The Abhidharma Principles by Neville Ackland
Before this article begins – many thanks to everyone who responded to the article "The Making of a Mess" I have no hesitation in admitting that I thrive on words of encouragement, more than most perhaps. A recent psychological profile I completed as part of my studies confirmed this in no uncertain terms. The reasons some of us need more encouragement than others is complicated and fascinating. In societies where encouragement and compliments are rationed as if they will do more harm than good, people like me often languish away in the background, never reaching their full potential because they don't take the next step until they feel the last one was ok.
Considering my need for recognition I surprise myself by becoming stronger when maharaji's premies attempt to discredit me. Recent reference to me on catbox for instance found me thinking "Is that the best you can do?"
I am assuming that maharaji will stage an event at IRCC in April. Obviously I can't be there to protest but I would like to contribute to the cause by writing to the Ipswich Council and the local newspapers. I'd encourage all exes who have the time to do the same. Even if there is no direct immediate response it will remind those who need to know that the accusations against maharaji and IRCC remain a burning issue. If any Australian exes would like to copy the making of a mess article and include it along with their letter I am sure it would have the desired impact, especially with Ipswich Council. The impact of information of this sort amongst the local community surrounding IRCC has been a major contributing factor toward our goal of bringing maharaji to justice. Local counsellors are in contact with neighbours of IRCC and vice versa and word spreads fast.
Recent reports from premies at IRCC indicate the ship is continuing to sink and the life boats are being manned. This puts into doubt m's plans for an event in September. If plans do go ahead I intend to expand the size and length of my protest with increased support from the locals, including permission to use private land for permanent protest signs..
You ex-premies are a wonderful bunch of people. The website is a credit to the skill and dedication of a few unsung heroes. I love you all. When this is all over and our quest for justice has been successful we should have an international reunion – at IRCC (under new management) perhaps what a buzz that would be.
Lots of love
The Abhidharma principles by Neville Ackland
The original meaning and purpose of meditation
The discovery that we could benefit from meditation and reach higher states of consciousness was first taught by the Buddah about 2500 year ago. If the history is correct Buddha reached these states and gained great wisdom and insight without the trappings of religions and spiritual aids and recommended his students do the same.
It wasn't until years later that future generations of meditators and students of the Buddha lost the plot and began prostrating before the statues of their master and inventing the rites and rituals so necessary if they were to give themselves something to do and create the illusion of meaning.
The purpose of my writing however is not to debate the pros and cons of religions but to bring to your attention some information about mediation as the Buddah taught it that I came across whilst studying psychology. (wow!!)
At the same time I would like to take the opportunity to contrast the original purpose and meaning of the practise of mediation with the four meditation techniques "revealed" by Prem Pal Rawat better known as maharaji and up until recently hailed as "Lord of the Universe"
The original purpose of mediation was and is the pursuit of a healthy mind and the benefits and rewards, were and are, lasting personality change and a life size serving of wisdom. The state of Nirvana, was and is, never a goal unto itself rather a means to an end. The end being ones state of mind after the experience.
Keep reading and you will see that compared to the real thing maharaji's four techniques commonly known as "the practice of Knowledge", appears to be nothing more than a carrot on the end of a stick and the premies (past and present), you guessed it, the donkeys.
Bear with me whilst I relate something of my personal experience and history before getting into a bit of philosophy and psychology.
The original spiritual path taught by maharaji's mahatmas in the early 70's was bakti yoga, (the path of devotion to the "Living Perfect Master") and was promoted as a short cut to "the experience" that was achieved through meditation. Satsang (discourse) and selfless service completed the divine triangle. "Jai Satchitanand" (Truth is the company of bliss) was both the greeting and the catch cry of the day. This experience of bliss was said to be the end result of both devotion to the master and sincere effort in meditation.
The meditation taught by maharaji consists of four techniques and along with satsang and service is referred to as "practising Knowledge". Maharaji claims exclusive divine rights over Knowledge and aspirants are sworn to secrecy before the techniques are revealed. Practising the techniques consists of closing the eyes and concentrating on a light that may or may not appear inside the centre of the forehead…. Rolling the tongue back to taste "nectar", blocking the ears to hear "celestial harmonies" and concentrating on the breath, originally in conjunction with the mantra "so-hung" (I am) referred to as "holy name" or "the word".
Over the years maharaji has modified the techniques slightly but basically they remain the same as they were when his father taught them.
These techniques are quite common in India and I have no reason to criticise them. I will make the point however that they are virtually useless unless practised diligently and incorporated as part of a doctrine by a teacher who has mastered his own mind through introspection, discipline and self-control and continues to do so on an ongoing basis. The success of the yogi is not celebrated by breaking open the champagne. The other point I would like to make is that as you will see when the Abhidharma Principles are explained, these techniques, when taught by a true master to disciplined dedicated students, may result in experiences of bliss during meditation but may have no affect on the personality. In other words the meditator may still go home and kick the dog unless a virtuous state of mind is taught and encouraged by the teacher.
The wisdom of hindsight
There is no doubt many of us (who "received Knowledge") experienced something akin to bliss through both devotion and meditation. In hindsight these experiences were inspired by the absolute belief that we had actually found god. We were rocketed towards heaven by devotion fuelled rushes of pure adrenaline, and a sincerity inspired cocktail of hormones common to both romantic love and drug addiction. At the time these experiences were, for us, absolute proof of maharaji's divinity and justified his claim "guru is greater than god because guru reveals god". Throughout the 70's the emphasis was on surrendering our minds to our master, satsang, service, meditation and darshan. There was little or no mention of virtue let alone its many forms. Objective self awareness and the skills of the observer were unheard of. If only we had known something about the true purpose of mediation we may have made different choices, alas we were very young and naive.
Once upon a time in meditation land
By the mid 70's cracks were beginning to appear in the veneer that graced the Divine Light Missions facade. Soon the cracks were to become gaping holes. Whilst many people left, most of us were stuck fast by the glue of devotion and were totally committed to our new found child god after all, we had surrendered.
By the early 80's maharaji was reinventing himself. Meditation was somehow less important. His commandment "constantly meditate and remember the name" was stricken from the records. A few years later we were instructed to cease "informal" mediation altogether. Informal meditation was what was meant by the original commandment "constantly meditate".
Meditating during the day (whenever you weren't talking), was very popular in the Australian ashrams and was accomplished by focusing on the breath (holy name). It was a favourite of mine that I felt I gained considerable benefit from. I remember how shocked and confused we were that maharaji should direct us to stop. I couldn't accept it and wrote him several letters. I was told not to expect a reply – I didn't get one. So I kept on meditating anyway.
By the late 80s it seemed meditation was an optional extra. My personal experience was that those closest to maharaji often meditated less than ordinary premies, they were either too tired or too busy, this trend worried me. By now game playing and backstabbing were well entrenched and I put a lot of it down to these people not practicing Knowledge. At the time I had no idea they were taking their cues from maharaji. His greed for power and money was reflected by their greed for power and darshan.
By now maharaji had become a smooth talking jet setter. With meditation relegated to the back blocks the name of the game became, "please the master". The premies became more and more confused. Talking about our confusion or our lack of experience in meditation was strictly forbidden. I confronted several senior instructors about this. Their performance, for lack of a better word, sorely tested my faith in maharaji and his Knowledge. It was becoming obvious to me that premies were no happier than those people who had not "recognised" maharaji (code for didn't know he was god).
By the early 90's aspirants received Knowledge in the comfort of large lounge chairs. Most of the instructors had been sacked for incompetence by the boss long ago so Knowledge was explained by the grace of video with maharaji putting in a cameo performance. There were "Knowledge reviews" however. They could not be avoided demand was so great. Again and again maharaji or a senior instructor would go over the same simple four techniques as if there was a chance someone had missed something. We had missed something all right! Knowledge wasn't living up to maharaji's claims. Meditation wasn't something to pay lip service to if you really wanted tangible results, but self discipline and perseverance were not on the agenda. In fact the recommendation was, if nothing much happens after an hour, don't worry, try again next time. This was in contrast to the early 70's when the slogan was "no gain without pain".
Throughout the 90's alcohol became the substitute experience. Collecting the empty bottles and cans from the residence during events at IRCC was a deeply disturbing experience. To make things worse the meditation area, a shady glen set aside for the use of all premies, was put out of bounds. For some a major incentive to attend programs disappeared. The "megga program" that maharaji predicted attracted only ½ the premies he'd hope for. The number of aspirants receiving Knowledge dwindled.
"The Knowledge" of ignorance
In the "mean" time years of intellectual stagnation and spiritual isolation in the no man's land of maharaji's world had taken their toll. The most notable victims of mindless blindness were of course the most faithful of the faithful. These unfortunate few were once fresh faced and free. They did what they were told and with all the naive sincerity they could muster gave their hearts and minds to their lord. Whilst promising to set them free from the allusion of mire he did the opposite. He took possession of their free will and their right to critical analysis and turned them into grateful slaves. He brain washed away any trace of the virtues that mediation is given credit for developing and satisfied his greed for money and power at their expense.
I am not claiming that maharaji has turned premies into incompetent zombies. One's ability to operate and communicate isn't the issue, it's the ability to make decisions regarding one's spirituality that he has control over. I suppose you could say he capture the spirit. It is a crime that doesn't become obvious unless it is investigated. Everything seems quite normal until the questioning begins. The obscenity of the crime and the depravity of the criminal are most obvious and shocking to "escapees" who have been violated and for others who understand the value of the spirit. The task of understanding the magnitude of maharaji's crime is made difficult because spirit and spirituality mean different things to different people. When your car is stolen everyone knows what it means, but when your spirituality, your holy grail, your quest for the ultimate truth, your cherished dream, is treated with contempt and used against you by a greedy man the law is of no help and most people don't understand. Only those who have felt the pain, suffered their youth lost and had their inner child violated can bring the criminal to justice.
The following essay has been compiled from "The Theories of Personality by Calvin S Hall and Garner Lindsay who quote 82 primary sources and references in their bibliography.
It illustrates clearly the chasm that exists between maharaji's lack of disciplines and the discipline of the dedicated meditator. It exposes the shallow naivety of maharaji's philosophy, or path (the road to nowhere) in the light of the truly amazing depth to which the true masters of the mind have explored themselves and the wisdom they express that testifies to their success.
Please note that for the first time in my life I have tried to cure my habit of overusing adjectives and have avoided trying to be clever. In an attempt to remain modest I remind myself that truly clever people don't have to try. If you remind yourself of me you may find some of the big words intimidating (A clever sentence don't you think?) Whatever you do don't give up and don't feel bad if you do. I had to read it four times before I knew what it was all about and I wrote it! If despair sets in do what I did print it out and read it every night before going to sleep. That way you'll be able to send copies to your friends as well. One last word of encouragement…. If a "died in the wool" born again atheist (that's me) can get off on this stuff you can too.
THE ABHIDHARMA PRINCIPLES
Although there are major differences of belief among the religions that contain eastern psychologies there is far less difference among the psychologies themselves. Among their common features is the attempt to describe the nature of a person's immediate experience. Some of these systems centre around techniques of meditation that allow one simply to observe "the stream of awareness" giving one a detached window on their "flow of experience". All these psychologies find fault with humans as we are and describe an ideal mode of being that anyone can obtain who seeks with diligence to do so. The path to this transformation is always via far reaching change in ones personality, so that these ideals and qualities become stable traits. And finally, all the eastern psychologies agree that the main means to this transformation of the self is meditation.
Abhidharma is a Sanskrit word which means "the ultimate doctrine". This psychology elaborates Gautama Buddha's original insights into human nature and has been preserved largely unchanged by the Vadan Buddhists as part of their scriptures and is found in nearly identical form in Tibet and china and India.
What is universal about these philosophies from different lands is not the specifics of their theories of behaviour but rather their attempt to develop a systematic science of the mind. The approach of the Asian psychologies is grounded in introspection and arduous self examination in contrast to western psychologies they rely more on observation of behaviour.
Many Abhidharma principles represent the psychological teachings common to all eastern faiths not just those limited to Buddhism. Virtually every eastern meditation system transplanted to the west stems from this psychology or another much like it.
Asian scripture offers psychological insight whether it is a view of how the mind works, a theory of personality or a model of motivation often in the context of a reaction to a life viewed as full of suffering and frustration. The common means these "pathways to liberation" recommend to overcome inner conflict are, discipline and self control. Alan Watts (Psychotherapy East and West 1961) recognised that eastern and western traditions are both concerned with changing people's feelings about themselves and their relation to others in the world. A simple statement to make but a profoundly difficult thing to do as we can see by how quickly we are destroying the planet whilst our heads remain firmly buried in the sand.
Abraham Maslow in his book Religions, Values and Peak Experiences (1964) cautioned against … "those who might exalt the "peak experience" as an end in itself or might turn away from the world in a romantic search". The great lesson from the mystics is that the sacred (experience) is "in" the ordinary, that it is to be found in daily life, in ones neighbours, friends and family, in ones backyard and that searching elsewhere may be a flight from confronting the sacred (or one's self). This lesson can be easily lost".
He echoes the eastern psychologies by recognising both the value and the hard work required for what he calls "the plateau experience". "Plateau experiencing can be achieved learned and earned by long hard work. A transient glimpse is certainly possible, as peak experiences which may after all come sometimes to anyone, but, to take up residence on the high plateau …. that is another matter all together. That tends to be a life long effort."
Abhidharma – the doctrine of the Buddha
The basic method that Abhidharma (the ultimate doctrine) offers for studying the minds multitudinous changes is introspection, a close and systematic observation of one's own experience. The "personality" (or atta or self) is conceptualised not as an abiding self whatsoever, only as an impersonal aggregate or processes that come and go. The semblance of personality springs from the intermingling of these impersonal processes. What appears to be "self" is the sum total of body, thoughts, sensations, desires, memories and so on. Consciousness is the only continuous thread. Each successive moment is shaped by the previous moments and in turn will determine the following moment.
The personality is like a river appearing to have constant form and a single identity, though not a single drop is the same as a moment ago. In this view there is no actor apart from the action, no percipient apart from the perception and no subconscious subject behind consciousness (Van Aung 1972). A persons mental states are in constant flux from moment to moment, their rate of change is received in micro seconds. Karma is a technical word for the principal that every deed is motivated by underlying mental states or factors. The Buddah spoke: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts it is made up of our thoughts". (Compare this and what follows to one of maharaji's favourite mantras of the 70's "the mind is the enemy, you must conquer the mind").
Mental factors (states of mind) are either healthy or unhealthy based upon the criteria as to whether they interfered with or aided meditation. From a non meditating western view point the criteria might be whether these factors are positive, in support of the greater good, or negative, opposing the positive. (But a suitable alternative definition is difficult to find.)
Unhealthy factors – the legacy of "Knowledge"
The central unhealthy factor, delusion, is "perceptual delusion" and is defined as a cloudiness of mind that leads to misperception of the objective or awareness. Delusion is seen in Abhidharma as basic ignorance, the primary root of all suffering. This misperception of the true nature of things – the simple failure to see clearly without bias or prejudice or any kind is the core of all unhealthy mental states.
Examples of unhealthy cognitive factors are perplexity, an inability to decide culminating in paralysing doubt and shamelessness and remorselessness. These attitudes allow a person to disregard the opinions of others and ones own internalised standards allowing us to view evil acts without compunction, consider them acceptable and join in. Egoism is an attitude of self interest that causes a person to view objects (and other people) solely in terms of fulfilling their own desires and needs.
Some unhealthy mental factors create states of anxiety others relate to clinging, greed, avarice and envy. Aversion is the negative side of attachment. Greed and aversion are found in all negative mental states and always combine with delusion. Two of the factors are contraction and torpor, they lend inflexibility to mental states.
Healthy factors – Insight and mindfulness
Each of the unhealthy factors is opposed by a healthy factor. There is no middle ground. The central healthy factor is insight, the opposite of delusion. These two factors cannot co-exist, where there is light darkness is nowhere to be found.
Mindfulness is the continued clear comprehension of the object of perception. It is the essential partner of insight. Insight and mindfulness are the primary healthy factors.
When these primary healthy factors are present the other healthy factors tend to be present also. Some healthy factors required certain circumstances to arise. For instance, the twin cognitive factors of modesty and discretion come to mind only when there is a thought of an evil or inappropriate act. Modesty and discretion are always connected with rectitude, or correct judgement. Another healthy factor is confidence, in this context sureness based on correct perception. All these factors produce virtuous behaviour as judged by personal and social standards. (NB: I have not fond any reference to humility in the Abhidharma so far – modesty has a different meaning to humility and it doesn't have much to do with nudity either. I make this point because most religions and cults demand humility as a prerequisite before one can become one of the flock.)
The Abhidharma view of human motivation stems from its analysis of mental factors and their influence on behaviour. They guide every act. If greed dominates it will become the predominate motive and one will behave accordingly. When insight prevails the motive will always be influenced by the healthy factors.
The strategy the Abhidharma offers for attaining healthy states (a virtuous life) is surprising (or is it?) It is to neither directly seek them nor to be adverse to unhealthy states. The recommended approach is meditation. (I don't ever remember maharaji explaining this or anything remotely resembling it, its a difficult concept to grasp, perhaps it went over his head.
The two forms of meditation
There are two forms of meditation commonly practised. The first "concentration" and the second "mindfulness". In "concentration" the meditator aims to bring his or her attention to a single point of focus. A thought, mantra, sound, taste, light etc. Concentration on a healthy factor facilitates deeper concentration. After much diligent practice feelings of rapture may come and go. There are seven levels of "Jhana" (the altered state of consciousness) advanced meditators experience the disappearance from the mind of all thoughts and feelings accompanied by bliss. Once Jhana recedes the person's mind once again resumes its former habits (is unchanged).
"Mindfulness meditation" is the path to personality change. Unlike the method called "concentration" using mindfulness the meditator makes no effort to regulate the flow of thoughts. But practices full awareness of any and all contents of the mind – instead of getting caught up in one thought or feeling. They become a neutral witness neither accepting nor rejecting what is passing by. Each object of awareness is given equal value. When mindfulness is so strong that it continues without a moment of forgetfulness the second stage in the process begins, "vipassana" or insight, marked by the increasingly fine and more accurate perception of the workings of the mind. "Insight" then culminates in the total cessation of mental processes what we know as the "Nirvanic" state where there is no experience whatsoever not even bliss or equanimity. Nirvana is said to bring radical and lasting alteration to ones mental states. This is the path to a healthy personality – repeated experiences of nirvana transforms the mind until no single unhealthy factor is present. A meditator who reaches this point is called an arohat literally "one who is worthy of praise".
(Rune Johansson the Psychology on Nirvana 1970)
By the way just in case you are imagining a bunch of old guys in loin cloths meditating under a bunya tree think again. A record of saints of Buddha's times lists about as many female arahats as male. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. A sad inditement of the dominant male culture in the eastern countries.
Science proves the science of meditation
The Abhidharma system of psychology (often perceived as a spiritual path) is essentially phenomenological, a descriptive theory of internal states. When it deals with altered states in meditation it also represents a "state specific science" ie a body of knowledge obtained by analysis, experimentation and communication within a specific state, in this case, meditation. A major pitfall of both phenomenological theory and state-specific sciences is self deception. A person might convince him or herself that their experience is one thing when in fact it is another. For this reason a theory such as Abhidharma needs tests of its hypothesis in so far as it's predictions can be verified from the vantage point of the observer. Enter the reported electro encephalographic correlates of Indian yogies in deep meditation (ananda et al 1961) During Samadhi the yogies were exposed to sever strong stimuli, flashing lights, loud banging, hot test tubes, etc but the eeg showed that none of these interferences broke the meditative states.
More recently reports have come from Japan on E.E.G. correlates of Zen masters meditating using the mindfulness technique. The masters were exposed to repetitive stimuli, clicks, bangs, neutral sounds and most interestingly, loaded words. These Zen meditators exhibited a steady and continual registering of each interference. Each of these studies seems to corroborate Abhidharma predictions for outcomes for different meditation strategies
Meditators, compared with non meditators have been found to be significantly less anxious, report fewer psychosomatic disorders, more positive moods and are less neurotic. Meditators also show increased independence, are more spontaneous, have greater capacity for intimate contact (love that Tantra) are more accepting of self and have higher self regard, are better at empathising with others and show less fear of death. These findings seem to bear out the major premise that meditation reduces negative states while increasing positive ones.
In his text book on psychology William James noted the value of training ones attention "The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again, is the very root of judgement, character and will". James was unaware of eastern meditation techniques when he wrote it.
Meanwhile back down on earth
I hope you are still reading and have enjoyed the information. In the light of all this it should be clearer than ever that maharaji has never been a master other than a master of deception, that he knew little or nothing about meditation or its true purpose and that what he taught his followers was and is shallow personality cult pop philosophy. As a result thousands of mainly well meaning followers have sacrificed their discretion, suppressed their intellect and made no progress whatsoever on the path to enlightenment, a virtuous life, or a healthy mind.
But wait and I at least let them run through …it gets worse
Those most influenced by their master and his "Knowledge" seem to have developed negative character traits rather than positive ones. The most obvious is a mindless acceptance of a philosophy and culture that promotes a please the master, him first, me next, everyone else last mind-set. Following the guru's example they appear to lack discipline and self control. They have become inflexible, clinging and addicted to their belief system. Staunch defenders of the faith, when threatened will ruthlessly attack the messenger seeking revenge whilst ignoring the message as they have no defences against it. Others just retreat into their own make believe world of denial. The so called "Knowledge" has not only failed them it has fooled them. In contrast ex-premies, who have rejected the dictator and his Knowledge of ignorance have chosen freedom of thought and information and confidently stand upon the high ground, having "been there and done that" the wisdom of hindsight is theirs.
Our master – our father
Personality cult followers enter into a parent child relationship with their master that inevitably becomes dysfunctional. When the master is male, female devotees are extremely vulnerable and many become trapped by unconscious unresolved issues relating to their own fathers. Male devotees who suppress emotions as a way of coping are also vulnerable to the parent-child dynamic dominating their relationship with their master. Their suppressed emotions manifest as the inner vulnerable child, always needy and neglected, never worthy and as far as the outwardly confident man is concerned, this child is his greatest fear.
The master of the personality cult is an abusive and manipulative parent. He preys on his childrens'' vulnerability with callous disregard.
A true master has mastered his or her mind and does not seek control over his students. He hopes his students will, with his help, also become masters of their own minds. Mastery of the mind is not a "goal" that one "achieves". Rather it is the kind of skill that need's to be practiced constantly in order to have the desired result. I think both students of Abhidharma and modern psychology would agree that the desired result put in the simplest possible terms is uncompromised self-awareness and the first step towards this goal is to decide this is what we want.
I remain yours sincerely
convicted criminal C71011
Neville (the devil)