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My Awakening Quest
As a child, I had many experiences of the limitless side of my Being, but perhaps nothing extraordinary. I think most people have such experiences quite naturally. As I grew older, I felt increasingly overwhelmed by my own wounds and by all the separation and denial I felt inside and out. By the time I left grammar school, I was confused and repressed. But I was telling myself and the world I was fine and everything was OK.
By the time I’d reached my teens, I was in crisis and I found myself reaching out for something beyond the ordinary world. I began my spiritual search (as did many of my peers) reading books by J. Krishnamurti, Yogananda, Carlos Casteneda, Ram Dass, and Richard Bach. Soon thereafter, I began using hallucinogens as a tool in my self-inquiry process. I glimpsed my future realization in this life, but I also saw that I couldn’t reach it through drugs. At 17, I took initiation into TM and began to practice regularly. After meeting Maharishi, I found myself preparing to become a TM teacher. I took years of training, (over a year in deep meditations and fasting in the Switzerland), spent lots of time with Maharishi, and finally was endowed by him with the knowledge I needed to initiate others. I taught TM to hundreds of seekers, thinking that this simple technique would eventually bring them (and myself) freedom. It was around this time that it became perfectly clear to me that, until I and many others around me had awakened into some fundamental self-recognition and integrity of Being, nothing else was going to make the world any better.
Years later, still feeling out of touch with huge chunks of myself, I began the life of a seminar junkie. My first experiences were with John Gray and Barbara DeAngelis, then SAGE, Miracle of Love, and others. In all, I must have taken over two dozen seminars in an attempt to fill in the missing pieces. Over the years, with all the techniques, trainings, and seminars, I must have invested at least $50,000 in my personal growth and spiritual search. Yet somehow, even through all of that (AND still doing TM twice a day, plus the TM Siddhis (flying and other yogic techniques), I still felt fundamentally the same — somehow separate from myself and others, and confused in my ultimate identity. It’s not that I hadn’t grown or changed. But after 23 years of intense searching, I still had not reached my goal. I also noticed that only a few in the whole TM movement (among literally millions) arrived at any sort of realization, and those didn't much impress me. I decided it was time to find an awakened mentor who could help me personally.
I checked out several local teachers, including Ganga-Ji, but did not see the kind of truly embodied awakening I was after. Until I met Saniel. (I will not bore you with the details of why I feel he is so amazing, simply because I don’t want to give you the impression that I am blindly devoted to him, the notion of which pushes my buttons to hear, so I imagine it might push yours). But I did feel an instant recognition of his awakening in a whole new way than I had felt with any other teacher. His feet-on-the-ground way of showing me his love and confidence in my being and my unique discovery process began to empower the full, inherent force of my own intense urge to Self-realization. His expressions of dharma were so potent that just hearing them would catapult me into previously feared and uncharted waters of my own Being. And his transmission of Being-force quickly began to awaken in me my own recognition of my own divinely human nature. In fact, his transmission was so catalytic, that nine months later, after many shiftings, shatterings and reintegrations, I fell very deeply into what we call the "witness awakening", which, in this work, is a beginning step. I had realized myself to be the one, universal, and infinitely Conscious Self nature. This was VERY big.
But that preliminary awakening, though fundamentally integrating my shattered parts, left me paradoxically split in half. I was identified as Consciousness, but clearly separated from my mind, body, feelings, and the world. I was the still point, the silent and uninvolved witness, and the world was effortlessly revolving around me. From that position, I began to realize that I had to investigate my relationship to all the rest of life—like my own humanity. I had to find a reason to come fully into and actually own all the messy, frail, weak, confused, and mortal parts of my being. In other words, I had to come back to life. I had to choose embodiment. I saw that I had to choose a kind of hell, in order to live my full divinity.
Two months later, in one moment of being faced with that choice, I chose life. And I fell into my second birth. I realized that I am the Onlyness of Being. There is no separation between "me" and any "other". The fight between my infinite, free nature and my finite, mortal nature was over. I realized my inherent wholeness and began anew.
From that moment on, I began to see why Saniel calls this the second birth—because it’s just the start of a whole new life. I began to see for myself that the real work of cellular transformation actually begins in a whole new way after this realization. In fact, it puts to shame all of the incredibly deep work I had done to better myself in all previous years combined. I am not perfected in this awakening—I am only awakened to the innumerable ways that I am not fully authentic. This spontaneous self-realignment process is what Saniel terms the Wakedown Shakedown. And it’s very intense. But this very physical awakening to my full humanity is what constantly urges me to live in what Saniel calls mutuality. Mutuality means we do our best to live our own truth while simultaneously honoring other’s attempts to do the same for themselves. It is our democratic way of living what I call the paradox of multiple Onlyness—the wonderfully weird reality we are now living in which realized Gods and Godesses are living as the Onlyness, together. No one is more divine or is more in possession of the absolute truth than any other. We are living in a new paradigm, and we’re ready to offer it to others.
Immediately after my awakening, I suggested to Saniel and friends that we create an intensive weekend that will give people a deep experience of this process. All agreed, and after months of intense preparations among the original facilitator group, it made its debut in May of '97 as the Waking Down Weekend. We’ve held these monthly since then, with tremendous success.
Since then, I have been offering myself as a helper in the Waking Down process, working with people individually and in small groups. Most of those who have come for my assistance have awakened rapidly and moved into profound deepening in their second life. I am feeling more pulled toward writing, and will soon offer a book of my essays in a paperback book titled, "The Self You Didn't Want to Realize, and other essays on the sobering process of conscious embodiment," which I hope to make available this November.
Here's a short version of my bio, originally written for the Waking Down Weekend flyer:
I grew up in an East Coast agnostic Jewish household, surrounded by intellectual brilliance. I compensated for the traumas of my youth by escaping into the relative safety and dispassionate peace of my mind. It was a lonely, isolated, and arrogant place, but it was the only model I had for survival. In my teens, I began searching for spiritual awakening, reading many books and trying various meditations. When I found Transcendental Meditation, I felt I had finally found my ultimate path. For 23 years, I faithfully practiced TM and the TM-Siddhis program. I became a teacher in that tradition and taught TM to hundreds of seekers. I thought that the continual release of stress would eventually result in my full enlightenment. When I finally admitted to myself that I hadn’t achieved the goal of my practice, I looked for an awakened mentor who could help me, and I discovered Saniel. In his friendship, I found the safety and the Being-force I needed to drop into my physical life and my conscious identity simultaneously. The changes that followed catalyzed a direct and rapid transformation that culminated in my second birth awakening less than one year later. My mind has dropped off center stage and I find myself operating as Being. I feel like I’ve jumped off a cliff, and that I’m falling forever into my bottomless life. I am finally returning home, into my heart and all of my body, to live my life in wholeness.
If you have been similarly involved in a lifelong spiritual quest, I invite you to ask yourself three questions: Have I truly found what I was looking for? Realistically, what are the odds that, given my current practice, I will awaken in this lifetime? Have I given up on my goal of ultimate realization?