[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.