INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
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Barclay PowersBarclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at www.lostsecretofimmortality.com for information on the book, graphic novel and film.

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How America
Killed Buddhism

Barclay Powers

To understand the massive scale of confusion in the West regarding the theory, practice and result of meditation, it is necessary to use the classical Chinese medical definition of enlightenment.

The process in which the West discovered Buddhism, mistranslated it, and created a radically distorted commercial version based on a middle class psychological quest for spiritual authenticity forms an interesting narrative. The Mindfulness industry, which excludes the essential Buddhist hypothesis of the complete liberation of consciousness, now has the backing of both science and the high tech corporate elite. The fact that the goal of Buddhism actually negates the entire premise of the Western philosophy of science, as well as Judeo Christian concepts of progress does not appear to have occurred to any of the prominent teachers and scholars that represent the commercial Buddhist establishment. Although the potential for liberation, complete escape from the mental slavery created by the religious and scientific cultural worldviews of the establishment is possible, commercial Buddhism uses deception and omission to justify its own dishonesty. Unfortunately, Integral models of Buddhism, which are unable to explain the complete evolution of consciousness, and completely falsely claim that meditation reveals the presence of God within evolution, are among the most corrupt examples of the malignant narcissistic psychology of commercial American pseudo-spirituality.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness as a psychological concept is the focusing of attention and awareness, based on the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation. It has been popularized in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn (pictured). Despite its roots in Buddhism, mindfulness is often taught independently of religion.

Buddhism in its Western version has become a tool of slavery and an engine of repression. The spiritual marketplace is free from the self-criticism of science and social conscience. This is why the scandals of abuse in both Buddhist and yoga circles have done nothing to deter the eager audience from the influence of false spiritual teachers. The middle class is desperate to integrate meaning, purpose and spiritual authenticity with modern life. The Integral audience will accept any distortion of Buddhism or Eastern mysticism without question because the Western conflict between science and religion is so great. The real questions boil down to – is Buddhahood real, and what is the scientific explanation? Does meditation have the potential to reveal the literal origin of consciousness as enlightenment?

Buddhist Monk Meditating

Buddhist Monk Meditating

One of the key mistakes made by Buddhist scholars, as well as contemplative neuroscientists, is the inability to distinguish between religious superstition, and meditation as an ancient science, which when mastered reveals the true self of the individual to be a living Buddha. This eternal vision is generally unacceptable from both an academic and a scientific Western perspective. The true self, a dormant prenatal subtle body, which dissolves into nothingness when Buddhahood is achieved, is not a psychological structure. This fact reconciles the classical confusion of the true self (Dharmakaya), the nonself (Anatman) and emptiness (Sunyata). The Integral version of regally pronouncing the experiential equivalency of Vedic, Christian and Buddhist mysticism completely distorts the theistic gibberish-free intent of Buddhist meditation. The three primary Asian models of Buddhism, Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana, conflict in terms of methodology and subtle body theory, although they are all based on the Embryo of Enlightenment, the realization of the Buddha nature.

Tibetan Buddhism, for example, has rejected Zen theory since the 7th or 8th centuries. Unfortunately, most descriptions of Zen awakening appear to be psychological, and the Embryo of Enlightenment has not been actualized as the true Original Face/Dharmakaya. There is a much deeper and older alchemical model of meditation than is currently described by the majority of Western scholars and teachers. The Integral model of Buddhism makes the problem much worse by misunderstanding liberation and confusing it with a romantic, theistic spiritual narcissistic personality disorder. Current American models of liberation or Nirvana (unbinding – extinction) exclude the Trikaya as the union of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies, which prevents Buddhahood from being explained scientifically. The dormant super subtle body is the Embryo of Enlightenment. When science succeeds in explaining Buddhahood it may be forced to change completely along with Western civilization. After all there is a living Buddha in your body as its starting point. The reason Nirvana is described as extinction, like blowing out a candle, is that the completion stage of meditation dissolves the Buddha nature into nothingness, which permanently unites the three bodies. This vision of dissolution into emptiness is the reason for the idea of nonself (Anatman).

Buddhist Three Bodies

Buddhist Three Bodies

Any attempt to create a scientific model of meditation without using Chinese/Indian premodern vitalist medical theories of enlightenment is doomed to failure because the goal of meditation, the union of pre-birth and post-birth subtle bodies cannot be understood by gazing through the lens of mechanism. The chief obstacle to understanding the real meaning of the Trikaya is the fact that Buddha nature has not been successfully translated as the Prima Materia, the dormant Embryo of Enlightenment within the body, which was well understood by premodern Western science although metaphorically concealed by alchemical adepts. To look at reality without the assumptions of postmodern cultural worldviews is a challenging endeavor because the scientific and religious narratives form an all-encompassing rigid preconceived map of conventional human potential. The concept of liberation or Buddhahood as the seed, flower and fruit of meditation completely alters Western religious and scientific worldviews for the better when fully understood and explained.

Prima Materia - Philosopher's Stone

Prima Materia - Philosopher's Stone

Meditation based Buddhist practice has a goal of retrieving the beginning of the past, the starting point of the body, the Alaya storehouse consciousness, also known as the Tathagatagarbha/Dharmakaya Embryo of Enlightenment, and dissolving it and returning it to void in the present. Buddhism as a whole can be defined as a science masquerading as a nontheistic religion, which seeks to activate a hidden structure of consciousness or dormant prenatal subtle body, which restores the archaic memory system, which is not yet acknowledged by the amnesia that characterizes conventional consciousness, as well as Western science and religion.

The problem with almost all forms of Western Buddhism is that the modern narcissistic cultural fantasy assumptions of middle class life prevent any understanding of the radical implications of the Trikaya. Both Chinese and Dzogchen models of meditation see the completion stage of meditation as a natural evolutionary process, which spontaneously reveals the true nature of the individual. The human body's reproductive system, and the chi/prana vitalist framework of nadi, prana and bindu is essential for the conjunction of pre-birth and post-birth subtle bodies or structures of consciousness to occur spontaneously. The celibacy, which characterizes genuine Buddhist yoga and meditation practices is necessary for lengthy periods of time to open the internal energy meridian channels of the body, and is abhorrent to Western Buddhism. It is well known in Tibetan Buddhism, for example, that tummo heat yoga, the Tibetan version of the kundalini, is the root of the path. Meditation and liberation, the Trikaya, is based on vitalist inner alchemy and yet science has decided that chi/prana doesn't exist, which poses a serious problem for secular Buddhism. Although the sutras clearly say that the mind follows the prana this aspect of inner transmutation has not been understood.

American Buddhism is so firmly rooted in the dishonesty of its own spiritual narcissistic incompetence that it replaces the necessary vitalist subtle body theory and practice with commercial Mindfulness psychology, which furthers the corporate agenda of mental slavery and dominance in the guise of personal freedom and pseudo-happiness. Immune to criticism by virtue of narcissistic middle class romantic spiritual superiority the response to an accurate translation of returning the true self to void is “awakening is ineffable”. Unfortunately, the completion stage of meditation is only ineffable if it is mistranslated as a psychological process because the realization of the Trikaya is a physiological breakthrough in plane generated by subtle body union.

Subtle Body

Subtle Body

One of the central problems of Buddhism is that historically it has been used to reinforce corrupt systems of social dominance within each country that accepted its influence. This is obviously the opposite of its stated goal of the complete liberation of consciousness both individually and collectively. Western Buddhism as a whole is plagued by its own inability to distinguish between myth, middle class romantic fantasies of spiritual awakening, and the real true self, the dormant pre-birth subtle body, which was also the Hermetic Philosopher's Stone of premodern science. It is this subtle body, dormant within all human beings, which is described in the Tathagatagarbha literature but denied by many versions of Asian and Western Buddhism, which assume it is an aberrant throwback to the Vedic Atman (Self). For thousands of years there has been confusion between the true self as an embryonic substrate consciousness and the nonself framework the historical Buddha and later followers may have used to attack the Vedic idea of a permanent inner Self, which is God in disguise. Although speculation on the historical intention of Gautama is rampant and generally unverifiable, the countries that later used well developed inner alchemical yoga systems like China and Tibet, have significantly higher rates of success in cultivating the Embryo of Enlightenment and returning it to void than Southern Buddhism. Tantric models that used sexual yoga to realize the Trikaya appear to be the result of Chinese and Indian inner alchemical yoga systems becoming integrated as the most effective practical methods of meditation were explored. Tantra was called the Chinese method in India according to many scholars. Enlightenment is based on actualizing this dormant structure of consciousness within the reproductive system. The union of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies, the Trikaya, is also consistent with Hermetic and Taoist models, which often used a twilight language of metaphorical concealment to disguise the real process from non-initiates.

Taoist Three Bodies

Taoist Three Bodies

The problem with the Integral understanding of mysticism is that it has missed the entire concept and framework of the Golden Elixir/Embryonic Enlightenment. This is why a Tathagatagarbha text like the Uttara Tantra is extremely valuable. The alchemical spiritual gold of the true self is repeatedly described as a hidden golden treasure within all human beings. Additionally, this text is attributed to the Maitreya, the Buddha of the future, which is consistent with the hypothesis of a 21st century scientific explanation of the Buddha nature as the rediscovery of the Philosopher's Stone.

The Philosopher's Stone

The Philosopher's Stone (note the 'embryo' in the lower abdomen).

The scientific worldview, which dominates human civilization in modern times suffers a fatal flaw in which mechanistic materialism causes the Golden Elixir or Philosopher's Stone to be defined as myth instead of a living reality of ultimate human potential. Actually, the Golden Elixir represents the archaic goal of yoga, meditation, tai chi, Tantra, and qi gong. When fully understood by contemplative neuroscience it promises to result in a completely rewritten philosophy and history of science. Since Buddhahood is the actual origin of consciousness within human beings we do find that the true self represents a genuine transcendental subtle absolute, which is dissolved into nothingness at the completion stage of meditation. Unfortunately, Mindfulness lacks a complete understanding of nadi, prana and bindu, unlike the Mahamudra system for example, which describes the union of pre-birth and post-birth subtle bodies as the union of mother and child lights. This is also the goal of Dzogchen as well, although a gazing method using the eyes is emphasized. Meditation research is dominated by Mindfulness, which is largely an American commercial endeavor, which prevents genuine liberation much like Integral Theory. A writer like Yang Jwing-Ming does a vastly superior translation of Buddhist meditation theory than Wilber, Wallace, Thurman or Batchelor but remains unknown relatively because Western Buddhists prefer Shangri-La to reality as Donald Lopez does a good job of pointing out.

Stephen Batchelor

Stephen Batchelor at Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico.

The spiritual endeavor in America as a whole often involves initial conversion and later de-conversion when the corruption of teachers and the fantasy aspects of Asian religious frameworks become overwhelming. The Integral approach is one of the ugliest aspects of commercial corporate Buddhism, which resorts to theistic Advaita Vedanta to justify a complete mistranslation of the Alaya storehouse consciousness, the Tathagatagarbha/Dharmakaya Embryo of Enlightenment. Theistic verbal masturbation is combined with malignant spiritual narcissism to convince the audience that theistic and nontheistic mysticism is magically textually and experientially identical with no mention of the Golden Elixir tradition, which represents an authentic worldwide tradition of inner yogic alchemy. As usual the purpose of omission is deception, and is based on a complete ignorance of the actual completion stage of meditation – Embryonic Enlightenment.

Robert Thurman and the Dalai Lama

Robert Thurman and the Dalai Lama.

To understand the massive scale of confusion in the West regarding the theory, practice and result of meditation, it is necessary to use the classical Chinese medical definition of enlightenment, which differs so dramatically from transpersonal psychological frameworks that they cannot be integrated. Just check Yang Jwing-Ming's explanation of the goal of meditation, qi gong and enlightenment against Ken Wilber's and the extreme romantic confusion of the American model becomes readily apparent. Since Zen is actually badly distorted Taoism for the most part, it is not possible to say that Zen and Taoist realization differs at the highest level. They are both based on realizing the Way or Tao, which is the result of successfully cultivating the Embryo of Enlightenment, which is the true Buddha nature. The problem with Buddhism as a whole in both Eastern and Western versions is based on meditators assuming they have understood and experienced realization, which is clearly not the case since the Buddha nature has not been successfully translated except within qi gong Buddhism, which is generally ignored by Western researchers who cannot understand that the actual goal and methodology of meditation and inner yoga is based on chi/prana cultivation. This vitalist process of inner alchemy is so well known in tai chi and qi gong, that it is astonishing that the 'experts' have completely ignored the union of yin and yang structures of post-birth and pre-birth consciousness within the body, which results in discovering and actualizing the meaning of the saying, “See the true self and become a living Buddha.”

There is a living Buddha within Everyone.

So how do we define Buddhism in the light of science, correctly translated without Western postmodern romantic speculation and assumptions? The problem has been each historical version of the Buddhist vision makes substantial changes in prior versions while assuming that the practice actually works. American Buddhist teachers as a whole are well meaning, but are so heavily invested in their own spiritual status and leadership that both their viewpoints and perspectives are questionable. The whole question of what is real Buddhism and the final goal of meditation has not been answered successfully by the Western romantic mysticism, which dominates the conventional Buddhist landscape. The term spiritual, for example, does not even suggest an appreciation of the sacred aspects of life in the West. At this point it is merely a commercial middle class lifestyle trend that emerged from New Age attempts to integrate Eastern and Western models of the evolution of consciousness.

The most accurate and effective versions of Buddhism emphasize the cultivation of the internal energy chi/prana of the body, based on the intrinsic enlightenment of the pre-birth chi, which is still connected to the Tao, the source of reality itself in all human beings. The Chinese qi gong models of Buddhist inner yoga have physiological healing and consciousness-evolving potential that goes far beyond conventional seated meditation or ritual practice. Chronic medical conditions are often healed by qi gong/meditation practice, which increases the flow of internal energy within the body returning it to health. This is the problem with Western Buddhist meditation, which like both Mindfulness and Zen can only result in greater tranquility because the original enlightened chi of the body is never fully activated. Although sympathy, compassion, integrity, and goodness are essential personality attributes that should be cultivated, they do not unite the pre-birth and post-birth inner energy bodies or consciousness within the physical body, which is the goal of meditation.

Qi Gong Meridians in the Body

Qi Gong Meridians in the Body

A genuine definition of Buddhism and yoga and meditation, as well as tai chi and qi gong is a collection of techniques that restore the lost memory of the individual if the Embryo of Enlightenment is fully actualized. When science explains the Trikaya as the union of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies it must change completely. Buddhist terminology describes the union of yin and yang subtle structures of consciousness within the body as the integration of Rupakaya and Dharmakaya subtle bodies. This is the physiological completion stage of meditation, which unites the two truths, the absolute truth of enlightenment as the source of consciousness and reality, unified with the present everyday relative nature of human existence. Western versions of nondual philosophy have left out the inner yogic alchemical union, which represents an authentic cross-cultural historical tradition of meditation, yoga and enlightenment resulting from the successful energetic recreation of conception within the body. Classical spiritual alchemy describes this conjunction as the Coniunctio, the real secret of the Philosopher's Stone worldwide.

Embryo of Enlightenment

Embryo of Enlightenment

One of the major problems with Buddhist scholarship is that philosophical differences are studied while the premodern Asian medical explanations of enlightenment, which are still traditions in active use, are ignored because they are vitalist. Since vitalism has been rejected by science it has been left out of Western scientific models of meditation, as well as tai chi, yoga and qi gong although it is their basis. The fact that Integral Theory describes the story of evolution as spiritual while being completely unaware of the Embryonic Enlightenment theory of meditation is remarkable. This also holds true for Western Buddhism as a whole because there have been good translations of Chinese inner alchemical texts since the 70's, which do not differentiate between Buddhist and Taoist meditation theory in practice. The fact that the Grandmaster level of tai chi and qi gong is based on the genuine completion stage of meditation Embryonic Enlightenment, has somehow been ignored by the major spiritual 'experts' who control the commercial and now increasingly corporate dialog regarding human potential and the evolution of consciousness. Although some kundalini researchers like Lee Sanella acknowledged that Chinese internal energy maps were more accurate than Indian versions, it is not politically correct to point out the fact that the vast majority of Western meditation teachers have never heard of the Embryo of Enlightenment as the goal of meditation, yoga, tai chi, Tantra, and qi gong.

“Even though all Buddhas themselves were to search assiduously,
they would not find a tathâgata-garbha (Buddha nature)
that is not eternal, for the eternal dhâtu , the buddhadhâtu
(Buddha Principle, Buddha Nature), the dhâtu adorned
with infinite major and minor attributes, is present in all
beings.”
- Angulimaliya Sûtra, Tathagatagarbha Buddhism

The living treasure that the Tathagatagarbha sutras describe vividly is considered the classical goal of meditation, medicine, martial arts, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism in China. It is virtually unknown and completely mistranslated in the West. The current narrative is clarified by the fact that Taoist meditation theory and practice explains the original vision of Buddhism much more accurately than current Western Integral, secular and scientific models. Unfortunately Zen, Dzogchen and Mahamudra have largely been turned into watered down transpersonal psychology in America. Mindfulness is simply a commercial corporate endeavor much like Integral Theory, which prevents any form of genuine liberation from negating the omnipresent amnesia of mental slavery, which characterizes the human condition and prevents the individual and collective actualization of the Bodhisattva vision. The union of Rupakaya and Dharmakaya subtle bodies is left out of the West's description of the goal of meditation and mysticism. From a Buddhist perspective Tathagatagarbha Buddha nature is the most important part of being human. It means that there is a dormant living Buddha within everybody undetected by Western science, which can only be seen from the inside before dissolving into nothingness. This is the true meaning of the well-known East Asian saying, “See the true self and become a living Buddha.”

The Coniunctio in Practice

The Coniunctio in Practice




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