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The Firefly Stage, Jhana States, Etc.
Kumar: It seems like after enlightenment I am in this in-between state that is troubling.
James: In between what and what?
Kumar: I keep shifting my perspective from the experiencing entity to the non-experiencing entity. It is more a matter of keeping at it and using discrimination at the duality the mind keeps throwing up. I don’t expect there is any shortcut. I was just complaining.
James: Okay, I get it. Actually, YOU weren’t shifting from one perspective. You are what knows that Kumar’s subtle body shifts perspectives. I call it “the firefly stage.”
This is often one of the unintended consequences of self-knowledge. It is important to know that you need to be careful when acting on the knowledge of the subconscious – assuming it is somebody else’s subconscious – insofar as they will not be privy to the same information and conflict with them will develop. But I assume that you mean that you now have information about your personal subconscious that is disturbing. If this is so, you can remove the agitation about it by understanding that whatever you see there belongs to Isvara, not to you. You did not put it there. It was given by Isvara in accordance with your karma. Purifying it is an option, however.
Kumar: I can access the subconscious of the people around me and I don’t like what I see, and I also see deeply into my subconscious (collective unconscious?). Once when I meditating I saw a demon so terrifying that I was really scared. Good thing I was meditating in morning and not at night because if I had seen that face in the night I would have completely freaked out. I am pretty sure this is consistent with others before me who have gone through it but it is nonetheless disturbing. I can laugh about it now but when it happened all of a sudden it startled me. It was broad daylight, I was sitting on my cushion and this demon came straight out right in front of me.
I also have dreams that I am 100% sure are not mine. It almost like a computer connected to the internet. You can download data when you are connected to the internet, and some of the data can be garbage. ☺
James: Two points to consider: (1) what’s to like or dislike about what you see? It is just Isvara revealing the dark side; (2) none of what you see is yours, Kumar, it is all Isvara. The key to freedom is knowledge of Isvara. Everything is done by Isvara, everything belongs to Isvara. You are the seer/knower of what you experience. Discrimination is identifying with the knower, the non-experiencing witness. There is still some attachment to likes and dislikes, it seems. It is natural. They will burn out naturally.
I do not understand what you mean by this sentence: “One main advantage I see is that constant chatter and vanity hides the collective unconscious from the thinking mind.” Would you explain?
Kumar: It means that for most people a busy mind/ego blocks access to the subconscious/collective unconscious. The development of the ego has an evolutionary advantage in the sense that the desire/greed/craving keep the unconscious in check. Otherwise, most people would go mad if they were exposed to the unconscious suddenly or on a daily basis. The story of people in near-death experiences (NDEs) being chased by demons or angels probably is a reflection of the ego dying and the mind suddenly accessing the subconscious/collective unconscious. It is a hypothesis, of course, but for me it makes sense since the ego is not entirely useless as many traditions make it to be. Ego is useful from the evolutionary perspective.
James: Yes, Isvara set up a filter to regulate the flow of unconscious stuff into the conscious mind. When that filter is damaged by drugs or trauma or in some other way the conscious mind is overwhelmed by information, both positive and negative, that can completely destabilize it.
Kumar: Since in my case the whole process was backwards, maybe it might make sense to go back and practice the eight jhana states that Buddha, Adi Shankara and lots of the adepts practiced.
James: What do you think that would accomplish?
Kumar: Purifying the mind is an option that I am going to focus on. I am going to do a study of the eight jhana states that existed throughout antiquity in Vedic culture but for some reason is preserved mostly in the Buddhist tradition. Myth says that the Buddha went through the eight jhana states successively before passing on to the other side. Adi Shankara when challenged about sexuality from Mandana Misra’s wife went into a trance state and entered the body of a dead king to learn about sex. Ramakrishna, who studied with Totapuri, went through a similar sort of training. I am curious to see what this is all about since a few teachers in the West are now teaching it openly.
Ultimately, all of these states serve the knower of all these states but it is nonetheless good to know of the states in detail. All famous adepts studied some sort of jhana training, and I am finding out from my family tradition that Ramana did study with a famous yogi Sri Shesadri Swamigal who is revered in parts of southern India. In fact Ramana was called Little Shesadari during his early years. I am aware that Adi Shankara, Ramakrishna, Ramana, Nisargadatta Maharaj and the Buddha said that these jhana states are not important for realization, and that was the case for me personally but I do find it interesting that all of these sages were adepts in some facet of this tradition. The fact that this tradition in some form or another has existed since antiquity argues for its inherent utility.
Personally, I feel it is useful tradition to explore and purifying the mind is a good thing anyway. I wrote to my Zen teacher about exploring the jhana states and he said the guest needs to know only one entrance but the master needs to know every entry point into the house.
James: Let me know how it goes. It seems like a lot of work but maybe you have time on your hands. I can’t see any particular advantage but if you think it will purify you, go for it.
Good for you. First self-realization, then self-actualization. It is slow and patient work. It is good work. The mind needs a noble goal or it will eat you up, enlightened or not.
Kumar: I love this statement: “The mind always needs a noble goal or it will eat you up, enlightened or not.” I am realizing why the whole path is like walking on a razor’s edge.
I am at a stage where it is critical for me to be around mahatmas, or enlightened sages. I need the energy of the path to support my practice. I could always pray to the saints of yore to come and help me in my practice when I meditate but I am not sure if this is a good idea or not.
Please pray that I never waver from my path, and I hope to meet you soon this year.
James: You will never waver, Kumar, because Isvara is driving you. Isvara’s will is inviolable. You cannot fail.
~ Love, James