Q: I gather from The Zennist blog that Bodhicitta is a major milestone in Mahayana Buddhism. Without it you’re no Bodhisattva. So what is bodhicitta like?
A: In my own case, and I am not ashamed to say it, Bodhicitta is more like a UFO encounter of the 5th kind. What I have to tell you is only a general overview of it, but one that is helpful and needed in today’s Buddhist culture which is dangerously drifting into the rocky shoals of materialism. If you have any aversion to the supernatural, Bodhicitta won’t happen. When I had my first glimpse into Mind in 1969 I kept meditating on it nonstop. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t. Then in 1976 something strange began to happen, the clear light began to grow in me for some unexplained reason. To make a long story short, a spiritual being entered me and demanded of me, “You have something to show me.” Well, the only thing I had to show was my meditational practice—my glimpse into Mind. I demonstrated it to this spiritual being. I must have hit the jackpot. The clear light really increased, my friends who happened to be there at the time felt it also. All of us were blissed out. At this point being skeptical is not an option. The three of us were blissed out—and I had this being communicating with me, a female-like personality who, by the way, had a great sense of humor. At times the bliss was so powerful I couldn’t do anything but sit. My other friends had to do the same. Over several days I could ask the spiritual being to leave or to come back. I had to do this because I couldn’t even drive or run errands. I mean the bliss is powerful. Then one night the being told me to stand up and hold my arms in a certain way. Suddenly a great being came in front of me. I showed him my meditation practice. Then another one came, and still another. They empowered me with such energy, I was almost terrified. The spiritual being instructed me to stand there until they were finished with their empowerment (I had no idea what they were doing). The next day, I realized like Dorothy in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. From that point on, I was seeing the world from a non-human perspective. Everything I beheld, including my ordinary thoughts, were bliss-like. The food I ate was bliss, the trees I saw were bliss—even the sun was, which I could look into for as long as I wished (my friends could also do this). I thought to myself that this must be how the Buddha and his disciples saw things. What a cool way to live! During this time I learned that death really didn’t exist. One could even heal the sick and become invisible to others (my friends could do all of this). But most strange was the fact that when you looked at people, only a few seemed to see you. The rest looked like Zombies. The ones who could see you were smiling and beautiful—just so happy. During this time I was told many things, even where I would be in exactly ten years and the fact that I would be sustained by these beings who were my teachers. Okay! I went along with the program. I turned my life over to their teaching. I was convinced.
Q: Did you ever doubt this afterwards? Did you ever think you were crazy?
A: It was not at all subjective. Anyone who was with me either felt this powerful light and could do what I did or they were like Zombies—the walking dead. The spiritual being who was with me made sure nothing subjective was ever the case.
Q: So did this state eventually go away?
A: Yes, and for the simple reason that these beings could only push back my all-too-human perception of the world for about two weeks. Then the force of my old habits took over. After that, the path I entered was one of self-development. I had to figure out how to be like them—back engineering what had happened to me, in other words. An empowerment such as this, I discovered much later, let’s you see what a Buddha sees. The only problem is, is that you are like a baby Buddha at the time. You still have to grow up. This is the path of the Bodhisattva, of keeping faith with Bodhicitta never forgetting it. It is also learning about desire for material things, that it occludes the spiritual light. The Zombie-like people were just the spiritually blind. You might talk to these people for years, they would never be anymore than spiritually blind. I saw them as being deluded, hateful, and desirous of the wrong things.
Q: So you had no compassion for these spiritually blind people?
A: Compassion is always going out, like the rays of the sun. And like with the sun, you can close your eyes or open them. The spiritual beings only teach those who will fully accept the spiritual path—make the required leap for it, in other words. It is a fool who imagines that a Buddha or a Jesus seeks out special, hardcore assholes to awaken. I write this blog to benefit spiritually oriented people—not assholes. Unfortunately, there are too many assholes in Buddhism—the dog in the manger—who want to destroy the true teachings of the Buddha. They will insinuate that what happened to me doesn’t happen in Buddhism. Well, they are the crazy ones. I guess they’ve never actually studied Buddhism.
Q: What happened to you makes Buddhism seem difficult for the average person to understand let alone accomplish. Do you think that this is the reason why people much prefer to have a dumbed down Buddhism?
A: Sure, one very much in agreement with their own stupid views of the world. That is like a fly who wishes a Buddha fly would make a world of great smelling shit. But it’s not going to happen. Buddhism is really about awakening to the absolute substance of reality—the substance that makes up thoughts, space, electrons, gods, ordinary humans, animals, ham sandwiches, and so on. This substance is Mind. When these beings empowered me, what I saw after that was all phenomena, including even our sun, are just compositions of Mind. To see the world that way is truly beautiful. To see it otherwise is samsara.
Q: Do you worry about having shared this experience with me? I mean it is strange. I don’t think a lot of people who read this are going to feel comfortable with what you’ve said.
A: At my age I can’t worry about such things. What happened to me happened to me. Anyone who says it didn’t is certainly a liar—and has bad karma. The amazing thing about this experience that I shared with you is that for me the Buddhist canon makes perfect sense. Admittedly, at times it is like a jigsaw puzzle. But all the pieces fit together. What makes Buddhism difficult to comprehend is the fact that we have never entered the spiritual stream. We are clueless as to what spirit is. So we don’t know how to read the canon—not in the right way.