Don Sanderson on enlightenment

[Don posted this as a comment to another post, but I thought it deserved a wider audience than that was likely to get.]

When I was still pre-puberty, anything that smelled like normal Western religion turned me away and still does, yet I was attracted to Rosicrucian, Theosophy, and Buddhist wisps that were floating around without having a clue to enlighten me why so. Then, in the later sixties a dark, little bookstore on a side street invaded my world with stacks of East Asian publications that promised enlightenment. The ones that attracted me, especially those by Zen roshis, Krishnamurti, and Shri Ramana, never mentioned God, sin, salvation, required beliefs, or pleading prayers, but practices prefaced by, in essence, “try it, you’ll like it.” I did try, but knew no one else who was interested and supportive, so often my focus was lost in making do. Only in the last couple of years am I starting to get hints of what it is all about thanks to heavy duty help streaming down from elsewhere. While I’ve always somehow treasured those teachings, truthfully I didn’t really consider them practical until just a few months ago.

As my guidance often happens, in my search for increased energy, I was directed to a story. In 1978, martial artist Peter Ralston easily defeated all challengers in full-contact World Tournament battle regardless of his opponents’ martial arts discipline choice. In the introduction to his The Principles of Effortless Power, Ralston tells how Ramana’s approach enabled his victory.

For years, Ralston practiced his inner game to perfection and quickly won black belts in a number of disciplines. But, he still felt something was missing. Then, a visitor invited him to a five day “Who am I?” contemplation intensive workshop. Two weeks later, he did a five day “What am I?” intensive. Following this, he felt more joy, was happier than ever before. One more intensive followed: fifteen days devoted to the contemplating of “What is Life?” A few days later while just relaxing, he had a “What am I?” enlightenment transformation. Suddenly, he found his “I”-ness detached from the body and transformed into Nothing and he became highly sensitive of others. I’d have to copy two pages to describe all that happened to him as a result. Rather, let me tell you only how it affected his martial arts practices:

“When facing an opponent, “I didn’t have to be cognizant of any movement on their part, psychic or otherwise, to know what to do. I just knew. That blew me away. I didn’t have to perceive a thing. The other ability was perceiving the beginning. With this, I wasn’t perceiving anything.

“I started to notice that I would do something and would ask myself, ‘Why did I do that?’ Then I would see it was appropriate. I would start to move and someone would throw a kick or punch and I was moving out of the way of their action, but I was doing it before understanding why. I just moved and they would throw a kick and miss and I’d think, ‘If I’m moving before I know what they’re going to do, how do I know they’re going to move this way or that way? What if I move and it’s inappropriate?’ Then I started to notice I always move appropriately. I would move, but I had no idea why. My body would move. It was like I didn’t make the decision axctually – and would see my body moving and say, “What are you doing, body?” And then a fist would come and ‘Whoosh’ and I didn’t even see it. That’s really interesting. And very simple, very simple.

“After all that, the World Championship was easy.”

Ralston gave up martial arts after the tournament, since there was nothing left to learn. Instead, he has been concentrating on teaching enlightenment and transformation in several long wordy books. His nearly 600 page “The Book of Not Knowing: Exploring the True Nature of Self, Mind, and Consciousness” about erasing presumed cognitive certainties. While it is quite informative, I never expect to do more than sample it under the guidance of those upstairs. I’m fairly sure his greater Self has its reasons, but words always come certainty laden – I should talk, but you maybe should actually blame much of my wordiness on my larger Self.

Ramana counselled: “Keep your mind still. That is enough. You will get spiritual help sitting in this hall if you keep yourself still. The aim of all practices is to give up all practices. When the mind becomes still, the Power of the Self will be experienced. The waves of the Self are pervading everywhere. If the mind is in peace, one begins to experience them.” Seth’s discussions on the origins of myths and reality frameworks in Roberts’ “The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events” come to mind. Seth lays out the alternatives we are given in cogent detail. It seems to me that Ralston made the switch from Framework 1 to Framework 2 and Ramana provided a way. H.W.L. Pooja, who was considered to be one of Ramana’s handful of direct disciples and who later got a degree and practiced as an engineer while raising a family, asserted enlightenment took much less time and effort than Ralston’s several weeks. After spending an afternoon with several of Krishnamurti’s disciples, he asked them how the two approaches differed. They replied, in so many words, that Krishnamurti taught taking one certainty out of the pot at a time and discarding it, while Pooja broke the pot. As a youth attempting to find his way, Swami Muktananda wandered around India visiting those who were enlightened by reputation and found them all continually laughing – at the joke?

Why don’t we learn this earlier? Much of that suffering surely was a near duplicate of that I’d experienced in how many previous incarnations? How often was I told those fear wrapped grasping beliefs endlessly replaying in my brain are the problem and didn’t get it? My guess is that if we don’t get it in n times, we must go through n+1? Are our bigger selves, our psyches, masochists, determined to keep trying until they do, or just accepting that that is just the way it is? Yet Ralston’s experience suggests they do “know”, but are unable to break through our cultural certainties and get our attention. As we look backward through history they rarely succeed, but they keep trying and appear to be doing so more frequently now. It is increasing appearing to be now or never.

24 thoughts on “Don Sanderson on enlightenment

  1. Hi Frank!

    I’m grateful for you posting this. I was led to this website with H.W.L.Poonja’s teachings and according to Papaji if we can spare half a second or so, we’ll be all right and free 🙂

    We’re the seers and not the objects seen, he taught. I knew that, but it’s so easy to forget.


    “There is no method to practice. Simply find out, “Who am I?” This is not a method or practice or sadhana.

    This can be done here and now – in this instant – because the Self is here. Enlightenment means to know thy Self – to know, “Who am I.” This is Enlightenment. This is Wisdom. This is Bliss. This is Existence. This is Being. This is Truth. This truth is not located at a distance – it is your own Self through which you are searching for truth and freedom. It is not any distance from here. It is within you, nearer than your own breath. It is behind the retina of your eyes, which you cannot see. You need not look outside. It is behind the retina; it is that through which the retina sees. You need no effort to see it.”

  2. Thank you.

    Now or never: just this morning, yet another fling of stange clumsiness (doing something at the kitchan sink and by one light swipe manage to drop several things and spill stuff, too). This kind of thing happens to me constantly. I have contemplated it a lot – is it pointing to me that in my way of being/moving/something is amiss? This is entirely possible. But somehow, can’t help thinking what if it is pointing out that the physical reality is somehow starting to unravel? Seems like many, if not all, are experiencing some form of pressure and respond according to the means they/we have.

    1. I always take it to be a reminder that I am not being as aware as I should be, not as mindful of my physical place in the world, hence probably not as mindful of my metaphorical place in the world.

      1. This is what i mostly take it to be. Or often i take it to ne a pointer that i am tired and have not noticed myself. Still i wonder. Waking up i had a really nice dollop of understanding about stuff i had been thinkin about. I was elated.Felt very connected to larger version of me. Mostly it seems i can find answers to what baffles me but this defies me.

  3. Don, this reminds me how much our beliefs restrict us. When we just get out of OUR way, it flows. Thanks. The story helps make it more understandable.

  4. …and again, this is a very timely post for me, for I’ve felt in the throes of “spiritual crisis” for some time now. A “big thing” for me is the fear of death/extinction/annihilation/non-being; I feel a little silly admitting this, when I’ve felt surrounded by those who have “come to terms” w/ this.

    Two of my family members (one who just passed on Tuesday of last week) are/were practicing Zen Buddhists, starting at age 56. This practice certainly seems to have “worked” for them; I tried a little of the “sitting” early on (ca. 1988, while in the midst of another crisis), but never stuck w/ it. I don’t know enough about it, but have felt rather “put off” by a sense (possibly incorrect?) that Zen (and other Eastern practices) are, in essence, “no god, no soul, no self, then you go into extinction at the end”? Also, is “free will/choice” really a falsehood?

    I find I’m very troubled by these questions lately, and have not been enjoying life much as a consequence. Is there any one “more correct” path to Enlightenment/Understanding than others? I need to find a practice, I think, and figure out how best to communicate w/ my own Whole Self (like others here, I’m reading–and very drawn to–the body of the Seth/Jane Roberts material, and the Frank/Rita/et al material).

    Maybe I’m a “closet Christian”, tho not of (most) of the “Big Box” churches; I may check out the local Quaker meeting. I recall that Dr. Rupert Sheldrake professes to “believe in God” (which, I am sure, has made him no friends among the more “militant atheists”!), and attends Anglican Church. When doing studies w/ plants/crops in India, he found many of the aspects of Hinduism rather puzzling. Finally, a wise guru told him (in essence) “All paths lead to God; you were raised in a Christian environment, so that may be your path.” Not sure if I have that correctly, but I watched a video of Sheldrake being interviewed at the Hollyhock retreat center (on Cortez Island, in British Columbia–a beautiful setting, BTW!) about his “belief in God”.

    Maybe it’s time for me to “give up” all the striving/trying?

    Just processing here, folks. Thanks for your ideas.


      1. Thanks, Frank…I’m pretty sure we have “Memories…” on our shelves; may have to order “Modern Man…” (I’ve resonated w/ at least some of CGJ).

    1. Again Craig, you have put into words many of the same thoughts and “happenings” as mine throughout the years. Thank you for telling !

      And here comes something said by J.Krishnamurti: “There is no learning if thought originates from conclusions. To merely acquire information or knowledge is not to learn.”

      “Learning implies the love of understanding and the love of doing a thing for itself. Learning is possible only when there is no coercion of any kind.”

      “Most people think that learning is encouraged through comparison, whereas the contrary is the fact.”

      And next:

      “It is necessary to encourage the development of a good mind – a mind which is capable of dealing with the many issues of life as a whole, and does not try to escape from them and so become self-contradictory, frustrated, bitter, or cynical. And it is essential for the mind to be aware of its own conditioning, its own motives and pursuits.”

      Well, then I am “back” to my friend Edgar Cayce: “Know Thyself to be Yourself yet One with The Whole.”

      And if to follow my own intuition as you said – I could have tried out a Quaker community if I had felt inclined to it (because there is nothing else of interest in my local environment) – but to have heard it is a small Quaker community within an hour to drive from my place to live. I have absolutely no idea who or whom they are at all.

      According to Edgar Cayce and Krishnamurti we do not have to go anywhere at all – because we have it all within ourselves that is (right now) !

      AND, according to Krishnamurti: “The mind that has cultivated nothing but capacity through memory is like the modern electronic computer which, though it functions with astonishing ability and accuracy, is still only a machine.”


      “Authority can persuade the mind to think in a particular direction. But being guided to think along certain lines, or in terms of a foregone conclusion, is not to think at all; it is merely to function like a human machine, which breeds thoughtless discontent, bringing with it frustration and other miseries.”

      And in the end by Krishnamurti:

      “We are concerned with the total development of each human being, helping him to realize his own highest and fullest capacity – not some fictitious capacity which the educator has in view as a concept or an ideal.”

      Well, it is obvious each one of us have the capacity in freeing ourselves from all physical bonds….even old memories.

      B & B, Inger Lise.

      1. Thank you for your thoughts, Inger Lise…I’ll have to “sit with” some of these ideas…maybe I have to give up everything in order to understand…I wish I could find my own “inner guru”.

        I guess I’m in quite the confused conundrum: I came here to forge a “soul” or a “self”, or something, and now I need to give that all up? For it all dissolves into nothingness “in the end”? I guess I need, as some psychotherapists suggest to “face the terror of my own mortality head-on, and see if anything’s left” when I get thru the process? I just feel so far away from “that Bliss of Pure Unbounded Awareness” I’ve heard about, and feel rather like an “isolated, accidental thing” of late…

        Well…more processing/sitting to do…maybe a healthy dose of “surrender/giving up”; I’m pretty tired…

        Thank you again. Blessings,

        1. Well, first thing, why take someone else’s word for what you “should” do and for how “it really is”? You have your own inner crap-detector (to quote Papa Hemingway); trust it.

        2. Hello Craig and Frank, and thank you both….but the thoughts by Krishnamurti is all “new” to me…or maybe it “feels” all different from my former “concept” (with me) in my way with the thoughts? More strange ?
          The East and The West thought-form(s) to express the same things according to their back-ground of civilizations.

          In the East (once called “The Far East”), they have kept their belief in no death. And the belief in countless dimensions. The everlasting continuation of life cycles, since the beginning of time.

          B & B, Inger Lise
          P.S. As I have said before, I am really fascinated by the subject of time, and I have something told about it (in the fascinating book) by Krishnamurti…. I`ll quote about “the time” where John have put the third section …about Evil & Fear, because these two things are the same.

          1. Thank you again, both, for these timely reminders. I recognize that has been a (current) “life lesson” for me, the tendency to want to “Zelig” (a very funny Woody Allen movie) onto a belief system. That no longer works, nor provides much comfort, except as in a general framework to “try the ideas out for myself”.

            It has come down to “giving up trying” so much, and more of “letting go”. The other day someone reminded me of a basic essence of a meditation practice: “Give up trying.”

            “Learning implies the love of understanding and the love of doing a thing for itself. Learning is possible only when there is no coercion of any kind.”

            Thanks for this quote, Inger Lise. It gets me back to the essence of “just being”, whether I’m watching summer clouds, petting the kitties, or doing something “involved” like jewelry or flying. A clue for me that I’m “in the zone” is the old, “wow, did that much time pass?” And “coercion” is mostly coming from my own critical self!

            I do enjoy this continued sharing of ideas, even when I “over-agonize” over the process at times. That’s probably a good clue to just go do something I enjoy, knowing “all is well”!


    2. I was given one of the first Seth books by Jane Robert in 1974; read all of them and found them comforting as well as intellectually challenging. The nature of personal reality, a favourite.

  5. This morning had this come to me: could I remove the opinion I have about falling stuff? Just what can it point out in itself? Not judging it a failure of some sort. So, in the morning, when going to the stable to feed&take out the horses, I felt around this, trying to not have any opinion. And it seems like there’s some pressure in me, sort of like a weather system. I do things with some pressure. That means even light touch can “pull” stuff with it. Feels like a release, now. I’ll see if it affects my performance in kitchen.

    Another thing: meditation seems to be somehow important. I’ve always thought yoga and meditative dance would cover that for me (and the stillness animals can show me). But now looks like I’ll have to give even that a go. Tried it some when I was young, but felt quite restricted.

    1. Kristina, you say “And it seems like there’s some pressure in me, sort of like a weather system. I do things with some pressure. That means even light touch can “pull” stuff with it.” Could you clarify this for us? Say more about it?

      1. I’ll have to sleep on this. Right now I’d only have guesswork, and that is too little. The stuff that happens during night is quite remarkable now. I am often in really expanded state in the morning. And then it all disappears like a dream when I get to work. By the time I get back home from work I am an average zombie with serious cravings for sugar.

        1. I retired at the end of August 2015. To date, I have lost about 20 lbs , seemingly without even trying. This is because I no longer crave sugar and do not “stress eat”.

  6. Interesting that I read this just after finishing a draft of this morning’s Facebook post, which is pretty much in line.

    Do you know which Seth book(s) in particular are referred to? I have read the Seven trilogy number of times but no others.

    1. Hi Mary Ann,

      I think Don was referring to “The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events”–one of the “dictated” Seth books.

      I’ve read thru most all of the Seth material–starting w/ “The Early Sessions” (which helped me to understand some of the “peculiarly Seth” lingo), and have started to re-read “from the beginning”. Of course, I feel “rather a mess” lately, so I can’t say I’ve really applied the ideas offered. I can only offer that the material “resonates” w/ me, rather like the Frank/Rita mat’l.

      A personal recommendation of mine would be Jane Roberts’ “The God of Jane: A Psychic Manifesto”. I found this a very powerful, self-affirming work (I’ve wanted to have a tee-shirt printed up w/ the first verse of Jane’s poem “A Psychic Manifesto” on it!)


      1. Hello Craig & All.

        Very WELL told thank you very much. And ditto to all you said. Hm, in fact, we have become “Old-Timers” in the field at last (smiles).

        But do we FEEL the change within us ALL THE TIME ? Sometimes yes but ALL the time, no ? I have come to see the Edgar Cayce Readings are fundamentally very true.

        And again feeling much in the same way as you do. I have studied all the books you are talking about likewise.
        This is for “the newcomers”, dear friends: Charles(Frank’s good friend) has a web-blog called (Charles Sides)”from my reading”, and it is excellent to read. Right now I am into the channeled material from anno 1909 and upwards by Stewart Edward White (a suggestion between Charles & myself at the moment).

        It is “The Betty Book”, the first one. Thereafter comes “Across The Unknown”, “The Unobstructed Universe” and The Job of Living.”
        Well, this is channeled material from the 19th century….long before The Internet and IPads or IPods. You had to use “other” equipments, LOL.

        I have bought all the old printed books from Amazon (used, not new). It is also possible to buy them cheaper by Kindle.

        Remarkable how the “Betty-Books” fits with Rita`s as well as with the Edgar Cayce Readings.

        The Edgar Cayce Readings dealing very much with “The Job of Living.” And E.C., was among “those born with it” from the 19th.century likewise.

        B & B, Inger Lise
        BTW: I love Rita & Frank too of course, ever grateful to them.

  7. Craig, first let me say I am sorry for your loss. I have experienced great loss myself. I have found as I read experiences from those recently bereaved and those close to death that truth emerges. I can tell you that we had many deaths in a row…and at least 2 times those deceased came to assist the dying. My mom is sighted and has been able to see those in spirit form…so life continues on without the physical body. I personally believe in a source God. I have known bereaved parents that have received visits from their beloved children. Myself and my daughter have known personally those with the NDE experience even though they themselves didn’t really know that even existed until it happened to them. They con’t, just with an expanded consciousness. One woman told my daughter it took her about a year to sync up with her body again. Hope this helps.

    1. Hi Laurie, and thanks for your kind comments. I’ve not had the kinds of experiences your Mom reports; I tend to get such messages in dreams; the morning before the one family member passed, I dreamt of seeing him, looking particularly “chipper” and standing in a sunlit kitchen; he was my Godfather, and spent the past 28 years at Shasta Abbey (Zen) in California, and had some form of dementia the past few years.

      I also have a belief system which incorporates a “God Concept”, and am not afraid of the word “God”, even if it’s not so “popular” now (I tend to say “All That Is” or “Source”) (to me, these “God expressions” are, well, more comforting to me than “The Void” or “Nothingness”–just my personal preference!)

      I’ve also done much reading on the NDE, esp. the works/research of PMH Atwater; she has said that it takes at least seven to 10 years to integrate an NDE–sometimes much longer, and that the “survivors” often have heightened/changed physiological sensitivities. I’ve had some of this for most of my life, and it makes me wonder sometimes…

      As I begin to think of myself more as an “extension of a much greater non-3D Self” I’ve been slowly coming around to redefining “who I truly am”–or at least “provisionally think I am at this time”! As I’ve mentioned, the “Seth” material, and these Frank/Rita dialogues I find much which resonates.

      Thanks again, and continued blessings on your journey!


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