Still_Waters

Edward Selim Michael - The Law of Attention

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I was recently introduced to Edward Selim Michael by a very spiritually-insightful Jewish woman who has hosted Quaker and Buddhist groups for as long as I have known her. I recently finished reading Michael's book, "The Law of Attention: Nada Yoga and the Way of Inner Vigilance". He clearly states that the aim of the book is "direct inner experience" and that is what attracted me to him. My own spiritual mentor of over 30 years once said, "Question everything, even what I say... and, if a teacher can't point you to the direct experiences, then go elsewhere". Edward Selim Michael seems to be such a being who points one to the direct inner experiences. I just ordered another one of Michael's books, "Obstacles to Enlightenment and Liberation", because he warns against getting into comfortable, familiar ruts and I plan to use his book as a checklist to see what tendencies I may have that could be holding me back. Michael seems to be a man who has been there and not just some one pontificating grand theories and quoting the masters but one who speaks from direct inner experiences.

 

I wasn't sure where to post this topic but decided to post it here because, despite his yoga/meditation inclinations, " It was to Buddhism that he felt closest, but as his teaching was based on his direct experience, he did not hesitate to quote Christian, Hindu, or Sufi mystics."

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Salim_Michael

 

To get the discussion going, I will include without comment a few quotes from his book, "The Law of Attention: Nada Yoga and the Way of Inner Vigilance". (Note that I have replaced the masculine word "he" in the quotes by "one".)

 

1. "The aim of this book is to help seekers arrive at recognizing, through direct inner experience, their higher nature and the after-death state, the state from which they originated and to which they will return on leaving this form of existence."

 

2. "Without perhaps realizing it, one will then start to sleep inwardly again, thinking that one is still working by being merely satisfied with the intellectual knowledge and memory of certain limited spiritual experiences one may have had in the past."

 

3. "If, during meditation, this luminous expanse of consciousness becomes adulterated and diluted in the slightest degree with one's habitual state, it will then inevitably cease to be Truth."

 

4. "It will be readily evident to one who has practiced meditation seriously and has had enlightenment that what was right and necessary at the beginning of one's quest will no longer be right or practical later".

Edited by Still_Waters
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So the Sound Current and Inner Light crop up all over the place. Salim Michael has been an inspiration to me and others, but isn't around any more: get yourself s living teacher if you must have a teacher.

 

In (shamatha) concentration practices there's the idea of a nimitta/sign. often this is an external object - a disk, or  candle flame perhaps, but the external sign is just a key to trigger the internal experience of light. The sound current tends to arise when concentration is strong.

 

Then in Vedanta there's a long tradition of light and sound, and nowadays there are a number of groups (cults, sometimes) that hold tight to the idea that you need to be initiated by the guru or an enlightened person into them. Divine Light Mission (Elan Vital), Radha Soami Satsang Beas, and others. I was involved in the 1970's/80's with a similar group where people were realising classical enlightenment quite frequently, and nowadays (without a guru) there are people giving the initiations freely around the world, and once again people are realising enlightenment all over the place, often with little previous meditation experience. The teachings aren't particularly sophisticated or technical, but as I say do seem to be effective if you're after those kind of states. Have a look at http://www.lightandsoundmeditation.com/.

 

Rich

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On 1/9/2019 at 5:57 AM, Still_Waters said:

"Question everything, even what I say... and, if a teacher can't point you to the direct experiences, then go elsewhere".

Sounds like a great book.  and I like what your spiritual mentor said.  

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6 hours ago, laughingblade said:

So the Sound Current and Inner Light crop up all over the place. Salim Michael has been an inspiration to me and others, but isn't around any more: get yourself s living teacher if you must have a teacher.

 

In (shamatha) concentration practices there's the idea of a nimitta/sign. often this is an external object - a disk, or  candle flame perhaps, but the external sign is just a key to trigger the internal experience of light. The sound current tends to arise when concentration is strong.

 

Then in Vedanta there's a long tradition of light and sound, and nowadays there are a number of groups (cults, sometimes) that hold tight to the idea that you need to be initiated by the guru or an enlightened person into them. Divine Light Mission (Elan Vital), Radha Soami Satsang Beas, and others. I was involved in the 1970's/80's with a similar group where people were realising classical enlightenment quite frequently, and nowadays (without a guru) there are people giving the initiations freely around the world, and once again people are realising enlightenment all over the place, often with little previous meditation experience. The teachings aren't particularly sophisticated or technical, but as I say do seem to be effective if you're after those kind of states. Have a look at http://www.lightandsoundmeditation.com/.

 

Rich

It's really good to hear that Selim Michael has been an inspiration to you and to others. I was similarly impressed by his writings, and am wondering whether your post suggests that you actually met him and practiced under him. If so, it would be interesting to hear some of your special personal stories while practicing under his guidance.

 

As for your comment to "get yourself a living teacher if you must have a teacher", I searched the world for a living teacher and, upon finding her, I practiced under her guidance for over 30 years. Even now, I wouldn't trade her for any of the others, including Selim Michael. Each aspirant is unique and that is most assuredly a factor in choosing a guru or being called by a guru.

 

While you are correct that an external guru is not absolutely necessary and that there are indeed "people realizing enlightenment all over the place", I have discovered that many of the so-called enlightened ones "all over the place" lack substance and are merely a composite of quotable quotes with little or no direct experiences. When one stills the mind, the colors/lights come naturally and the subtle vibrations manifest equally naturally as they draw one closer and closer to the Source. However, to call the natural manifestation of lights and sounds "enlightenment" is questionable at best. As you probably know, even Selim differentiates between enlightenment and liberation. In addition, there are various levels of enlightenment as the Reality reveals itself in the proper moment(s). Even Selim talks about the many "enlightened ones" who are actually quite deluded and stuck in a very comfortable, smug "spiritual rut". I am reading my second Selim book, "Obstacles to Enlightenment and Liberation", with the intention of using it as an additional checklist to identify any lingering "spiritual ruts" into which I have become "stuck".

 

In any case, I would like to hear more about your own personal light and sound meditations as well as the direct inner experiences leading to your realization.

Edited by Still_Waters

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5 hours ago, Zen Pig said:

Sounds like a great book.  and I like what your spiritual mentor said.  

My spiritual mentor and I initially had a very stormy relationship but, as time passed, I discovered that she was invariably correct in both her words and her actions.

 

Let me share one of my first "incidents" with my spiritual mentor. When I first met her, she made the "Question everything" statement that I mentioned earlier. Having been raised Roman Catholic with an "infallible Pope" whom I did not consider to be very "infallible", that statement piqued my interest. She then gave me a meditation book.

 

At that point in my life, I was NOT an experienced meditator. However, I read the whole book within a week and returned to her with questions. When I told her that I had read the whole book and had questions, there was a long, uncomfortable (for me) silence after which she looked directly at me and asked, "You read the whole book in one week?" I could feel myself getting tense at that point and slowly started to withdraw as I anticipated a "quiz". I hesitatingly responded, "sort of". She then followed up with another question, "...and you practiced?" I was getting more and more uncomfortable with those questions and , once again, responded hesitatingly, "sort of".

 

She then looked directly at me and said, "Practice. Only then can you ask questions. Now, you may leave." You can imagine how furious I was as I resolved never to come back to such an unwelcoming guru. From that point on, I used to visit the ashram ONLY when she was NOT there because I liked the people at the ashram. Finally, after practicing, there came a point when they could not satisfactorily answer my questions and referred me to her. I initially rejected that advice by saying that I didn't like her. Inwardly, however, I knew that there was no way I would subject my bruised ego to that humiliation again. However, as I thought more and more about that, I decided to take their advice since there was nothing to lose even if she responded similarly once again. With some trepidation, I approached her when she returned to the ashram from abroad and was completely blown out in a very positive way. Having practiced for some time, her responses were so enlightening and so on target that it marked the beginning of a very long and productive relationship but not without some turbulence due to my intellectual and egotistical nature at that time. (LOL) That's how it all started.

 

The key point is to PRACTICE. Without practice, there is really nothing to discuss except theory and my spiritual mentor was primarily inclined to point to direct experiences and avoided conducting long conversations about theories whenever possible. LOL PRACTICE is indeed the key.

 

Because of my spiritual mentor's interactive style, she had few disciples. She would always say, "I am not here to entertain you but to point you to direct experiences so that you can become lights unto yourselves". In a book written about "Living Women Saints of India", she was portrayed as the "No Nonsense Yogini". That remains an apt description of this truly remarkable woman.

Edited by Still_Waters

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On 1/14/2019 at 3:38 PM, Still_Waters said:

It's really good to hear that Selim Michael has been an inspiration to you and to others. I was similarly impressed by his writings, and am wondering whether your post suggests that you actually met him and practiced under him. If so, it would be interesting to hear some of your special personal stories while practicing under his guidance.

 

As for your comment to "get yourself a living teacher if you must have a teacher", I searched the world for a living teacher and, upon finding her, I practiced under her guidance for over 30 years. Even now, I wouldn't trade her for any of the others, including Selim Michael. Each aspirant is unique and that is most assuredly a factor in choosing a guru or being called by a guru.

 

While you are correct that an external guru is not absolutely necessary and that there are indeed "people realizing enlightenment all over the place", I have discovered that many of the so-called enlightened ones "all over the place" lack substance and are merely a composite of quotable quotes with little or no direct experiences. When one stills the mind, the colors/lights come naturally and the subtle vibrations manifest equally naturally as they draw one closer and closer to the Source. However, to call the natural manifestation of lights and sounds "enlightenment" is questionable at best. As you probably know, even Selim differentiates between enlightenment and liberation. In addition, there are various levels of enlightenment as the Reality reveals itself in the proper moment(s). Even Selim talks about the many "enlightened ones" who are actually quite deluded and stuck in a very comfortable, smug "spiritual rut". I am reading my second Selim book, "Obstacles to Enlightenment and Liberation", with the intention of using it as an additional checklist to identify any lingering "spiritual ruts" into which I have become "stuck".

 

In any case, I would like to hear more about your own personal light and sound meditations as well as the direct inner experiences leading to your realization.

Ok, I intended to say that if you feel you need a teacher get a live one. Kabir probably says it better than me :)

 

If you've been working with a live teacher for 30 years, closely, and you're not cooked then I suggest it's not working - you, her, or the both of you. How many of her other disciples are finished, according to whatever definition of enlightenment is in use? How do you rate your chances?

 

I don't equate seeing light/hearing sound with Enlightenment. Enlightenment is not an experience as far as I can tell. I think it's quite possible that enlightenment in terms of these concentration practices is not the same enlightenment as realised through e.g. dry vipassana: however I've never come across anybody who has progressed both Shamatha and vipassana to their ends.

 

I'm also of the view that shaktipat, or initiation, can be of benefit, at least at the outset of one's path. But I don't have a well-defined model of how that works - kundalini blah blah blah, but at some point needs to go beyond the individual body/mind. Atman => Brahman, as it were.

 

I found Salim least convincing when he talked about other people's delusions and ruts. I liked his simplicity (naivety?) with regard to his self-discovered path, but I think he brings an unfortunate outsider psychology to, let's face it, thousands of years of spiritual practice and realisation.

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17 hours ago, laughingblade said:

Ok, I intended to say that if you feel you need a teacher get a live one. Kabir probably says it better than me :)

 

If you've been working with a live teacher for 30 years, closely, and you're not cooked then I suggest it's not working - you, her, or the both of you. How many of her other disciples are finished, according to whatever definition of enlightenment is in use? How do you rate your chances?

 

I don't equate seeing light/hearing sound with Enlightenment. Enlightenment is not an experience as far as I can tell. I think it's quite possible that enlightenment in terms of these concentration practices is not the same enlightenment as realised through e.g. dry vipassana: however I've never come across anybody who has progressed both Shamatha and vipassana to their ends.

 

I'm also of the view that shaktipat, or initiation, can be of benefit, at least at the outset of one's path. But I don't have a well-defined model of how that works - kundalini blah blah blah, but at some point needs to go beyond the individual body/mind. Atman => Brahman, as it were.

 

I found Salim least convincing when he talked about other people's delusions and ruts. I liked his simplicity (naivety?) with regard to his self-discovered path, but I think he brings an unfortunate outsider psychology to, let's face it, thousands of years of spiritual practice and realisation.

Your assumptions are amusing, specifically: "If you've been working with a live teacher for 30 years, closely, and you're not cooked then I suggest it's not working - you, her, or the both of you." Shortly before my teacher left the earth plane, I asked her a question. She responded, "You're an experienced meditator. Meditate and all will be revealed." That is absolutely correct. Shortly thereafter, she left the physical plane.

 

Her focus was on facilitating disciples becoming lights unto themselves, and she did that quite effectively. Once one unfolds to a certain degree, however, that does not mean that one should leave the presence of one's beloved teacher forever. One still delights in her presence and delights in the equivalent of the "dharma battles". Being with a teacher for 30 years most assuredly does not imply that "it's not working".

 

Having traveled throughout the world, I have met some truly extraordinary beings who have progressed to their ends (to use your terminology). It is unfortunate that you have not met such beings but I am of the belief that everything happens in the proper moment.

 

Regarding kundalini, we are in agreement that "at some point one needs to go beyond the individual body/mind". Even Ramana Maharshi explicitly stated that the chakras and the whole kundalini process are only mental formations ultimately. I once practiced chakra meditations, but have not done that for many years. It served its purpose.

 

As for Selim, I have only been introduced to him recently but I personally like his "unfortunate outsider psychology to, let's face it, thousands of years of spiritual practice and realization" (to use your unfortunate words). In the book which I am reading now, he addresses the point that you raised. "There is no lack of books on Hinduism, meditation, Hatha Yoga, etc. containing all sorts of attractive but unverifiable speculations about the beyond, the astral world, the causal body, and so on. However, among those works, how many are there that emphasize the imperative necessity for the readers to know themselves?" The Buddha always maintained the "Noble Silence" when asked metaphysical questions that "thousands of years of spiritual practice and realization" have speculated on to delight their readers. Buddha took the right approach in my opinion and Selim seems to echo that sentiment.

 

In addition, today's society (especially in the west) has become too intellectual in contrast to the state of the simplicity prevalent in the years when many of those scriptures were written. Therefore, it seems important to recognize that many scriptures were tailored to a particular culture and time period but some adjustments may be necessary to really shake modern cultures out of a complacent stagnancy and intellectualism that might have arisen.

 

In any case, thank you for sharing your views. I will continue to read Selim and enjoy what he has to say. Obviously, you prefer something else but it is not clear what that is since I haven't seen anything positive or constructive in your post --- just criticisms and questionable assumptions.

 

 

Edited by Still_Waters

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So has all been revealed?

 

It doesn't matter too much how many people we meet who say they're enlightened unless they can clearly communicate  how others can get there - and point to those who have been successful. Too many so-called teachers are 'natural  mystics', or what I call 'truck-wreck enlightened' after accident or illness. Frankly I don't think they have anything to offer us normal types.

 

As for my critical approach I'll  cite Adi Shankara , Jnana Yoga and Adwaita Vedanta as authorities on the value of a 'neti neti ' analysis of my experience.

 

And yes, my thanks to you too for engaging.

 

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