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Stage Two – Self Destruction

Chapter Six

Reviewed February 2019:

My Life August 2001

I don’t know what went wrong really. I can’t remember a time when my life was right. I have had the odd glimpse of how things might be, without loneliness and emptiness but these have been aberrations that have passed leaving behind a vague memory of something better.

I sit here now feeling there is no hope or future of any kind that I can latch on to as a support for continuing this life as it is. There is not one point of connection I can make with anything that means enough to me to make the effort of existence worthwhile. Without an underlying foundation to life, the rest is really just filling time.

I am lonely most of the time and feel an emptiness inside of me. If I killed myself now I’m not sure it would be done from a wild out of control depression. It is more a tiredness and lack of interest in continuing a repeat of yesterday.

The words above are an extract from a diary entry I made over twenty years after I was introduced to meditation. It’s not a great recommendation for the positive transforming power of engaging in a spiritual path, is it? At that time, I was well into Stage Two and wasn’t formally practising the teachings, certainly not on a regular basis anyway, but had someone asked me I would have told them I was still engaged in discovering that nebulous blissful self-realisation outcome, rather optimistically based on this diary entry. In retrospect, which is a always more comfortable place review the past, these words don’t necessarily reflect a failure of the process but say more about my misunderstanding about the real objective and what is required to get there. I will try to explain that rather obscure statement as we go along.

Can I ask that you suspend ‘normal‘ concepts and beliefs for a brief period while I detail a scenario outlining the changes I believe need to happen to allow for a realisation of the Truth. The idea is really simple but the achievement of it is the most demanding and difficult personal transformation you will ever undertake.

One: Let’s say theoretically that there is a fundamental state of existence that underlies our perceived reality and I will call it the Truth. I won’t get bogged down in what that state might look like because I touch on it later and it’s all guesswork on my part anyway as I don’t experience it. We will assume that this foundation of Truth permeates every aspect of life and is our natural state of being but we have become so self-obsessed and distracted that we can’t access it or even recognise its existence. We accept the existence of the air we breath even though it is mostly invisible to the senses, unacknowledged unless absent, and absolutely essential to physical life. The Truth might be seen in the same way but on a deeper level in that, like air it is always present, but because we never feel a Truth breeze to mess with our hairstyle, it never intrudes into our consciousness.

Two: What if the only thing preventing us from realising and becoming that Truth is our assumption that we are this isolated entity of self surrounded by a mind-created world. The mind package of thoughts, emotions and memory combine to effortlessly create a duality where we exist trapped within a physical structure endlessly processing and reacting to all the stimuli thrown at us by everything ‘out there‘. We become so absorbed in the constant theatre of these three talented actors that we are unable to stop the drama they create and never experience the space to recognise the Truth and dissolve into it.

Three: If we accept, even theoretically within this scenario, that our total identification with self overlies our natural state, wouldn’t it naturally follow that by removing the self the underlying Truth would be revealed? I am suggesting that instead of having the notion of ‘finding‘ and incorporating the Truth into our current reality, we instead need to dissolve our current reality to discover the Truth. The analogy is that when we achieve our full realisation we are like a clear pane of glass. The mind-created self is like a thick layer of dirt on the glass obscuring the view of what really IS. All we see is the dirt, not what lies behind it. Remove the grime and you end up with a sheet of glass so clear that it and the view become as one.

It turns out that maybe we are not on a journey where something is added to our Iives but one where everything is taken away! The self is created by our mind package of memories, emotions and thoughts. The self hides the Truth. Remove the self in its totality and you will become the Truth. Tony

Surely it can’t be that simple? Well actually I believe that it is, once the vast overlay of information that is written and talked about the subject is stripped back and we can see the underlying basics. The ‘hard-sell‘ for this concept is the myth supporting a fear that by removing self-identification we must become void, characterless and lost. A false assumption but totally reasonable based on normal thinking.

So, let’s return to reality and see how my supposition might be supported by real experiences, including mine, which if you remember from the title of this chapter I call my self-destruction.

Bernadette obviously writes extensively on the subject of the self and its loss as it is the basis of her book ‘The Experience of No-Self‘. In it she suggests our connection and identification to a ‘stand-alone‘ identity is no more than a stage we go through before moving on:

At one point in this journey, self comes forth, contributes what it can give, then fades forever beyond reach. Self then is part of this movement, a part through which all men must pass, and the only aspect of the movement for which man alone is responsible. But just as everything must change, the self too eventually disintegrates and dissolves into nothingness. The only thing we know that never changes or passes away is the movement Itself.

This isn’t as demanding a concept as it may seem. We aren’t born with self-awareness, it’s something we develop early in life. A baby’s first experience is emotional, which occurs well before any sign of ‘self-ness‘, emotions that are vital to allow it to survive at such a basic stage. Emotions allow it to recognise and respond to discomfort, hunger or pleasure, but not from a self-perspective because thoughts and memory have yet to make an appearance. A baby doesn’t think ‘I am hungry‘. It is in a pure state of just being and reacts immediately and spontaneously to what it is feeling without a process of filtering or analysis. Self or ego and then superego (if you read Freud, which I mostly don’t!) develop later, automatically as part of a child’s personal development. So, becoming self-aware is a learned process and not something we are born with.

With that in mind is it then possible to unlearn, to disengage the control the self has over our lives and return to that observer state that we first experienced as a baby? I know where you are going after that last sentence and I am not suggesting that we return to the crib. The outcome is intelligent, knowing and responsive observation (alert stillness as Tolle calls it, which I really like as a descriptor) – more ‘adult‘ then we have ever been.

In my case, I have to believe that this process where the self ‘disintegrates and dissolves‘ is what can actually happen because this is the outcome of my Stage Two, although I had no idea of it at the time. This disintegration is also described by Amy and Bernadette and, as I doubt that we are the only three people in the world to go through this process, I can only say that it fits with my earlier supposition that this is a natural progression requiring the self to be dissolved to reveal the Truth.

My diary entry at the very beginning of this chapter really encapsulates a pretty challenging Stage Two, a twelve-year (?) period that had at its foundation that mindset I described in this diary quote, not as a permanent state of course, but it was a pretty dominant underlying mindset. I thought I was basically coasting in a neutral post-Siddha Yoga world doing what had to be done to survive and prosper and because of that, I didn’t apply any higher spiritual interpretation to some parts of my life that seemed to be unravelling. There were aspects where the normal demands of life were impacting negatively in areas like relationships, finances and a job I hated, but behind these ‘every day‘ stresses there was something more significant happening that wasn’t directly related, which I will describe later in this chapter.

Even had I been more informed I doubt that what was underway would have been different as I don’t believe there was any aspect of me that had control over the process then or now. As Bernadette writes:

I never chose my experiences as a child, never chose to go through either of the movements that have been discussed, and I know that no matter what the circumstances of life, this movement would have gone its own way. Outside our choosing and doing them, all is being moved by an unknowable intelligence, moved in one sure direction, and changing as it goes, wherein the goal is nothing more than the movement itself. Thus, we move in and out of a variety of existences, different ways of knowing and being, always changing, always moving, and this movement is our delight, our revelation, and our very life.

I wouldn’t describe much of this movement as ‘a delight’ but whatever the emotion it seemed that by Stage Two I was unknowingly on a journey to discover ‘how deep the rabbit hole goes”. I never got the opportunity to change my mind, to take a red pill antidote and have things return to the way they were, unlike Cypher, the ‘Judas‘ character in The Matrix, who did negotiate a return ticket:

Cypher: You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix (mind) is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realise? Ignorance is bliss.

But going back to an ignorance is bliss‘ reality doesn’t seem to be an option outside the movies and the fact of the matter is that, as I wasn’t aware that I was engaged in a red pill rabbit hole adventure, it is a waste of time imagining what might have been.

I touched on the starting point for Stage Two in the previous chapter where knowingly, or more likely unknowingly, we reach the limit of the search for an inner centre using whatever discipline we have chosen (Bernadette calls this core a state of onenessordivine centre) at which time the focus turns outward to slowly redefine the way we perceive ourselves and our reality. Bernadette describes this scenario below in a response to a written question and I thought it was worth adding.

Please note: I find that Bernadette can be a bit heavy duty in the way she writes. Do what I do and just focus on those aspects that make sense and don’t get lost in the totality or negate the fundamental message, which is spot on:

Bernadette: We can only see a path in retrospect. Once we come to the state of oneness, we can go no further with the inward journey. The divine centre is the innermost ‘point‘, beyond which we cannot go at this time. Having reached this point, the movement of our journey turns around and begins to move outward – the centre is expanding outward. To see how this works, imagine self, or consciousness, as a circular piece of paper. The initial centre is the ego, the particular energy we call ‘will‘ or volitional faculty, which can either be turned outward, toward itself or inward, toward the divine ground, which underlies the centre of the paper. When, from our side of consciousness, we can do no more to reach this ground, the divine takes the initiative and breaks through the centre, shattering the ego like an arrow shot through the centre of being. The result is a dark hole in ourselves and the feeling of terrible void and emptiness. This breakthrough demands a restructuring or change of consciousness, and this change is the true nature of the transforming process. Although this transformation culminates in true human maturity, it is not man’s final state. The whole purpose of oneness is to move us on to a final state…………

………….The path from oneness to no-oneness is an egoless one and is therefore devoid of ego-satisfaction. Despite the unchanging centre of peace and joy, the events of life may not be peaceful or joyful at all. With no ego-gratification at the centre and no divine joy on the surface, this part of the journey is not easy. Heroic acts of selflessness are required to come to the end of self, acts comparable to cutting ever-larger holes in the paper – acts, that is, that bring no return to the self whatsoever.

Although this analogy is not an easy one to grasp, I can relate to it because in a broad sense it describes the process that happened to me in Stages One and Two. In Stage One I was searching for that inner ‘oneness‘ or ‘divine centre‘ and this was a conscious ego-driven process. By that I mean it was a goal similar to any external one based on the expectation of achieving a result that would satisfy that part of me that desired this outcome. ‘I‘ wanted to reach a blissful state of realisation and ‘I‘ expected to be fully aware when it happened so that ‘I‘ could enjoy the results.

At some moment in Stage One, that inner journey reached the ‘innermost point‘ and turned outward progressing to Stage Two. I am not sure about the analogy of the ego being ‘shattered, which gives the impression of a quick process while I found the death of ego happened and continues to happen over an extended period of time. Whatever the time frame, something was going on in my world that matches Bernadette’s because she describes the resulting ‘dark hole in ourselves and the feeling of terrible void and emptinesswhich is the same as my 2001 diary entry about a place of ‘loneliness and emptiness‘.

If you are looking for good feelings in Stage Two (or beyond) think again ‘the events of life may not be peaceful or joyful at all.‘ With the breaking down of self, a disconnection with everything else seems to occur over time. In my case, I found that the main challenge at this point of the journey was not the actual disconnection itself but the memory of what connection felt like! The mind package is in full defensive mode. Negative thoughts rule because the memory of a previously connected life creates an emotional reaction triggering feelings of isolation and loss. We miss what we remember we previously had in our lives.

There is totally a logical reason for this very discomforting progression. What we are going through is the gradual destruction of the basis of who we think we are, that ego we unconsciously adopted so early in life that we’ve always treasured, nurtured and protected. By ‘normal‘ standards this is a totally illogical process and the ego-self battles to preserve its existence as if its life depended on the outcome……. which of course it does.

The outcome of this transformative stage is not that we reconnect at some ‘higher‘ level and everything returns to how it was but at an elevated state incorporating more bliss, joy and happiness. Rather it is that the disconnect becomes more intense as the influence of the self – the mind, to sustain the illusion of the person you think you are diminishes because memory and emotions increasingly lose their energy to shape your reality. Take away the memory of how things were, that connectedness and the emotions cannot kick in to energise thoughts to generate feelings of isolation and loss. In this way, we start to adapt to a new no-self way of viewing the world, which I will cover in Stage Three.

If like me, you are an unknowing participant in this internal war then it can feel like being a permanent casualty in a world that is in upheaval for reasons beyond our comprehension. What I hadn’t realised was that at some point I had signed up to a process that would absolutely change my reality, including the connection between myself and the world I thought existed around me.

Having written the previous sentence some time ago I look back on it now and smile because it is such a cliché for the way we think things work. We believe we have a measure control over the unfolding of our lives. On that basis, I should have been aware of and have given permission for such a radical change in my life because………well it’s MY life! How could this happen to me without my consent and where do I lodge a complaint?

Looking back on thirty-eight years wandering this path mostly without a guidebook, I now realise just how steadily the underlying changes were being rolled out, particularly in Stage Two, altering me on deeper levels while on the surface I struggled with losing what I considered to be the norms of life. Life was slowly disengaging with me and I had no idea why. Bernadette was more informed than I was but even she also got caught in a process where the perception is that you are losing everything and gaining nothing………

………. ‘the falling away of the self and a coming upon of ‘that’ which remains when it is gone‘ …. because it (we) never experiences the inflow of new life as the old life flows out. For me, this was the most bewildering aspect of the journey. I had fully expected that as the self disappeared and was emptied, some form of divine life would appear and fill in the emptiness.

This gradual disengagement was the aspect that had the greatest impact on me and the struggle I had with a loss of connection to the activities and people around me and the emotions that ‘should have‘ been happening when living a normal life. I think this disconnection was happening early in Stage Two (I have almost no recollection of this period) but either it became more intense later or I became more aware and worried about it as time passed. This aspect lasted for many years right up to more recent times, even into the period after I moved to Thailand in 2013 when I noted in my diary:

I had a shaky time last night. It comes and goes. Better today. I sometimes get overwhelmed by a lack of emotional attachment to life. Emotions give body and life to thoughts that help drive us in certain directions or to take certain actions. Take that away and you have the thoughts without the drive. Making decisions when two or more options have equal emotional weighting makes it all a fairly “dry” exercise and sometimes hard to finalise anything. I mostly cope but envisaging a life that seems to comprise of filling in time sometimes scares the hell out of me.

Re-reading this diary entry is interesting because it shows that even towards the end of Stage Two, which was when these words were written, I still had the built-in assumption that we need emotions to give us energy, direction and make us ‘whole‘. Having moved to a reality where emotions, memories and thoughts play no strong defining role in my life I can assure you that this assumption is incorrect but more on that soon.

I recently came across another burst of writing I did relating to the same subject that has some relevance so I will share it. I think these words were the draft of an email to my brother, which I never sent, in reply to a question he had about my pre-retirement decision-making process. It is interesting to read some six years later that back then I was already contemplating the mind components I emphasise so much in this document. Reading it today I now know my words describe a dying self from Stage Two, on the cusp of the Transition to Stage Three:

Your question about boredom is a very much an issue with me and one that is giving me some grief. I have periods here (Thailand) where I would describe myself as being bored. Life on a permanent holiday sounds good but suddenly the days are longer than we experience in our ‘normal’ lives. We both know that this can be overcome by creating activities and planning for the future to distract and fill in the time between waking and sleeping, thereby giving focus and direction to life and covering the emptiness underneath.

The maintenance of life as we perceive it seems to require three interlinked sequences one following from the other being thought – a picture of the future, the investment of energy to developing that thought concept, a physical energy to bring the thought into physical reality, the ability to recognise the resulting creation and an emotional attachment to that form.

I have some problems in developing a strategy along these lines. As we discussed on the beach in Phuket, I have almost totally lost the ability to create a thought that comes with the attached energy and activity to make it real. Even if that could be done the outcome is observed from an emotional distance, which is perhaps partly the problem. No reward leads to no incentive for the creative force to work. My life largely involves trying not to sink into inertia but to fill in the blankness of each day’s page. 

The underlying void, which previously had been covered over with projects has been brought into the forefront as a result of pulling back from a life that fills in time with activities.

My emotional connection with the world continues to shrink and has become particularly evident here with less formal activity to fill in time. Decisions often involve following desires, pictures in mind of outcomes that result in meaning, following one’s ‘heart’ etc. I can’t connect with any of that. Staying in Thailand doesn’t give me a rush of excitement and vision of possibility on which I would then be drawn to make my decision. Returning to Australia is an equally blank emotional canvas.

A friend told me to make a list of pros and cons to help with making a decision. It becomes a short list if emotion doesn’t play a part. Another person said to look for my inspiration. I don’t have any idea of what that might be. When it comes down to it my life is filling in time between waking and sleeping. That obviously applies to us all but with me, there isn’t much in the way of a connection to what I’m doing or feeling on the way through.

My life during the Balala stage (this relates to my former home in Canberra) was formal work and projects. Projects filled in my spare time. Maybe my only option is to look for the best place where I can add projects to my life? Build a house here? Can’t afford to do that in Australia. Anyway. Maybe the financial outcome scares me enough to make me default return to Australia.

The other thing I noticed in this latter period of Stage Two was that I also felt that my memory was becoming patchier in recalling or reliving past events. Close friends and both my partners during this time will attest to this phenomenon! The past seemed to fade increasingly quickly as time progressed and new additions to memory had no life force or energy attached to them. Almost as soon as an event moved out of the present moment I found that there was no me to connect with that memory. I could vaguely recall the images of a past event but was unable to attach a real person as the observer of those images. Bernadette describes the same:

I noticed how flat and lifeless it (memory) was – like colourless slides on an antique film. It was dead. Not only was the distant past empty, but also the past of the previous minutes. BR

My mother also experienced this when she wrote:

All the external pictures of my world seemed to appear momentarily only, and then return to the Emptiness. Memories are lifeless, like the negatives of a black and white film, and the constant pendulum of the mind slows down, the swing from past to future decreases – strange really.

As a result of these two conditions, a feeling of disconnection from life and an increasing detachment from memories, which fuels so much of who we think we are in the present moment, I felt more and more isolated. In a simple illustration of how life looked for me then I can remember celebratory events such as the Melbourne Cup (a huge Australian horse race for non-Aussies reading), other sporting occasions or live concerts. I would observe the people surrounding me and they all seemed to be fully engaged, bursting with excitement, energy, passion, everything that you’d expect as a response to activities such as these. I looked at the same scene and felt absolutely nothing. Events were just a play of shapes and colours and because I had no emotional reaction to them, they seemed totally lifeless, flat and pointless.

My relationships also suffered as they became dry and brittle because of my inability to find any emotional energy to express. My partners remarked on my detachment and lack of passion and understandably this increasingly became a problem leading in part to the breakdown of two marriages.

At some point in Stage Two, I came to quite logically believe that I was suffering from depression again, not the black overwhelming despair of earlier years but something equally intrusive on the quality of life and ability to cope day to day. My doctors agreed and as a result, I spent years on antidepressant medication, which took the edge off the effects but didn’t seem to make any improvement to the underlying problem. My analogy of this state, as I told the psychologists I was referred to, was that I felt there was a sheet of glass between me and the rest of the world. It was as if I could still observe everything ‘out there‘ but had no way to touch, feel or be engaged with what my eyes were seeing. I was an outsider with no ability to emotionally participate or feel involved with the flow of life. It was an intensely frustrating period and one I never adjusted to.

There were other side-effects to this gradual loss of connection. I believe I reacted to an ever-increasing loss of sense of identity and inability to ‘touch‘ the reality I sought by trying to creating compensating emotional ‘hits‘ in my life. This I achieved by spending money and undertaking Do It Yourself (DIY) projects, the latter usually based around my house and garden. Once again Bernadette hints at a similar band-aid solution when she writes:

There’s nothing blissful about sheer nothingness……so what it boils down to is the fact that the only thing we can trust in life is…well, money. We blame greed on the self, but it may not work that way at all; materialism may not stem from the self but from the nothingness that lies beyond the self.

These projects gave me a way of making something appear in my life and this act of creation, of bringing something real into my world gave me a brief sense of achievement. By playing this game I had moments where I felt I was ‘back‘ and living life as it was supposed to be or at least by focussing on and being distracted by something other than the emptiness I found that a period of relief was generated.

Spending money was also a way of connection, not just through these projects, but in the endless desire for collecting things, which in retrospect, I now realise I mostly never needed. Purchasing something gave me a sense of control, an event of personal creation, of being God in a small way. An object created in the mind, was followed by the building of desire, the mental permutations of whether one should or shouldn’t go ahead, the review of finances (or not), imagining what it would feel like once the goal was achieved and then the excitement leading up to the actual arrival of the item. From pure thought to the physical reality this is truly a cycle of pure creation resulting in a rollercoaster of emotions along the way that kept me feeling more human and alive, even if only briefly.

The downside obviously is that having achieved the object that has taken up so much of one’s energy and focus, the process is finished and another has to be formed to repeat the emotional ride yet again.

Looking back on Stage Two I spent much of it trapped in this cycle of endless house and garden projects, shopping online and large credit card bills. The final and probably most impressive representation of this obsessive behaviour was a large extension to my house in Canberra that I built on weekends and holidays and which I quite rightly named The Folly. In retrospect, I was blessed to have it because my obsession with its creation provided a welcome distraction from an ever-increasing loss of connection to the person I thought was me. The Folly kept me grounded enough to largely complete Stage Two and set me on the path to the next. However, my second marriage fell apart at the end of this time, so there was a price to pay.

If anyone reading these words is nodding in recognition to the last few paragraphs you might just be a DIY obsessed, hardworking spendthrift …or just maybe you are trying to compensate for a sense of disassociation and loss of a clearly identifiable self and are attempting to break through that pane of glass you feel is separating you from the rest of the world. Have you unknowingly taken a red pill at some point in your life, or maybe knowingly taken it without reading the small print? Are you further down the rabbit hole than you thought? It’s worth asking the question.

The only amusing recollection I have of this later period (in retrospect as always) was when, for some unknown reason, I asked my doctor if he felt that my previously intense involvement with meditation might have something to do with my current disconnected and depressed situation. Why I raised this with a doctor is beyond me as they are usually very grounded and more focused on pharmaceutical solutions than answering questions on a metaphysical level! Anyway, I think the outcome of my question was that he either increased my medication or referred me to another psychologist! The serious side to this scenario is that maybe I was closer to the truth than I knew at the time.

So, what is actually happening in Stage Two, if you believe that some of what I was experiencing was other than ‘just‘ depression and dissociation? I have touched on the my answer to this question before but it is worth repeating.

The ‘secret’ agenda underlying the journey to Truth is that it involves the total destruction of the whole illusional structure that makes us who we think we are. I do not believe that the Truth can be achieved in duality based on a self – an ego personality. A mind-based personality (subject) won’t reach a point where the Truth can either be observed or revealed as an inner emotional experience. If you do have a blissful encounter with an altered state of reality that you’d like to call enlightenment or any other label, then I believe that unfortunately you still have some way to go. The problem is that in order to experience a heavenly transformation there still has to be a separate someone to register that emotion. That someone is created by the mind (memories, emotions and thoughts, as I endlessly repeat) and while they exist you will continue to experience a constant swing between all the emotions. You will only gain peace once the self created by these influences is destroyed.

I say ‘secret’ agenda because either people never experience this process to the full in order to write/talk about it or they focus on more ‘positive‘ outcomes such as the whole bliss filled nirvana mythology and ignore what happens beyond that stage. I can understand why this might be because this is such a difficult destination to ‘sell‘.

Basing a weekend retreat or a self-realisation book, which had as its basis Stage Two is not going to be a commercially successful so you won’t come across it being promoted too often! Would you sign up for the outcome I describe in this chapter? I wouldn’t! In defence of some of the reputable teachers out there, encouraging people onto a self-development path (a red pill moment) in whatever form that takes is vital so that others have the opportunity to grow beyond their current limitations. I am not downplaying their mission.

I was listening to a YouTube presentation by Tolle where he talks, very accurately, about his experience of sitting on a park bench and observing reality in a state of what he calls an ‘alert stillness‘ and I have already written that I really like this as a description of Stage Three. The problem is that we can sometimes engage with a moment of observing life without mind processing for a brief period of time. This is Stage One training stuff in whatever form the discipline chosen allows for this outcome. But what then happens is that, because the self is so ingrained by habit as central to everything about us, at some point the mind regains control and memories, emotions and thoughts pour back and you return to being you again.

The objective of this part of the journey is to have this alert stillness become a permanent now experience and the only way for that to happen is the ‘secret’ part, which requires the destruction of the self, the person you think you are, not just a disconnect while you meditate (or whatever) but in every moment of your waking life. That’s the hard part to sell and the hard part to achieve. With no thoughts, memories or other distractions to take you out of the now moment, you lose all the labels you attach to yourself and life becomes the Stage Three I write about, which is observation without identity or analysis.

When I write about a ‘permanent now experience‘, we only live in the now moment of course, but often don’t recognise that fact. The swings of attention we have between past and future is purely an illusion distracting us from the reality in front of us each moment. When alert stillness becomes ‘permanent‘ the difference is that we no longer have these distractive swings of delusion because the mind package in no longer in control. Each moment is lived in alert stillness unless a reaction is required and I will cover this in detail soon. I have also written chapter called Time, which expands on this concept.

Because of the non-disclosed nature of the changes required to make real progress I suspect that the majority of people are like me in that they find themselves unknowingly experiencing transformation. Without a doubt, this is a massive and mysterious upheaval to anyone’s reality and it is why this part of the journey needs so much time (20 years in Bernadette’s case and mine). If the process happens too quickly without the proper grounding then the risk is you will label this loss of identity as a mental dysfunction, which is probably not the state you were hoping to achieve!

To fall into a ‘no-self‘ experience, even in a diluted form, in the early part of the journey may not be the positive enlightening experience you might think. Would you want to wake up without any clear memories or the emotions attached to them, a loss of body consciousness and no relationship with the person attached to your name or the face in the mirror? A list like that takes acclimatisation! While some like Tolle and Byron Katie have made the transition in a brief period of time this is an unusual occurrence for good reason. In my opinion, the only way it can be achieved quickly is if it is a 100% switch with no comparative memories for how life used to be. Slow and steady is the most likely option you will experience to allow you to acclimatise to a totally new way of reality.

I will finish this chapter by reminding you of what I wrote in my introduction about the various reasons I had for writing this paper and maybe you recall number four being:

Fourthly and maybe most importantly, there are aspects of the transformation required to move through the stages I describe that can be termed either spiritual progress or mental breakdown………… It is my belief that there are many people in similar circumstances who are being treated professionally for psychotic problems who are in fact purely moving into a new phase of life as intended.

So, for any psychologists reading this, please keep an open mind about this subject beyond the standard textbooks. Is it possible a few of the people you counsel professionally who could be displaying some of the characteristics I have described in this chapter and might be in a positive (eventually) transformative state and not just reacting solely to life’s stressors. It would be fascinating to know how many people are being treated for the most obvious while behind the scenes a process of self-destruction was underway as it was for me.

Looking back on this very challenging time in my life I now believe that there was a hidden master plan and that my experience of Stage Three brought some clarity as to what that might be and why a process of disengagement was required. However in-between Stages Two and Three was a little sub-stage that I will describe next.




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