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The Supreme Awakening: Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time—And How You Can Culivate Them Paperback – 2016
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“No matter what your religion is — no matter what nationality — no matter what walk of life — if you are a human being, get this book — read it — get inspired by it — and act upon it — right away!” — David Lynch, filmmaker, television director, artist, and authorThroughout history, great men and women have described exalted experiences of extraordinary wakefulness, freedom, and bliss — as different from our ordinary waking experience as waking is from dreaming. Laozi, Plato, Rūmī, St. Teresa of Avila, Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Black Elk, Einstein — people of all times and places have described experiences that rank among the most inspiring in all of literature. The Supreme Awakening: • brings together a rich and diverse collection of these experiences • explains these experiences in terms of a new, expanded framework of human development — the model of higher states of consciousness developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the renowned Vedic sage and scientist of consciousness • shows how anyone can systematically cultivate these experiences through the Transcendental Meditation technique — simply, naturally, and effortlessly • describes the wide-ranging benefits of cultivating enlightenment by means of the TM technique — inner peace and happiness, improved health, increased creativity and intelligence, improved productivity, and much more — with benefits for education, business, health care, the military, rehabilitation, and society as a whole • shows that the sublime experiences reported by great people across time are real, universal, understandable in terms of modern science — and now available to anyone. About the author: Craig Pearson is Executive Vice-President of Maharishi University of Management, in Fairfield, Iowa.
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That is enough to make it great, but it is also enriched by relating it to the 7 states of Consciousness as explained by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a simple and lucid framework.
Craig Pearson tells the reader that the supreme awakening, in its highest form, is the realization that the Self is all-pervasive, all-loving, all-blissful, all-knowing, and all-powerful. If the Self is all-pervasive, then it follows that it is equally everywhere. There cannot be one place (i.e., state of consciousness) that it fills more than any other. Speaking as the Self, Tolstoy writes, "I alone am, and all that exists is but me..." (224).
Irina Starr wrote that it is "one substance" (343) and The Hermetica states that "there is nothing which is not God" (292). If there is only one substance that exists, and absolutely nothing other than that, then we can know that suffering and sorrow are no less the Self than anything else.
Maharishi wrote that in this one Self, there isn't even "the possibility of any sorrow, great or small" (187). He goes on to say that here "no darkness can penetrate; nor sorrow can enter." Yet, it is incontrovertibly self-evident that sorrow, suffering, hardship, strife, and struggling exist. Pearson admits that "human suffering...is beyond calculation" (463). The phenomena of suffering exists, yet we are told that there isn't even the possibility of it occurring within the Self. We are also told that the Self is all and there is absolutely nothing else.
This naturally evokes the question: Then where is it that sorrow and darkness are happening, if not in the Self? And furthermore, where do they come from and why? If the Self is all and is boundless, we can know that suffering and sorrow are within the bounds of the Self, otherwise a phenomenon would exist that is outside of its bounds. Everything that occurs is the Self. So contrary to what Maharishi said, sorrow and darkness occur within the Self. If occurring within the Self, they comprise an aspect of the Self. As an aspect of the Self, they are an inextinguishable aspect of reality. Even if it is not being experienced in any particular moment, suffering is ever-present. The Self suffers. Suffering is the Self. Maharishi wrote, "everything is the expression of the Self— everything is the expression of my own Self" (356). Misery exists. Thus, misery is an expression of the Self. We are repeatedly told that the Self is the subject, object, and action in every event. Therefore, we are left with the fundamental realization that there exists a Self that is the eternal torturer of it's own Self.
• The Self's whole nature:
How does the phenomenon of masochistic Self that tortures it's Self fit in with the description of the Self as "all-loving" and "all-blissful"? It doesn't. The Self isn't, in fact, all-loving or all-blissful. It only appears that way in certain states of consciousness. In other states of consciousness the Self is all-fearful and all-painful. Since we know that the Self is indivisible and boundless, no particular experiential state is more representative of the Self's nature than any other. To assert the contrary, one would have to circumscribe the Self and bind it to a particular state of consciousness.
Every state of consciousness is the full undivided Self, from the "highest" to the "lowest". The waking state, described in passages in the book as "dark and dreary" (392), "harsh...cruel...[and] desperate" (346) and plain "unlivable" (337) is just much the Self as the most exalted state. Irina Starr realized that there is "no real difference between...pain and pleasure" (426). Irina also tells us that sadness can still be felt in even the highest state of consciousness (425). The Self is as much the negative experience as the positive. Franklin Merrell-Wolff realized that the Self "embrace[s] not merely the visible forms and worlds, but all modes and qualities of consciousness as well..." (410). The Self embraces all modes of consciousness because it is all modes of consciousness. The Self is just as fully present in states of extreme agony as it is in the most indescribable ecstasy. This is the Self's whole nature- not one mode of being or another, but all- alternating now and forever.
• No permanent state-of-Being
Eugene Ionesco felt that it was literally impossible "to fall back into the old world. But the experience fades and the reality fades with it" (257). His unshakeable assurance betrayed him as he tasted the impermanence of this state. Irina Starr was one of the few chronicled in this book that was able to realize during her experience that "this condition of seeing, knowing, and experiencing [is]...impermanent." She had a "knowing that this could not last" (344). Of course, many readers likely still desperately cling to the notion that eventually such a state will be a permanent experience. This hope is fruitless.
People also have the assurance that this "exalted state" is the core of reality, their endless future abode, and that everything is working for the good of all according to some divine plan. Just as Ionesco's assurance proved wrong, the assurance that people feel about other insights of the mystical experience are equally a fallacy. Assurance means nothing. The most intense unwavering assurance a person has ever had means absolutely nothing. Just as the experience ends (contrary to one's total certainty otherwise), no state of consciousness is true reality, there is no unending future in this state, and there is no plan or purpose of existence being worked out. Clearly it is shown that feeling of absolute certainty of one's insights during and resulting from mystical experience is not representative of reality.
There are no permanent states, which is a somewhat of a relief when we realize misery is an ineliminable aspect of the Self. Pearson disagrees, stating that once "cosmic consciousness" (and beyond) is reached, it is permanent and "forever established" (199). This amounts to a statement of faith, as there is no evidence for this. On the contrary, all evidence points to the opposite.
We read that the higher states can be solidified through increasing refinement of the nervous system. Pearson writes that "cosmic consciousness develops...by purifying one's physiology..." (210). Since brain is the core of the nervous system, it follows that certain injuries or physiological diseases affecting the brain will destroy anything gained through transcendental meditation. For instance, is unlikely that a transcendental meditator stricken with degenerative neurological conditions, Alzheimers, certain brain tumors, or even a traumatic brain injury would continue to experience these higher states. Furthermore, death, as it almost certainly obliterates all consciousness, will obviously result in the cessation of all experience.
In the profoundly unlikely event that consciousness somehow continues through death, the cyclical nature of Being will eventually subsume consciousness and it will be once again subject to the travails of waking consciousness. In support of this is numerous references and testimonies of having previously come from the highest state of consciousness. The Gospel of truth states that people are in a state of "forgetfulness" of "the place where they stood before" (370-371). Attar of Nishapur speaks of the need to "regain Reality" (379). When Rosamund Lehman experienced higher states of consciousness, the "sense of recognition, recollection, was predominant." She writes, "Yes...I had forgotten" (331).
Obviously this implies that we had occupied the highest states of consciousness previously and are now on a quest to regain where we stood before. Thus, it is abundantly clear that even the highest state of consciousness is not permanent. If it was, it wouldn't have been left or forgotten. Claiming that when it is regained it's permanence will be assured is ridiculous. If we lost it before, we will lose it again. If we came from absolute bliss-consciousness and ended up mired in the pain and confusion of waking consciousness, we will obviously lose bliss-consciousness once again after it has been achieved.
• Impermanence and cyclicality
If we previously were in a state of bliss-consciousness, one can know that even the highest state is gained and lost. It seems reasonable that consciousness cycles through various states, with no state remaining permanent. This not only explains the recollections that people have of these states, but also conforms to the pattern of cyclicality woven throughout all existence. Impermanence is an inviolable law of existence and applies to all states of Being. All states are temporary, even if they last a lifetime or longer. Along with impermanence, cyclicality is another immutable law of existence. Beings will move through various states of consciousness from the highest to the lowest; from the highest "heaven" to the most unimaginable tortures of "hells" and everything in between, in a cyclical fashion. If consciousness is not extinguished at death, this cycle of states will go on ad infinitum; an eternally aimless loop with no final destination.
It likely that state-adaptation is one of the drivers of the cyclical or variating nature of states-of-consciousness. Any state, even the most exalted, will eventually fade as one becomes accustomed to it. Gopi Krishna remarked that he began to gradually adapt to this state after just a few weeks, wherein "the transformation ceased to cause me wonder or excitement.." (333). Eckart Tolle writes, "For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state" (269). Just as the most sumptuous scent of a flower eventually becomes undetectable when one is constantly in its presence, so to with the qualities of any state of consciousness. Just being in them for extended periods of time causes them to diminish and eventually evaporate altogether. Tolle's "natural state" is just his current state. This state, however long it lasts, will eventually give way to a different state.
• Interview with the "enlightened"
The last chapter of the book features an interview with Greg P., one who is purportedly "enlightened", progressing through higher states of consciousness culminating in "unity consciousness". Throughout this process, Greg came to realize that "it is so obvious that I have always been, that there is no end to me" (503). Interestingly enough, it was the experience of problems in his twenties that brought him to TM. So, sometime in the midst of his endless existence, he came to experience problems. This should make it clear that suffering is never permanently extinguished. It will always periodically resurface in the course of anyone's endless existence, each time with indefinite intensity and duration. Even in "unity consciousness" the absolute highest state delineated by Maharishi, Greg still experiences "burdens and troubles and vicissitudes", however diminished. Thus, the negative is still palpable even in the most positive state. This is reminiscent of the Taoist diagram of the Supreme Ultimate, wherein the contrasting element is always present within its opposite.
Speaking of these higher states, Greg says, "one wonders how they could have ever experienced otherwise" (507) and "one wonders how it could have ever been hidden" (508). Obviously, he admits that one does experience otherwise and these states are hidden, yet he is unable to offer any reason for this. He is left with the impression that "this is what it should have always been like" (503). Should? Why is this? How should something have been different within the singular Self? How could have anything possibly been different?
Greg says that it feels "as if the floodgates had been opened and nothing and no one could close them again" (500). Eugene Ionesco felt the same unwavering assurance. He wrote "it was impossible for me to become the prey of the mud and shadows again..." (255). But his unshakable conviction proved wrong and the "miraculous evidence vanished" and with it "the everyday world took its usual place again..." (256). Similarly, the floodgates will be closed again for Greg. It just feels as if they won't, but Greg admits that feelings aren't always representative of reality. He says, "I feel [happiness] must be pouring from me and infecting everything and everyone around me. I don't know if this is happening, but it feels that way" (510). He admits that feelings don't always represent the reality of a scenario.
Greg's taste of this mode of being has lasted longer, that's all. But the exact duration of any state of consciousness is relative and inconsequential against a backdrop of eternity, especially for one in which "time has no reality" (510). It may last for a split second or a lifetime, but these are essentially identical in relation to eternity. In both cases, these modes of being will evaporate and be once again hidden and forgotten. Just as he has always existed- yet inexplicably found himself in a state of pain and problems wherein these higher states are hidden- he will again experience the lower states and all of the suffering and anguish they entail. These higher states may be a reality for a lifetime, maybe longer, but eventually they will be forgotten, just as they have before.
• Rising and falling
Those that vehemently claim that an all-loving, all-blissful, all-knowing mode of consciousness is our original abode are thoroughly unable to explain how and why we "fell" from such a mode of being, as we must have if such a claim is valid. If they cannot furnish an explanation as to how and why this "fall" or forgetting occurred, they certainly cannot claim that it will not happen again. If it has happened repeatedly, it can be known that this is not an exceptional anomaly but rather the cyclical order of existence. This rising and falling of consciousness through various modes of being, culminating in the highest and descending to the lowest of the low, comprise the dynamics of an endless cycle; the eternal ebb and flow much like the ceaseless inhalation and exhalation of universes according to Hindu cosmology.
• There is no "why"
People seem to have no problem with the existence of happiness, yet the existence of pain and sorrow elicits wondering from them. But there is no reason for happiness or sorrow, any more than there is any reason for the existence of the Self. It just is. Irina Starr said, "there is really nothing as important to say about anything as simply, it is" (425). Everything just simply is. Being, or the Self, just simply is. We are told that it is uncreated and has existed eternally. Thus, it has no reason for being. Likewise, all that the Self appears as and manifests also just simply is. Suffering isn't instructive or purposeful in any way. It just simply is.
Einstein said, "there is neither evolution nor destiny; only being" (149). There is nothing actually being created, no destination, no goal. Consciousness is not evolving and there is no destiny of a permanent higher state for anyone.
There is no reason for anything, including the nature of the Self which includes everything from joy to misery. Just as the Self is not actually all-blissful, it is also not all-free or all-powerful. For instance, It has no power over its own existence- it can't cease existing. It is doomed to existence. Just as it can't alter its ontological status, it also cannot alter its essential nature. Therefore, it is also doomed to periods of extreme suffering within an ultimately aimless existence- eternally returning to every single state.
There is no final and enduring end to evil, strife, and suffering. These are as eternal and boundless as all other emanations of the Self.