I must make a report on what I think is my 16th Enlightenment Intensive (EI). The highpoint of this Intensive was that I “embodied” myself. What does that mean?
I discovered that I have been living in my head the better part of my life, split off from my body. I have had this realization on other occasions, but this time it was followed by actually sending the “me” that I disowned many years ago down through my whole body and “re-inhabiting” that body.
I emerged feeling integrated, grounded … normal. In fact, I felt normal for the first time since I was, perhaps, ten years old.
Ever since that age, I have been disconnected from any activity, ungrounded, unstable, and fearful that my secret would be discovered. Of course the way I behaved was plainly visible to everyone else; only I felt it to be a secret.
Whenever anyone seemed to be getting close to talking about my secret or calling me on it, I would get angry. I didn’t want anyone questioning my internal sense of weakness.
I built a character around accomplishment, showing people my record and resume as proof that I was OK. But I was never OK; I was never “normal.”
It was on my 15th EI that a monitor helped me to see that I had no sense of “me” at all. In response to the direction, “Tell me who you are?” she asked why I did not try on the answer “I am me.” When I did, I could not locate my “me.” When I saw that this was the case, I cried for around twenty minutes.
I saw that, in my family, there was only one person allowed to have a “me” and that was my Dad. The rest of us, if we showed any vulnerability, relatedness, or independence, were slapped down. I had adapted in various ways – by being a good boy, by being right, by being clever, etc. But I abandoned my “me” way back in those days.
On the 15th Intensive, I recovered a sense of “me,” a sense of myself. On the 16th, I began to love me and I embodied myself after so many years. Now, when things went wrong, I was able to observe them without reacting. I could see myself wanting to be the centre of attention. I could see myself playing the role of the “good lieutenant” with my older brother, who was “the general.” I could see myself wanting what I wanted and wanting it now, like a “spoiled brat.” None of this fazed me any more.
I am of the opinion that all of us are given at least one major karmic issue to deal with in any one lifetime. We may die without solving the puzzle at the centre of it. If we solve it, we then begin to live a “normal” life. I regard the years lived after solving the central karmic puzzle in one’s life as “bonus” years. We are then well-positioned to go for enlightenment.
If one has a direct experience before resolving the major karmic issue or issues in one’s life, the experience can be quickly overwhelmed by the “latent tendencies” (which Eastern religions call “vasanas”) arising out of the lack of resolution. Shortly after our direct experience, the mind kicks in and begins shaming and blaming or whatever the impact of the unresolved major issue is. I have watched this process happen with me and with others.
For me, therefore, the work of an EI is twofold: it is to bring one to an experience of the truth but it is also to cleanse one of one’s latent tendencies so that direct experiences are not constantly overwhelmed. I go for both reasons, as much for the cleansing as for the transcendent breakthrough.
The Buddha summarized his teaching as: Do only wholesome actions; refrain from unwholesome actions; and purify the mind. The re-experiencing and completion of major unresolved issues is one way to purify the mind.