(Used with Permission. Copyright 1996, Star's Edge International®)
How Do You Achieve Enlightenment?
On January 22, 1996, Harry Palmer gave a lecture at the Wizard Course on "The Structure of the Avatar Path." Due to the many requests we received for this to be distributed, it was transcribed and edited for Perspective. Enjoy.
Gautama Buddha lived in the forest and then he moved to the city and lived in the city for awhile. Then he moved to a mountain and lived on the mountain for awhile. Then he moved alongside a river and lived beside the river for awhile. Then under a banyan tree, he discovered enlightenment.
So it seems to me that the path is pretty simple. First you live in the forest, then you move to the city, then go live on a mountain for awhile, then live along a river for awhile, and then look for a banyan tree.
No? Then I have to assume that it wasn't where Buddha was living, but that there were certain circumstances that occurred in his life that created the enlightenment.
The same is true for the Avatar materials. They're designed to parallel certain unfoldments or realizations that people have in life. Sections I, II and III are called The Avatar Course. Section IVA is the Master Course. Section IVB is the Professional Course. Section VA is the Wizard Course and Section VB is the Star's Edge Trainer Course.
Below Section I is the current state of the world. Mankind currently reacts from a deeply indoctrinated sleep. Even if you were to say, "Wake up" nothing much would happen. Past conclusions and old fears make the decisions. Nearly everyone is operating on someone else's answers. People live in what was. They perceive only enough to excite their own conclusions.
In the current state of the world. relationships are either consciously or unconsciously manipulative. They're governed by praise and insult. What people say to each other creates a reaction. If the reaction is pleasurable "Oh, I'm in love." If the reaction is painful ĐĐ "I hate you." The manipulation is transparent. It acts out of old conclusions and beliefs. Currently human consciousness is like a roll of exposed film. It no longer pictures the world moment by moment but carries around pictures of what the world was once like. Individuals wrestle with fears and demons of their grandfathers demons that only they can see. This is the general condition of the world that we're introducing Avatar into.
The sections of Avatar parallel certain unfoldments or realizations that a person will go through as they awaken from this indoctrinated sleep. Sometimes a person goes through the Avatar sections faster than they unfold. Sometimes you will find somebody going through Section III Avatar but really unfolding to the realizations of Section I. This is perfectly OK. The process of unfoldment has begun, and that is what is important. Occasionally, because people come into Avatar from other spiritual practices, they'll have realizations and transformations on Resurfacing¨ that you wouldn't expect until Wizards. Again this is perfectly OK because it's what is occurring to the person that's important, not the name or the number of the section that they're doing.
I'm going to go through the sections one by one and describe the unfolding process that parallels each section.
I think you will find it interesting that the realizations and transformations are not a straight line or series of steps toward spiritual enlightenment. Rather they outline a path of necessary experience that winds deeply into the ego self of the material world and back in order to arrive at an experience of enlightenment. Progress does not always mean that you are moving in the direction of being more spiritual. That's not always the direction of the path. Sometimes being less spiritual is the direction of progress.
Religions tend to form around the spiritual high points of the path. And until a person falls into sin and is excommunicated, there is no further progress. The last step before sainthood is to commit an unpardonable sin. It creates compassion and empathy for the sins of your fellows. How can someone who always does good understand someone else's failure to do good? Not doing good would seem very odd to someone who always did good.
Word lessons can be presented as a straight path to enlightenment, but not world lessons. Life wanders. It stops to explore. It falls down and then gets up and brushes itself off. That Avatar understands this is one of its strengths.
Section I of the Avatar Course is called ReSurfacing. It refers to the action of disentangling yourself from old creations and rising back into awareness. This section could be called a self-discovery course. A being who has lost himself or herself in the movie of life has forgotten that they're at the movies. People dream and then forget that they're asleep. ReSurfacing reminds people of the difference between the self and the experience the self is having.
Later on the path, we may be working to become one with experience. But at this level of awakening, the direction is to realize that there's a difference between the perceiver and the perception. There is a difference between yourself and your role model. There's a difference between action and reaction. There is a difference.
The fundamental unfolding that occurs on ReSurfacing, the realization that ReSurfacing saws back and forth to bring a person to, is "I am." This isn't an, "Oh sure, I am." This is an, "Oh my God, I am. I really am." It's an "I am" that is discovering responsibility. This is such a powerful realization that if you were to lead a person only to this experience÷not just have him add it to his mantra, but to actually have him experience "I am"÷you've broken the grip of indoctrinated sleep. You've awakened personal responsibility in place of some robotic reaction according to authority. The person can now observe and then act. When somebody talks about Avatar as a self- discovery course, they're talking about this level of unfoldment.
Section II Avatar is a self- empowerment course. The only prerequisite to Section II is to find a self to empower. All suffering arises from mental processes, in particular from beliefs and judgments. It's not any surprise that certain philosophies and religions have considered life to be suffering. They had no technology to handle mental processes. The best they could do is to work at stilling the mind÷ meditate. When the mind is still, the suffering ceases, but they were not trying to still a twentieth century mind. A twentieth century mind has had at least a decade of schooling in how to be anxious. It has seen 75,000 commercials. It's watched 25,000 hours of drama, the best of which has left emotional scars (Bambi's mother didn't come home). I think if the Buddha had had a twentieth century mind he might have said, "Life is really intense suffering."
Section II is a modern approach to recovering control over the mind. This is such an unusual accomplishment that many people don't believe it can be done. But it can, and it's part of the unfoldment that happens on Section II Avatar.
After you have sorted out your existing beingness, the next issue is, "What can I create?" One of the secrets of the creation exercises is that it quiets the mind. While you're looking for doubts, you're learning to put your attention on the stillness that surrounds a creation. Anything you put your attention on increases. Put your attention on stillness and stillness increases. When you do the creation exercises properly, you experience stillness. The stillness may be temporary, because you have not yet reached the point in the path where you are prepared to be the stillness. You are more concerned with getting or getting rid of something.
So on Section II, the path begins to wind. It takes a detour into the material world. Ego development is built into the last part of the creation exercises to prepare you for the next unfoldment of life. After the realization "I am," the next realization on the path is, "And I'm pretty darned cool." Section II removes limitations and introduces you to creating the conscious reality that you prefer. This is the ultimate pleasure of the ego, to create exactly what one wants.
So why would we encourage the development of the ego when we know the ego is the source of so many difficulties in the world? Because it is the next world lesson that an evolving being needs to experience. The ego is an area that needs to be explored. Sometimes it's the egotistic efforts of self-aggrandizement that produce our cultural and technological masterpieces. The ego is an adolescent's rite of passage.
If the ego fails to flower, there is no further spiritual growth. To continue awakening, you must reach a balance. If you have experienced unhappiness, you need to create happiness. If you have experienced failure, you need to experience success. If you have experienced feeling submissive, you need to balance it by feeling dominant. Living from the past must be balanced with goals for the future. The Section II source list and reality list present an ethical way that you can achieve this balance. Many people finish Section II course material before they've achieved a balance in their life. Some even go on and finish the Wizard Course before they reach this balance. But the thing is, after Section II they're always evolving toward balance. Evolving toward because they understand living deliberately. Self empowerment allows you to restore balance in your life. Enlightenment occurs naturally when that balance is reached. If you wanted to, you could think of Section II as a technology that allows you to achieve karmic balance with the universe.
Section III is an enlightenment course. It brings you into the space that defines the self. By discreating the tentacles of belief from the past, you come back into the present. Beliefs and reality can be reshaped from the present. The doer acts deliberately. On Section III, an awareness awakens that is beyond the conscious self.
Section IV is the Master Course. This is a look at the world from a viewpoint broader than your individual self. The self that calculates for your own advantage is supplemented by a spiritual self that now calculates for the advantage of civilization.
There is an awakening of compassion and respect for the other. There is the embracing of a global network that is evolving toward an enlightened planetary civilization. There is an awakening of trust and commitment that takes one's life into one that's flavored with purpose and adventure.
There is conscious living and pursuit of right livelihood. One of the realizations of Section IV is a reminder that life is temporary and meant to be an instructive adventure. The master who unfolds at this level sees everything as OK, including his or her own efforts to better the world. It's a detached aware self that does -not react to the world, but chooses to create in the world. To use a Buddhist term, this is the Bodhisattva ÷ a being who assists in the evolvement of life.
On Section IV there's another course called the Professional Course. It teaches presence and intentional recreation of identity. It proofs a being against the abrasions of the world and improves human resource skills. You could call the Professional Course a leadership course.
Then there's the Wizard Course...
- What is it, Anyway?
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