(All images are of Galicia, Spain)
On or around my twenty-fifth birthday, when I was typing up my first serious (now misplaced) book, A Fool’s Journal, in a town called Tafrout in Morocco, I met a young German. He read some of my writing and made a comment that I still recall the gist of almost thirty years later. He enjoyed the writing and found it profound, but it had the strange effect of disappearing from his memory after he read it. We joked that it was the perfect combination: this way he could re-read it over and over and never get tired of it.
I wonder now if this isn’t something I have always been attempting to do by writing? To make it deep and meaningful, but insufficiently stimulating to leave any permanent tracks in the mind-identity miasma of the reader? I wonder if it isn’t also something Dave Oshana attempts to do with his talking. Making my task as the on-again, off-again Oshana scribe endlessly ironic.
The recent Sunday event “Practical Enlightenment: Coming Alive, Strange Times & Weird Sensations,” was described by Dave in a newsletter as a finale. If so, what was it the end of? (There was another Sunday event the following week, so no apparent interruption in the Transmission.) Apparently it was the end of a recent series of “lectures” Dave has given, and for me at least, it may have been the clearest, most succinct description of enlightenment Dave has yet given.
As far as I know, it has been a couple of years, at most, since Dave stated talking about enlightenment as a quantifiable state—in direct relation to how consciousness is distributed in the body. Since I first heard Dave mention this idea (I would guess on the 2019 summer retreat, but I may be wrong), he has been returning to it more and more consistently, with growing emphasis. On this recent event, he laid out, in a few sentences, the exact specifics of what he means by enlightenment and how, and why, it is in our very best interests to let it happen.
He spoke once again in terms of the connective tissue, or fascia, of how the identity installs itself in that connective tissue, and how only our consciousness can dislodge the identity and allow the life force to then fill our bodies up to the brim. Before this, he pointed out how the identity likes stimulation and how stimulation is the adding of energy to a system. At the same time, he said, it is also the taxation of that system. (Like caffeine, I thought: things that stimulate us also drain us.)
Dave then mentioned monasteries as living arrangements for the purpose of getting enlightened by reducing the artificial stimuli. This was a timely reference, as I prepare, even now, to make my reconnaissance mission to Northern Spain to seek a property for a secular monastic, nature-surrounded home base, for this increasingly uncertain future. (Watch This Space.)
The most fundamental marriage we can be in, Dave stressed, is the one between our consciousness and our bodies. The mind is an organ, thinking its life blood. Thinking is not the problem, he added, but how our thoughts are constructed together. (More on this below.)
We may not want to get rid of our medal collections. We may not feel ready to let go of the laurels on which we rest, to leave behind a lifetime’s memory bank of validations and accomplishments by which we get to feel good about ourselves. But unless we are willing to lose our “greatest hits,” we will never get clear of the crap of our identities.
Losing the identity doesn’t allow for sifting and sorting. The identity is a bundle of tightly interwoven thoughts. It is a merry-go-round that keeps coming at us from every available angle. Its job is to capture our attention, to continuously stimulate us. In the process, like the Matrix, it saps us of our life force.
The day after the event, I had a one-to-one with Dave. I didn’t really want to talk to Dave about anything, but I did want to ask him to tune into my body and get his enlightened reading on my psychosomatic environment—a sort of internal weather report (I strongly recommend it if you are reading this). Dave obliged and began (discouragingly) by pointing out how my torso was caved in rather than puffed up. He referred to the lack of alignment between the “blocks” of my body, from my brain down to my balls.
He then pointed out how my thinking often relates to discomfort or dissatisfaction. This is true enough: like probably everyone reading this, I am constantly thinking about how something is wrong, how I am not happy, there’s a pain or ache here or there, or something in my outer life or behavior or attitude that needs “tweaking.” In other words, my thinking is always giving me something to feel bad about.
As Dave said more, however, I realized that he was pointing to the origin of that habit, at how I had developed my capacity for thinking. He described my thinking as having, from its inception, clustered around unpleasant sensations in my body. I had learned to surround these sensations with my thoughts, as if to create a wall of protection around them, to quarantine them. In other words, thinking began for me as a defense against things I already felt bad about. No wonder then that it is now associated with negative sensations and experiences (as well as the mind’s “tonic” for that—those laurels I try and lay comfortably beneath me).
As Dave was speaking, I thought of something I have become aware of in the past year or so: my thoughts hack into my breathing. Said differently, my breathing is often interrupted by my thoughts, so that whenever a particularly interesting thought comes along, I curtail an intake of breath, as if to better attend to the thought. This awareness gives me the option to override that habit, to let go of the thought and continue the intake of breath instead.
After all, breathing is considerably more essential to my health and happiness than thought.
On Sunday’s event, Dave once again described how our identities are installed throughout the connective tissue (fascia) of our bodies, through all cells of the body. As we place our consciousness on the connective tissue, he said, the identity is loosed by that awareness. We come and go as consciousness—out of identity and into body awareness, and back again. As we continue to place our consciousness in the body, the hold of the identity is slowly reduced. Enlightenment happens when consciousness is sufficiently distributed and rooted in the connective tissue, so that the identity is permanently displaced.
We are embarked now on a journey into the unknown. If we think we know what is happening, Dave stressed, we are in our identities and not our bodies. As our consciousness travels into new areas of the body, the experience of our minds is of venturing ever further into the unknown.
As I have already reported at this blog, Dave’s description of how the identity installs itself in the fascia relates to what I have called The Grinch. Many years ago (in Hang-Dog with a Hard-On, don’t look for it on Amazon), I wrote about my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as “a feeling of being utterly oppressed by my organic nature” by which I experienced my body, not only as a prison, but as “a kind of torture chamber.”
For many years, I was aware that my sickness was the result of pressure; I believed that “some strange energy was trapped inside the cells of my body, trapped by my own thoughts” (I am adding the emphases now). “My dis-ease,” I wrote,
“was the diabolic combination of a superhuman force trapped inside me with the relentless, stubborn, and automatic resistance of my conscious ego. [It was] a war between mind and soul and my body was the battleground. . . My soul had strayed so far from my conscious ego-self that the life force was being drained out of my body, leaving only an empty and lifeless construct to sustain it. . . . My body had been designed expressly as a host for a specific force and intelligence, and it was that force alone that could sustain me. If I denied it access (or release) it would have no qualms about destroying me. The only purpose I had was as a physical vessel for that force.”
It’s curious, looking back, to see how aware I was, long before ever meeting Dave, of the unholy marriage between my nervous system and my identity. It’s true that, when I put it in my own words, I missed the mark. But in some ways, I only missed it by a hair. But then, on a journey of zero distance, the width of a hair can make the difference between heaven and hell: in my interpretation, the life force I was preventing from landing in my body was called “Lucifer”!
Fortunately, whatever hot mess my mind-identity made out of the affair, the process itself was beyond coopting entirely. The body pains that oppressed me, even while I was escaping into occultist fantasies of archetypal possession, nonetheless compelled me to place my attention on my nervous system on a daily, hourly basis. Throughout those years of suffering, I was at least bringing my consciousness to the connective tissue and trying to dislodge the identity.
I was aware that the Grinch was like an internal coagulation of my false self. I knew that this unholy usurper was blocking and stealing my life force. The problem was that I also let the Grinch—which was holding my awareness in its vice—shape my understanding, in such a way that it prolonged the agony and delayed an inevitable awakening.
Simply put, all these beliefs were too damn stimulating. They fed the thing that was feeding my identity. I forgot to relax.
A few weeks ago, I had a dream of sorts, a vision. As I awoke from it, even before I did so (time is meaningless here, as you will see), I realized that the nature of my true existence encompassed many existences, lives, timelines, and identity-selves. The dream-vision I was waking from was every bit as real as the dream-vision I was waking into. And yet the latter was one I considered my life. It was nothing of the sort, or if it was, it was one of at least two, and possibly countless, existences, occurring simultaneously.
This led to two immediate “senses”: first, that this experience was closely related to enlightenment, to where Dave was, and that I wasn’t quite ready for that, or even wanted it especially. Secondly, that the person I took to be me was, unquestionably and now palpably and experientially, not real.
When I placed my attention on my “life” as it was currently unfolding—on the details that had been pushing on my attention the day before—it all appeared as it was, unimportant, illusory. I was aware of some agitation around this awareness in my mind, paradoxically enough, because my realization was that nothing mattered. I spontaneously shifted my attention to my body. It felt solid and substantial, deeply at peace in a way that was new to me. I became aware of breathing, and of a desire, a need, to breathe more deeply. Doing so was effortless ease. It was far more engaging than my thoughts were. I stayed with the feeling of breathing, immersed in the act of it.
I then had another insight. Nothing my body experienced was real (because it was being filtered through the mind-identity). But the experience of the body—of my awareness in my body—was. This was where reality was located.
This last Sunday event, Dave offered, for me, a complete description of the colonization process and how it can be reversed, of the journey I have been on, that potentially we are all on, of what is happening and what can happen, if we only allow it. (Awakening is inevitable.)
The more consciousness goes into our bodies, into the connective tissue, the more the identity’s hold can be loosened. Our identity and our life force are competing for our attention, and the nervous system is a neighborhood that isn’t big enough for both of us.
Our identity is located in our bodies. If I place my attention on the body—specifically on the areas of discomfort—I may start to notice the identity. But also, conversely, if I place my attention on my (sense of) identity—so far as that’s possible—I am going to notice my body and its sensations.* Identity is simply that which blocks the life force. No wonder there is a war raging.
In this sense, Sunday’s event was the final nail in the coffin before old Nosferatu is at last put to rest in the ground. The earth receives my offering gratefully.
The next Dave Oshana online event is tomorrow (Sunday) at 9 am Pacific Time: “Riding the Dragon of the Eternal Mother Wave.”
To meet Dave, go here.
*For more on this sticky dilemma, check out the recent podcast with Martin Jolly, The Liminalist # 259: Waiting for the Sun (Part Four: In the Care of Angels).