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Smashing the Black Lacquer Barrel

the Wanderling

When the Buddha was walking along the road to Benares following his post-Enlightenment pause he was approached by a wandering ascetic. According to the custom of the time the ascetic greeted him and asked who his teacher was or what doctrine he followed. The Buddha told the wanderling that he was "the Victor and Conqueror of the World, superior to gods and men, an All-Enlightened One beholden to no teacher." The wandering ascetic could see no hint of anything of the Buddha's nature and wandered off as wanderlings are oft to do, mumbling under his breath something like, "If it were only so!" [1]

When I was a young boy growing up I loved Leonardo Da Vinci, astronomy, the cosmos, rockets to the Moon and Mars, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. I knew nothing of the Absolute, Enlightenment, Zen, the Buddha, Buddhism, or Hinduism. I did recall, albeit somewhat dimly when I was around age ten or so a man in India named Mahatma Ghandi was assassinated, and from that incident vaguely remembered that lots of near-naked men sat around in loincloth crosslegged in India all day and didn't eat cows.

It was into a somewhat later teenage hodge-podge milieu of vagueness that a man came into my life that had studied under one of those near-naked men, a prominent Indian Maharshi, and like the Maharshi, Enlightened. It is because of that encounter that my situation is different than most seekers along the path.

How so? First of all, I was not a seeker along the path. I didn't have the remotest idea there even WAS a path, let alone anything to seek. Secondly, the man I met was Enlightened, so I experienced first hand that the Enlightened state was an actuality, something someone could be. It wasn't based on faith or something "out there."

While still seated following his Enlightenment, but before his departure for Benares and prior to beginning any teaching, two merchants, called in the texts Tapussa and Bhallika, along with their caravans came across the Buddha under the Bodhi-tree. Both merchants bowed and were deeply moved by his splendor and supreme presence, becoming as it were, the Buddha's first "converts." [2]

It is said the journey on foot to Benares and the Deer Park from the Bodhi-tree took eight days. There the Buddha met five of his former followers, named in the texts as Kaundinya, Mahanaman, Vaspa, Asvajit, and Bhadrajit. When they first saw Sakyamuni coming toward them from the distance they were initially unaware of the profound change that had taken place and at first thought he was not worthy of their respect. However, as he came nearer their condescending attitude began to wane and shortly thereafter were convinced that he was a teacher worthy of their attention and reverence. [3]

The previously mentioned wandering ascetic, a person of certain religious qualities it is assumed, came across the Buddha himself in actuality and real life, and was seemingly unable to detect any Enlightened state the Buddha may or may not have experienced. The two merchants on the other hand, neither of which seemed to be particuarly interested in things religious as much as things material, easily detected the Buddha's Enlightenment. The five religious mendicants originally were semi-suspect, but were also easily convinced after being in his presence. A thousand years later, Hui-neng, the soon to be Sixth Patriarch of Zen [4], as a young common lay person, although Enlightened, met for the first time, the then Fifth Patriarch, Hung-jen. Hung-jen, an Enlightened master with a following of over five-hundred monks, immediately recognized Hui-neng's Attainment, although he did not announce it, setting the stage for the now famous "stanza competition." What I am saying is, whether a deeply religious follower, an Enlightened master of the first degree, or just a poor working dolt with no penchant toward things religious, sometimes Enlightenment can be recognized in others, sometimes not. In my case, even though I didn't know it or what Enlightenment was at the time, I still recognized whatever it was in the man I met. That meeting, like Hung-jen's stanza competition, set the stage for my own permanent transformation, the glowing dark luminosity of eternity consciousness refered to in the Zen tradition as Enlightenment, and IS that which IS Enlightenment.

A special transmission outside the scriptures;
Not founded upon words or letters;
Pointing directly to the human mind;
Seeing into one's nature and attaining Buddhahood.
Bodhidharma, First Patriarch (4-6 cent. A.D.)

At Vulture Peak, the Buddha held up a flower, blinked his eyes, Mahakayashapa smiled and the Dharma was passed on. Mahakayashapa called out to Ananda. Ananda answered, and the Dharma passed to the next generation. A pebble hits bamboo; again, the Dharma is transmitted and a boy meets his Zen mentor. [6]

The person I studied under[7] was not a Zen adept. Although it was he who introduced me to things Zen, his Attainment was reached under the guidence and grace of an Indian Maharshi[8]. It was under his auspices as a teenager in high school I began practice, and as hard as I tried I might add, in those days, was not very successful. After returning from a stint in the military I sought out my mentor again after a two-year plus absence, intending to attempt at least a semi-return to practice. What he saw he didn't like, saying the military brought out a beast in me, plus all I really wanted to do was use my college time to party and chase girls. Two more years passed. Then one day for the first time I took a girl to meet him. He liked what he saw. The following year I was married. The year following that, on Saturday night May 31, 1969, reposed effortlessly in deep samadhi[9], the crystal clear light of the second full moon in a two full moon month gently crossed my face. When the moon's pale-soft beams fell into my eyes unaware of my existence nor me of it, the light thereof poured on it's own down through my pupils and lightning like, a fist size feeling of something akin to bliss began to build and radiate, then blast throughout my body from somewhere in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to bolt and run and try to shake it off because I LOVED the feeling so much that I thought I wouldn't be able to survive if it continued to grow, but was frozen, afraid to move, feeling if I moved even the slightest I would lose the moment and possibly my life. Self-locked in that frozen state which felt like and seemed like both an instant and an eternity, there transpired the barest whisper of a body shudder, like shaking off a chill, and in an orgasmic-blast of glowing dark light throughout my mind, body and the universe, suddenly I wasn't.[10]

Zen master Tai-yung, passing by the retreat of another Zen master named Chih-huang, stopped and during his visit respectfully asked, "I am told that you frequently enter into Samadhi. At the time of such entrances, does your consciousness continue or are you in a state of unconsciousness? If your consciousness continues, all sentient beings are endowed with consciousness and can enter into Samadhi like yourself. If, on the other hand, you are in a state of unconsciousness, plants and rocks can enter into Samadhi." Huang replied, "When I enter into a Samadhi, I am not conscious of either condition." Yung said, "If you are not conscious of either condition, this is abiding in eternal Samadhi, and there can be neither entering into a Samadhi nor rising out of it."[11]

Conjuring up attempts with word-based metaphors about the Enlightenment experience, of course, is left way short of total accomplishment because any metaphorical reference invariably implies some sort of something that happened to some sort of something, a me, for example. That may be the conventionally assumed case prior, but not for the experiencer-experience, and that is what has been difficult for me here and the bone I have to pick with most attempts by others to describe the Enlightenment experience. I can usually tell by the thread weaved through most descriptions that their Experience either never happened and is a flat out untruth, was minor, or that they are confusing a possible common lower jhana state for something like Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.

To say the Experience was like a steel ball through a plate glass window or like having been in a warm haze filled glass box your whole life, then suddenly in a micro-instant finding yourself transported to a white Antartic ice sheet in the middle of the dark night bare naked in crystal clear rarified air, which when probed over and over one night, I used, may tickle one's visual imagination, but the implication is there is a Self or a You for such an experience to have happened AND a concrete, abstract, or relative-existant before-and-after flowing space-time for it to have happened in. Not so. At least, metaphorically, not afterwards, and I speak metaphorically because "afterwards" there was no longer any afterwards and never was, nor was there a before either for that matter, to make reference to or against--only instant by instant continually manifesting now, now, now!

It is not for nothing methinks, that the Awakening experience is called Enlightenment. In physics light is both a particle and a wave, but for the most part it remains what it is as it is unless or until interfered with. Then, depending on the nature of the interference, a test of some sort say, it is determined by an outside observer to be at any given time either one or the other, particle OR wave, but NEVER at the sametime, both. In analogy Enlightenment is similar. It is as though there is this vast infinity of unpermeated stillness and emptiness that has at the same moment, equally throughout it's totality, an unseen energy, an energy that only becomes apparent if and when it falls across an object, an outside observer, who, as though in a test asks "What is Enlightenment?", then suddenly it is no longer what it is as it is, but becomes like light, depending on the nature of the test, either a "particle OR a wave, but NEVER both," NOR whatever it actually really is as it is. The tester, the test and that which is tested is the same, for some unknown reason, not to the tester.[12]

Over and over it is not so much what Enlightenment is or the experience of the event itself that people are interested in, but how has life been affected or become somehow different post-event.

For one thing, instead of being a brief or short-term phenomenon, the results of that event have deepened and become permanently ingrained. Also, during the interim there were problems adjusting, "adjusting" being something never brought up in Zen literature. My Zen mentor had been a pilot in World War I, flying for the British against the Germans, yet when I met him he walked everywhere, didn't drive, and seldom rode in vehicles...something I thought odd at the time. Afterwards, although it was his own personal selection to do so, it became clear why. The rest of the world, the everyday daily-grind Samsara world takes the separated state as normal and, even though Awakened, my mind patterns must come across a ringing shadow-like footprint within a somehow residual imprinted echo-like background-base of that state. It is possible to wander from the Awakened state depending on the situation, bringing forth a lapse in detachment as it were, for various lengths, especially when dealing with trying people and an impatience with such people ...another thing that seldom shows up in Zen literature to speak of.

There once was a sage who lived in a lonely temple high in the mountains. He was visited one day by a wandering monk. As the two were talking a wild animal roared close by, and the visiting monk, supposedly Enlightened, jumped. "I see it is still with you," said the sage...refering, of course, to the instinctive "passion" of fright. Shortly afterwards, while he was unobserved for a moment, the visiting monk inscribed the Chinese character for the Buddha on the rock the sage was accustomed to sit. When the sage returned to sit down he saw the sacred Name and hesitated to sit. "I see," said the wandering monk, "it is still with you!"[13]

The biggest problem however, are people that expect to receive from me some sort of a book-word intellectual understanding they can learn, something they can read or see and hold on to and say, "Ah hah, now I get it." It doesn't work that way, although I am more lucky than most in the use of words to clarify the Experience for a couple of reasons. One, unlike many who push the Enlightened experience, I have no books or vested interests in keeping it mystical or under my own or any group's auspices like say a Guru or Sangha-master might, so I am willing to be more forthright. Secondly, two very fortunate events transpired that make it much easier to clarify some of the Experience. The first is the around twenty pages or so of typed notes that came into my possession garnered from a whole stack of handwritten notes taken during a series of interviews over quite a period of time back in 1972 and never published. The second was being given, post-event, a whole box of pre-event Buddhist and Zen related books stashed away in my brother's attic that at one time belonged to me and that had not seen the light of day in probably thirty years or so. The interesting part being all the dog-eared pages, underlined text, highlighted whole paragraphs and notes scribbled all over in the margins and inside the covers. They were able to give me a huge insight into pre-event concerns and lack of understanding. Before, sutras were long and boring and didn't carry any meaning. Koans were unintelligible and didn't make sense. Even so, post-event I am unable to totally figure out why it is that way because the clearer things are and the more simple they have become, the more difficult they are to explain. I have found to help make sense of things for OTHERS to understand it is easier for me to go to Enlightened masters that came before me who have blazed a written trail already, although in perhaps less contempory terms, and see how they have put it. Before Zen came into existence, Nagarjuna[14], and after Zen, Dogen[15]. I would suggest to anybody that was truly interested and serious about Enlightenment to seek out, read, and ingest their works above all others. Secondly, I would suggest reading all one-hundred koans AND their commentaries in the Blue Cliff Record as well as anything containing interviews with and answers by Sri Maharshi Ramana[16].

Also, for the skeptics and their minions, you may take note of the initial quote at the top of the page or the reference footnote [1] below, the Majjhima Nikaya M-26. The skeptics are always citing "If you say you are Enlightened, you aren't" or some such thing, although they never seem to be interested in or cite the Buddha, the all time champion of Enlightenment, as saying exactly that in the Sutras, that is, that he experienced the ultimate Attainment and that he was in fact and deed, Enlightened (again, Majjhima Nikaya M-26, footnote [1], below). I have always felt if it was good enough for the Buddha, it should be good enough for us. As for the rest, I will close with the following:

Hui-k'o, the Second Patriarch of Zen passed on the bowl and robe to his successor, the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an, signifying the Transmission of the Dharma. Hui-k'o, who had received the seal of approval from Bodhidharma himself, then went everywhere drinking and carousing around like a wildman and partaking in the offerings of the brothel districts. When people asked how he could do such a thing, being a Patriarch of the Zen school and all, he would respond with: "What business is it of yours?"[17]





The Title. Where Does It Come From?

Although the general idea of the term Dark Luminosity may have welled-up amongst a small circle of peers, the first time I recall putting the two words "dark" and "luminosity" together to form the term Dark Luminosity was in a conversation with a man who claimed to be --- at least at the time --- a lifelong spiritual skeptic.

In those days, in my youth, I was somehow enamored with the whole process and actually even sort of willing to propagate the whole thing in a semi-small circle adherents. Doing so began to attract a whole series of skeptics and cynics. The man in question, the self proclaimed spiritual skeptic, was one John Wren-Lewis, an Englishman, who was no slouch when it came to defending his skepticism. At the time we are talking about here, 1971, he just happened to hold a fairly prestigious Regents Lectureship at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While residing in the Santa Barbara area for the lectureship it was brought to his attention that on one of the islands just off the coast was a person that had reportedly Awakened to the Absolute under the grace and light of the venerated Indian holy man, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. The man, an ascetic, had become known as the "holy man of the Channel Islands." Wren-Lewis, the skeptic that he was, was driven to meet the man. However, at the time, the ascetic was nowhere to be found.(see) The next best thing for Wren-Lewis was to meet with a devotee or follower of the ascetic, which, after a series of events, brought me into the picture. The meeting turned out to be a rather long discussion. In the end I am not sure if he was swayed one way or the other, but in the discussion in describing my experience I used the term Dark Luminosity. Twelve years later Wren-Lewis, following a near death experience after ingesting poisoned candy while traveling in Thailand, he experienced a permanent altered state of consciousness typically attributed to the ancient classical masters. He described his experience by calling it The Dazzling Dark.

In the introduction to UNKNOWN MAN: The Mysterious Birth of a New Species[18], Yatri, the author, describes a moment of Illumination:

Its genesis was one of those awakening visions which happen once in a lifetime when the miraculous landscape of reality is lit up by a sudden flash of lightning only to disappear again into the normal twilight world. But once the real universe has been tasted the old familiar one can never be quite the same.

It miraculously happened for me one spring morning in the bleak surroundings of a slum in the East end of London. Why it should have chosen such an incongruous setting is one of the mysterious jokes of existence. For the last fifteen years since that moment I have often found only helplessness in my attempts to explain how this real world appeared to me in that brief glimpse.

All that really can be said is that It just was. Time stopped, all and everything was intensified a thousand-fold and existence shone in full ecstatic wonder

As I watched Londoners in the street going about their lives there appeared a Dark Luminosity within each being. Yet at the same moment there was a strange feeling that they were no more than sleepwalking robots utterly oblivious to that shining nature within themselves. The life force of each person was somehow entrapped within a dull dreaming shell which seemed to prevent any contact with the real and what could have been aflame with consciousness was gray and lifeless.

Only seconds before I had been exactly like that and the awful recognition came that while only a hairs breadth divided the two states, I could also fall back into forgetfulness. What had gone wrong? What had happened to everyone?[18]

See also Kali-Ma at reference note [19] below.

When I came across the term Dark Luminosity in Yatri's book and how he used it, it brought forward something I had read in the book "I Am That" by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj [20], which inturn, along with my discussion with Wren-Lewis, coalesced into the title of this paper:

"Look closely and you will see that all names and forms are but transitory waves on the ocean of consciousness, that only consciousness can be said to be, not its transformations. In the immensity of consciousness a light appears, a tiny point that moves rapidly and traces shapes, thoughts and feelings, concepts and ideas, like the pen writing on paper. And the ink that leaves a trace is memory. You are that tiny point, and by your movement the world is ever re-created. Stop moving and there will be no world. Look within and you will find that the point of light is the reflection of the immensity of light in the body, as the sense "I am". There is only light, all else appears. To the mind, it [that light] appears as darkness. It can be known only through its reflections. All is seen in daylight - except daylight. To be the point of light tracing the world is Turiya. To be the light itself is Turiyatita. But of what use are names when reality is so near?" .[21]

Additionally, for me, there seems to exist a linkage of sorts from the underlying base or grounding source of the stories, legends and tales of the truly ancient past, that create a lineage to present day truths, however obscured by centuries of fog through thought and intellect. The curandera Maria Sabina says "Wisdom comes from the place where the sand is born." Most people would say sand is born by the action of weather, the constant demands of unrelenting water wearing against stone. However, before that there is that which is --- and before that, as attributed to the Sixth Patriarch of C'han Buddhism, Hui Neng, "From the first not a thing is." (pen l'ai w'u i w'u, "originally, there is not a thing")

From those ancient legends we hear of Ophioneus. Ophioneus is both serpent of the primeval watery abyss and hatcher of the World-Egg. The Waters are the Waters of Life --- the Foundation. According to what has come down to us from the Greek philosopher Pherecydes (circa 600-550 BC) Ophioneus is said to be guarding the Roots to the Tree of Life. THE ROOTS. There is a tradition by way of the Pythagoreans about the Light that flows through a person, and that has its Root in the Darkness from where it comes. More specifically, it, the "Root in the Darkness" is linked to Ophioneus. The Light is referred to as "the egg-born with golden wings" and as "coming full of metis (wisdom)." If the Light is the egg-born and Ophioneus the hatcher of the world-egg, then Ophioneus connects to the "place" in the Darkness where the Light has its Root. To have this Root is to have the "living flame," the Light that flows through all living things.[22]


The sources cited are from contemporary, readily available publications and websites. Their original sources from the Sutras, etc., can be obtained researching their sources.

Eric Cheetham,"Fundementals of Mainstream Buddhism" (The Buddhist Society, 1994). See also MAJJHIMA NIKAYA: Ariya-pariyesana Sutra, M.26 at http://the-wanderling.com/mn_26.html. In the final paragraph of "THE TWELVE YEAR RULE" The Unimnifested SAT the following is presented:

Nothing external can serve as the sign of the sannyasi (Awakened One). He may roam throughout the world, he may hide himself in caves and jungles, and equally he may live in the midst of the multitude and even share in the world's work without losing his solitude. The unperceptive will never notice him; only the evamvid (the one who knows thus) will recognize him, since he too abides in the depth of the Self. However, anyone who is already in the slightest degree Awakened cannot fail to experience something of his radiance--a taste, a touch, a gleam of light--which only the interior sense can perceive, and which leaves behind it a truly wonderful impression.

See also: How To Recognize Enlightenment at http://the-wanderling.com/Recognize.html.

The following two sentences are found in the opening paragraphs:

"I knew nothing of the Absolute, Enlightenment, Zen, the Buddha, Buddhism, or Hinduism."

"First of all, I was not a seeker along the path. I didn't have the remotest idea there even WAS a path, let alone anything to seek."

Then, a paragraph or so later, remaining in the same theme, the following is presented:

"In my case, even though I didn't know it or what Enlightenment was at the time, I still recognized whatever it was in the man I met"

Not being familiar with Enlightenment was NOT totally the case. It is just that with my first encounter with that which is Enlightenment I was very young. In Stepmother I tell how after my real mother died I was sent to live with a couple that took me to the ashram of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for a couple of months, a trip that ended with somewhat startling results for me. On return, the couple, thinking I had lost my mind or something because of a somewhat skewed perspective of things that I was exhibiting, dumped me off totally unannounced at my Grandmother's on my father's side in Pennsylvania --- a grandmother I had never met nor ever even heard of. From there I was returned to the west coast to be with my grandmother on my mother's side. The following, from Footnote [4] of THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana at http://the-wanderling.com/meeting.html, some two years later, offers a clarification:

"(I)nitially the incident as it transpired at the stage stop bore no specific relevance to any of the circumstances previously presented regarding Sri Ramana because WHO Sri Ramana was --- or that he even existed --- was an unknown to me at the time. That is to say, ON THE SURFACE the man in the doorway bore no significance being Sri Ramana because at that period in my life I knew nothing about him in my everyday thoughts one way or the other. It must be stated however, that other things were at work. Somewhere hidden deeply below the surface of my day-to-day Samsara mind-patterns was an unconsciously and unable-to-be-fully-grasped shadow-like footprint imprinted almost echo-like across a residual background-base of another state --- another state hidden from view behind a thickly drawn curtain of black.

That other state was set into motion by a Mara induced series of events beyond my control that included the unexpected (at least by me) death of my mother sometime around the time I started kindergarten. Being taken to India by a couple from another country without the approval or authorization of my father even before the death of my mother, albeit with the unintended privilege of meeting Sri Ramana Maharshi in the process. My return from India and death of my mother was followed almost immediately by the suicide of a dear and close relative from the blast of a shotgun he stuck in his mouth --- and of which, within minutes of the aftermath, I personally stumbled upon --- followed even more quickly by an auto accident wherein I was rendered unconscious and found wandering in the middle of the desert all alone. The cumulative effect of all those events on my child's mind initiated a two year-plus blackout period of any memory, a collapse of thought reaching from my mother's death forward to the end of that two year period. The blackout period, as I have chosen to call it, is elaborated more thoroughly in SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: The Last American Darshan."


See H.H. The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng at http://sped2work.tripod.com/huineng.html. See also Sutra Spoken by the Sixth Patriarch on the High Seat of "The Treasures of the Law"

It should be noted that when I was around 12 years of age my uncle introduced me to a man by the name of Franklin Merrell-Wolff, a person of deep spiritual Attainment. Unlike Hung-jen being aware of Hui Neng's Attainment from a fully Awakened perspective, my uncle's knowledge of Merrell-Wolff's Attainment arose solely from an intellectual viewpoint. However, for me, from either perspective, such was not the case. At the time of the meeting I had NO known on the surface knowledge or recognizable insight into such things. Of that meeting, in The Tree at http://the-wanderling.com/tree-tree.html, I write:

Merrell-Wolff took my hand and the the two of us walked slowly a few steps alone along an uneven rock strewn path, stopping only when we came upon a sweeping vista of the full extent of the mountains before us. Waving his hand in the air across the top of the peaks he told me there were trees on the mountains a thousand years old and in the sky above, stars millions of years old. He then said I was not yet twelve, nowhere near the age of the ancient trees or the stars, but we were ALL made of the samething with the same thought. It was as though someone had unexpectedly dumped a 55 gallon drum of ice cold water on me from behind. A feeling rushed over me if only for an instant but seemingly for an eternity, scaring me so much I ran back down the the rough, heavily strewn rocky path as fast as I thought I was able. However, my forward momentum was even faster --- as if I was gliding, my feet seemingly not making any real contact with the ground, almost as though the wind was carrying me and in the process I was part of the path as well --- into the arms of my uncle, all the while still shaking and shivering all over.

My uncle held me tight for the longest time, then stood up, shook Merrell-Wolff's hand, thanked him, and we headed back to the car. For hours on end everything seemed as though I was looking through a 3-D viewer, sounds carried a clarity I never remembered, and smells and odors waifted through my nostrils like never before --- I could even smell my own armpits. When we arrived at camp I was tired and wasted and fell asleep for what seemed like forever. When I awoke the sensations were gone.

D.T. Suzuki, "ZEN BUDDHISM: Selected writings of D.T. Suzuki" (Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956).

Kuei-shan Ling-yu at http://sped2work.tripod.com/kuei-shan.html. See also: Vulture Peak http://sped2work.tripod.com/vulturespeak.html

See: "Zen Enlightenment" at http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/awakening101/ZenEnlighten01.html

See footnote reference #16, below.

D.T. Suzuki, previously cited. As mentioned in the text above, the person I studied under originally studied under an Indian Maharshi. Even though later I studied under a Bodhidharma successor in the Japanese tradition of Zen, Samadhi, which is a big part of the Indian tradition stayed with me. Dogen emphasizes the need for deep meditative practice, D.T. Suzuki has a bias against sitting meditation in all of his writings, even though the word Zen translates into meditation. See also Meditation Sickness and Path to Enlightenment at http://www.angelfire.com/indie/anna_jones1/med_sickness.html, as well as Samadhi at http://sped2work.tripod.com/samadhi.html.

In a quick added note, before the military my mentor arranged for me to study under the venerated Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi. After the military my mentor opted for a middle road between his Indian side of things and that of Zen, sending me to do study-practice under the virtually unknown, fully Awakened "American Zen master," Alfred Pulyan. Inbetween Yasutani and Pulyan was a period of Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery.

In Zen Enlightenment (cited at footnote #7 above), recalling my Zen mentor's discription of his Enlightenment experience I write:

"There was no longer a just in front in front of him, but a penetrating all-around aroundness all around him...and a strange calmness he had never experienced before."

Roslyn Moore writes in her book Bursting Heart a similar analogy paralleling her own personal experience:

I see there is only one field. The idea that I am the part that is inside of this particular body and not the part that is outside this particular body is completely absurd. How silly to have attributed so much importance to the appearance of skin as a significant boundary. What difference can mere physical phenomena, like blood, tissue, organs, bones, make in this vast ocean of consciousness?

I search to find the boundary between in and out, the boundary between me and the silence, the boundary between me and other. There are no words. There is no time. I AM BOUNDARYLESS CONSCIOUSNESS. I am dissolving into waves of bliss. An ever expanding ripple. Vast. Orgasmic. Most exquisite. Most subtle.

Chiyono, No Water, No Moon:

This way and that way
I tried to keep the pail of water together,
hoping the weak bamboos
would never break
But suddenly the bottom fell out:
no more water
no more moon in the water
and emptiness in my hand!

It has been suggested in some quarters that the Awakening experience as I have presented of myself in the main text above, if reached at all, did NOT even surpass the Second Jhana state. If reached, they credit no more than the Second Jhana's Fourth Factor Sukkha combined possibly with the Third Factor, Piti --- more specifically Pharrana-piti at the most. The suggestion stemming primarily from my own words emphasizing bliss as found in the main text above:

"When the moon's pale-soft beams fell into my eyes unaware of my existance nor me of it, the light thereof poured on it's own down through my pupils and lightning like, a fist size feeling of something akin to bliss began to build and radiate, then blast throughout my body from somewhere in the pit of my stomach."

However, in the same paragraph, which is often overlooked by the same nay sayers, I present the following:

"(T)here transpired the barest whisper of a body shutter, like shaking off a chill, and in an orgasmic-blast of glowing dark light throughout my mind, body and the universe, suddenly I wasn't."

True, Sukkha and Piti and especially so Pharrana-piti are bliss and rapture factors in the Second Jhana. However, following quickly on the heels of the Fourth Factor is a Fifth Factor --- found clear through to the eighth of the Eight Jhana States --- called ekaggata, but most specifically so, found in its full manifestation in the final Four Jhanas. Ekaggata is 'one-pointedness of the mind.' When the mind experiences what is called one-pointedness and is in the state of Absorption, the mind slips over into the success of Appana-samadhi.

It is said that before the attainment of ekaggata, the mind will experience a sudden fall, as if, when stepping into the open door of an elevator expecting a floor to be in place, only to find one step too late nothing is there but an open shaft --- with nothing to grab on to either. Then will the mind reach one-pointedness. As in the poem above by Chiyono, "suddenly the bottom fell out, no more water, no more moon in the water, and emptiness in my hand!." Falling down an elevator shaft, the bottom of the pail fell out, and "suddenly I wasn't."

In a more indepth explanation, in an interview with Ram (James Swartz) conducted by John Howells in January 2003, at Tiruvannamalai, South India, Ram discusses bliss and the Awakening experience, meshing perfectly with my thesis:

"By understanding I mean the recognition that the subject, the mind/ego, the one experiencing the bliss, and the object, the bliss, are one. Bliss is a common word describing the Self. One way to describe this understanding experientially is that it is a shift during which the foreground, the ego, which has been experiencing the Self in the form of bliss becomes the background and the Self, which has been the object of experience, becomes the foreground, I. So now the "I" is the Self looking out at the ego looking "in" at it. And when this shift takes place there is an instant recognition that "I" is the Self. One's identification of "I" with the ego/mind ends once and for all. From that point on there is no foreground or background, no in or out. The mind is purified of these spiritual concepts."

Passing quickly or instantly through the Jhana stages is not always easy. However, in my case, it was more of a re-opening of previous full level Jhana experiences rather than attempting to open a permanently blocked access for the first time. Most of what happened was recapturing what happened in the presence of Sri Ramana Maharshi. See THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana at http://the-wanderling.com/meeting.html.

See also Ken-Chu-Shi at http://the-wanderling.com/five_ranks.html as well as JHANA FACTORS: Traditional Factors of the Eight Jhana States at http://the-wanderling.com/jhana_factors.html.

See KOAN: Chih-huang, Tai-yung, Samadhi at http://wanderling.tripod.com/tai_yung.html.

In a continuing comparison to the wave-particle analogy, Valerie Vener, in a conversation regarding her Awakening experience says:

The best way I can express that with words is to say that there is a stillness and then there's a wave and then there's a stillness and then there's a wave, and I am That which is the stillness and the wave. This sounds ridiculously intellectualized, but that's the best way I know how to say it. In motion, or in discussion, in love-making, or in shit-taking, or birth giving, or even in sitting at the bottom of the breath, just sitting and waiting for a breath to come in, I experience my being as the One who observes the waves, allows the waves, feels the waves and is the waves.

As far as conjuring up attempts with word-based metaphors about the Enlightenment experience, the following --- from a young boy who, within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness --- is offered from ADAM OSBORNE: Personal Remembrances:

In 1938 the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released. There was a song in the movie called "Whistle While You Work," a song I remember quite well in that my mother sang (and whistled) it well into the time of her being sick. The year after Snow White was released The Wizard of Oz came out. Sometime after their release but before my trip to India, I saw both movies. Even though Osborne and I were both little kids and I may or may not have given him the title of either movie at the time as a kids, he remembered them as a grown man and the connections I made to them.

I only say so because I want you, the reader, to know that even though I do not remember at what time in my before going to India life I saw either movie specifically, that is, at what age or when --- mostly because seeing either of them must not have been tied to a memorable date like a birthday or something --- I did remember the song from Snow White and my mother singing it. So too, I remembered "The Wizard of Oz" well enough to tell Osborne something that stuck with him the rest of his life. Years later, as a young adult, it dawned on him out of nowhere one day when it popped into his head that his name Osborne and what happened to me turned out for me, to be a new life. I was Oz born. According to what he remembered, I had told him about "this movie" I had seen that in the beginning started out black and white, but when the little girl in it ended up in a magical land the world had turned into color. That was why I told him I did not want to leave --- because while there, in the ashram, for me, the world had turned into color.

I am not alone in drawing an analogy between Oz and Enlightenment. For example John Wren-Lewis, who, following a near death experience (NDE), Awakened to the Absolute. In his paper Dazzling Dark he writes:

"(W)hereas mystical awakening for me has been like Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz: the realization that I never really left home and never could."

Continuing in the previous theme of conjuring up word-based metaphors, in the aforementioned Alfred Pulyan link (cited at footnote #9 above), regarding my first meeting with Pulyan's teacher, a fully Attained person in her own right, I write:

Several years before my mentor sent me to Pulyan's compound I found myself in the court of a Laotian warlord. I was requested to participate in, without many options to opt out or do otherwise, a ceremony that circled around the heavy use of opium. Dressed in local garb I layed on the floor on my side with a thin, three-foot long pipe, attended to by an ancient man that assisted me through the various paces. A couple of times afterwards, on my own and with others, I partcipated in a much less formal ritual called "chasing the dragon," but instead of a pipe, using a matchbox. That was ages ago. Those days, as well as any other such youthful indiscretions, are long gone and long over. The thing is, when the effects of the opium took over, it was like I had disappeared or no longer existed, having melded into the larger whole. Yet my eyes still took in, in a very high super-clear intensity, all of my surroundings. Where or what my eyes were connected to or how they were able to work or record my environment --- and for me to still know about it I don't know --- as there did not seem to be a back of my head or even a head.

Early on I can remember engulfed and removed from everything, but still looking down and seeing my toes barely sticking out of what seemed to be a wavering silver or mercury surface spreading out before me with a shimering reflection almost mirage-like with me somehow floating without weight or body. It was warm, embracing, enticing, and euphoric.

When I first met Pulyan's teacher that was the way it seemed to me. Warm, embracing, enticing, and euphoric --- with no back to my head and what there was of me, if there was a me, melded into the whole.

For more regarding Pulyan's mysterious fully Englightened female teacher see: Pulyan's Teacher.

In Zen Enlightenment (cited at footnote #7 above), speaking of my mentor in the beginning stages of my early study-practice, as preorgasmic-like ripples of proto-Enlightenment bubbled across my mind-canyons, I wrote:

The most elaborate subjects were always described in the most graphic, mind-visual metaphors somehow easily understood on my level of comprehension. His inner soul seemed to breath and undulate with an understanding that penetrated my brain, painting my mind in brilliant splotches of color, running thick with an embryo of knowledge and dripping heavy with meaning...all done with the quiet flair of a person whose thirst had long been quenched and whose only real want, if there even was a want, was to occasionally sip now and then when the need arose.

For additional insight to some of the above analogy concepts see STEPHEN HAWKING: Black Holes, Englightenment, and Zen

Attributed to one of 1700 Ch'an and Buddhism related kung-ans of the Ching-tech'uan teng-lu compiled during the Ching-te Era. The oldest and most influential of the "Transmission of the Lamp" (teng-lu) texts. Compiled by Tao-yuan of the line of Fa-yen Wen I (885-958). See Fear in Enlightenment and Zen at http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/awakening101/zen-fear.html. Carlos Castaneda in his book THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge quotes the shaman-sorcerer Don Juan:

"The first enemy of a man of knowledge is Fear. A terrible enemy--treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest. Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity of mind which erases fear."

As for the sometimes controversial content in the sentence in the paragraph just prior to the quote on fear that reads:

"(E)ven though Awakened, my mind patterns must come across a ringing shadow-like footprint within a somehow residual imprinted echo-like background-base of that state. It is possible to wander from the Awakened state depending on the situation, bringing forth a lapse in detachment as it were, for various lengths, especially when dealing with trying people and an impatience with such people."

Some take issue with what is being suggested, especially in relation to Enlightenment. Sri Ramana's views regarding similar manifestations transpiring from his Awakened state have been recorded and interpreted for clarification by others, most notably through the works of Ed Fisher, J. Glenn Friesen, et al. See the Sahaja Samadhi section in Nirvikalpa Sahadhi and Sahaja Samadhi at http://the-wanderling.com/nirvakalpa.html.

Swami Ramdas, who I met personally in 1954, has written the following regarding parallel manifestations:

"In the earlier stages this vision was occasionally lost, pulling him (Ramdas) down to the old life of diversity with its turmoil of like and dislike, joy and grief. But he would be drawn in again into the silence and calmness of the spirit. A stage was soon reached when this dwelling in the spirit became a permanent and unvarying experience with no more failing off from it, and then the still more exalted state came on: his hither inner vision projected outwards. First a glimpse of this new vision dazzled him off and on. This was the working of divine love. He would feel as though his very soul had expanded like the blossoming of a flower and by a flash, as it were, enveloped the whole universe, embracing all in a subtle halo of love and light. This experience granted him a bliss infinitely greater than he had in the previous state. Now it was that Ramdas began to cry out, 'Ram is all. It is He as everybody and everything!' This condition was for some months coming on and vanishing. When it wore away, he would instinctively go into solitude. When it was present, he freely mixed in the world, preaching the glory of divine love and bliss."

John Wren-Lewis, found in Footnote [12] above, in relation to his Near Death Experience after eating poisoned candy on a bus in Thailand that led to his Enlightenment, describes his experience of the Void thus:

"I still slip back into that old clouded state frequently, but this is not a process of "coming down." What happens is something I would have found unbelievable had I heard of it second-hand namely, I again and again simply forget about the pearl of great price. I drift off into all kinds of preoccupations, mostly trivial, and become my old self, cut off from the Void-Background. Then, after a while, there begins to dawn on me a sense of something missing, at which point I recall the Void and usually click back into the new consciousness almost immediately, with no effort at all."

The questioning of such fluctuations actually being able to transpire in the Enlightened state, as promulgated, for example, by the two adepts in their discussion found in ACTUALISM: Selected Correspondence, John Wren Lewis, wherein one of the two says:

"If one admits that the experience of John Wren-Lewis was a "genuine enlightenment" then it does certainly seem to be an exception. Of course, the wavering quality, its here now, gone now quality might lead some to disqualify it as genuine."

The second individual asks:

"Why would you say 'if one admits' when John Wren-Lewis himself admits that he still slips 'back into that old clouded state frequently?' Do you have a different definition of enlightenment than that of a 'permanent' altered state of consciousness, a *permanent* transcendence of the ego?"

He then goes on to say:

"I would certainly disqualify his experience as genuine enlightenment, but I have come across a lot of people, particularly of the Advaita/Non-Dualistic persuasion who have a vested interest in watering down genuine enlightenment into varying states of "self-realization whereas all genuinely enlightened beings point to a single edifying moment of awakening (with a variety of descriptions)."

As to having --- or there being --- a different definition of Enlightenment than that of a permanent altered state of consciousness or a permanent transcendence of the ego I would suggest from an Enlightened state there is neither permanence nor non-permanence. As Zen master Tai-yung has stated of Samadhi, if you are not conscious of either condition, this is abiding in the Eternal. There can be neither entering into a nor rising out of it. From the Samsara side looking in Enlightenment seems as though it should be permanent, when in reality there is neither permanence nor non-permanence. That is to say, from the Samsara side, in that Enlightenment appears permanent one could not "come in and out," i.e., stuck there forever. However, in that there is neither permanence nor non-permanence there would be no hindrance to such an action.

For more on the potential concept of going in and out while residing in the Awakened state, Swami Chidananda in THE PHILOSOPHY, PSYCHOLOGY AND PRACTICE OF YOGA, Chapter 16 presents the following:

"When one reaches the level of Asamprajnata Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi, sometimes the Yogi goes on practising such a state until he becomes so much established in that state of consciousness that even when he comes back into the waking state, down from the deep inward state, where he is not aware of the body or the time or the surroundings, even when he comes back into the normal state, his awareness continues to be qualified by the same state of non-duality. In other words, he is so much established in that state of spiritual consciousness or awareness that even while he is moving and acting, he still remains in that state of inner awareness, and they call this the state of Sahaja Samadhi. Sahaja means natural. So, in Sahaja Samadhi, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes to the Yogi his natural state, and not a state which he tries hard to reach and then reaches only to come back to the waking state after a while. Rather, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes normal to him."

The best place to easily obtain writings by Nagarjuna is from Nagarjuna at: http://sped2work.tripod.com/nagarjuna_2.html and attending links. See also the All Things Zen website at: http://members.tripod.com/SpEd2work/AllThingsZen.html. In addition to the traditional historical masters cited, there are Roslyn Moore and Valerie Vener cited above, but so too should be Suzanne Segal, a woman of the moderen era that experienced Enlightenment and interesting enough, similar to my comments on my Zen mentor's non-willingness to to drive a car and my lack of understanding thereof at the time, writes:

"I suddenly became aware that I was driving through myself. For years there had been no self at all, yet here on this road, everything was myself, and I was driving through me to arrive where I already was. In essence, I was going nowhere because I was everywhere already. The infinite emptiness I new myself to be was now apparent as the infinite substance of everything I saw."

There is an extensive four volume, English translation set of the "Shobogenzo" by Dogen written following his Enlightenment-event published by Windbell Publications.

See: Arthur Osborne, "Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge" (Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995); David Godman, "Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi" (Arkana Penguin Books, 1985); "The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi" (Shambhala Dragon Editions, 1988). For more information regarding all three books see Suggested Reading at http://wanderling.tripod.com/ramana.html. See also: Sri Ramana Maharshi at http://the-wanderling.com/ramana.html. For more insight into the Wanderling and a childhood connection with the son of the author of the above suggested Sri Ramana book, please see Adam Osborne at http://the-wanderling.com/osborne02.html.

Master Nan Huai-Chin, Working Toward Enlightenment (Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1993). See also: HUI-K'O: The Second Patriarch of Zen at http://the-wanderling.com/hui_ko.html. See as well: Paris and the Art of Enlightenment at http://the-wanderling.com/hilton.html.

One summer day Dogen Zenji encountered the old monk drying mushrooms in the scorching heat with his back bent in old age. He looked in pain. Dogen ran up to him and said," Venerable monk, it is a pity that you should do this. Allow me to call a younger monk to do the work." But the old monk's Bodaishin was still strong. He resolutely glared at Dogen saying:
"Others are not me. I heard that you came to China for the purpose of the Great Way. You should thoroughly investigate the Self. The moment you looked at me you were already looking the other way delusioning yourself. Losing sight of oneself by worrying about others is foolish. You don't understand the significance of seeing. Without engaging the Self, just look. That is what shugyo is. You can't see that I am simply doing this, so don't say foolish things. Another person's practice is their own business."
From RESOLVING THE MIND: Buddha's Enlightenment, Page Three, at http://sped2work.tripod.com/resolve.html

Yatri, "UNKNOWN MAN: The Mysterious Birth of a New Species," (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1988). See also DEATH OF THE EGO: A Buddhist View.

See also Kali-Ma.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, "I AM THAT: Talks With Sri Nisargadatta," (Acorn Press, 1990) ISBN: 0893860220.

TURIYATITA: Chidakasa In Cosmic Consciousness at http://www.angelfire.com/indie/anna_jones1/chidakasa.html

THE WORD OBEAH: What Does It Mean, How Does It Work? at http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/awakening101/obeah2.html

The graphic at the top of the page is of the painting "The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Fredrich (1774-1840).

copyright 1997, the Wanderling.
Text updated 1998-99, 2001-02-03 clear up to 2021