I’m more of a writer than a mystic. I can claim no great attainment. Sometimes I think I’ve received whatever spiritual experiences I’ve received so that I can write about them. (Sharing information with others has always been an overriding compulsion in my life. I have always considered myself a “virus” endeavoring to influence the dominant cultural matrix.) Hopefully readers will find my words interesting and informative.
Since I’m a writer, sometimes bits of terminology, or colorful phrases, will spontaneously enter my mind, in much the same way that a musical composer will receive a tune from the “ether.” For example, I came up with the phrase “existence is its own reward” when the Spiritual Sphincter opened for me for awhile back in the mid-90s. I attributed this one to the raw food diet I was on at the time, but upon further reflection it was obviously Grace, which is a fancy way of saying “beats me.” I prefer the term “sphincter” to “door” -- despite its obvious implications – because we’re dealing with an organic process here. The Universe is alive; Spirit is alive. As always when talking about spirituality, everything we say about it is an analogy. We could just as well be saying, “The flowering of Spirit” and not talk about sphincters and doors at all.
I came up with the phrase “extra buzz” during an episode that lasted several days back in the summer of 2008. It’s definitely “extra,” but it’s not really a buzz. It’s more like an energetic presence in the center of my existence. It’s real, really there, really real, a constant companion, unlike thoughts and other vaporous imaginings. I like to use casual hippie-type terminology like “extra buzz” because it makes the phenomenon seem more accessible to me, even at the risk of trivializing it. One could, after all, just as accurately call the same phenomenon “God” or “Christ Consciousness” or “The Holy Spirit,” but somehow to me “the extra buzz” comes across as more user-friendly. But now, having said all that, I’ll be using the term “Spirit” for the rest of this article.
Looking back over my life I’ve been on the spiritual path probably dozens of times, but I’ve spent far more time off it than on it. When the Spiritual Sphincter has seemed closed to me, I have found “pretending to be spiritual” a useless activity. It’s like sitting around the ashes of a dead campfire, talking about the glory days when the fire was lit and I basked in its warm glow. I obviously have had to create a tease-and-denial God for myself in order to learn whatever I’ve needed to learn in this lifetime. Have I learned it yet? I don’t know, but I hope in the future not to stray too far from the Path. Now that I know what the Pearl of Great Price is, earthly pleasures just don’t cut it for me like they used to.
I mentioned in a recent post being on an Adyashanti kick, and I still am, sort of, but I’m starting to wonder: Do we really need a Ferrari when a tractor will do? Obviously, very few people ever achieve full satori, enlightenment, awakening, whatever words we want to throw at it. It’s far more common for people to have more or less access to what we call Spirit. When I was younger I wanted everything, but these days perhaps I’m a bit more realistic about what’s possible.
Here are a few synonyms for this phenomenon that I am calling “Spirit” in this article:
God, God Consciousness, The Christ, Christ Consciousness, The Comforter, The Father (Jesus used this one a lot), The Holy Grail, The Holy Spirit, The Beloved, The Presence (as in “Practicing the Presence”), Pearl of Great Price, The Shepherd, The Fortress, The Force, Truth, Awareness. (This is only a partial list.)
A common manifestation of spirituality is as follows: you have your regular “unawakened” ego-bound individual, living in the dualistic world of good and evil, pleasure and pain, etc. For whatever reason (Grace Happens), the individual becomes aware of Spirit. (Which is to say, the Spiritual Sphincter cracks open a little.) Spirit can seem to come from without (God is in His heaven), or within (the Holy Spirit is within us all); it doesn’t matter what interpretation we put on it. We can consider God to be totally outside ourselves or we can consider God to be our own consciousness; it doesn’t matter what we think about it. What’s important is that we become aware of Spirit in the first place. Spirit Is; that much we can say for sure.
I like the term “spiritual sphincter” which opens and shuts. Or think of the pupil of the eye: when it’s opened it lets in lots of light; when closed, not so much. Or Blake’s “doors of perception,” same thing. If the door, or sphincter, is totally closed, we have our regular, unspiritual, person living a totally human life. For them, Spirit might as well not exist at all. (There are obviously a lot of closed doors in the world these days, or we wouldn’t be destroying the Earth like we are.) If the door or sphincter opens all the way, we have our very rare enlightened person. If the door opens to a greater or lesser extent, people are said to be having a “spiritual experience.” I suspect that more people than we might suppose have had such experiences, though clearly this reality has little or no impact on those who control the levers of temporal power within the global Wasteland socio-economic system.
Spirit is always there, within us and without us, which is the best we can articulate it with our dualistic language faculty. (It’s more accurate to say that “location” is an inoperative concept in this context. Thus, you can’t really say that “Spirit is always there.” It would be more accurate to say, “Spirit always is.”)
Spirit has a transforming effect upon the individual. I call this the “spiritual roto-rooter effect.” (It is not always pleasant, especially at the beginning.) Joseph Campbell, in Creative Mythology, writes about what he calls “spiritual alchemy” -- transforming unawakened “lead” into spiritual “gold.”
Laura’s spiritual teacher, Barbara Mary Muhl, discussed spiritual transformation at some length. In her terminology, humans are born hypnotized, and are unaware of their hypnotism. In my interpretation, we are controlled by survival software run amok, otherwise known as “ego,” which we take to be “ourselves.” Barbara says that the only way to be free of our human limitations is to become dehypnotized. She makes four statements about the dehypnotization process:
* “The hypnotized person cannot dehypnotize himself, but God Consciousness can and will do that, if contacted.” This is very good news for the individual because learning how to dehypnotize myself would be like learning how to beat my own heart: I’m simply not equipped to do this.
* “Conscious Resting in the Presence of God lifts the hypnosis and sets me free.” Big question: How do you get in “the Presence of God” in the first place? See the next statement:
* “The faculty that I must use to achieve this conscious God contact is my Faculty of Awareness, an instrument totally separate from my mind.” In my interpretation, you can’t think your way out of the hypnosis. Awareness is the ability to be consciously present, or consciously conscious. This is Eckhart Tolle’s primary message: “The important thing has already happened” – the ability, as modest as it may seem, to briefly shove the thoughts aside and be consciously present. This ability can be greatly enhanced with practice.
* “I must practice getting ‘into the lap’ until I can stay there, at will, and until I receive my assurance that there is nothing that needs to be done.” In my interpretation, this boils down to: “Without Him, I can do nothing.” I have no ability to make Spirit happen for me, but I can welcome it when it comes. Of course this is a not-very-accurate analogy, because Spirit is always here, so it never “comes.” But only when hypnotism is lifted do I become aware of the Spirit that has been there all along.
It’s always good to have the process of “spiritual alchemy” spelled out for us like that.
It’s remarkable, but not really surprising, how much talking people do about spirituality. What part of “beyond words and thoughts” don’t we understand? I think sometimes people confuse emotional fugue states with the real thing. We like to get ourselves all excited by blathering with each other, that’s for sure. The mystic Joel Goldsmith said, “The best teaching is done in the Silence.”
They say that Spirit can be an active presence in your life all the time. For the first time in my life, I’m seeing this as a possibility. In the future, if I ever find out anything interesting, I’ll pass it along. Obviously there’s no magical information we can transmit in words, or all of us readers would already be enlightened by now. But words aren’t totally useless... if they’re the right words. At least they can aim us in the right direction.