Jude_

Thoughts on the Path and Recent Videos - An Open Letter to Leo

49 posts in this topic

(I’m writing this as an open letter to Leo but also intending to generate general discussion around these topics)

 

Hey Leo!  Really cool to have come across your work.  I’m pretty new to it, but we have a lot in common.  I’ve been interested in the same topics, so much so that I started studying Tibetan Buddhism formally at 21 years old (I’m 36 now) and later studied psychotherapy and meditation under an amazing teacher.  This guy was an advanced Zen practitioner (under Philip Kapleau) and had an awakening after basically a 10 year isolation retreat.  He then went on to study Gestalt therapy and the work of Carl Jung.  He also got his start by doing high dose LSD trips in the 70s.

 

I studied with him in my early 20s and then went on to study Gestalt therapy and eventually ended up finding Shinzen Young who I realize has also been an influence for you.  I’m now a practicing integrative counsellor and I pull from existential psychology, depth therapy, somatic psychology, and mindfulness as is more or less taught by Shinzen.

 

I’ve also spent a good deal of time in the ayahuasca scene, doing over 90 ceremonies and spending over 6 months on retreat (added up).

 

I’m explaining this for a few reasons.  One is to show how much I appreciate what you’re doing, I see you pulling this all together in your videos, and it’s refreshing.  Too many people get dogmatic about their approach and can’t see beyond their limited paradigm.  I think I’m quite lucky to have found the work of Krishnamurti as a teenager.  He’s still my favourite in that he sees the inherently limiting nature of sticking to any system or teacher.

 

In a recent video you were saying that now you must go it alone, and I really feel that if we are truly on the path to awakening then at some point we must do that.  We are after total freedom after all.

 

I do want to make a little side note, and I’m curious about your current reflections on this.  In a recent video you said you may have experienced a level of awakening beyond what Shinzen has.  Now I’m curious if you care to reflect.  In retrospect, do you think it’s possible that you experienced a level of awakening beyond what you previously perceived Shinzen as communicating, and not necessarily what he has experienced?  I just don’t see anything in your description that differs from his descriptions, so I’m imagining you are both limited by language and it’s possible that your experience is more similar to his experience than you originally thought.

 

I point you specifically to this video of Shizen discussing his experience of awakening, titled God’s arrow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPnLDtHLymo

 

(also as a side note what you experienced also seems in line with what many advanced Tibetan Buddhist practitioners describe)

 

Also are you famailar with Lyn Hunstad?  He gave a great talk at a psychedelic conference years ago that seems to have disappeared from the internet.  He's been practicing Kashmiri Shaivism (a tantric tradition) and has also had many 5-meo experiences, and said that the 5-meo takes him to the exact same place, and is the only psychedelic to do so.  His work is interesting and more can be found on his website for anyone interested.

 

***

 

OK moving on, I want to discuss states and stages.  Shinzen had his initial awakening decades ago.  He’s continued to practice and deepen his experience.  He has stated that his least concentrated state now is much deeper than his deepest state of meditation 20 years ago.  The man continues to integrate his experience.

 

One of his teachers, Sasaki Roshi, once said that he had 7 major awakenings in his life, and countless minor ones.  What they are pointing to is often how people assume they have arrived at ultimate reality, that there is no further to go, so they don’t continue to practice and deepen their experience.  Shinzen has said he doesn’t see any reason to believe that there is an end to it, that there is no final stage, that it likely keeps going, deeper and deeper.

 

Given this statement, then it’s not out of the question that you may have experienced a deeper state than Shinzen has, as he has never smoked 5-meo (would be really cool to see what would happen if he did!).  But getting to a deeper state is different than getting to a deeper stage.

 

(For the uninitiated, Ken Wilber has much talked about this states vs stages idea.  There are states of consciousness, and there are stages of development.  A state is a temporary experience, a stage is a base level of consciousness.)

 

Of course states can help one get to stages, they point the way, they clear the path.  But there’s also a danger.  If one is not at a developed and sturdy stage, there is a risk that the states achieved through psychedelic experience (or even sometimes meditation) can be very destabilizing and potentially harmful.

 

My old therapist used to specialize in spiritual emergence experiences, or often spiritual emergencies, where people would have jarring experiences beyond their ability to integrate.  It happened to her through meditation, where she basically had a 4 day dmt trip (not consuming psychedelics) that was painfully overwhelming.

 

The other risk is essentially the messiah complex, which I’ve seen a lot in the ayahuasca scene. Someone has a God experience and their ego is not mature enough to integrate it, the ego runs away with it, and they think they are the most special, they are the only ones who’ve had such profound realizations, or they are the chosen ones.

 

I’ve seen this many times, and many of my close friends have been through it.  I think their experiences are legitimate, but they are lacking a certain maturity and experience necessary to integrate it.

 

In Wilber’s model this would be the “Growing Up” and possibly the “Cleaning up” categories.  If you go too far into the waking up the others can fall behind, and that could be dangerous.

 

My old therapist said the way you can tell if someone is in a genuine spiritual experience vs psychosis based on if they are present.  If you can make contact with them, and feel them present, look in their eyes and feel them really there, then it’s genuine.  Often they are not fully present, they are getting carried away in the experience, their ego latches onto the awesomeness and we lose them.

 

Now Leo, in your recent video discussing your 30 day retreat experiment, you were mostly present.  But there were some moments at the start where I felt I was losing you.  This is not a criticism, this is me reaching out in care, and wishing you to be careful.  I think the fact you were able to do what you did and remain mostly connected and present is a testament to all the previous work you’ve done.  That being said, it feels as if you’re on a dangerous precipice.

 

There are a lot of people who look up to you and admire you.  You’re needed.  You’re an important figure.  I’m urging you to not get carried away on the “waking up”, and realize you still need to continue to work on the other aspects of your being.  Take your time.  A friend of a friend tried the same thing as you, 5-meo every day, and ended up in severe psychosis.  This stuff can sneak up on you.

 

If we can be certain of one thing, it’s that being put in the position of spiritual teacher can have some messed up repercussions.  Krishnamurti warned of this extensively.  Look at Adi Da, Osho, Sasaki Roshi, Sogyal Rinpoche, Andrew Cohen… These people lost touch with their humanity and the humanity of others.  These people should serve as a warning about unchecked spiritual teaching, about the feeling of transcending accountability, possibly transcending humanity.

 

We all need to be accountable to others, and this is especially true as we progress down this path.  I see you discussing the going it alone approach, and while I think this is the way to go for obvious reasons, I think you should still interact with people you trust who are willing to compassionately challenge you and your decisions.  You need this discourse... we all do.  

 

To be clear, I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m just expressing concern at how dangerous the path you’ve chosen is, and feel you need to take appropriate steps to account for these dangers.  Find people you trust, who care about you, who will challenge you, who will question if what you’re doing is really in the best interest of yourself.  Isolating yourself totally during these times is dangerous, you can lose your footing in this world, and I've seen it happen to many people who've spent long periods of time in the jungle doing ayahuasca.  It's important to go in and out, come back to this world and integrate.  Titrate between the two, and notice when you are getting off balance.

 

The reason I’m being so adamant here is that if you were to go the way of the aforementioned teachers, it would be a huge loss.  The world needs integrated teachers who can be role models to the next generation of seekers.  You need to take this role seriously.  You need to exercise caution and be calculated in your recklessness (a little calculated recklessness can be great fun!).  Is the goal awakening completely on your own, or helping the collective awaken?  Think about this distinction.  I know they aren't mutually exclusive, but I believe it's important to be careful and keep the big picture in view.

 

OK man, this is what I wanted to say.  Please consider the importance of your role as a teacher and role model.  Thanks for listening.

 

Jude

Edited by Jude_

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Hey Jude. I can see that your post comes from a genuine place, so I thought I should also give my reply. I am not Leo, although he thinks I am him. :) 

It seems that you have ample experience with many teachers. I like your approach. When going on the journey on the discovery of the Self, we must walk the paths of the many to arrive at our own path. If we walk in the shadow of one teacher, we inherit their mistakes. When we walk in the shadows of many teachers, we can see some rays of light passing through which we didn't see with our previous teachers. Only when we uncover all shadows, we can become the Light. The integration of many perspectives is very important, and should not be overlooked. Leo's perspective is helpful to the seeker, but it should not be taken as the Truth.

The only way to arrive at the gateless gate is to pass through all the gates that took us to the gateless one. But once we pass all gates, in the end, we must deny the existence of all gates. When Leo says that he has had awakenings unlike anyone spiritual master, explicitly he tells us the Truth he has experienced, but implicitly he is telling us to deny his Truth. There is no way to go where he has been if we don't go there for ourselves. We must deny him his awakening to get to our own awakening. I know that he does this with awareness. It's not just an accident. 

You mentioned that you were losing Leo in the video when he talked about his most recent awakenings. Can you point out the timeframes when you were losing him? I am curious to see if I can see it for myself. I usually only listen to the audio. 

I get the feeling that what Leo was doing so far was chasing the Peak non-dial experiences. After each breakthrough, he was trying to stabilize at the peak of the experience, more than the ground of the experience. Going forward, perhaps it would be better to integrate the experiences and stabilize more towards the ground, otherwise, he will lose the ground with the "normal people". Also, Leo puts too much importance on the psychedelic aspect and disregards the years of work and studying that is necessary to properly understand the psychedelic experience. If some naive kids start doing 5 Meo DMT without doing the work, they will do more harm to themselves than good.

I agree with you that Leo has an important role in the collective awakening, and he is playing his part the best he can. But we can't awaken the collective when the individuals are asleep. The content that he is producing is already life-changing and beneficial, and it will be terrible if he decides to take the wrong turn. I agree with you on that. But I have faith that he will stay on the right track. His Life is his own Hero Jurney, and he must rescue the Father from the belly of the whale. :) 

You can already see how much Leo has changed in the past 7 years. The transformation is amazing. I wonder where Leo sees himself in the next 7 years? Maybe its time to communicate the vision for the next 7 years? @Leo Gura

 

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I’ve had some of the exact same concerns but didn’t feel it was right to bring them up. I just get the sense that only he can understand what’s going on with him. What scared me the most was when he was talking about leaving life and letting the universe be destroyed. I can’t begin to imagine what that’s like

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@Jude_

I can see you love him. We all do. 

But we have to let him decide what he wants. We can't convince him to stay based on our "need" for him. We can't convince him to stay, at all. 

We can still honor the work he's done and also let go of him. (Which is what he teaches anyways)

Hope you're okay 💚


"Some people, not me, are a little concerned. Some people, not me, feel you...might be...
demonstrating a failure to show appreciation."
-Russell Bufalino

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Thanks for the thoughtful feedback.

I'm aware of most of the things you're talking about. It's not news to me.

Regarding Shinzen Young, I have had extensive hour-long private questioning sessions with him about the nature of reality. His answers to my questions left me unsatisfied and given my deepest awakenings I can tell that he is not fully Awake. I don't see that he has an understanding of what Infinity is and what God is. And his students are certainly not deeply awakened. You could follow him for decades and never realize the things I have realized.

Shinzen Young does not understand Mahasamadhi. He thinks it's a fake out done by holding your breath and killing yourself. Lol

Be careful who you follow and take as Awake.

Yes, of course states are not stages. I have never claimed they were. I don't claim to have reached the highest stages, but only the highest states. But also, this difference is completely irrelevant from the point of you of Truth/Understanding. It doesn't matter what stage you're at when you are in an Infinite state. If fact, there is no such thing as stages. All stages are simply states. It's just a question of how long your state lasts. It could last 1 second or 100 years. The privileging of one over the other is itself a bias of the mind.

You may think my path is dangerous, but also don't forget how dangerous your path is. The danger of never fully awaking up.

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Look at Adi Da, Osho, Sasaki Roshi, Sogyal Rinpoche, Andrew Cohen… These people lost touch with their humanity and the humanity of others.

This proves my point. If these people failed by using traditional methods, then what hope do you have of success using those methods?

Quote

Is the goal awakening completely on your own, or helping the collective awaken?

There is no collective to awaken. There is only your awakening. The collective is that part of your dream which you invented to keep yourself asleep.

Full awakening is a very radical thing. You don't want it.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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@Jude_ As soon as I have time, I will do my research, some people you've mentioned here are new to my knowledge. 

Also, I agree that Leo has to teach using Interdisciplinary Studies, which is what he is doing anyway,  this way he will integrate the knowledge, because someone should.

Information literacy is another aspect. To determine source credibility is hard nowadays, with the dawn of the internet. Information has value but not all information can be applied. I think the biggest plus of his work is strategic exploration. He is good in understanding the scope of the issue and determining the strategy for the needed info. 

As much others hate Osho, he was the first teacher who opened this door for me, but it is sad that he lost integrity. :(

Anyway, my thought out loud is that any authority is constructed and contexual. 

Edited by Galyna

"All that we know is limited, something we don't - is infinite"

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10 years to have an awakening from meditating? Good lord... took me 8 months after a huge psychedelic trip...

I really like this thread though. It's well written and very compassionate and I think it make some good points :)

Edited by Lyubov

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On 5/29/2020 at 2:10 PM, Jude_ said:

My old therapist used to specialize in spiritual emergence experiences

How cool, my old therapist hated to talk about it.


"All that we know is limited, something we don't - is infinite"

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1 hour ago, Leo Gura said:

Full awakening is a very radical thing. You don't want it.

Why do you pursue it?

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9 minutes ago, Cepzeu said:

Why do you pursue it?

Love


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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@Leo Gura I think you more of less got the jist of what I was saying, but I also feel I failed to communicate one of two points properly.

 

I am absolutely NOT suggesting you go a more traditional path.  Not at all.  I am only suggesting you take the time to space out your 5-Meo experiences and reflect on what's important and your larger role.  Putting yourself out there as you have, you now have a responsibility to be considerate of the impact you and your actions have on those that tune into what you're saying.  I'm just saying exercise caution and be aware of the impact of what you're putting out.

I'm also not suggesting you stop with 5-meo.  I think it's an amazing gift and hugely important in our collective evolution.  I have a close friend who's been working with it for 7 years and has facilitated for over 1000 people.  She expressed to me the dangers, and I just think that you need to also express that to your audience.  It can be psychologically dangerous.  Waking up too fast can be extremely destabilizing.

Also when I listed all the teachers who had gone wrong, I was pointing to the danger of isolating oneself in a role of teacher, of not having accountability to others.  Also on that list, pay special attention to the lives of Adi Da and Andrew Cohen.  Both showed so much promise as spiritual teachers, but both went extremely wrong.  In the role you're in, it would be wise to spend some time examining how others have gone wrong and become harmful.  It's a real risk, and thinking you are above it is dangerous, they definitely thought they were above it, too wise to do harm.

***

OK I want to address another point about putting so much emphasis on awakening.  I'm curious if you ever read Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin?  It's one of my favourite books as it offers a strong argument agains the primacy of self-transcendence in eastern traditions.  Indigenous traditions often discuss our role as humans is to bring together earth and sky.  Earth being the realm of soul, our individuality, our uniqueness -- this is what Carl Jung is taking about in his system, the process of individuation, the integration of the shadow and owning all parts of Self.  And then the sky is the infinite, it's God, it's eternal, it's what unites us all, it's non-dual, it's unconditional love.

As humans we are bringing these two things together, it's the yin and yang.  I think a lot of people obsessed with eastern traditions overlook the importance of individuality, uniqueness, beauty, belonging, and purpose.  They see things things as traps to be transcended.  But transcendence is not denial, it's transcend and include.

If our goal is to awaken to absolute divine union with the universe, the what was the point in being born in the first place?  What did we separate from source?  My understanding is that we are meant to discover a sense of individuality, and then also transcend and awaken to the true nature of reality.  A. H. Almaas is one of the few non-dual teachers who recognizes the value of individuality, and yet does not get stuck in it as a limitation.  This may seem paradoxical, and it is.  All the great truths are paradoxical.

To be honest, I see a lot of the people that seek enlightenment as somewhat immature, idealistic, and self-serving.  If we look realistically at what people need, what they are ready, it's mostly the more simple teachings on equanimity and compassion and integrating the shadow and attuning to their needs.  Some people are absolutely ready for the awakening teachings and practices, but if we overemphasize those we can sometimes lose people.  Nothing wrong with that, just something to be aware of.

Anyways, I know Leo gets this as his whole system is built around it.

***

@JosephKnecht I want to address your question of when I felt I was losing Leo, and to be honest it's not a specific moment.  It's a quality of presence.  I don't want to nitpick here and I want to say I really do feel Leo was being extremely genuine in that video and quite present, but I just notice these little glimmers or dissociation or mania.  I think I am hypersensitive to them as I've seen a lot of people in minor manic episodes after ayahuasca ceremonies, which is actually fine and even enjoyable, so long as you come back down.

Note that we all do this and it's not unhealthy in itself, but when we're in a manic episode we are not fully present with others, not able to attune to their needs or where they are at.  If we are in a manic episode, then we are not embodied.  This is not a criticism of Leo, just a reminder that he's still human and hoping that he proceeds cautiously and tries to be aware of the manic energy as it inevitable arises from peak experiences.

***

Also @Leo Gura, very cool you had those long interviews with Shinzen.  I would honestly love for you to write or discuss this more in depth, meaning how your experience is different from what he describes.  I've also met Shinzen a number of times, I actually drove him to the event he did in Toronto a few years back.  I'm close with Jeff Warren, who went from consciousness journalist to meditation teacher.  He's extremely interested in the varying reports of awakening, and I have some other friends who are too.  Just saying, if you want to go into depth (or maybe you have and I missed it), there are people out there who want to hear it.

Just for laughs I attached a photo of me and Shinzen, and the book he signed to me ;) 

 

IMG_2016-11-12_16-05-25.JPG

Edited by Jude_

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26 minutes ago, Jude_ said:

@Leo Gura Putting yourself out there as you have, you now have a responsibility to be considerate of the impact you and your actions have on those that tune into what you're saying.  I'm just saying exercise caution and be aware of the impact of what you're putting out.

Obviously

Quote

She expressed to me the dangers, and I just think that you need to also express that to your audience.  It can be psychologically dangerous.  Waking up too fast can be extremely destabilizing.

Yes, of course

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When I listed all the teachers who had gone wrong, I was pointing to the danger of isolating oneself in a role of teacher, not having accountability to others.

I have people criticizing me every day for 7 years. So lack of accountability isn't really a problem for me. I have heard every way in which I am wrong.

Quote

My understanding is that we are meant to discover a sense of individuality, and then also transcend and awaken to the true nature of reality.

Of course

Everyone's path is unique

Quote

Also @Leo Gura, very cool you had those long interviews with Shinzen.  I would honestly love for you to write or discuss this more in depth, meaning how your experience is different from what he describes.

It cannot be described. It is Infinity.

Quote

Just for laughs I attached a photo of me and Shinzen, and the book he signed to me ;)

IMG_2016-11-12_16-05-25.JPG

Cool

He's a generous man.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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1 minute ago, Leo Gura said:

I have people criticizing me every day for 7 years. So lack of accountability isn't really a problem for me.

Yeah man honestly much respect for putting yourself out there the way you do.  I'm sorry if my posts came off as presumptuous or patronizing.  I appreciate you taking the time to reply and reassure.

Also I want to point out I made an edit and added to the third paragraph in my post.  I reread after posting and felt that part could be better elaborated on, but you may have already seen it.  Just a warning to the isolating nature of success and power.

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@Jude_ I may just disappear and you will never hear from me again.

Power and success are a joke.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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Leo do you agree with what the therapist said about how someone’s awakening they should appear present? Vs not being present = psychosis? 

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1 hour ago, Jude_ said:

 

IMG_2016-11-12_16-05-25.JPG

Lovely!

I didn’t know Shinzen Young knows how to write Chinese until now! 
真- Truth

善- Kind

And the name of Shinzen young really sound like a Chinese Name btw! Loll 

Edited by Kingston

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4 minutes ago, Kingston said:

Lovely!

I didn’t know Shinzen Young knows how to write Chinese until now! 
真- Truth

善- Kind

And the name of Shinzen young really sound like a Chinese Name btw! Loll 

The name Shinzen was given to him when he was initiated into his initial tradition.

Also Shinzen got interested in Japanese language and culture before he got interested in Buddhism.  He learned Japanese in highschool and now speaks a dozen languages.  He wanted to be able to read the original texts in their original languages too.  He's quite the scholar.  Also just a nice guy. 

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1 hour ago, Leo Gura said:

I am just disappear and you will never hear from me again.

o.O:( Certainly, a whole lot of people on this forum don't deserve and it can be potentially dangerous to their feeble minds, and they will just distract you with criticism. Instead of putting your videos on youtube publicly, maybe select a few high potential students who can follow along with your teachings.

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2 hours ago, rlc said:

Leo do you agree with what the therapist said about how someone’s awakening they should appear present? Vs not being present = psychosis? 

I don't subscribe to such simplistic things.

To me there is no confusing awakening with psychosis. Awakening requires no one's validation.

And I don't really buy the notion of "psychosis" either. These are cultural labels that people put on complex states of consciousness which they don't understand.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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