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 What is the Essence of "Enlightenment"?

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Kozan
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PostSubject: What is the Essence of "Enlightenment"?   Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:19 pm

And Interview with author Michael Hutchison:

http://athenwood.com/hutchison.shtml

This is an extraordinary story that I think goes right to the heart of enlightenment--and not a shred of religious doctrine or dogma.
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PostSubject: Re: What is the Essence of "Enlightenment"?   Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:54 am

I copied the text and placed it here so it's easier to read. Kozan, thanks for posting this....

An Interview with Michael Hutchison


With extraordinary lessons for us all. This is from an interview first published in 2002 in AVS (Audio/Visual Stimulation) magazine, reprinted with the permission of the publisher and of Michael Hutchison, an old and dear friend of Thom’s. Since then, an edited version of this interview has been published in the new and updated edition of Michael's Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea" book:

Michael Hutchison has been a leader in the AVS / light and sound industry for many years. He has held several workshops and seminars, produced numerous recordings, and has written several books, including "Mega Brain Power: Transform Your Life With Mind Machines and Brain Nutrients" and "Megabrain: New Tools & Techniques for Brain Growth & Mind Expansion". But a couple of years ago he stopped writing. Why? We would like to thank Michael for sharing his experiences with us, letting us all know what happened, and what he will be doing in the near future. We believe you will be amazed at what Michael has gone through, and is continuing to go through.

Q: What have you been up to?

A: Well, up until about three years ago, things were going great. Just like real life, or so I thought at the time. I had returned from giving a series of workshops in Europe and Japan. I was totally in love with my nine-year-old son, Galen, who lived with me half-time and half-time with his mother, and I was spending as much time as I could with him. I was about 400 pages into a new book that I was extremely optimistic about, because I thought it was original and unique, and offered new insights into the nature of peak states and how to obtain them, using reliable techniques, derived from new discoveries in the science of complexity and the mathematics of chaos.

Then I got hit by a quadruple whammy, along with a string of mind-boggling coincidences. One February night I woke up, and the house was filled with black smoke. Fortunately, Galen was not at home that night. I ran out of my bedroom and saw my office was on fire. It was at the other end of the house, and I went running up there to put out the fire, but when I opened the door, I got hit by a dense wall of black smoke. My computer and EEG machine and a lot of the electronic equipment and mind machines I had there were on fire, spewing out incredibly toxic smoke. Before I knew what happened, the smoke had suffocated me and knocked me out. The only thing that saved me from burning up was that the firemen came with some sort of infrared imaging device, which they had just acquired, that allowed them to see through this dense black smoke. They discovered my body laying on the floor there, and they pulled me out of the fire. It was just amazing luck that a neighbor had been awake at 2 AM, seen flames leaping out of the roof, and called the fire department. It was also amazing luck that they came quickly enough to keep me from being toasted. Those were big coincidences.

Anyway, I woke up in the intensive care unit with thick tubes down my esophagus breathing for me, an intensely sore throat, and a big pain in my chest. They told me I'd almost died of smoke inhalation, not to mention almost getting burned to a crisp. The worst thing was that almost everything I owned burned up. That included the new book I was working on, all my notes, all my research, everything. That also included all my past writings, which had been stored on my hard drive, on diskettes, and in manuscripts. Items from the past fifteen years or so, including some novels I had been waiting for a rainy day to publish, my journals for the last twenty years, my books, articles, family photographs, all my poems and short stories and a lot more, everything, they all went up in smoke. And not only did the manuscript versions and the hard drive go up, but my back-up diskettes were burnt too, because I kept them in the same room. It was a big blow. As a writer, to see your entire life go up like that, it's a pretty big blow.

After I got out of the hospital, I was staying with a friend, and I went for a run. My lungs weren't fully recovered from the smoke inhalation, and it turned into a long run, about two hours, and I got caught in a snow storm. I was heading for home, crossing a foot bridge across the Santa Fe River, and I slipped on an ice patch and fell head over heels a long distance down into the rocky river bed. My neck and the back of my head smashed into the rocks. Basically, I was lucky I didn't get killed in the fall. I broke my spine. I was laying there in the icy waters, paralyzed from the neck down with only my face out of the water. I knew I was paralyzed, and I couldn't call for help, because I couldn't breathe. And the frustrating thing was, I knew I was freezing to death, because I could feel the icy water just sucking the heat out of me. Over a period of time I just felt myself dying. In fact I did die, as far as I know. It was an interesting experience. I was having a dream that I was laying in the guest bed in my friend's house, and there was a river flowing through the bed. I kept thinking, "I've got to get out of this bed-- the river's so cold." But I couldn't move. Then I felt like I just floated away down the river, and I let go. It was very peaceful.

I woke up in the operating room, having neurosurgery done on my spinal cord. I had smashed five cervical vertebrae. They told me that my core temperature was so cold, they had to continuously pump my blood out of me into a special warming unit and then back into me, because I had such severe hypothermia. Apparently, someone had been passing by this vacant section of city park in the early night in the snowstorm near this deserted foot bridge, and had seen my body in the river. Another big coincidence-- funny how they keep piling up. Anyway, I almost died of head trauma from the fall, hypothermia, and again from my spinal cord injury. So, chalk up three more near-death experiences. The next time I woke up, I was the intensive care unit again, dying from pneumonia. The doctors later told me my fever was so high, they never thought I'd make it through the pneumonia. After I recovered from that, I promptly got it again, and again almost died. So, what I was dealing with were five or six near-death experiences in a short period of time. It knocked the spiritual wind out of me. I was feeling very low and very tired. Of course I was paralyzed from the neck down and, to make it worse, I had to wear this whole body brace that kept me totally stiff, clear up to the back of my head, with the tip of my chin pointed way up in the air, to keep me from moving my neck, so that the vertebrae, which had been fused in the operation, could heal.

Aside from the pain of the injuries, being unable to move was true misery-- trapped in a painful position, without being able to move at all. To make it even worse, the doctors told me I could expect to be a quadriplegic for the rest of my life. They didn't offer any hope of regaining much movement. I thought, "To hell with that," and spent hours and hours for months, trying to get movement in my arms and legs. I was in the hospital for about four months, when my money had run out, Medicaid wouldn't cover any more, and I couldn't stay in the hospital any more. Like a lot of freelance writers, I lived from one book advance check to the next. I had been counting on the advance money from my new book to live off of, but of course that was the book that burned up. My money had run out, and I did not have any medical insurance.

So the time came when I had to leave the hospital, and there was no place for me to go. I was still pretty much paralyzed, although I was getting some movement back in my arms and legs. My only course of action was to get admitted to a very grim nursing home. It was dark, noisy, overcrowded, the hallways jammed with sickly, frail people, mainly in their 80's and 90's, vegetating in their wheelchairs or just milling around, many of them advanced Alzheimer patients, who had no idea where they were. It was basically a warehouse for old people, waiting to die. So, here I was, confined mostly to bed inside this kind of cuckoo's nest, where people were wandering around, shouting, screaming, and yelling for help. The screaming never let up. Amazingly, many people screamed right up to the moment they died.

The inmates would wander into my room and lay down in bed with me or take my clothes and books. I remember being very frustrated with these Alzheimer patients, because I couldn't do anything to stop them from laying beside me or taking my things. I was too paralyzed. Just a few days ago, my doctor was talking to me about when he visited me in the place, and he used the word, "Hellish." As I think about it, it was like something right out of Dante's "Inferno". During the first year I was there, I truly bottomed out. I felt depressed, and I couldn't seem to think very clearly. In the mornings, when it was time to wake up, I dreaded it, and wished I didn't have to wake up. I was in constant pain.

I came to a place where I thought my life was over. I remember thinking, "I still feel young, but I can't move. I'm a writer, but I can't move my hands, and I can't write. I'm a father, but I'm not with my son. I'm a thinker, but I can't think clearly. I'm a lover, but I can't make love." I had to face it. This was real life. The book I was working on had disappeared, and would never reappear. I had ended a long-term relationship a couple of months before the fire, so I didn't have any companionship that I could fall back on or count on. I was totally alone, and thought I would never have a relationship again. What woman would want to get involved with a quadriplegic? I didn't even know if I would ever be able to have sex again, because I was paralyzed. My young son, whom I loved with all my heart, and was the most important person in my life, and with whom I had been so very close, was not able to come and see me. He was living with his mother now, and at this point I hadn't seen him for almost a year. I missed him terribly. Things seemed pretty bleak. I went through this really painful period, when I thought my life was over. At some point it began to become clear to me-- the way muddy water gets clear if you let it sit still for a while-- that I was facing a big decision. And then it really hit me that I had to do in a serious way what I had been writing about in the new book. I had to truly live some of the spiritual processes that I had been exploring before the accident. This was no intellectual exercise, no book-- this was real life. Before the accident, I had been fascinated with the idea of spiritual awakening.

Now, I realized I had to go beyond the idea. I saw clearly that truly awakening was my only way out. The only way out was in. I decided that I would look on being confined to this nursing home as the equivalent to undergoing an intensive retreat in a Zen monastery. I should point out here that I had always been a spiritual seeker, and a seeker of peak experiences. I had had intense experiences of heightened awareness as a child, such as dissolving into total light and oneness with being, that came and went at unpredictable times, like when I was riding my bike or diving off a bridge. When I was in junior high school, I read Jack Kerouac's novels, "On the Road" and "The Dharma Bums", and felt an immediate flash of recognition and kinship. I was strongly influenced by Kerouac's energy, his spontaneous writing, his ecstasies, and his mysticism. He made me aware of those energies and ecstasies in myself. From then on, my drive was always for more-- more experiences, more adventures, more risks, more thrills, more ecstasy.

As soon as I could, I took off for New York City, where I ended up living in a commune for runaway kids in Greenwich Village. In those years I was deeply involved as a radical antiwar activist. Much of my life, I spent living on the edge and, like Kerouac, often went to extremes. I often lived at high risk-- at times really perilous stuff, like years in the '70's and early '80's, spent living in Central America in the midst of guerrillas, revolutions, coups, and death squads. I guess I was driven by an unconscious intuitive need for living on the edge. Living on the edge and risk taking have the effect of heightening your awareness and making life more intense, more real. I remember back in the '60's in New York City, sitting with a young Tibetan master, Chogyam Trungpa. He spoke beautifully from direct experience about living constantly in pure enlightenment and "going beyond the beyond," all the while downing glass after glass of hard liquor. His followers said he was "a master of crazy wisdom," and I thought, "Yes-- this is the stuff for me." He was a very Kerouacian figure. Also, at that time, I had begun experimenting with psychedelic drugs-- mainly LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin-- and had some exceptional experiences of awakening, such as seeing that every particle and dust mote of infinite, ordinary, reality was all the same thing. Psychedelics took you to the top of the mountain and showed you the other side, but the only problem was, you had to come back down the mountain. By the way, during that same period of time, some friends and I had some dazzling experiences with an early version of a light and sound machine, when we got a cardboard tube, cut square holes out of it in a line around the tube, put the tube on a record turntable, and hung a light bulb down inside of it. As the tube spun around, the light, flashing rhythmically out of the holes, caused you to have a flicker experience-- a kaleidoscopic display of colors and patterns, which is familiar to people who've used light and sound machines.

In the '70's I had become a hermit, and lived in total isolation in a small log lean-to on a mountain in the wilderness for a long period of time, to explore the effects of silence, sensory deprivation, and isolation. This definitely produced a heightened and intensified state of awareness. I went through periods of very high risk living in the '70's and early '80's. I was able to go for long periods with a total absence of a sense of time-- there was no past and no future-- just the now. That included the experiences of living through revolutions in Central America.

Back home in New York City in the early '80's, I unexpectedly got a magazine assignment to write an article about sensory deprivation tanks. The first time I got into a tank, the voice in my head said, "Ahh, home again." It was like returning to that awakened experience of oneness and timelessness. The only problem was, it cost $ 35 an hour to float. As a starving young writer, this put it effectively out of reach for me. However, I had a vision in the float tank: "Hey, if I write a book a book about floating, I'll get to float for free as much as I want." My vision turned out to be totally accurate. I got a contract to write a book about floating. The owners of the float centers in New York City invited me to float for free as much as I wanted. I spent hundreds of hours floating. I found that the tank was a doorway to awakening and timelessness. I had hundreds of hours of pure bliss in the tank. The problem was, sooner or later, you had to get out, and the world was still there.

While doing research in neuroscience for "The Book of Floating", which came out in 1984, I interviewed a number of scientists who were doing research on a variety of mind enhancing technologies. With a number of these devices, I had profound peak experiences. Once again, the voice in my head said, "Hey, if I write a book about these machines, I'll get to use every device available." So, I got a contract to write a book about mind machines. This became the book "Megabrain" in 1986.

I wrote the book from a mainstream scientific point of view. It was well received and well reviewed by scientists. It became an immediate success, with translations around the world. I found myself dubbed "the guru of mind technology" by national magazines, and soon I was doing workshops and seminars. But my real interest in these devices was my search for the experiences of awakening and pure being. I wanted to have these experiences in a reliable way, with the flick of a switch, if possible.

Anyway, the reason I'm giving you this brief biographical sketch is that, as I sat there paralyzed in the nursing home, experiencing absolute depression, thinking my life was over, for the first time I really began to look back over my life, and I wondered, "What was that all about?" It became clear to me at that point, that the driving force in my work and my life wasn't about the brief periods of ecstasy you get from high risk, adventures, and peak experiences, but that I had been driven all my life by a deep longing to wake up-- to awaken from the dream of life to a higher, more real, reality. The whole point, I saw, was to attain not just a brief taste, but permanent enlightenment.

Now, I realized that I had to continue that work on my own. It was so obvious, but it had taken the destruction of my entire life to see it. All the teachings talked about reaching enlightenment or awakening, and, until then, I had unconsciously assumed that enlightenment was a possible goal only for special, rare people, saints or paragons of self-discipline or devotion. But now, for the first time, I became convinced that that enlightenment was a real thing, a real tangible state, available to everyone, like breathing. So, the whole point of these disasters was I had no choice but to become enlightened myself.

I had always wanted to go to spend time in a Zen monastery, so I decided to look at being confined there in my wheelchair as being confined to a monastery or retreat. I started spending many hours every day-- eight, ten, twelve hours-- doing intense meditation. My main focus of meditation was to attain pure emptiness-- the "no-mind" state-- the void, God. All my years of floating came in handy, because I quickly found I could get into a kind of internalized sensory deprivation state. With all the shouting and the screams of the people, and people wandering around, I had to shut down my hearing so I wasn't paying attention to it. Much of the time, my roommate would have the TV playing, so I had to ignore that, too. I closed my eyes. Essentially, I had to ignore my environment, and turn inward in a very radical way. Months passed, and I had some very interesting experiences-- visions, images, floods of white light, movies in my head, thoughts, ideas-- but it was not enlightenment, because these were all "things". The products of the mind and the forms of the world are all "things". The ancient masters are very clear about this. As long as there is any "thing", that's not it, because enlightenment includes a total absence of "things". It is literally "no-thing"

After months of frustration, it began to hit me. The voice in my head said, "Let go, man, let go. Look at how you're holding on. What do you think life's telling you? All these near-death experiences-- what do you think that's all about? Dying, that's what. You keep hanging on to life, like you're afraid to let go. It's time to die." I realized my ego, which is to say, my self, was holding on, trying to maintain control-- trying to remain in existence. I knew it was time for the ego to let go. It was like my entire being had been clenched in a tight fist, and suddenly the fist opened up and let go completely. Everything dropped away. All contractions released and disappeared, contraction of the mind, of the body, of the emotions. Everything's a contraction, you know, even thinking. The way it happened was, just at this point, they came to take me for a shower. They wheeled me down the hallway and hosed me off, and, for a time, I forgot about meditating and seeking. As they wheeled me back to my room, I suddenly found things began to happen. At first, it was radiance within me. I began seeing and experiencing this upwelling or emanation. It was in front of my eyes, but also inside my eyes and inside my body. This radiance began flowing upward. It was like a spring welling up, but it was welling up out of infinite emptiness. It was emptiness, the void, but it was luminous. As this continued to happen, I realized it was bliss. It was just a current of bliss. Over the next few hours, it became more and more intense.

As the days went by, I began to realize that I was existing in a sea of bliss, which we could also call Consciousness, or Spirit. Everything around me was bliss. The simple beingness of being was bliss. It was fun to be alive. Every moment. Even though I was having a lot of pain, and was paralyzed and stuck in this grim cuckoo's nest, no matter what my external condition was, there was still this intrinsic joy at being alive. I began to feel this bliss all around me. I was experiencing being like a fish swimming in water, suddenly realizing that he's in water.

I had this sensation of bliss or consciousness as just being some transparent, invisible, all pervasive substance that surrounded and permeated and interpenetrated everything in the world, and I was swimming in it. We all are-- all the time-- even though we don't know it. Everything that happened in that bliss was totally effortless. I found that my actions became effortless, too. When I lifted up my hand, for example, it wasn't me lifting my hand, it was just this Consciousness or bliss acting through me. I realized that I wasn't "doing" my life, but that I was being lived through by Consciousness. I wasn't breathing, but I was being breathed through. I wasn't thinking, I was being thought through. I wasn't seeing, I was being seen through. When you look at it this way, everything is happening just the way it is. Everything is perfect, just the way it is. There's no need to worry about anything, because whatever is going to happen, happens. There's nothing you can do about it, so just sit back, and let it happen, because it's all going to, anyway.

Over time, I began to realize that in the past I had been looking for peak experiences, states of cosmic consciousness, and trying to find ways to induce them, whether with drugs or alcohol or mind machines or floatation tanks or running or relationships or what have you. My assumption had been that peak experiences were rare events, like precious jewels in the ordinary muck of life. Now, it became clear to me that this kind of awakening-- of being lived through by Consciousness-- wasn't a peak experience, per se. It wasn't rare. It wasn't even really an experience. It was just the condition of being, the nature of reality, the primary, innermost essence. Far from being rare, this pure Consciousness is always here, always the same, never changes, never moves, and is constantly going on, no matter what experiences you may be having. You could be having an experience of pain, and this Consciousness would still be here. You could be having an experience of carrying on a conversation, and the Consciousness is still here. You have it every instant of your life, every moment of your life, but you're just not aware of it.

In fact, once you become aware of it, you can't make it go away. It's like watching a movie-- your attention is on the images on the screen, but the screen is always there. Once the images go away, you see the screen. It's like if you get rid of everything that's a thing, what's left?

What's left is Consciousness, or absolute awareness. Once I recognized it, this experience was very familiar to me, because I had had it all my life. It's always there, but one good way of noticing it is when you have good experiences on the light and sound machines or in floatation tanks. Actually, it's not an experience-- it's prior to experience. When you have an experience, there's someone there, having the experience. In pure Consciousness, the one who experiences goes away. One way I can describe it is that time disappears. I don't know if you've been in a floatation tank, but the way it happens with me is that at a certain point, I reach the bottom of total relaxation, and I say, "No more words, no more thoughts, no more mind," and I melt or dissolve into this non-place, where time disappears, where there is consciousness, but there's no content to consciousness. You're definitely aware, and aware that that you're not in a sleep state. You're definitely aware, but there is no content to the consciousness, just pure being, absolute awareness. That's the bliss I'm talking about. This same thing can happen with light and sound machines. In my workshops, and working with thousands of people who've used the machines, I've found that very frequently when they have what they'd call a successful experience, there's an experience, or I should say, a non-experience, of time disappearing at some point in there.

When time disappears, you're in a place where there's no inside and no outside, there's no center and no edge, there's no before and no after, no past and no future-- just now. This space is essentially formless, limitless, and very clear, open, empty, alive, and still. Radiant and alive, but totally still-- a paradox-- but that's what it is. It's just bliss or pure Consciousness or God, and I guess that's all I can say.

Whenever I thought about the light and sound machines and other neurotechnologies that I had written about, I began to think that what we should be using the machines for is not to search for peak experiences, but as tools to help us release all things and come into a direct awareness of that which is always going on and never ceases. Usually, we go through life, unaware of this pure Consciousness, because our minds are always active, and distracted by the things that are going on. Certain mind technologies, like the float tank, light and sound machines, and ganzfields, can help us shut off the things of the world, and when we shut off all things, pure Consciousness arises naturally, like the stars, which are always there, appearing when the sun goes down. Used in this way, mind tools can really become tools of awakening. I began to think that maybe my work in the future may have something to do with that. It's interesting, and an interesting coincidence, that the book that I was writing had to do with synthesizing some recent discoveries in science with some very ancient spiritual techniques for awakening. In the book, I was using some discoveries in complexity science and the mathematics of chaos as tools for analyzing peak performance, and optimizing the function of the human body, particularly the brain and mind.

Let me summarize a bit. Scientists studying complexity have found that complex systems such as the heart, the brain, and the body, all have a quality that they call "dimensionality". Degrees of dimensionality run along a spectrum from low to high. High dimensionality systems are characterized by great amounts of flexibility, novelty, unpredictability, variability, adaptability, resiliency, and so on. Low dimensionality systems are characterized by rigidity, stiffness, predictability, regularity-- the opposite of high dimensionality. The important fact to note is that high dimensionality biological systems are extremely healthy, with high vitality, while low dimensionality is a sign of disease, age, and dysfunction. Cardiologists, for example, are finding they can measure the dimensionality of the heart rate, and if the heart shows low dimensionality- - rigidity and extreme regularity-- then that is a sign of heart pathology, and there is danger of a heart attack. Similarly, research has proved that healthy humans have a high dimensionality gait, while low dimensionality gait is characteristic of sick or aging people.

I was applying this paradigm to brain wave analysis. Research has clearly established that high dimensionality brain waves are associated with enhanced cognition, higher I.Q., heightened awareness, high level functioning, "flow", and peak experiences. In my book, I was developing ways of teaching people to increase their own brain wave dimensionality, and thereby attain higher levels of brain functioning and peak states. I was doing this by bringing together the recent scientific discoveries with some of the my own work using the EEG, combined with some of the internal work I was doing. At that time, I was deeply involved in exploring Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Dzogchen, and Advaita Vedanta. All of these are based on a direct, non-dualistic perception of reality. In other words, reality is one pure being-- reality is one only. These approaches provide very direct, clear ways of experiencing a clear, first-hand awareness of pure being. In them, you see directly that all "things" are basically illusions, all arising from one primordial Consciousness.

This primordial awareness is reality. It's totally real, totally natural, effortless, and closer to you than your own breath. It was clear to me that these techniques are not airy fairy, or cloaked in the smoke and mirrors of religion, but tried and true, radically direct and totally experiential. They have been successful in waking people up for centuries. I had come to suspect that was what these direct techniques are really doing to introduce people to the experience of ultimate reality, is to induce a high dimensionality brain state. So, the logical next step, it seemed to me, was that if we could intentionally and reliably induce a high dimensionality brain state, using simple modern techniques, then we could directly induce the awakening or enlightenment experience, described in these ancient techniques. Anyway, that all got burnt up.

So now, my interest in Advaita Vedanta, Dzogchen, and Zen came back in a big way, as I meditated, and found myself opening to this continuing upwelling of bliss. What happened was that, as my experience at the "monastery" of the nursing home continued, I was able to shut out the grim bleak environment, and get into a completely internal state of awareness. Then I began to be able to carry that with me, when my eyes weren't closed. Actually, it got clear that whether my eyes were opened or closed, this Consciousness was always here. I was experiencing what Dzogchen calls, "Direct Seeing". It's like an infinite vastness inside yourself. The world becomes more real than real. It takes on a higher dimension, so to speak.

Coincidentally, as all this was going on, I was getting better and better physically. I was able to get up and spend most of my time in a wheelchair. I regained more movement in my arms and legs, and began walking up and down the hallway with a walker and an aide beside me, holding on to me. The doctors were flat out amazed. They hadn't thought it was possible, given the severity of my spinal cord damage. My personal physician called it, "a miracle", and many of the other doctors and physical therapists agreed. Finally, I reached a point where I was pretty much able to walk on my own with a walker. By that time, I had been in the nursing home for two years. By coincidence, just at that time, a public housing apartment opened up for me. I was able to move out of the nursing home into the apartment.

I'm living on my own now. I have a helper who comes in the morning to get me dressed and for breakfast, and in the evening for dinner. Basically, I'm on my own now in every way. Recently, I gave up my wheelchair, and they came just a few days ago to take it away. Also, for the first time in nearly three years, my son and I can spend as much time together as we like. The joy I feel, being with him, is indescribable.

To be out of that nursing home is a great feeling of liberation. The whole thing has been a great liberation. It's a miracle that I'm alive at all, but when you live with the constant experience of being lived through by Consciousness, you see that everything is a miracle, every instant, pain or pleasure, good or bad-- it's all a miracle, emerging out of emptiness, that is, Consciousness, instant by instant.

So, that's my answer to your question about what happened to me. It's basically been a good experience. Being paralyzed forced me inward in a radical way-- something that never would have happened otherwise. Being confined to the nursing home gave me the opportunity to go inward for many hours a day in a way that I would never have done, if I'd been outside, leading a normal life. It's been a great experience, and I have to say that the last three or four months I was in the nursing home, I was in a state of constant bliss. Well, not constant, because there are periods when a kind of feeling of contraction came over me-- emotional contraction and physical contraction. Then the bliss goes away. But you never think it's going away for good, because you know it's always here-- the background to all existence. Anyway, for the last few months I was kind of in this state of continuing bliss and that has continued on for me. But what's becoming more clear is that as you go along, you go beyond bliss, and it's just Consciousness, impersonal awareness, pure Being. Bliss requires someone to experience it, but when you let go of bliss and go beyond it, there is no one there to experience it. What it is, is just emptiness. Beyond bliss, it's just infinite emptiness without beginning or end, God, the void."

Q: What's next?

A: "I'm waiting to find out. I feel like I'm in the middle of a story, and I have to wait to see what happens next myself to decide what I'll do next. I have a book in mind. It's something about what I've been talking about here. I have to wait to see how it's going to come out. It's like the story is being lived through me-- I'm a character being written in a novel, unaware of what happens next in the plot. It's a little bit like being pregnant, I think-- there's something in there preparing to come out.

I've got a computer now and some voice recognition software. I'm going to try to learn how to write by talking to the computer. I've done a little bit of that so far, but it's not been very successful, because dictation is such a different process than what I'm used to. Before the accident, I was a very fast typist, so I'm basically used to having words flow out of my fingertips. Now, it seems I have to think of the sentences in advance, and that's a whole different thing. I'll have to learn to write all over again in a different way.

As far as using brain technology for my own personal recovery, coincidentally, there are a couple of medical professionals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, who years ago read "Megabrain", and became interested in medical applications of neurotechnology. One is a doctor, one a neurotherapist. Among the tools they use are EEG biofeedback, advanced brain wave analysis, microcurrent stimulation, and light and sound machines, to treat disorders from ADHD to MS to spinal cord injuries. In fact, one of them, neurotherapist Andrew Valencia, had come to see me at my home three years ago, before my accident, when I was writing my book on dimensionality, because he was interested in exploring ways of using EEG feedback to increase brain wave dimensionality. We had some good discussions then.

And now, by coincidence, here he is, offering to help treat me, using EEG dimensionality training. What that entails, generally speaking, is suppressing delta and slow theta activity, boosting the scanning frequency in the 6-8 Hz range, increasing mid-beta activity, and increasing activity in the 40 Hz range. Of course, 40 Hz is known as the brain's "binding" frequency. They have offered to make me the subject of a six month study. In addition to EEG biofeedback, they are treating me with megadoses of nutrients, many of which I wrote about years ago-- Vinpocetine, NADH, Co-Q10, and many others-- that they hope will stimulate nerve health and regeneration. They are also using microcurrent electrostimulation-- specifically the Alpha Stim-- applied to specific body points. We are just starting to use a light and sound machine to "exercise" my brain by doing some ramping in the 6-18 Hz range. They're very hopeful that we'll be able to get more current flowing through my spinal cord and into my brain, and repair some of the damage. They're speaking of potentially even regenerating some spinal cord.

That study is now under way. Already, I'm finding that during the EEG training, when I enter the high dimensionality state, as measured by the EEG parameters, it seems to be identical to the state of waking up, absolute awareness, consciousness without content. That was a key thesis of my book on dimensionality, of course. For me, the coincidences are amazing, how all these technologies and protocols and nutrients that I wrote about before my accident, are now coming into my life in a direct, personal way."

A: "Everything's O.K. All is well. One master said: "There is a mysterious power that is continuously aware that all is well. What we call the 'I' is just an image superimposed on that power" Anyway, whatever has happened to me and whatever will happen to me, I'm always aware that all is well, and that I am merely an image superimposed on this mysterious power. So are you. So is everyone. This mysterious power, of course, is Consciousness, pure Awareness.

This Consciousness is the same in everyone-- not the same, like identical consciousnesses in everyone-- but it's absolutely the same one thing. It's one thing only. It's all one thing. We're all this one thing.

So, to sum it up: I'm a quadriplegic. I live in poverty. I'm the happiest man on earth.

Michael Hutchison may be reached at: 1516 Luisa Street, #9, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505, and his email address is Mhutchisonnm@aol.com.
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PostSubject: Re: What is the Essence of "Enlightenment"?   Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:52 am

Thanks, Kozan and Josh, for sharing this account. It parallels much of what I have read and experienced in my life. It is notable that breakthrough awakenings/conversions often happen when persons come up against limits/losses in their life. Seemingly we are disinclined to that level of letting go into the limitless until we do. The profundity of this person's losses is great, and his willingness to release from them was great enough to open to the greater Reality that lives us all. Having been a mental health consultant in nursing homes I can attest to the fact without such surrender the condition of helplessness can be quite hellish and despairing as experienced by many residents.
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