We were Buddha Brats relentlessly using and adapting the Teachings as we saw fit, as well as developing our own means to hack and slay our way to Enlightenment - Body of Light or bust. We propelled ourselves so fast that we had no time to turn back or look down as we swam headlong into the abyss. No sight of the other side, beyond a sense that there was another side to get to.
Now that I was Enlightened, the question was what to do? In keeping with the Buddha Brat ethos - quite simply whatever one wanted to do. The joy of this state had to be shared with all and sundry so I went on a binge of attempting to enlighten sentient beings, as all good enlightened beings do when they reach enlightenment.
Garab Dorje, the founder of the main lineage of Dzogchen liberated the whole of Oddiyana (his homeland) and they had all gone Body of Light so this is what I aspired to. If he could do it, then it could be done. When I had taken the bodhisattva (enlightenment warrior) vow of enlightening all sentient beings I took my job very, very seriously but not without a fair amount of glee.
To be honest I could not have stopped myself even if I wanted to. I talked to whoever would listen about the joys of Dzogchen and the benefits of Kundalini, this time with the added benefit of my large black box of Homoeopathic remedies. I began doing extended sessions with people, often over a period of two or three days clearing years of memory to allow them a glimpse of the Natural State. My faithful bottle of Anti-matter was always close at hand to offer them a real taste of Emptiness once they were sufficiently open enough to recognise it, paving the way for them to understand or accept it.
I ignored *Asher’s doubts about the validity of what I was doing. He was rather hung up on the lineage thing, needing an official stamp of approval from the orthodoxy in order to spread the Teachings. Either way I was going to do it and nothing could have brought me more pleasure. Hacking and demolishing the residual patterning from people’s heads accompanied with liberal doses of Dzogchen, I proceeded to cut a swathe through a sea of sentient ignorance. I was totally in my element - this was truly what I had been designed for.
Before my enlightenment I had initially planned a trip to India to enhance my Homoeopathic repertoire, so after a few months as we were running out of willing sentient beings to work on, I convinced Asher to come along for the ride. We decided to turn it into my official ‘enlightenment holiday’.
As part of my enlightenment manifesto I took to heart one of the core Dzogchen precepts of Zerbu, which is to “engage the things you like, the things you don’t like and the things you are indifferent to”. I once fantasized about retiring to a cave in India to sit in contemplation, eating nettle broth like the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa waiting for enlightenment to favour me with its presence. Upon investigating the cave situation in India I found them rather oversubscribed by on the most part, fake holy men. It is not hard to contemplate emptiness as a chillum smoking saddhu (holy man). In my opinion it is far more of a challenge to experience true emptiness when surrounded by the pressures of modern life.
Besides, I never quite had the extremes of ascetism required to share a cave with nothing but snow lions, yetis and ice drifts. There is after all only so much emptiness one can handle and buttered tea one can drink. Since ‘all is empty’ anyway one might as well be lying on silk sheets with ones choice of music, tasty edibles and access to exotic stimuli. The Non-Dual Nature of the Mind renounces NOTHING.
This always made a lot of sense to me and if ‘all is illusion’ anyway you might as well have your choice of pretty and enjoyable illusions. Needless suffering falls under the banner of the ‘breaking of ease’, which would be a direct violation of the core Dzogchen ethos, and heaven forbid I did that.
What followed was a spree of indulgence, engaging all the things I have always wanted but had previously denied myself. I procured three pairs of leather pants, intricately embroidered Kashmiri shirts, emerald necklaces, Buddhist thankas (religious paintings), bone jewellery, Nepalese kukris (curved blades), stones, sculptures and simply anything that caught my fancy. We hired a car and a driver to take us around, blasting Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Cardigans and Tricky through our little tape deck. Quite simply behaving like brats, we were indulging our every whim as we went along.
I hooked up briefly with a cute British nuclear physicist. I tried to convince her to design me a bow with plutonium tipped arrows to blow up dams with while hanging from a helicopter Rambo style, freeing the elementals and allowing the rivers to run free again. She played along for a while until we parted ways and I realized that the military aspects of the Apocalypse were best done covertly if at all.
A good friend once said to me, “If there is anything in the emptiness then it is just not empty”. Walking through a forest in Kashmir with Asher, we resolved to eat every mushroom we came across without exception. Holding firmly to the view that it was all ‘self’ and could not harm us unless we deviated from this view, we began our baptism by fire. After an hour and twelve different species of unknown mushrooms, not only did we not poison ourselves, we did not even get high, much to our disappointment.
This story contrasts with when I was quite happily swimming in Dal Lake in Shrinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Holding the view relentlessly every day that the water was pure, one day I saw a whole load of raw sewerage being poured into the lake in an area we were visiting. Dropping my clarity and belief momentarily resulted in me getting sick as a dog that night, and I resolved thereafter never to doubt the perfection of my reality. Suspension of disbelief is nine tenths of the law, and if one can hold a thought strongly enough and suspend belief seriously enough, one can quite literally walk through walls and fly.
To test the belief in my own indestructibility, when I was in Daramsala I decided to buy some Indian Cobra venom and drink it. It is after all only conceptual structures that limits us from doing pretty much anything, including surviving possible fatality. When the venom arrived it was a rather suspect looking yellow liquid in a dirty bottle and I decided that I would wait till I found a fresher and more authentic source before I put it in my mouth. I did find a Cobra skin though from a serpent which, the resident saddhu of some holy island in Kashmir claimed, circled the island three times a day at dawn, dusk and midday. It was a charming story and he recommended that we mix the skin in with oil and apply it to our hair for long luxuriant locks, which we duly did.
While still in Shrinagar, along with my two Indian sidekicks who carried my large Homoeopathic case, I marched into the mental hospital announcing that I was there to help them cure the sick. They politely refused although you could see they were deeply curious about this leather clad foreigner taking such an interest in the mental health of their countrymen. They cited the fact that it was an Allopathic institution and they would have to get permission from a superior in order for me to be allowed to practise there.
The usual Indian story, although there were people there that could have seriously done with my help. They were clawing at their cages, frothing at the mouth and howling, it was like something from “Dante’s Inferno”. India is not a good place to get help if you lose the plot. The upside of India though is that you can propose the most outlandish course of action to a walla and he will blithely reply “why not?” The foreigner is always right even if he is mad. He has money and although it may seem like he is clueless, as long as he is willing to pay it is enough.
While on a boat trek through Kashmir I saw a Datura flower and promptly plucked and ingested it. We were paddling through a sea of lotuses to one of the islands and entranced by the place or maybe inspired by the Datura flower I had eaten, I decided to declare a free clinic for all the inhabitants. I was immediately deluged by a swarm of locals all clamouring to get their airtime from the strange foreign “doctorji”. I set up three locals as my bouncers to filter the crowd as a hundred people arrived to be treated all at once. With two translators I proceeded to write out prescriptions and dose them all in the space of about four hours.
I could have easily taken up residence there as the local doctor, they were lavishly grateful for the treatment and stuffed me with mango slices and spiced tea. In spite of this gracious reception the movie needed to continue because there were larger and fatter fish to fry in the future. It is always good to leave on a high note - swoop down, save the day and exit with a flourish, definitely my style.
We returned from the boat trek to Dahl Lake, which is quite simply paradise on earth, overflowing with lotuses, cherries, carpets, sweetmeats, saffron honey, and floating food islands. All this while you relax on your own houseboat with literally anything and everything brought to you.
The ecstasy and the absurdity continued as we carved through Kashmir. I was hell bent on getting a tiger skin for a pair of pants. Traditional yogis are drawn sitting in meditation on a tiger skin but one has to modernize and adapt everything, making it practical after all. Make no mistake I love tigers and Panthera Tigrus(homeopathic remedy made from the urine of a pregnant tigress) happens to be one of my core Homoeopathic remedies. I use it at times when I do a lot for people and then when in need of help myself it is withheld, resulting in anger.
Added to this I had once let a tiger out of a cage in one of the suburbs of Taipei in Taiwan. When I saw the glorious beast for the first time they had it in a cage in some tiny backyard gambling den, feeding it dogs. I gathered *Jason, my cohort at the time to pull off the great escape. Jason was an American ex-cop who was exiled for having broken the arms of some guy who tried to rape his girlfriend. The judge said it would have been fine if he had broken only one arm, but two was a bit excessive and advised him to leave the country for a while.
Since it was my plan, it was up to me to open the cage. Having broken the lock off the cage with a small metal bar, an action that had woken the beast, all that remained was to open the door. All I could find was a short piece of string which I tied to the door to pull it open and ran. Jason was waiting for me on the street keeping the revs up on a stolen motorbike. We went round the block and there it was, all twelve feet of unleashed power walking down the street at about two in the morning.
With a quick mental projection to the tiger that it should head for the forested hills without eating too many Taiwanese in the process we sped off, never to see or hear about it again. The sight of the tiger walking down a grubby suburban street revelling in its newfound freedom will remain etched in my memory forever. I figured the tiger nation owed me a pelt, but it never came my way. I had to content myself with smoking Chinese ‘Golden Tiger’ cigarettes which I bought by the carton, and a tiger claw which turned out to be carved from buffalo horn, but entertained me nonetheless.
In Ladakh I picked up a skull bowl (a ceremonial bowl made from the top of a human skull), the nuclear physicist, ceremonial daggers and generally wrecked Dzogchen mayhem on the locals. Asher picked up *Charlotte whom he would later marry and proceed to torment in various inconceivable ways. It was quite convenient for me since I had been picking up most of the tab for the trip and he then became her problem. Our little party soon moved to Nepal because Charlotte needed to renew her visa and so the physicist and I parted ways.
Anything is available for 50 dollars in Nepal. I wanted a human skull and managed to procure one from the charnel grounds. The drug and part-time skull dealer brought it to me wrapped in newspaper. It was very, very fresh, in fact it still had a bit of meat on it, which was perfect. I used it to meditate on Impermanence so the bit of meat was actually fine, good for the Chodpa (practitioner of Chod) in me. I remember giving an hour long Teaching to the skull on traversing the bardo (in between spaces after death). I explained how to move to the other side and on to the clear light while not being distracted or drawn into any of the Realms which are all illusion and pathways to further suffering and incarnation. This speech acted as a practise run for when I gave the same speech to my mother after she died.
Everything fitting flawlessly into place is what one has to love about the Natural State, total perfection and yet completely inconceivable. It is designed for you to allow the most enjoyment from the movie, just the way you like it. You just have to reach out and grab it, and then have the balls to play it, something a lot of people choke on.
One day I went down to the burning ghats where they cremate bodies by the river and probably where my skull had come from. The more one destroys the Illusion of Self the more fearless one becomes and sitting next to a burning body I experienced total calmness and bliss. There is a Tibetan symbol for this called the gaykil or ‘Wheel of Joy’ and is depicted as three spirals bound together in a circle, “the three that are one”, Empty Awareness, Clarity and Bliss – the aspects of your Natural State. When you realize that it is all the play of sound, light and sensation, it frees you from a lot of fears.
Who determines when you have conquered them? Quite simply you do, you are the enlightenment inspector who stamps your own passport on arrival and only you know for sure. When texts on the Natural State correspond to what you are experiencing in that moment, you know have arrived.
There is a practise called ‘The Lion’s Roar’ which entails kneeling and roaring at the heavens to announce ones arrival at the Natural State. This is another benchmark moment on the path but not the end, in fact it is the true beginning. Then one can play out the rest of ones karma without hindrance. I did the Lions Roar at my family’s farm on a weekend away with Asher and some other friends. I remember his daughter *Sophie sitting and watching with approval, the minds of young children are to be disregarded at ones own peril, often they see the clearest. The Lion’s Roar happened around the time of the Kundalini episodes and after this there can be no doubt as to ones state.
Enlightenment is a process of degrees of dissolution into light yet beyond a certain point one can no longer be drawn back into the matrix. You are officially unplugged and one is free from the Wheel of Karma. How fast you complete the final steps is largely dependent on personal choice and of course ‘reality’, which IS you anyway. You cannot really accelerate the process beyond the speed it is meant to be going. God knows I tried, with every ounce of my being I tried. One way, full speed, Body of Light here I come, but certain things cannot be rushed and the lessons one learns along the way aid in your ability to benefit other sentient beings. Then it’s a matter of having the weaponry and just spending time on the playing fields, sharpening and mastering the art.
“Awareness, first and last and always”, you can’t go wrong. If you put anything in the priority list above that, one risks becoming entrapped in Samsara and suffering like a dog with mange and worms. Any way you slice this pie guarantees that you will suffer, but if you choose to exit the matrix at least you have a shot at immortality.
What was never born cannot die, and when one breaks up into light one is free to choose whatever path or reality one wants. Seems like a good choice to me, but then I always had a hard time playing daily life and doing the things one is expected to do like suffering, children and mortgages. Those that share this view with me, or have suffered enough to risk dancing through the minefields of their minds, are my cadre, my Vajra brothers and sisters. The rest of humanity seems a bit like another species.