Review published on The Zoo Fence (zoofence.com), June 2009
Such Awesome Guys
This book is not a quick read — you cannot skim this book or take it lightly, for it does not lend itself to that kind of reading; but it is an excellent read. I am happy to recommend it.
The text is detailed and includes lots of dialogue, chronicling years of the personal spiritual search in the life of the author. The English translation from the original German flows easily and comfortably, despite a few odd idioms here and there which may cause the reader a brief stumble. I was particularly intrigued by the title, as I have had numerous eye floaters over the years, and have always wondered, in particular, about the multiple flashing tiny dots or balls of light that can be seen easily on a sunny day, and which positively dance before your eyes if observed closely. I had always found those sparkles to be fascinating, and I had once concluded that what I was seeing were either actual air molecules, or maybe even air atoms, banging into one another, or indeed, perhaps some kind of vision of an inner conscious state.
This book suggests that they are actually a visible expression seen by the human eye of the basic foundational structure of consciousness upon which our outer reality is constructed. A kind of matrix, or “shining structure of consciousness”. Thus, so many years later, I was quite surprised and intrigued to find another who seemed to confirm my own earlier guess, however more elaborately and substantively than my own minor conclusion may have been.
This is of course only incidental to the focus of the book, although the visibility of consciousness by the human eye is the basic and primary practice presented in the book to reach “reality” as the author perceives it. The substance of the book is an autobiographical report of the author’s experience in Switzerland with a “seer” named Nestor, who initiates or guides Floco through the process of spiritual development and discovery based on his own “system”. Nestor slowly introduces and lures Floco into this system, which is based upon the proposition that each of us sees dually until we relinquish or transform our vision, based on the consciousness of the conceptual mind that is the basis of our identity and also our normal and external sight or vision, which essentially formulates that duality. He does not express it quite that way, and deals more with transformation of energy than mind, but at base I believe it to be similar,
since to my “mind” energy is mind, and mind is bound up energy. In his system, we relinquish that external reality in favor of the “left side of reality”, the non-dual, all inclusive and directly perceived “shining structure” of consciousness as seen through the eye, represented by the internal vision of the eye through the floaters, which by Nestor’s position, IS an actual vision of that shining structure of consciousness. This left side of reality is presumed to be visible, and is the actual structure of consciousness, or the matrix upon which the outer external dual reality is based. The result of this shift in focus — accomplished by practices, some of which are common to all traditions,
including diet and meditation, but primarily via concentration through eye exercises — is that the aspirant loses himself or herself in favor of diving into the basic structural matrix, and thereby is able to manipulate or influence the outer reality by virtue of the release of vast energy each of us holds within our efforts to maintain and remain focused on our external reality. He calls this the “big picture” and the “small picture” respectively. This is a choice, and one that is determined by preparation and willingness to release one’s customary conditioned grasp of the familiar outer reality and consequent leap into and loss of one’s individuality in favor of immersion and entry into the inner reality, or “big picture”. Whether or not this practice of concentration through the eye is actually seeing a reality “out there” or “in here”, is to my way of thinking, irrelevant.
It is the act of concentration that brings the consciousness to a focus and a point, out of its distraction, conditioning, obsession, enslavement, and delusion that is important. And if it is all consciousness anyway, it matters little what is “real and external”, and what is “real and internal”.
The author, and his teacher, to my mind, has not introduced a new concept, except perhaps in the approach to discovery of this reality, which is primarily based on visual exercises and in some ways is unique. This is not to say that the book’s purpose and approach are not useful or even interesting, for they are both. Moreover, it is not to suggest that the author's experiences or position have no merit, because indeed they do. In fact, because it coincides in ways with historical spiritual paths, the authenticity of the practice presented in this book is strengthened. Its most unique contribution I believe is the use of the physical apparatus of vision and the actual visible flotsam of the eye, easily visible to seeker and non seeker alike, to direct the consciousness of the seeker inward, or in this case, to the other side of the bridge between external and internal,
or toward the foundation of reality which is consciousness. In some ways, the approach here is similar to D.E. Harding’s “Headless Way”, the use of vision to truly “see” consciousness as it actually IS, not as we conceptualize it, which kind of vision is visible and available equally to seeker and non seeker. Thus, this book’s system’s ultimate goal and premise is that each of us can individually affect reality “out there” by practices in concentration and focus. This focus is done primarily through the eyes, which in turn will eventually enable us to immerse ourselves in the foundation of consciousness and use our own released energy by that immersion to affect it by withdrawing it from our conceptual external reality and releasing it, in increased quantity by that withdrawal, into the foundational consciousness. In that respect,
it is only a small leap from there to many ancient traditions of Self-Realization and even mysticism, which require surrender and thereby turn one’s focus inward and release bound energy because of that surrender. This unbounded energy, no doubt, contributes in large measure to the many visions the mystic experiences upon surrender.
Indeed, this book's emphasis on concentration and focus reminds me in many ways of Jack Schwarz’s method of spiritual discipline. Jack trained his students to focus on the “after image”; almost exactly similar to what Nestor advocates his student Floco to do early on. Jack also taught that effective “control” of consciousness, and therefore of reality, was accomplished by generating energy through excitement and transformation and movement of energy upward and outward, similar to what Nestor taught Floco in his feeling “ecstasy” tingles and shivers, all evidence of transformed energy. Having known Jack myself, I have no doubt that his method, and therefore Nestor’s, is effective if followed devotedly and faithfully.
I suppose what I am saying here is that the premise of this book, and its teachings, is another way of looking at the premise espoused by all the greatest spiritual teachers throughout history. That premise being that our reality is a direct expression of our “level” or constituents of our consciousness, and the less restricted and separate that consciousness is, the greater the benevolence and expanse will be of our external reality, the expression of the internal, unrestricted, and non-separated consciousness. It is vital, to my mind at least, that Floco realizes, as indeed he does, that one cannot leap or “fly” to the other side of the bridge (from the identification with the outer, “small picture” to identification with the inner, “big picture”) unless one is willing to relinquish one’s own separated and isolated personality. If one does not integrate that requirement, then we are dealing with magic,
or singular manipulation of reality, which may work sometimes, but is essentially limited and haphazard and exclusionary and finite. In a word, still part of the “small picture”. The loss of self in favor of the greater Self, or in Floco’s language, the “navel” of consciousness or the “great sphere of light”, is the ultimate sacrifice or surrender, and the one most difficult to make, as Floco himself realizes.
Whether or not the book's philosophy and teaching are actually based on a real life teacher named Nestor — (I confess I am not certain that Nestor is a “real life” person, perhaps because the author never really fleshes him out. He seems more to be a vehicle or a vessel for the teaching. But never mind, because for the reader it does not matter; the book’s power does not reside there. This is reminiscent of Carlos Castaneda's teacher Don Juan, about whom doubts exist as to whether he was more fiction than fact, and there too the value in the teaching itself is unaffected by the controversy) — the author's recording of his experiences offers a fascinating and revealing biography of every seeker’s lust for power, freedom, and personal perfection, and fears, countered by the constant resistance to the path and the demand for surrender presented by the ego regardless of the chosen spiritual path. In particular,
the author's constant belittling of his teacher’s revelations in favor of the known, comfortable conditioned reality is well done and honestly expressed. I could relate to my own doubt and reservations that continuously obstructed any progress out of my own mire of pre-conceptions, greed, hesitations, fears, hubris, conceit and reservations. This may be the book's greatest contribution. Each of us as seekers are bound to a limited universe and a restricted perception of God by our constant resistance and consequent withholding and refusal to release all our constructed facade of personality.
At the conclusion of this book, Floco shares with us his hesitation to take the final leap from the right side to the left side on the bridge between the two states of consciousness. After Nestor exposes Floco's true motivation for being on the path as “ambition and aspiration to be awesome”, Floco writes,
It was precisely this craving for recognition and admiration that became an end in itself — showing up in the fact that I uncritically took part in many things just because it was valued by those at the top of the hierarchy determining rules and laws — and that played a crucial role when it came to my acts and decisions, as Nestor had correctly pointed out. It was an irony that it had been, of all things, my vanity, my naivety, and my uncritical attitude that had made me find the path in the shining structure, a course that, in order to advance on it, I had to radically question and challenge myself, the world and its values. In other words: thanks to my idiocy, always “resolutely applied”, I was stumbling toward freedom today.
Nestor adds: By the way, do you know why seers are such awesome guys … Because they don’t have to be awesome by all means any longer.
It is that last statement by Nestor, speaking about himself and his fellow “seers”, which is the crux of all spiritual paths, including this one, and which coincides, however subtly, even with UG Krishnamurti, the great “nay-sayer” of all spiritual masters. It was, after all, only after a lifetime of searching, practicing, and devotion to the path, that UG finally “gave up”, and settled into whatever he was wherever he was, that the transformation of UG into a “non-UG” occurred. And it is to Floco's considerable credit that he acknowledges his own reluctance, nay, inability, to take the final few steps from the right side to the left side, precisely because it requires of him, as it does of every seeker everywhere, relinquishment of self identity and all which that contains and implies. Who among us has not been there!
-- Published by Anna on The Zoo Fence (zoofence.com), June 2009