The awakening of Jan Frazier


I didn’t write about it at the time, when I might naturally have.  The life-altering moment of getting it — of understanding the nature of the change that had taken place. 


The oh-my-God moment.  


It was eleven months into it when I finally understood what the thing was.  It was early July.  Peter and I were in Maine.  We were sitting on a rock on the shore near the cabin.  We had a book with us, Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s Pathways Through to Space.  I can find the place in that book.  I can put my finger to the passage I was reading aloud, the words I’d just said into the salt air of a warm day, when Peter said the thing he said, and then I thought the thing I thought, and suddenly knew.  Knew.  Like a crack of thunder inside my body, suddenly understood, after all those months, what had happened to me the previous August. 


Peter had just applied a statement by Merrell-Wolff to the two of us.  Inherent in what Peter said was an assumption that we had in common something I suddenly realized was not true of me.  It was true of him, but it was no longer true of me.  I had left behind the life familiar to the vast part of humanity. 


I said nothing.  But I remember, oh I remember, the feeling in my chest.  How dry my mouth became.  How utterly still I got, the stunned disconnect between what was going on inside me and whatever I was saying, whatever my eyes were falling on — Peter’s face, the ocean, the clouds, the book splayed on my knees.  The feel of the rock under my body.  I remember struggling to keep it invisible, to compose my face in such a way — some bland, featureless way — that wouldn’t call attention to me, that wouldn’t cause Peter to say What?  What is it?  I wanted privacy, so I could just look.  The processing of what I’d just seen was taking every available resource. 


We must have gone on reading.  I must have lowered my eyes back to the page, my mouth mechanically producing the next words in the next sentence.  But everything in me was laser-focused on what I had just seen. 


It’s enlightenment.  That is what has happened.  I’ve become enlightened.


And then . . . then, this:  It isn’t what I imagined it would be like.  And . . . so many realizations, tumbling now over one another.  This one:  Why don’t I feel lucky? and:  How could I not have understood? and:  Now so much makes sense.  All these months of seeing how every single thing about myself was changed, gone, undone.  No fear, no reactivity, no desire.  The end of being caught up in my history, of wanting to control or change other people.  All gone, gone. 


I see now, long after the fact, how in a way really lucky I was to not understand what was going on at first.  Not having a name for it meant I was able to simply live it:  to be in the unfolding of this miraculous thing, without any intervening abstractions or concepts, any pre-formed boxes to drop experiences into, stages of development and all that.  There wasn’t anything in my head to distract me from the pure experience of it all, the undiluted pleasure.  Unmediated by ideas about it, I got to be simply immersed in it.  


Sometimes when a woman gives birth to a baby whose gender she didn’t know ahead of time, she’ll choose to bond with it before discovering the features that will so define its life.  It is simply beloved being, free of that particularity, of definition.  It was like that, for me, for eleven months.  Having no explanation, nor much of a drive to find one, I was free to revel, to dance, to look around at the strange and wonderful terrain. 


But if I’d been as intent on transformation as those who now look to me for answers — seekers carrying more words for spiritual phenomena than I ever had, bearing armloads of ideas, the weight of cumbersome understanding — well, I would certainly not have gone freshly and innocently into my radical disassembling.  I would not have had the joy of no-idea, no knowing, nor even wanting to know.  I got it all from the inside.  I learned it by direct experience.  Later I’d be able to say something about it, in words that came from my own lexicon:  words not from any book or tradition but instead generated by my heart, my mind, the vocabulary and rhythm that once had formed itself into lyrics, words now used like pick axes to unearth this strangely miraculous gold I’d never known I’d been carrying around inside.  I had no concepts, no lingo.  I had only the beating heart of experience, as it was living itself out in my moment-to-moment.  I made up the words as I went along.  No, they made up themselves.  I hardly knew what my pen was going to say, or how, until I looked down on the paper and saw what was there. 


One funny thing about all this is how from the outside of it, it can look like bragging, if you come out and say it.  Answer truthfully.  And there are spiritual traditions that clearly say you must not come out with it, and that caution seekers to be skeptical of anyone who “lays claim.”  Understandably.  From a certain point of view.  (There are other ways to look at it.) 


But here’s the funny thing.  From the point of view of the person who’s inside the reality of the condition, it’s just a plain and unglamorous thing.  It’s completely normal-seeming.  Not extraordinary.  It feels just like the way life is supposed to be.  For everybody.  Certainly nothing to take credit for, nothing that makes you better than other people. 

It’s just that — well, you are definitely aware that you’re in a teeny tiny minority of people whose sense of the “normal” is this.  And you do vividly recall what it felt like before, when you were like everybody else still is:  living as though a mind-made illusion is reality, and thinking that this way, this new way, rinsed of illusion, is something extraordinary.


Original story here