More years passed, and although the young man and I became the closest of friends, I could never tell him that his father was dead . . . or that I was the one responsible. All he could talk about was finding his father someday; he wanted so badly for his father to know that his only son had become a key seeker as well. I would have to tell the lad eventually, and then he would hate me, but I could never quite find the courage as each day we became more inseparable, akin to a father and son ourselves.
One night I began my inner work as usual, but was interrupted by a point of light descending through the window. Soon, other points of light joined it, and after a few minutes, there were dozens covering the ceiling. The one that first arrived, apparently the leader, materialized into a small, male being, and asked if I would be kind enough to give a talk to his community. I hesitated because of what Sahmad said regarding premature teaching, but these little beings were so eager. And actually, I knew quite a lot! So, how could I say no?
I sat cross-legged and tried to come up with an impressive discourse, but I could think of nothing to say! The beings politely waited - and I continued to sit there - but nothing came. The harder I tried, the more my mind went blank. After a while, one by one, they all left, and I was alone again.
How embarrassing. These wonderful beings came to hear a meaningful, inspirational talk, and all I could do was sit there like a log. I felt terrible. I thought about a John, Ariya, the sorcerer and Sahmad, and how words rolled off their tongues like honey, yet I could say nothing. This had to be an indication that my practice required more confidence. I just wasn't ready to teach yet, not by a long shot.
My inner work was noticeably subdued that night, starting with the usual concentration of the rise and fall in my solar plexus, then the circle of light - but something was different now - a layer of conceit was missing. I was no longer a great key seeker; I was only a humble student. How could a talk, filled with insight and wisdom, ever come from logic? That kind of mind could never fathom the depths of the Source, and this logical mind was the exact thing from which I was attempting to teach.
I had no business trying to teach from this area, not only did it have nothing meaningful to say, but it would say things that would surely be damaging. I was glad I was unable to speak, as no words were better than ones that were misleading regardless of the embarrassment. Great teachings, I now realized, could only come from direct, intuitive experience. I would speak from only from that place if ever called upon again, but now my grandiose ideas of my own importance and my great accomplishments evaporated.
This feeling of humiliation apparently affected me more than I realized, because I found myself suddenly letting go and falling into the Third Great Material Calm of Equanimity! A blinding, momentary flash of light somehow enabled my mind to penetrate into a consciousness never before experienced. My mind became suspended in a perfect composure with everything equal. I felt no aversion or attachment toward anything, and could clearly see that even the rush of rapture and happiness that arose in The Second Great Material Calm was too coarse. It had within it too much self-centeredness, too much danger, so I completely abandoned it, replacing it with the serenity of this Equanimity that was so perfect in itself, but still accompanied by a feeling of bliss and unification.
"It was so peaceful. I was suspended in equanimity, " I excitedly told Sahmad the next day, “and all I want to do is get back there. "
"You are now at a critical stage, " cautioned Sahmad, “and I must counsel you regarding certain precarious things that could happen as your inner work progresses. These perils are not mentioned to key seekers until they master the Third Great Material Calm, so do not reveal the things that I am about to tell you to the lad. "
I nodded in agreement.
He pointed to seven areas of my body, “These are direct pathways of consciousness of the Source, or Reality, in and out of your body, and as such, they can be a great benefit to those advanced in the inner work. Since they are spiritual areas rather than physical ones, you will feel them more than visibly locate them. I must warn you, however, that they can cause great harm to those who are not mature in their practice and attempt to work with them too early, so do not concentrate on them at this point. "
When somebody tells me not to do something, I have an inclination to do it anyway, but Sahmad was extremely serious.
"You were originally given the breath as your object of concentration and told to notice it in your nose and later you noticed it in your solar plexus. Then you developed your own concentration object, the circle of light. The breath was given to you first for a reason. It is one of only a few concentration objects that lead to the development of the Great Calms. The breath in your nose and solar plexus, as well as your circle of light, are safe concentration objects that will cause no harm.
If you concentrate on one of the seven pathways to the Source, however, prematurely, instead of staying within the safe limits of the concentration objects you are familiar with, there could be harm done. If any of these areas are opened prematurely or opened by someone of a crude nature, physical and psychological balances could be radically disturbed, for there are - things - which can enter from other worlds and take over weak or unprepared bodies and minds. Lurking in the shadows, therefore, is always the danger that a serious mental or physical illness could result when these pathways become confused and crossed, through improper experimentation by beginners. Remember, concentration on any of these seven centers cannot produce the Great Calms, and these calms are what must be mastered initially before you can proceed. "
He pointed to each of the seven centers in order, starting with my forehead, then my throat, heart, solar plexus, the area just below my naval (felt in the sex organs, he explained), the base of the spine (felt in the coccyx area) and the top of my head (felt just above where the skull fuses). “In front of each area, " he said, “discs are spinning similar to coins whirling on a table, each with a different color. In your forehead it is the color of bluish purple; your throat, silvery blue, your heart, goldish green; your solar plexus, greenish red; your naval area, the color of the orange sun; the base of your spine, reddish orange, the color of fire, and the crown, violet with white and gold.
"These are connections to the Source, " Sahmad instructed, “transfer points for those fields of consciousness that exist, and keeping them open is a great benefit as you search for your key. They appear as spiritual areas so you will feel them more than visibly locate them, and each one affects your body and mind in different ways. The three lower centers deal with our intelligence, our emotions, and our experiences of pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Our base center at the coccyx deals with greed for survival. The next center up located in the pubic area is connected to our delusions; *** lust and power. The third as we rise upwards is the solar plexus and involves our hatred. The three higher centers conversely deal with spiritual matters and various levels of love. The middle center or the heart center constantly coordinates the desires and requirements of the bottom centers, which keep our bodies alive, with the love of upper centers to keep our spirit alive. This middle center, the heart, can reflect either these lower centers by promoting lust or the upper centers by promoting unconditional love. It depends on one's spiritual inclinations.
"The pathway through your forehead offers spiritual vision, the capacity to see beyond illusions and control difficult situations. It also eliminates kamma. The throat can eradicate illness, inspire happiness, and cleanse thoughts. The heart promotes an understanding of the psyche and instills courage. The solar plexus reduces pain, both physical and mental, and acquaints one with the body. The naval area controls reckless corporeal desires. The base of the spine increases teaching skills when writing or speaking, and the crown of the head promotes assimilation with the Source. "
This was complicated but I tried to remember each description.
"Harmonizing these centers is critical, " Sahmad insisted, “because if they are not properly balanced, there will be serious problems with dementia or illness. Under no circumstances are you to experiment with these centers until you have spent at least one year practicing your inner work in complete solitude. If these connections are opened prematurely, or opened by someone with an unrefined character, everything in the personality will be magnified including the intellect and the passions. It will be impossible for those who are immature in their practice to resist using these creative, enhanced powers and they will possibly abuse them. And to further complicate things, serious, impossible-to-diagnose illnesses of one kind or another will severely test an adventurous key seeker to the limits of his or her strength.
"The Source's center is resting at the base of your spine, " he continued. “If it is aroused prematurely, it explodes up your spine confusing the seven centers and causing disastrous problems. If, however, the seven centers are balanced properly and the Source's energy at the base of your spine is aroused at the right time, then instead of exploding up the spine it will spiral among the other centers and open each in sequence, greatly benefiting the key seeker.
"In the absolute worst case, instead of moving from the base of the spine upwards, the Source streaks downward through the top of the head and all the centers are burned. This will usually kill the aspirant on the spot, but if he or she somehow survives, then extremely serious health problems follow. If they can somehow rise above these health problems, then they will go on to greatness for as each center heals it becomes infused with the power of the Source.
"This is why your teachers have been very careful to give you safe objects for concentration, " he warned, “such as the feeling of your breath in the nose instead of one of the seven connections or centers of energy. Do not, under any circumstances, concentrate on any particular connection until after your future year of solitude. You may open and close them all at will, but do not linger on one particular area. Now, I will give you the secret instructions on opening and balancing the seven centers. "
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com