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Dynamo - Siddhi master?

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Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
9/29/12 4:55 AM
I've just been watching a program on Steve Frayne.

I couldn't come to any other conclusion than that this guy is not a "magician", but a master of manipulating energy and creating new realities.

If you can watch his work and come to a different conclusion, please let me know your thoughts.

I was absolutely stunned, (whereas normally, I am bored witless by professional magicians).

He finished the show saying words to the effect "life is an illusion".

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2170695/Dynamo-The-council-house-boy-whos-mesmerising-magician.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2168033/Magician-Dynamo-wins-10-000-predicting-EXACTLY-Spain-win-Euro-2012.html

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
9/29/12 4:14 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
I'm from the UK and am very familiar with Dynamo's work, he's not a siddhi master; He's a very, very skilled sleight-of-hand magician as well as having honed his skills in mesmerism and performance to a high degree. I've got a lot of respect for the guy, he's come from nothing and his skills are, in my experience, some of the best I've seen but he's definitely not a siddhi master.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
9/29/12 7:55 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
"If you can watch his work and come to a different conclusion, please let me know your thoughts."

I'd never heard of this guy before, watching some of his tricks on you tube I'd say he's a pretty good illusionist and close up sleight of hand magician. period. Years of hard work and practice, not a siddhi master.

Metta,

Brian.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
9/30/12 3:52 AM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
I can see the Meserism at work, tommy.

You don't think people can levitate, walk through walls and so on? Or are you simply saying you don't think Dynamo can?

My best reference for siddhis is Patanjali, where all these sorts of unnatural abilities are described.

I know on here, the extent of siddhis is "seeing through the eyelids". But I've always had a feeling siddhis such as levitation were real.

brian, what about this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=-sVzz_4cu5U

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
9/30/12 3:37 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C

If you look at the ball in his hand after he catches it it is flattened, it then expands to it's normal spherical shape. This lasts for 1-2 seconds, it is a foam ball, not a real baseball. Possibly kept in his sleeve or palmed in his hand. I'm sure it's impressive in real life, and he does seem to be a pretty good magician. But I see no proof of any kind of powers.
I tend to apply Occam's razor to these types of things. Which is more likely, he's a pretty good slight of hand magician, one of many out there. (David Blaine, Chris Angel etc.) Or he is a highly advanced meditation master who uses his powers to perform "tricks" to entertain and make money?

Metta,

Brian.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
9/30/12 9:01 PM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
Brian Eleven:
C C C

If you look at the ball in his hand after he catches it it is flattened, it then expands to it's normal spherical shape. This lasts for 1-2 seconds, it is a foam ball, not a real baseball. Possibly kept in his sleeve or palmed in his hand. I'm sure it's impressive in real life, and he does seem to be a pretty good magician. But I see no proof of any kind of powers.
I tend to apply Occam's razor to these types of things. Which is more likely, he's a pretty good slight of hand magician, one of many out there. (David Blaine, Chris Angel etc.) Or he is a highly advanced meditation master who uses his powers to perform "tricks" to entertain and make money?

Metta,

Brian.


Definitely no proof. I can't argue with you there. Most of the more elaborate tricks could possibly be achieved with technology. It's the simple mind tricks that impress me more.

I'd say there's proof he is at least a master of Mesmerism/hypnosis/fascination/animal magnetism. Some of the tricks he does without props are brilliant. He usually says "look into my eyes" and he only needs to do this for a few seconds before the energy/information is transferred. The subject looks completely stunned/confused while in his gaze.

When I watch those other magicians you mention, (Blaine and co.), they just appear like normal people doing a show..... boring! When I watch Steve I get a very strange feeling. Don't you?

I'll see if I can find one of his mind tricks on youtube and post it here.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/1/12 6:48 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Magicians are so fun! I also enjoy watching Derren Brown quite a bit - he's a great showman, and whoever writes the scripts for his programmes is also very very good. Nothing to do with siddhi though =))

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/2/12 12:16 AM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
I know you're all thinking," wow that CCC sure is gullible! He thinks a street magician is performing real magick!!" emoticon

Maybe all the ancient texts are wrong. When they talk about bi-location, invisibility, walking on water, manifesting objects and so on. Maybe it's all horse shit.

Maybe they're wrong about enlightenment too. I mean if half a book is fabricated for effect, maybe the whole thing is??

Who here has powers?

Some very advanced practitioners around.

No one enlightened, though some claim to be close (which I accept on face value,...maybe there's my gullibility).

No one with powers. (seeing through eyelids doesn't count).

Or maybe those who are enlightened or those with powers don't frequent these forums.

Just putting it out there.

Keep posting. I want to know your angle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q8fknAhbMw&feature=related

Is the above trick easy to do with smoke and mirrors? Probably very easy. That's not really my point.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/2/12 3:55 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:

No one with powers. (seeing through eyelids doesn't count).


Actually both Daniel and Kenneth have reported more powers than just seeing through eyelids, ask him (I recall him talking about accessing other realms of existence, communicating with the beings there, being able to fly/bilocation in other realms).

Kenneth Folk:
I don't talk about this much, because it can be a distraction for students, but I find that I have access to a wide array of Carlos Castaneda-esque psychic phenomena. For example, sitting here on the couch with a computer in my lap, I am able to conjure up one or more astral bodies, invest them with greater or lesser degrees of apparent reality and experience them either from the outside or the inside as they fly, hover, dive into the earth, or explore other realms.

They seem quite real in every way, but are distinguishable from my ordinary waking reality in several ways. They are bodies of light or energy, rather than flesh; they are not impeded by physical barriers like walls or planets; they can move at any speed, from slow to fast, change direction instantly (they seem to have no mass) and they can move at the speed of thought, teleporting anywhere instantly. Seeing reality at this plane of light opens up infinite possibilities for experience, all of which are fascinating in their own right and can also be used as platforms for further meditation practice. For some reason, though, I only occasionally turn my attention to this alternate reality. Don't know why. I do find it interesting and worthwhile. As I write this, it occurs to me that one of the reason I don't spend more of my day in "altered states" is that it takes time away from the relationships I have on "this" plane (the where my family and dharma friends live).

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/3866634/Emptiness+of+phenomena?offset=0&maxResults=20

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/2/12 7:31 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
The levitation thing most modern magicians do is really easy and doesn't involve siddhis at all, it's a combination of ensuring the viewer is situated at a specific angle while the performer raised themselves up on the ball of their opposite, partly hidden, foot. As far as real-life levitation and walking through walls goes, I've never seen anyone do it but, having seen and done some pretty bizarre stuff myself through high levels of concentration, I wouldn't immediately write it off as impossible.

My experience of siddhis, as in things I've actually done and could attribute to siddhis, ranges from astral projection to materializing a coin in a specific location, as well as a lot of out-of-body experiences, precognition and experience of what you could call "other dimensions". As Brian says though, I tend to apply Occams Razor to these things since, without being able to have the causality objectively verified, it's all too easy to buy into all kinds of belief systems with this stuff.

As Svetlana says, there's another really good UK magician/performer called Derren Brown who's work is well worth checking out. He's a heavy skeptic of any and all occult or magickal explanations though, and has demonstrated, and debunked, the methods of many so-called psychics. I highly recommend checking him out, he's an amazing showman and his skills, in my opinion, are even better than Dynamo.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/2/12 11:39 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
You materialized a coin? =)))) Whooooaaa that is pretty cool. =) You could get Randi to give you a million =)))
Interestingly enough, I spend quite a lot of time with scientists and all sorts of superpragmatic sceptics, and they always attempt to minimalise my interest in buddhism and even criticise me for being too into literature&philosophy.
It is an interesting argument I think... the whole spiritualility&metaphysics discourse VS scientific skeptics.
I mean, visions are pretty much the same thing as a hallucination. And all sorts of astral projections are very much imagined.

But seriously, no scientist would argue with the idea that states of mind are just habits. And practicing metta, for example, makes love and compassion a habitual state of mind. Trying to find elements of "equanimity" in your "moods" also forms a positive habit. And I really think that those are pretty huge things =))

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/2/12 9:14 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
thanks for the link yadid.

tommy, I've watched Brown a bit because he's airing on tv here in Aus at the moment. While his approach is skeptical and enquiring (necessary), I can't help but wonder if he understands the impact that this style of observation is having. If he is there as an observer with a heavy skepticism, the vibe he is emitting influences not only his perception of events, but the events themselves (observer effect).

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/3/12 2:34 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
I stopped believing in Magick and Siddhi's a few years ago. It's when I figured out that Science isn't another belief system (although it can be) but a methodological way of over-riding our innate tendency to make shit up.

I used to have a tendency to think that people who had achieved a change of state (for example being in a permanent PCE and/or enlightened) had a better grasp on these subjects but now I no longer believe that.

It seems to me, and this IS just my opinion, that a lot of people with mystical insight or some form of awakening don't really fair any better than anyone else who has THE TRUTH. ie: Believing you have access to some deep truth acts as a psychological crutch but doesn't eliminate suffering AS I UNDERSTAND IT.

So after my own experience with, we'll call it state X, a state where there is no suffering. The only thing I look for are these descriptions:

Sense of the body disappearing: Which is actually just tension disappearing, it's just people are so used to tension they think what they are feeling is their body rather than bodily tension.

Panoramic awareness: The sense of inside/outside disappearing.

The two seem to go together. Also colours become more vibrant, there is a stillness, etceteras.

No one I've met whose practiced Magick seems to be able to make the above state an ongoing thing and a lot of them don't even seem to have experienced it. On the other hand Tommy has described exactly that state and seems to still believe in Magick.

So a question Tommy (If you don't mind, I'm being a little presumptious). Do you think there is anything in Siddhi's or Western Ceremonial Magick, or Chaos Magick that helps in any way to achieve that state? Have you met anyone else who does those practises that seems to have achieved that state (and not some other mystic state)?

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/3/12 5:04 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
You materialized a coin? =)))) Whooooaaa that is pretty cool. =) You could get Randi to give you a million =)))

I'd love to say that it was entirely down to siddhis or any sort of magickal influence, but I deliberately said "as in things I've actually done and could attribute to siddhis" (which I should really have said "and/or could have" - in italics) to emphasize my own skepticism towards taking these things as anything more than selective perception. That particular example happened while doing an experiment from Robert Anton Wilson's "Prometheus Rising" where you visualize a coin in a certain location and, if and when it happens, devise contradictory explanations it, i.e. you might consider it to have been magickal in the sense that it was willed into existence in that particular spot, or consider it to be pure chance or luck.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/3/12 5:48 PM as a reply to Alexander Entelechy.
So a question Tommy (If you don't mind, I'm being a little presumptious). Do you think there is anything in Siddhi's or Western Ceremonial Magick, or Chaos Magick that helps in any way to achieve that state? Have you met anyone else who does those practises that seems to have achieved that state (and not some other mystic state)?

Good question, and my answer would be: Not as far as I can tell. Siddhi's and anything resulting from strong concentration or ritual magick is, in my opinion, an "altered state of consciousness"; useful for certain things, but not required or essential to getting to what you're describing as "state X". I continue to study other traditions and try to understand what phenomenological experiences their particular metaphors relate to, but that's just something I've been interested in for years and continue to enjoy.

Something that did interest me briefly was the Enochian system, which I don't know if you're familiar with? If not, it's this complex system of magick, which has a ripping backstory involving angels, the Queens astrologer and adultery, which consists of 24 "Aethyrs"; a magician 'astrally projects' into a particular aethyr using all sorts of invocations and calls, but the highest aethyr in the system is called "LIL" and is described as "pure consciousness experience"[1]. The phrasing of it intrigued me but my brief excursion into it was cut short when my friend pointed out that this sort of practice, basically a lot of visualization and full-on altered states, was in completely the wrong direction to the bare sensate awareness I'd been practicing before. Based on that, I doubt that it points to the same thing at all anymore although I can't ever say for certain; Most magickal and non-Buddhist traditions I've worked with only seem to go so far, not as 'far' as full blown "state X" which itself (although not what I could really call a "state") doesn't appear to be an end to all fabrications. This just get ridiculously subtle though and is incredibly difficult to describe, in fact I seem to have experienced a further shift today which I'll post in my practice thread.

To cut an already long story shorter, the only way I've come across which seems to reliably lead to a way of experience similar to what you described as "state X" is this: bare sensate awareness a.k.a. attentiveness a.k.a. vipassana (not "vipassana bhava" as a certain gentlemen would have us believe) a.k.a. lhagtong. Whatever you call it, it comes down to being present, here, this moment of being alive, and being attentive to your immediate sensate experience constantly.

I no longer practice magick and no longer "believe" anything at all, to be honest with you. I'm still interested in the possibility that, through certain practices which seem to be mainly found in the Tibetan traditions, certain apparently impossible phenomena could possibly occur. I have no idea whether or not this is the case, taking the stories as fact would be absurd and so, without personal experience of such a thing through my own practice, I remain skeptical but open to the possibility.

Hope that clarifies a bit.


[1] This specific meaning is found in "The Magicians Companion", a sort of modern encyclopaedia of magickal symbolism and different models.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/4/12 12:46 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Anyone interested in this stuff might want to check out Eric Pearl. I'd sort of forgotten about him lately... not sure why.

I had a session with one of his teachers many years ago. Basically had a few twitches and movements and so on. He calls these "registers", but really they are just signs of deep trance as far as I am concerned. I was actually pretty bored for most of the hour, but right near the end of the session, as I lay on my back with my eyes closed, my head flew back into extension and I had a "brain orgasm"...best way to describe it. It lasted a brief moment, and omg did I want MORE!!! When it was over I opened my eyes to see what she was doing, and she was about 12 feet away (at the head end of the bench), hands cupped, doing some weird movements. After the session there is a debriefing, and I felt the strongest sexual attraction to any female I have ever felt. I actually told her outright "I want to have sex with you!", which is not the sort of thing I'd normally say unless I was drunk. I really wanted to see if she would say yes. And this is a woman who by physical appearance is not at all my type.

So anyway... worth a look. If you go to Pearl's website you will see a Hollywood style thing going on. It's all very glitzy and tiresome. However he does have something going on. I'm not sure if I'd ever do the course, but I have read the book and it's actually very funny.

Some demo-s on youtube.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/4/12 12:50 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
So a question Tommy (If you don't mind, I'm being a little presumptious). Do you think there is anything in Siddhi's or Western Ceremonial Magick, or Chaos Magick that helps in any way to achieve that state? Have you met anyone else who does those practises that seems to have achieved that state (and not some other mystic state)?

Good question, and my answer would be: Not as far as I can tell. Siddhi's and anything resulting from strong concentration or ritual magick is, in my opinion, an "altered state of consciousness"; useful for certain things, but not required or essential to getting to what you're describing as "state X". I continue to study other traditions and try to understand what phenomenological experiences their particular metaphors relate to, but that's just something I've been interested in for years and continue to enjoy.

Something that did interest me briefly was the Enochian system, which I don't know if you're familiar with? If not, it's this complex system of magick, which has a ripping backstory involving angels, the Queens astrologer and adultery, which consists of 24 "Aethyrs"; a magician 'astrally projects' into a particular aethyr using all sorts of invocations and calls, but the highest aethyr in the system is called "LIL" and is described as "pure consciousness experience"[1]. The phrasing of it intrigued me but my brief excursion into it was cut short when my friend pointed out that this sort of practice, basically a lot of visualization and full-on altered states, was in completely the wrong direction to the bare sensate awareness I'd been practicing before. Based on that, I doubt that it points to the same thing at all anymore although I can't ever say for certain; Most magickal and non-Buddhist traditions I've worked with only seem to go so far, not as 'far' as full blown "state X" which itself (although not what I could really call a "state") doesn't appear to be an end to all fabrications. This just get ridiculously subtle though and is incredibly difficult to describe, in fact I seem to have experienced a further shift today which I'll post in my practice thread.

To cut an already long story shorter, the only way I've come across which seems to reliably lead to a way of experience similar to what you described as "state X" is this: bare sensate awareness a.k.a. attentiveness a.k.a. vipassana (not "vipassana bhava" as a certain gentlemen would have us believe) a.k.a. lhagtong. Whatever you call it, it comes down to being present, here, this moment of being alive, and being attentive to your immediate sensate experience constantly.

I no longer practice magick and no longer "believe" anything at all, to be honest with you. I'm still interested in the possibility that, through certain practices which seem to be mainly found in the Tibetan traditions, certain apparently impossible phenomena could possibly occur. I have no idea whether or not this is the case, taking the stories as fact would be absurd and so, without personal experience of such a thing through my own practice, I remain skeptical but open to the possibility.

Hope that clarifies a bit.


[1] This specific meaning is found in "The Magicians Companion", a sort of modern encyclopaedia of magickal symbolism and different models.


Hey Tommy

Thanks for the response. The stuff about bare attention seems to be fairly on the mark. As in most of the people I've corresponded with who've achieved some variant of what I call 'state x' have some sort of practice that is primarily awareness based.

I'm aware of Enochian and I can see the fascination in exploring all the different modes of experience 'Magickians' harp on about. In terms of closeness to state X: Crowley in (Either Book 4 or Yoga for Yahoos) describes the results of Asana as a little similar (in terms of total eradication of bodily sensations).
Dr Hyatt recommended Vipassana as the fastest way to enlightenment, although descriptions of both his and his students states of experience didn't match what I was looking for.

One other thing that I used to find fun looking into, Scientology. Check out the Free Zone stuff sometime (especially the 'pilots handbook'). Their take on Magick is also very similar to something like the IOT's conception of empty handed Magick, in Scio it's called 'postulates or mock ups'. The interesting thing about that though, is that the Ex-scientologists who seemed to get the most out of the techniques focussed mostly on the techniques that had to do with attention and awareness.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/4/12 3:24 PM as a reply to Alexander Entelechy.
Alexander Entelechy:
Science isn't another belief system (although it can be) but a methodological way of over-riding our innate tendency to make shit up.


Nice.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/4/12 4:57 PM as a reply to Alexander Entelechy.
In terms of closeness to state X: Crowley in (Either Book 4 or Yoga for Yahoos) describes the results of Asana as a little similar (in terms of total eradication of bodily sensations).

I know what you mean, I can't be sure whether or not Crowley got to "state X" although it's something I still think about from time to time. I've thought a lot about how he lines up Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur with the 6th to 8th arupa jhanas and his suggestion that Nirodha Samapatti marks the gateway to the grade of Ipsissimus; his lining up of the Hindu model with the Buddhist model does seen contradictory though, in the same way that Dr. Hyatt's descriptions of enlightenment are more in line with the Advaitan and non-Buddhist models, but I remain open to the possibility that I'm completely wrong. It'd be pretty cool if Crowley had gotten to 'this', whatever we're calling it, but the entire Western magickal system is, in my opinion now and after having loved it for a long time, cumbersome and unnecessary to end up at "state X"; that said, I've also come to realize that, at it's most basic level if we strip back the entire ritual magick system to it's bare bones, we're left with concentration and attentiveness/mindfulness with a few other additional psychological tricks to loosen things up along the way.

This is a subject I really enjoy so excuse my lengthy replies, it's too complex to really go into on here but I've got a few interesting theories on this and wouldn't mind discussing it further with you as you seem to know your stuff. Drop me a PM and we'll get a chance to chat sometime, but I really, really want to comment on this last part of your post:

One other thing that I used to find fun looking into, Scientology. Check out the Free Zone stuff sometime (especially the 'pilots handbook'). Their take on Magick is also very similar to something like the IOT's conception of empty handed Magick, in Scio it's called 'postulates or mock ups'. The interesting thing about that though, is that the Ex-scientologists who seemed to get the most out of the techniques focussed mostly on the techniques that had to do with attention and awareness.

YES! YES! YES! Dude, I was talking about this about 18 months ago to someone 'cause I got quite into reading all the OT documents and practiced within the Scientology model for a while too. I was never in them or anything, and I don't usually mention it publicly in case it attracted unwanted attention to the site or anything, but what you've described is basically exactly what I came away from it with too.

The OT stuff is pure fucking vipassana!! It's uncanny how much of their practical technique comes down to bare awareness; the whole "do it till you have a cognition" while examining what makes you different to another person is basically a non-dual practice. I've never spoken to anyone who's also noticed this stuff so it's definitely something else I'd love to talk about sometime; the way the offshoots who don't get into the whole Thetan thing and just take "the tech", use that and, as you say, seem to get something out of it is very interesting too.

I'm assuming you know about L.Ron's involvement with Jack Parsons and the OTO? I suspect that he was genuinely quite enlightened but went batshit mental, in my opinion, the guy was probably an Adeptus Exemptus who ended up a Black Brother and was destroyed by the Abyss.

Interesting stuff indeed, thanks for opening up this area of discussion!

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
10/11/12 10:00 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
This article was very helpful for me. In my desperate search to be extraordinary, I create misery.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
from: http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/Personal_Growth/The_miracle_of_being_ordinary112009.asp

Seeking the extraordinary

Ordinary. The word stems from the Latin ordinarius that means regular, normal, customary, boring or commonplace. We humans have a natural affinity to latch on to literal meanings of words. Like we have done with ordinary. If you ask any person to respond to the word ordinary, chances are that most often, they will react negatively to the O word. Few words have been as stigmatised and thereby the target of our discriminatory attitudes and prejudices as ordinary.

Most of us seek the extraordinary – in either or both the material and spiritual paths. Indeed the mantra of modern living is to seek the extraordinary. As seekers on the spiritual path, a spiritual trap that we need to be aware of is this elusive yearning for that magical moment of transcendence; the acme of sublimity. Alas, that might never be! Yet we do so because “we run our story of differentiation – of dividing the world into the mundane and the spiritual – we put our lives on hold. We are in wait and in lust for some future extraordinary event, hoping it will overtake the ordinariness of everyday living.” (http://www.sentient.org).

I often wonder why advertisements use celebrities with their halo of “extraordinariness” to peddle “ordinary” products used by “ordinary” consumers! Why not “ordinary” people instead who would be more credible? Or ads that use the morphed version of the crown of Albert Einstein over a young child’s “ordinary” body to suggest an extraordinary strife towards excellence!

Certainly ordinary is the warp and weft that weaves together the fabric of what it means to be human. GK Chesterton spoke about the “ecstasy of being ordinary”. Chesterton derived an immense satisfaction at being able to connect with the essential nature of things. He delighted in the “sudden yellowness of dandelion”, the “wetness of water”, the “fierceness of fire”, or the “steeliness of steel”. According to theologian David Fagerberg, for Chesterton, “on every encounter, at every turn, with every person, there is cause for happiness…We have been given a world filled with a million means to beatitude.”

In other words, our ordinariness is the kernel that holds the promise of fulfilment and contentment. Yet, disconnected as we are from our intrinsic nature of being “perfect, whole, and complete,” we seek to fill our emptiness from the outside. For most of us, this quest to fill our emptiness comes from the striving to be somebody.

Fear of being ordinary

All our lives we fear being ordinary. The ordinary frightens us. Relying as we do on an identity based on external labels and achievements, we strive to stand out from others. Alas, trying to fulfil our need for being special through external means is like filling a bottomless pit. No matter how successful we may be in our professions or how much fame and glory we may attain, our sense of self will be shaky. After all, there is always someone who has achieved more than we have, and even fame and glory fade. In the meanwhile in our struggle to be better than the other, we alienate them, for there is nothing that rents the fabric of our interconnectedness and interdependence as feeling superior to others.

The pitfall of personality projection

The struggle to be special is an inner Kurukshetra. We see this struggle being played out in many spheres of our lives. As a meditator, I recall how the occasional mystical experience would often create in me a hankering to consciously try hard to replicate such visions in almost every meditation. Of course, the harder I tried, the more elusive these spontaneous moments of sublimity became. It took me several years to even glean that spirituality is not about transcendence but about living – in the here and now.

Most of us are conscious of our image. We consciously project a certain image with branding skills and professionalism that make top management school graduates look like amateurs! Ironically some of us may not be aware that we are doing so! It seems so much less painful to sail through life clouded by ignorance or avidya.

GL Sampoorna, psychologist and healer, talks about her tortuous journey from projecting a certain kind of personality to her current complete acceptance of being “myself”. According to her, as a young adult, she was obsessively self-conscious.


"Identification with the mind creates an opaque
screen of concepts, labels,words, judgments
and definitions that block all true relationships." “I was conscious of how smart I looked, how intelligent I sounded. I was conscious of what I read, the music I heard, the knowledge and information I had. In short, I was conscious of everything. I was who I was only to create a specific image in people’s minds. My focus was to be different. I rode on the pride of having an air of mystery and being unique. It validated my existence.”

Ironically, Sampoorna in retrospect admits that this struggle was fraught with tension and in doing so she became a “stranger to myself” as the real she was submerged in an ocean of inauthenticity.

“While practising the ‘different’ image that I wanted to project I stopped being myself. Maintaining this image constantly and consistently was a strain. I had to think, see and hear through the minds and senses of people I intended to impress; often people I didn’t even relate with. Maintaining this image constantly and consistently was a strain. Our thinking and emotions would clash and I would abandon myself. My own genuine feelings would be pushed down, while I imagined that I was feeling the emotions I was ‘supposed’ to feel. All very trying and tiring. A life of drama within drama,” admits Sampoorna.


When I am just myself, simply me,
completely ordinary and unassuming,
I am seen as different. Being nobody

Poised as we are on the cusp of a new dawn of consciousness, it’s time we reinvented ordinariness and opened ourselves to the experience of being ordinary: a powerful means to reclaim and reconnect with our Original Nature. I recently gleaned a new perspective on Emily Dickinson’s immortal lines:

I am nobody. Who are you?
Are you nobody too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know!
How dreary to be Somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name to a livelong day
To an admiring bog.

Dickinson’s lines reveal her complete acceptance of her ordinariness and her disconnect from the mainstream strife to be somebody.

Not surprisingly the spiritual quest is all about being comfortable with our ordinariness. On the face of it, it looks deceptively simple and perhaps even simplistic. What does being ordinary mean? To start with, ordinary is not to be equated with being mediocre. To do so would mean to fall into the trap of polarities, mutually exclusive opposites that only divide and fragment. This is the invisible trap of evaluating, judging, and labelling both ourselves and others: me v/s them mentality. The struggle then becomes one of the self v/s the other. In this case, however, we completely negate and destroy our authentic selves. The quest towards being ordinary is all about discovering the joy of being oneself.

The charisma of being ordinary

People who have embraced their ordinariness are loved for their unpretentiousness, openness and simplicity. Editor of this magazine, Suma Varughese, recalls meeting Eckhart Tolle in Mumbai in 2000. According to her Eckhart was “affable, simple and silent”. She adds, “So open and unresisting did he seem that I almost thought of him as Casper, the friendly ghost. A biff in the midriff would simply bring the fist out on the other side. He seemed so boneless and fluid. One person whose non-resistance has actually impacted on his physical self.”

Another memorable encounter for Suma (when editor of Society) was with the Dalai Lama. She still recalls his candour, humanity and his ability to level with people. The Dalai Lama shared with her his struggles with “lustful thoughts” as a young monk, which he overcame by constantly reminding himself that he was only a monk. He pointed out that he never ever told himself that he was the Dalai Lama. “Although the Dalai Lama’s secretary was distinctly uncomfortable that he was sharing these intimate details, the Dalai Lama was far too secure within himself to be less than totally open,” recalls Suma Varughese.

Another person who embraces his ordinariness is former president APJ Abdul Kalam whose simplicity and authenticity are endearing and refreshing. As a teenager, I was an avowed fan of the late Princess Diana. Today, when I look back at her life and times, I relate to her trials and tribulations as the struggle of a person who just wanted to be: ordinary. She paid a heavy personal price for her courageous struggle, and the People’s Princess is certainly an example of a person who dared to challenge the establishment and just wanted to experience the joy of being herself.

A friend recently told me about two doctors (both physicians) with divergent approaches to life and living. One was a successful doctor who worked round the clock with a hugely successful practice. The other was content with his work in a local medical college and instead of pursuing private practice at a feverish pace preferred to devote his evenings to his passion for violin. Mainstream culture would probably award the apparently ‘successful’ doctor with its stamp of approval. But in my opinion, the second doctor exemplifies a life of being rather than doing. Perhaps in his ordinariness lies his extraordinariness!

The achievement trap

“Greatness and ordinariness is conferred on a person and it does not rest with the person herself,” says M Shyleswari, founder, VedVyas Inner Space, an HR consulting firm in Chennai. According to Shyleswari, if asked to confer ‘greatness’ between Sachin Tendulkar and her maid who struggles with an unemployed husband and yet manages to educate her children and extraordinariness, she’d choose the latter!

According to Shyleswari, the fear of being ordinary stems from two reasons. The first one, which she considers ‘healthy’, relates to the need to become a better person in this lifetime, fleeting as it is.

“The second fear of being ordinary comes from a space of deficit. I want everyone to look up at me. The only way I know how is to inflate myself through some means. In most cases it is unconscious and is propelled by societal demands and values,” says Shyleswari.

According to Mark Antrobus, seeker and naturopath, the discontentment with life springs from “an overgrown sociological ego or analytical intellect. We urban educated human units are socially conditioned by extrinsic and intrinsic cultural imperatives that reward ‘winning’ and condemn ‘losing’ like the kindergarten prize for finger painting. We are taught competition rather than co-operation.”

A question of identity

The underpinning of the fear of ordinariness is the issue of personal identity: Who am I? What am I? We acquire our identity through the significant others in our lives. As a result of such a fragile sense of our self, we are never sure of ourselves.

“We are never told who we are but are told what we have to become. As we have created our identity—our self sense—on the basis of becoming and being somebody, when we fail to achieve our extraordinary goals, we experience a fear that is akin to the fear of death,” says K. Anandh, Tamil poet, short story writer, and therapist.

Most of us derive a false sense of identity through overidentification with the egoic self or the mind. Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, writes that disidentification with the mind is the most crucial step in the journey towards enlightenment or the experience of wholeness. “Identification with the mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments and definitions that block all true relationships. The word enlightenment conjures up some superhuman accomplishment and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is the inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separateness from yourself and the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflict within and without becomes the norm,” writes Tolle.

Identification with the spiritual Self

Once we realise that we are not the physical body, or our thoughts, emotions, or the mind, but a spiritual Self, then the awareness prods us out of our slumber.

Jasmine Bharathan, therapist and healer, talks of this as a vital step in the journey towards being ordinary. According to her, the false identification with the physical body, the emotional or intellectual self leads to fear and conflict culminating in competition.

“We all have an intrinsic need to feel acknowledged but we make a big issue by having that need met by competition. The spiritual essence is not of different quality in anyone, so if each identifies with the spirit within, then each of us is special and ordinary at the same time. If indeed I AM spirit, then I am neither ordinary nor its opposite. I just AM. We are an expression of Spirit. An orange tree doesn’t get confused and strive to be an apple tree. Why humans?” wonders Jasmine.

So where does one centre one’s identity? Certainly within and not exteriorising it as encouraged by societal mores and norms.

“Society measures us by what we ‘do’. Our true worth is based on what we are. As we step into our beingness rather than what we do and achieve, we can find what we are. May be we can call it non-extraordinariness! We sense the feeling of myself and where it arises; we have to get back into the body sense of our true identity rather than in the mind as we do now,” says K. Anandh.

Surrender

We don’t carry burdens. We carry what works for us, feeds our false identity. Hence as we journey along the ordinary path we need to shed this excess baggage and travel light. This is the surrender or abdication of our disempowering beliefs and notions that weigh us down like the albatross around the Mariner’s neck. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in Flowers on the Path talks about the necessity of this surrender of illusions.

“In spirituality when the word surrender is used, it means you surrender that which is false. It is just that the way you have existed up till now is just a falsehood. What you refer to yourself right now is simply a collection of identifications that you have taken in your life. Yet if you sincerely look at your essential Self, what have you got to surrender? You have nothing to surrender. Your essential Self is that which has always been and that which will always be. When you realize this fact, your spiritual work is done – you have already surrendered.”

Sampoorna talks about this letting go of her need to be somebody as a profound transformative experience with lasting repercussions in her life. When she surrendered her overwhelming need for perfection and order, it meant a deep degree of comfort with all aspects of herself.

“Today, I am getting free of drama. I am comfortable with everything about myself. I am I, simply because I am I. I am not an image projected for the world to see. While I was striving to be what I was not and be ‘different’, I was simply a stereotype of a different image. And today when I am just myself, simply me, completely ordinary and unassuming, I am seen as ‘different’. Yet I’m not even ‘trying’. I am just being who I am, being myself, without the defences. Today, I accept this recognition as a simple statement of fact. It adds no value to my self concept. My joy in just being me, myself, is all the recognition I need,” writes Sampoorna.

Facing your vulnerability

A central aspect of being ordinary is accepting and owning one’s vulnerability. For being comfortable with one’s vulnerability is to dispel false notions of strength. Instead it helps us be centred and experience the spectrum of human emotions.

Like water, which is both yielding and strong simultaneously, total invulnerability springs from total vulnerability. The absence of the “carapace of hardness” into which we retreat turtle like at our convenience enables us to come to terms with our humanness. When we accept our vulnerability completely nothing affects us because we allow it to flow through us completely, taking complete ownership and responsibility that fills us with incredible serenity.

Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now talks about the need for surrender for until then unconscious role playing constitutes most human interactions.

“In surrender, you no longer need ego defences and false masks. You become simple and real. ‘That’s dangerous,' says the ego. 'You’ll get hurt. You’ll become vulnerable.' What the ego doesn’t know, of course, is that only through letting go of resistance, through becoming ‘vulnerable’ can you discover your true and essential invulnerability.”

As a seeker my current challenge has been one of also helping others see my vulnerability and not just my strengths. In a couple of learning spaces in which I participated in recently, I was stunned when people commented that I project “self-containment” and a “Zen like stillness” that makes me come across as not needing the support of others because I have all the resources I need. Of course, I realised that although this was certainly not my intention that was the unintended message that I was transmitting!

When I introspected, I discovered a similar pattern in my relationships. I was more comfortable in giving than in receiving. I realised if people were to connect with me at a deeper level, I would also need to expose my vulnerability instead of stonewalling it and presenting the “complete” façade as I currently do. It also means that I would have to be more forthright in expressing my needs and feelings. The emerging awareness of my subtle patterns has enabled me to shift my habitual patterns of behaviour from the darkness of the unconscious to the light of “conscious awareness.” As I begin to do so I “increase my bandwidth” to receive from a variety of people, not just those whom I feel comfortable with.

Ariana Khent and Annaliese Hagan in a Journey into a Fulfilling Life talk about the need to embrace all aspects of ourselves including our opposites and polarities in our journey towards wholeness. “Being human encompasses the entire spectrum of expression. When we embrace all aspects of ourselves, we transcend the limitations of fear and expand into our wholeness.”

Being ordinary means being human

When we are truly ordinary, we are inclusive in our approach to life and people. It underscores our interconnectedness and interdependence. We desire to level with people and thereby imbue our relationships with intimacy.

M Shyleswari recalls how she struggled to come to terms with the premature sudden death of her eight year old son in a freak accident. She, however, decided not to suffer but accept the pain and says that today she lives her life with awareness and gratitude. According to her ordinariness is a label within a set mind frame and we can go beyond it if we can see, accept and relate to each person.

“Does this make me extraordinary or great? Neither! I am just another parent who grieves for her son and another parent who strives to make meaning out of this life. This ordinariness gives me the freedom and liberty to live the way I choose to, to live it meaningfully and with fulfilment with all who I meet and relate to in my daily life. I find joy and contentment working with myself, witnessing my own trials and jubilations,” says Shyleswari.

To be ordinary one need not go beyond it but rather we need to go beyond the human tendency to brand and label people and events as ‘ordinary; or ‘extraordinary.’

“We need to accept people as people and not identify them with their power, recognition or success. The work we assume as ordinary could also be done in an extraordinary way. We often meet such people but fail to recognize the extraordinariness in them or the work they do. We have lost our capacity to relate with people as people. The human identity is lost or replaced by social markers such as a person’s job, status, success and power. We need to reclaim and own our lost humanity,” says Reji Chandra, a development professional.

We need to celebrate the divinity and ordinariness in ourselves and others. As we do this we create empowering and fulfilling relationships in which we can just Be. Our essential Self, the embodiment of wholeness and perfection is a storehouse of talents, capabilities, and potential. We are, however, unaware of this sacred Truth and we seek to complete ourselves from the outside. The spiritual quest is a journey from fear of being ordinary to complete acceptance of one’s ordinariness. To be great is to be truly ordinary!

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
11/24/12 12:37 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
He is by no means a master and his level of attainment is very moderate.

Every human has these capabilities. To call somebody a master, I would imagine they would have complete mastery in the sense that they have no limits to their abilities. While he is very good at manipulating energy, he isn't a master. Though I cannot dismiss it is impressive for anybody to reach such attainments that involve the simple act of the Siddhi.

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
6/29/13 2:58 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Dr. Claude Shannon pulled off the illusion of walking on water in his swimming pool, fooling his neighbors from all angles, around the same time he started doing options trading in tech stocks, before quitting his professorship at MIT to start a hedge fund. Ed Thorpe, having witnessed it, describes it somewhere. I think it involved foam shoes, similar idea to snow shoes except carefully engineered for use in water and one's body weight. And it also requires very excellent dexterity, especially to make a convincing illusion, but practice makes perfect. And he wasn't even a professional illusionist with all the profit motive that entails, that was just for the heck of it, already had multiple other sources of income. A professional illusionist could read up on that and improve on it easily.

I find the remote viewing community much more convincing. Places like Dojo Psi that maintain huge amounts of information from many, many sessions from many, many people, really leave little room for doubt that there are real, but fallible, psychic powers. How to remove the fallibility part, to be able to know whatever is possible to know but never to think one knows what isn't true? Is that something only a Buddha can do? Consider the implications if enlightenment is necessary to perfect clairvoyance. Then shouldn't one seek enlightenment first, even if you want clairvoyance?

RE: Dynamo - Siddhi master?
Answer
6/29/13 8:33 AM as a reply to James Phillip Turpin.
As a young kid I had a certain fascination with watching magic on TV, trying to figure out how the tricks were done. When VCRs came along I would occasionally record a show and study it. It taught me a lot. You have to learn to kind of pull back and watch everything, the whole picture, not just what they want you to see or look at, and you have to become good at developing alternate explanations. You have to see what is, not what your biases incline you to believe.