At the request of some TMFree readers, this is the second of a series of eight essays on Robin Woodsworth Carlsen.
This series is provided with permission of their anonymous author.
We at TMFree do not ascribe to Carlsen's 'teachings.' This series is provided for those who wish to review philosophies of Robin Woodsworth Carlsen. Carlsen was one of many Maharishi TM-spinoff gurus.
Part one of this series can be read here.
The Writings of Robin Woodsworth Carlsen: Part 2
Carlsen continues on his road to the Enlightened Dawn.
[Excerpts from From" Ignorance to Enlightenment: An Autobiography" © Robin Woodsworth Carlsen, 1980, ISBN 0-920910-06-8]
I was still as enthusiastic as ever about meditation, but I also realized how necessary it was that I become fully developed as an individual--skilled, efficient, creative--apart from the radiance of my heart, the expanded purity of my consciousness. Yes, I was adept--exceptionally so--regarding the theatre of my personality, as a divine manipulator/actor of feeling (by this time always in the service of evolution), but I wanted also to achieve something that would give me more credibility as someone who could give to others the highest knowledge, the most perfect technique for fulfillment.
But as I continued the year, I sensed the gathering of grace (particularly noticeable in the context of giving "residence courses", weekend seminar-type advanced training to meditators, where questions came up, and demands were made, that fully extended my personality, my intuition, my heart-wisdom). Then I received a letter indicating I was accepted as a graduate student in Theatre at the University of Victoria; knowing I had several courses to make up in order to get off to the right start, I realized my summer would be taken up, that I wouldn't have the chance to attend an "ATR" (Advanced Training and Rounding course) set up by Maharishi to accelerate the growth of his teachers, and for purposes of long rounding to deepen one's experience of Being, to release the impurities one had gathered in the course of activity within our stressed civilization.
Another course had been announced for March 15th, and I decided to resign from my teaching position in order to attend, confirming at the same time that I would enroll for a Master's degree beginning in the summer.
My resignation was accepted--much to the regret of my students--and the morning after a spectacular appearance by Maharishi on the Merv Griffin Show, I was off to Switzerland once again, stopping off to be nourished by a devoted mother, who was still teaching just south of Toronto.
And here as I arrived in Zurich began another formative phase in my journey to wholeness. The course office had notified Canadians that the site of the ATR was to be Arosa, and that the course was to begin on the 22nd. Well, I arrived on the evening of the 21st and at the only hotel I recognized by name, the Prâtchli, there was only one light on--there was about three feet of snow on the ground, and it was only by accident that the taxicab driver ended up at the Prâtchli. (I had asked him the names of the various hotels as they all appeared shut down for the season; the Prâtchli was only the final possibility.)
Well, this "error" on my part--I had left just before Ottawa had telegrammed to announce a four day delay of the course, and a different venue--proved once again to be beneficently arranged and exploited by Nature. The hotel owners at the Prâtchli put me up for the night--I was the only guest--and then made contact with the hotel near Lucerne, the Park Hotel, where Maharishi was staying. Stranded as I was, I was able to persuade John Cowhig, Maharishi's personal secretary, and brother to Gemma Field, who, with her husband Fraser, were two of my dearest friends, to arrange for me to stay in Gersau, just a few miles from Maharishi's hotel. Once established I was able to spend all my time at the Park Hotel, playing out this more favourable option, mixing with the various people who had the closest contact with Maharishi. Somehow I managed to find myself only a few feet away from Maharishi at most of the lectures, videotaping, and inauguration ceremonies. The section I was in was reserved for Maharishi International University faculty and guests. I did not know this, and I imagine the reason I was not asked to move was that I appeared to be a special guest. In any case, I spent seven days there basking in the sunlight of Maharishi's consciousness, sensitizing myself to the whole drama of his role, the relationship he had with the other teachers there.
It sounds mystical and perhaps presumptuous, but the bond between Maharishi and myself, first begun at Queen's University when I stood at one of the stage doors as an usher, and later strengthened during my teacher training course and especially at the time of being made an initiator, now became the dominant reality of my life. Each word, each gesture, the invisible spiritual consciousness and focus behind his apparent physical and obvious one, seemed directed towards my soul. I knew he knew I was there. I also knew he was still far too holy and infinite for me to touch. I could become enraptured by his beauty, the subtle movements of his cosmic mind, but apart from my extraordinary appreciation, Robin Carlsen, the being, was still very much in ignorance, very much less than I wanted to be.
The time finally came for me to go to the course, now held in Courchevel, France. There I began a ten week residence and almost at the start slipped into what appeared to be a higher state of consciousness. Maharishi had spoken of four states of consciousness that in evolving progression signified the steps of Enlightenment. First off after transcendental consciousness--the state a meditator reaches during his meditation--is cosmic consciousness, in which the perceiver is established in pure consciousness but perceives the rest of the world to still be finite. In other words he becomes infinity witnessing the finite, his own body and personality being part of that finiteness. Well this corresponded exactly with my experience: I floated in a kind of absolute bliss and watched as my mouth uttered sounds, as my body moved, as my individuality carried out its natural actions. In the midst of the experience I thought--or rather I witnessed the thought come: Maharishi says the real test is sleep--if pure consciousness stays awake while everything else sleeps, then one knows one is in CC. It was not long after retiring for the night that I awakened to my old boundaries, but I had experienced all the characteristics of an advanced state of consciousness, and this was gratifying indeed.
For the first six weeks the emphasis was on rounding, but then Maharishi announced the special surprise, hinted at when he was inaugurating MERU, Maharishi European Research University, while in Weggis, near the Park Hotel where I had spent the first week of my "unofficial" ATR.
Now up until this point I had gained concrete results from the long sessions of meditation and was fully prepared to leave for home knowing I had been graced, knowing that each moment had been used wisely. At the same time, just before Maharishi's announcement of his special evolutionary package (what turned out to be some awesomely powerful advanced techniques of expansion of consciousness) I received a letter from the Dean of Graduate Studies informing me I had been awarded a forty-eight hundred dollar fellowship, renewable the following year. This eased any financial worries I might have had, and in the eyes of my parents, gave me more right to enjoy this obsession with meditation, Maharishi, and Switzerland.
But here we were, about to return home, and Maharishi was promising to deliver some "powers" that would put us up there with Christ and Buddha. He said the atmosphere had become pure enough for some added techniques that would greatly speed up our evolution. Now it is important to point out that up until this time Maharishi had emphasized again and again that one must "capture the fort" (pure consciousness, Being) and then "enjoy the surrounding territory". In other words, the technique of Transcendental Meditation led to the wholeness of life, within which were all the "powers", e.g. telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. If one focused on acquiring these powers before acquiring the Fort, then one might get caught up in the enticements of a diamond mine, and never reach the source of those diamonds.
Now here was Maharishi openly discussing the acquisition of special powers, powers based on something he called "ritam", the power of manifesting the object of one's desire at will. It apparently worked like this: when we received our initiation into these advanced techniques, we would find that we could influence Creation on the level of our own desire, since we would be able to entertain that desire just at the point where Being was structuring the forms of itself, i.e. the unmanifest was becoming manifest. In this way one could spontaneously decide to see something, know something, touch something, and lo, it would materialize.
All this seemed pretty heretical given our well-preserved assumptions of innocence, and getting to the source before playing with the parts, but Maharishi had the unquestioned authority of his consciousness, and although what he was saying seemed contradictory, it must after all be right. In any case the proposition was exciting. Those of us who decided to stay--and there didn't seem to be any decision to make: if one had the misfortune of some irrevocable commitment at home, that would be cruel karma indeed--filled out application forms in which we stated whether we had experienced cosmic consciousness and/or "kundalini" up the spine. The kundalini experience seemed a fairly isolated kind of thing, and certainly was not a part of my remembered experiences, but the wholeness of CC, that was indeed convincingly a part of my evolutionary heritage, although at the time I was of course back in waking state--pre-CC-consciousness, along with everyone else excepting Maharishi.
Now as we were just about to leave for another area of France, I had done a somersault while running down a steep hill while attempting a shortcut through a dry river bed. It was a spectacular fall; miraculously in spite of the sharp rocks all around me, I escaped with a minor cut on my knee and grass stains on my blazer, but in the shock of the experience I felt the purification that it accomplished, that, as I was headed for something sacred and beautiful--a gift from the gods--I first had to earn this privilege, and in the sudden helplessness and vulnerability of that fall, something was paid back, and by the time I was on my feet I felt considerably lighter, more prepared for the blessings that were to come. By now I had interpreted each incident in my life--painful or otherwise--as fraught with meaning and spiritual significance. Never since my first transcendence did I for a moment question the wisdom behind each event, circumstance of my existence. In the case of the fall, it was yet another indication to me of the special attention I was receiving, this, that I might fully deserve the increasingly beautiful pattern of my destiny.
Once we had made the move to the remote ski resort of Place d'Ors we were divided up into groups according to the information we supplied on the forms. Now Maharishi has always been one for getting people to describe their "experiences", and once one knew that "positive" experiences were more likely to bring about the most potent of techniques, naturally each teacher tended to view his meditation history in the most positive light. There could be no question of the purity, the efficacy of the technique of TM, but the psychology of the meditator--his or her affirmation of real spiritual progress--was a most necessary feature of a teacher's life, and constantly Maharishi would play with the subjective vulnerability of his teachers, using "experience" questions to form various gradations, castes, and groups. Ultimately it really did not matter what sort of experiences one was having; the thing was to keep meditating, to realize the applied value of the technique in one's everyday life. But the interest in what group one would be placed in added to the secrecy and spiritual hullaballoo surrounding the new program. In my own case, despite disclaiming any "flashy" experiences of kundalini or even special powers, I was aware constantly of the perfect relationship I had with Nature: perfect not in the sense of my own perfection, but perfect in that I knew I was doing what was expected of me, that meditation was providing exactly what my soul needed, that I was in touch always with the appropriateness of whatever happened. For me the important thing was to receive the program; the touchstone of evolution remained always the beauty, the grace, the intelligence with which one lived, with which one emanated one's influence and uniqueness into the world.
In our hotel there were about sixty of us, and half of us--the men--met with Maharishi in a modest waiting room. Here we heard Maharishi discuss further enrichment of the program he was about to give us: a six month course which practically carried the guarantee of Unity Consciousness, the second stage of Enlightenment after cosmic consciousness, and for all intents and purposes, the supreme achievement of life. I was one of those who gave my name--the course was to start right away, the applicants would wait to receive the program--but with my commitment to graduate school, the fellowship, and minus the thirty-six hundred dollar course fee, I reconsidered and thus allowed myself to receive what Maharishi was to give to us right then and there; apparently only a fraction of what awaited the "six-month" participants.
It turned out to be plenty, making more than a fractional difference to my evolution. But before I describe my experiences under the new program I should point out a decisive event that altered my whole approach to my evolution. On the morning before we were to receive the first installment of our program--there was to be about seven separate initiations--I found myself pushed to the front of the huge throng of teachers. (This meeting was going on at the more central hotel and included as well as participants from the other hotels, about eight hundred newly arrived teachers about to begin their ATR--Maharishi's announcement of the special program occurred after the next course had already been planned, so here were hundreds of teachers hearing the news, having to wait until they had completed their initial six weeks of rounding.) Maharishi was at the front with eyes closed as one member of the Vedic Studies group demonstrated the "third set" of asanas (hatha yoga exercises) while another provided the commentary.
Now I had been assiduous in my regular "twisting and bending" as Maharishi called it, and had moved up from the first level to the second. But it had been emphatically registered upon my mind that these asanas were at best lubricative--they loosened up the physiology--and homogenizing--they spread the effects of meditation evenly throughout the body. In no sense was it made clear they were necessary, although "in the field" (back home in activity) we were encouraged to do one set a day. During rounding it was advisable to break up long sessions of meditation with physical exercise, but I never considered these "postures of devotion" (as they became for me later) vital to my evolution.
Well, Maharishi was obviously shifting his attention, and although many in the crowd ho-hummed at the demonstration, I picked up the significance of the event and studied each posture closely, realizing as I did how much more adept the asana demonstrator was than myself, how more sophisticated and "athletic" the third and final set was.
I had been passionately committed to sports and fitness in my high school days, but having developed strong intellectual and then spiritual interests, my concern with the calisthenic flexibility and strength of my body had diminished. Meditation with light asanas provided me with a distinct sense of well-being, and I experienced my physiology to be, while not ruggedly conditioned, nevertheless responsive, coordinated, and "sattvic" (composed of molecules that increasingly reflected light and purity: the criterion of real fitness). Now here as I watched the suppleness and grace of the boy performing the asanas, I felt an inspiration to perfect myself in this way, as it was clear Maharishi was suddenly attaching unprecedented importance to this aspect of rounding. He even recommended "full lotus"--if one could manage it. Even sitting for a while, in pain, was not a bad idea. Now that shocked me: I could not even come close to getting my legs in a position to accomplish this classic yogic pose, but here Maharishi was inspiring us to do so. With my usual intensity of purpose, I vowed I would do everything possible to master these postures and be able to sit in the full lotus--right through my meditation.
I returned to my room and then decided to check once again on certain fine points of the advanced asanas. Watching another teacher effortlessly perform bodily positions I only crudely could approximate, I felt the exhilaration of knowing here was something I could perfect, that would take me nearer to God. In one sense I was ashamed that I had been--unwittingly so--negligent in not refining my asana technique, but my athletic experience--cross country, track, basketball--now proved useful; I set myself the goal of actualizing whatever flexibility and dexterity was available and began the painful process of inching my way into the full lotus.
Well, just at this time we were presented with the first series of techniques, and their results were so powerful that it became easy to endure the discomfort and soreness of my asana regime. The bliss produced by the new program allowed me a divine distraction while I pressed one leg over the other, and, as the days went on, I came to depend on the lotus, for in the (by now I could hold on for about ten minutes) classic posture, there seemed to be a perfect balance and physiological unity to support the experience of bliss. My head filled up with energy and "prana" (life-giving, pure breath), and the pain just turned into ecstasy.
What happened in my room during those twelve days was miraculous. I mastered the third set of asanas, received experiences of love, wholeness, and divine exaltation that seemed about as close to God as I could imagine, and I felt an enormous strengthening and integrating of my whole personality. I had expected a great deal but the actual experience--my growth--exceeded any vision I had of beatitude prior to Enlightenment itself.
I cannot of course discuss the actual techniques themselves, but suffice to say, even in their conception, i.e. the actual content and scope of their meaning, they seemed as marvelous as contemplating the architecture of God's mind. Clearly the actual performing of the techniques affected the whole world, the whole universe; we were the blessed instruments and beneficiaries of this divine purification.
Now while my "experiences" were of a more universal and holistic kind, there were others who indeed began to manifest the "powers", the ritam that Maharishi had promised. In addition to the teachers on my ATR course, there had been a large group of people who had joined us in the advanced program from a teacher training course. It was, interestingly enough, among these individuals that the most spectacular accounts were told: seeing events at home thousands of miles away; diagnosing the exact nature of someone's physical ailment (seeing an X-ray of the internal parts of the body); meeting an immortal being; accurate foretelling of future events (humorous in this case: the person would see exactly what was on the table for dinner, down to the exact arrangement of the dishes); the materializing of the form of some member of one's family right there in the room. It was all stupendous, and I knew all the teachers and meditators back home who would hear of these stories would envy us, the first recipients of this new and wondrous technology. When the question came up about whether a desire might not necessarily be "life-supporting" (this in the context of ritam, where one simply desired and received), Maharishi quickly countered by saying that teachers would only have life-supporting desires; everything was fine.
In his grading system Maharishi gave A+'s for those who had demonstrated ritam, and lesser grades to those with less colorful experiences, right down to D for those with "nil" experiences. This latter group Maharishi interviewed right in front of everyone and he skillfully persuaded each and every one of them that indeed they had been successful, that the techniques produced satisfactory results. I recall getting a B+ rating, but for my own standards, somewhat more subtle than Maharishi's public criteria for success, I had achieved profound results.
Just before we were to leave the course, Maharishi had us, in groups of five, come to his room, there briefly to discuss the program we would carry on with at home: length of meditation, number of sets of asanas (how many cycles of asanas/breathing we would do before beginning our meditation and special programs). I remember long lines of people meditating along the corridor, and that magical moment when our group's number was called. Ushered in by one of Maharishi's aides, and sharing the room with the instructor who had been chosen by Maharishi to give us the program, we sat steadfast as this celestial, radiant being looked upon us from his couch. He was in a jovial state when we entered and played about with the various questions put to him, encouraging us, deflecting any doubts, emphasizing the innocence of the whole procedure. Then, just before we were to leave, it was asked how many sets of asanas we should do. Maharishi replied, "Three, morning and evening."
Well, that was an incredible prescription (and one that was only given to our group, although I now realize it was directed essentially at me--this that I could meet the divine time-tabling of my evolution), and when one teacher posed the dilemma of being invited somewhere for dinner and not wanting to cause a scene in order to complete the asanas, Maharishi quickly counseled using the bathroom to finish our routine--no one would know what we were doing in there!
I felt during our encounter with Maharishi (I said nothing throughout: there was nothing to say to God; He had given me everything, had made my experience transparently clear: I was coming towards Him) the subtle movements of feeling from his heart to my own, and in the magnificence of his being, I felt his ability to be projected--or to project--exactly what was necessary for each person, especially for the more deserving and graced--this, all the while appearing universalized for everyone. So much was said in that room--silently--and the vision of Maharishi clothed in his brown cashmere blanket over his silk dhoti, his whole presence burning in a fire of love and beauty perpetually shone in my mind. It seemed that from that moment on, I could just will it, and Maharishi was right with me, palpably, personally.
[Click to read Part 3 which introduces excerpts from " The Sunnyside Drama: The First Three Years of Enlightenment."]