[Since I first posted it, this post has been slightly edited due to questions of privacy relating to others in the Dave group.]
The careful reader will have noticed that the hundred posts of “What is Embodiment” trace a developmental curve, or what’s known in Hollywood as “a story arc.”
The series was begun in response to a suggestion made by Dave O after the summer 2014 retreat. I was meeting Dave and some other participants in a Chinese restaurant. On the way there, I’d had a really pleasurable experience walking about Helsinki, listening to music on my mp3 player and feeling just right in my body. I told Dave that I thought a better word for what I was getting a taste of than enlightenment was embodiment. He suggested I do a post every day for the next hundred days on “enlightened embodiment.” The rest is (bla bla).
To begin with, I drew on notes I’d made from a previous Dave retreat, including direct quotes of things Dave said as well as my own occasional comments or observations. Once my notes ran out (around post # 24), I started re-listening to old Dave online classes and paraphrasing things I found there, always keeping close to the letter and spirit of Dave’s teachings.
Then came post # 43, “Asteroids in Space,” written down while listening to Dave talk in an online group meeting (making it the first direct Dave quote). Around that time, I had an email exchange with Dave in which he questioned whether my repeating things he had said counted as things I had “learned.” In Dave’s view, learning entails bringing forth inner wisdom and knowledge, not receiving it from the outside.
The exchange reminded me that my original intent with the blog series had been not to quote Dave but to direct my attention inward, to see what insights came up in relation to Dave and his teachings. I decided that was what I would do, and began warming up to it with post # 45, “The 1000 Eyes of the Body.” I moved into full solo flight mode at the halfway point with post # 50, “Whom Does the Enlightenment Transmission Serve?”
For the almost three-week period after that (up to and including post # 68, “The Upside of Irritation,”), I was riding high on the wave of “ET service.” As I commented at the blog, at the start of that period:
“I have been keeping the focus on Dave’s ‘enlightenment transmission,’ even though I am not a hundred percent comfortable with referring to something I have such limited experience of. On the other hand, doing so has been a way to more openly serve the ET, and thereby come into a more intimate, trusting, relationship with it. I hope the posts themselves will successfully testify to that relationship.”
Then something happened. On Saturday, September the 20th, I had a consciousness-altering experience during an online meeting with some of the participants, a meeting which Dave showed up to halfway through. Without going into too much detail, the experience hit me like a ton of bricks, and I found myself questioning my relationship with Dave, the other participants, and the so-called “enlightenment transmission.” The question of what was spiritually correct behavior was the focus of that call.
The first post I made after that meeting was post # 69, “Spiritual Failure.” The series of posts up to # 82 (“The Desert”), over the next two weeks, describe the internal struggle I went through, parsing out the noise of externally focused value-judgments from the signal of my own internal sense of what was real. During that period, my feeling of alienation and of let-down continued to grow. Dave had often made the claim that he wanted us all to develop spiritual autonomy. Now he seemed determined to clip the wings of anyone who tried to fly out of the nest, to rely on their own power.
On the other hand, if he really wanted me to become independent of his influence, what else could he do to facilitate that process, besides resisting all of my attempts to do so?
A hundred words I didn’t post during that period:
How do spiritual groups operate? The same way all groups operate: by mimesis.
A spiritual group depends on shared values. Whoever most embodies those values is group leader.
Where there’s a leader, there’s hierarchy.
Those in the group who best imitate the leader rise to the top, at least until they become a threat to the leader’s authority. The rest of the group then band together to remove the offending party, now the designated scapegoat.
Alternatively, there’s mutiny, and/or a split, and a new group is created, with “reformed” values.
The original cell has now divided, in order to replicate.
During and after my painful process of separation/individuation from the spiritual flock, I was no longer riding high on the wings of the ET. I had been unceremoniously dumped back in the desert of my own solitary landscape. The content of the posts accordingly became somewhat “darker,” as my old preoccupation with trauma resurfaced and was integrated into the larger embodiment discussion. It was like my old self was merging with my temporary new ET-server self, erasing both.
Post # 98, “Turning Towards the Dark,” represented a final embracing of (what I see as) the necessary truth of individuation, as undergone in the previous few weeks. To be spiritually incorrect—to resist all external pressures to align with any system of values—is the only way to embody one’s own truth.
This was what was behind my rejection of the words (values) of Dave’s teachings in later posts, and my (clumsy but I hope also playful) attempt to replace them with my own terms.
From another unpublished post:
Enlightenment transmission vs. embodiment cheesecloth. Two sides of a single hair?
A transmission has duration, beginning, middle, and end. It comes from a source (transmitter) to a destination, receiver. Enlightenment has either happened or it hasn’t.
Cheesecloth has no precise dimensions, in space or time. It’s just there, invisibly, seemingly incidental to the cheese. Embodiment is a spectrum, an ongoing process, a fluctuation, a journey between two states.
But this isn’t really the point of splitting conceptual hairs.
[This is:] “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.”
The process implicitly revealed by the WIB? series of posts is still ongoing, despite the end of the series. Underneath it is an underlying conflict within my own psyche, a conflict between the desire to participate with a larger group or community, and the need to preserve a solitary, self-determined existence.
This meta-appendix isn’t an attempt to tie it all up in a tidy, Hollywood-style ending (Western hero rides off into the sunset), but only to provide some additional context to the story (the backstory) that may reduce the possibility of misunderstanding. The truth is I don’t really know what happened during the course of this series, and yet I have done my best to make a coherent narrative out of it—that being just what we do.
Why do people follow spiritual teachers and join spiritual groups? Because they are seeking an alternative to “the world.”
Part of this is due to a genuine sense that there’s more to us than the world can ever acknowledge or permit us to express. But a perhaps larger part is that we just don’t want to have to deal with the horror of the world—and especially not face up our own, deeply conditioned affinity with it.
Isn’t spirituality, however balanced and grounded it may be, still just a more elaborate equivalent of going off to a mountain cave?
The goal isn’t to take the body off to a more soulful place (retreat). The goal is to bring the Soul into a more embodied state—to become not less but more worldly, so that spiritual awareness can have some traction—some practical appliance. Advance!
The goal is for the rubber of the soul to meet the road of the world.
I saw it coming really early in the series. I didn’t know when but I knew it would happen. And that morning that you did talk to him, I remember it being slightly chaotic because Mitch Skyped you briefly before. I was still kind of surprised but not surprised when it happened that day.
Theres another theory or just something to grab your attention into..forget everything you know or have read or have heard but here out this little gem of a backward unrewarding scheme.and maybe a few more underpinned in the dolls head.
“27 years old” just focus on that age for a moment or a week or a while. Twenty seven years old . It resembles a quarter of a century of the body, mind and spirit. An age where wisdom perhaps flourishes, sexuality is at a level of testosterone, peaking amidst creativity / psychic awareness . It is not about the wise one in the tribe ageing with respect and knowledge..or is it the wise one looking back..and if they are wise..yes..they will look back at this age where sexuality merges with creativity and is at the core of the existence of that person. So we are finding a fulcrum, a balance and passing off what we know now and asking our energetic age that perhaps we neglected..so it appears ..or should be the case as we are sub consciously merging our present knowledge with that of 27. Which includes us all whether we are enlightened or enlightening.
“Virtuality” needs to replace the word “spirituality”.
What is your virtual practice?
Rejecting the molding is natural and at some point unavoidable for any autistic rebell. It have to occur, as it should.
thank you for the constant/open sharing
So glad you posted this, Jasun, because I have a feeling it struck a chord in many other people who long to grow in their perception of now/eternity for the human soul. I ran into the same guru problem years ago when I gravitated to Whitley Strieber’s website. At first it was a positive experience, but later on some disturbing new information surfaced and when I paid attention to it, I was swiftly marginalized and my posts ghettoized into the very long Witness thread. Then I was unilaterally banned, which turned out to be a very valuable learning experience. But, as you found out, the sight of a group moving from inquiry to slavish hero/guru worship is incredibly depressing.
Thanks. I haven’t written off the Oshana Project entirely, and I suspect it won’t “concretize” in the way that other groups have, all the way into cult petrification, as I don’t think Dave would allow it (tho I may be wrong). But I think that depends on everyone involved, in whatever group, identifying the social and psychological patterns that cause that petrification to occur, that it’s just built into group dynamics (see Girard), and seeking a way to change/overcome that pattern has been going on for millennia, so far with little success.
There’s an inherent paradox in spiritual groupings which is that the aim is towards individuation – which can occur much more rapidly and real-ly in a group – yet individuation itself is a movement away from group identification. The transcendental aim is end up with a herd of cats – ie, something that doesnt happen in nature (or society).
Interesting to read about your experiences from your viewpoint. For clarification, I´d like to ask, did you feel like you were ”dumped into desert” by others or did you do it yourself? Also how did you truly experience ”your wings being clipped?” What do you mean by that?
I´d like to comment on the post #98 ”Turning Towards the Dark” you are referring to. I find that post to be somehow confusing. I think that it is very important to find one´s inner light, and not just be living from e.g. spiritual teacher´s light or the light of other people, even if that can signal to a light within. But you write ”When you find the Enlightenment Transmission, turn away. The light that’s outside of you is not yours. But it does signal to a light within you. …” I think that the ”Enlightenment Transmission” could also be called ”Holy spirit”, and I don´t claim to know it, but I feel it is fair to ask, don´t you think that it something very loving, something which actually is ”ours” or at least ”wants” to be ours? Why should anyone turn away from something like that?
On your view about why people are following spiritual teachers and joining spiritual groups, I agree, it can be because of ”seeking an alternative to the world”. However spiritual teachers and spiritual groups can also (at least potentially) be helpful in regaining one´s own inner power so that one could fully be in the world and then give of oneself unselfishly to others.
The desert I referred to is a desert I have always been in, the desert of the world. The dumping was mostly self-determined. It was a choice to follow my own gut, even knowing it might be a trick of my ego, to at least aim for autonomy, even if it was premature. As for the wings being clipped, that was an experience of being told to submit to external controls rather than follow my own impulses, to agree to conditions that I didn’t feel were fair, appropriate, or necessary. I imagine it’s like being a kid who is told to grow up on the one hand, but then, when he tries to do something independently, is told he is doing it wrong. (In my case, I was told I was deluded.)
I took a risk with the “turn away from the light” post, knowing it could be misread, or worse, misapplied, but trusting that the real light, since it is internal, can’t be turned away from, any more than you can turn away from your own essence.
I am still struggling with the whole concept of darkness vs. light, and wrote this yesterday: I think the thing about darkness and light is that it is always both in one’s field of vision, so [the aim is] to put one’s attention on the light/truth without ignoring or denying the darkness and delusion that surrounds it; or perhaps it is that real surrender means having no preference, not even for “the light”!?
I am very suspicious of talk about allegiance to the light, turning to the light, and all that, because it is so obviously dualistic. I think it is convenient, maybe necessary, at a certain stage, to see it in such terms; my bent is not for spiritual but for psychology terminology, and in psychology, the dark = the unconscious, which is precisely where our attention needs to go, into the hidden areas of the psyche.
So what do people mean they say “face the light”? there is a totalitarian assumption in it, and I always tend to feel sad for the darkness. Can’t I love both darkness and light?
In more ordinary terms, one of the things I reacted to in the Oshana group was the assumption that feeling good (and being filled with missionary zeal) was a measure of connecting to the ET/spiritual alignment/authenticity. While it’s true that these things do feel good (missionary zeal especially), it’s definitely not the case, in my experience, that feeling good or missionary zeal is a measure of how much one is surrendering the ego. In fact, the times I have felt really great have – in retrospect – often been times of the greatest delusion and ego inflation.
For me the Holy Spirit is a calming, loving presence that doesn’t apply pressure but on the contrary, allows a letting go and a complete trust in life. The pressure I think comes from the unconscious, or the Soul, the feeling of a life unlived, of a potential needing to be tapped, released, expressed. But that is very different.
I am not sure about needing to find one’s power in order to give oneself to others. What would that look like? Acting unselfishly is such a high goal I am not sure I can even talk about it. I just try to be honest and enjoy life as much as I can – that’s hard enough!
Thanks for commenting.