Peak Experiences

What I’m trying to teach you, what I am in fact teaching you—whether you’re learning it or not, I’m definitely teaching it—is how to have peak experiences, how to make your whole life a peak experience. Now, peak implies a plateau. And for me, it’s not like that. I was reading a story about a guy who’s climbed more of the Himalayan mountains of the highest elevations than anyone else. As a matter of fact, he’s only got one or two to go and he’s done them all. And in doing this, he’s lost several fingers from frostbite; he lost a brother in a climb. He’s gone through all kinds of innumerable obstacles. But this guy is probably the most famous mountain climber in the world. He keeps climbing these mountains. He’s gone up to the top of Everest without oxygen. He just does these incredible things. And you have to ask yourself, well, why do this? Why does someone become an Olympic athlete? Some people do it for gold and glory, needless to say. And there’s nothing wrong with those things. Why push yourself? Why not just be comfortable? Why not play it safe? Why court danger?

It’s because there are some individuals who have a peculiar power. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s from past lives, maybe it’s not. Who knows, but some people just have a peculiar power, the power to elevate themselves above the deadness of the human condition. The human condition is not dead intrinsically. We don’t start—we’re born alive, not dead. But we are deadened by the world. Our world is timid. It’s filled with bargaining and deals and everyone plays it safe, or they just follow orders.

You might say, “Well, not everybody plays it safe; how about soldiers who go to war?” Well, they usually don’t have much choice. The soldiers who choose it aren’t playing it safe, obviously. But after a while, even war can become a routine. Professional soldiers are not necessarily excited by their work anymore. Initially, they may have a moment when they’re facing the enemy, when they triumph, when they do something incredible, something that they couldn’t imagine doing. It brings them to a new plateau. It can happen in the arts, in dance, music, something where we go beyond who we are. We leave our personality behind, we leave “safe” behind and we encounter a moment. I call it a moment; it’s not obviously just a moment, but it’s when our perception unfolds and we step beyond who we’ve been. Our energy just gets so high that it literally lifts us up above personality, and for a timeless time, we merge with life. We merge with something that there are no words for.

Some people experience that moment in sex. Some people experience that moment in athletics. Some people experience it in contemplation and meditation. They’re more apt to experience it there, certainly, than any other place. But the life of meditation and religious study is absolutely no guarantee of peak moments. Most people who are involved in religious study and meditation as a lifestyle are downright bored, and they’re as stuck in what they do as everyone else is. You can make a routine out of anything. Initially something is exciting, but then immediately we structure it in such a way that we can just repeat the ecstasy and then it’s no longer ecstasy.

I am a seeker of what I call perfect moments. I’m not going to define that because, why? There are all kinds. Perfect moments are moments when we, as I said, go beyond ourselves and we touch something immortal. And there are many ways to do it. They involve pretty much the same structural approach, though. These moments don’t occur particularly rhapsodically. They occur from a lot of discipline, a lot of pragmatic approach, through building up our power. And if you know how to do it in one place, you can apply that structural knowledge to doing it in any place.

In other words, it really isn’t a certain thing that brings us those moments. It isn’t mountain climbing. It isn’t hang gliding. It isn’t bungee jumping. It isn’t meditation. It isn’t business. It isn’t athletics. It’s an approach whereby we use something to catapult ourselves into infinity. And once we’ve done it, the tendency is to want to repeat exactly what we did again and again. We’ve baked a great cake, so now we’re going to write down the recipe. But it doesn’t work that way. It has to be new. It has to be uncertain. If there’s no uncertainty, your power doesn’t rise.

What I’m teaching you is how to experience the manifold realities of mind, how to surf the Himalayas inwardly, how to go places that very few people ever go, and you come back from those places different. Moses goes to the top of the mountain and he comes back glowing, transformed. He became the vision, you see? That’s what you do. There are countless stagings of attention. There are countless levels of reality, call it what you will, that most people, of course, are completely oblivious to because their lives have deadened them, and their societies and so on.

So a person has to have a kind of a weird power. And if they do, they’d look at all the choices that there are and walk away from them. I always remember a story about a poet who I liked when I was in college—Theodore Roethke. He was a little bit crazy, if not a lot crazy, as all good poets are, and one day he was teaching at the University of Washington. He walked into the office and he’d been away for some time, probably in a sanitarium, and he came back into the office and there was a great stack of mail awaiting him. Probably a mixture of the usual forms that you get as a professor—class evaluations, inter-office memos, you know, the boring dead life of the university that keeps it static—and probably some royalty checks. Probably some fan letters, maybe an invitation to speak someplace. And he picked it all up, as the story goes, with a big smile on his face, walked over to the nearest wastebasket and just dropped it in and walked out. Now that’s self-transcendence, if you see what I mean.

It’s through action, it’s through activity, that we go beyond the self. And what makes that a powerful action is not if he [Roethke] does it every day. If he does it every day, his life is going to be a mess. But on one day he felt he was in a certain state of mind. And in that state of mind, on that particular day, had he read all that mail and copiously gone through it, which I’m sure he did day after day, year after year, as a professor and as a poet who won a number of prizes and who had done the hard discipline of writing and pushing his consciousness and all the things that you do to get the Pulitzer—but one day, his body felt that if he went through the mail that day, it just would have ruined his day. So he just threw it in the basket. I’m sure the next time he came in the office, he went through all his mail.

There may have been an element of showmanship involved. I’m sure someone was watching because we have the story. But it really doesn’t matter. Obviously, it had power because I’m talking about it.

What I’m teaching you is how to go beyond yourself. And the world, of course, teaches you the opposite. The world teaches you to conform.

To go beyond yourself doesn’t mean to go crazy. To go beyond yourself doesn’t mean to be sloppy. It doesn’t mean to give up responsibility. It doesn’t mean that at all. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that you progressively increase your personal power, your energy field, through very complicated means that require a good dose of intelligence, will, and a weird power, as I said. And if you do it just right, if you line everything up just right, you walk through a doorway where the world as you know it collapses. Reality as you know it goes away and you stand in the middle, on the edge of eternity, with a vista that is so incredible, so powerful, so perfect that it’s overwhelming, and you are in fact overwhelmed, and you no longer exist. You merge with the reality to a greater or lesser extent and you are renewed by this experience. It purifies you; it changes you. It cleanses your spirit, your mind, your body, and you remember why you’re alive—for moments like that.

So I teach people how to do this. A necessary ingredient, of course, is to have a weird power, and all of you have that or you wouldn’t be here. And there are lots of ways to do it. I point out the obvious ones—physical development, career development, development of meditation. And through creation, by creating something—something musical, something artistic, something in software. Those are the easiest ways to get to those moments. There are other ways, but it’s when you do something that was not in your karmic sequencing and you only do that by leading a completely deliberate life.

If you have a lot of clutter in your life; if your mind is filled with other people, with obscure thoughts, emotions and desires; if you don’t know what you’re here for—to have moments like that—and if you don’t approach it solidly, in a very pragmatic but innovative way, it doesn’t happen. The undisciplined person does not have moments like this. They have moments of being undisciplined. The overly disciplined person doesn’t have moments like this. They just experience discipline—too much. So we’re between two things. We’re between the creative, open and spontaneous sense of being and approach to life, and the highly disciplined, pragmatic approach. And between those two there’s a doorway, if you can find it, and it leads to immortality. It leads to infinity. It leads to nirvana, to the western paradise, whatever you want to call it.

And it’s inside your mind—that’s the most curious thing—it’s inside your mind. Not inside your physical brain, but inside that which is you, the living presence that occupies the body that you’re in, that will leave the body at death. And in order to accomplish this, you can’t be drained all the time. In other words, you have to set up your life as a field of power. Most people’s lives are set up with so many incessant demands that their power is gradually drained.

I have focused on the things that seem most relevant to me. The thing that increases your power the most is first and foremost meditation—in other words, disciplining the mind so that you can stop thought for protracted periods of time. At the stoppage of thought, a doorway opens to infinite mind and you are empowered. And the longer you can stop thought perfectly, the more power flows through you and the further you extend yourself into other realities, into other “you’s.”

Career seems to me to be extremely important because I observe that it is in the getting of a living—I would agree with Henry David Thoreau, this was his theorem—that it is in the getting of a living that people drain themselves the most. His response was to simplify your life to such an extent that you don’t need to work very much, and you can occupy yourself fully, not with being a bum, but with pursuing things that increase your power. In his case, he was a naturalist, he was a hiker, he was a writer, he was a poet, he was this and that. He didn’t just—you know, the American way is to not want to work much so you can kind of hang out. That was not what he was suggesting. He was suggesting [that we] remove ourselves from the deadness of getting a living so that we can live fully. We can pursue things that ennoble our spirits and make us strong and give us these incredible moments of rhapsody.

I perceive that it is the getting of a living that seems to be the principal—the things that drain people the most are making money, romance, their past, their associates, interpersonal relationships, their view of themselves—the “I can’t” factor, that view of oneself. And of course, simply not understanding how it’s done.

There’s a science to the development of personal power that we call occultism, and it’s necessary to have a teacher for two reasons, if not three. One, the teacher empowers you and gives you the energy to get yourself going which is hard to get going on your own. [Two, the teacher] shows you what to do and what to avoid because there are as many pitfalls as there are—there are actually many more pitfalls than there are—correct moves. As you go into the different dimensions and different realities, you can become completely lost. You can do just the opposite. You can go down and not up.

And of course, a teacher is there to laugh at you because you have such a high opinion of yourself that you need to be laughed at. You need to sense how small we all are. And [the teacher is there] to teach you to laugh at life and the world because you have to laugh at all these things—yourself, life, the world, occultism—because it’s all so vast and so infinite that the only way you can really deal with it sanely is to laugh at it at times.

In order, it seems to me, to have enough personal power to have fantastic moments, you can’t be a nine-to-five’er. You can’t get up in the morning and enter that huge flood of commutation—people on highways and byways who look so miserable on their way to work, who sort of struggle through the day, get in the big line at the end of the day and come home exhausted. How are you going to have a peak moment? Maybe on the weekend you’ll get one or two. Maybe.

It seems to me it’s necessary to find a way of making enough money that will give you the freedom and the mobility to do what you want, when you want, the way that you want, and at the same time, the very getting of a living should increase your power. In the very action of getting a living, one should be able to have peak moments. That’s what I’m teaching you to do, how to do that—how to use career, since it’s the thing that we spend so much time doing, to go beyond yourself and at the same time, how to develop a career that provides you with enough economic resources so that you can go anywhere and do anything.

If, let’s say, that next week I wanted to take 25 of my students and go out for two weeks hiking in the desert—you couldn’t do it. You’ve got jobs, you’ve got responsibilities, you’ve got payments to make. Your lives aren’t fluid. I can do that because my life is set up that way. So that has to change because you have to be able to do that at times. Then there are times when it would be ridiculous to be out hiking around in the desert. You’d just be getting spaced out and it would drain you. You should be pulling off some great business deal, perfecting your art, whatever it may be—and storing and increasing your power and just having moments of exquisite transcendence in the workplace. But it seems to me that if you’re working for someone else, punching a clock, it’s never going to happen. It’s going to be very difficult. You’d have to have an unusual amount of power.

It’s necessary to really be employed by oneself. We’re always working for somebody, in a sense, but it can be more fluid. And it involves risk, which is precisely why it’s worth doing. There’s not much risk to coming in every day and operating at about the same skill level and getting a steady paycheck, consequently it deadens you, it’s boring, and you get your two or three or maybe four weeks off a year when you’re so exhausted—everything is so scheduled, that there’s no possibility of an exquisite life.

You come home, you’re so tired from work you don’t want to go work out. You don’t want to go to the martial arts meeting because you’re just too tired, you see? People are so tired. The world is set up to exhaust you and drain you. That’s how humankind has devised their world. Life is not necessarily that way.

There are moments of exquisite power everywhere we look. But we have to know how to get to them and use them. That’s what I teach. I call it “Tantric Buddhism” just because it’s the system that’s been devised to do that. It’s a methodology for increasing your personal power and directing it—directing the will and the conscious mind. And over a number of years, you learn to direct your will to such a fine and perfect point that you can literally do anything. You can do things that are not within the realm of human reason, thank God.

At every moment, you have the opportunity to crap out and not do it and run away from it, or to move to the next moment. The world will always tell you to play it safe and just be dead. You know, roll over and play dead. On the other hand, I suggest that you’re capable of doing things you can’t conceive of, that most of life is really that way, but this world we exist in is populated by these people who have really shut themselves off from life. They’ve destroyed their environment, by and large. They’ve eliminated most other species on the planet, which is just an indication of their sloppiness and their deadness and their oblivion—but even more so, they’ve cut themselves off from happiness.

Human beings are not happy. They’re miserable creatures. And that’s not necessary. My role in life is not to illumine mankind and womankind. It’s not my job. I don’t really have a job, I just find that there are moments in teaching that are exquisite and there are certain moments I reach in the teaching of self-transcendence that, for me, takes me through that doorway. That’s why I do it. If I don’t have moments like that, if it becomes more of a drain than a game, why teach? I don’t feel a noblesse oblige. I don’t feel a requisite duty as a being to transmit what I’ve learned to anyone. I’d rather hang out with squirrels than people. They’re much more enterprising and much more interesting. Their social lives are better too, yeah.

I teach because I get a kick out of it. And also, it’s fun to watch someone who’s been shying away and shying away from that barrier, just go through it—to go through that doorway and spin and become somebody else.

I’m teaching you the art of self-transcendence through a method that I call Tantric Buddhism, which is a continually evolving series of methods that each of us adds to. There’s a body of knowledge that we learn, that others who have experimented along the way have passed on to us. But essentially it’s not something that you learn by reading and then tell others about. It’s something that you have to do yourself. Because the transmission and the teaching, of course, is mainly nonphysical. There are directives, there are directions to the student, to the adept—do this, don’t do this, try this, try this, see what this does, play with the chemistry of your life. But most of what is taught, is taught—well, you know how it’s taught. It’s not taught through words. It’s taught in other realities, in other levels of mind.

I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to successfully bring one person into enlightenment. I don’t feel I have any responsibilities. I think that’s a rather weighty role to feel that you are the Buddha of all times and all places and that in some way the salvation of anyone, including yourself, depends upon you—I think there’s a lot of ego involved in such a view. Not much self-transcendence. Not much fun. I think that the only thing that I have to do in life is keep myself perpetually spinning through infinite realities, each more amazing and incredible. And it’s a constant challenge in a world that’s running in the other direction with so much deadness, so much boredom, such a lackluster place. It’s not easy. But it’s exciting.

You’re learning that art from someone who does it and it’s not an easy thing to learn. You don’t learn it in a day, a week, a month or a year. You’ve had many, many years of living another life. You’ve just been living another way. Every day you’re around people, and you’re reading their books and reading their magazines and their newspapers and watching their television shows and their films, and picking up their vibration which says the same thing over and over—conform, give in, don’t try, be mediocre.

We applaud the people who are film stars, who get elected to an office, who are very athletic—the small group who play with power in a very limited way. But we’re completely oblivious to what can be done, to the infinite realities that exist in front of us. We deny them.

The mind is infinite. It’s made up of light. It exists forever. There’s no end to its thresholds. You’ve found very few so far. They’re endlessly present everywhere, always. But you have to approach them in a certain way, with a very, very strong degree of respect. Without respect, not much happens. You have to respect power, the bearer of power, the experience of power, and at the same time you need to keep your sense of humor.

So what are you learning here? I have no idea. I don’t really keep tabs. I have no idea why you come here at all. I know what I do—I teach people how to transcend themselves. You can sit and come up with your version of all this, which won’t do a damn thing, or you can actually pay attention to what I’m saying and if you do it exactly, with your own good shot of creative flair, you will have incredible moments that will spin you into universes that are beyond imagination, beyond wonder. You’re unlocking the power of eternity and allowing it to flow through your mind and your body. You’re allowing your spirit to rise with the wind into infinity, above this dead, drab human condition. But you have to listen exactly and do it precisely. Step by step, not all in a day, but yet each day you can revolutionize your being in some way. And if you just keep doing that, your power increases and increases and then—snap! You transmute. The world becomes light.

The mind is light, and there’s only infinity. There are no words, there’s only the possibility of a moment even more incredible a little bit further down the road.