One Soul Media is a local spiritual cinema club focused on non-dual teachers. They used to have a book club subscription model like Spiritual Cinema Circle but focused on teachers, distributing a couple of DVD’s a month with luminaries like Gangaji and Peter Russell. One of them included the remarkable “Journey After Awakening” discussion between Adyashanti and Loch Kelly. In it, they review their experience of hundreds they’ve assisted on the journey between first and second realizations.
Several times over the years, friends have sent me links to material by Genpo Roshi. Like Adyashanti, Genpo comes from a Zen tradition. But unlike Adya, Genpo uses terminology I’ve related to less, like Big Mind. While I know what he means, I’ve found other terms describe the experience better for myself.
Recently, One Soul Media shifted to an on-line library model. Rather than being mailed a package each month, you get an email with the latest additions to the library, available for viewing on-line. They offered me a free introductory viewing. In the library I found a number of films, including a piece of poetic beauty, Gangaji, James Swartz on Vedanta, and more. In particular was a 2 part (3 hrs.) workshop by Genpo called The Path of the Human Being. (Oct. 2005) He reviews what he describes as the 5 stages of the path and leads his workshop through the experience of the entire process.
He can do this, giving his students a taste of liberation and even of Unity, as the larger cycle contains smaller cycles within it. The experience of what will later be the being. By taking his students on the short way, they know what to expect on the long way and are less inclined to get stuck, as many do, with first awakening.
He is of course, like all teachers, speaking from his own experience of his own path.
Genpo’s 5 stages:
1) The shift or opening, an experience. Sounds like what some call soul or jiva awakening.
2) The path of submission, surrender of the ego, a process.
3) The Great Liberation, completely impersonal, an experience. What some call first awakening or Cosmic Consciousness.
4) Falling from Grace, advanced and completely personal, a process. This is where God Realization typically occurs and it’s notable he began experiencing deceased Tibetan teachers as guides then. I’ll come back to this shortly as his take is quite different.
5) Integration or Unity, experience and process both.
The experiential process he guides you with on the DVD is to speak to various “voices” or aspects of our being, stepping through each in a certain sequence to lead into the next.
Several things were quite interesting that I’d not heard quite like this before. For example, after Big Heart, he addresses feminine compassion, then male compassion. They were indeed quite distinct. He then asks participants to embody integrated compassion, both.
They go on to work up into the Master, then he takes one through the first process of submission, the loss of ego. In complete submission, you find the loss of all identities, beliefs, boundaries, and fear.
He then explores Great Doubt, Great Death, and Great Liberation, all aspects of liberation. Typically, one describes this stage as one of peace, freedom and happiness. But they also emphasized knowingness and confidence. Buddha’s liberation.
He then takes a step I’m familiar with but I’ve not heard described before. Stage 4 – The one who has fallen from grace. This is a very different description of the process but one that mirrors some things I’ve seen. The sense of truth and certainty is lost again and initial liberation is seen to be a trap, an arrogant fantasy. All of the transcendent knowledge is found to be another illusion. It can feel like we’re back where we started.
He observes that many teachers get stuck at stage 3. And their students love their sublime knowledge. They get stuck in truth with no hint there is another fall. But at some point, we have to kill the Buddha. The karma we thought we’d stopped making catches up with us and we have no choice but to fall. Hence we see gurus fall or experience great difficulties.
Stage 4 is absolutely personal. Everyone’s pain is my pain. Back in the identities. But without judgment. This is the true boddhisattva. Eventually you make a conscious decision to embrace the suffering. This sounds much like Adya’s term, the BBQ. I’ve described containing all suffering within love. (see comments) Then we can bring the 2 together, absolute and relative, impersonal and personal. We are empowered to be a complete human being. Unity.
The cycle continues: raise the Boddhi mind, practice, liberation, nirvana, cast it away.
It’s fascinating to see an overview of a similar but distinct awakening process in such close detail. Some differences to note – some people find the deeper loss of identity and unity follows the end of a second divine submission. Not so much a fall from grace but a fall into grace. Some don’t loose the blessings of liberation so harshly, simply the apparent knowledge and truth. It would depend on the balance of heart and mind on a particular path. Those on a strong path of discrimination may struggle more through this step. But I have certainly seen curious karma cascade through liberated lives, clearly designed to end things. This is not difficult as there is little attachment, but can certainly be tiresome. (laughs)
In the teachings I broadly follow, true compassion opens with the divine heart after liberation. But everyone’s path is unique and non-linear. The more familiar we are with the spectrum, the more clearly we see the way and the less likely we are to get trapped on side roads.
As several teachers have emphasized, the goal is not liberation. Only in Unity is the inner and outer fully integrated and the deeper truth of what is made clear. Everything before that is a half truth, an illusion.
I see that Genpo has updated The Path of the Human Being talk with a 5 hour version from October of 2007.