined through rigorous questioning that the student was indeed enlightened.
What most people misunderstand about enlightenment is that the thing they think of as “themselves” is not the thing that becomes enlightened, it is the thing that is transcended. The unconscious lies underneath normal consciousness and when it is perceived it illuminates the body and senses and world. This is the “formlessness” you speak of and it penetrates all reality. You reach the unconscious by “holding yourself to yourself” by which I mean you treat the body like a vessel from which you allow no leaking of mental phenomena, ie. thought. The unenlightened mind is a leaking mind. It is the leaking process that stops the mind from gravitating inwards toward the unconscious because the leaking thought orientates the mind in an outward direction, while the unconscious is to be found within, amongst the senses and illuminating the senses. “That which you really are can never be an object before consciousness”.
Good to have your reasoned & thoughtful comment; I have never heard Dave say he was bestowing enlightenment via the transmission but rather that it is the presence of that “field” (?) which causes whatever happens to happen and the presence of his body seems to act as a lightning rod for whatever that is; he himself seems unclear about how it happens and often in the dark even about what is happening without the feedback of those it is happening for, to, and within.
Having had personal experience of it, I can testify that the ‘transmission’ coming from Dave is a real phenomena. By transmission I mean something received through the sensation body, outside of language or concepts, but ultimately altering awareness. Whether what is being transmitted can be called ‘enlightenment’ is immaterial from my perspective.
This raises the question though, is Zen Buddhism capable of producing someone with the ‘enlightenment’ that Dave Oshana has?
If not, that would explain the issue you have with the idea of transmission, as used by Dave.
That sounds reasonable, Andrew. Does it relate to your own experience or to what you have received from organised Zen?
Several obvious fallacies there showing a lack of due diligence to think before repeating nonsense. For example:
> “To say you’re Enlightened definitely means you’re not.”
A general response, re: several comments I have deleted here and at YT:
I feel I have to delete comments at a certain point, because to leave them would oblige a response from me, no matter how off-point, unfounded, lacking insight, or hostile the comments may be. The danger in replying to these sorts of comments (besides being a time-waster) is of strengthening the noise they generate & creating an echo chamber effect. “Do not feed the trolls” eventually means cleaning up their leftovers too, because before long they start to stink up the place.
To use a different analogy, when the guy at the bar next to you is a deluded drunk, the wise move is to relocate to the other end of the bar; engaging with him may seem like the compassionate thing to do, but only if you are ready to enter their nightmare. I once was, but lately I am less and less willing to do so. And since I run the bar, I have to think of the other punters, as well as my own peace of mind, and sacrifice any sort of idealistic open-door policy I might prefer to have,
As I said in the article, Dave is only for the few, & there’s little to be gained in engaging with those who only want to try and “save” me from some judgement error they imagine I am committing, whether it is because of their own prior investment in my output, out of some unasked for “concern,” or for more complex psychological reasons.
I also think the heckling (some of which I really think is unintended and due to a lack of consciousness or discernment, rather than any overt hostility) may be a sign of the current climate of reactivity & the growing desire for solid ground. Some readers apparently feel I have pulled the rug out from under them with my current focus, & now they can’t even finish the book they started last week (both figuratively & literally speaking). All this may indeed hurt my book sales & lose me some followers, but I can only see that as a necessary development, resulting from my choice to be more open, honest, & vulnerable in this space even if it means drawing the sharks.
Lastly, here’s yesterday’s talk:
“This raises the question though, is Zen Buddhism capable of producing someone with the ‘enlightenment’ that Dave Oshana has?”
Zen has produced large numbers of enlightened masters and a vast body of profound writings, so yes it most certainly can. Anybody who becomes enlightened is really practicing Zen though they may not know it. The psychology of enlightenment is universal.
“That sounds reasonable, Andrew. Does it relate to your own experience or to what you have received from organised Zen?”
I came in to a perception of the unconscious at age 33 after about a year of ruthlessly putting in to practise the saying “Do not seek enlightenment, merely stop cherishing opinions” and living a rather difficult life physically speaking. I always say to people, if you want to enlighten yourself go and live in a tent and give up your opinions. Comfort is the enemy of enlightenment. I used to keep in mind a line from a Bob Dylan song that went “Swallow your pride, it’s not poison”. People won’t give up their opinions because of pride. That’s all it is, pride.
I’m stupidly self-conscious about leaving comments. Some people have a fear of public speaking, I’ve got a fear of public typing. Anyway, I’m gonna have a go, partly due to Jasun’s urging, but more so because I can’t see what the fuss is about.
The piece above, as I read it, was in keeping with pretty much everything I’ve read or heard from Jasun – that includes every youtube meet and every podcast and blog for the last two years – i.e a painstakingly honest and open sharing of where his heart and head are at. And where that is has hardly been static. For weeks or months he has been talking about humility, surrender, the limits of the intellect.
So now’s the time, and he’s expressed how difficult it’s been to broach the topic (instinctively anticipating some of the reactions maybe), but ultimately he went with what keeps me here: being honest.
I’m not ready to take that step yet (got a few good years of procrastination-based maturing yet to go. Someone quoted Dylan above, so I’m chipping in with a fellow septuagenarian, Neil Young: there’s a lot to learn / for wasting time / there’s a heart that burns / there’s an open mind) but I’m happy that he is.
In my experience those with the most valuable things to share seem to suffer the most from being “stupidly self-conscious,” or at least there does seem to be a strong correlation and, alas, it goes the other way too, i.e., those who seem most eager and un-self-conscious about stating their opinions often seem to lack much by way of self-awareness.
When you say you are not ready to take that step, what step is that exactly? At first I thought you were referring to the DO event but it seems like something more general like “being honest” in public. Isn’t that what you just did?
It is greatly appreciated in any event & I hope it emboldens others to follow suit. The more positive feedback I get (without it being empty reassurances), the easier it is for me to focus on the positive, and the constructive, rather than on the critical. That is partially what this “new step” is about.
as for what all the fuss was about, I hope to get to that in my next post.
I was talking about the DO event, or any event/step of that (potential) significance. My instinct is that one should get the day to day corporeal stuff in order first (don’t ask how long I’ve been at that little chore already). Conscious of not turning this thread into a correspondence so will sign off. Look forward to hearing more.
It appears to me that — in striking parallel to Donald Trump undergoing a “Culmination” with the delivery of the Mueller Report — so have you now reached a certain parallel “Culmination” with this posting and the ensuing commentary.
Definitely a Turning Point or Milestone of the Zeitgeist for all involved!
So does this mean that you, Jasun, have given yourself a pardon by commuting your former life sentence of “infinite imprisonment?”
I start with your title to this posting: “Ticket to Infinity”. The image it conjures for me is you on board the “Train to Infinity” as the Conductor, Dave Oshana, comes by to punch your ticket.
You’re on a journey, Jasun, and it is that spatial extension, going from Point A to Point B, that strikes me as the reason why you have portrayed yourself as a “Prisoner of Infinity.”
In Euclidean Geometry (EG), parallel lines never meet, therefore, the destination of infinity can never be reached. But what if there is a geometry — and there is — in which you can reach infinity just like any other finite point and thus infinity becomes no big deal and you are no longer imprisoned by it?
My radical assertion here is that you are not a “Prisoner of Infinity”, per se, but rather you are only a prisoner of your spatially extended, i.e. measured or metric concept of infinity.
That other geometry is Projective Geometry (PG) where parallel lines indeed do meet and they all meet at the “Point of infinity” which become an line at infinity the horizon and even the plane at infinity which is the Universe as the Periphery.
Let me quote a sentence from the wiki entry for PG
”Idealized directions are referred to as points at infinity, while idealized horizons are referred to as lines at infinity. In turn, all these lines lie in the plane at infinity. However, infinity is a metric concept, so a purely projective geometry does not single out any points, lines or planes in this regard—those at infinity are treated just like any others.”
I highlight the phrase “infinity is a metric concept” because it is the idea of “metric or measurement” that constitutes the essence of your self-imprisonment.
Now I am leaping ahead here, to bring the above into relevance for this blog post. Hopefully, we can develop this further. Let me just end here by saying that you are imprisoned by infinity to the extent that you operate under MORAL measurements of self and other people — comparing and measuring the extent to which others are inferior or superior to you morally, for one example.
In PG, there is no measurement, thus no judgment of others and it truly fulfills the Gospel verses of Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, lest ye be judged (by metric EG standards).”
PG allows one to self-acknowledge the inherent EG hypocrisy of verse 5, realizing that all the “beams and motes” are part and parcel of all our respective “parallel lines” which all meet at the point of infinity which is the horizon. Center and periphery — all the same point, line and plane. Thus we are all in this together, aren’t we?
nicely argued Tom, and believe it or not I had not made the correlation between this post title and my 2nd to last book – i.e., that between freedom FROM and freedom INTO infinity. I see that shift in very simple terms, that is from the mind’s conceptual experience of the infinite – as oppressive, despair-inducing, annihilating, and imprisoning, to the body’s lived and felt experience of it, as nurturing, inspiring, uplifting, and liberating.