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Raw, New, Alive and Never Seen Before
Ted: Hello, James. I came across your stuff while reading about Ramana. Your practical style of talking about Vedanta really hit me in a good way.
My name is Ted and I’m from Flint, Michigan. I had some mind-blowing experiences at 15, piercing the veil of reality. It stunned me totally and left me shaky and absolutely terrified for many years. I was just an alcoholic kid then, doing crime in the suburbs. I could not possibly understand what was happening and the magnitude of the fear. The cold loneliness of the experience was too much to bear. It was as if a veil was broken and I was placed in reality while everyone else on earth kept on sleepwalking. I kept switching between the deepest despair and loneliness and the most profound tenderness and heartfelt loving kindness. This lasted for about four years and was only interrupted by drunkenness or sleep. Looking at my own arms and hands in amazement or looking at the sun or clouds was a never-ending full-on direct experience of Biblical proportions. Continuously, everything was raw, alive, new and never seen before. I did everything in my power to dampen this experience so I could function somewhat. I could not even talk about this for many years until recently.
Now at 36 I’m 10 years sober and drug-free and have been deeply into the 12-step movement and various teachings, slowly, slowly crawling out of darkness into a great new life of health and prosperity (at least by my standards). I became a “role model” in AA and led step studies and became a do-gooder. Suddenly about one year ago this identity was seen as totally false and I had to stop all AA activity except occasional meetings and real friendships. I read some Alanon and ACA literature and everything changed or was stripped away. Mr. Do-Gooder was just a big co-dependent ego-trip.
There is some kind of profound energetic stuff going on in my body and sometimes I don’t know if it’s the stress of being in this “new ordinary sober life” or if it’s related to the “serious spiritual path” that I’m on. I read a lot and I’m as serious as a suffering alcoholic can be… searching for relief for this incredibly strong mind and the way it tortures this body.
Some of the teachers I’ve come across are: Eckhart Tolle, Barry Long, Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Ramana, Tony Parsons, Osho, Paul Hedderman, etc., etc. But you gave me some very helpful and straight insight into the nature of knowledge in the interview about Ramana’s teaching. I feel like a lot of things cleared out, and I’d like to meet you if possible and attend any satsang you might have.
Where are you based nowadays? What do you make of this, if anything?
~ Much gratitude, Ted
James: Dear Ted, I loved this email. I fixed up the English a bit and I will put it at the website anonymously. It is just great. It is brutally truthful. It is a beautiful document. I would love to meet you sometime. You are a real person, not one of the phony “spiritual” seekers.
This experience is how things appear when you see from the point of view of reality, your self. It is shocking because it strips away the dull veil that self-ignorance casts over reality. It is confusing because it is contrary to the way you have been conditioned to see reality. The truth is obviously operating in you in a very dramatic way. It causes you to see through the do-gooding identity that helped you out of the addict identity.
It is making you investigate non-duality and this is very good. You are now in the right ballpark. I think what you need now is a professional, systematic means of inquiry into the nature of your self.
Some statements you made were not clear to me. You say, “There is some kind of profound energetic stuff going on in my body and sometimes I don’t know if it’s the stress of being in this ‘new ordinary sober life’ or if it’s related to the ‘serious spiritual path’ that I’m on.” Please tell me why the new ordinary sober life would be stressful. Is it because it is so contrary to the old addicted life? Also, why would being on a serious spiritual path be stressful?
If you investigate Vedanta – get my book How to Attain Enlightenment and read it very carefully – and you understand what it is and what it can do for you, your stress will go. If you don’t understand, the spiritual path is like getting on an airplane and carrying your luggage in your lap the whole trip. If you do not have a comprehensive methodology to guide your inquiry or do not know how to use it, spiritual work will be another source of anxiety. You will relax with Vedanta because it is a time-tested proven means of setting yourself free, unlike all these so-called modern “teachings” which boil down to little more than personal knowledge garnered by an individual based on his or her personal experiences.
I am not saying that reading spiritual literature, even Vedanta, will necessarily set you free, because it is very difficult to resolve many of the apparent contradictions that you find in the teachings on your own. For that you need a teacher. If you are willing to give Vedanta a try, you can get my videos and watch them first. I have a hard drive with the basic Vedanta teachings – about one hundred hours – for 200 Euros plus postage. Then if you are turned on by Vedanta you can attend one of my seminars or come to meet me in person. I am not based anywhere particularly, but I will probably offer seminars in the South of Spain next year. The location is near Malaga and is easy and cheap to get to on one of the budget airlines, like EasyJet.
~ All the best, James