It's not that simple. Leela insists I can safely apply that caveat to anything I think I know. I've struggled to understand what wisdom is and I've been convinced I knew several times, only to have my understanding upset as I learned something new. There's truth in all those understandings; they're all aspects of wisdom. And even so: it's not that simple. Making progress with love does not necessarily make me more loving, but it does make me wiser. Wisdom is the universal result of making progress. This story is a compendium of visions I've had of wisdom.
Wisdom is knowing what to do and not do to make progress with love. It's highly specific: what do I do or stop doing right now to make progress? My problem was finding a reliable source of wisdom. Something unimpeachable. Aspiration tells the story of my fifty-five year search for something I could rely on. The right thing to aspire to turned out to be my reliable source of wisdom: the wisdom in my body. But first I had to make my way through the usual suspects: what I thought was the right thing to do, the beauty of nature, church and religion, art, holy books and spiritual teachers. I looked the wrong way all those years. I had to look in, not out. Drinking and living in households were the big obstacles keeping me from making progress. Leela sent me down the left hand path to overcome my big obstacles. She prescribed extreme amounts of booze to make me stop drinking. She made me eat extreme amounts of cannabis to wake me up to the fact that recreational drugs are not a legitimate way of feeling good and have no place in my life. Homelessness answered my stubborn unwillingness to find a home of my own.
Waking up is wisdom. That was a koan Leela gave me in 2015. Turning it around like that puts the focus on action. I need to wake up. Everything else is secondary. But it was easy for me to fall into the enlightenment fallacy, that waking up is some big deal I work years for then it happens all at once and after that I'm on easy street. Leela disagrees. Waking up happens a little at a time and there's no end to it. Waking up is taking little steps in the right direction. As I take steps, wisdom becomes embodied in my life. Wisdom isn't a thing or a substance I can accumulate. It's more like a skill I learn, the skill of living well. What I learn always points me to the next step. Until I take that step I don't know what comes after. The next step has always been pretty clear once I got to it. But some of those next steps, like quit drinking, get clean and sober, live alone have taken me years to take. Leela is the only source of wisdom, and for me Leela is my body. She's what I'm made of. I have to find the answers in me, in my body. I can't get answers by thinking because thinking is unreliable.
Guidance from my body. The progress I've made with love has nothing to do with faith, belief, religion or anything other form of superstition. It's all based on practical, physical guidance from my body regarding what to do and not do. As a child I made progress because I was wide open to the world which made me have spontaneous meditations. Those went away when I took up recreational drugs in Kenya and my progress slowed to a crawl. I didn't start making real progress again until I found a way to access the wisdom in my body using muscle testing and body sensing. Guidance from those two techniques is always reliable. I can and do double check and recheck to make sure I've got it right. The guidance I get is often NOT what I feel like doing. My body may be legitimately tired, for instance, but there's important work that needs to be done right now. Timing is always critical. My body's guidance is also often at odds with what I think I should do, however thoughtful and objective I am. The guidance I get sometimes seems paradoxical or downright crazy. My thinking is limited by all my bad habits, polluted and distorted by my own history and human culture. I got training in Boulder to use muscle testing and body sensing to bypass thinking and get good guidance despite it. Muscle testing and body sensing were the best things I got from TH. Now, decades later, I've come to understand these techniques on a deeper level. My body is connected to all the rest of the world through the incomprehensible miracle of nondualism. Over the course of years of patient testing my body has told me the story of Leela to help me make peace with this incomprehensible truth. Leela is the world: everything that exists including my body but not my thinking, because thinking is imaginary. Everything that exists, in all times, is one. Let's call that Leela. My body is part of Leela and has access to everything that happens, past present and future. Its guidance is thus always spot on. Muscle testing and body sensing give me different kinds of answers. Muscle testing answers are simple, yes or no, but simple answers aren't always best. Making progress with love is rich and complex. Body sensing answers are too. Body sensing forces me to pay attention and access inner wisdom.
Who I really am. In the years since Leela first spoke to me she has gradually revealed more to me about the wisdom I find in my body via muscle testing and body sensing. The wisdom in my body isn't bodily wisdom, it's her wisdom. She's the real inhabitant of my body; I am an instance of Leela. Who I really am is an instance of Leela who has inhabited an uncountable number of bodies before this one and will inhabit an uncountable number after. The degree of my enlightenment or self realization is the degree to which I live from who I really am rather than living from my misguided thinking or my body's misguided appetites. I already have all the wisdom in me. We all do. Theoretically I can access that wisdom directly at any moment by simply paying attention, but paying attention on that level takes a lifetime of hard work meditating to master. The only realistic path, at least for me, is surrender. By surrendering to Leela I was able to open a direct connection with her. I started getting simple basic guidance, the kind I really needed, from wisdom herself, from who I really am.
Grappling with koans. For years Leela refused to answer questions about herself, about the big picture, about birth, death, and making progress vs. not making progress. Instead of answers she gave me koans: seemingly nonsensical or paradoxical statements she insisted I ponder and grapple with. As I grappled with many koans over the years, I gradually came to see the world in a radically new way, very much at odds with how I'd seen it before. The koans aren't mine to share, although I do mention a few of them. Grappling with them turned my world upside down, in the best way possible. They have been my core curriculum.
Seeing through time. As I began surrendering to Leela and following her guidance I started experiencing her ability to see through time. We can only see the present, and our perceptions are notoriously faulty and incomplete. Leela sees everything that happens at all times, past present and future because that's what she is: everything that was, is, and will be. Seeing what happens, she guides me to the best outcome. I've been guided to buy something or do something that made no sense at all to me. Why would I ever need that? What's the point of doing that? Then later, in some cases years later, that thing I bought or did turns out to be crucial, a lifesaver. If I hadn't bought that or done that I'd be in big trouble right now. Or something I did years ago turns out to be the key unlocking some wonderful new opportunity. Like all those music lessons that just fizzled out and seemed kind of pointless in retrospect. But then they turned out to be my ace in the hole for partner dancing, especially tango. She often insists I use what I have rather than buying something new. It will turn out something I already have does the job just fine, often something I got long ago and haven't been using. Seeing through time brought up all kinds of gnarly knots in me about free will versus determination, ex-philosophy student that I am. Her reply is that's irrelevant; you don't understand, you can't understand. Nothing in 4-space can grasp what 5-space is because grasping itself is 4-space. Everything mental is 4-space. Everything that exists is also 4-space. Wisdom doesn't exist. Just like love doesn't exist, or meaning. Things in 5-space can't be measured or defined. There's no substance to them, no existence. Wisdom doesn't exist, in any scientific sense, but it helps me just the same.
Connection. Leela, in the form of my body, is my connection with everything: all of time and space, the universe, everything that exists. My connection with Leela is universal and individual at the same time. I was born connected with Leela and lived that way as a child until I got disconnected by drugs in Kenya. Here's the story of how I reconnected with Leela.
How it all began. It began in February 2006. I had been feeling especially muddled, really miserable. I had no motivation to do anything. It seemed like only god could help me, and for me god meant meditation. Other versions of god seemed like delusions, make-believe magical beings, wishful thinking. Meditation I can relate to; it's simply hard work, no wishful thinking about it.
Wisdom speaks. I had been thinking that the solution to my muddle might be a new meditation teacher. Suddenly something shouted: NO. YOU KNOW ENOUGH. FIX YOUR OWN DAMN MEDITATION. But it wasn't a voice shouting words. It was a nonverbal message from deep inside me, silent but distinct. When I try to describe it now, it sounds weird, even spooky. But it didn't feel that way at the time. I knew that was me talking to myself silently, but not the muddled me I was at the time. I was hearing the voice of the authoritative me, the more enlightened me I could become. Now I understand that it was the voice of Leela. But Leela isn't a god or any other kind of being. Leela is the world and everything in it. To me, Leela is the wisdom in my body. At the time I didn't know what was going on, but it sure felt like I better do what the voice said. I sat there pondering what I already knew about meditation. What stood out was the clue I got decades before in Tallahassee: the subtle pleasure of breathing. That felt like the right starting point. But I needed specific guidance.
Ed Long. In Boulder I saw TH use muscle testing for getting spiritual guidance. He did it by muscle testing his own finger. I tried doing that but it never worked; I got contradictory results. Feeling badly out of balance I made an appointment with Ed Long, a Seattle dance teacher and healer. I hoped Ed could get me back in whack and teach me more muscle testing. He did a full Touch for Health testing/balancing, strengthening the weaknesses he found. After the session I told him about my self-testing struggle. Ed suggested I try a particular self-test I'd read about but never used. He showed it to me hands-on. I tried it out and it seemed to work.
Success. I started testing myself a lot. There was no contradiction. If I paid attention to what I was asking, I got an unambiguous yes or no. I was finally in touch with Leela, the wisdom inside me, that voice that had been so clear and emphatic. I couldn't hear it before because it hadn't yet spoken up, hadn't made itself known to me. Once wisdom spoke I had to do my part. I had to take my one step. I did that by finding Ed Long, getting his help with self testing, and practicing what he taught me diligently. That one step didn't occur in a vacuum. It relied on a lifetime of stubbornly persistent spiritual seeking. I may have gotten derailed by drugs but I never stopped seeking. My seeking led me to Boulder, where I learned muscle testing and body sensing. I needed fifty-five years of seeking to be ready to take my one step. I now got guidance about what was right for my spiritual progress and what to avoid. Over the years since then, my ability to test myself has steadily deepened. There's always more progress to be made; there's no shortage of headroom.
Body sensing. I also use another technique TH taught us: body sensing. This is a meditation-like technique of focusing all my attention on the feelings and sensations in my body. If I ask a question while body sensing, I get a response that's rich and nuanced, not a mere yes or no. Body sensing answers can be bewilderingly complex. In situations where muscle testing's yes or no answers don't tell me enough, I work back and forth between muscle testing and body sensing.
Declaration. Before I could begin surrendering to Leela, my own internal authority, I had to declare my independence from all external authorities: teachers, systems, books. I especially needed to free myself from the shadow of TH's authority, which I still carried around like a mental curse, decades after I set myself free of him physically. Once I did that I could begin contacting my own inner authority via muscle testing or body sensing. I couldn't do either as long as I felt I owed allegiance to any kind of external authority.