Do I want shaktipat?

I say, “I definitely do not want shaktipat from any Eastern or Western gurus.” Not because it an undeserved boost to spiritual growth as some think, but because I think receiving shaktipat is unhealthy.

I think it is probable that people who consider themselves to be enlightened have a type of mania to which they have adapted and therefore, they can hide their mental illness from others.

Guru maniacs are people who have some charisma, eloquence, and high motivation that is fueled by thinking that they are more special than everyone else. (One possible symptom of mania is a feeling that one has a special relationship with God or that one is God.)

I think it is possible to pass different kinds of energy from one person to another person.

  • If you are around someone who is crying or deeply depressed, your energetic make-up could be affected.
  • You may feel uncomfortable being in the same room with someone who is in an angry rage.
  • You could be affected by being close to people in a hospital psyche ward.

You may feel something when in the presence of a guru maniac. You may have a so-called spiritual experience from receiving shaktipat from a guru maniac, but feeling something is not necessarily a good sign. When you feel something around a guru maniac, you are probably ungrounded and more susceptible to a kundalini crisis.

Feeling something from receiving shaktipat and feeling something during group meditation may not be good. The spiritual theories of pure consciousness, enlightenment, and shaktipat could be wrong. Seeking enlightenment may be worse than a wild goose chase; it could lead to the mental illness of a kundalini crisis.

Look at the list of my blog post titles for more information on why going for enlightenment is unhealthy and for more evidence that so-called enlightened people are not healthy.

 

 

Clear transcendence

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Chapter 5 TM Teacher Training”:

I never had any heavy unstressing in meditation or outside meditation. My experiences in meditation continued to be pretty much the same on my Teacher Training Course (TTC) as they were at the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) course.

I would take deep dives in meditation, perhaps reaching or getting close to Pure Consciousness and then my mental activity and breathing activity would increase.

There was a great contrast between the stillness at the door of Pure Consciousness and the mental activity of becoming aware of breathing, but in actuality I was in a very deep meditative state for the entire time.

I and other TM meditators were unsure if we ever really reached Pure Awareness because of the extreme vagueness in deep meditation and because the mind is necessarily not trying to keep track of experiences while practicing TM.

Sometimes I would sense a great power in the silence in deep meditation, but as I became aware of that great silence, I would be kicked out. Being kicked out of that deep silence was seemingly due to becoming aware that I was just about to totally transcend and also probably due to the natural urge to increase breathing.

Wanting to be aware of clear transcendence is seemingly a Catch 22 situation because wanting to watch what is going on is mental activity and transcendence requires a complete letting go.

*1973*: In my first year of TM, I don’t recall being concerned with whether or not I was experiencing Pure Consciousness which is also called transcendence, Pure Awareness, or samadhi. My concern would increase at TTC and in subsequent years after dwelling on the significance of transcendence.

*2017*: Concern for transcendence is not only an impediment to transcendence, but would also lead to being displeased with meditation in general. An analogous example: if you were taught that lots of burping was a sign of excellent health, you would be disappointed if you didn’t burp.

Thus, although the TM technique could be a healthy thing to do, the intellectual knowledge of transcendence could be counter-productive. For this and for other reasons, I now think that discussion of transcendence is intellectual blather in which very smart people fool themselves.

I think TM would be even more relaxing and beneficial if meditators didn’t have any intellectual understanding or expectation of Pure Awareness.  Aside#13

There were 6 people in my small group. We memorized together and practiced lecturing together. We also developed a close relationship by discussing our experiences in meditation.

Some common worries of TTC participants were that they didn’t know for sure if they reached Pure Awareness in meditation, and if they did have very deep experiences, they didn’t know whether to describe their experience as being clear transcendence or cloudy transcendence. Our small group bonded over commiserating for each other’s lack of clear transcendence and for each other’s human frailties.

Doubling down for spirituality

“Doubling down” has meaning in gambling. In Blackjack, “doubling down” doubles the original bid in exchange for only one more card. In everyday usage, “doubling down” refers to becoming more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking that may be risky.

It is my opinion that doubling down for spirituality is potentially harmful to health and well-being. And even if it doesn’t lead to a kundalini crisis, doubling down results in impractical decisions in life.

When someone finds that their religion, meditation, and prayer aren’t resulting in the type of life that they want, there is a tendency to double down by becoming more pious in a last-chance effort. Many people double down because they assume that failure is their own fault and is unrelated to the limitations or falsity of the spiritual teaching. Consequently, spiritual people often continue to double down week after week, month after month, year after year.

In the 1980’s I was not satisfied with not being enlightened, so I doubled down in my meditation, spiritual study, diet, and other so-called health-promoting activities. I accepted the yogic advice that fanning the flames of spiritual desire would lead to enlightenment; in retrospect, I think it led to the mania of my kundalini crisis.

When faced with disappointment at one’s progress to enlightenment, here are 3 options:

  • Double down in enlightenment attempts (that many consider to be dodgy)
  • Continue on the spiritual path in a non-extreme way while living a balanced life
  • Stop seeking; start questioning basic premises of spiritual knowledge and experience

Suggestions for those in a kundalini crisis

This blog post is from the last chapter of my book.

I am not rendering medical advice of any kind, nor are these suggestions intended to replace medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury.  

Suggestions for those in a kundalini crisis

  1. Immediately stop all meditation, prayer, pranayama, and other spiritual practices. Consider never restarting these practices again in order to maximize your ability to successfully partake in the activities of daily life, but, in any case, wait at least a month before restarting them.
  2. Stop thinking about religious, spiritual, and philosophical principles. Instead involve yourself in practical everyday living. Do not go to religious services, satsangs, or group meditations.
  3. Recognize that you may be having grandiose thoughts or other delusions. Don’t dwell on grandiose thoughts; find something else to do that will hold your attention. Don’t freak out acquaintances by telling them your grandiose thoughts. Only tell trusted people about your grandiose thoughts so they can help you to do grounding activities and give you advice on your decision-making. Realize that grandiose thoughts are a primary symptom of mania. Grandiose thoughts are very intense visions and thoughts so it is extremely difficult to not give credence to them and to not act on them, but do not act on grandiose thoughts.
  4. Eat substantial food regularly, not small portions and not only raw foods. Eat foods that agree with you. This is not a time to try exotic foods, rather eat foods that you know you can tolerate. Be careful to avoid foods that you may be allergic to or that you may be intolerant of. Preparing food will give you something to do and will distract you from manic thoughts. Most people can probably tolerate a combination of raw and cooked foods. Cooked foods could include things such as fish, chicken, or beef; cooked vegetables and greens; cooked potatoes; and sweet potatoes. Dairy and grains are okay if you can tolerate them. Lettuce salads, fruit, and nuts are some raw foods. If you are an extreme vegan or vegetarian, consider eating fish, eggs, dairy, and chicken.
  5. Take part in some physical activity according to what is appropriate for your physical conditioning. Long walks, long bike rides, or other long physical activities will help distract you from manic ideas and will help to ground you.
  6. If you have a friend or family member that you can trust, confide in them. Use them as a screener for your actions. Ask them if your proposed actions are dangerous, unwise, or crazy. You can’t trust your own thinking because manic thoughts can be super-intense, delusional, and euphoric.
  7. Your trusted friends and family members can help you decide if you need to see a medical practitioner, or you can go to a trusted health practitioner to get advice on what to do. However, very few people have knowledge of kundalini crises, and even fewer people will have opinions similar to this book. Your friends, advisors, and health practitioners may be more helpful to you if they read this book.

From spiritual mindset to terrestrial mindset

After realizing that euphoria and other peak experiences do not indicate that one is growing to higher states of consciousness, it will take time to come to terms and to change one’s mindset.

It is not a small thing to question a spiritual teaching, the guru, or the nature of one’s previous experiences. How can you extract yourself from a way of living that you have been immersed in for a long time? How can you have any self-esteem left when a major part of your prior self-esteem came from being on a spiritual path?

It will take courage to change the status quo, persistence to trudge through uncomfortable territory, and optimism that your future can be better.

Here are some of my ideas on how to change your mindset:

  1. I suggest distracting yourself in the simple activities of daily living. This will get you away from the grim, heavy thought processes of coming to terms with why you are changing your approach to living.
  2. Don’t dwell on the shenanigans of the guru and the spiritual movement from which you came.
  3. Get practical everyday experience under your belt so you will know that you can live successfully having a new mindset. You can experience triumph every time you do something without thinking about spirituality whether it be just doing the dishes or just taking a walk. You can experience triumph when you realize you have gone for longer and longer periods of time without thinking about spirituality.
  4. Gravitate towards friends who are grounded and/or not in the spiritual movement. Give an honest excuse to former friends that you are taking a mental health break or that you are going to get more balance into your life.
  5. Instead of getting your self-esteem from being on a spiritual path, raise your self-esteem by realizing that you are going to persist in a very difficult transition to a practical, terrestrial life.
  6. If you need help, seek help from family, friends, and/or professionals.

Evolution of cognition came with setbacks

Here is a rather new evolutionary theory about cognition that can be found at this website.

RG: How could a feature that causes psychiatric disease be an evolutionary advantage?

Kingsley: Several studies suggest that the same genes that have led to rapid increase in cognitive abilities in humans may have also increased our susceptibility to psychiatric disease. This may seem paradoxical, but it clearly applies to other systems in the body. For example, humans are one of the few mammals that have evolved the ability to walk regularly on two legs. This new mode of locomotion frees up our hands for manipulating objects and using tools. However, our recent evolutionary transition to walking upright has also brought with it a high incidence of lower back and knee problems in humans. Similarly, rapid expansion of brain size and cognitive abilities in humans has been a key feature of our evolutionary success. But, the very genomic changes that underlie recent brain changes also may increase our susceptibility to some psychiatric diseases.

Our study provides a specific example of how this could happen by expanding a particular regulatory DNA sequence inside a key gene controlling neural activity. The same structural change that produces this genomic feature also generates a tandem array that is prone to further variation and may increase the risk of some common psychiatric diseases.

The theory of Kingsley and his co-authors is that the evolutionary advantage that came with improvements in cognition also came with the significant costs of susceptibility to psychiatric diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

My (controversial) extrapolation from Kingsley’s quote would be that evolution of human cognition may not only have come with a propensity for psychiatric diseases, but also with a propensity for an unjustified certainty in religious thinking. In other words, certainty and rigidity of religious thinking may be a side effect (or weakness) of the evolution of cognition. Similarly, kundalini and grandiose delusions may be a side effect (or weakness) of the evolution of cognition.

Other controversial statements about the association between religion and psychiatric disease can be found at Wikipedia and at a Scientific American blog site.

In a previous blog post, I suggested that evolution did not prepare humans for spending prolonged time in meditation and/or spiritual-type thinking. However, it might be more accurate to say that human’s maladaptation to spiritual pursuits is a result of the great evolutionary advances of cognition.

Catholic scandal; DMT and NDE

Catholic scandal

Will the current Catholic scandal in Pennsylvania cause many people to rethink the basic premises of Catholicism and other religions? Probably not, because there are too many hurdles to overcome, such as the (so-called) religious experience of common folk, the religiosity of those in power, and the social pressure that binds families and communities together.

Here are a few concepts to rethink:
● Clergy being accepted as infallible in understanding and behavior.
● What is (and isn’t) the Word of God?
● Are religious experiences what they seem to be?

Why did religious people commit sex crimes?  Well, sex scandals and sex crimes often abound where celibacy is the recommended behavior. Sexuality is a very powerful force.

And why did other religious people cover up the sex crimes? My response is that when people think their religion provides the path to the highest purpose of life, they are often willing to do unethical actions to safeguard their religion’s reputation.

DMT and NDE

Researchers at Imperial College London found that DMT causes similar experiences as Near Death Experiences (NDE).  DMT is the compound found in the ayahuasca plant that is used in some South American shamanic ceremonies. (A summary in a press release.  A scholarly article.)

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, who leads the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London and who supervised the research, said:

“These findings are important as they remind us that NDE occur because of significant changes in the way the brain is working, not because of something beyond the brain. DMT is a remarkable tool that can enable us to study and thus better understand the psychology and biology of dying.

I hope this kind of research causes people to question the explanations for other spiritual experiences. I have many blog posts that speculate that many so-called spiritual experiences are not what they seem and not what spiritual teachers say that they are. Perhaps my best blog post on this is Extraordinary mental shifts.

Controversial theories from Matt

Here is a collection of my theories and musings.

  1. A few instances of extraordinary mental shifts combined with spiritual explanations have led many people (including myself) to go after enlightenment in an over-zealous way. They are being fooled by the fantasy of enlightenment and their extraordinary mental experiences.  Extraordinary Mental Shifts   22 enlightenment experiences
  2. The physical jerks, swaying, vocalizations, and pain that are commonly call kriyas are caused by physiology other than kundalini. Subjective experiences of kundalini in the tailbone, spine, head, and chakra areas will have better explanations than an eruption of kundalini. The kriyas of aspiring yogis and the shaking/dancing of Christian charismatics have the same underlying physiology.  Kriyas, hypnic jerks, and tics
  3. The hopping that occurs when people practice the TM-Sidhi on levitation is no different than other kriyas. The hopping that occurs from full lotus is caused by physiological processes other than kundalini. Although hopping and TM are extraordinary mental experiences, TM and the TM-Sidhi program have a downside. Kriyas, hypnic jerks, and tics
  4. Kundalini experiences, awakenings, grandiose delusions, and deep meditational experiences are very powerful mental experiences that can affect decision-making and other aspects of life for many years. Everyone wants to be great
  5. Emotional, delicate people are more likely to have flashy spiritual experiences and awakenings than healthy people. Who has more spiritual, celestial-type experiences?  Look at the 22 enlightenment stories
  6. Intellectual prowess is not a safeguard to grandiose delusions. In fact, it seems that people who trust their above-average intellectual abilities are more prone to delusion than non-intellectual people. High intelligence, mania, and gurus
  7. A huge amount of intellectual discourse on enlightenment and spiritual topics has accumulated over the centuries due to the manic experiences of intellectuals. Guru maniacs
  8. Since many gurus exhibit signs of grandiose delusions, over-confidence, over-energy, and/or a lack of a moral compass, they deserve to be called Guru Maniacs. Guru maniacs
  9. A state of enlightenment does not exist. The theory of reincarnation probably arose from someone’s delusion.
  10. Subjective spiritual experiences can be misleading. Subjective experience of oneness and other spiritual experiences are not reliable when making comprehensive explanations of life. Powerful silence
  11. Subjective experiences of Pure Consciousness, inner light, Oneness, and other spiritual experiences will someday have physiological explanations that will invalidate yogic explanations. 22 enlightenment experiences
  12. There is a radiance effect from so-called enlightened people, from meditators, and group meditations, but the radiance effect is not a healthy influence on people who are ungrounded. The radiance effect when being close to “saints” or being with either Christian or Eastern spiritual groups is a mixture of good and bad effects.  A meditator had contagious energy. (Radiance is also discussed in My Enlightenment Delusion Chapter 20 entitled “Shaktipat, glossolalia, and group radiance”.)
  13. Trauma never leads to enlightenment. Kundalini awakened by trauma
  14. Depersonalization and other psychotic states resemble some of the experiences of so-called enlightenment. Even when people are able to adapt to their so-called enlightenment, there are greater detriments than benefits. People who try to reconcile “the dark night of the soul” and unpleasant, hell-like experiences of “enlightenment” with the supposed “great good” of reaching enlightenment are wrong. They have been misled.  The similarity between psychotic mania and kundalini crises is frightening   Kundalini crises
  15. In today’s internet age of openness and truth-telling, more and more people are disputing the hype of gurus and spiritual organizations. Actually, even some gurus are revealing that enlightenment is not what it is cracked up to be. Enlightenment experiences of Robert Forman
  16. The supposed ability of humans to reach enlightenment is not in accord with the 3.5 billion years of evolution of life on planet Earth. Enlightenment vs. Evolution
  17. Psychedelic drugs provide similar mind-blowing, life-changing experiences as those attained by yogic meditators. The assumption that drugs are risky whereas yogic meditations are without risk is wrong.  LSD, DMT, mushrooms, or meditation?   Mental and physical effects of hallucinogens
  18. Devotion to a guru is unhealthy and unwise in many ways. Devotion to a guru
  19. Spiritual seekers are harmed by following unrealistic dreams, by believing things that are not true, by ignoring practical life pursuits, and by risking major and minor health crises when intensely practicing spiritual practices.
  20. The lives of spiritual luminaries such as Ramana Maharshi, Gopi Krishna, and Suzanne Segal had serious flaws which call into question the knowledge that they shared. Thoughts on Ramana Maharshi   Thoughts on Gopi Krishna   The amazing story of Suzanne Segal
  21. Hyper-religious people either lack critical thinking skill, have been misled by their own spiritual experiences, and/or have a mental illness. Mania and hyper-religiosity   Comparing a kundalini crisis to the religious experience of epileptics
  22. Spiritual seekers are often ungrounded in that their ability to think clearly is negatively affected and their priorities in life are not practical.  Ungroundedness