Michael Rossato-Bennett lives in NYC. He is a householder with a wife, two beautiful children and two dogs. He has accepted the challenge to become Enlightened in one year. Will he succeed?

A conversation: Is Hari a good Teacher? from Michael Rossato-Bennett on Vimeo.


Day 305 – thoughts about engagement in a doc


Last night I stayed up reading ‘The girl who kicked the hornets nest’ until 5 am!  AM I CRAZY TO STAY UP SO LATE?  My god!  being unable to put the book down, what was that experience all about?

Ever stay up all night reading?

Since I am doing a documentary here, I have to ask, have I ever watched a movie like I read that book last night? Unable to look away?  glued to it?  I am not sure if I have-  Have you?

There is something about being hooked, about needing to know what happens next.  It inspires me, I would love to have that kind of drive in our film about Enlightenment, and I am wondering- can we have it?

Is it even possible, or necessary?  In our story of Enlightenment is there a sword hanging over my/our heads?

To me, Enlightenment is the story of no swords, but perhaps that is not correct.

Most stories present awareness in very engaging terms.  ’How can I be aware of the Lions that are hunting me?’ or  ”How can I become a great Lion hunter?” But to me, ‘How can I become one with the great formless’ seems beyond the sword, bad storytelling.

How I escaped the Lion! is a good story!

‘How I escaped the Lion’ is good storytelling.

‘How I became one with the Lion,’ is just plain bad advice.  I mean, the Lion wants you to be one with him, he wants you in his belly!

Now, if you become one with all and have the power to make the Lion lay down with the Lamb that is pretty cool.  You are Superman and that is cool. But, you are not interesting, unless you are flawed, and unable to experience your infinite self, a flawed hero- ie. Spiderman, Batman, or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or the struggling Buddha before his enlightenment.

My point is, we do not really want stories about people who become strong, who ris off the blinders, tear down the maze, and shine as bright as the sun itself. Why is this? Why are we more interested in being in the maze than stepping outside of it?

How about that the Maze is part of what we are?  We are small sometimes…   Look at our biology, it wants our genetic material to take infinite tiny steps into infinite tiny caves of safety.  So, if we recognize that our biology needs us to be safe and dumb does that make sense?   Can we recognize that ignorance and isolation is actually good planning biologically?  Can we accept that angst, depression, stupidity, fear, inward thinking, neurosis, etc. are all really workable plans for species survival and therefor good for us?

I get these things in my email every day, and I love them-  notes from the Universe.  Here is what I got today from them-

Don’t you just love ‘em, Michael?

Everyone. Absolutely everyone.

They’re all scurrying around so. All planning and scheming and dreaming. Defending, proving, and justifying. Laughing, crying, and feeling. All behaving, more or less, as you expect them to…

Ah yea-a-ah, they do that.
The Universe

I love this, it is so kind, so forgiving of us, releasing us from judgement!

I like that, I am older now.  Nature has given up on me, released me from its grips, it does not need to whip me with its hormones, fill me with foolish action, send me from one end of the universe to the other.  Released separation and drifting into the infinite.

I am probably becoming less interesting.  Instead of chasing them, I am watching the Lions sleep, marveling at how similar they are to me, marveling at how they are made of sunlight as well.

Am I becoming boring?-  not telling the story of running from the Lions or even better- killing them.

What is the use of this Enlightenment story?   The argument could be made that our communal enlightenment is a survival issue.  The Inconvenient truths are the sword hanging over us.  They are called Inconvenient truths beacuse we dont want to accept the truth about how our behavior is hurting our home.

The parallel is amazing to me- in the past I did not want to accept the truth about how my behavior was hurting my home- me.

I can see now my own story more clearly- and it is interesting as it was definitely a survival story:  A bomb goes off in boy’s life.  His family explodes.  The boy goes into in survival mode, his loss and pain warp his perceptions.  Can he get the sunshine he needs (with his warped being)?  Can he figure out a way through the world that is not working? He was struggling, running arougnd inside a paper bag (What a great metaphor for all of us? We are all like him, trying to find our way into the sunshine through a maze, while wearing blinders, trying to touch each other while wearing ovenmitts.)  Some get ruined by the journey, like his brother, some get warped like his other brother…   The bag needs to seem real to the boy, so he makes it out of electric things, like hunger, and shame, and desire, and blame -it is electric, this creation, amazing, it has a life of it’s own, and in the end, it seems real, and it helps him get through the tunnel of his childhood!  but he doesn’t emerge in great shape.  Would you be in great shape if you had basically fallen down a flight of stairs in a bag?

The parallel between our own neurosis, our bags, and the challenges facing the larger human world seem fairly strong to me.   Our communal mind is crazy just like my mind is crazy. We are not willing to put inconvenient things on the table and we get the same results!

But there is still a sword hanging over all of us.    For 5000 years mice have been gnawing on the rope that holds it in place.  The sword is a recipe:  One part exploding technology, one part biology,  and one part blindness.  It is a recipe for disaster but disaster may be have to be OK as change does not usually come from those in charge.  It is usually ignited some unknown corner and contains a bit of chaos.  In other words, the new comes out of the formless and is usually not directed by the formed.

This is really a great case for meditation and experiential disintegration, and this is why I believe Kundalini has been so effective for me and others.  It holds some of the keys to a way of living with paradox.  It invites, creates a window into the formless.  It also creates a habit of being safe within the formless and this is amazing.  It makes us able to be courageous in the face of the unknown. This is key, if we are going to face the sword hanging over our world-

If we continue as we have, we will suffer and destroy needlessly.  Will we have the capacity to experience formlessness communally?  Will we allow the new world to unfold from our courageous curiosity or will we hold on to old forms and continue to follow the survival mode path of  violence, control, and relative judgement?

Here is the amazing thing- All of our problems are our own creation.  It is so obvious on a macro level but it is true in ourselves as well.  Hari asks, ‘What is easier the Neurotic path or the Spiritual path?’   For me, as a boy and a young man, I chose out of ignorance the neurotic path, I was afraid of the unformed, I did not have the strength or wisdom to draw warmth from sunlight itself, like most people, I set up false gods and idols, the love of others, acceptance and I chose neurotically to let them be my gods.   I thought the absence of my gods was the source of my pain, but that is the hallmark of the neurotic life-  our pain is never what we think it is.  This is the wisdom for me-  I am not who I think I am.   My pain is not what I think it is.

It is the same for the larger world as well- we are not who we think we are.  Our pain is not what we think it is…

My pain has always been wiser than me,  It has always been telling me something, but I have not listened and made it lead me into the wrong places.  It led me into danger, into isolation.  It led me into isolation, instead of aliveness.   It is exactly the same in the big world.  If we could only hear what our pain is trying to say to us?

I have been seeking freedom from my own mind, and been rewarded with the capacity to leave it.  Can we achieve this in the big world?

Anyway I sent this post to Hari and she said, ‘Never mind all that! :-) We just had the most devine class ever!  Shared radiant body!  Ahhhhhh! “

I laughed when I got her reply.  I realized she was right-  The way through it tastes of the infinite, not of thought!

I am going to get my practice going strong again… wish me luck!

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