Sunday, July 15, 2018

Realization Through Concentration

Rereading Meher Baba’s handwritten words; “So by the process of concentration the Goal is gained.” – Meher Baba, In God’s Hand, page 77, I was struck by his use of the term, the process of concentration, and noticed that he consistently avoided using that term in conjunction with any object of concentration.

Ordinarily, when we use the term concentration it is always linked to some task, or mantra, or idea, and this tends to place more emphasis on the object than on the process—on the concentration.

But without reference to an object, concentration can be considered in a different light—like, for example, the various states of the tomato!—there can be the tomato, tomato juice, tomato soup, tomato sauce, or tomato paste.

The more the mind is concentrated, the more it advances in the planes. And when concentration reaches its highest state, the mind is entirely stopped; i.e. all its limits have been broken, i.e. it has now become unlimited, and the Mind stopped, i.e. unlimited is realizing God every moment.” – Ibid. page 76

     Meher Baba’s statement from The Wayfarers further illumines this point;

            Mind stopped, is God.
Mind working, is man.
Mind slowed down, is mast (God-intoxicated)
Mind working fast, is mad.” The Wayfarers, page 19

The dream state of creation has but one purpose only, to gain the consciousness by which the soul realizes itself. Mind is essential to the process, but once consciousness is gained the mind itself become an obstacle.  As Rumi said; 
The mind is a great and a wondrous thing that can lead you to the door of the King,
But then like shoes on entering a holy place, must be removed and left at the door.”

The tomato is there in the beginning, it represents God in the deep sleep state. Through the process of evolution, during which the soul, through mind, associates with and experiences all the pre-human forms of creation, it achieves the state of tomato juice—the state of fully conscious man.

But in man, consciousness remains linked to the mind and the impressions of the mind. The seeds and the skin of the tomato need to be removed and the juice remains to be concentrated. Through the process of reincarnation, mind associates with and experiences numerous lifetimes and the vast panorama of human possibilities to eventually achieve the state of tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce is more pure and condensed than tomato juice but still runny—the mind is runny—not stable—and remains linked to consciousness. Further ‘processing’ is necessary to become tomato paste. The state of tomato paste is achieved through the process of involution whereby the mind associates with and experiences the higher planes of consciousness in the subtle and mental spheres. At the very end of involution—just prior to realization—the mind is all but stopped—condensed—but still remains linked to consciousness and Reality continues to identify and associates with it Illusion and not its Self.

How to end this association of the fully conscious self with the mind? Gurdjieff said, “It is like trying to jump over one’s own knees!


“You are like a stream that flows through all of time seeking union with the sea.

Nearing journey’s end, the stream flows into a vast desert and is trapped in the sands.

Weakening more and more, it struggles on, but finds its way to the sea blocked by a great mountain.

Hopeless and helpless, its life ebbing away into the sands, the stream cries out, ‘Oh help me Lord!’ and is answered by the voice of the wind.

‘I am the wind; you must give yourself to me. In my arms I will carry you over the mountain as cloud and as rain you will merge with the sea.’

‘But I will cease to be a stream. I will die!’

‘You will not die,’ whispered the wind. ‘Only your dream of yourself as stream will end. Besides, where is your choice? For stream you can no longer be. Give yourself up to me, or be lost forever in the sands.’

And so, totally helpless and without hope, exhausted beyond belief, the stream gave itself up into the arms of the wind and was carried as cloud beyond the mountain’s peaks.

The cloud drifted over the sea where seeing itself reflected in the water below, began to weep.

‘I await you. Come,’ welcomed the sea.

And the cloud released itself as tears of joy and fell as rain into the sea.

‘We are not we, but one,’ spoke the golden sea and the stream, being no more, heard the voice and recognized it as its own.” – From, The Voice of the Stream, a poem by Michael Kovitz

So by the process of concentration the Goal is gained.” – Meher Baba, In God’s Hand, page 77

But it should be noted that Meher Baba also stated that this way is very difficult.

But the concentration must reach a stage as to make the mind stop. This is a very difficult process, and it takes a very, very, long time.  Because the mind if it succeeds in concentration a little, to it is manifested the first plane, which so interests it, that it gets concentrated on that only.”—Ibid.

Here, creation is taken to be the entire gross universe with all its suns and planets and solar systems, etc. and life-forms from animal to man, and also the planes of consciousness that make up the subtle and mental worlds of involution.

Consciousness begins to evolves in the gross world by association with, and experience of, all of creation’s known and unknown pre-human forms—from  stone to vegetable, to animal, etc. and reaches its limit—its fullness—in the final gross form—the human form.

Consciousness in the human form continues its journeyless journey through the process of reincarnation to prepare itself for involution whereby, while still in the human form, it associates with and experiences the subtle and the mental planes of consciousness, 1st – 6th planes, to finally complete its journeyless journey in the plane-less, world-less, state Meher Baba calls the seventh plane, the plane of Eternal God Realization—Self Realization.  

Creation can be thought of as being like a colander with many holes of different sizes. The state of God before mind—before creation—before the colander—was likened to a tomato, a tomato without consciousness. Upon entering creation—the colander of many sized holes—the tomato begin to experience itself as tomato juice. Tomato juice is very runny and passes through the smallest holes of the colander and begins to experience creation in the gross world.

Over time, through the process of evolution, the tomato juice thickens and becomes more like tomato soup. Tomato soup, being less runny, can no longer pass through the smallest holes of the colander and so begins to pass through the next larger holes and to experience the state of reincarnation in the human form.

Becoming more and more concentrated, like tomato sauce, consciousness begins to experience the process of involution and experiences the subtle and then the mental worlds and the first six planes of consciousness. At the end of this final stage of its journey-less journey, there are no holes in the colander large enough for tomato, now in the state of tomato paste, to pass through, and so one final step yet remains to be taken in which consciousness passes beyond the colander—beyond the universe—beyond the mind, and this is where, this is when, the help of the Avatar and His Perfect Masters is essential. Why?

In a discourse recorded in the book, Beams From Meher Baba, Meher Baba speaks about the relationship between the already Realized souls and the yet to be Realized souls; “With regard to those souls who attain realization subsequently, two requirements stand, viz. inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe.” Beams From Meher Baba, page 29

This adequate adjustment includes Perfect Masters and the Avatar. Regarding those souls yet to be realized Baba states; “One of the important factors in his spiritual environment is the existence of a human God-Realized soul.” – Ibid. page 29

And what constitutes this adequate adjustment?  Meher Baba states; “In this case, the only adequate adjustment possible is the unreserved acceptance of the bountiful help which comes from the first Master. Refusal to accept this help is maladjustment to a tremendous factor in the universe; and this prevents God-Realization.” – Ibid. page 29

And so, with the help of the Avatar or a Perfect Master the mind and its creation the universe is transcended while retaining consciousness and the tomato realizes itself knowing that its identification with itself as tomato juice, tomato soup, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, was the necessary necessity in its journey-less journey to gain consciousness to realize itself as what it always was, is and will be.

He returns to the door from which he first came out, although in his journey he went from door to door.” – Maulana Shabistari
                                                                                                                © copyright Michael Kovitz 2018




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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Involution and Realization - that which lies beyond Reincarnation

As a child I always sensed that there was something more to life than what I was being shown—more to it, not more of it, if you know what I mean.

Children guessed but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew.” – e.e. cummings 

It wasn’t that I didn’t ask; relatives, teachers, religious authorities…  And it wasn’t that they weren’t more than happy to tell me the truth, but all of their answers and explanations somehow fell short and over time I retreated into my dreams and fantasies.

As I grew older, the sense that there was something beyond the limited life as I experienced it did not diminish—in fact it only got stronger. I could see that the emperor was not wearing any clothes, yet nobody else could see it—or maybe no one else wanted to admit it. But I continued to seek, believing that somewhere there were those, or at least someone, who did know—who did experience a greater reality I could only sense.

It’s been said that human consciousness is like an incredible house, with many beautiful rooms on different levels, but for the most part, consciousness continues to be content to exist in the dank and dark basement of that house. I never stopped believing that there was something beyond that basement and I never ceased to long to experience it…

Eventually, I came to learn that involution—the higher planes of consciousness—the subtle and the mental worlds—God—Self—lies beyond the basement of gross human consciousness.

As a young adult, I learned about a man named Gurdjieff and I began to study his teachings. I was struck by his description of seven ‘men’—seven states— that a human being can attain. The first of these states he called man number one. Man number one identifies himself with his physical body. His reality is the physical world, and his intelligence is the intelligence of his physical body, and the state of his physical body is his truth.

The second man—man number two—is feeling man; his intelligent and his truth derive from his feelings which manifest to him through his emotions.  Gurdjieff characterized his type as the religious monk, and said that he can exist in any race and any culture and does not have to be actually living a religious life in a monastery.

Man number three’s intelligence and identification derive from his thoughts. He is a thinking man, and although he is responsive to his body and is aware of his feelings he finds his truth in his thoughts.

Higher consciousness, what Meher Baba calls subtle and mental consciousness, is the stories of the house that lie beyond the basement—it is also what is generally called the spiritual path, or the higher planes of consciousness.

Gurdjieff said that men numbers one, two, and three are born into their states, but one has to work on oneself to become man number four. Man number four is a more balanced man. His truth is found in the harmonious balance of his body, feelings, and thoughts. He is not yet on the higher planes—the spiritual path—but is very close to it and has a permanent connection to it. Meher Baba said that such an individual has Hawa.

With the full manifestation of the state of man number four comes the possibility of advancing further—entering the process of involution of consciousness and becoming man number five, man number six, and ultimately, man number seven.

Gurdjieff said that what distinguishes men numbers five, six, and seven is their capacity to do. The ability to do is a very important consideration for Gurdjieff. Men numbers one, two, and three cannot do—with them everything just happens. Only man number seven can really do.

Meher Baba goes into more detail regarding the distinctions among men of higher consciousness. Speaking about the evolution and involution of consciousness, Meher Baba says that evolution is the process of acquiring consciousness through association and identification with all forms of creation from stone, to vegetable, to animal—up to the human form. The human form is the final evolutionary form.

Reincarnation takes place in the gross consciousness of the human form inhabiting the gross world of creation. Gross creation consists of all physical life forms and all the planets, suns, galaxies, etc. that gross conscious scientists study, while involution takes place on what is generally called the higher planes of consciousness of the subtle and mental worlds.
The subtle and mental worlds have no physical location in time and space; they are found within one’s individualized consciousness—when that consciousness has rid itself of the vast majority of its gross impressionssanskaras—the burden or baggage of its journey through the process of evolution.
Reincarnation is the process by which consciousness is unburdened from these gross impressions  Men numbers one through four are not on the planes of consciousness at all, though man number four can attain the state called hawa. Hawa is a permanent connect to the planes but not yet on them.

The consciousness of man number five progresses through the first three planes of the subtle world. The subtle world is experienced in a gross human body, but the consciousness of these men is subtle—they do not experience gross consciousness at all, though they appear to eat and move and do all manner of things consistent with gross consciousness.

The fundamental difference among those on the three planes of the subtle world is a difference in the experience and use of powers. The powers of the subtle world are almost unimaginable when compared to the powers—the doing—of men numbers one, two, three, and four. (For a  detailed description of the powers of the subtle world, please refer to Bhau Kalchuri’s book, The Nothing and the Everything, and Meher Baba’s book, God Speaks).

Man number six experiences neither the gross world not the subtle world; his truth, his reality, is the reality of the mental world—the world of the mind. Meher Baba tells us that the fifth and the sixth planes of consciousness constitute the mental world. The truth—the reality—of one on the fifth plane of consciousness is that he experiences himself not as a gross reality like men numbers one, two, and three, not as energy, like man number five, but as thought itself.

The last plane of illusion—of creation—before the experience of Reality, is the sixth plane of consciousness—the domain of man number six. This domain is the domain of feeling, as opposed to the domain of thought. On the sixth plane of consciousness one’s truth—reality—world—is feeling; his seeing is the seeing of feeling, and what he sees is God, everywhere and in everything—yet, his identity is still with the mind and therefore there is no union with God.

“You and I are not we, but One!” – Meher Baba

Man number seven has merged with God, in God, and has become God in human form. His journeyless journey through his dreams of duality has ended in the realization of eternal infinite bliss. For a while, he retains his human form with its subtle and mental bodies, but for him, the processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution, are over. 

Once again, Meher Baba—the spiritual authority of our time—reveals in God Speaks, many details regarding the states of the God-realized souls before and after the final dropping of their gross, subtle, and mental bodies. He tells us that at all times there are always 56 God realized souls in human form on earth. Earth is currently the physical planet on which involution and realization occur.

I first learned of Meher Baba in the 1960s and, as time went, I began to learn more and more about Meher Baba, but from the beginning I never doubted that He was He was who He said He was.

 In 1979 I found myself on a pilgrimage to His tomb shrine in India. There, more and more, I began to feel that my path had led me to that moment. Meher Baba said love was the only thing that mattered and the only thing that was real, but with respect to love, I knew undoubtedly that was less than a beggar sitting under His feet at that table of love.

With all the ignorance and arrogance accumulated through my lifetimes of inhabiting the illusion of creation, I boldly said to Meher Baba that though I knew all about the techniques and practices of spirituality, if He wanted me to have the experience of love it would be up to Him to help me.

 I returned to the U.S. and spoke to the leader of the Gurdjieff work in Chicago and after asking for her blessings, I left the work that I had practiced since 1969.

Since coming to Meher Baba in 1979 I have continued to hold on to His daman—the hem of His garment—though, in truth, I feel that it is His hand that gives my hand the strength to hold on.

And what about the love that I so boldly told Him would be up to Him to show me?

Well, as Rumi said; “When the subject of the essay turned to love, pen broke and paper tore…”

                                                                                                            ©copyright, Michael Kovitz, 2018

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Carriage, the Horse, and the Coachman

Gurdjieff often evoked the analogy of a carriage, a horse, and a coachman, in order to explain the functioning of human beings.

A man as a whole with all his separately concentrated and functioning localizations, that is to say, his formed and independently educated ‘personalities,’ is almost exactly comparable to that organization for conveying a passenger, which consists of a carriage, a horse, and a coachman.” All and Everything – Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson, page 1192

In the analogy, the carriage represents the physical body, the horse represents the organization of human feeling, and the driver represents the whole totality of the manifestations of human mentation—what is generally described as thinking.

Gurdjieff goes into quite a lot of detail regarding each—and is generally not very complimentary of their manifestation in contemporary man:

“… a broken-down carriage which has long ago seen its day, a crock of a horse, and on the box, a tatterdemalion half-sleepy, half-drunken coachman whose time for self-perfection passes while he waits on the corner, fantastically daydreaming, for any chance passenger.” – Ibid. page 1193

I’m sure that some would nod in agreement, while many, maybe many more, would consider Gurdjieff’s assessment harsh and unfair, but, I wonder, how many would consider the assessment in the light of their own personal self-observations? Yet, to me, this is exactly the point—not whether I agree or disagree with the analogy in my mind based on want I have heard or believe, but rather, what is my experience of that which I call myself?

Self-observation seems to be a function of the coachman being directed by a passenger who sits in the carriage , but does just any chance passenger have any real idea of what constitutes self-observation—or interest in it—and if by chance he does, how long will he even remain in the carriage?

“And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” – Mark 5:9

But before I even ask myself the question; what do I observe, perhaps I need to first ask myself the question; Am I even able to observe, and, if so, under what circumstances?

I remember being in a meeting with the yogi Swami Vishnu Devananda many years ago when he was asked a question about some yogic practice. His response was; “It is possible, but can you do it when your mind is tired of playing the yogi?” In other words, when the passenger—the I—in the carriage is interested in yoga then it directs the driver in that direction, but not all of the passengers that ride in that carriage are interested in, or even know anything about, yoga.

And so, I have noticed that my own attempts at self-observation appear to be limited to only certain situations and occasions (when the right passenger happens to be sitting in the carriage)  and even then, my observations often seem quite vague and fleeting (perhaps the result of having a tatterdemalion half-sleepy, half-drunken coachman sitting in the driver’s seat)?

Gurdjieff’s solution to the problem of multiple passengers with multiple desires directing the driver is what he calls the temporary steward. In the case of our analogy, a group of passengers appoint from among themselves a temporary steward to administer the affairs of the carriage, the coachman, and the horse, with respect to an over-all aim of making the rig suitable for the real owner to come and sit in the carriage and take over its affairs. The real owner is the real I – real Self – the real Master—Conscious God—the one who Gurdjieff calls man number seven.

“But you have filled His abode with millions of strangers and He cannot enter, for He is shy of strangers. Unless you empty His abode of these millions of strangers you have filled it with, you will never find God.
“These strangers are your age-old desires — your millions of wants. They are strangers to God because want is an expression of incompleteness and is fundamentally foreign to Him who is All-sufficient and wanting in nothing. Honesty in your dealings with others will clear the strangers out of your heart. Then you will find Him, see Him and realize Him.”The Everything and the Nothing, Meher Baba

I characterized the carriage, the horse, and the coachman, as an analogy—an analogy that explains the functioning of human beings. Now I would like to explore it as a tool for self-awareness.

Sometimes in a guitar lesson I might ask a student to observe, saying something like; “Let’s take one minute and just observe. I’ll let you know when the minute is over. Okay, let’s start now.”

When the minute is up I’ll ask the student what he observed. More often than not the student does not have much to say and I explain that the problem is because my question was too indefinite. “Observe what?” would have been the reply if I had given the student the time to respond before beginning the exercise.

I explain that I should have been more specific—observe sounds in and outside the studio, or observe the furniture and decor, or observe our thoughts, or our breathing. I might then repeat the exercise giving a more specific object of observation. When the minute is over I repeat the question; “What did you observe?” and the replies—the observations—are of a more detailed nature and quality.

Using the analogy of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman as a basis for self-observation might render a different level of observation than just generally trying to self-observe. This was my assumption, but to acquire real material I had to do—had to attempt—the self-observation.

After a few days, it became clear to me that I only remembered to try to observe at certain times—certain occasions—like during meditation, or while doing yoga, or walking, or playing certain pieces of music, but remembering to try to observe myself was less likely to happen during transitional moments between activities and seldom while talking to people—unless the subject of the conversation had to do spiritual things.

An example of one of my efforts attempting to observe myself through the lens of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman was while taking a long walk around my neighborhood. As I walked I observed that the coachman (my thoughts) seemed to direct the energy of the horse to move the carriage (my body) along the designated route. The driver had an awareness of the coach through the sensations that emanated from it as the result of the coach’s movements.  My body spoke in the language of sensations—sensations that my thoughts interpreted as, either appropriate or inappropriate reactions to the efforts of movement.  I noticed that my thoughts tended to worry or become concerned when the sensations of the body did not seem appropriate to the action of movement.

I wanted to notice the horse and its energy manifesting as feeling—feeling as distinct from the carriage’s language of sensation. With my house in sight I mounted the narrow timber that bridged a little stream in the greenway that divides my street. I observed that my thoughts—the coachman—needed to keep a closer rein on the horse and stay more attentive with regard to balance. I had decided that I would continue my exercise of self-observation until I passed through the door of my house.

But as I stepped off the timber I saw my neighbor standing in the street looking at her front yard. I said hello as I approached and then became engaged in a conversation about her landscaping. My effort at self-observation disappeared and I did not remember again until sometime later. Had a different passenger gotten in the carriage when I saw my neighbor? Had seeing my neighbor affected the coachman or the horse? Had I fallen asleep?

Meditation offered another occasion for my study. My technique was to sit without movement and for fifteen minutes inwardly repeat Meher Baba’s name without allowing my thoughts to wander into the past or the future, or to get involved with solving problems or answering questions. I wanted to keep my thoughts focused on Meher Baba’s name and maintain an awareness of my body to keep my mind rooted in the present. I sometimes imagined myself sitting at God’s door.

Meditation is not new to me and my body—the coach—remains quite still during the exercise. Also, inwardly repeating Meher Baba’s name for the designated time is not too difficult—provided I do not become too involved with other thoughts. But the thoughts—the coachman—cannot be controlled beyond a certain point and I have observed that the coachman has the ability to think other thoughts simultaneously while remembering to repeat Meher Baba’s name. In other words, internally I can repeat Meher Baba’s name but wander away from door while my body remains still.  I observe that there is a very different quality—state?—when I am able to keep my thoughts from wandering. I wonder, when they wander is that an example of the coachman falling asleep and dreaming?

  More self-observation and study of the analogy of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman has led me to these thoughts:

The carriage is attached to the horse, but the coachman and passengers are free to move off and on and in and out of the carriage respectively.

The coachman communicates with the horse by using reins. Sometimes they work better than others.

The coachman senses through his body the sensations emanating from the coach.

The carriage is the only component of this analogy that is not portrayed as a living being.

These thoughts raise questions to be explored through more self-observation:

Though the carriage is portrayed as a mechanical device rather than a living being, my own experience sees my carriage as a living thing—a living body—that seems to have an intelligence of its own which attends to many important functions like breathing, heart function, digestion, instinctive actions, etc., without any apparent help from the coachman or the passenger.

I remember that Gurdjieff called human beings three-brained beings. The three brains corresponded to centers that he named the moving center, the thinking center, and the feeling center. No doubt, these centers correspond respectively to the carriage, the coachman, and the horse. He also said that each of the centers had its own moving, thinking, and feeling sub-centers or parts. I assume, for example, that the instinctive and learned-instinctive actions of the coach—the human body—are controlled by the moving sub-center of the moving center.

Another question is regarding the relationship that exists between the coachman and the passenger. Both are portrayed as human beings, and I assume that they communicate by talking to each other, but how, since one is sitting in the carriage and the other is sitting on top of it?  

And finally, and perhaps most importantly for me, is the whole question surrounding the Self—the real owner and master of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman.

You and I are not we, but one!” – Meher Baba

Gurdjieff never claimed to be a Perfect Master—a God-realized soul with a duty towards creation.  He never said, “See me as the real owner of the rig.” To the contrary, he said that his students should not accept anything without first experiencing it for themselves.

Until you experience it, it is not true.” – Kabir

Gurdjieff suggested that the seeker find within himself a collection of I’s that share a common and consistent aim with regard to realizing TruthSelf—, and to delegate to these I’s the authority to consistently maintain the carriage, the horse, and the coachman, in pursuit of their common aim—the temporary steward.

Meher Baba never used the analogy of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman, nor did He ever use the term temporary steward. The Avatar and Perfect Masters appear to work in a different way than advanced, but still un-realized, individuals. For the Avatar and the Perfect Masters, the personal relationship between them and their followers is the singularly most important thing. The Avatar and Perfect Masters are the manifestation of God—Self—Truth—in human form. They play the role of personal God, as opposed to impersonal God. In other words, they are the manifestation of the very Goal itself that the seeker is seeking.

To know God, you must become God.”

Therefore, until you become God, you do not experience God, you do not know God, nor do you know or experience the Self.

I have noticed the difference between yoga ashrams and esoteric or spiritual, or religious schools and the places of pilgrimage connected to the Avatar and the Perfect Masters. With regard to the former, the emphasis in always on the efforts of the individual—what is called working on oneself. The ashram or school and the teacher create an opportunity to work on oneself.  But in the presence of a real Master, or at the places of pilgrimage of the Avatar, it is the work of the Master on the follower that is of real importance. The follower merely needs to be there, in that place, and in the presence of the Master. When I am at places like the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or His pilgrimage center in India, I try to keep myself entertained, open to what may or may not come to me, and basically stay out of the way of His work.

“A moment in the presence of a real Master is worth hundreds of lifetimes of penance, meditation, and yoga or spiritual practice.” – a paraphrase of comments by Meher Baba

Meher Baba was once asked about the yoga He taught. His reply was, “My yoga is you go!
Deconstruction is a technique that is popular in culinary circles these days. A dish that combines multiple ingredients, like a stew or a salad, is served with its ingredients separated—not combined…

The carriage, the horse, the coachman, and the passenger conjointly make-up the illusory self that I (my consciousness) identifies with. Mostly, I am not aware of the separate elements that make-up the stew of my sleep. 

“And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” Matthew 26:40

But in those few moments when I remember to try, the elements that comprise the stew of my sleep become, as it were, deconstructed and I, as some kind of consciousness, am able to remain aloof from and observe the ingredients of the carriage, the horse, the driver, and the passenger. I am not saying that in these moments I am awake, it’s more that in those moments I am more aware of my sleep—though this awareness happens within, not without, the dream of creation.

In Carlos Castaneda’s book, Journey to Ixtlan, the teacher gives the student the exercise of finding his hands in his dreams. Of course, the difficulty is remembering the task while in the dream state—some little part of the dreamer has to remember—has to remain awake. Exercises in self-observation is much the same thing, perhaps, it is even exactly the same thing. One must stay awake in the waking state which is, in fact, a dream state.

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” – Children’s nursery rhyme

On one of his visits to America, Meher Baba, on the request of one of his followers, attended a meditation group. I actually listened to an audio recording of the event. At one point, the leader of the group gave the command to meditate. The recording goes silent for a few minutes and then a loud clap by Meher Baba brings the exercise to a close. Meher Baba, his gestures read out by one of his close disciples, tells the group that they are all asleep. He explains that even the exercise of meditation is happening in their dreams—the dreams of their lives—their identification with the bodies and their thoughts.  It’s impossible to describe how powerful listening to that moment on the recording was for me…

So I try to not take the exercise of observing the carriage, the horse, and the driver, too seriously.

He who takes thing too seriously cannot be very serious; he who is really serious does not take things too seriously.” – Gurdjieff

But why make the effort in the first place? My answer is that I have observed that I am  always doing something— even trying to do nothing is doing something—and that certain actions seem to bring me deeper or more profound happiness than others; and the two domains of action that consistently bring me the most joy are musical thinking and thoughts regarding God and His path. With regard to musical thinking, I feel that my efforts can lead to certain accomplishments within the musical sphere, but with regard to thinking about God and the spiritual panorama my feeling is that the domain is so vast and powerful that my efforts are not so much about the results as the pure joy of making the effort itself.

In The Second Attention, Carlos Castaneda wrote:

“I narrated to her the way Don Juan made me understand what was meant by impeccability. He and I were hiking one day through a very steep ravine when a huge boulder got loose from its matrix on the rock wall and came down with a formidable force and landed on the floor of the canyon, twenty or thirty yards from where we were standing.
The size of the boulder made its fall a very impressive event. Don Juan seized the opportunity to create a dramatic lesson. He said that the force that rules our destinies is outside of ourselves and has nothing to do with our acts or volition. Sometimes that force would make us stop walking on our way and bend over to tie our shoelaces, as I had just done.
And by making us stop, that force makes us gain a precious moment. If we had kept on walking, that enormous boulder would have most certainly crushed us to death. Some other day, however, in another ravine the same outside deciding force would make us stop again to bend over and tie our shoelaces while another boulder would get loose precisely above where we are standing. By making us stop, that force would have made us lose a precious moment. That time if we had kept on walking, we would have saved ourselves. Don Juan said that in view of my total lack of control over the forces which decide my destiny, my only possible freedom in that ravine consisted in my tying my shoelaces impeccably.”

So I make efforts; they’re a way of passing my time while on the train that I am not driving. The efforts, indeed any of my actions, do not affect the train or its destination. What the efforts do seem to affect is the degree of happiness that I experience along the way, and is not the bottom line for all of creation the happiness of the search for Bliss?

 I observe that the carriage is the most easy to control, even though what I am able to control seems to be just an iota of the sum total of all the actions that the carriage performs. For example, though I can make it move or stop, turn or go straight—make a cup of coffee or tea, etc., I have no direct control over the birth and death of the cells that make up the carriage or its functions like digestion, breathing, or the transitions from my waking state to my dream state to the state of deep sleep, etc. At best, I can sometimes indirectly affect these functions, but they are not dependent on my awareness or intent—and thank God for that!  

With regard to the mind, well my thoughts seem to have a mind of their own. They go here and there and everywhere. Efforts to stop or re-direct thoughts are consistently ineffective and there is a glimpse, occasionally and not very clearly, that the domain of the mind is infinitely more vast than the thoughts that I am able to occasionally observe or direct.

And the horse, the domain of energy and feeling, the ability to even approach it directly, let alone control or direct its activity, is predictably impossible.

But in spite of it all, somehow, we will get there—we will come to know ourselves as the the Infinite Self; the train will get to its destination, not because of our efforts,  but in spite of them.
As Rumi reminds us; “Come, come, come, whoever you are, wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving—ours is not a caravan of despair. Though you may have broken your vow a thousand times, come, come yet again, come!Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

Ayushya, I wanted to tell you about my dream.”

Of course Mira, please tell me.”

“I have been reading your series of posts on the carriage, the horse, and the driver. I was particularly affected by Meher Baba’s comments to the meditators and your use of the other analogy of the train that takes us to our destination without our help.”


“And so the other night I had a dream in which I was driving the carriage—going here and there—and then I realized that the carriage, the horse, and the driver were actually on the train itself. No matter where I drove it, no matter what I did, it was not going anywhere other than to different places on the train.”

“The carriage was on the train?”


“Did you tell your grandfather this dream?”

“I did, and in response he recited this quote;

‘He returns to the door he first came out, although in his journey he went from door to door.’”



                                                              (c) copyright Michael Kovitz, 2018


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