Saints, Sinners and Self-Realization
Eli Jaxon-Bear interviewed by Bertrand Coquoz
KGS Magazine – Humburg – Germany, 2008
BC: Last night, as I knew that an interview with you was taking place, a subject appeared: Self Realization.
This concept is much used and seems central to the mankind quest for happiness since forever. What does that mean for you?
To realize your Self is the fruition of a human life. Each flowering of a human incarnation contains within it the potential to bear fruit. Until this present time this fruiting was a very rare event. Most human flowers bloomed, reproduced and died without ever reaching the fruiting stage.
We can see in nature certain species that do not evolve to the next stage. There are species of tadpoles that never grow into adult salamanders. Yet when given certain hormone injections these tadpoles do develop a salamander body. The Ostrich is an example of a baby chick that simply grew larger but never grew up. The human species, in general, is like this as well.
That is to say most of us die with an adolescent mentality, without ever experiencing full adulthood. Many of the tragedies of our world mirror this adolescent consciousness as well.
The key difference for us humans, as opposed to the metamorphosis of other species, is that in order to evolve to our next stage we must cultivate ourselves. We cannot wait or rely on nature to supply the hormones, like the caterpillar automatically growing into a butterfly.
This cultivation is the great conscious leap into the unknown. Each one of us, one by one, must be willing to cultivate ourselves by facing inwards into the unknown to find what is real. This cultivation is the conscious spark of individual mind focused on discovering its universal source.
In my experience there are two stages that must be passed through. First is what has been called enlightenment. This is pointing the light of consciousness into what had been darkness. The darkness immediately disappears in the face of the light. What is revealed is a mind-blowing, earth-shattering truth: nothing that we believed to be real is real. Everything we thought was solid is in truth in flux. When you realize that the entire universe is impermanent and devoid of intrinsic solidity this is an initiation into yourself. It is seeing that everything that was thought to be real is illusory. It is the thrilling disillusionment with the world and personal identity.
Ramana Maharshi, the great sage and saint of India, as a sixteen-year-old boy became terrified of death and lay down to discover who dies. This active investigation is the cultivation that leads to fruition. He discovered that he is the deathless spirit that inhabits the body, and does not die when the body dies. This is enlightenment.
But this was not the end. He then ran away from home to find his Father. He sat for years in deep silence as the soul that longed for God was absorbed back into its source. This deeper absorption is the fruit of existence. This fruit exudes holy nectar that nourishes and fulfills all longing. This union of devotee and beloved is the holy consummation that bears the fruit of love.
When you have realized yourself you are fulfilled. You know that you have accomplished your mission here on earth. You don’t need anything else and you don’t need anything to be different from the way it is in this moment. You can die knowing that you are at peace in union with the beloved. You have realized beyond doubt or reason that you are the beloved.
BC: This concept is inhabited by many stories. Most of those contain a meeting with someone considered as a saint or a realized person and these meetings did happen at a particular time and place and brought a particular result. The reports speak about a before and an after this personal meeting. What is the nature of this meeting? Is such a meeting a condition for realizing who we are?
Yes, a meeting with a force larger then the personal ego seems to be essential. This meeting pierces the egoic shell and pollinates the flower that leads to the fruit. This force of consciousness does not necessarily have to be in any particular form. In Sanskrit it is called the Satguru, or the bestower of freedom. For Ramana Maharshi this transmission was embodied in the holy mountain Arunachala.
If you do not meet with a force larger than the personal identity what usually happens is that the ego, or personal sense of “me”, claims all realizations as its own. “I did it,” one thinks if there is not a realization of the greater force and intelligence that is present for the pollination. This leads to delusions of grandeur.
My beloved Satguru, Papaji said, “Your own heart is speaking to you in Silence. If you cannot hear it, due to the other noises in your head, your own heart will appear to you in another form to look back at you and to speak to you with your own lisping tongue. There is only one Teacher and that Teacher is the one Heart that is alive in all.”
Papaji did nothing in particular to silence the minds of those that came to him. He would work with whatever people would present to him and he would point them back to their source. He brilliantly had people follow a thought back to find its source. But it was the transmission that emanated from his very being that silenced the mind and allowed his work to bear fruit.
BC: Then it seems expected from the persons claiming such a realization that their personal lives respond to a certain standard of morality or perfection. I observe that our collective mind contains many hopes for perfected human beings and also that there is a collective creation of a perfect storyboard for all the past saints. One can even make war to protect one’s interpretation of what the personal life of these human beings has been. What is the truth of it? Does Self Realization protect from making mistakes?
Self-Realization is the realization of what is already perfect. Our true Self is perfect and is the unchanging reality. In truth, Self does not come or go and cannot be made perfect or imperfect. Self stands alone as it is.
The human form is perfect in its imperfection. It does not need to change. The momentum of a human life keeps rolling; meeting the circumstances it is one’s fate to meet. Your life may not appear perfect to those around you. We all will make mistakes on the mundane human level. This is natural. What will change is how we meet our circumstances and our mistakes. Each mistake is an opportunity to see more deeply. Everything can be met with a spirit of openness and willingness to meet whatever is arising, both internally and externally. That does not mean that you behave in any particular way. It may not appear as others expect, and may not even be the best action in any moment, but it will be a sincere expression of yourself.
We have all been brainwashed by religion to expect realization to show up in a particular way. To fit the morality of the times the Church whitewashed Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene.
We also confuse sainthood with self-realization. Mother Theresa is considered a saint for her selfless service on behalf of the poor. Yet her interior life was one of pain and loss and separation. Nelson Mandela was judged a terrorist by his society and kept in prison for thirty years. He may not be self-realized, or canonized by the church, but he is clearly a true saint.
It is possible to be self-realized without being a saint and it is possible to be a saint and not be self-realized. A Self-realized saint, like Ramana Maharshi is the most rare of incarnations produced on earth. After his awakening however, Ramana stole his brother’s school tuition money in order to run away from home and find God. While his brother was undoubtedly upset as they were a very poor family, and this may not fit with our picture of enlightened morality, it was a spontaneous action in service of union with God. Luckily for us, we do not need to be saints to realize the truth of our own nature. No requirement or pre-condition can keep anyone from the truth of himself or herself as holy love.
All moral forms are relative to their moment in time and place. Surely we can see that cultural mores are made up and change with time. Part of our horror with the Taliban is that their ideas of morality seem so cruel and barbarian to us. Our morality may seem just as warped to other cultures which do not share our world-view.
What is deeper than morality is right action grounded in doing no harm. Of course what is called harm is often culturally conditioned as well. A compliment in one culture may be considered a grave insult in another. Yet, do no harm stands for me as the ultimate morality. I also support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
BC: Could you share some mistakes that you personally made and what it brought into your own Self Realization? What did you discover through them?
I have made many mistakes as a limited human being. I have flaws of body, emotion and mentality as we all do. As I was grievously ill and facing my death last year I realized that I had made a huge mistake in not having life insurance for my partner. I am leaving her with no real support in her old age. This is a deep failure as a husband and based on a wrong decision that I made years ago based on my belief in the immorality of insurance companies. While I did not die in that moment the mistake continues, as I can no longer qualify for life insurance. That is something I would like to do over again but now it is too late. In other words, recognizing the truth of the mistake does not automatically undo the consequences.
My worst mistake thus far in this flawed life was allowing myself to be in an intimate relationship with two women at the same time. They were the two loves of my life and they both loved me deeply and truly. But it was an impossible situation for all three of us. I caused suffering to the two people that I loved most deeply. That first mistake led to my lying about my affair. This was a great mistake. I had never lied to my partner over our thirty years together and it was a terrible mistake. It was shocking to see that I was capable of this. Bearing having caused suffering and falling into the trap of lying was the greatest pain that I have ever experienced in my life. It burned a holy fire in a place that had not yet burned. As I tried to satisfy my obligations to both my partner and my lover I continued to make many mistakes.
The whole experience broke a trance that I had, a moral belief that had allowed me to judge others and cast stones. In violating my own moral code I found greater tolerance and compassion on the other side. The whole experience was like an acid bath that burned away impurities and established a greater integrity in my life. This was one of the great benefits of going through the horror of the mistake. How I came to find myself in an impossible situation and what I learned from that will take a book to answer.
I can tell you that in the midst of mistakes and the experience of hell there is still satsang. The purity of silence is not marred by the relative life but is the ground of being that is able to bear everything.
What I can say is that love is trustworthy. It may not give us the outcome that we want, but if we stay true to love, love reveals herself in holy perfection. The gift of the restoration of integrity was a gift of love.
If at any point we turn away from love, we turn towards hell and we suffer. We may feel victimized and blame others but ultimately it is up to each one of us to make the choice for love regardless of circumstance or personal judgment.
I have made mistakes and I am open to truth and reconciliation with anyone. This is something each one of us is capable of, regardless of whether we say we are self-realized, regardless of whatever we may call ourselves. We each one of us have the full capacity to stay true to ourselves in the deepest sense, and that is staying true to love.