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Who Am I?

One of his students asked Buddha, "Are you the messiah?" "No", answered Buddha. "Then are you a healer?" "No", Buddha replied. "Then are you a teacher?" the student persisted. "No, I am not a teacher." "Then what are you?" asked the student, exasperated. "I am awake," Buddha replied. (Buddha)

Enlightenment is used to mean so many things that it now often means little, or something relatively trivial.  Merriam-Webster lists three definitions:  1: the act or means of enlightening: the state of being enlightened.  2: capitalized, a philosophic movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas and an emphasis on rationalism.  3: Buddhism: a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering.  Wiktionary lists two definitions:  1: an act of enlightening, or the state of being enlightened or instructed.  2: a concept in spirituality, philosophy and psychology related to achieving clarity of perception, reason and knowledge.  The concept in spirituality, philosophy and psychology is the focus of this study.  Wikipedia devotes more attention to this definition, and claims that, "Enlightenment in a secular context often means the 'full comprehension of a situation', but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual understanding or a fundamentally changed consciousness whereby everything is perceived as a unity."  Many reports from mystics who have achieved this state share common experiences.  There is the radical realization that our real self is immortal, or at least immune from physical harm, and will continue to thrive after the death of the physical body.  There is the radical realization that there is only One living being in the universe, and it is an illusion that each person is separate from ourselves.  And finally, there are realizations that the palpable universe is in the process of being created instantaneously and continuously in the present by this Being.  The term "ecstasy" is often used to describe this experience; it literally means "out of the body", and seems quite literally true to those who experience it.  In Omens of Millennium, Howard Bloom claims that ecstasy is the authentic mark of the gnostic of any tradition.

Since there are no agreed-upon words to describe these spectacular revelations, metaphors are conceived, based upon individual experience, education, core beliefs, and biases.  These revelations are highly symbolic, and can only be truly understood by a person who has had a similar experience.  Those who have not had this experience almost invariably think it is an internal opinion, delusional at worst, and wishful thinking at best.  We tend to honor and believe seekers, but disbelieve and ridicule finders.

This mystical experience is usually discounted, scorned or ridiculed by scientists, philosophers, psychologists, Christians, and even many Freemasons, who have claimed that there is no esoteric dimension in Masonry.  Hobbes thinks only material things exist, so words describing non-material things are meaningless.  Locke & Adler think mind is tabula rasa, only filled by senses, but gnostic revelations do not come via the senses, so the idea of God is theoretical; unlike an empirical concept, a theoretical construct cannot have any perceived particular instances.  The philosopher Julian Baggini claims that where the type of knowledge cannot be expressed in words, there is no good reason to believe, and things that cannot be expressed also cannot be discussed.  The physicist Ken Croswell thinks that theorists are absurd to credit beauty.  Freeman Dyson speaks of the dogmatic self-righteousness of scientists.  The philosopher Terry Eagleton claims it is wildly improbable that all is part of a coherent system.  The philosopher Adler observes that great scientists have slipped to saying "what is unmeasurable has no reality".  Stephan Hoeller, the eminent Gnostic, observes that the gnostic is a stranger to the world and to other humans, and to the vast majority, gnosticism is disturbing and infuriating.  E. Klemke claims that, to philosophers, esoteric answers are as unwelcome as meaninglessness.  In The Non-Local Universe, Nadeau & Kafatos note that mingling science and theology offends modern scientists.  Heinz Pagels writes that scientists accuse intuitionists of having closed minds, but also notes that lack of experimental support does not trouble physicists.  Wilson Van Dusen (The Natural Depth in Man) claims that introspection, meditation, and contemplation are all dismissed by scientific psychology.  Evan Harris Walker, in The Physics of Consciousness, says that only through science can we find the basis for accepting as fact any of the stories of religion.  He also notes that it will not do to throw off one group of (religious) dogmatists only to deliver science to another; science's investment in materialism became a creed, with high priests to torment the unorthodox.  In Quantum Questions, Ken Wilber observes that the battle is not between science and religions, but is between experiential science & religion and dogmatic science & religion.  Heisenberg notes that physicists use "Metaphysics" as a swear word.  The physicist Anthony Zee wryly notes that theism is not publishable!  Arpita Roy, an anthropologist studying the staff at CERN, finds that physicists are professionally contemptuous.

Fritjof Capra observes that observations of physicists & mystics take place in realms inaccessible to senses.  Gödel showed that a truth can be obvious, even if not provable or disprovable.  Edouard Schuré finds the church imprisoned in dogma, science in matter. Science need not change method, but broaden scope.

Enlightenment is not always a state to be desired, and can cause untold grief.  If one is on "the path" to seek enlightenment, one should be aware of the roadblocks and dangers, and learn how to prepare for the profound shock.  There is a common experience in these shocking enlightenments, epiphanies, illuminations, or ecstasies, characterized by the convictions that the self is immortal and death is an illusion, that there is only one living being in the universe, that this being is somehow generating our reality, and that this being is the source of all love.  The two most common types of experiences are known as the visionary and the unitive.  Visions often include being taken up out of the body in an ascension to heaven and communication with beings there, such as angels.  Unitive states are experienced as a conjunction (unio mystica) with a divine being, part of the Godhead, such as Sophia or Christ.

This experience is what makes a person a gnostic, but the experience is then interpreted in light of the beliefs and education of the new gnostic, with all his biases and preconceived notions.  The lack of a conceptual framework can lead to unfortunate interpretations.  A person who is clearly on "the path" expects this kind of experience, but is not usually prepared for such a profound epiphany, a coup de foudre in French. This is an excellent description, for while it literally means a lightning bolt, it is used to mean love at first sight.  This experience removes all doubt, and the knowledge is more real than anything physical.  This is the resurrection, which Jesus said comes while you are living, not after you are dead.  This can banish the fear of death, and convince you that you are in good hands.  But without preparation, it can be a horror.

Profound depression and schizophrenia can result in similar experiences, but interpreted as attacks from demons, dissolving of reality, voices, and paranoia.  When hallucinogenic drugs are used recreationally, with no awareness of the possibilities, similar effects can be experienced.  In a small French village in 1951, hundreds of respectable townspeople went totally mad, leaped from windows, or ran through the streets beset by terrifying apparitions.  Even dogs and cats went berserk.  All had consumed bread that was made from rye which was contaminated with the ergot alkaloid which we now know as LSD.  I once met a man who had an unfortunate drug "enlightenment", and was horribly depressed.  He concluded that everything he heard about starving children, raging fire deaths, and torture, and everything he believed about relationships and love was an illusion and a farce, and God was just masturbating from loneliness.

So how does one prepare?  In practically every culture and every school there is an underlying requirement, perhaps best characterized by the legend of Galahad, illegitimate son of Lancelot and Elaine, the world's greatest knight and the Grail Bearer at the castle of Corbenic, who is destined to achieve the Grail, his spiritual purity making him a greater warrior than even his illustrious father.  This purity of heart is expressed many different ways.  The sorcerer don Juan says the sorcerer's way is to cut down all superfluous things: the procedure to get to the Double is impeccability in daily life; morality and a sense of beauty differentiates seers from plain witches.  In the Egyptian Book of Going Forth by Day, all of Ani's questioning by the gods is to verify his purity, weighing his heart against a feather.  In Freemasonry, one is taught to inculcate the practice of the four cardinal virtues, temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice.  Among religious enclaves, the neophyte is taught to purify his thoughts, aided by fasting, prayer, service to others, and avoidance of earthly pleasures.

Once one has decided that enlightenment is a good thing, it is productive to study how successful mystics have negotiated "the path". The classic three paths to enlightenment are the way of the fakir, the way of the yogi, and the way of the monk.  The way of the fakir, as in the Sufi tradition, works to master the attention through physical discipline.  The way of the yogi, as in Hindu and Sikh traditions, works for the same self-mastery through the discipline of mental habits.  The way of the monk, or nun, as in Buddhist and Christian traditions, works in the domain of affections, or the heart, and is often referred to as the way of faith.  The defining technique among Christian mystics is the total focusing of attention on love or communication with God, and is called contemplation.  George Gurdjieff introduced the Fourth Way, a radical awareness of the nature of reality during normal waking activities, without isolation from the marketplace.  There are hundreds of meditation techniques in the Buddhist schools, and thousands of visualization meditations in the Tibetan tradition alone.  There are also many hundreds of detailed descriptions of the Christian approach to knowledge of or union with God.  Anthropologists have studied the shamanistic and primitive cultures for their use of mind altering plants for allegedly revealing the inner worlds of man and the hidden nature of reality.

Techniques not specific to any particular religion include meditation, praying , music, dance (such as Sufi whirling), extended exercise, extreme pain (such as mortification of flesh), profound sexual activity, use of entheogens, profound depression or schizophrenia, near death experience, and even temporal lobe epilepsy and stroke. Examining these various techniques in detail, one finds a common metaphor for describing this indescribable impression.  Enlightenment is often felt and described as an awakening, as if from a dream.  This is why many mystics and religious philosophies believe that our normal waking reality is an illusion.  This is misleading, for it causes both mystics and the ordinary man to think that mystics believe the world is not real.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When we are fully awake, we are incessantly bombarded with massive sensory inputs from the physical world, accompanied by the internal dialogue which accompanies this bombardment.  Our attention is strictly on the so-called physical world.  When we are fully asleep, we are in that mysterious state where we are bombarded with highly symbolic and often physically impossible images and phenomena from what is considered the unconscious or the subconscious mind, whatever that is. We are rarely disturbed by these impossible phenomena, rarely remember our life when we were awake, rarely know that we are in the dream life, and when we awaken, rarely remember the content of our dreams.  From a psychological viewpoint, this is a rich field of study, as it gives a rare insight into the workings of the unconscious.

At the border between being fully awake and fully asleep is a mental state known as hypnagogia.  The transition while entering sleep is known as the hypnagogic state, and the transition while waking up is known as the hypnapompic state, but they are collectively referred to as hypnagogia.  The awareness in either of these two utterly fascinating states is somehow isolated from the other, for our memory rapidly fades away when we pass over this narrow border into the large territory of full wakefulness or the perhaps equally large territory of being fully asleep. The goal of all these techniques is to maintain full attention while in this transition state.  What happens is that for the first time, some of the contents of our (supposedly irrational) subconscious mind are revealed while the rational mind is still observant.  The observer, freed from the attention grabbing shackles of sensory inputs and the internal dialogue, now experiences reality from the viewpoint of what is sometimes called the "higher self".

Meditation is often beset by sometimes insurmountable obstacles.  Our attention is often overwhelmed by the internal dialogue about work, problems and pleasures, or signals from the sensory world of itches, swallowing, and attention-grabbing sounds.  Then we fall asleep, and remember with regret our failure to meditate.  The same is true when our mind wanders during yoga, or while visualizing the mandala or the guru, or while reciting your mantra.  In the fourth way, it is very difficult to maintain perspective while going about our daily business, as the world is so interesting and demanding.  Also, these methods take such a long time.  The shamanic approach has been getting more attention in recent years, as modern man has little patience to follow a strict yogic discipline.  The psychedelic plants have been known for thousands of years to have the power to suspend the attention on sensory inputs, and to stop the internal dialogue.  The famous Yaqui Indian sorcerer, don Juan, says that these plants are dangerous, and should only be used to show the possibilities.

You wanted to know about the double.  It begins in dreams.  But then you asked, ‘What is the double?’  And I said the double is the self.  The self dreams the double.  That should be simple, except that there is nothing simple about us.  Perhaps the ordinary dreams of the self are simple, but that doesn’t mean that the self is simple.  Once it has learned to dream the double, the self arrives at this weird crossroad and a moment comes when one realizes that it is the double who dreams the self. - Don Juan

Lucid dreaming is the art and science of learning to maintain consciousness and awareness while dreaming. One first learns to be aware he is dreaming, but as a helpless observer or participant.  Next, the dreamer is not only aware, but is able to influence the plot and even draw characters in.  Then, one learns to set up dreaming to explore a specific scenario and seem have dialogue with specific people, dead or alive, or receive information from dream-character masters or angels.  The motivation to master lucid dreaming is to open a window into the unconscious, obscured by the inability to remember dreams, and even if remembered, the inability to use them as a tool of self-analysis.  Everything in the dream is, of course, a reflection of the inner psychological drama of the dreamer, and is a rare and useful window into one's inner processes, ordinarily completely hidden.  This is a major psychological tool to reveal these processes, a symbolic language to communicate with your inner self.  With enough skill, one may learn to develop the double, or the dream body, which can travel to the mental worlds or to our consensual physical world.  The underlying purpose of this activity is not, as Don Juan said, to learn a new description, but rather to arrive at the totality of oneself.  Note that in the Eastern tradition, this is a training ground to maintain awareness in the bardo, at death.  Ultimately, we may use this power to maintain lucidity while awake in normal (consensual) reality, and perhaps to exert some level of control over the substance and activities of reality, in a similar way that we can exert control over the substance and activities of our dreams.

Eventually, we get feedback from the universe, starting with outrageous coincidences which pile up beyond coincidence.  Clouds, trees, hills, and the play of light somehow form themselves into responses to your thoughts and situations, convincing you that the earth is a living being, paying attention to you, and showering you with humor, love, and understanding.  Most scientists would classify this as a mental illness.  Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant.  Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds.  Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness", but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random nature in general, as with gambling, paranormal phenomena, religion, and even attempts at scientific observation..  And yet, a recent study proposed that, rather than seeing patterns that don't exist, the patterns are actually there, but only perceived by a few talented observers.  This idea is getting more attention today, as shown by the popularity of the TV series, Touch.  Lori Rackl, of the Chicago Sun-Times, said the show "operates on the mind-blowing premise that people around the world are linked to one another and their lives intersect — with potentially major repercussions. 

Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis whose essential feature is the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of behavior.  The diagnosis requires that at least two personalities (one may be the host) routinely take control of the individual's behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness.  DID is healed by integrating these scattered "I"s into a healthy whole.  Recall an insight of mathematics, that "I" is imaginary. The person must come to the realization that each of these identities are just hidden aspects of their whole being, and health will return as the person becomes aware of and uses the powers of each identity to create a new integrated being.  This helps to make that person whole and furthers their psychological and spiritual evolution.

  • What's in it for God?

The idea that God is perfect and unchanging is enormously limiting and constricting, with nowhere to go or explore.  God is more likely to be infinitely evolving, infinitely creating, and infinitely increasing in wisdom, power and beauty.

Considering that God is not static, but ever increasing in power and knowledge, one technique is the practice of what we may call, by analogy, Lucid Emanating. As each person in the world wakes up from the dream of life and discovers their occult nature as a projection of a higher self, they see, if they have the education and openness, that they now know (gnosis) the usual hidden mysteries, that there is just one Living Being, that their true self is not limited to or permanently affected by what happens to their material bodies, and that communion with this Being at any of It's levels of emanation is joyous and holy.  Each of these gnostics represents one of God's dream projections, or avatars, who are now more or less lucid.  But recall that just as it is not the dream-avatar, but rather the dreamer who wakes up, it is not the gnostic who wakes up, it is an aspect of God who has just taken one of God's scattered identities into more or less full consciousness, thus advancing one small step toward greater power, greater awareness of wholeness, higher evolution, more joy. This can be thought of as God's evolution towards arriving at the totality of Godself.  As the sorcerer don Juan explained to Carlos, what matters is not to learn a new description of reality, but to arrive at the totality of oneself.  If we want to help God with this work, we need to do the things that lead to waking up.  Then we need to help others to wake up, principally by example.

The source for ethical behavior has been attributed to holy writings, such as the bible, or the categorical imperative, but there is an obvious, direct explanation.  This is tied to my thesis of DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder, applied to God.  By GBG (Glass Bead Game) direct analogy to psychiatric healing, the individual with DID (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is healed by integrating the various identities (A Thousand Clowns) and learning to accept and love these other aspects, rather than hating and isolating them.

  • From the movie A Thousand Clowns: Dr. Sandra 'Sandy' Markowitz: There is a kind of relief that it's gone - the job, and even Albert. But I know what it is, it's just irresponsible, that's all. And I don't have the vaguest idea who I am. Murray Burns:  It's just that there are all these Sandras running around who you've never met before, and it's confusing at first, fantastic. But damn it, isn't it great to find out how many Sandras there are? It's like those little cars in the circus, you know? This tiny red car comes out, hardly big enough for a midget, and it putters around, and suddenly its doors open and out come a thousand clowns, whooping and hollering and raising hell.

Also, consider the parable of James, the rich man who had compassion for the poor and homeless, and wanted to know how it felt to be them.  He had his chauffeur buy him some old clothes at the thrift store.  He then asked to be dropped off a few blocks from skid row, and to be picked up at the same spot in a month.  He wandered around skid row for a few hours until dark, when it got cold and his stomach started rumbling.  He found some denizens warming themselves by a trash can fire and joined them.  The rumbles led one of the men to offer him a chunk of bread and cheese, and they soon found out how ignorant James was, and as time went on, taught him where to find food behind grocery stores and restaurants, how to get soup at the mission, and where it was safe to build a little cardboard box shelter.  James managed to endure the month with the help of his new peers, and went to the pickup spot for a ride home and a welcome hot shower and gourmet dinner with good wine.  After dinner, a friend and confidante asked him how it was.  James replied, "You know, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  There were interesting people to talk to, a much broader scope than I'm used to.  The food was bad, but I was sufficiently nourished.  The wine was atrocious, but after a pint it seemed ok. The lesson, of course, is that James knew it was just temporary.  If you know it is temporary, you can stand a lot.  James had hope.  The homeless had little, if any. 

Now that we have a more useful paradigm, consider this as one of the infinite possible motives for creating life.  God has created (manifested) life, and in a sense, we are all the dream-bodies of God.  As in psychology, the dream-bodies represent the infinite aspects of God's "character".  As in the rich man, James, you learn nothing if you know you are the rich man.  The only way for James to truly know what it's like to be the poor man is to somehow forget his true self.  Then he can develop his character for real. 

The evils on earth are largely the acts of Man.  These are free-will choices on whether or not to lie, cheat, steal, and kill, whether or not to pollute and strip the earth of resources, whether or not to enslave, whether or not to force the next generation to pay debts you incurred.  But what if you have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), and your kind personality is unaware of your mean and vicious personality?  You need healing to integrate your different personalities and become a whole being again.  Consider that God has DID, and each of the 7.7 billion persons in the world is one of these personalities.  To "cure" God, you would have to "wake up" from the delusion that you and everyone in the world is a separate being.  This is the gnostic revelation.  Then you would have healed that personality (you).  Only 7.7 billion to go!

You observe the horrors of our world, the wars, the intolerance, the fanaticism, the rapacity, and the fruits of this, the poverty, the hunger, the scarcity of resources, the denuded forests, the slavery, disease, and pollution, it is easy to think our world is terribly flawed. The so-called natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and blizzards, are often thought of as curses, but there is no maliciousness in them.  Perhaps we just don't completely understand the motivations of a Being well beyond our capability to understand, and maybe these are lessons on where and how to live.  After all, nothing is really destroyed, as everything is just an aspect of the One eternal being.  Maybe the Demiurge is just the collective us, in ignorance.  According to Hanlon's Razor, "never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." Or maybe just ignorance.

  • Perhaps part of the purpose of life?

If and when you do "wake up", you have just "cured" one of the multiple personalities, and brought it into the wholeness of the original Personality.  As each "personality" awakens, God has increased in awareness, and has evolved into a more integrated, more loving, more powerful, more compassionate Being.  We are then actively doing God's will by this personal healing.  We owe it to God to become awake.