The Path of Affirmation

Why do we meditate? Why do we engage in practices? Why bother? Why spend hours sitting by yourself when you could be with convivial companions doing socially acceptable or unacceptable things? Why go off by yourself into a condition of solitude within your own mind, focusing on images, on chakras, on points of light for many hours, day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime? Why exclude a lot of experiences from your life that you might enjoy? Why include experiences that perhaps are not initially innate to your energy flow?

That’s self-discovery, and self-discovery is a process of exclusion and inclusion. We exclude things that take energy from us, even though they might be enjoyable. We include things that might be difficult because they create energy. Ultimately the energy is enjoyable and the loss of energy is not, needless to say. But, since we all die at the end of a lifetime, is it really better to be an ascetic? It’s like, “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” That was an ad slogan some time back.

I don’t know. Would I? Somebody out there wanted me to think that I would, and I guess if I heard the jingle enough times maybe I would really want a Buick. I’m not sure. So in the development of one’s life, you could just party constantly and if you have a somewhat good constitution and you run a few miles a day, you could probably party hardy for a whole lifetime and die at a ripe, old, well partied-out age and have had a very good time.

On the other hand, you could not do that and lead a life of internal origination where you’re meditating—probably die at about the same age, and at the end you die and it’s all forgotten. Oh, there’s rebirth, of course, and determination where your stateroom is going to be in the next life. Are you going to be in first class? Are you going to be in steerage? Somewhere in between? Or are you even going to get on the boat? Are you going to be working? You know, that sort of thing, on the big cruise of infinity.

OK, but aside from that reincarnation stuff, being pragmatic just about one life, why go through all the—what most people would perceive as trouble—to learn to control your thoughts, your emotions, modify your lifestyle in such a way that might seem unnatural from the point of view of many members of our society? Of course, implicit in that is what they do is what is natural. And if you do what they do, you are natural because whatever they do is somehow godlike. That’s the thesis. But I don’t know about all that.

Why do this? It’s a lot of work! And maybe you’re really not going to have a better time than the person who just has a nice family, parties, has a nice life, goes boating on Sundays. Why get involved with self-discovery? Why go through these practices? Why come to meditative sessions with mystical teachers? Why modify your life? You’ve already developed a lot of habits by the time you meet self-discovery. Most people don’t run into self-discovery seriously until they’re at least 18. In 18 years you’ve habituated your entire being to a certain lifestyle and the rest of your life is just an extension of that, primarily. Why change that? It’s a lot of work. You’ve already got the thing going. Why change the direction so radically—which is what’s necessary in self-discovery—to different mind fields.

In other words, is it really worth it? Why would a person do that? Why do mystics sit in caves on top of the Himalayas when they could be down where there’s central heating and a nice warm couch? What drives people to do these weird religious practices? I can say ecstasy, but what does that mean? You might be able to be very ecstatic with central heating. The reason that one practices self-discovery is because we’re seeking a feeling. We’re seeking a feeling. And when we feel that feeling, there is nothing like that feeling. It’s just a feeling.

Someone might say, “Well, wait, what’s this feeling stuff? That doesn’t sound like a reason to live your life.” Oh yeah? What else do you do? You go to work because of a feeling, you follow a career because you have a feeling, you love someone because it gives you a feeling, you raise a family because it gives you a feeling, you raise a flag because it gives you a feeling, you die for your country because you feel something for it. Everything that we do is related to feelings. It’s just that our feelings are more difficult to express in simple words because they’re not simple. They’re very complicated.

There’s a feeling that occurs sometimes when you’re standing at sunset looking out into the horizon, where you just slip away from all of this and all of that. You’re at a party. You’re at an office party. It’s Christmas. Everybody’s busy, everybody’s having a good time and they’re celebrating. For a moment you go out on the balcony and the sun is setting and you just look at the sky. You slip away from all the noise, all the good times, everybody looking good in their good-looking suits, all the beautiful men and women. You just go outside by yourself and you slide the glass door behind you and you just look outside, and for a moment, the noise, the excitement, the hubbub vanishes, and there’s a stillness.

The stillness isn’t the end of things, it’s the beginning. It’s always the beginning. You step into that stillness and you just go away. There’s a feeling that comes up which cannot be expressed in words, and that feeling transports you beyond this world to other worlds, other realms, to different places inside your mind, maybe. And that feeling is so perfect and so complete, it’s beyond all other experiences.

We could take all the pleasures that have ever been and will ever be in all of the universes that have ever been, are now or will ever be, and add them up into one experience. And if you were absorbed in nirvana, it would not be noticed. There’s no way to calculate the pure and perfect stillness of absorption in nirvana. All the existences, all the creations, the manifold lives, the beings, the pageant of infinity, which always is, is unnoticeable in nirvana because its silence, its essential nothingness, is so complete and so perfect and so pure that there is no relation point. You know, holding a candle to the sun.

In the beginning there is religion, and after religion there is occultism. There are the esoteric and the exoteric stages of practice. Religion is primarily exoteric. It depends on outer symbols, on words like purity, power, goodness, evil, representative colors symbolizing things, statues, things like that. In the beginning a person is seeking to have some form of consolidation between themselves and infinity, this thing that we call life. They must feel an absence. Why else would someone be drawn to religion, unless they’re just forced into it by birth and family and caste and that sort of thing?

But if a person comes to religion on their own, they come to religion because they’re looking for a feeling. They’re looking for something that they’re not finding in other parts of their lives, clearly. So initially, religion, which is the exoteric experience of the self-discovery process, breaks it down into a very conceptual kind of viewpoint. There’s purity, there’s impurity. There are commandments—do this, avoid that. You see? It’s very much religion by numbers. It’s very simple. It’s very easy for a person to hold in their mind.

But religion, of course, is the beginning of the experience of transcendence. After you’ve gone through religion and it’s taken you as far as it can, then we move into the esoteric experiences, which is the study of meditation and enlightenment. In the beginning we read about someone else; we read about Buddha, his experiences, what he did, how he came to be enlightened, the miracles that occurred around him, the transmutations. But then a time comes when it isn’t enough to read about Buddha, we wish to have that happen to ourselves. That’s when we move from the exoteric to the esoteric, from religion to mysticism or occultism. I use those terms; they’re the same thing.

In religion we’re reading about someone else, and we might feel something because it’s inevitable, if we focus on certain higher octave qualities long enough, that we find those qualities in our own mind. But in mysticism, in occultism, there’s a very definitive methodology for bringing oneself into the transmutation, into the white light—the clear light—that causes one to realize that one is enlightenment, one is Buddha. And the experiences are not so much reading about somebody else but they’re the practices that the person did who we’re reading about.

In the beginning we talk about purity, humility. In other words, we’re suggesting that there’s a tonal range that’s more pleasant for an individual to experience than the tonal ranges of emotions, thoughts, feelings, that most people experience and that we can pick and choose, just like we do at the supermarket between the good apples and the bad apples, between the good plums and the bad plums, the good nectarines and the bad nectarines. We can pick and choose by focusing—by feeling there’s something called virtue, self-respect, truth, higher principles in life—if we think of those things and we choose to live in them, then we bring those qualities that are in our mind, as such, out.

In other words, within your mind is everything. All heavens and hells exist within your own mind. The qualities are not in some spiritual land, they’re in your mind. Within you is a horror, an awful being, somebody you could just kill without thought. Within you is someone who is a savior, who could save, no matter what pain it cost them. Everything is within your mind. Your mind contains all of infinity, although you may not be aware of that yet.

Life is really a process of choosing which qualities we wish to bring into the foreground and which qualities we wish to let recede into the background of the mind. In religion they simplify it for you; they tell you what to do. They say the qualities you want in the foreground are as follows; these will make you happy if they’re in your foreground. The qualities in the background are the ones that will make you unhappy; we want to push them as far back as we can. Somebody else figured this out, don’t question it, just do it, and you’ll feel better.

That’s paint by numbers. Remember the little paint by number kits? You have paint numbers—red is one, blue is two, green is three and so on. And if you will simply paint in this little outlined area, where they have a little number there, it will say three, so you paint the green within the line. If you keep doing that, eventually you get a picture that looks pretty good. If you paint by numbers you can turn out, even at an early stage, something that at least looks like the object that you’re trying to create.

But eventually we move from painting by numbers to just taking a canvas and some primary colors and seeing that we can whip up different art forms, and that’s mysticism, that’s occultism. That’s the advanced practice of religion. We’re no longer painting by numbers, just doing what somebody says. Needless to say, our mistakes can be larger, as can our successes.

Through a series of lifetimes, we paint by numbers. Then we exhaust that, and if in this lifetime conventional religion never interested you, then you’ve exhausted that in other lifetimes. In this lifetime, if you did conventional religion for a while, it obviously wasn’t finished. Then you finished it off, and now you’ve done all the painting by numbers you want to do. Now you are learning how to just paint. Now we have DPaint II [software product] here, right?

We’re going to paint. And our canvas is our mind. We’re going to create within us a structure. We seek to create a structure without us in the practice of meditation. We want the structure of our lives to be as simple as possible. We want to set up a maximum curve for the internalization of energy. We want as little hassle in our day-to-day life as possible because hassle equals having to take our attention from that which is within, externalize it into the sensorial world and try to straighten things out. And of course, as soon as something is straightened out, the very nature of things is that they change. We can straighten things out forever and spend our whole lives straightening things out and never get a chance to take ourselves within our mind.

We seek to make our life uncomplicated, only do things which cannot be gotten out of. You have to do them. Then, those things that we must do, we set up in such a way that they actually become part of the yogic process. This is tantra, where the things we do externally actually become forms of yoga. The way we make our bed, the way we keep our condo, the way we select a car, everything we do becomes a process that enables us to utilize the mind better. We gain power from our selections and from the mere act of selection.

But what we really want to do is not be very involved in the world because the world just drains you. We seek, for those who are now beyond religion by numbers, we seek now to be able to internalize our attention. We realize that what’s out there are just people and places and things. I mean, there’s not much out there. All people are basically the same, within simple structural levels. All places are about the same. There are subvariations, but really, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all sort of thing.

On the other hand, there are things available within the mind that have much more variegation. There’s a lot more variety—mental states. So we seek to take our attention and bring it within our mind and make paintings. And we really don’t want to look outside too much because outside there are other people’s paintings and they’re usually not very good. They’re very unhappy. If we spend all our time concerning ourselves with what’s going on in the physical world, it’s going to change anyway. We’re just building castles made out of sand, which slip into the sea eventually. If you like that, go do it. There’s no prohibition; you can do it, and you can learn about ineffability.

That’s the path of negation. There’s a path in enlightenment called the path of negation where we intentionally throw ourselves into experiences that are extremely transient for the pure purpose of seeing the transience of all experience. In other words, we do all the stuff you’re supposed to normally avoid to become enlightened, intentionally. But our intention is that by going to the very essence of these experiences we can find enlightenment, nirvana. It’s a path of reversal. It’s more complicated, I guess, I’m not sure. I’ve done it, personally. I’ve done them both and they’re interesting. It’s like two different martial arts forms. Either one makes you capable of defending yourself and makes you physically fit, but they’re very different approaches.

But today we’re discussing the path of affirmation. In the esoteric experience, what we’re doing is trying to get enough time and room to meditate and not be so caught up in the demands of daily life that we can’t meditate. If all our energy is used up in the getting of a living, keeping the house clean, the dog fed, the insurance premiums paid, if that exhausts us and if at the end of the day you just come in and “Oh, God I’m exhausted” crash, you lie down—you don’t have the energy to go into the mind and change the foreground and the background.

So life has to be set up in such a way that the things we do empower us; and that we must do certain things. But we’re seeking to be able to meditate well. Meditation means adjusting the mind from within. Meditation is not some ineffable thing where you’re just sitting in a quiescent state of nothingness. Sometimes that’s meditation. But meditation really means the structural modification of the mind through the selection of mental states. And through the selection of specific mental states we can get to a point where we can go beyond mental states, but that’s not going to happen until you get to very refined mental states. Then we can make that jump where we go beyond the circle to something else, to the origination of the circle or that which is simply other, which is nirvana.

For a person who is practicing mysticism, they shouldn’t really think about purity and power and all these terms too much. A person who’s practicing mysticism should be out doing things, not thinking philosophically so much. If you think about purity, if you think about these things, that’s nice. But what a person who seeks mysticism does is they build a fire. Now, I don’t know if you like—I like to build fires, OK? I have a fireplace. And I love building fires. Fire is one of the primary mystical symbols—fire, air, earth, water, ether, all that stuff. But fire is particularly interesting because it’s a transmutation. You take some wood, you take some flame, and you get ashes and smoke and the wood goes away, and of course you get heat. Very interesting. It’s a symbol of yoga, the building of a fire.

In order to create heat, you have to have something to burn. So what we do in yoga is, we burn ourselves up, to create light. In the exoteric religious experience, we read about other people who have done that, and we hope some of their light shines on us and some of their heat shines on us, and it makes us feel better. They must feel great, if just thinking about them, we feel better.

In mysticism, we seek to feel great. We want to build that fire. The fire is already burning. It’s the inner light. But it is only by directing ourselves into that light that transmutation occurs. A mystical experience occurs because you go into the light, not because you read about others doing it. If you have the time, why not read about it because it puts you in that direction and it keeps the mind in a flow of that experience as opposed to being drawn away from it by the auric currents of the world, which are fairly low and simple and tend to lead one to sensorial experiences.

What we seek to do is, the key factor—it’s like studying for a test. The most important thing is to study the material that’s going to be on the test if you want to get an A. You can study and spend hours studying lots of stuff, but if the goal is to get an A, find out what the guy or the gal’s going to ask, study that, learn it cold, you get the A.

If what one is seeking is ecstasy, freedom—these ineffable words suggestive of a state of mind, a condition so perfect and so beyond the conditions that are experienced by human beings in the relative world as to be almost unheard of—then we have to get the right stuff that’s going to be on the test. In the world of Buddhism, there are so many things to study that you could never get the stuff that’s going to be on the test. Tantric Buddhism is the school of Buddhism that is known as the “cut to the chase” school. Let’s get right to the point. What’s on the test? Let’s do it, get it done, transmute. Whereas in other forms of Buddhism, they really enjoy studying a lot of stuff that isn’t on the test because it’s fun.

Some people aren’t in a hurry to get a degree; they just like learning. You go to school for four years, why not take five? Why not take six? Why not have a couple of majors for a while? Learning is fun. The piece of paper is not everything. Some people, though, want the piece of paper so they can get into a specific job. School is fun, but it’s a means to an end. For some people it’s an end in itself. One is not right or wrong, it depends on the disposition of an individual being. For the person who wants to get to the mystical experience directly, Tantric Buddhism is the path. Zen is Tantric Buddhism, Vajrayana is Tantric Buddhism, there are various forms of it. Tantric Buddhism simply means cutting to the chase. It’s a very, very extremely esoteric mystical side that takes you directly into the light. It’s not a discussion, you just do it, you’re there, you transmute. It’s very direct, which is why it is the least practiced form of all Buddhism because most people would rather talk about it, enjoy it, but to actually transmute is heavy duty.

To actually take who you are and go into the light is, for the being that currently exists, very scary because the being is literally going to destroy themselves in the light. Granted, infinity is going to create a new and shinier form of that being. But the ego does not want to dissolve in the clear light of reality, definitely not. “No way Jose!” “Hasta manana baby!” “Don’t call us…” You know. “Let’s do infinity!” Right? (Audience laughs.) That’s L.A. spiritual talk.

So then, the reason we do this is for a feeling. That’s tantric mysticism. It’s a feeling; it takes you directly to the feeling. Do not pass the feeling, right? Go directly to the feeling, that sort of thing. And the essence of all practice is to stop thought. When you stop thought, other than with a sledgehammer—that stops life—when you stop thought, the white light is all. And the more you can stop thought, or the closer you get to it, even if you can slow thought down, modify it, remove some—more kundalini is released, and as the kundalini is released, you go above the thought level, you go to that feeling. You touch other spheres of existence that most people don’t know exist.

You know, the Renaissance is fun when you read Boethius and some of the Renaissance philosophers. They talk a lot—they’re Christian mystics—they about the other spheres. There’s a music of the spheres. There’s a music that’s actually in the universe, they believed, that’s out there in different dimensions. They called it the music of the spheres. There are other spheres of existence. They thought and believed that there are other universes of mind and consciousness that we as human beings can raise ourselves to and touch and feel and become.

Today people don’t think about that much. Don’t know why. But they used to think about it. They think about it in the Far East. They believe that we can take—our mind is like a terminal, a computer terminal, and we can patch the mainframe of existence. There are billions of programs out there. Comp-U-Infinity. You know, $19.95, right? Comp-U-Infinity where you can just hook into all kinds of great programs, great graphics, all kinds of stuff that you can patch into which you don’t have on your own little terminal. You’ve got a PC and you can plug it into a mainframe. A mainframe in a cup, you see.

That’s what meditation is. But in the process of plugging in, you become that. It changes you. This is mysticism. Again, everything is empirical in mysticism until you get to the moment of the mystical experience, then we forget about all this empirical stuff and we just go into the light and dance for a while. That’s why dancing is important. Shirley MacLaine wrote a book called Dancing in the Light. Good title. (Audience laughs). What we seek to do is to be as rich as Shirley without being as well known and picking up all the auric focus.

What you’re seeking to do is to get to the mystical experience. Once you’re there, it takes care of itself. It transmutes you, it translates you, you become new, you’re baptized in the spirit again and again until you become an enlightened being. And the more often you can get there, I guess sooner, if you want to look at it in time and space, it happens.

Mysticism cuts through the bullshit, and it takes you right there to the experience and everything in your life is eventually set up so that your life is a pragmatic energy flow into the light as continuously and as constantly as possible. We play with the foreground and background, obviously, because it makes it easier to get to the mystical experience. We get rid of the parts of ourselves, not that we ethically think are not correct because we don’t necessarily believe that—we believe in ethics, but we believe that ultimately it’s a matter of speed. If there’s a part of yourself that hangs you up and brings you down, you get rid of it, not because there’s a moral base to that part that says it’s a good part or a bad part but because it hangs you up.

It’s a structural question. In other words, you get rid of evil, whatever that means to you, not because it’s intrinsically evil because evil is intrinsically God also, since God is everything, but you get rid of evil because it slows you down. It interferes with the transmutation process. So our view becomes very different. We’re not operating out of a moral philosophical base, we’re operating out of a base of maximum efficiency. But maximum efficiency does not preclude the experience of perfect emotion. Do not think of it in a cold way because the maximum efficiency is the purest emotion. That’s why we do it.

Purity means maximum efficiency in self-discovery. Purity doesn’t mean whether you have sex or not, or how. Purity means that there is no self, or less and less all the time, meaning that there’s a perfect flow of energy; there’s a translation of all of infinity through itself without interruption. In mysticism we really don’t worry about commandments. We just notice, as we go along through our practice, what causes us pain, what limits us and structures us, and we eliminate that from our lives. We don’t try to become a good person or a bad person. That’s religion. We did that already in other lives, obviously, if we’re at the point where we’re interested in this, and that seems simplistic to us or just doesn’t feel good. That means we’ve already passed the course. Why take it again?

When you’re interested in mysticism, when you want the pure experience and the thou shall’s and the thou shall not’s seem restrictive, that means you’ve already done them. Third grade would be very restrictive at this point for us. At the time it wasn’t and for third graders it’s not. It’s not restriction, it’s an opening into new worlds and new realities. In mysticism, we simply use the empirical flow of consciousness as our only dialectical guide to infinity and the divinization of our own awareness, the movement into ecstasy. If it works, do it.

Tantric Buddhism is just a collection of things that work by doing them. And sometimes we add new things. We have electronic music; we did not have it in Tibet. So if we can use electronic music to hit new keys, new notes, new sounds, new resonances that we couldn’t get with the musical instruments we had—we had the mind to compose, but now we have stuff that we can do with synthesizers we couldn’t do—then we can open up new doorways for transmutation using music as a vehicle, which we always do in Tantric Buddhism for entering into the light.

So there’s new stuff. Technology is great that way, but it only helps us do what we were doing before in new ways. When you use a microphone, it simply enables the sound waves to travel further through an amplification and speaker system, but you’re not saying anything different. But it gets it further. That’s what technology does; it just gets it further, but it doesn’t change anything.

It’s the mind that is—what you’re seeking is a conceptual leap. Don’t forget that, in practice, beyond practice. In other words, all these words are great and these erudite phrases I and other teachers use, but the point of them is so you can blow away from all the erudite phrases into a pure ecstasy, a feeling of completion. Communion with infinity is what we seek because in that communion we lose and find ourselves in ways that cannot be described in words. That’s mysticism.

A teacher of mysticism is not someone who simply employs words cleverly, but they’re an individual who actually has gone in and out of the white light countless times and even observed that there’s a systemization to the white light in its motions—not in itself, intrinsically no one can systematize it because it’s beyond systems. But if there’s a continent someplace and it’s always changing and shifting and the conditions are strange but kind of exciting, a guy who goes there and can obviously deal with it himself can get others in and out. You might go there and get very confused and very disoriented and get lost. A teacher of mysticism is someone who is actually able to flip in and out of the light at will, and they understand the transmutations. They can’t tell you why they occur; no one knows that but the light itself and obviously, it’s not talking. But they know how it’s all done.

A teacher of mysticism is someone who does it themselves all the time, and they’re just showing you some of the moves they’ve learned that work and are helping you avoid the ones that tend to slow you down or create something that’s not sought. Whereas a teacher of religion is someone who knows words and concepts. They may be a moral person, they may be a good person; they’ve adjusted the foreground and the background of their mind to suit the philosophical base they’re operating from. But that doesn’t mean they can snap into the light and pivot through the vortexes of ecstasy that occur within the ten thousand states of mind and the other dimensional planes and realities, let alone make it clear, beyond self, into what they would call the absolute holiness of divinity, the Godhead, or whatever you want to call it. I just call it nirvana, or Sam. (Audience laughs.)

That’s the teacher. Mysticism is the adventure of religion. Occultism is the adventure part where you’re out going and doing it and you’re becoming a Buddha, quickly. Consequently you have to go through all the pitfalls one goes through in becoming a Buddha, which are many and varied—various illusory bardos where you can get hung up for periods of time, like thousands of lives, or whatever it is. But hey, it’s like Tyresius told Odysseus, right? “You don’t get through hell in a hurry.” You don’t. You don’t get through the samsara in a hurry. It goes on forever, and so do you.

But what you should be doing is seeking the white light. In other words, don’t try and change yourself. Oh, obviously you have to adjust the foreground and background; you do that every time you turn the terminal on. You adjust the foreground and background so you can see what’s on the screen according to the light in the room and your own eyesight. Naturally you get rid of all the things inside yourself that bring you down and do all the things that bring you up. But ultimately that will only bring you to a certain point in your advancement and then you’ll stay there and you’ll be stuck. Once you’ve maximized the background and the foreground, it’s done. Where do we go from there?

We’re only maximizing the background and the foreground so we can take another step, which is into the light. Once you go into the light, then don’t worry about it, you’re there. We just set up the background and foreground for maximum efficiency for accessing the light. Then we go into the mystical experience of ecstasy. We unleash the kundalini. We direct it towards the light, foot on the accelerator, hands on the steering wheel, aiming towards the light. Then we just go into it at warp speed, and we come out in some other part of the universe of mind as someone else—a more refined, higher tech version of ourselves that’s much more in tune with the essential spirit of the universe on a higher plane level, which we obviously find enjoyable, which is why we do it. At this point words break down, and it’s a good time to stop recording.