Upgrade Yourself in 7 Minutes or Less #1

"The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, which is a translation of the Greek pneuma, meaning 'breath.'"—WAKING UP: A GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY WITHOUT RELIGION (Sam Harris, Kindle Location 106 )

Glad sandwich bags.

Certainly it is possible to Upgrade yourself in 7 minutes or less. And it should make you be better, or at least feel better, in some way. Indeed, animating, physical, emotional, mental, and "Spiritual" transformative improvements can perhaps even be attained instantaneously. Theosophy, after all, is epistemologically okay with both lifetime-developed and super-sudden intuitions. (Theosophy: "Things you cannot exactly prove but seem to know anyway.")

This only potential (my present moments hate irrevocably spending my future moments) "Series" will merely endeavor to present a few things which might actually be helpful in what can be read in 7-minute chunks. (If necessary, sullenly study H.P. Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE for seven decades to get the contrast.)

The best resulting Upgrade from this would be that which an individual could put to immediate use, or at least experiment with, in daily life. Also good would be information and/or opinions which turn out to be helpful somewhere down the line. Even my faulty information and/or stupid opinions might sometimes be considered "Upgrades"—if only in the sense that they could possibly add to some other person's ever-growing, protective collection of already-identified b*******.

Sam Harris’s impressive new book WAKING UP: A GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY WITHOUT RELIGION. A currently way-too-bogged-down blog-reader could easily skip the totality of my little reactions (merely "little ricochets") to this Simon and Shuster publication and just notice the summarized "review" below:

"Buy the book without hesitation; for at least Sam Harris is finally an author who addresses in a up-to-date, scientific way, without theological claptrap, just how to go about salvaging the Numinous Life from numerous old mythological misconceptions and pious pretensions."

Sam Harris: whenever I read something of his or actually see him in a YouTube appearance, I cannot help but think of a comment Sigmund Freud once made about his own "self"—(very approximately remembered) that he, Freud, wished he had been blessed with a “truly first-rate brain.” Here, the major groundbreaker of modern psychology could have very easily been thinking of the rare type of individual like Sam Harris. Notwithstanding, we lesser-rare types need not remain entirely silent if it turns out that we have some Theosophical disagreements with such an Alpha-Plus, genetically Ferrari-hood-ornamented author. Indeed, we need only remember that Sigmund Freud was somehow still able to come up with an perceptive thing or two even without the full, Harris-grade cognitive blessings. . . .

First Upgrade first—in importance for making one's ordinary life less of a ordinary Hell, maybe. It has to do with the connection between breath and "Spirit."

The little-known "Doctrine of Psychomaturation and the Seven-Year Cycles" may help with this. It teaches that the breath-Spirit connection can become even more significant once a person reaches age 28. (Actually, while the fifth Seven-Year Cycle includes ages 28-35, the new psychological feature may begin to show up "experimentally," and sometimes quite dramatically, at the "midpoint" of the previous cycle, in this case age 24 1/2—but for now let us keep things seven-year-simple.)

Perfect understanding of Psychomaturation is really not so crucial for the first Upgrade. What is crucial is just its "heads-up" that by age 28 you will have added a new way to become psychologically embrangled. This means you will have "psycho-matured" sufficiently to be able to "utilize" one additional type of "ego-formation." Such a personal development, unfortunately, can result in increased embranglement—especially if you habitually "merge" with this type of ego-formation completely (i.e., are unable to remain at least a little "Mindful" [do not keep a "Once-Removed-Vantage"] at the same time). This is not good.

Before age 28 you could already make a variety of I-AM mistakes: 1) sometimes you could experience your self-identity as an "animation" or personal expenditure of energy; 2) sometimes a physical body awareness or sensory perception; 3) sometimes a desire or feeling; and 4) sometimes a like- or dislike-"tainted" unit/bit of knowledge, idea, or mental operation. At around 28, though, you also add the potential for making a new egoic mistake—5) now you can sometimes also experience your self-identity as a desire-free unit/bit of knowledge, idea, or mental operation. Your I-AM possibilities increase. Your "inner life" is able to become an even bigger chaotic windstorm of consciousnesses (but one at a time, please) which may be "contaminated" by all possible physical, emotional, and mental developments of material—Darwinian—evolution.

And this can be bad for your breathing.

And bad breathing can be bad for your Spiritual Nature.

Recap: Roughly at around age 28 a new psychological feature "matures" to trip you up—that is, matures to help wear you down a little faster each day. While such a personal development is just another "psychological side product" of conventional biological evolution, it is very significant because it means you are now able to be identity-mistaken about who you really ARE in still-another human way—a way which you could not be psychologically identity-mistaken about when you were younger.

Most of Darwin's "collateral damage" has finally hit the Psyche and is ready to go.

Most of the time you will now have to be especially careful if you do not want your entire Spiritual identity to get up and go as well.

(Unfortunately, unless a reader is naturally very introspective and/or has been a meditative investigator of his or her own "differentiated consciousnesses" for a long time, the "esoteric information" that the psyche itself "matures" may not be so approachable. Indeed, not everyone can immediately grasp the psychological difference between a five-year-old who HAS plenty of strong emotions . . . and a sixteen-year-old, who, having psychomatured well into the third ["Desire-Feeling"] Seven-Year Cycle, now actually IS those same emotions in a "my-temporary-feeling-of-hatred-IS-the-real-ME," self-identity way. Nevertheless, a future edition of this Upgrade Series will undoubtedly try to explain more about this, particularly how it all psychologically relates to the famous Kabalistic axiom: "The 1) Breath becomes 2) a stone; the stone becomes 3) a plant; the plant becomes 4) an animal; the animal, 5) a man; the man, 6) an Angel; the Angel—[7) God?]")

Embranglement: a beauty of a word . . . a subtle combination of "entangled" and "enmeshed."

Embranglement is both hard and easy to understand. The hard part is what was started several paragraphs ago. It could eventually lead to, and be integrally involved with, subjects like "interpersonal clairvoyance," preternatural longevity, psycho-physical neoteny, Mindfulness, Adeptship, "Dark" Energy-Matter "Co-Evolution," Re-DEincarnation, and "The Hierarchy of Self-Awareness" (the latter possibly even complete with numerical "Rankings" and the word Translifetime placed between The and Hierarchy). Fortunately, we can skip the hard part.

The easy part is just to understand the impact that embranglement may have on your breathing.

That it can really screw it up—not only by making its rhythmic patterns way-more erratic, but also very often by making regular inhalations and exhalations way-too deep and/or way-too quick.

And this is just because there is a huge difference between what merely seems to be happening in life . . . and what seems to be psychologically happening to the often-crappy animating, physical, emotional, desire-mental, or mental "temporary egoic amalgam" ("semi-Self") you are mistakenly experiencing as the REAL YOU at any given moment in life . . . and such a huge difference can change your breathing in a way which may cause even more embranglement . . . which is not good. . . .

From a strictly scientific perspective, there are perhaps few, if any, living people (Konstantin Buteyko, the principal breath expert in the asthma-treatment field, is now dead) who know more about the subject of breathing than author and researcher Artour Rakhimov (highly recommended and easily found on YouTube).

Basically, Rakhimov believes that modern yoga instructors and others who advocate long sessions of deep, increased breathing have it seriously wrong. His underlying reasons are at least two-fold: 1) the "Bohr Effect" which scientifically demonstrates that it is the increased vein- and artery-relaxing carbon dioxide—and not the oxygen—in the blood which actually improves hemoglobin release of oxygen at the cellular level, and 2), Rakhimov's own fascinating data which shows that an abundance of medical maladies are strongly associated with deeper and/or faster breathing (which eliminates too much CO2).

Rakhimov's preceptor:

"Therefore, I emphasize the fact or law established long ago: the less the depth of breathing, the more the amount of oxygen delivered to the organism, and vice versa—the deeper the breath, the less oxygen is delivered in the organism."—Dr. K. P. Buteyko

My own interest in breathlessness did not begin by reading scientific studies, however. Many years ago I simply started noticing that while I was meditating my breath often became very, very subtle—and sometimes actually seemed to stop for a while. Naturally, then, I became quite interested when I started running into some non-science-based writings; for examples:

“The act of breathing the same air more than once is known to the Yogis, who call it the Pranapana Yoga."— N.C.Paul A TREATISE ON THE YOGA PHILOSOPHY; Benaries, 1851

“The perfect man breathes as if he is not breathing”—Lao-Tzu; circa 4th century BCE

Eventually I did encounter some modern Taoist school information about what some call the "Fetal Breath" (also known as "endogenous breathing") which sounded at least a little scientific (e.g., ". . . biochemical cellular processes which activate reserve mechanisms for anaerobic [no oxygen] breathing"). I found these more up-to-date, semi-lab-coated "covers" of the older Taoist sages' and yogis' original "Chart-Busting Breath-Insight Hits" (not yet available from Time Life) very worthwhile.

Nothing, however, seemed more worthwhile than investigating Fetal Breathing for myself—and possibly reaping some of its disembrangling benefits for myself.

This was even though I knew that Shakespeare had said that sleep was supposed to accomplish "knitting up the raveled sleeve of care" all by itself. Well, perhaps it could, back in the 1500s. Now, however, the stress and pace of modern life seems very often to produce so much ever-accumulating psychological embranglement that perhaps even some Rip-Van-Winkle-grade sleepers cannot regularly get rid of it.

Meditation, I believe, is the added strategy which is needed. The problem, unfortunately, is that getting to that very deep, restorative state where the breath becomes extremely subtle, almost seeming to stop for a while, can require quite a long session. At least in my own case, way-back as a beginning meditator, this could often take up to forty-two minutes (a 6X7 "coincidence"). Although this is no longer a problem for me after so many decades of practice, many modern newcomers to meditation (and perhaps many old-comers who may no longer have a whole lot of extra time for meditation in-between their organic human lives and their smartphones) may need some little trick to speed things up.

And this is where a small Glad sandwich bag could come in handy. . . .

Fold-Top Psycho-Tech: After sitting down to meditate, just proceed to breathe and re-breathe the same air in the Glad sandwich bag for perhaps 20-30 seconds. Do this perhaps a half-dozen times. Following each time, let your breath freely ("wildly and dynamically") re-establish itself and become normal again. Within a minute or two you will notice that your breath has become much more subdued and seems to be stabilized more toward the inhalation (full lung) position rather than the exhalation. Then begin meditating, using whatever technique you are presently experimenting with. (Use a fresh new sandwich bag next time—germs.)

A word of warning: I do not think that simply re-breathing the air in a Glad bag for a minute or two can by itself be very dangerous. However, afterwards sitting in meditation for an extremely long period of time and hardly breathing at all seems on a different scale. What is exactly happening physiologically? I am sure I do not know. This is just another personal Theosophical experiment which requires ongoing personal monitoring which requires prompt personal dumping of the whole enterprise if you personally start intuiting that you are on the wrong track.

My own intuition convinces me that Glad's "fast-approach-savikalpa-samadhi" is great for psychological disembranglement and efficient reaping of other widely publicized benefits of general meditation. However, my own intuition also makes me suspect that an individual can overdo it. Simple, valuable, moderate, daily re-balancing of person seems like one thing; relentless, super-marathon, life-sacrificing, overboard practice of the deepest type of meditation for years on end seems like something else. Can one consequence of the latter be what used to be called quietism?

Quietism: "An overly passive or entirely withdrawn attitude toward your own circumstances and/or those of the world."

If a picture on the subject of quietism might be worth a thousand words, this rare YouTube video of Ramana Marharshi (below) might be worth ten thousand:


Ramana Marharshi. It is paradoxical to use such a greatly admired (he is my own Number One for a reason which will follow) Indian guru in the context of a warning; nevertheless, it seems only pragmatic to wonder about some possibilities which may or may not be related to his having logged so much time in Transcendental states of consciousness. For one thing, and just in my opinion, Ramana ended up looking quite a bit older and more physically fragile than his chronological age might have suggested. For another thing, Ramana's five-star quietist lifestyle often strikes me a little less like a virtue and a little more like a major abandonment of his own self-reliance—e.g., not only did other people always have to provide food and other necessities for him, but there were also instances when they actually had to save him from being indifferently swarmed by biting ants.

Still . . . there must have been a reason why Ramana was willing to pay the full-freight, kamikaze, quietist price. . . .

Was it because his inner experience was higher, different, or more spectacularly enticing in some way than the inner experience of most other meditators? Was it because Ramana was routinely given admission to the real Club Nirvana . . . while the others remained less motivated because they were only allowed into a common McDonald's Playland . . . which did not really seem worth giving up all worldly jobs, entertainments, sports, spouses, children, and cans of Raid Ant & Roach Killer just to visit more often? . . .

My own guess is that there might not necessarily have been so much difference between Ramana's Nirvana and the states of consciousness attained by other experienced, but more part-time, meditators, anyway. Perhaps Ramana spent so many hours meditating day and night simply because he naturally liked or needed the Transcendental condition more. If one person becomes a life-wrecked, irremediable drug addict while another remains an on-and-off casual user, the explanation could simply be genetic and/or psychological difference rather than that the one person could always reach a higher chemical Nirvana than the other.

Nirvana. In one of Joseph Campbell's talks on Buddhism, the always inspiring ("Follow Your Bliss") comparative mythologist provided an interesting clue as to why the ancient Greek word for breath might have turned into the Latin word for Spirit. It could have been because both are associated with another word—Nirvana. Campbell says that the proper way to translate the old Sanskrit term is this:

Nirvana: "where no wind blows."

. . . Sounds like a breathless, Glad-bag-compatible translation to me. . . .

Ramana's Nirvana:  While I would be willing to bet that there was hardly any wind blowing at all during his Spiritual excursions, this is not the main reason why Ramana remains my Number One Indian guru. Rather, it his Theosophy—i.e., the "intuitively speculative" type of knowledge and wisdom he left behind in a few books. To me, at least, Ramana's words often seem based on a "curiously convincing" personal Spiritual authority rather than any religious, academic, or scientific study of his. For example, when he says something like "Atman (Self) IS Brahman," I never think afterwards that he really should be providing a lofty reference from the Vedas to support it. Ramana uses only one unspoken footnote: "Been There; done That." [1]

Theosophy: “An epistemological term referring to Intuitive knowledge or wisdom resulting from personal experience of one’s own Transcendental (‘Divine’) Nature.”

If you are at willing to at least consider someone like Ramana's intuitively-derived knowledge or wisdom (maybe even immediately "believing" some of it—though this is definitely not recommended), you are a Theosophist; however, if you presently or later Realize similar knowledge/wisdom for yourself by means of having "Clarified" ("Disembrangled") your own Spiritual Nature sufficiently, you are a Theosopher.  The latter is an Upgrade of the former. . . .

One reason I can easily recommend Sam Harris's masterful book is because it is also about Upgrading—primarily by cultivating a new, personal Spiritual life rather than by continuing to community-harvest the dead and rotting crops (Buddhism excepted) from the old, more public religious fields.

"In my view, the realistic goal to be attained through spiritual practice is not some permanent state of enlightenment that admits of no further efforts but a capacity to be free in this moment, in the midst of whatever is happening. If you can do that, you have already solved most of the problems you will encounter in life." [Sam Harris, Loc 696 ]

Another reason that I can easily recommend his book is that Sam Harris does not mislead anyone with the title WAKING UP: A GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY WITHOUT RELIGION.

Therefore . . . let me follow Harris's good, honest example and hastily change the name of this (hopefully uncharacteristically) lengthy #1 in my prospective Upgrade Series to the following:

"Upgrade Yourself in 7 Minutes or Less [If You Have Taken an Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Course. . . .]"

[1] Ramana's Nirvana

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Comment by John on November 2, 2015 at 1:53pm

"embrangled" is now a favorite word of mine!

In any case, the video you mentioned is very interesting. I also found a video "here" , called "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi", that has some interesting enlightened prose.

Thanks for the first installment!

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