Dan Berkow
(from letters to the Guru Ratings Forum)
Other Dan pages: a look at his email forum
and back to comments on practice and his work

Further glimpses into his story as process

When I was in my teens and very early twenties (I'm not fifty-one),
I went through a great deal of searching for resolution
of my sense of anxiety about all the various difficulties
of human life (such as violence, hate, rejection, uncertainty,
loss, manipulativeness)
and wanting to know if there was some bedrock knowing
about "what is" that one could get to.

This led to all kinds of "searching" through meditation,
prayer, the counterculture that was happening then,
perception-altering substances, reading spiritual texts.
I didn't really involve myself in any formal programs of studying
with a teacher, felt like I had to resolve this for
myself by myself, through whatever I found directly
from my experience -- actually did some formal
study later in my life
in my later twenties and thirties, studied tai chi and meditation
in an organized way, although those practices dropped away.

In my late teens I had a profound experience unexpectedly, not
while "under the influence" of anything.

I was with two friends, walking on a path through
some hills, and suddenly there was an unbelievably
deep silence. It was all-pervading, not "in" me -- there
was no inside or outside to it. Everything was occurring
within it. Sounds like cars or people talking didn't disrupt
it. There was no conflict or anxiety associated with that
silence, no me, you, self, or Self.

Interestingly, my friends immediately knew something had
changed, although I had said nothing.
One of them, in particular, started getting almost frantic,
asking me to explain to him what was going on, apparently
believing something important had happened to me. I told
him I couldn't explain it, that it didn't have anything to
do with something that could be said, that there wasn't
anything to say about it. He got frustrated with me, and
I began to feel his anxiety intensely. It occurred to me
at that moment, that in spite of the peace of this silence,
and its all-pervading nature, individuals could experience
intense anxiety and upsetness, and intense wanting for
resolution, in spite of the availability of this silence --
and there was nothing I could do about that. Realizing this
struck me hard, the silence remained but receded into the
background as I continued to talk with my friend. After a while,
he simply agreed to let it go, as he saw I was doing my best
to explain something I couldn't explain.

Although that experience was a change in my awareness, it hadn't
resolved everything for me. Several years later, I was at
a party, and feeling very disappointed in myself, my friends,
my sense that everyone seemed to be seeking for something
and not getting whatever it was they wished for through drugs,
sex, relationships, spiritual pursuits. I realized also that
there was some kind of anxiety I was carrying that hadn't been
clear to me. At that moment it was clear -- that anxiety was
a generally unconscious attempt to predict and control the
future -- to have some sense of what was going to happen,
to be prepared for whatever it was I thought was going to
happen. At that moment, I realized that there was no such
thing as separating from the present in any way, shape, or
form -- regardless of thinking one was anticipating a future.

Something fell away, it seemed to me the whole sense of time
oriented toward moving into a future, becoming, preparing,
fell away.

That was very disorienting -- far more than the previous experience
I mentioned. It was equivalent to losing all sense of identity
and location.

I quit the job I was doing at the time, spent some months doing
nothing, moved around the country, took odd jobs, ended up
in Denver, met a so-called mahatma involved with Guru Maharaj-Ji,
who was then staying in Denver, hung out with them for about
three months (during which I got increasingly disillusioned
with them and finally told them I'd have nothing more to
do with them) then had a significant
encounter with a yoga teacher that helped
clarify some of what I was dealing with. I would call this
encounter a silent "transmission" not depending on words.

I would say that I had disintegrated, and through a process
over time re-integrated, meaning, reconnected with my
day to day life journey as a human being, and eventually
re-entered that, went back to college, ended up getting
advanced degrees and working as a therapist.

None of this was intentional or thought-out, just happened,
"fell into place" ...

Although I am clear that there is no such thing as moving
out of the present, or having a separable identity,
I don't feel that everything is resolved. I feel that
living through life is ongoing resolution of "what being
is" -- the koan of my being -- it is resolved
as living through, not as being resolved --
nothing seems completely
finished to me in any ultimate way ... just
the openness of living in which all are included --
although there
is nothing to seek anywhere outside of "this" as is,
and no seeker could have an existence ...

[in response to follow-up questioning (in purple), Dan elaborates on the "finality" of realization]

Thanks for sharing all that. Very interesting. It is also interesting that you don't feel things are resolved. It seems one of the illusions people have is when the self 'falls away', everything is peachy and done.

In what way(s) do you feel things are not resolved?

It's hard to explain, but there's something for me in every moment,
alone, as well as in all relationships I'm involved in,
every aspect of every experience, the most mundane, the good,
the enjoyable, the bad, the ugly.

Not like something is being added to me, but something impossible
to articulate clearly, like a kind of growing that doesn't
involve something being added, not really a losing of
anything either.

Just that it's not static, and being completed
and finished, resolved, seems static, bounded to me.

Maybe that's part of the attraction I felt toward being a
therapist, participating in growth, in the movement of
being -- not to get somewhere or become something, but
not like "everything is just fine, peachy keen, and perfect
as it is" either.

And did this understanding provide the "bedrock" you were looking for?

The bedrock was never anywhere else, just like Dorothy
found out.

I get the sense now that this bedrock for me is returning to the what is of the moment which includes dropping the all the stories that swirl about 'me' and my life. It is a movement of mind and so it needs to be attended to. It's nothing permanent and lasting, like a lasting resolving of all of life's suffering, but it is always available.

Yeah. Life's sufferings are a door opening as "this."

It's like "me" is a pushing against what isn't liked,
and a clinging to what is wanted, and the
suffering is the tension
between the pushing away and the clinging to.

And that tension itself is "what is" -- is this moment
from which no departing can happen.

So, it's not escaping the tension, or being the tension,
or resolving the tension -- it's the moment which
is the entire situation as it arises as such.

In which there actually isn't any pushing or pulling,
just this -- no me to get rid of -- me was just a
way to interpret what has no interpretation,
me: an apparent collectivity of memory images.

It seems to go 'beyond' this is just something that occurs to some people and there is not much to do about it.

You can't do anything at all, yet trying not to do anything
is less than worthless.

Navigation: Site Map   Home