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AN INFINITY OF GODS Conversations with an Unconventional Mystic
by Ray Grasse
INNER EYE PUBLICATIONS
I CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Copyright© 2017 Ray Grasse
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner (with the exception of quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews) without written permission from the author and publisher. Book design by Lynn Fleschutz All photos and artwork copyright Ray Grasse Inner Eye Publications
ISBN-13: 978-1548220044 ISBN-10: 1548220043
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017909867
AN INFINITY OF GODS
Also by Ray Grasse:
The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives
Signs of the Times: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of World Events
Under a Sacred Sky: Essays on the Philosophy and Practice of Astrology
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To the memory of Goswami Kriyananda, who first introduced me to Shelly Trimmer and his teachings.
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It is a vast dream, dreamed by single being; but in such a way that all the dream characters dream too. Hence, everything interlocks and harmonizes with everything else. -Arthur Schopenhauer
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Table of Contents Acknowledgments ........................................................................... vii Introduction ...................................................................................... .ix 1. Yogananda ................................................................................... 1
2. God ................................................................................................ 9 3. Self-Observation ........................................................................ 24 4. On Creative Breakthroughs ..................................................... 25 5. The Three Channels .................................................................. 28
6. Three Books on a Desert Island .............................................. 35 7. Spiritual Evolution ................................................................... 39 8. The Astral and the Afterlife .................................................... 47 9. Self-Acceptance ......................................................................... 58 10. Bilocation? .................................................................................. 60 11. Babaji .......................................................................................... 59 12. A Powerful Link from the Past ............................................... 63 13. The Nature of Time .................................................................. 65 14. The Dream State ........................................................................ 73 15. Karma ......................................................................................... 76 16. Flying under the Radar ............................................................ 77 17. Music, Art, Inspiration ............................................................ .78 18. Love of Animals ........................................................................ 85
19. Dealing with Stress and Anxiety ............................................ 87 20. Meditation .................................................................................. 89 21. Sex, Relationships, Love ........................................................ 110 22. War ............................................................................................ 118
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23. Imagination, Tulpas, Possession ............................................ 120 24. Psychic Investigations ............................................................. 123 25. Illusion, Reality, Propaganda ................................................. 132 26. Magic .......................................................................................... 135 27. Saint Lynn .................................................................................. 158 28. "I Don't Like Cold Weather" .................................................. 160 29. The Binary Self .......................................................................... 162 30. Astrology ................................................................................... 168 31. Your Little Toe .......................................................................... 196 32. Future Science ........................................................................... 197 33. Palmistry .................................................................................... 201 34. I Never Did the Guy Any Favors ........................................... 204 35. Self-Mastery .............................................................................. 205 36. The Blessing .............................................................................. 208 37. Parting Words ........................................................................... 209 APPENDIX 1 The Poem ......................................................................................... 211 APPENDIX2 Shelly Trimmer and the Self-Realization Fellowship ............... 217 Glossary ........................................................................................... 221
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Acknowledgments I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who provided support or feedback for this work along the way, including Eric and Devi Klein, Laurence Hillman, Judith Wiker, Paul Broucek, Edward Moskowitz, Barbara Keller, Ed Weber, William Hunt, Normandi Ellis, Julie Owart, Allison Gawor, Debby Sher, Josh Hedaya, Sharon Steffensen, Nora Ebersbach, Annette Frost-Jensen, John David Ebert, Elaina Raspolich, Lucy Morton, Gabriele Uhlein, Tern Tarriktar, George and Lynda Gawor, Al Paoletti, Joy Doss, Gale Ahrens, and Eileen Rufer. I also want to thank Sharon George, Russell Taylor, Claudette Baker, Lucy Nelson, Ed Maslovicz, Sue Neill, Kevin Korody, Lynn Staudacher, Colleen Mauro, Susan and Tom Wilkins, Rebecca Reath, Deborah Wisby-Trimmer, Lori Hoyt, Paula Finnegan, Carol McGrath, and David Blair. A very special thanks goes out to my editor, Richard Smoley, and my graphic designer, Lynn Fleschutz, both of whom were invaluable in bringing this project to completion.
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Introduction The air was thick with humidity along with the scent of salt water from the nearby Gulf. I'd driven twenty-five hours from Chicago straight through to Florida, and this was unfamiliar territory to me, in more ways than one. Scanning the rows of houses along the neighborhood side streets, I finally located his small, one-story bungalow, partly obscured by overhanging trees and heavy vegetation overflowing its fringes. I rang the doorbell, and was soon greeted by a smiling older gentleman with a white beard. He offered a cheerful hello and invited me into his modest home. He was already deviating from my expectations: he was almost too warm and friendlyfolksy even. Where was that all-important solemnity and gravitas I expected from the powerful teacher I'd heard so much about? And where were those visions I secretly hoped to experience, like the one my teacher up north said he'd had on first meeting with this teacher? There was certainly nothing larger than life about him, not physically anyway. He couldn't have been much more than five feet tall. I stepped through the door, and he invited me to sit down on one side of his small living room. He was dressed entirely in black, and reminded me a bit of Obi Wan Kenobi from the then just-released film Star Wars, but with a touch of Santa Claus thrown into the mix. His eyes were unusual: kind and sparkly, but with a certain depth and intensity to them. I also noticed that his white hair was tied into one or two thin braids extending down the back of his black sweater. And he was wearing boots-maybe cowboy boots; I couldn't be sure. Most surprising of all was that voice of his: very deep, more appropriate for someone twice his size, and colored by an
accent that betrayed the colloquial inflections of his rural Pennsylvanian roots. Throughout the afternoon he was enthusiastic and warm with all his comments, and frequently broke into laughter. I couldn't help but notice he gave out information mainly in response to the questions I posed, rarely volunteering information beyond the scope of those queries. There's a spiritual saying to the effect that "the true mystic never offers their teaching uninvited" -the spiritual ethic of noninterference, in other words. I had the feeling that was Shelly's take on things as well. That first conversation proved to be a turning point for me in a number of ways. Part of it was the sheer profusion of new ideas it exposed me to, many of which left an imprint on my thinking that would last for decades afterwards. During those few hours we discussed a wide range of topics-magic, astral projection, cinema, meditation, astrology, God, sexual energy, the Kabbalah, hypnosis, even quantum physics. And just as I'd heard others say, he rarely paused for more than a second when answering any question, no matter how obscure it was-and some were very obscure. But on those few occasions when he did pause, I paid extra attention.
To understand something about Shelly Trimmer, it's probably best to start at the beginning. A Scorpio, he was born in 1917 in a part of the U.S. commonly known as "Pennsylvania Dutch" country. ("Dutch" is actually derived from deutsch, the German word for "German," and refers to the German-speaking immigrants who came to this region.) While Pennsylvania Dutch culture has traditionally been a highly religious one-an amalgam of various denominations that included Lutherans, Anabaptists, and Moravians-just beneath its surface there has
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lingered an undercurrent of magical and "superstitious" beliefs imported from the Old World, most obvious to area newcomers in the form of hex signs painted on the sides of barns or houses, ostensibly designed to ward off evil influences. Into that cultural matrix Shelly Trimmer was born. From a young age he was steeped in the magical and mystical practices of that tradition, and before long began expanding his studies into spiritual systems beyond his native one. It was one such search that led him to travel to California in the late 1930s in hope of finding a teacher who would impart the techniques to aid him in his quest for enlightenment. It was there that he met, and became a student of, Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). The famed Hindu is probably best known for his book Autobiography of a Yogi-a work cited as a key influence throughout the decades by such figures as Steve Jobs, Elvis Presley, Robin Williams, and George Harrison, to name a few. Yogananda taught a system of spiritual practice known as Kriya Yoga, which incorporates a variety of techniques and disciplines tailored to help individuals achieve well-being and enlightenment. Despite his deepening commitment to the practices of that tradition, Shelly remained independent of any organizationincluding Yogananda' s-and never formally adopted a swami name. For reasons that will become clear in the pages ahead, he remained comparatively reclusive much of his life, choosing to teach in an oral, one-on-one fashion and never writing any books or even articles. For many years he lived in a remote section of Minnesota with his wife, Marjorie, along with their children, but eventually moved to Bradenton, Florida, where he enjoyed sailing his small boat in the Gulf and meeting with students at his home. After his wife died in 1976, he lived alone
for a number of years, then finally remarried, to a woman named Deborah Wisby, who lived with him until his death. I first heard about Shelly through his Chicago-based student, Goswami Kriyananda (not to be confused with the late Swami Kriyananda of California, a.k.a J. Donald Walters ). The more I listened to Kriyananda' s stories about his teacher, the more interested I became in meeting him myself. Among other things, Kriyananda once referred to Shelly as being "a million times more evolved than myself." Even allowing for a generous dose of hyperbole, statements like that nonetheless piqued my curiosity. Upon obtaining Shelly's address from Kriyananda, I sent Shelly a note asking if I could come to his house and speak with him. As is typical for many spiritual teachers, my initial requests were met with a polite rebuff. But on my third try, he agreed to see me for a few hours in September 1977. When we met at his modest home, he was not quite sixty at the time, and I was still in my mid-twenties, a somewhat neurotic yet spiritually inquisitive young man. His wife Marjorie had died just the year before, and his small black dog was his constant companion throughout the afternoon. That meeting was the first of a number of discussions and communications I'd have with him over the coming years until his death at age seventy-nine in 1996. Altogether, I met with him at his home four separate times, communicated with him by letter or tape recordings many other times, and crossed paths with him during the times he spoke in Chicago in 1985. What follows in this volume was drawn primarily from transcripts of those various interactions, especially from those first two meetings in 1977 and 1978. Some of those recordings haven't weathered the years well, and there are times when his words are now nearly inaudible, not just because of the age of
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the tapes but because of his walking out of the room every now and then, or even his dog barking unceremoniously at critical moments! But I've done my best to reconstruct the information contained in those recordings, drawing on my memory wherever necessary to fill in the blanks, and when I was unable to, I've indicated that with parentheses. I've also added a number of anecdotes I've gathered from others, including some from Kriyananda himself, which help to flesh out important aspects of Shelly's character and life. To give some structure to the ideas presented here, I've organized the excerpts into various categories, with less concern for chronology than thematic relevance. This proved challenging at times, since there is considerable overlap between topics in many of the discussions. Shelly had the habit of ranging over a variety of topics in the space of a few minutes. At any rate, this structure should give some focus to these wideranging discussions. The reader is asked to excuse a certain amount of repetition, since a given subject might arise in several conversations in varying contexts. Yet while going over these transcripts, I realized that those varying contexts often provided subtly different shadings into the topic at hand. I've also felt the need for explanation or clarification of some of the things he said. When I've added my comments, they are marked in square brackets, i.e., [ ] .
When I first began sharing some of these transcripts with friends, a colleague asked what I felt I'd learned from my interactions with Shelly. I initially thought that would be impossible to sum up simply, but the more I reflected on it, the more I realized that there were several things in particular which left their mark on me.
The most obvious of those was his considerable knowledge on spiritual and esoteric matters, which shaped my own perspective in a wide number of ways. He wasn't strictly academic in the heavily footnoted manner of a Joseph Campbell or Mircea Eliade, say; I don't believe Shelly had any college education. Yet he could talk at length about theology, philosophy, higher mathematics, music, even quantum physics. Over time, I came to think of him as a true genius, although I'm well aware those unfamiliar with his line of thought might well consider him to be a true lunatic. Who knows? Maybe he was a bit of both. For me, the bottom line is that much of what I've written about in my own books and articles stems back either directly or indirectly to Shelly Trimmer, and I'll always be grateful to him for that. He wasn't my guru-I've never had one, for various reasons-but he served a similar function for me in any number of ways. Then there are the subtler things I learned from him, such as his humility. Shelly was easily one of the most unpretentious and egoless individuals I've encountered during my life-all the more remarkable considering his considerable wisdom and intelligence. He wanted nothing to do with fame, and charged nothing for his time. As an editor and writer, I've come into contact with any number of teachers who brandished a nearly messianic attitude; thinking of themselves as self-styled saviors to humanity. Shelly was exactly the opposite; he didn't take himself seriously at all. (When a friend of mine arrived at his home for a talk one day, he said to Shelly, "I have some questions I've been wanting to ask you," to which Shelly responded, "Fire away, I'm full of useless information.") That was a lesson I needed to learn myself. But perhaps the most meaningful teaching of all for me was the subtlest, that being the unmistakable sense of balance he brought to his life. In the Zen Buddhist tradition, one
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encounters a teaching about the importance of balancing the relative and the absolute-in other words, learning how to juggle one's pursuit of the supreme truth with one's involvement in the everyday, mundane world. Simple as that sounds, it may well be the greatest spiritual challenge of all, judging from the countless mystics and metaphysicians who have become so caught up in their spiritual or intellectual quests that their lives start resembling rowboats with just one oar, and that go round and round as a result. When I asked Kriyananda why he settled specifically on Shelly as his primary teacher, he immediately zeroed in on this same point when he said, "He was the only one who really seemed to have struck a balance between his mystical life and his everyday life." As important as mysticism and knowledge was to Shelly, it was clear he was determined to live as simplified a life as possible, and wasn't going to let his passion for the divine eclipse his ordinary responsibilities and relationships.
He married and raised a family, worked part-time as TV repairman in an electronics store, and deliberately chose not to establish his own organization or cultivate a following or even to have a phone (he used a ham radio for emergencies). He presented himself in so low-keyed a fashion that unless you conversed with him at length, you'd likely never realize there was anything out of the ordinary about the man. But surely there was. And then there's this. Among his other traits, Shelly could be something of a trickster, and on more than one occasion was known to pull the wool over the eyes of some overly devoted or gullible student. Not in the harmful "crazy wisdom" way one sometimes hears of in connection with less reputable gurus, but more in the manner of a kind but inscrutable sage who works to prod the student awake by means of subtle-if sometimes baffling-teaching strategies. Even Kriyananda admitted to a number of frustrating experiences along those lines with Shelly. I'd suggest that readers keep all that in mind while reading these transcripts, and decide for themselves what herein is wheat and what is just chaff. I'd like to believe there is little to none of the latter and a great deal of the former, but when you're dealing with a trickster, you can never be 100% sure! And that's OK. It was never Shelly's intention to have students blindly believe what he taught. Because, for him, it wasn't ultimately about belief systems or knowledge maps, useful as those may be, but about the inquiry itself, and searching out the landscape of the spirit for oneself. So you may even choose to read these exchanges simply as fantastical storytelling, if you prefer, or at times as a kind of science fiction (something Shelly was quite fond of, by the way)-in other words, as thoughtprovoking points of departure. If you can, then they will have served a useful purpose. I hope you enjoy the ride!
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1. Yogananda RAY: How did you wind up studying with Yogananda? SHELLY: When I went out to California, there were two teachers who taught Kriya Yoga-style techniques. There was Yogananda, and there was also an Egyptian teacher (Hamid Bey), and I went out there to see both of them. I was actually more interested in the Egyptian, since most of my studying had been in the direction of the Egyptian schools rather than the Hindu schools. But he happened to be in Buffalo at the time, on a tour of the United States. So I went to Yogananda. When I spoke to Yogananda about the Egyptian, he said, "I won't lie to you; that Egyptian teaches the same thing that I do. But he does not call it Kriya Yoga. And he claims it came from Egypt. Yet he gets the same results." But I found there was one key difference between the two systems. Yogananda said that in order to join his group, I had to take an oath of celibacy. "Under those conditions, I can't join your organization," I told him, "because I've seen the woman I'm going to marry. I know what she looks like, I know she has been married, and I know she has a son. I even know what he looks like." I told him, "I'm not going to take an oath and then go out and then not fulfill that oath." So I said, "I guess I'll head over and find that Egyptian, and wait until he comes back." And Yogananda said, "Now wait, don't be so fast. This is unusual, but I will ask the lineage to see if they'll make an exception. So come back in three days and we'll see whether they will accept you, or whether you'll have to join the Egyptian." So in three days I came back and asked, "What did the lineage have to say?" You see, whether I studied with Yogananda or
anyone else, it didn't matter to me, because I knew what I wanted to learn, and I was going to search until I found someone to teach it to me. Yogananda said, "The lineage has made an exception in your case" -that is, as long as I remained celibate until I met my wife. That was no problem. So I took that oath with the idea that I'd be free from it after I met my wife.
SHELLY: I like to say that there was Yogananda the man, and there was Yogananda the saint. Now, personally, I happened to enjoy Yogananda the man a great deal. Simply as a man, he really tickled my sense of humor. But that sort of judgment is up to each individual, I know. I enjoyed him very much. In fact, he was more of a father to me than my own father was. He played with my mind using a lot of humor, and did a lot of things that I look upon now with great humor. RAY: But at the time ... ? SHELLY: Well, at the time I didn't know he was doing it! That he was testing me out, that is. But he sure set up problems for me. Like the time he had me repair the statues on the ashram grounds. Every time I'd fix one, he'd have another disciple take a club and break it down, to see how I'd react. So finally after doing this three or four times, he remarked to someone, "He's not reacting. He keeps going right back up to fix them." He had the impression when I'd first done that work that I was a bit too pleased with my artistic talent, so he wanted to see whether I became emotionally angry over the breakage-sputtered and fumed, that sort of thing. But I didn't show any Mars, any anger, and I just went ahead and kept on working. Actually, I'd thought that some vandals had come in and done that damage, so I felt like I had to get it fixed before Yogananda saw what they had done! I thought he might be disturbed. I
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didn't realize he had told Victor to hit those statues over the head and damage them! I might have thought about it entirely differently had I known what had really taken place. It wasn't until sometime afterwards that Vic told me what he had done, and that Yogananda had told him to do it. RAY: How long did you study with him? SHELLY: Oh, all told, it was about three years. Then I had to go back home, because my family was in trouble. Yogananda wanted me to bring my sister and brother out there, but I figured that was wrong, because my sister and brother would be restricted to his things and not really acting of their own free will, see? And that I go against. I think each individual has a right to choose their particular religious direction, so to put them under his restrictions without their own freedom is wrong. So I went back home. But I was still in contact with Yogananda and still wrote to him throughout the years until he passed. Yogananda used to like to quote Shakespeare, and one of his favorite quotations was, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Remember, whatever part you're playing, play it to the hilt. And enjoy it! (laughs) regardless of what it is. Yogananda certainly did. In the middle of the summer you could see him in his bearskin coat, a derby hat, and a cane, and he'd be walking down the steps to the temple, and there'd be a disciple waiting to take his cane and coat. He hammed it up as much as he possibly could. He had fun with his own personality. And he loved parties, putting on great feasts. But he could put it all aside when he needed to. RAY: How do you mean? SHELLY: Like the time several of us disciples were recruited to retrieve a priceless statue encrusted with precious gems that was being sent to him by some wealthy shah in the East.
(laughs) We drove in a pickup truck to get it, but on the long drive back to Yogananda' s center, it somehow fell off the back of the truck and got lost. And no matter how carefully we retraced our steps along that mountain road, we couldn't find it. Naturally, we were concerned that Yogananda would be greatly disappointed, since he was looking forward to seeing it. But when we got back to the ashram and told him what happened and he saw our own disappointment, instead of being upset he consoled us and said not to worry. "It is you I truly value," he said. And he never brought the matter up again. As I said, there was Yogananda the man, and Yogananda the saint. As a man, he had his shortcomings; he even spoke about having had a violent temper when he was younger, which almost got him into trouble. But he learned to control these things; he was in control of his personality. When I first came out to California in the late '30s to meet with Yogananda, I was living at a house in Los Angeles and would walk a few blocks down the street every day to a restaurant where I'd have my breakfast. Not far from where I was staying, there was another house I'd walk past where I'd see a lot of very short men and women coming and going; (laughs) they were even shorter than me. They seemed to be having a good time whenever I'd see them, and a few times I stopped to talk with a couple of them. One day, one of the fellows said to me, "Say, you're one of uswhy don't you come and spend some time with us, maybe even move here? I could set you up with a lady here who I think who you'd really like!" But I wasn't interested in looking for a woman at that point. Besides, I didn't see myself as being quite that short! (laughs) It was only later I learned they were in town for the filming of The Wizard of Oz. They were playing the Munchkins. 4 AN INFINITY OF GODS
Goswami Kriyananda related the following two anecdotes he heard from Shelly about his time with Yogananda: Yogananda often led group meditations in the main hall of his center, but on one occasion Shelly could tell from the brilliance of Yogananda' s aura that the teacher was going much deeper than normal. The other students in the room seemed unaware of that shift in Yogananda's energies, and eventually began filing out of the room. That left Shelly alone with Yogananda. After some time, Yogananda finally returned to normal consciousness and slowly started opening his eyes. It was then that Shelly moved in closer and eventually posed the following question: "Were you in God consciousness just now?" Yogananda nodded in the affirmative. Pressing further, Shelly asked, "So you were absolutely one with God?" Yogananda patiently said, "Yes. I was one with God." It was then that Shelly pitched the following query: "So when
you had completely merged with God, what happened to Yogananda?" Shelly was interested in finding out whether Yogananda's individuality had been erased in that moment of divine absorption-a concern for many on the spiritual path. Yogananda was silent for a moment, then softly said, "When I had completely merged with God, Mukunda was still Mukunda." That was an even more surprising answer than Shelly expected, because Mukunda had been Yogananda' s childhood name before he had become an ordained swami. The message here seemed to be an important one for Shelly (as well as for
Goswami Kriyananda, who called this "perhaps the most important mystical statement Yogananda ever made"), that even in our most elevated spiritual state we still retain a spark of our essential individuality. Or, to put it a little differently, in enlightenment everything is gained, and nothing is lost.
As Kriyananda related the story to me, Shelly was at the ashram one morning when Yogananda came walking through the grounds. As in the earlier story, Shelly could tell from the luminous energy around Yogananda that he was in an elevated state of awareness this day. Recognizing that, Shelly immediately went up to Yogananda and prostrated himself at the teacher's feet. Acknowledging Shelly's fiercely independent streak, Kriyananda added, "And if you know Shelly, that is definitely not a 'Shelly' thing to do." So on hearing this story from his teacher, Kriyananda naturally asked him, "Shelly, why did you do that?" To which Shelly responded, "Kriyananda, I was bowing down to the radiance within him."
RAY: Is it true Yogananda originally planned to write a chapter about you in his autobiography? SHELLY: That's what he told me. But he changed his mind when he realized this would go against what he felt was best for me, in terms of staying free from fame and organizations, and all the problems he ran into himself.
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SHELLY: Yogananda said-at least this is what he told me"I know now that I will finally be free when I die to this world. And when I do, I'm going to a far distant sector in space, as we measure space here, to a place in the astral world that isn't even close to this point of the cosmos at all. Because I'm not going to reincarnate again, because from here on I'm moving into Krishna (Christ) consciousness. And from there, to God consciousness."
I'd just begun thinking about cultural symbols and synchronicities at the time of this next exchange, and about the curious way national leaders appear to be symbolically and astrologically connected to their countries. RAY: Is the leader of a country the personification of that country, and the general mood of that country? SHELLY: That is what many astrologers say. If he or she doesn't represent the sum total of the mood of the people at that time, then he couldn't remain in office. And so he or she symbolically represents the total karma of the people at that time. And the ruler of a country is a very enslaved individual. Because he is not free to do what he wants to do, he is controlled more or less by the oversoul of that country. RAY: Is he any less free than anyone else? SHELLY: Yes, he's much less free. If you want to seek freedom, don't ever take a position of authority. RAY: How about someone like a rock-and-roll idol, like one of the Beatles? That's not" authority" in the sense that a president or head of a company is, but they're having a massive influence on people. SHELLY: That's still authority, an authority of that type of influence that he has over people. YOGANANDA 7
RAY: They're being molded almost more by the cultural needs of that time? SHELLY: Yes. This is what makes them so successful! They're adaptable to the cultural needs of the people at that time. And what they're feeling is what the people needed; if what they were feeling and expressing wasn't what the people wanted, they wouldn't have succeeded. RAY: So each famous person is in danger of losing some of their free will because of being in the limelight? SHELLY: That's right. RAY:VVhataboutYogananda? SHELLY: He felt very enslaved. There was a time I'd been watching him as people were coming in, you know, and they were talking to him. He said to me, "This might look wonderful to you-how important I am, people coming in and asking me all kind of questions, to solve all their problems for them, telling them what to do, and what not to do, and how they wait in line to see me. But I am not free. I am enslaved." He told me on another occasion about going down to Mexico three times (to take a break from the responsibilities of his organization). He said, "I know now that the only way I'm going to be free is when I die, when I leave this body. That's the only way I can be free. My karma won't iet me be free any other way." Then he added, "I must free as many people as I enslaved as a result of my last incarnation"-he believed he was William the Conqueror in his last incarnation. And he said, "I enslaved many people as a result of that, and I've got to free as many people as I enslaved." Not the same ones, but as many people. Then he said, "You! You remain free! Don't you get involved like I have." And I listened to him.
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2.God RAY: Why did God create us in the first place? SHELLY: First of all, God did not create you, spiritually. Because if you had a beginning, you of necessity had an end. So you always were. Now, you are in the image of God, and like unto God. But this does not mean he created you. You are selfconscious awareness, like God is self-conscious awareness. You are a self-existent one. You always were, you always will be, you cannot be destroyed.
SHELLY: What is the difference between you and God, or any being who has self-conscious awareness at any particular point in space or time? There is just one difference: the degree of balance. God is a high degree of balanced self-conscious awareness; you are not. You are a very high degree of unbalance. But we all are. You see, to become more aware that you are, rather than aware of things-the very law of self-conscious awareness practically denies it, it's almost an impossible concept. So God is what we might call the "impossible concept." It's a paradox of existence. It's said that he was the first being in whom this took place.
RAY: What caused the original schism of the Divine Unity into a duality, into the Sun and the Moon? How could something in perfect equilibrium-if indeed it was perfect-divide into two polarities? As one writer I read expressed it, the zero somehow transformed into a one and a two. But how could a zero split into a one and a two? How could something that is self-contained and in equilibrium split?
SHELLY: It wasn't a zero. It was a One that functions as a Two. Because One cannot help but function as a Two. The Self is a One that eternally functions as a Two.
SHELLY: Now, God has created this cosmic dream. You have been outside this cosmic dream, and you came in to learn the technique of God, whereby he became enlightened-and in so doing, become enlightened yourself. RAY: Then where did I come from? SHELLY: From outside the dream of God. You were in a state of what might be called chaos. And in chaos there a certain order arises, an order of entropy. Now, you've studied some of the basic laws of physics in high school, haven't you? For instance, take the atmosphere in this room. Every atom of air in here is moving at random, at its own rate. But because everything is moving at random, we have an equalized pressure throughout the room. So there is a kind of order in random movement. And if you have a number of beings in chaos, it produces order! RAY: Was this truly" chaos," then? SHELLY: We call it "chaos" when everything is moving of its own volition without reference to anything else. And it all keeps bumping and we have everything moving against one another.
RAY: Were we individualized awarenesses at that point, before we entered God's dream? SHELLY: We were all self-conscious awarenesses in existence, in all the existences, as they say, worlds without end.
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SHELLY: All the things you see here (gestures with hand) were once upon a time an action of God. But it is now part of his memory banks. You're merely living within the memory banks of God. You are living, in other words, within the soul of God. The proof of this? Time is the first dimension in your inner state of awareness. Yet out here, in your outer environment, timeaccording to Einstein-is the fourth dimension. The only way you can logically understand this is that you're in somebody else's being. So you're within the soul of God. And you're learning his technique. But if you don't like it, you can get out.
RAY: So is all of creation the memory track of God? SHELLY: Yes. RAY: Then what is a"memory track"? I don't understand. SHELLY: All right. You are spirit. Spirit is self-conscious awareness. Any change in the state of self-conscious awareness is an event. This event produces a memory track. That is the soul. RAY: The memory track in what? SHELLY: In itself Of itself! Remember, it is in negative existence, which means it has unlimited power. It is much better than perpetual motion; it can create any and all things. And this memory track is the memory track of God, it is the soul of God. And that's what you're now in. You're in his "body," so to speak, inside his soul, learning his technique. RAY: Am I in my own memory track, too-or is my own memory track in turn within God? SHELLY: That's right. And he learned the technique, which is considered the "impossible technique."
RAY: Would another way of saying it be that we are living inside of God's past? SHELLY: Yes.
SHELLY: So someone might ask, how "big" is God's cosmic dream? But that has no meaning in self-conscious awareness. Like the philosophers used to say, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The answer is an infinite number, because an angel does not have any dimensions. How many points can there be in a line? An infinite number, because a point has no dimensions. And spiritually you are like a point: you have infinite energy, infinite power, but you don't have any dimensions. You create dimensions.
SHELLY: God is a being like you are. He's a being of selfconscious awareness. RAY: Are there many beings like God? SHELLY: Oh, yes, yes. RAY: So he was one of many beings of that nature, but was the first one to become illuminated? SHELLY: He's the first one to become illuminated in this way. And he has many disciples, and they go around keeping balance in his cosmic dream. Remember, all that come in by his grace to learn his technique are imbalanced, and they can tear the fabric of his dream and of his memory track to piecesunless they're kept in sort of order. So we're very restricted. Look at how you are restricted, in all sorts of ways, so that your state of imbalance doesn't go too far. RAY: If we are really all gods, with godlike potential, then why aren't we taught anything like that in our Western religions? 12 AN INFINITY OF GODS
SHELLY: Who would want to teach a religion that doesn't require priests, pastors, rabbis, or institutions? You can't control people with a religion like that!
You're in God's cosmic dream to learn the technique of God. That means that all paths in God's cosmic dream lead to what God led to. Because after all, all these paths in God lead to where he is now. The result of all paths in his memory track is to what he himself accomplished. So it doesn't matter in what areas you come into God, given enough time, you will reach God consciousness. Now all paths lead to God, and all paths have their saints. But all paths are according to the nature of the individual. Even the drug addict or alcoholic on the street may not be seeking spiritual enlightenment-at least not consciously-but they are seeking it without knowing it. They're going towards it by means of what is called karma yoga. That's the slowest of all paths. Yogananda felt that the average individual living a normal life would take about 10 million years to reach it. The only difference between any two paths is the speed with which it takes you to God consciousness. Remember, if you're living in Chicago and you want to get to San Francisco, you can fly westward to get there, but you can also fly straight east and eventually you'll get there, too. They both wind up in the same place. But it's a much longer way to go.
The following brief exchange is from a conversation my friend William Hunt had with Shelly during the late 1970s: SHELLY: All paths in God's cosmic dream lead to God
consciousness and towards what he has accomplished, because this is part of the memory track of God, the soul of God. In the soul of God are all the states of unbalance that have existed in him before he learned this particular technique. GOD 13
WILLIAM: So did God have to go through the same process of coming to know himself that we are going through ourselves? SHELLY: Yes. And so he is the one who has reached the highest degree of balanced self-conscious awareness.
It's worth pointing out that Shelly's theological conception here has parallels in various spiritual traditions, such as the Kabbalah. When Genesis 1:3 says, "Let there be light," this implies that God himself became illuminated only at a certain point, and was essentially "in darkness" until that point.
RAY: If it were somehow possible to blow up both God and his cosmic dream, would there be anything left? SHELLY: Oh, yes, there would still be existence, and all the other beings would still exist. They would just go back into conditions similar to what existed before God came upon the scene, so to speak. RAY: What prompted the souls to enter into this dream in the first place? And was there a specific point at which they consciously thought"we're going to go into this dream"? Or was it almost more of a karmic thrust that pushed or pulled them into it, in a more unconscious way? SHELLY: Welt it's like a moth sees a flame and it moves towards it. Now when a moth moves towards a flame, it has no control over that. When you were drawn to God's dream, you did move towards the feeling of the restfulness, the peace that goeth before all understanding. Because within God's cosmic dream, there was order. Outside, the other type of order was the order that exists when you have rampant disorder, what I described as chaos, the order of entropy. God produces the order of balanced self-conscious awareness, which is blissful. It is the new concept. So beings who became aware of this wanted
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to experience and learn the technique of God. And that's all we' re doing, is learning the technique of God. RAY: Where does all this take place? I mean, is God's dream and these various planes actual"places," or just states of mind? SHELLY: I'll explain it like this. When you dream, do you notice the distance and the space that exists in your dream? Where is all that space? And how does it relate to this space here? It's not interfering, is it? You create "space." So it's not interfering with this space. Look at all the channels that come through your TV set; they're all around in here, intermixing but not interfering with one another, are they? Because this in here is linear space. But as soon as they become nonlinear, there's all kinds of interference. So this TV can take channel 13 and make it nonlinear, but it doesn't do anything to all the other frequencies that are around here right now.
RAY: Karmically, what makes one person go in one direction within God's dream, and another go in another direction? Is it simply momentum? SHELLY: Ahh. It's whatever momentum you came into God's cosmic dream with. And then cause and effect continues on from there, guided by the dream state of God and by the eventual perfection that God himself accomplished. When you move into the dream of God, the dream of God is a memory track, just like newsreels. And you move into that area of God's cosmic dream that is contiguous to your own particular nature. In other words, the outer environment, which is part of God's dream, was in harmony with the inner state of awareness of your inner environment. Your outer environment is a reflection of you, with all the unbalanced states and conditions matching one another. If you want a certain outer environment, then GOD 15
change the inner you, and you will then vibrate and gravitate to a different state of awareness and a different environment. Whatever your desire or dream is, you'll find a place and time in the memory track of God which is contiguous with your own nature. RAY: What happens once a soul finally attains God consciousness? SHELLY: You have reached the ultimate perfection of Selfwhich is what God's cosmic dream is supposed to imply- and you're in controlled, balanced equilibrium, which you're able to maintain. And if you're in controlled, balanced equilibrium, the 11 end" does not exist. You now have what they call wave upon wave of ever-new, ever-changing, ever more glorious bliss." Every creation, every new state of awareness is more blissful than the previous state of awareness. So there is no boredom. Everything goes on in the most beautiful way conceivable. /1
Then if you want, you may come down to help others who have fallen by the wayside along the path towards God consciousness. You help them. Because remember, you are like God in this expression: you go about and you want to help, and give all that you are to whoever will let you. Because you are expressing the ultimate of unselfish love, and for no other purpose than to give. If you have all the money in the world, the only thing you can do is give it to others, is that not so? If you have everything, how can you want more? You want to give what you have. It's the only real way of expressing your nature. RAY: So in a sense you could say there is something beyond the state of God consciousness? SHELLY: Yes, there's constant new experience. But it's balanced experience. See, there's two types of experience: balanced and
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unbalanced. Unbalanced experience leads to-well, you know what that is, because you're aware of it now. In fact, almost everything you're aware of is unbalanced experience. Balanced experience is what you are very much not aware of. This is when things are very pleasant, such as when the progressed Sun conjuncts your Venus-that gives you some idea of balanced awareness. When one gets deep into God consciousness, that is real balanced experience. It's like what we mean by the word "bliss"; Yogananda compared it to lying down on a feather bed after not sleeping for days, and others explain it other ways. But when they all get finished, this is what they are pointing towards. That is what it's all about. We always were, but we were never in this balanced condition. In other words, balance is the unusual state, the improbable probable. RAY: So is it the balanced state or the unbalanced state that's the unusual state? SHELLY: The unbalanced state is the normal state. RAY: It is? SHELLY: Yes. Because remember, in one wave of self-conscious awareness you're immediately eleven-twelfths aware of things, which throws you way out of balance, between Self and world.
As a way to explain a key point about God and the concept of "balance," Shelly asked me to read from a Kabbalistic translation he respected, The Kabbalah Unveiled, by S.L. MacGregor Mathers: SHELLY: Here. Read the first few passages from this book. (handing me a copy of The Kabbalah Unveiled)
"The Book of Concealed Mystery" is the book of the equilibrium of balance. For before there was equilibrium, countenance beheld not countenance. And the kings of ancient time were dead and their crowns were found no more; and the Earth was desolate. Until that head (which is incomprehensible) desired by all desires (proceeding from Ain Soph, the infinite and limitless one) appeared to communicate the vestments of honour. The equilibrium hangeth in that region which is negatively existent in the ancient one. SHELLY: You can stop there. Where it refers to the "equilibrium of balance"-that is balanced consciousness, the enlightened state. RAY: The commentary on line two says,"By the two countenances are meant: Macroprosopus and Microprosopus." Does that refer to the microcosm and the macrocosm? SHELLY: He is wrong there. By the "two countenances" is meant the Sun and the Moon-the I AM THAT I AM, the observer and the observed. That is what is really meant. That passage is speaking of the relationship between the two selves, the observer and the observed. But of course you could also read it to mean the microcosm and the macrocosm, too, because now he's referring to the relationship between God and us, where we're the microcosm and God is the macrocosm. RAY: "And the kings of ancient time were dead and their crowns were found no more."What does that mean? SHELLY: Outside of God there are still beings who live and exist pretty much like what we had in the medieval ages-and also pretty much like what exists in the third and fourth planes of the astral world right now. They have their own kingdoms,
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their own districts, so to speak, and are somewhat like barons, and can even go to war. They can gather others around them and enslave many souls in the astral world to serve their particular desires and whims, and live a very despotic life, just like those barons who lived in the medieval ages. And this exists also outside the cosmic dream of God.
It's important to note that, for Shelly, the term "enslavement" held different meanings than simply the obvious one of a tyrant holding prisoners captive, or a plantation owner lording it over a community of slaves. Whenever a politician, cult leader, or even a pop star holds sway over a populace, where individuals are mesmerized by that figure's charisma or manipulations to an extreme, that's a form of "enslavement," since one's freedom has been compromised. It was clear to me Shelly's use of that term was more along those lines, as a kind of psychological bondage more than actual, tangible imprisonment.
SHELLY: Now each person, regardless of which chakra he decides to express, will find God consciousness in his or her own way. At the Venus chakra: when the lover is loved-that's God consciousness. Or at the Mars chakra: when the conqueror is conquered-that's God consciousness. See, it doesn't matter which chakra you're moving towards, you can still reach God consciousness through any path, since all paths lead to God consciousness. There isn't a path that doesn't lead to God consciousness-except maybe one: beyond the eighth realm. That's getting out of the cosmic dream of God. You can get out whenever you want to. RAY: Wait. You can step out of the realm of God at the eighth rung? Or is it past the eighth rung? SHELLY: It's called "past the eighth realm," "past the ring of
Saturn," the ring of "pass not." The way out of God's cosmic dream is past the Saturn realm. That's the only other path: otherwise all other paths lead to God consciousness. And when you're outside of God's cosmic dream, you're no longer under its influence. But remember: outside of God's cosmic dream, the main pastime among the beings there is pushing buttons! Which tells them how unbalanced you are. And there is no better game out there than that. So you'd better be pretty balanced if you want to have fun out there, because someone's going to be able to read you real well. And you might be so miserable you'll come running back in and knock on God's door and say, "Let me back in!" See? Back in here, at least there's some safety from his particular "system." Which is a pretty good one, from a militaristic point of view. (laughs) You see, when you're unbalanced, you try to be better than others. But when you're balanced, it doesn't bother you. You have to be unbalanced to have energy fields in order to function. Because if you are truly balanced, there are no energy fields.
SHELLY: You can't explain God, because if you have explained him, then you have limited him; and if you have limited him, then you are no longer explaining God. But perhaps the closest we can come to understanding is through unselfish love. Look how cold and cruel this world becomes without unselfish love. A man sees this most when he loves a woman and is willing to sacrifice his life for her; or two buddies go to war and one is willing to sacrifice his life to save his buddy's. This is an act of unselfish love. But it is expressed especially by a woman to her child, which is pure unselfish love. God is a state of awareness
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that wants only one thing: to give everything he has to you. And all he asks is for you to let him, to let him give everything he has to you. But you won't let him. RAY: How does one let him? By meditating? SHELLY: Yes, meditation is the way. But also through unselfish love. For example, when most people pray, they want something, they' re asking for things. They' re tuning into the "gimme" channel, you might say. But God is not on that channel; he's on the channel of unselfish love, on the "givvee" channel. When you say, "Dear God, what is there I can do to alleviate your problems, what is there I can do to help others?" -now you're beginning to tune into God consciousness.
As became clear in our discussions, Shelly was well aware of dissenting views about the nature of God-including doubts as to whether the deity was truly the all-loving being many believe (a view found in traditional Gnostic systems, for instance). My personal sense is that he introduced the following alternate perspective into the mix as a way to raise questions and provoke listeners into thinking about this ultra-important topic for themselves, rather than simply swallowing his views on the matter. SHELLY: Now, if what God gave and is expressing to us is wrong, as some claim to be the case, then he's merely found a new technique for enslaving many souls. He is simply a new baron expressing a new way of increasing his influence. Like some of your atheists say, if you can prove to me there's a God, I can prove to you that God is a sadist. And that is pretty much what this dissenting faction says, too. And those in that faction believe they're trying to save you from being enslaved by the God system. They say that his technique is exactly what it seems to be on its surface-an "impossible technique." So they've
established a brotherhood which is trying to save and take people out from this cruelty and this false God, into the realms outside of God. RAY: How do we affect God, if we're in his memory banks, his soul? We must have some effect. SHELLY: There's always an equal and opposite reaction to every action. So everything that happens to you in his soul produces a reaction within you-but you can still have your own interpretation of what is happening to you. And that interpretation can be very relative and subjective. For instance, three men go to see Niagara Falls; one is an artist, one is an engineer, and one is a lover. Although it's the same exact thing they're seeing, each one sees the falls from an entirely different emotional point of view, each one has a different interpretation of that experience. And God is recording all of this in the Akashic Records, and as a result his soul is increasing by leaps and bounds. In much the same way, if you're a guru and you have disciples fervently doing their meditations, they're helping you toward your own self-realization by their meditations. That's why teaching has been called an indirect way toward God consciousness; it helps you heavily toward self-realization. Since those students are directly connected to you, your teaching is helping you as well. And likewise, whatever you do is helping the cosmic dreamer. RAY: Do our negative actions affect God as well? SHELLY: Yes, both negative as well as positive. And this is why there are what are called lesser gods who come down and keep things in order. Otherwise mankind could upset conditions, and even upset the nature of God's dream considerably. Although what is "negative" or "positive" is often a matter of perspective.
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You see, you have a certain amount of freedom, but not too much. For instance, you have a temperature restriction here, you have pressure restrictions. Even the gravity pulls the Moon and causes a variation in the mental state of human awareness, with the increase in crime and the psychic conditions affected by the Moon's phases. You have the restrictions of this animal body. These are all variables which are controlled by God's cosmic dream. But while they all influence you, your erratic behavior also influences and creates new factors in God's cosmic dream. So he's learning from you, and his memory track is being altered andRAY: -added to by everybody. SHELLY: Yes. But remember, you're gaining the soul of the
cosmic dreamer by being here. This is what you're doing.
Years ago I heard an interview with a film director who spoke about the pros and cons of being a creative figure. On the one hand, creative individuals get to experience the enormous joy of giving birth to a work of art; but on the other hand, they are destined to only experience that work "from the inside out," and will never be able to experience it the way each and every audience member coming to the theater does, as something totally fresh and unique. That struck me as a useful analogy to what Shelly was describing, in the way each self-conscious being can experience God's creation in ways God him/herself never can, since that divine perspective on creation is necessarily ''from the inside out."
RAY: The Buddha seemed to play down the entire notion of
God. SHELLY: The Buddha did not come to teach about God.
3. Self-Observation SHELLY: I don't ever think of myself by my name, I don't ever call myself by any name. So I have no reference to myself in that respect. And I always refer to myself in the third person, you know. I call myself "he." I guess most people refer to themselves as "I" or something. RAY: I know I do. Well, there you go. SHELLY: It's always as though I'm observing myself, and that "I" am something different maybe. I got that from Yogananda-always watching what you're doing like you're an actor on the stage playing a part.
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4. On Creative Breakthroughs At this point in the conversation we were talking about creativity and moments of inspiration or genius: SHELLY: When somebody gets up there on stage and "gets" it, like a violin player or a singer or an artist, it doesn't matter what they're doing; you can look at it or hear it and feel it in your spine. Because you know this is the work of a genius. When a composer creates a great piece of music, your spine tingles. RAY: Certain composers or musicians do that for meDebussy and Ravel in particular. But I wonder if someone will have that experience with a work of genius even if they don't particularly care for that kind of music or art. SHELLY: If it is true genius, I think so. For I have seen works of art, and I don't understand art well enough to really know, but I know those works are pure genius because you can feel it, and you can feel that those works are above a lot of other art. There is other art which is considered "good" but doesn't have that feeling of pure genius functioning. For instance, you can hear a violinist, and he can play a piece of music brilliantly, and everyone will clap because it is good. But he can also play it maybe once out of every twenty times but does more than just play it brilliantly; something else entirely takes place. And when that happens-have you ever been in an auditorium when that happens, and you see what happens to the audience? RAY: Yes, I have. SHELLY: They go wild. After he's finished, for a moment you can hear a pin drop, then they realize it's over with. Then
ON CREATIVE BREAKTHROUGHS 25
there's an uproar and they all come to their feet. This performer has done it. You don't come across this very often. An artist may do many pieces of art, but one of his pieces really has it. But people go along with his other works because of his or her reputation. You're looking for those particular points that exist. It's like when Yogananda would reach a state close to God consciousness-he suddenly radiated and became more than just a man. The rest of the time he was just a man. And you look for those particular points with spiritual figures, too. For instance, there are some gurus who don't say a single word to you. You simply go there and meditate in their presenceand that's all. Because it's what comes through that isn't in words that's most important, it's something you can't express in words. But a form of communication is definitely taking place. What you get when you meditate with them is that undefinable something which passes between the two of them and which stimulates the individual. Seeds are sown which come forth, which the individual then goes forth and begins to express as great creativity. They become truly creative. It's what we call genius, and is what causes the flow of prana in other people's spines. He or she is transmitting something more than just some physical phenomena. It's like a new concept. Do you know what a new concept can do to a person? When somebody comes up with a new concept and gives it out to the world, your spine thrills to the idea. You don't often run across new concepts like that. In your own life, if you can give and create something new, even one, your life has been worthwhile. Most people don't create a single thing. And most of the things which you think are created anew have been created before. But you don't know this, so it's the same as though you've created it over again. And this makes it
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worthwhile. Look how difficult it is to create a new plot in a story. This is why your critics get so tired of the same old stuff again and again, so that when a critic sees a new story or a play written and presented in a new way, that is what he's looking for. Most of the stuff they see is drivel or trash. It's that special something which everyone is looking for. Like when they found the technique for creating a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (on December 2, 1942, at the University of Chicago). This was a tremendous moment in history, you could feel this in your spine. This was one of the high points of this age, and I remember when this took place, in that Chicago pile they were experimenting with. The uranium was increasing its neutron rate exponentially-which meant that if they had kept it going, it would eventually blow. Of course they put in the cadmium plates and lowered it. But they had succeeded, they had now proven the Einstein concept, that they could turn mass into energy. And once it was known that was done, every other scientist in the world knew how. There was no more secret as to how to do that.
Needless to say, Shelly valued the intellectual breakthrough the Manhattan Project represented, not the end result to which it was eventually put. One other thing: I was curious why Shelly placed such importance on a "new idea" and on "creating a single new thing," so I asked Goswami Kriyananda about Shelly's insistence on this point. He explained that from Shelly's perspective, thinking a new thought represented a breakthrough in consciousness with the power to free someone from their limited framework of thinking into a new sphere of possibilities.
ON CREATIVE BREAKTHROUGHS 27
5. The Three Channels An essential key to understanding much of Shelly's teaching, and yogic philosophy generally, is the doctrine of the three energy channels, or nadis, within the subtle body. The "left-hand" current is termed Ida, and is associated with our emotional nature, dreaming consciousness, and the astral world; the "right-hand" channel is called Pingala, and is associated with our rational nature, waking consciousness, and the physical world; the middle channel, Sushumna, is associated with balanced consciousness and represents the path of Kundalini, the so-called "serpent energy" of enlightened being. An individual's state of awareness is a reflection of where the prana (life force) is concentrated within these three channels at any given time. When it's predominantly within Ida, one is asleep and dreaming. When it's predominantly on the side of Pingala, the person is awake and physically active. For most individuals, the experience of the middle channel is a far dimmer reality, but can be cultivated and enhanced through meditation. We also taste it momentarily on the border between waking and sleep. Shelly often referred to the dual influence of Ida and Pingala on the right and left sides as "the wheel," since it represents the realm of karma and phenomenal experience, akin to the "wheel of rebirth" described by Buddhists.
SHELLY: These three states are what you're normally consciously aware of. If we are in a state of balance, within Sushumna, the "wheel" ceases to exist; it comes to a stationary position. So all that is written upon it cannot function. So long as the wheel is moving and you are on the wheet you're in Ida and Pingala, and you're bound by the law of what is written.
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The three primary channels in the subtle body through which prana (life force) descends and ascends: Ida, the feminine, downward-flowing current that relates to emotions and dream awareness; Pingala, the masculine, upward-moving current relating to rationality and waking consciousness; and Sushumna, the central channel through which Kundalini flows when consciousness is balanced between Ida and Pingala. According to Kriyic mysticism, prana enters the body through the back of the head at the chandra chakra, (referred to by Yogananda as the "mouth of God"), and on completing its journey through the chakric levels exits the body through the ajna chakra, or "third eye," in the forehead.
Every time you go to sleep, you pass through Sushumna, but you're only there for a fraction of a second. And every time you wake up, you come out of Ida and you pass through Sushumna, but just for a fraction of a second. What you're trying to do is go to sleep consciously. Don't go all the way into Ida; stop before you get that far, stop in Sushumna. That's what you're trying to accomplish.
THE THREE CHANNELS 29
When you divide the states of awareness an average person can experience, any kind of true spiritual revelation occurs in Sushumnic awareness. That's where your true saints and mystics draw from when they give predictions, things of that sort. That is Sushumnic awareness. Pingalic awareness is what you're mostly aware of now, in this physical waking world. And when you're asleep, or you've crossed over after death, you're in Idic awareness. You see, these are the three states of awareness which you're automatically aware of. At this moment you're dimly aware of Ida, and you're quite strongly aware of Pingala. Now you may have a nightmare in Ida, and wind up remaining much more aware of it than usual after waking up; it can be so strong, in fact, it survives after you wake up and essentially overrides your waking state. And if it becomes too strong, it can become an obsession, and now you've become not just a neurotic but truly psychotic. The stimulus from the Idic world is then controlling your reactions in the Pingalic world. But Sushumna brings both of those worlds to balance. When the energies in Ida and Pingala are equalized, there is no longer a sense of imbalance, and Sushumnic awareness can now truly exist. It's like a child playing jump rope. If they go into meditation and they reach Sushumna, when they're at the upward point of that jump, they'll stay in that upper position like they' re frozen in time and space. RAY: But would you even see that child standing still if you were truly in Sushumna? Isn't the image of that child a Pingalic, physical manifestation? SHELLY: If you're in Sushumna you can see both Pingala and Ida. RAY: So if you're in Sushumna you would see-what, exactly?
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SHELLY: You would see reality as it is stretched out in a different way from what you now call reality. It would look entirely different. A saint can also see the future, he can see "God's plan," since he's viewing it in a wider scope than you have when you're looking at it from either the Idic or Pinglic worlds. He's looking at it from the Sushumnic point of view.
Goswami Kriyananda related the following story to me about Shelly and the spinal currents which I found intriguing. Shelly's wife of several decades, Marjorie, had just passed away (1976), and to be supportive and helpful with practical matters, Kriyananda flew down to Fiorida to spend time with him and help get his affairs in order. But while sitting and watching Shelly walk around the room as they conversed, he clairvoyantly noticed something unusual: Shelly's spinal energies were perfectly centered in the middle of the spine. It was obvious from the way Kriyananda described this to me that he felt this was both unusual and important. I couldn't quite understand why, though, so I asked him, "What's so odd about that?" He responded by explaining that most people's energies are mainly concentrated in either Ida or Pingala. It's far rarer for our consciousness to be focused in that central channel of Sushumna-and that's usually when the body is perfectly motionless in deep meditation. For anyone to be walking around and conversing the way Shelly was that day while remaining balanced in that central channel wasn't simply impressive, it was nearly impossible, Kriyananda implied. "It was a great occult education," Kriyananda whispered, almost as if in awe.
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But there was more to the story. During that same conversation, Shelly asked how Kriyananda' s mother was faring, since she'd been sick up recently. Kriyananda replied that her condition wasn't at all good, that she'd fallen out of her hospital bed and broken her hip. Upon finishing that sentence, Kriyananada described seeing the energies at Shelly's heart chakra veer off sharply, as if to send out a luminous burst of energy towards Kriyananda's mother. Up to that point, Shelly had been perfectly centered in his spine, but chose to consciously divert his awareness outward to send energies to the ailing womanthis despite his own host of concerns at the moment. Kriyananda added, with a tone of respect, "The incredible unselfishness of the man ... "
SHELLY: In their purest form, the chakras are located within Sushumna. But they have expressions in both Ida and Pingala as well. Most of the time we're only aware of the chakras in their Idic or Pingalic states. For the third, Martian chakra, Aries represents its Pingalic or masculine expression, while Scorpio is its Idic or feminine expression. For the heart chakra, its Idic expression is Taurus and its Pingalic expression is Libra. And on it goes, for all of the levels. The (visible) planets symbolically relate to the different chakras-Saturn for the root chakra, Jupiter for the second chakra, Mars for the third chakra, Venus for the heart chakra, Mercury for the throat chakra, the Sun for the third eye, or ajna chakra, and the Moon for the feminine pole of that chakra, what Yogananda called the chandra chakra.
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The "inner solar system" is a reflection of the outer universe, with the seven traditional planets corresponding to the seven primary chakras, and the twelve zodiacal signs corresponding to the masculine and feminine aspects of those chakras.
RAY: What about the outer three planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto? SHELLY: You can think of those as harmonics of the lower three chakras-Uranus represents an aspect of the Saturn chakra, Neptune is an aspect of the Jupiter, and Pluto is an aspect of the Mars chakra. RAY: Do the planets exactly express what the different chakras are about? SHELLY: Exactly? No. The planets are very Pingalic, but they come as close as we can in this world. It's in the central, Sushumnic channel where the chakra finds its purest, most balanced expression.
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RAY: How different is the chakra in its Pingalic nature from its more ldic manifestation? SHELLY: There is considerable difference. RAY: And each chakra has its expression in the Sushumnic channel as well? SHELLY: Yes, that is the true essence of the chakra, in its balanced form. There are three worlds of existence-Assiah, Yetzirah, and Briah, or physical, astral, and spiritual-and a planet has different expressions in all three of those worlds. Look at the metals associated with each of the major chakras: lead with the root, Saturn chakra; tin with the second, or Jupiter chakra; iron with the third chakra, which is Mars; mercury or quicksilver with the throat chakra; silver with the Moon chakra in the back of the head; and gold with the third eye, or the Sun chakra. What meditative methods like the Kriya techniques are doing is akin to what the alchemists were talking about, in their esoteric significance, anyway-transmuting base lead into spiritual gold. (pointing to his forehead) Then you will have then attained the philosopher's stone. And strangely enough, though they knew nothing about electricity-at least according to what our textbooks say-each of those metals is more electropositive than the other in that particular order. In other words, if you take any two metals in this sequence and put them into an acid or alkaline solution, one will be positive, the other will be negative, and an electrical current will flow. So that each metal going up is more electropositive than the other. How they determined that back then, we don't know.
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6. Three Books on a Desert Island RAY: If you had to take three books to a desert island, what would you take? SHELLY: At my stage now? With my eyes the way they are now, I wouldn't take any. (laughs) RAY: In theory, though, which three books would have the most value for you? SHELLY: (long pause) I imagine they would be books filled with occult information. One of them would be the Christian Bible, since it is filled with much symbolic and esoteric information. The Bible is a vast collection of many books, so it's filled with an enormous storehouse of information. There's another book of symbolism, written by Manly P. Hall-The Secret Teachings of All Ages. RAY: Oh yes, I know it. The fact that he pretty much wrote it at my age is very humbling. SHELLY: Now remember, he didn't do that all himself. He had tremendous help from those who were helping him research all this stuff. RAY: Even so, the coordination involved with it all was fantastic. SHELLY: Oh, yeah, naturally. It's perhaps the greatest gathering together of occult information that's ever been accomplished. H.P. Blavatsky tried it, but she didn't succeed as well as he did. I'd also think that if one is on a desert island, or anyplace, the understanding and interpretation of dreams would be highly important. Not just for self-understanding but for predicting future events, and omen interpretation. In fact, I place dreams first and foremost, even above astrology. Because when we
THREE BOOKS ON A DESERT ISLAND 35
come to astrology, it's not a perfect science, and there are many things which we've lost from the early days, when it was more exact than it is today. We don't know too much about some of the terms, or the ancient cycles, and there are too many conflicting viewpoints. And for a third book ... Well, as for surviving on the island, (laughs) I wouldn't have to take anything along to survive on a desert island, because I automatically know how to survive on a desert island. Actually, if you went to a desert island, you wouldn't need books. If you knew the technique of meditation, you would have the source of all information there is, and you would have plenty of time. In this world, there are too many shows, too many places to distract your time and attention, so why not go to a desert island and be there without any books, and give yourself a chance to meditate and find enlightenment? It would be ideal, since you wouldn't have so many distracting influences. RAY: Can you get any information you want or need through meditation? SHELLY: Yes. RAY: Through samyama? SHELLY: What do you mean by samyama? RAY: It's a term from the yoga sutras I learned from Kriyananda. It has to do with focusing your attention on something so thoroughly that you gain insight into it. I've encountered instances where a person seemed to come up with information about something they couldn't have known about through any normal means. Is that really just a matter of putting your mind so totally on the question that the information flows in?
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SHELLY: That's it. You're putting your mind upon the question, that's all. It's much the same technique as in astrology. You use your mind, and you meditate on the subject you want to know about until you've reduced all you're aware to just that thing and you let the information flow in. And this you can learn without reading. You can learn an enormous number of things without reading. RAY: But will you come up with the definitive answer-or just another answer? I'm thinking of how so many books come up with seemingly inspired answers about something, yet most of them disagree! SHELLY: Well, let's take all the Greek philosophers. Do they all agree?
RAY: But that's philosophy. Let's say I was looking for the answer to some deeper, more mystical question. SHELLY: Well, maybe someone else would answer it differently, but when it comes to the basic knowledge of consciousness itself, that must remain true for all beings with self-conscious awareness. But when we get away from this into more compounded things-after all, everything in this world is thrice compounded, as they say-it becomes more complicated. For example, consider a diamond on someone's ring; what does it vibrate to, symbolically? All diamonds are crystalline in form, so that's basically a Saturn vibration. But because it's also an object of beauty or even love, its second harmonic might be Venus. Or even Jupiter. But it is not pure Saturn! There is nothing that is absolutely pure in a thrice-compounded universe, so to speak. So, you see, because of the contamination, there are considerable variations depending on the viewpoint of who's telling you the answer at the time.
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But again, when we get down to the true basics, yes, the answer always has to be the same. That's why any saint or sage who becomes aware of God tends to have the same answer regardless of what religion they went into and reached God consciousness with. And the technique of meditation-and by that I mean the mathematical equation which Yogananda taught of the meditator, the object of meditation, and the act of meditation all becoming one-will allow anyone to become aware of the same thing after they've reached a certain intensity: you become aware that you are the meditator, and also the object of meditation. And in that process you find yourself. And when you do, you start becoming aware of God consciousness.
Several years later I asked Kriyananda about that process of obtaining knowledge about a subject via meditation or occult means as I discussed with Shelly. Suppose one wanted to uncover information about the building of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, say; how would one go about doing that? Kriyananda offered an elaborate explanation involving focusing one's mind on a given intention, question, or symbol-such as the Great Pyramid-but emphasized this was generally not a simple, one-shot process. It usually involved repeated "probes" into that subject and then integrating those impressions: "You may have to go back three times, maybe six times, maybe ten, maybe a hundred. But it's not simply a matter of going in once, and then coming out with all the data. That would take an exceptional master. Even Shelly, who I consider quite a master, has to probe in two or three times. Now he may probe in two or three times in the same night, but he probes in quite a few times."
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7. Spiritual Evolution RAY: There are mystics who suggest that there are races of beings in the universe far more evolved that humans. Even some scientists have theorized about that, too-something called the Kardashev scale. So my question is, if such beings actually exist and really are that much more evolved than we, why are they still even on the physical plane? If they were that evolved, wouldn't they have transcended the physical universe entirely? SHELLY: That's quite easy. The path towards God consciousness is not the path of the wheel. And those beings are still on the path of the wheel. [That is, the wheel of rebirth, time, the phenomenal realms of Ida and Pingala, astral and physical, emotions and materiality.] On the path of the wheel, there are beings of tremendous power, tremendous elevation. Compared to us, they're almost like gods. But they're still on the path of the wheel, and they are not on the path of the saint. Which is an entirely different thing. RAY: What is the path of the saint? SHELLY: You see, a saint is not a "powerful" being. A saint is more Christlike in his or her characteristics. A saint moves by the path of the seven, not by the path of the twelve. If you move by the path of the twelve, that takes millions of years to reach God consciousness. You can eventually evolve to where you are the controller of a whole solar system, or the controller of a galaxy, and then of an entire universe or a cosmos. In other words, you keep climbing up the ladder through the echelons of control. But that is the path of the twelve. RAY: So the path of the seven is cutting through the center of the wheel?
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SHELLY: Yes. That is the path of Sushumna. This is why they said God loved seven above all other numbers, because it's the path of balance, the straight and the narrow. It's a path that's easy to fall off of, because you can get so interested in something happening either in Ida or Pingala that you lose your balance. RAY: The proverbial"razor's edge"? SHELLY: Yes. By sacrificing the self, one gains balance. And no one likes to sacrifice the self. It's like when somebody insults you, what do you want to do? Retaliate, maybe. But to turn the other cheek? Ahh ... ! Look what happens to a soldier when he goes into the field of battle and his buddy gets wounded. He goes to save him even though his own life is in grave danger; he's willing to sacrifice his life to save his friend. This is a point of unselfish love. I've said that on the battlefield a man sometimes advances more spiritually than he does in an entire lifetime. RAY: When you look at our position in the solar system, as residents of planet Earth, we're between Mars and Venus. Does that mean that, on the chakric ladder, humanity is positioned somewhere between the third and fourth chakras, between the Mars and Venus levels? SHELLY: We're slightly above the Martian chakra, and we're quite a bit lower than the Venusian chakra. As a collective, we' re moving towards the Venus chakra. RAY: Where, symbolically, is our movement once we're finished with this system? Where do we go from here? SHELLY: If you go into what they call Krishna or Christ consciousness, if you reach this point, then you no longer go into any of the planets or any of the suns. In this cosmic dream, you no longer go into Pingala [physicality] at all. This here is all
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part of the Pingalic world. You go into another world, which the Kabbalists call Briah, the realm of Christ consciousness. In simplest terms, there are four worlds of existence. I use the Hebrew system because I think it's the simplest. There's the realm of Assiah, or what yogis would call the Pingalic worldthat' s the world that you're in right now. Then there's the world of Yetzirah, what the yogis call Ida, which is the world of dreaming and the afterlife. And there's Briah, or Sushumna, which is the world of balance that leads to Krishna consciousness. And then there's Atziluth, which is the realm of God consciousness. So there are four different worlds, and each one is called by its own particular name. And when you reach Krishna consciousness or Christ consciousness, which is that third realm, you' re no longer in this world, you' re no longer like a pendulum that swings back and forth. It's like an entirely different existence from this one, as different from the astral as the astral is from this world here.
SHELLY: The natural habitat of all life is in deep space, not on the gravity worlds. On the gravity worlds, our memory banks are heavily restricted, so that we naturally forget who we really are.
RAY: I've come across several writers recently who claimed that the early 1940s represented some kind of turning point in humanity's evolution, ushering in a new generation and a new phase of consciousness. Do you put any credence in that at all?
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SHELLY: I really haven't seen all that big a difference in terms of any of the key historical points people talk about, as far as demarcating some "before" and "after" in human consciousness. I can tell you that as far as any religion is concerned, it takes about 1000 years for one factor to alter things in the evolution of humans. Since the days of Christ, only one or possibly two factors have really changed, and those are: a man no longer sacrifices another human being on an altar to the gods, and secondly, man cannot hold another being as a slave. But even that second one isn't completely true, since there are other forms of slavery still taking place in the world. So the big changes are very few, and they don't happen very often.
SHELLY: Before enlightenment, there's you looking out at the world. After enlightenment, the world is now looking at you.
RAY: If everyone and everything is exactly how and where it should be, then why bother to change anything? Why teach anyone? Why try to help anyone, if they're exactly where they want to be? SHELLY: If an individual is exactly where he wants to be, you're not going to teach him anything, because he's not going to do anything about it. Because he's satisfied with the status quo of his situation. But not everybody is in that state of awareness. RAY: I thought everyone was exactly where they want to be. SHELLY: Not exactly, not always. You're not exactly where you want to be. If you were, you wouldn't be here. It's automatic. For example, I had a person come in here and say he wanted to
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kill somebody. I said, if you wanted to kill that person, you wouldn't have even come here. So first, be honest with yourself. If you wanted to kill that person, you wouldn't have come here. You wanted me to talk you out of it. Actually, you've already talked yourself out of it, since you're here and not actually doing it.
SHELLY: We don't always have to occupy the same gender body forever and ever. After all, wouldn't that be a restriction of our ability to learn? And since the wave of anything that exists moves from Pingala to Ida, from positive to negative, it's natural to see a change of sex over time. The pendulum swings back and forth. In fact, there are those who are changing their sex right within this lifetime, in this physical body. In other words, we don't always change gender on the astral plane between lives; we can even start the changeover here. Which is why we have those who are called transsexuals. We may have a woman who's really a man in a woman's body; while she doesn't feel like a woman, she does have a woman's body. But if that feeling goes on long enough, she'll become a transsexual, and she'll change that. The important thing is, we should have tolerance of others!
This previous exchange took place in the late 1970s when the term "transgender" hadn't yet become part of the accepted parlance. I should also add that his final comment about tolerance underscores something that struck me as being one of Shelly's most admirable traits-namely, a nonjudgmental attitude towards the choices or lifestyles of others. I had the sense if one confided some embarrassing or lurid secret about oneself or one's past to Shelly, he wouldn't bat an eyelash. This doesn't mean that, if asked, he wouldn't offer an honest
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opinion about the wisdom or foolishness of someone's actionssomething I discovered myself. But it wouldn't be in a judgmental way. He generally seemed to accept that each person had their own path to walk and their own karmas to work out, and never gave any impression of passing judgment on someone's life or foibles.
SHELLY: A true saint is usually the last to know it, since they're so aware of their own imperfections, and so aware how much farther they have yet to go.
~ I was twenty-six during the following exchange, and had just begun trying my hand at writing the year before. At the time I was swept up in the enthusiasm of the ideas and subjects I was exploring, impatient to get my work out into the world, rough and undeveloped as it was at that point. Shelly saw the impatience-and egotism -of that, and questioned me about it. SHELLY: Why do you feel rushed? RAY: I don't want to see this work just fall by the wayside. SHELLY: Why do you worry about that? RAY: (pause) Because I'd like it to be read by people. I think it has something to offer. SHELLY: You see, I don't care what anybody thinks about what I say. RAY: Well, that's my own neurosis, I guess ... SHELLY: I know. (laughs) You see, I figure I have an eternity to do what I want to do-a whole eternity. So I feel no rush whatsoever. That I'm not going to live long enough to do it in this life doesn't bother me in the slightest ... I don't care at all!
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(laughs loudly) In fact, truly, I've said most of the things I wanted to say in this life. It's there on tapes, if somebody wants to listen to them. Besides, if I don't do it or say it, somebody else will. RAY: Is that really true, though? If I didn't write a certain book or paint a certain painting, would somebody else have done it? SHELLY: If it was important, yes. RAY: If it was important? SHELLY: Yes. When the time comes for an invention, haven't you noticed how it's invented all over the world simultaneously? RAY: But those inventions are different from one another. SHELLY: Oh, no they're not. RAY: I've never seen two paintings that looked the same. SHELLY: Maybe not exactly the same, no. But they're still portraying the same ideas. Otherwise why would a nation limit somebody so that they couldn't paint a certain idea or theme? Like in Russia, artists are restricted, they're allowed to paint certain ideas and not others. (This conversation took place in 1978, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.) Writers as well. So there are all different kinds of systems of painting, all different forms of artwork. And there's always someone to express it. Of course, each one of us likes to think that we're very important, and without us it wouldn't have taken place. This is especially true of politicians. They figure that the world can't get along without them. But history has proven again and again the world gets along quite well without them. In fact, it probably would have gotten along better if they hadn't existed. But the politician doesn't think so! He thinks about how important he is.
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Now the more important a person thinks he is, the shorter his life span is, according to statistics. An astronomer is someone who realizes how unimportant he or she is, because they see the vastness of the universe and realize how totally insignificant anything he may discover or do really is. Astronomers are among the longest-lived profession out there, I understand. That's likely because the astronomer realizes his or her true unimportance in all of existence.
On the matter of self-importance - or rather, lack of self-importanceKriyananda told a story once that further underscored Shelly's attitude about such things. At one point, Shelly's health looked to be failing and his demise likely imminent. Concerned, Kriyananda quickly flew down to see if he could help in any way, and said to his guru: "We all want you to pull through, Shelly. We need you to pull through. Besides, you've got a destiny here to fulfill." To which Shelly responded, "Eh ... I don't believe in that stuff."
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8. The Astral and the Afterlife In this next exchange I was talking with Shelly about the afterlife. Just before I turned on the recorder he had been explaining how most people drift into a semi-dreamlike state once they've settled onto the other side. This section starts with him describing Yogananda's encounter with a female disciple in the astral shortly after she had died. SHELLY: Yogananda told me that when one of his disciples was dying, she made him promise he could come and see that she was all right over there. Now, he had a little difficulty finding her, since it's not very easy finding someone over there, and when he found her, he called out to her-several times, in fact. In her semidreamlike state she was tending a garden, but she looked up at him, and thanked him for coming. Of course when he came, she woke up just a little bit more, but then she went back to her semisleep stage and continued gardening. You see, we gravitate to those things over there which suit us, in other words. Another example would be a man who worked hard all his life. He might just sit and rock back and forth in his rocker, because his idea of heaven would be not having to go to work. See? So they're in a semi-dreamlike state, and like a broken record they run over the important events in their life. Eventually the sum total of their life experience causes them to desire to be reincarnated again. And they are drawn-instinctively, you might say-to the new body which is contiguous with their nature, so that their astrological code and their genetic code is a representation of their natures and expresses their particular level of balanced self-conscious awareness. So that they don't feel like a fish out of water, see? As it is, we are all a little bit alone in this world anyhow, we feel just a little bit like we're a fish out of water. This is basically a lonely place. You're born alone and you die alone; it doesn't matter how many people are around you. THE ASTRAL AND THE AFTERLIFE 47
SHELLY: In the lower planes, you're so controlled by desires that you haven't got any real freedom at all. Your animalistic nature is in complete domination of your awareness. RAY: Are we talking here about the first and second planesthe Saturn and Jupiter planes? SHELLY: Yes. And the third, the Martian plane. Those three run you almost completely. And on the fifth plane, the individualif they're in the higher part of the fifth plane-might not reincarnate at all, unless they want to. Or there might be a long period between reincarnations before a desire comes back to balance out factors within his or her nature. But if you go up above that to the sixth or the seventh planes, they no longer even look like humanoids. RAY: They're like balls of light? SHELLY: Yeah, they're balls of light. And if you speak about the Earth to them, they're not even interested in what's going on down here. (laughs) So these beings won't reincarnate any more, unless they choose to come back perhaps as a great teacher, or as an avatar, or something like that. RAY: Do they do that? SHELLY: Oh yeah, they'll do that. You see, this is an act of unselfish love which helps them advance further. Because they're still in the Yetziratic [astral] world and they want to go into the world of Briah [the world of Christ consciousness]. But they haven't advanced that far yet. RAY: Now, I thought that the sixth plane was a state equivalent to Samadhi, and that when you reach the sixth ...
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SHELLY: No, it's not exactly Samadhi yet. Samadhi is related to the world of Briah. And when you're in the sixth or seventh plane, you're closer to Samadhi-a lot closer-and you may be spend more time in Samadhi. But you' re still in the Yetziratic world, you're in the world of Ida, Yetzirah, the astral, just the same. Like, here in this world, you can get an avatar, or one of high spiritual unfoldment, and they maybe will spend a certain amount of time in Samadhi-but they're still in the Pingalic world, they've still got a physical body!
SHELLY: There's an astral world within the center of the earth, below the surface of the earth. And there's an astral world above the surface of the earth, which is where most deceased people are at, maybe 100 miles up. When you go into the astral world that is below the surface of the Earth and you come back into your body, it feels like you're falling. And when you go into the astral world above the surface of the Earth and come back into your body, you also feel like you're falling. That's because when your astral body enters into your physical body, it passes across the nervous system and it causes an electrical shock. That produces the sensation that you're falling. And it's hard to say what is up and what is down anyhow when you're in the astral. They usually call the movement from a lower plane to a higher one "up," and you measure the difference from one plane of the astral world to another by the degree of conscious awareness of the beings who occupy it. The third plane in the astral world, where most of the people in our culture go, they're in a semi-dreamlike state; they're not fully conscious. In the fifth plane of the astral world, the people
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are a lot more consciously aware; they are more like you and I are here now. So when we say "up," that really means moving in the direction of increased self-conscious awareness. RAY: Is the astral at the center of the Earth the same as the outer one, above the Earth? It seems like one would be more like the lower hells and the other would be like the higher spheres. SHELLY: Yogananda told me not to go into the lower astral worlds because those were more like hell regions, with evil demons and things of that sort. But I told him I've never seen anything "evil" like that down there. But he said, "It's badthere isn't anything nice to it." And I said, "But I was down there; I know I was in the center of the Earth, and there were the most beautiful flowers." I guess I saw what I vibrated to, so I saw areas where the landscape was very beautiful and filled with light. It did not look like I was under the Earth at all. But then it was lit with astral light and not ordinary light. And it was just as beautiful as a lot of areas I saw in the astral worlds above the Earth. You see, I'm curious, so I'll go most anywhere. Yogananda said there are great dangers in doing that [going down into the earth]. But then there are dangers in the astral worlds above the surface of the Earth too. There are some beings over there who try to control other beings, because they're more wide awake. In the astral world, you're controlled by how wide awake you are, or aren't. That is true about all things, actually. God has more influence over the cosmos because he has more balanced self-awareness, he's more awake than we are. In the higher planes of the astral world, the beings have enough selfconscious awareness that they don't have to come back here if they don't want to. They can progress forward.
On reading this last exchange, a friend of mine posed this question: wouldn't beings who exist on a higher plane necessarily be so much 50 AN INFINITY OF GODS
more spiritually balanced that they wouldn't even consider controlling or enslaving others? It's a fair question, but it hinges on the distinction Shelly sometimes made between being "more wide awake" and "more balanced." There is a difference. To use an analogy, it's reasonable to assume Hitler was more "wide awake" than a semiconscious drug addict living on the streets of Berlin back in the '30s or '40s-or for that matter a worm living happily out in my garden. But was he more balanced? In other words, one can attain tremendous states of expanded consciousness that are not necessarily balanced. Hence the cautionary tales in various scriptures of great heavenly beings falling from their lofty heights out of hubris or degradation. For Shelly, God represented the perfect fusion of the two, of supreme wakefulness with supreme balance. As for the difference between Yogananda's and Shelly's views on the lower astral worlds beneath the Earth's surface, there are several ways to interpret that: (1) Shelly may have simply been mistaken in his account of things; (2) Yogananda was in fact mistaken, and Shelly's perception was more refined in his perception of those regions; or (3) Yogananda warned him away from those realms for reasons unknown to us, perhaps involving concerns over how easily people can get lost in such explorations. I'll leave it for readers to decide. RAY: I recall you saying that when most people go into the astral world, they see their own preconceived ideas, and not what's actually there. So how does one see what's actually there? SHELLY: By being a disinterested observer. RAY: And then you will naturally gravitate towards what's really there? SHELLY: Yes. And if you see something that emotionally disturbs you, you're caught. From then on you start dreaming, and you no longer see reality as it is. So you want to be an observer and not controlled by what you're seeing. Many THE ASTRAL AND THE AFTERLIFE 51
people go into the astral, and see exactly what they thought it would be. That is true of virtually all who go there. It's very hard to find truth in the astral world. It's easier to find it here than it is there, because over there you usually find your
own preconceived ideas. In the astral world everything will be what you want it to be, because you're creating it. Even here, you' re going about dreaming a lot of dreams and not seeing reality as it truly is, you're making it the way you want to be. But it's a little bit harder to mold reality here than it is in the astral world. This is why, when you go into the astral world, you remain an observer-that is, you become only 10 percent interested or less. Actually, it should be one twelfth, but 10 percent is adequate; you have to remain less than 10 percent interested. Because if you become any more interested in that, then you become involved, you're beginning to take part-and now you're lost as an impartial observer. You are now influencing the phenomenon, and the phenomena is influencing you. You have stepped over that boundary. Likewise, when a person comes to you for information or advice, and you get over 10 percent interested in their life, you begin to live their life for them. And you know what happens when somebody tries to live your life for you!
Kriyananda once described how, as a young man studying with Shelly, the teacher took him on what can best be described as guided tours of the astral plane, in a manner that recalls Virgil escorting Dante through heaven and hell as described in The Divine Comedy. The point of these ethereal excursions was to educate him about the nature of the world in ways not possible
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through ordinary Earth-plane instruction. During one such foray, Shelly led Kriyananda to a Christian graveyard on the astral where many Christians had died and were now lying on slabs apparently unconscious, ostensibly waiting for Gabriel to blow his horn and Judgment Day to arrive. Standing over one such somnolent figure, Shelly said to Kriyananda, "Go ahead, tap him on the shoulder." He did as instructed, but the supine fellow didn't flinch. Shelly told him to try it again, and when Kriyananda did, the man registered a bit more reaction, yet still didn't wake up. Finally, Kriyananda tried shaking the man's shoulder more vigorously, at which point the man squinted his eyes open slightly and muttered to Kriyananda, "Leave me alone! I'm dead," before closing his eyes and going back to sleep again. This caused Kriyananda to laugh, which made him jolt back into his body-and led Shelly to gently chastise him afterwards for letting his emotions get the better of him.
In this conversation we had been talking about ambition, ego, and the urge to impress others, though as usual, the conversation soon veered in a very different direction, including some thoughts about life after death. The conversation took place shortly after the death of Shelly's first wife, Marjorie, whom he'd been married to for several decades. SHELLY: I have no desire to impress the world. Or my society. I have a hermit instinct. My whole idea is, I'd like to be a hermit, I'd like to go into a cave someplace, and spend most of my time meditating. That's what I'd really like to do. And I live pretty much of a hermit life here. And as far as women are concerned? You see, I'm still as madly in love with my wife as when she was here. And I can feel her ... But it's not like when she was
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here, not at all. But I have times when I can get into communication with her. Remember, she is moving in a slightly different plane than I am here. And my wife has certain peculiarities of her own, so she's highly interested in the things she's doing over there. In other words, she has a naturally meditative personality, and when you're meditating, you become involved in what you're meditating on. So she gets involved in the things she's doing there, quite naturally. And of course she's growing a lot younger than what she was here. You see, our bodies grow old here, and in the astral that's reversed .. RAY: I hadn't heard that. SHELLY: When we're in the astral world we don't stay old, we grow younger again. So for instance, if you had your leg cut off here, in the astral world you won't go around with a peg leg, you'll have your leg again.
Though it's subtle, Shelly's next comment struck me as a key to the nature of astral projection. As Kriyananda once explained it, "The single most important thing to realize about astral travel is, you don't actually go anywhere. That's because you already are everywhere. So it's really just a matter of shifting your attention from one part of yourself to another."
SHELLY: For all practical purposes, when you are in an animal body like this, you are heavily restricted in that body. And your memory banks are heavily restricted. And so you do not know that you are any place but here. But if you become aware that you are, so that you can say, "I am blissfully aware that I am," you are then wherever you want to be-which can be outside the cosmic dream of God, or in here, or wherever you desire to be.
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You are no longer restricted by the animal body. But when you fully reach this state, you really aren't functioning in the animal body anyhow, you're in a state of Samadhi.
One of the most persistent features of near-death experience accounts (otherwise known as NDEs) involves an encounter with a luminous being who asks the experiencer what they've learned from their earthly sojourn. In one unrecorded conversation with me, he referred to having had an NDE himself a number of years earlier. After being declared dead from an illness, he experienced his own encounter with the luminous being; but instead of the normal reactions of awe or wonder that many describe experiencing at that point, he casually spoke of asking some very pointed questions of the radiant being about his own life and karma, before being returned to his body-to the surprise of his doctors, who were convinced he had died once and for all. (Curiously enough, Shelly referred to his encounter as a "debriefing," akin to what greets a soldier or agent upon returning from an important mission.)
RAY: Suppose someone doesn't have access to spiritual
teachers in the physical world. Is there somewhere on the astral where they can go to get this knowledge, where they can find great teachers? SHELLY: If you divide up what are called "astral planes" -or the world of Yetzirah-and divide it into seven planes, then the fifth plane would be where they have all the colleges, the schools of leaning.
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RAY: That's the Mercury plane? SHELLY: Yes.
RAY: Is that where the devas hang out? SHELLY: Well, some of them are above that. On the fifth plane,
human beings still look like human beings. And there are an enormous number of colleges and teachers there. And the method of teaching is ... well, a lot of it is under a tree. It's very beautiful there and in the open, like maybe how the Greek philosophers taught. They even have research labs where they do great amount of experimenting and research work. You can learn almost anything you want there. And many people go to those colleges when they sleep every night, or between lifetimes.
On its surface, his comment about "research labs" on a higher plane may seem odd. But I'm reminded of a story Kriyananda told me about watching Shelly at work in his home laboratory on some experiment one day. Like Shelly, Kriyananda knew a considerable amount about science and chemistry, and felt that what Shelly was attempting was essentially impossible, at least by known means. When he politely expressed that to Shelly, Shelly said, "But they're doing it up there!" -pointing upwards.
In the midst of another conversation with Kriyananda one day about the "unintended consequences" that sometimes arise from intense spiritual or occult work, Shelly casually tossed out the following tidbit, without offering any further explanation or judgment: "So let's say you're Shelly, and you're young, and
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you've just discovered astral projection. You realize, 'Hey, I can leave my body.' But then you wonder, 'Hmm ... I wonder if I can enter into someone else's body?' So then you enter into someone else's body and realize, indeed, that's possible. Then you think, 'I wonder if I can enter into the body of the Earth?' So you project yourself down into the Earth, and there again, you discover it's possible. But then you go out into space and wonder, 'Hmm ... I wonder if I can enter into the body of the Sun?' So you enter into the body of the Sun-and your mind is never the same again. It's been rewired in a way you didn't expect."
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9. Self-Acceptance SHELLY: Remember, whenever you make a decision, you're never going to know for sure if it was the right or the wrong decision. So assume that whatever decision you made is the right one, and then tell everyone you've made the right decision, even if it turns out to be the wrong one! (laughs) Maybe the other decision would have been still worse-you never know for sure. After you've made a decision, you've got to live with it, don't you? And you've got to live with yourself. The best thing to do is to get along with yourself as good as you possibly can, regardless of how big of a scoundrel you really are. So you can always say, "Well, I'm a pretty good scoundrel for a scoundrel!"
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10. Bilocation? Even now, decades later, I'm still unsure what to make of the following incident, which I'm recounting from my time at the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago, so I'll simply leave it here for others to judge. During the late 1970s, Kriyananda was performing a baptism for the infant child of a disciple, Freya. The room was packed with friends and family, and while he was pouring water over the child's head, Kriyananda solemnly remarked, "It's a great honor having my guru physically present in my Temple for the first time." Everybody in attendance was surprised to hear him say this, and we all looked around to see where Shelly might be sitting. But to no avail; he wasn't anywhere in sight. Everyone was perplexed. The matter was essentially forgotten until the following Sunday, when Kriyananda opened up his customary meditation with the words, "Last week, I said that my guru was physically present in my temple for the first time. Everyone looked around for the body of an old man. Nobody thought of looking in the body of a young child." Needless to say, that raised as many questions as it answered. There was only one small child present that previous weekand it was Freya's small baby, who was being baptized. Was Kriyananda implying Shelly had temporarily entered the body of the child? Or was he suggesting that Shelly had reincarnated as Freya's child, in the way some Tibetan mystics talk about when claiming a great sage can live in two bodies simultaneously? Or was Kriyananda just concocting a story? I never learned the truth of the matter.
11. Babaji Babaji is commonly regarded as the fountainhead of the Kriya Yoga lineage, and is the source of many legends. Among those is the belief he never actually died but is still present and active in the world, but behind the scenes. On occasion Shelly shared his own thoughts and experiences regarding this mysterious teacher.
SHELLY: Remember, when it comes to death, as you grow older it doesn't take as much of a stimulus to kill you as when you were younger. And a person is naturally going to grow old and eventually die. Of all the gurus that exist-how many of them are 10,000 years old? They're all dead. Just about, anyway. I would say "all," except that there might be one. It's said that Babaji is still alive. Maybe so. But if he's living, as they say, he's in a state of deep trance and he is not functioning in his physical body. Or he picks it up only rarely. And that's one way to live a very long time, because your body, being in a state of suspended animation, is not aging very rapidly. (pause) Babaji will live until the last person on the face of the Earth wants God consciousness. And then he will finally leave his body. (Very long pause) And he's in Peru. RAY: There's a theory that the teachers of the Kriya lineage are down in South America. What are your thoughts about that? SHELLY: Well, Yogananda told me in the 1920s Babaji left Tibet, because the Chinese were going to invade Tibet, and that he, Babaji, established his center in Peru. Where he's in a state of suspended animation. RAY: Could someone go there and track him down, by any chance?
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SHELLY: As a whole, he doesn't like to be disturbed. And of course Yogananda was right about China when he told me all this, since China had not yet invaded Tibet. Do you know who Lowell Thomas is? RAY: The newscaster and reporter? SHELLY: Yes. He was invited to Tibet by the Dalai Lama to take out the important books of Tibet before the Chinese invasion. RAY: And he didn't do it? SHELLY: Oh, he did it. He took them out, and they're in the United States now-all the important books of the libraries belonging to the Buddhist faith of the Dalai Lama. They're in the United States for safekeeping. And this was years before China ever invaded Tibet. I remember when he went there. But the reason for his going there was kept rather quiet at the time. It eventually came out as to why he went, and he made a statement that he brought the books from the Dalai Lama, under the invitation of the Dalai Lama. And there are rumors that in the Rocky Mountains of the United States there are a number of great mystics of Tibet. RAY: I know someone who studies with a Tibetan lama in a remote part of the Rockies. I've often thought about searching out some of those teachers. SHELLY: If you wanted to go there and the lama didn't want you to come, you'd be surprised at all the difficulties that would stand in your way. But if you could manage to get past all the difficulties and get there, then he'd probably accept you. But he'd sure put up a lot of problems. RAY: I've read where various people say they've studied with Babaji, or some teacher they believe to be Babaji. In at least one of those cases I've seen a photograph of the teacher they're referring to, and he was a relatively young man in
India, with no resemblance to the well-known depictions. I'm not sure what to make of this. Are any of these figures the "real"Babaji, the same person who is the spiritual figurehead of the Kriya lineage? SHELLY: If someone says they know Babaji, ask them two
questions. What is his nationality? And what is his real name? Because he's not Indian, and his name isn't actually "Babaji." If they don't know the answers to these, then they don't likely know him. It would be like not knowing the race or name of someone you say you are friends with.
A number of years after his wife Marjorie died, Shelly eventually met and married Deborah Wisby (later Deborah Trimmer). It was then that he began giving public talks, and even flew to Chicago for a series of four lectures in 1985. When someone asked during one of those lectures what explained his change of heart regarding going public like that, he gave an unusual explanation. Several months earlier, he recounted how he'd been taking a shower when the spirit of Babaji entered his body through the top of his head. (I should add that Shelly explained how he often did his Kriya meditation technique while showering because of how the water running down his back facilitated the movement of the kriyic energies, which are visualized as going up the spine cool and flowing down the back warm.) That encounter was a profoundly humbling experience, he said, since Babaji's vibration was so elevated compared to his own that it made him realize how much farther he had to go, and grow. Shelly always said that teaching was one of several ways a person could speed up their spiritual growth, and for that reason he decided to teach more intensively than ever before, doing so until his death a decade later.
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12. A Powerful Link from the Past I'd long been intrigued by the story Kriyananda told about his first meeting with Shelly, when Kriyananda was around nineteen and Shelly probably not yet thirty. Kriyananda (who still went by his given name, Melvin Higgins) had been searching for a spiritual teacher when he happened to hear through the grapevine about a man with occult and mystical knowledge up in the backwoods of Minnesota. The two corresponded briefly by mail and eventually arranged a meeting at Shelly's house, after which the young Melvin made the long trek by train and bus from Chicago to meet with the teacher. When Melvin arrived at Shelly's front door, Shelly's wife Marjorie answered and said that Shelly was meditating at the moment, but invited him to come in and wait. They sat down in the couple's living room, and after a few minutes Shelly appeared in the doorway. He marched across the room, military style, positioned himself directly in front of Melvin, then clicked his heels and saluted him. He then sat down across from him, acting completely relaxed and friendly. Melvin was somewhat unsettled by this unorthodox introduction, and started to wonder whether he'd made a mistake by coming all that way. They conversed until Marjorie came back into the room and invited Melvin to join them for lunch, at which point they rose and moved into the dining room. It was at the exact moment that Melvin sat down on his chair that he was overtaken by a powerful vision: "It was almost like in a movie, where the whole room was filled with white smoke-not a danger signal, but like a cumulus cloud. On one side of the table was he and on the other side was
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me-and then the table and all the people disappeared, and there was just him and me, and we pushed back into a past-life memory experience. It lasted. I was silent for quite some time. At that point I knew there was a powerful link from the past, not only from his symbolism, the way he greeted me, but also by the visional state." Kriyananda never explained what that "powerful link from the past" was, but it's safe to say it involved some military-related experiences from an earlier life, or lives. And as for the moment when that vision unfolded-exactly as a meal was about to start-Kriyananda added this observation: "Shelly realized that as a Taurus, my soul would be most open when I was about to eat a meal. So that's when he chose to transfer the vision to me."
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13. The Nature of Time SHELLY: The ancients had a saying: Man, know thyself. And to know yourself you have to meditate. You meditate to reach selfrealization. And when you do, you find the world isn't the way you think it is. Time is not the way we think it is. Space is not the way we think it is. Here's one way to explain it. We all have a video player, or if you don't have one, you probably know what they are. It plays by means of a videotape that runs through the machine, and the moving images appear on your TV screen. Now suppose you take this tape out of its case and run it out full length, until you have it all stretched out. There's nothing moving on it, right? But you can put a mechanical head on it and move that along at a steady rate, and then see what's taking place there on your TV screen. Well, you've got a head here, (pointing to his own head) and you're moving across a "tape" of God's memory banks, so to speak. Where you're at now is the environment in the cosmic dream that's contiguous to your own personal nature.
Part of the reason I pressed Shelly about the nature of time is because of an intense psychedelic experience I had when I was nineteen where I saw how each moment consists of a multitude of smaller thought moments, which parade through our awareness so quickly that we perceive them as a fluid continuity rather than a series of discrete instants. I never mentioned that experience to Shelly, but was intrigued to hear him make much the same point:
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RAY: So we're moving through all these variables, all these individual scenes every second, each millisecond, but what really is determining that movement, and what we experience each second? SHELLY: It's due to varying degrees of self-conscious awareness. The intensity of your self-conscious awareness varies. That's what causes the different states, the simple states of self-conscious awareness. You see, when there's a change in the degree of self-conscious awareness-any change whatsoever-this means that an event has taken place. RAY: A shift in levels? SHELLY: Yes. An event has transpired. That's what an "event" is. It's a change or shift in the state of self-conscious awareness. RAY: You mean if your dog leaps through the door right now ... SHELLY: That's an event. RAY: And that is a change in my state of awareness? SHELLY: Yes. You see, there are twelve basic changes in selfconscious awareness. This produces what we know as the twelve states of awareness, the twelve signs, the twelve labors of Hercules, the twelve Knights of the Round Table. It results from the law of self-conscious awareness. Any being anywhere in existence who becomes aware of his consciousness and its laws or patterns comes up with the same conclusion. He has to; he can't come up with any other answer. This is why the name of God in so many traditions is a four-letter word, and two of those letters are the same.
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SHELLY: One's experiences of both Ida and Pingala are similar insofar as both involve a series of frames passing by your consciousness. So you're under the control of pretty much the same process in either world, although they move at different rates of speed. But in Sushumna, that middle channel, you can actually see the frames. And then you can be like an editor with films, so to speak, and you can edit them. But you can only edit in Sushumna. That's where magic truly takes place. So to really work magic a person has to have a certain amount of Sushumnic awareness.
RAY: From what I've heard you say, it almost sounds like there are different time frameworks. On the one hand, there is God's time, but then on the other hand there is ... SHELLY: There is a time sequence that's relative to you and not relative to the outer world, and then there's the time sequence that's relative to the outer world-and that's when you're running on God's consciousness. The time frame that is relative to you is the one you become aware of when you reach Samadhi. RAY: So in Samadhi I'm in my own time, and not God's? SHELLY: Yes. You can run on your own time instead of running in the time of God's cosmic dream. Right now, you're controlled by the time framework of God's consciousness; when you're in either Ida or Pingala, you're controlled by God's time wave. When you're in Sushumna, though, God's time wave can be brought to zero. RAY: I'm not sure I understand. When you're in God's time, you can move freely amongst all time continuums, and ...
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SHELLY: No, no. See, you're now moving through the time continuum of the space-time factors you're currently in-for example, the time continuum of Earth. And while you're on Earth, all people on Earth are moving forward in the same continuum. Likewise if you were on Mars, or on Venus. But when you're in Sushumna, you're not moving forward on that continuum anymore, and it's all brought to a dead halt. If an automobile is going sixty miles an hour down the road and you go into Sushumna, you'll see that automobile like it's standing still. RAY: So in that moment what you're seeing what, exactly? SHELLY: It's like a single frame. RAY: A single frame in the cosmic memory banks? SHELLY: Yes. RAY: So theoretically, you could just as easily take that sequence backwards or forwards? SHELLY: Yes.
Shelly's description of our experience consisting of ''frames" within God's memory banks offers a usefal model for understanding precognition, the ability to perceive fature events before they happen, because, in some sense, those events have already happened. As a result, perceiving fature developments simply involves peering ahead on the "cosmic film strip" to see what's about to happen, like fastforwarding a movie to see what's ahead in the storyline.
SHELLY: Now, it actually isn't quite as close to the analogy of single frames in a motion picture as it is to the single waves you find on a phonograph record, and the various harmonics there. On a phonograph record, you're listening to a symphony
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orchestra, but you can reduce any point during the symphony to single sine waves, if you want. RAY: And a sine wave would be comparable to what in consciousness exactly? SHELLY: Well, like a single frame. But it really is better to relate it to idea of frequency, as in music, than it is to film and frames. Or for instance, take an image you see on a TV set. To your eye, you're seeing an enormous number of things taking place within a small space of time. There are thirty frames on that screen in one second of time, and that picture tube is coming on and off at thirty times a second like that. And it's running back and forth like this (waving hand back and forth). So there is a bunch of dots on that screen. It doesn't matter whether the color TV is a small screen or a big screen, it's got the same number of dot points. You're seeing a massive amount of digital information, but you're also seeing a great amount of analog information. You see, there are two types of computers: analog and digital. And you associate all the information through either an analog or a digital manner. And the TV has digital information and analog information, and the analog info is the intensity of the light and brightness of it, and the digital is each one of those dots. If you look at it real closely, you'll see one dot is blue, one is green, and one is red. And when they're all together in the same intensity, it looks white. Otherwise you've got all the different colors of the rainbow by the combination of the different intensity [of these dots], and there are only so many dots on the screen. And so when it comes on and you are assessing all of that, it's as though it's taking place in one moment, see? Whereas
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actually I know there's a whole bunch of things going on very rapidly, a great deal of information is sweeping through there. But you're viewing it as though that huge amount of information isn't taking place at one time. And each thing is taking place dot by dot, single unit by single unit, you see? So if I want to convey a frame of an image, I more or less have to express it by the wave patterns that are actually taking place in that TV. Which is very referable to sound waves, and music.
SHELLY: Now, there is a chakra that exists between the third chakra and fourth chakras, between Mars and Venus. RAY: Is that one called the upa-anahata chakra? (upa meaning "small" in Sanskrit). I recall someone referring to it like that. SHELLY: I don't know if that's what it's called in Sanskrit. But that chakra is the one which could be called the "all of you." For instance, Christ had twelve disciples, and he himself was the thirteenth one; Hercules had twelve labors, but there was also Hercules himself, who was the thirteenth factor. That point is where your self-conscious awareness resides, and it's the sum total of you, it's the all of your parts of your horoscope, and the center of your awareness. You are moving from the third chakra to the fourth, and now you are somewhat aware of more things than are just upon the Earth. Right now your awareness is controlled by the lower three chakras-Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars-so you have very little awareness of the others above that, symbolized by Mercury, Sun, and the Moon. But when you do get higher and closer in your meditation towards the heart chakra, at some point it's like shutting off the
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five sensory centers, like pulling the cords out of a telephone switchboard. And then you are no longer functioning with Earth's state of awareness at all. But when you are going up through the Sushumnic channel of awareness (in the middle of the spine), and you go back down between the third and fourth chakra, you can pull out those cords and plug them back in by going up and down. It's kind of interesting to do so. (laughs) And the last thing to go when you pull out the plugs is sound. Sound is the last. And as you pull them out, things begin to stand dead still in the world. You begin to enter into zero time, where nothing is moving. A clock will stand still. Like I mentioned earlier, a child jumping rope will stand still. This whole world begins to freeze as you go up there. RAY: But would one even see that child stand still if one is truly in Sushumna? Isn't that a physical manifestation associated with the Pingalic or physical world? SHELLY: When you're in Sushumna, you can see both the Pingalic and Idic worlds. RAY: So if you're in Sushumna, you would see-what, exactly? SHELLY: You would see reality as it is stretched out in a different way from what you call reality now. It looks entirely different. In other words, it's very much like seeing a reel of film. On the film there are many pictures. But when you go into a theater and watch it, it seems like there is movement but nothing is moving except the film, really. That creates time, and you see a sequence of time. RAY: So what I'm perceiving of you right now is made up of an infinitude of tiny images? SHELLY: Discrete.
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RAY: What actually are those individual images? SHELLY: These are memory tracks or frames of God's
consciousness, of his soul. RAY: And we're sort of like putting them all together? SHELLY: You' re moving through God's soul, you' re moving
through the memory track. RAY: We're giving them continuity by moving through in a
certain way? SHELLY: Yes. And other people are also moving in that area
contiguous to you who have a simultaneous state of awareness, and so are moving along simultaneously.
RAY: You once said that each of us exists simultaneously within time as well as beyond time; we're both finite and transfinite at the same time. How is that possible? SHELLY: OK, let's take a photon. A photon leaves the Sun, and from our perspective it takes eight minutes to reach the earth. But from the standpoint of the photon itself, it arrives at Earth the same moment it leaves the Sun, because there is no time whatsoever at the speed of light. And if there is no time, there is no space. So it's all relative to the state of awareness. Time and space are not like you are aware of them here.
SHELLY: In the state of God consciousness, everything is happening all at once.
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14. The Dream State In this conversation Shelly had been talking about the difference between beings who have an independent spirit and those who merely have "soul." As an example of the latter, he pointed to the beings we encounter in our dreams, who are largely products of our imagination and not independent entities with their own self-conscious volition or spirit.
RAY: Isn't it possible that the beings I encounter in my dreams could be actual entities, rather than products of my imagination or my unconscious? SHELLY: Yes, it is possible. But then you're not actually dreaming. RAY: Oh ... So then I'd be in a higher place than just ordinary dreaming? SHELLY: Yes, then you'd be viewing an actual place, just like you're doing here. But if you really are just dreaming, you're creating those entities. Now those entities have soul, because sometimes you reuse these entities in your dreams. But you are the spirit of all those beings that you've created.
SHELLY: Right now, because you're existing in the Pingalic (material) world, everything is segmented more in a digital way. It's not purely digital, perhaps, but it's more digital than it is analog. But when you are in the sleep state, it's more analog than it is digital.
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SHELLY: So if you take your dreams and write them down, and compare them with the events that start taking place, you'll usually notice them corresponding to things happening in your life about three or three-and-a-half days into the future. But this can vary from a couple of days to even seven years. Because some things depend on their importance in your life. For instance, an extremely bright light--which symbolizes a strong emotional event that will impact your life--will appear to be a lot closer than it really is compared to a dim light. It can be difficult to tell time or make precise predictions from dreams because of that.
SHELLY: If you dream of going up a green grassy hill, and at the top of the hill there's a beautiful house and then you climb up a golden stairs, does this not imply beautiful things about to come forward into your life? The idea of going up is virtually always a favorable omen in a dream, indicating favorable things in your future. On the other hand, going down tends to mean you should be cautious! You may find yourself entering into a losing state, with adverse situations taking place. If this is the case when you normally dream, suppose you go to sleep and control your dreams, so that you dream something willfully and intentionally. Now you're beginning to influence your future, are you not? So, control your dreams and you control your future.
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RAY: But how does one actually control one's dreams? Is it just by becoming more conscious in your dream state, and then manipulating the symbols consciously? SHELLY: Yes. But without waking up [also known as lucid dreaming]. Now you've become a magician. You see, there are many ways in which you can manipulate these forces. You're merely modulating the basic forces of prana and apana. In the same way, you'll have a radio wave, and you can modulate it with all kinds of information so that it comes across on the TV. You're getting video information, you're getting sonic information, all kinds of information is coming through. In fact, the TV may be the most sophisticated piece of electronic equipment that we have right now; it's far more complex than that computer over there. [This was 1977.] So this is all you're doing: you're taking basic energy and you're modulating it, you're directing it. Whether you're making a talisman or changing your dreams, you're working magic. And with that comes certain responsibilities, and certain conditions.
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15. Karma RAY: What can you tell me about karma? SHELLY: OK, here's a simple way to explain it. Imagine you have a transmitter, like a radio tower. Where is the transmitted signal strongest? RAY: I'm not sure I understand the question. SHELLY: Everything that you do, everything you think, you're transmitting, you're emitting. So where is that emitted energy strongest? Is it where the transmitter is? Or is it 100 miles away? RAY: It's where the transmitter is. SHELLY: Yes. The greatest effect is there. So everything you do
and think affects you more than anyone or anywhere else. Everything you do to another, all the things that you think of, are affecting you, and affect you in the future. That's the law of cause and effect. So if you happen to get mad at somebody, you're not really getting mad at them, you're getting mad at your concept of them. And when the time is due and payable, that seed will take place in you. It's much stronger in you than it is in them. Whatever you do to another, you do to yourself, simply in another time and another space. If you don't like to have your own life interfered with, don't interfere with someone else's life. Because you're actually interfering with your own, and in the future you'll make sure that someone will interfere with what you want to do, and curtail your freedom. Or, if you're teaching and you deliberately lie to someone, say, then when you want to know something yourself, someone will teach you a deliberate lie. See the importance of being honest and sincere? And that's for one important reason: you want to learn the truth, and you want to be sincere.
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16. Flying under the Radar RAY: I'm curious why you never built a center. Or did you never have the chance? SHELLY: Oh, I had a chance for a big temple to be built for me, down here in Florida. More than one. The first time was close to Miami. Some fellow, the head of a company, had a hundred acres with buildings on it and everything else, which he was going to give me. There was just one stipulation: he'd cured himself of a number of things by eating raw foods, so everybody who came to this center would have to eat raw foods. That was his only stipulation. But I didn't agree with that, not with forcing people to do that. And near here a woman offered me-what was it? Ten or twenty acres to have a temple built on it. But I always remembered what Yogananda said [about not becoming too public or overly enmeshed in organizational responsibilities].
Kriyananda said that the first time he met with Shelly, he asked him, point blank, whether he was enlightened. The teacher silently nodded in the affirmative. "What I didn't realize until years later," Kriyananda added, "was that was something Shelly didn't admit to when asked by others."
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17. Music, Art, Inspiration RAY: Does an artist or musician truly create a work of art, or are they just"remembering" it from somewhere else? SHELLY: Now that is a difficult one to answer. The artist usually thinks he's creating it. But since there's nothing new under the sun, so to speak, and it's already in God's cosmic dream, he's merely becoming aware of it. RAY: Well, then, where was it before that point? SHELLY: In God's cosmic dream. RAY: Where in God's cosmic dream? Was it at a certain level, like the fifth, Mercury plane? [Shelly had spoken in an earlier conversation about the existence of astral schools or colleges on the fifth level of the astral.] SHELLY: You could say the Mercury level. But the work existed like grooves on a record. The artist merely moved along and started playing that part of the record, of God's cosmic dream. RAY: So would that actually be a personal remembrance, like having heard it before on that plane? You mentioned how people sometimes visit those astral schools or colleges in their dream state; did the artist visit there at some point, then come back down with the knowledge gathered? Take Beethoven; where did he get those compositions? Some of them were extraordinary, but I have to wonder if he heard them in some form while on another plane, either in sleep or between lifetimes, and then just worked at recalling them? SHELLY: He could have heard them, because there's some terrific music going on over there. But he was a musical genius before he came here. He was one of those who was a musical genius before he incarnated, so he had the creative ability
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himself; he was a creative vortex of music and had the system within himself. But naturally there were those who would help him. RAY: What do you mean-"there was those who would help him"? SHELLY: Oh, there are others who undoubtedly always help such an individual. RAY: Is that so? SHELLY: Yes. But the main thing is, haven't you ever heard music while you were lying in bed at night? RAY: I hear songs running though my head, but they're usually just variations or conglomerations of works I've heard in the past. Only a few times did it sound like new, original music I'd never heard before. And it was very faint. SHELLY: You've never heard it so that you'd get up and try to turn the TV or the radio off because it's so loud? RAY: Not loud, no. SHELLY: I've often got up and wondered to myself, "Now why did I leave that radio on?" Of course I don't start hearing it until I'm starting to go to sleep, and then I start hearing the music. I've gotten up a number of times and tried to turn it off, and then I've realized it's from within instead of from without. RAY: But where within us is all that coming from? SHELLY: Well, where is "within," really? We're not dealing in time and space now. RAY: But is your inner self creating that music? Or are you tapping into something beyond yourself? SHELLY: That's difficult. I could say that you were creating it, or I could say you were tapping into it. But I can also alter it,
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and that's a way of "creating" it too. In other words, if I don't like the one ending something has, I can remake it and have it end the way I want. That would indicate that it's actually coming from within me. But if I don't interfere with it, I'd say it's more likely coming from someplace outside of me. Although even then I can still make certain parts replay over again.
Shelly seemed to be saying here that there are at least two types of "creatives": those who tap into existing works floating through the ethers, as it were, generated either by the great creatives of the past or sprung from God's mind itself, and those who are themselves Godlike creatives, like Beethoven or Mozart, who generate wholly original works of art, music, or literature rather than simply tapping into existing cosmic archives. I'd venture a third possibility: creatives who generated original works during an earlier existence upon higher planes, for example between lives, but who then work at replicating those previously generated works in the material world after they've incarnated.
SHELLY: I believe everyone should play a musical instrument. Instead of taking your emotions out on somebody else, you can express them through a musical instrument. And it's very good for meditation, because it's relaxing, it settles the mind. I'm not saying they should learn to play it for the public, necessarily, but even if they play only a harmonica, something simple for themselves or with a friend-something of that sort. RAY: It's a great emotional release. SHELLY: Yes, I think that's what it's really good for. And you can express certain states of awareness or feelings through
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music that you can't through words or even poetry. Poetry comes close to it; remember, early music was associated with the muses, and in Greece it was to help the poet along, it was not the thing by itself. In that respect it was like astronomy and astrology, which were a single science at one time. The Piscean age developed music, and it developed math. During the Renaissance, they came together, where they drew up the musical staff and the system which made it universal. You could then write a piece of music and anyone on the face of the earth could look at it and play it. You've got a common language for music on this earth now. RAY: The photographer Yousuf Karsh once asked Einstein what was the relationship between mathematics and music, and I'd like to ask you that too. SHELLY: Math is abstractions, and music is math-but you feel it, that's all. RAY: Could you say that music is emotional math? SHELLY: Yes, you could say that. Now, take Sibelius. I don't know whether you can "feel" Sibelius like you can Wagner, say. You can get down and really feel some of the things that Wagner wrote, you could call it "gut" music, in a way. Sibelius is a more abstract composer than Wagner. You see, when you go into sixth and ninth chords, my ears for some reason hear these as dissonant. I use these chords as dissonance to separate my harmonious themes. In other words, in order to make musical themes properly, you have to have harmonies interspersed with discordance, like periods or a comma to separate the various sentences and clauses. RAY: Why do some musical patterns affect me and not you, and others affect you and not me? SHELLY: It depends on what would be in your particular horoscope.
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SHELLY: I was supposed to be a "great violinist" when I was
growing up. My grandfather was a violin maker, and he made me a three-quarters-size violin when I was little. But I was awful little. It was a three-quarters-size violin in my hands stretching way out here. (laughs) I could not hold it properly to get the correct fingering, and it prevented me from ever being a great violinist. But I did learn how to play violin; I studied for two years at that. But I'm not a great violinist. I appreciate music, I've studied music, and I know a little about music. For instance, do you know why an oboe sounds like an oboe? A trumpet sounds like a trumpet? A violin sounds like a violin? A guitar sounds like a guitar? Why does a trumpet sound different from a violin? Do you know? RAY: The molding of the vibration? SHELLY: But how does the molding of the vibration differ; do
you know? RAY: No. SHELLY: Well, what is the clearest of all the instruments in a
symphony orchestra? What is the purest? RAY: The violin? SHELLY: No, that's loaded with harmonics. The flute! All of the
instruments have a fundamental, and then they have harmonics. The amount of energy in the fundamental and the various harmonics varies. RAY: I wonder if one could relate this symbolically to the
spinal currents, and how the central current of Sushumna
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would be the fundamental, and the peripheral currents would be the harmonics? SHELLY: Yes, one could do that. The caduceus symbol of the two serpents entwined around a central staff represents the harmonics of a fundamental. If you take any stringed instrument and you pluck it, it vibrates first as a whole, then unto its parts. So it vibrates as a first harmonic, then it vibrates to its second harmonic, to its third harmonic, and so on. And the only difference between any two musical instruments is the relationship and intensity of its various harmonics. So if you can get a musical note which has no harmonics in it, and combine it in the correct intensity, you can make this synthesizer, so to speak, and make it sound like any instrument-a drum, flute, cello, trumpet, violin. Of all the instruments, the flute became known as the purest form of instrument. So you see, the fundamental is your basic kriya, down the middle of the spine.
RAY: What about rock music? SHELLY: Hard rock? I don't understand hard rock. I won't condemn it, but I don't really understand it. My wife and I went to a hard rock concert they put on up here in one of these malls. It was a pretty good group, and I noticed they had the amplifiers all turned up full blast. Well, when they started going, that music was so loud that I could feel the pockets of gas forming in my intestinal tract, and locate these with exact precision. (laughs) RAY: Well, it's like anything else: - you have some good examples and you have some bad ones.
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SHELLY: Are there some good rock pieces? I expected there would be some good in there. RAY: I feel there is some good rock music, yeah. I mean, when you hear a good piece of music, you can feel that tingling in your spine, whether it's classical or rock. SHELLY: Right. You feel genius at work there. RAY: And I feel that with some Beatles or Bob Dylan, or Joni Mitchell, for example. There's both good and bad in the field, and unfortunately, most of it is bad. So Wagner is your favorite? SHELLY: Yes, I like him. Some of the Italian works I like very much, very melodious and beautiful. RAY: Do you like Respighi? SHELLY: Not too much. I like Rossini's Barber of Seville a great deal. Some operas I like very, very much. I like Wagnerian operas, but some Wagner I don't like, I don't know why. But out of thirteen operas he produced, twelve are still being played, which is a pretty good score. I actually like all kinds of music, including what they call "hillbilly" music. Last night on TV Roy Clark played with the Boston Pops Orchestra, and I enjoyed that quite a lot. He's a really good musician. He played the guitar, banjo, and violin. So I like what they call highbrow music, but I also like lowbrow music.
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18. Love of Animals Shelly was a committed vegetarian, with a profound love of animals. That became clear in an assortment of subtle ways during our conversations, like the time a student of Shelly's dropped by unexpectedly with her young daughter. The daughter innocently asked why he was a vegetarian (her mother obviously having mentioned that to her beforehand), and he patiently spoke about the suffering of animals when they're killed for their meat. Importantly, there wasn't the slightest hint of pushiness or dogma involved in his comments, he simply was explaining to her his own views on the matter and not trying to convert her to his way of thinking about it. That compassion for animals extended particularly to his dog, Skipper Key. On my first visit to see him in 1977, the small dog was still alive and active, but by the time of my next visit the dog had died. Shelly spoke to me about the suffering it endured towards the end, when he had to give it olive oil enemas to help relieve its constipation. Finally, late one night, the dog let him know it wanted to go outside, at which point it lay down on the grass and died. Several months later Kriyananda told me about having been with Shelly immediately after that incident, and how terribly hard it hit Shelly. "He grieved," Kriyananda said, almost surprised at the depth of Shelly's feelings about the loss. It seemed clear to me Kriyananda had probably never seen the normally imperturbable Shelly as emotional about anything like that before. It prompted Kriyananda to ask what he admitted was a rather impolite question: "It probably wasn't very spiritual of me," he explained, "but I said to him, 'But Shelly ... I thought you were detached?!'
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"Shelly almost seemed taken aback by the question, and answered patiently, 'But Kriyananda, I was concerned for the animal."' Then Kriyananda added this unusual detail to his story: "Shelly was like that for three days after the dog died. But on the third day it was obvious something had shifted, because his mood was more upbeat, and he seemed noticeably relieved. I asked him what happened, and Shelly explained that he had spent three days searching on the astral plane for the dog, just to make sure he was OK, and finally found him. 'He's doing fine now,' Shelly said. I asked Shelly if he thought about getting another dog, but he discounted the idea for purely practical reasons. "I would really need to raise him myself, so that he could get adjusted to my needs and my lifestyle here." So why not get a puppy and raise him yourself then, I wondered? "At my age, and with my eyesight the way it is now? I wouldn't want to step on him, you see. I wouldn't want to hurt a little thing like that." As it turned out, a few years later some well-meaning students went ahead and made the decision for him. Around that time I sent him a taped message asking if I could come down to see him. (All of us communicated with him through cassette tapes in those days, since he didn't have a phone and his first wife was no longer around to be his eyes and write letters for him.) He sent me back a taped reply in which he sounded more tired and weary than ever. He gently declined my request for a visit, adding in an exhausted but gentle tone, "Some disciples went and got me a husky puppy, thinking it would be a good protection for me here, living alone as I do." Following a short pause, he then added: "What they didn't consider was, who was going to protect me from the puppy?"(laughs)
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19. Dealing with Stress and Anxiety During my teens and twenties I frequently struggled with anxiety attacks in social settings, especially with public speaking. I asked Shelly for any strategies to help with this. RAY: Do you have any suggestions for dealing with stress in social settings, such as when one is in a crowd or at a party? Or up on stage? SHELLY: The best thing for that is controlled breathing. Because remember, breathing always puts you under your own control. This doesn't mean you're not afraid; you're afraid, but you can still go forward. You know the difference between a coward and a hero, don't you? When the battle starts, they both start running, just in different directions. (laughs) But if you're so scared that you can't run, then you're in trouble. RAY: When you say breath control, do you mean watching the breath, or simply breathing more slowly? SHELLY: Breathing slowly, in and out, so that you don't hyperventilate, or anything of that sort. You can actually pass out if you do that. Controlled deep breathing is the most important thing. And also meditation. Meditation puts you into control of yourself. Remember, if you're meditating properly, you're under your own control. So this will put you in a much calmer state. But probably the most important thing is simply to be yourself. Don't pretend to be anything else. That's all I do. I make no pretense. I am what I am because I can't help it!
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As I mentioned earlier, Shelly said that Yogananda often quoted the famous passage by Shakespeare: "To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." It took me a while to realize he wasn't simply commenting on verbal honesty but about being true to oneself in every respect, and not putting on false fronts. As an example of that, Shelly mentioned how Yogananda didn't try to suppress his more flamboyant quirks, or conceal the fact that he liked cowboy movies, and so on. He simply was what he was, and stayed true to his own personality and tastes. To Shelly, that was a vitally important lesson, and one he stressed in these exchanges.
RAY: There's a slim possibility I'll have a big career opportunity coming my way soon, one that could take my life in a very different-and more public-direction. A part of me is excited about the prospect, but another part of me is terrified about the responsibilities that might open up for me. SHELLY: Don't focus on the responsibilities. Enjoy life! And roll with the punches, that's the most important thing. When someone comes up to you and says, "You're crazy!" go along with them. Don't deny it and say that you're not! Because after all, everyone's crazy; otherwise they wouldn't be down here.
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20. Meditation SHELLY: The whole purpose of meditation is to find the Self. The more you meditate, the less you are aware of things, and the more you become aware of the Self. When the meditator, the object of meditation, and the act of meditation are all equal to one, perfect meditation ensues.
This next exchange was especially interesting to me in the way Shelly made a clear distinction between ecstasy and bliss, and how the former could be had through extreme or artificial means, whereas bliss was the end result of genuine spiritual, meditative practice. I gathered from his comments that bliss involves an element of stillness not generally found in experiences of ecstasy.
SHELLY: When the viewer becomes the viewed, when the lover becomes the loved, when the beholder becomes the beheld, the feeling is one of pure unadulterated bliss-" ever-new, everchanging, ever more glorious bliss." If you think drugs are a way, this is far above and beyond that. All drugs can really do is lead you into the illusions of the astral world, and perhaps into some form of ecstasy. But not bliss, which is different from ecstasy, and is nothing like the "peace that goeth before all understanding." It's not the pool which is clear, in which you can see reality as it really is. Remember: all of us, we pretend we are one thing, but we're really something else. But in the clear pool, we see reality and ourselves as it all really is. In so doing we move towards the great purpose of existence, the very nature of our being.
Most people are not balanced in their inner states of awareness, in their inner world, and they need outside stimuli to keep them in control. There's an experiment which illustrates that. Some researchers put individuals into environments with little or no stimuli coming in, extreme sensory deprivation, and it wasn't long before the individuals basically devolved into babbling idiots. All they were left with what was going on in their inner worlds, and that was out of control. Without stimuli coming in from the outside, they were adrift in their out-of-control thoughts, they were lost. In that state, those researchers found these individuals could be easily brainwashed, or even made to confess crimes they hadn't committed. They concluded that you could do this to almost anyone, under those circumstances. But that wouldn't work with an experienced meditator, because he or she would be in control of their thoughts and emotions. When we meditate, we gain control over the unbalanced forces in our being, the forces which cause us all of our pain and grief. By meditating, we bring these into a condition of balance. And when we've reached balanced self-conscious awareness, we experience a state of great peace.
When I first heard Shelly describe meditation as "controlled awareness, I not only didn't understand it well, it flew in the face of my preconceptions about the practice. After all, I'd grown up in an era when the Beatles said to "turn off your mind, relax and float downstream, and meditation seemed to me it must be a free-flowing, spontaneous experience like that, not at all structured or controlled. As it turned out, that preconception was partly true-but only partly. That's because before one can get to the stage where meditation becomes free-flowing and spontaneous, a great deal of discipline and control is required. ff
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That hit home for me when I made my way to Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York in 1986 and took part in my first long-term meditation retreat. I was surprised by how incredibly disciplined the practice really was. Unlike some of the other spiritual groups I'd visited in previous years, the staff ran a very tight ship during meditation sessions in the main hall, and didn't allow for lax participation among any of the participants. If you considered taking a moment to adjust your cushion or scratch your nose in the middle of a session, the monitor at the front of the hall would shout, loudly, "SIT STILL!" It was rigomus, yet there came a poiHt when lhe effort of discipline gave way to the more unfettered experience of "just being." It was then when I felt that I finally understood what Shelly meant when he spoke of meditation as "controlled awareness."
SHELLY: Fact is, when you go and take a look at man and his behavior patterns, and you study psychology, you find a lot of those same behavior patterns on a collective level. For instance, if you study mob psychology you see that you can get very intelligent and educated people working for a mob. And if you know how to control a mob, you can even get professors doing horrific things, and afterwards they won't even know why they did those things. It's relatively easy to control a mob. But if you meditate, you're free of this. The mob isn't going to sway you. You can stand on the outside and watch. But if you don't meditate, they will sweep you up and you'll go along with the group, because you've lost all your self-control.
For years I had difficulty meditating and stilling my mind, so this became a key focal point of my questions for Shelly, as in these next exchanges. RAY: I've had such a hard time sitting still for any length of time and meditating. My body plays such frustrating tricks on me. SHELLY: You know why your body plays tricks on you? It's out of control. RAY: Well, yes! SHELLY: So put it in control! Either you're using the wrong technique, or whatever you're using, you're doing it wrong. I'll go through it with you. When you meditate, how many factors are involved? RAY: Three. The observer, the object of observation, and the act of observation. SHELLY: - OK, well then you've learned that much. (laughs) In meditation the number of factors reduces. At this moment there may be thirty or forty things that you're aware of. You've got to reduce these until you have basically three. So now you have the basis of meditation. Now the technique is to help you accomplish what meditation is for. But here is something very, very important: before you even start to meditate, you begin looking forward to the idea of meditation like you used to look forward to Christmas morning as a child. You enjoyed the idea that Christmas was going to come in two or three days, didn't you? And it seemed almost impossible for those three days to take place, because you wanted Christmas to come real bad; this was an important event in your life. You should look forward to your sitting in meditation with the same feeling. You cultivate that feeling.
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Ahh! Now, thats control! You're controlling your emotions, you're controlling your mind. You must look forward with anticipation to your meditation. If you look forward to it with a "This is boring, I'd rather not do it" feeling, you're going to stop meditating, aren't you? So you must look forward with anticipation of joy and pleasure, almost like it's a gift you're looking forward to. Now you sit down, facing the east or the north. On a cushion or a straight chair, with your spine straight, the shoulders back, relaxed, chin parallel to the floor, stomach pulled up and in, anus pulled up. And now you sit, not rigid, but relaxed. Cultivate this particular position. Any kind of exercises that will loosen and relax your body beforehand are helpful. You should not have eaten just prior to your meditation, nor should you be hungry; you should be in between a time of eating and a time of hunger so that your stomach is not growling and disturbing your mind. It shouldn't be too cold or too warm. This is all because you are seeking balance in your meditations. You sit with your eyes half-open or half-closed, very gently focused ahead or up towards your forehead. If you are using any kind of pressure or force or strain, you are doing something wrong! Now you're sitting there; if on a chair, then the chair is fixed. Make sure that you have at least a woolen blanket on the floor, over the chair, and up over the back of the chair. It's important that it be a 100 percent wool blanket. This is to isolate you from currents that you may or may not believe in, it doesn't make any difference. If you can get silk-pure 100 percent silk-put that over the wool. This is another important factor, for psychic reasons which I won't go into now.
You're looking forward to your meditations. You come forward, you sit down into position, and you do your technique for just a moment. If it's the Hong-Sau technique, do just one Hong-Sau. Then you get up. You have finished your meditation. Not even a Gemini can find restlessness in this point! (laughs) Meditate this way with expectation. You're not interfering with anything else that you want to do. You are enjoying it because you can't help but enjoy it, and your mind is not wandering because it hasn't got time to start wandering. You are beginning to train your mind in an effortless way. And it surely isn't going to take so much time that you can't find less than one minute to do it, because it isn't going to take you a full minute to start the art and technique of meditation. Now, it's not yet an art yet for you, it's still a technique, which you' re learning. It's like a pianist has to learn how to move their fingers on the keyboard until it becomes effortless and they don't have to think about where they're putting their fingers. It's the same way with your meditation technique. After you do this for about a month or two, you expand your meditation technique to two minutes instead of one. If it's the Hong-Sau technique, do just two of them this time. You see, you're beginning to train your mind. Now, after you're sitting there and you're up to maybe four or five Hong-Saus, which would be about a year later, a thought might creep into your mind that's extraneous to what you're doing. Do not suppress it in any way whatsoever. Gently, as you would with a child, you take the child and say, "It's time to go to bed now." What's the first thing the child says when it gets to bed? "I have to go to the bathroom, mom." Or "I want a drink of water, mom." In other words, it wants your attention. Every organ in your body is like a child. All the thoughts which you have suppressed, they're like that child. They want
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attention. Everything wants attention. These fish in my aquarium want attention. There's a little finch outside this window; all I have to do is go by and it starts chirping at me. It wants attention. My dog wants attention. Every bit of protoplasm is attention-seeking. You must put these little children to rest; you say to the thought, "Yes, I know you' re important! But right now meditation is more important. I'll think about you later." Now be honest with yourself! When you get about three of these interferences, stop your meditation. Think about them; tell them how important they are. And say, "Now next time, you wait until I've finished my meditation!" And eventually you get to where you do not bother about thinking these things out, but you feel it, see? The implied intention is that you're feeling it. After all, the feeling is what a poet uses: he takes the feeling, he holds it by a kind of meditation, and he lets the words flow around it. And it can come so fast that he can hardly write as fast as the words come; and then, if he does anything, he pauses. But he doesn't go through a great laborious effort to write poetry. The poetry writes itself. It's much the same with meditation; you first learn the basics, the science, and then it becomes an art. Some of the great poets like Byron and Keats began by copying or imitating others, and they earned the basic of writing until they were able to truly create. Likewise, once you've learned the technique of meditation, you're able to flow with it intuitively.
RAY: I've learned it before, but I wonder if you could summarize the Hong-Sau technique for me in your own words?
SHELLY: All right. You sit there and you watch the air as it goes up your nasal passageway, you mentally chant "Hong," and as the air goes down your nasal passageway you mentally chant "Sau." Hong-Sau is Sanskrit for one thing, essentially: in its deepest essence, it means, I AM AWARE THAT I AM. That's all you're saying in Sanskrit, that's all it really means. It's as though you're mentally chanting the name of God in Sanskrit! AM AWARE THAT I AM-indicating that you're moving towards balance. Remember that with the Hong-Sau technique, all you are is an observer. You don't do anything but observe! If you're doing anything other than that, you're doing something wrong. And if you're doing something uncomfortable, you're doing something wrong. When you're doing Hong-Sau, you must be comfortable. Now, in one cycle of the breath going in and out, how many disturbing states of awareness can intrude? In one breath? Not very many. Because the process is only going to last a few seconds. RAY: When I pause and wait a second, it feels like a marching brass band inside my head. SHELLY: Who's "waiting a second"? You don't wait, you just let your breath flow all by itself. You don't force anything, see? You are an observer, that's all. And as I said, you sit down and look forward with enjoyment to your meditation, like the child before Christmas morning. Or, what do you like to eat? Associate your meditation with things you enjoy eating. Is not sex an enjoyable pleasure? Think about sex! And try to feel that enjoyment, of the climatic condition of sex, in Hong-Sau. In other words, you're substituting there, and
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you try to feel the sex pleasure in your spine while you're breathing Hong-Sau, as though the act of breath is a sex act. In fact it is a sex act. RAY: How much good can one or two Hong-Sau's really do? SHELLY: One Hong-Sau done without any extraneous thoughts is better than a hundred or even a thousand Hong-Saus done with effort. If meditation is a task, you'll find a reason to stop the task. If it's done with pleasure and enjoyment, you'll find a reason to meditate. After all, how can you get the Sushumnic state of awareness through any form of misery, or if something is a task? Anything which is an effort involves a state of unbalance. You're not going to get towards bliss by doing anything that's uncomfortable.
In this following exchange, Shelly discusses one of the basic Kriya techniques, sometimes referred to as the "Kriya Breath." Normally this would be transmitted from an enlightened guru to a student rather than through a published work like this. I'm neither enlightened nor a guru, but since I'm relaying the technique through the words of a acknowledged teacher rather than strictly from myself, I've chosen to go ahead and share it with readers, but with certain subtle details omitted.
SHELLY: Yogananda referred to the Moon chakra, the medulla oblongata in the back of the head, as the "Mouth of God," and it is like an antenna. He used to like quoting the Bible when he said that you live not by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The basic energy we exist on is what you call prana; when that energy moves through the channel of Pingala, it's called prana
in Sanskrit, and when it's in Ida it's called apana. It's the same thing in either case, only it means one is going down and one is going up. When the energy comes in, it goes down and then it comes up. And the direction in which it moves in nature is the reverse by which it moves when you do Kriya. RAY: Kriya tries to move the energy up the middle and then down the back, right? SHELLY: Yes. You see, when the current goes up in Ida, you should feel it as cool, like the Moon, as it moves through the center of the spine, like a hollow cane; you must feel the coolness as it goes up, and moves towards the third eye. And when it goes up over the scalp and then comes down, it must feel warm, going through Pingala. But if you look at the movement of the Sun through the signs, you see that the energy is naturally going in the order of the signs; but with Kriya, it's going in the reverse order of the signs. In other words, you are normally in the reflection of God, but Kriya makes you God-like; it moves you onto the path toward God consciousness. And that is the difference. You're beginning to breathe as God breathes, so to speak, rather than simply as the reflection of God. RAY: So just to be clear, you're saying that the direction the energy normally moves in is the pattern the Sun naturally moves through the signs during the year? SHELLY: Yes-Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and so on, all the way around. The chakras rotate or spin, but breathing Kriya affects the rotation in the other direction. If they're rotating by natural rotation, you're making them now move in the opposite direction, so that it now goes from Leo to Cancer, Gemini, Taurus, Aries, Pisces, and so on.
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RAY: I've heard it said that breathing one full round of Kriya is similar to a year of life. What does that mean, exactly? SHELLY: I'll explain it like this. A celestial body like the Sun takes a year to go all the way around the twelve houses in a horoscope. So a single breath of Kriya, done properly, is equivalent to one solar year of growth. Now each of the planets has its own "year"; even the Moon, which goes around in twenty-eight days, makes a lunar year. Jupiter takes about twelve years; this also constitutes a Kriya. So all the planets as they go around really produce a Kriya. But the Sun itself is the strongest because whatever the Sun does is really a reflection of what the Earth does, but at 180 degrees from the Earth. And so they call a "Kriya" the result of the Sun. But when it does go around and produce its own Kriya, that is being controlled by nature. What Kriya does is move in the opposite direction, and therefore it frees you from the laws of nature, the laws of karma. And when the intensity of your wheel that you breathe by Kriya is equal to that created by nature, it comes to a rest. Now you have a chance to enter into Samadhi, you have neutralized the currents of karma. As with any technique, you must learn the technique to where you don't need to think about it anymore. If you're learning to play the piano, you must get to the point where you don't have to think about where to put your fingers to play the notes. If you still have to think about where to put your fingers, you still haven't learned the technique of playing the piano. Well, when you are breathing Kriya, if you have to do any thinking about the technique, you still haven't learned the technique. When you are able to do the Kriya technique effortlessly, then it can begin to work.
Kriya Yoga is only one of a number of spiritual traditions around the world that involve working with the energies of the spine. But whereas some of those traditions involve simply raising the energies up through the spine, Kriya also emphasizes the importance of bringing those energies back down to the bottom of the spine, in order to "ground" the awakening process in the real world. As Goswami Kriyananda once put it, Moses didn't simply go up to the mountaintop, he came back down to apply his enlightenment to everyday life, and to benefit the world.
RAY: How does Hong-Sau differ from the Kriya technique? SHELLY: Some individuals can maybe get to God consciousness faster with the Hong-Sau technique than they can with the Kriya technique, since the Kriya technique is a bit more difficult to do without effort, since it has a few more moving parts. In Hong-Sau you're simply an observer. With Kriya, it's like this: you're inhaling with the sound of "AHH" and instead of breathing through your throat, you envision your breath coming up through the center of your spine, and then pausing for a moment with your attention fixed at the third eye; and when you breathe out "EEE," you're envisioning the current going up over the brain and feeling warm as it goes all the way down the back. So it's cool coming up and warm going down, see? So there's more to the technique than with Hong-Sau. Eventually, after you have breathed enough Kriya, the current will start flowing and will flow automatically without any effort, even when you're not breathing Kriya. In other words, the Kriya becomes continuous. But to learn the technique of meditation, it may be easier to start with Hong-Sau, and then go to the Kriya technique. And as I
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said, when you start out, start out with just one Hong-Sau, to get the technique and enjoy it.
RAY: What are the different effects of the two techniques, in terms of the long-term spiritual benefits? SHELLY: Both achieve the same results. Yogananda said it like this. One of his disciples came to his guru, Sri Yukteswar, and had him teach him Hong-Sau, and he was breathing Hong-Sau. And after a few months, Yukteswar said, "OK, now I'm going to teach you another technique." And the student said, "Oh, master, another technique, when this Hong-Sau is so blissful?" He had reached God consciousness through Hong-Sau. So you see, your results depend on the intensity times the duration of your meditation. Whether it's Hong-Sau or Kriya, you can achieve God consciousness with either one, or with any form of meditation, really, providing it's the type of meditation which is best for you. There are saints from every religion on the face of the Earth. Undoubtedly Saint Theresa got to be a saint in the Catholic Church because that system was according to her particular nature, see? And the Mohammedans have their own techniques, and they have their saints as well. What does it matter? All true saints have the same experience concerning God. It doesn't really matter what technique they use to reach that.
SHELLY: Unless you keep at itf youfre not going to get anywhere. Youfve heard the old sayingf "Practice makes perfect"? But as my wife used to sayf "Perfect practice makes perfect!" And with meditationf only perfect meditation is going to get you places. When Yogananda would initiate a class into Kriyaf they would breathe twenty Kriyasf and then they wanted to know if that was equal to twenty years of progress in their evolution. And he'd say, no! Because out of all the twenty Kriyas they didf they hadn't done even one real Kriya! When done properlyf with true feeling and attunement, one real Kriya is the equivalent of the Sun's movement in one year's time. Then that intensity increases, so it actually goes up, to where one Kriya becomes like three and half years, then one Kriya is like seven yearsf then one Kriya is like fourteen years. That's because the intensity is growing. At first it's like a little light bulbf then it's like a 1000watt light bulbf and so on. It grows in strength.
RAY: Are there any ways for someone to know if theyfre breathing Kriya correctly? SHELLY: Yes. You feel yourself moving towards a blissful state of awareness. In other words, there's a thrill in your spinef until it becomes as strong as the climax of sex, except it's over your whole spinal system. Yogananda expressed it this way: imagine that all the cells of your body are divided into male and female, which actually is the case. Now imagine that all the male cells are making love to all the female cells, and they all reach a climax at the same time. This is the bliss of Kriya. Or imagine
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that for a whole week someone has kept you awake and wouldn't let you go to sleep; every time you tried, they'd shake you awake again. "Don't you dare go to sleep!" And after a week of that, they lay you down on a feather bed, which is the epitome of softness, and they tell you, "Now you can go to sleep." That moment that you're drifting into sleep-that's the bliss of Kriya. This is how Yogananda expressed it. Of course, this is when you're quite far along with your Kriya. RAY: But how would you tell if you're really experiencing bliss because of a technique like Kriya, or simply because of some very pleasant aspect firing in your horoscope? SHELLY: You mean like progressed Sun conjunct your natal Venus, which gives you a nice rose-colored-glass feeling? RAY: Yes; I had that one a few years ago, and it was a wonderful feeling. A very beautiful time. SHELLY: Yes, I've had it too, and it was a very beautiful time. Now, if you can get this feeling even when the aspect isn't there- that is what you can do with Kriya. You're able to reestablish that same type of feeling, but even more so than that. If it is not like that, then you're doing something wrong. Remember, it takes a while to learn the technique of Kriya. As I've been saying, it's like playing a musical instrument, where you have to learn the technique fairly well before you can play it. In fact, you can play on the Kriya of your spine much like a musical instrument and bring out all various kinds of states of awareness. Yogananda said that there are thousands of different kinds of Kriyas.
RAY: The last time we spoke you said something about how the Kriya technique affects the sex drive. What did you mean ? SHELLY: When you breathe with Kriya, you're turning the Scorpio part of your third chakra upward, so to speak, and pouring energy upward from there. That energy is normally directed downward towards the sex organs, but in the Kriya system we' re circulating the energies in the opposite direction from where they normally go. In fact, in India, if a man says he knows the technique of Kriya, it means that if he's excited sexually and he breathes his Kriya properly, the excitement will drop away to nothingness. A man might come to his guru and say, "I am a master of Kriya!" The guru responds, "Yes, if you say so." It's like all prophets are self-proclaimed; God doesn't come down and tell everybody, "Behold this is my prophet!" So the guru says, "Now we will see if you're master of Kriya or not! And you'll prove it to yourself as well. You obviously believe it yourself, but you don't know for sure. So we're going to see if what you say is really true." So they send the man up into the Himalayas with some of the guru's other disciples, and he's not allowed to have any sexual relations at all. Not even any masturbation, or anything that would relieve his sexual desires. And if he is not a master of Kriya, after about a month or so the natural or chemical reactions will take place. So they bring him back, and during this time the guru has been very busy; he knows the horoscope and the desires of his disciple, and he goes out and finds the type of woman that this man has a proclivity for. So he says to the woman, "Would you like a certain prize?" Something he knows she would want.
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"You can have it, providing you can get this man to make love to you. You'll be living in this little house with him for three days and three nights, and if you can seduce him within that time, you'll get this prize. But if you don't, you'll get nothing." And he says to the male disciple, "Now here's a woman; if you can live with her in this house without making love to her, you will have proved to yourself that you truly know Kriya. And then we will teach you further techniques of Kriya. But if you don't, we will teach you no further." So he finds out. He will know whether he simply believes or truly knows if he is a master of Kriya. He's going to find out in those three days and three nights. Remember, it's comparatively easy for a man to rape a woman; it's not so easy for a woman to rape a man. So there he is, and he'll see whether he is master of Mars, or whether Mars, desire, rules him. RAY: At that stage, will the desires have been simply
eliminated, or will they simply be under control? In other words, will he still feel the desire, or ... SHELLY: If he still feels the desire but he breathes his Kriya correctly, it will stop the desire. It even controls the desire. RAY: So if you're really breathing your Kriya correctly, there is
a cessation of all desire? SHELLY: In the sex organs. The energy's going up; it ain't going down into the organ. Your creativity is pointed in the reverse direction of the natural flow, it's now going up. In other words, when you breathe upward in Kriya, you're going from Capricorn to Sagittarius to Scorpio. So you're turning Scorpio upward, and it's not dissipating itself in the sex organ, it is going up to the head.
But if you let the natural flow go, the energy descends into the sex organs and is causing a buildup of the glandular secretions. And a man always knows what's wrong with him when his glands become full. See, a woman does not have glands that get filled up in quite the same way, to let her know something is wrong. She will get nervous and irritable and not know that she needs to be made love to. But a man always knows what he wants.
SHELLY: When the Sun and the Moon are in balance, the result is unselfish love, and this is called bliss: ever-new, everchanging, ever more glorious bliss. Which means that it's not monotonous in any way whatsoever; there is still activity taking place, only the activity is very small. And when you reach any form of balance, it then becomes relative more to itself than to an outer environment; it becomes "freelance," so to speak, and nonrestrictive. RAY: Would you relate unselfish love to the Venus chakra, the heart chakra? SHELLY: It's usually associated with the Venus chakra, because the Venus chakra is the opposite pole of the Sun chakra. It's like a magnet, and the ajna chakra in the forehead is the positive pole, and the Venus or heart chakra is the negative pole, if you want to put it that way. Or you can reverse it. RAY: I thought the opposite pole from the Sun chakra was the Moon in the back of the head? Or even Saturn down at the bottom. Or am I thinking of a different system? SHELLY: You're thinking of a different system. Yogananda
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called this one the highest form of Kriya that can be taught, and it has three chants to it. I don't think Kriyananda has taught you that. RAY: No, he hasn't. SHELLY: You see, while there are many different Kriyas, there are seven basic ones that are taught. And with most of the Kriyas it's emphasized to keep the spine straight. You're trying to balance Ida and Pingala.
RAY: I was talking to someone in Chicago who was familiar with both the Kriya technique Yogananda's organization, Self-Realization Fellowship [SRF], teaches and the one that Goswami Kriyananda teaches, and he claimed that they're different. What do you say about that? SHELLY: Well, what they're teaching out there in Caiifornia now, I don't know. I do know what Yogananda taught, and what they're teaching now is not what Yogananda taught me. RAY: It isn't? SHELLY: No. There's a woman out there who has changed some of the things. Beyond that, I can't say. Remember, there are many techniques of meditation, and maybe she found some technique which is more conducive for Kriya for herself. And the disciples she'd have would want to learn her approach, see? Because after all, they were tuned into her, so that approach would be right for them, because she's their guru. Now, I've had one disciple question some of those students coming from the new SRF, and they didn't seem to have the
currents moving in exactly the same way Yogananda described to us back then, not at that point. One of them even described having them move along the right and left sympathetic nervous system and not through the center of the spine. And they claimed they obtained more results. Now, when I asked Yogananda about this, he said, "No! Don't imagine it going up the left side and coming down the right, or up the right and down the left, or anything of that sort." He said that they've tried all the different techniques through the years and they know what works and what doesn't work. You must imagine your spine as a hollow tube, and when you breathe your air through it, you feel the coolness going up through the center. That's how your spine must feel when you are breathing your "AHHH" coming up. So it's cool all the way up to the Sun center, and then when you say "EEE," you feel the warmth going up and around then down over the spinal system, warm, all the way down to the Saturn center, the root chakra. This, then, will work. And remember, the current doesn't really flow in here anyhow (pointing to his body), it flows in part of the astral body, which is parallel to the physical body.
SHELLY: Now, when we get to basics, the answer always has to
be the same. That's why any saint who becomes aware of God should have the same answer regardless of what religion they're using to attain God consciousness. And this is what the technique of meditation achieves-and by meditation I mean the process Yogananda and others have taught, where the meditator, the object of meditation, and the act of meditation all become equal to one. If someone else has another technique and
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that formula does not apply to it, that is not the meditation that I am speaking of. In this process the number of things that you are aware of become fewer and fewer until you get to that particular point where it reaches a certain intensity. At this point the meditator finds him or herself, and starts to become aware of God consciousness.
21. Sex, Relationships, Love One of the other ways I came to regard Shelly's life as a teaching was in his attitude towards relationships. Some years ago I read an article by a writer who suggested that the more spiritually evolved someone becomes, the harder it is for them to find happiness in love or marriage, since they're becoming more individualized and independent, and that makes it harder for them to adapt to conventional social partnerships. Shelly would have strongly disagreed with such thinking, since to him spiritual growth meant becoming more giving, not less, and being more flexible in one's response to circumstances and people.
RAY: You seemed to have had a beautiful marriage. SHELLY: They say true love doesn't run smooth, but that's a lot
of baloney. My wife and I hardly ever had any disturbances in our life together. It's almost like what you read about in the fairy tales: " ... and they lived happily ever after." The only real thing we had any disagreement about was our schedules; I was more of a night person and preferred to get up later in the morning, and she was more or a morning person and got up earlier. But that really wasn't a big issue. Like my one daughter said once, of all the people that she knows, her mother and me were the only people who ever seemed really happy. RAY: Is there a secret to keeping a relationship happy like that? SHELLY: For men, the most important thing is probably this:
men think that if they go out and buy a $15,000 car for a woman, that will mean a lot to her. But for many women, they'll be even more moved by a three-dollar card you send her with a love note in it than by that $15,000 car.
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RAY: Pay attention to the little things. In other words, it's the little gestures?
SHELLY: Yes. Maybe even go out and buy a little black book, and mark down the day you met her. Put down the first day you had a date with her, you made out with her, you held her hand-all these little things, these are important. Above all else, write down her birthday. And remember Christmas, the day you got married, your song-put all these down. Let me tell you a story. There was a young man I knew. He got married and had two children, and they fought all the time over money. So he divorced her and married another woman. He came into the place where I worked. All of the sudden his wife died, out of the blue. It hit him pretty bad, and he started drinking. He knew how my wife and I got along, so he asked me what he should do. I said, "Do you still love your first wife?" "Yes." "Do you still love your children?" "Yes." "Well, then remarry her." "But we fought all the time," he told me. I said, "But you don't have to. You can have a very, very happy life." I told him what I told you, to pay attention to the little things. Start giving her roses, and gifts of this sort, and so on. "But she'll think I'm making up for something, that I did something and I'm trying to pay for it!" "Yes, of course, but I said that you need to keep doing it!" So he started doing it. And he would go out for no reason at all and buy her roses, and send her a poem out of the blue. It doesn't matter what it was; he was showing her attention and giving her something. All the men in the neighborhood became mad at him. Why? Because his wife would collect all the roses and show them to the neighbors: "Look at what my husband gave me, just because he loves me!" He said, "When I step into that house, I'm king!" The important point is he's happy when he goes home.
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RAY: On the other side of the fence, what would you say to a woman about dealing with the man in her life? SHELLY: The main thing for her is realize that her husband is a big baby. Now, he thinks he's real strong, of course. You see, when a man gets sick, he's seriously ill. But from a man's point of view, when a woman gets sick it's just a minor thing. But there doesn't have to be very much wrong with a man for him to think it's really bad. And his ego is quite fragile, so he doesn't like it to be torn apart or criticized too much. So he's a great big baby, though he doesn't want to admit it. He needs a lot of attention in his own way, and a building up of his ego.
But also it's important that the woman let the husband know that he doesn't have to go somewhere else to get sex. This is very important for a man: that she's willing to make love to him, and that she doesn't have a headache every night that he needs sex. But men also have to realize that a woman does not get sexually aroused as quickly as a man does. This is important. A woman is nowhere near as driven by sex as a man is. And there is many a married woman who's never actually been aroused by her husband. A woman is very slow to be aroused. A man should take at least fifteen or twenty minutes to get his wife excited before he makes love to her, because this is generally how long it takes before she can reach some degree of desire. If he comes on like a lot of men do like, "I wanna make love, honey!" wham, barn, thank you, ma' am- and that's the end of it, you know. As Johnny Carson sometimes jokes on his show, "Well, an advertisement is coming on now, folks, so take your thirty seconds off now!" (laughs) In other words, their lovemaking isn't very much. But to a woman, that isn't going to satisfy her. I've known a lot of women who never knew any sexual enjoyment with their first husbands, and didn't experience any
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satisfaction at all until they became involved with an older man. And of course with a second marriage, the man is generally older than the first one so he's not as "quick on the trigger" as a younger man would be. So she may even find she loves her second husband better than the first one, because he gives her an emotional satisfaction she never got from her first husband. And a man should learn some control, so that the lovemaking isn't over just about when it starts to get interesting for the woman. So that if he learns self-control-and the technique of Kriya will give him a great deal of self-control in this particular matter-he can reach a climax the same time as she does. If he can manage this, then she will feel far more satisfied and have a stronger loving desire towards him. But if he has a climax at some other time, it doesn't bring them anywhere near as close in their relationship. So he should use control, and watch her stimulation so that he reaches a climax when she does. RAY: How does a man get that kind of control? Is it sheer willpower? SHELLY: Yes. Willing that you want to do it. You've got teeth,
you've got a tongue; bite your tongue, if that's what it takes to control yourself. Another method is to tighten the sphincter muscles, which will halt the process. And as I said, doing the Kriya technique will also give you control in this way, too.
SHELLY: A woman can lead a man around by an organ. And a woman does not have a great deal of respect for a man if she knows that she's got him under control like that. And some women, like those who have Mars in relation to Saturn, will
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then use this and barter with him, you know, as though she's selling sex to her husband. "Well, if you get me this, I'll go to bed with you" -otherwise she has a headache, that sort of thing.
SHELLY: Most of what we call "love" doesn't even involve one
chakra, but often just one part of one chakra. It's the Martian chakra functioning on the Idic (feminine) side, and its natural inclination is Scorpio, which is about sex. This is not a very good system to base your entire life or relationship upon! But a lot of relationships are based upon that one factor, yet it's just a twelfth of the whole system. And we're going to alter everything else in our life because of one-twelfth of our life? That's foolishness. Ideally, you should have at least four chakras functioning in your relationship. But even if there is only one chakra functioning, the best way to be happy is through controlled awareness. In other words, everyone has their foibles, and none of us is perfect. If we were perfect, we couldn't even be existing in these bodies, and if you' re in Samadhi, you' re not even functioning in these bodies. You have to be in a state of imbalance to even be aware of what's going on here. So look at your partner; you see what their faults are-and you love them anyhow. When you first fall in love with them, you only see their good qualities, but gradually you begin to see those things which annoy you. It might be how they use their toothbrush or the way they eat their food. But don't look at the things that annoy you! Look at the things that please you in their personality. If two people can do that with each other, they
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can have a rather decent life together. In other words, be tolerant, have a great deal of tolerance towards one another.
SHELLY: You'd be surprised how we're able to tune in to other people, especially women. A man says to a woman, "I love you." But she knows right away whether he means it or not. A woman is very, very intuitive. You could be married to a woman, but you're out one day and you notice how beautiful that redhead is over there. Then when you go home to your wife, she'll get even with you for that thought! And she'll do it subconsciously. She doesn't logically know you did something, but she can feel it. RAY: Really? SHELLY: When you get married, try it. RAY: I think I'll pass. SHELLY: I've observed it a number of times. There was this married man I knew, and a blonde stepped off of the bus in front of us, and he said to me, "Boy, look at that blonde ... wouldn't you like to go to bed with her?!" I've never felt that when I see a blonde, but I took a look at him, and could see that he was feeling something ... So I was going home with him for supper that evening, and when we got there, his wife said, "What were you doing with that blonde!" He said, "What blonde?" He turned to me and asked, "Was I out with a blonde, Shelly?" "Well, there was a blonde there ... " She was already getting even with him, and looking for the blond hairs on his coat. (laughs)
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Shelly's comment "I never felt that" is a curious one. But Goswami Kriyananda remarked how Shelly never based his opinion of anyone on their physical appearance, whether they were male or female. In fact, Kriyananda remarked that Shelly's first wife was not only much older than he but would be considered quite unattractive by conventional standards. Instead, Kriyananda suggested, Shelly looked solely to a woman's energies and personality.
Indeed, while talking one day about the pros and cons of incarnation and living in physical bodies, Shelly reiterated how much a person's spiritual development can differ from their physical appearance. One always has to look to their inner development rather than their body. (His second wife Deborah often commented, affectionately, that he would love her even if she looked like a hippopotamus.) Besides, he added, physical bodies decay over time, and it happens to everybody, it's inevitable. Then, as if to illustrate his point, he gestured to his own body-which was frankly fairly weathered by that point-and said, "For example ... I don't look like this."
RAY: As in some other traditions, Kriya Yoga talks about i i circulating the light" around one's spinal column. But I've read something about how during sex one can circulate the energy around both partners, as if they were a single unit. SHELLY: Yes, you see, when a man and a woman are in love with one another, or even if they're not in love with one another, the circulation will take place. But when a man and a woman are having sexual relations, it's important that they
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reach a climax at the same time. The closer they reach a climax at the same time, the more the energy will flow. And if her aura is red and his aura is blue, after sex both auras will be purple. If you' re clairvoyant, you can see this. RAY: Does that imply that you take on energies from the other person's horoscope, too? SHELLY: Yes. In fact, there is even a legend about a kind of magic used and taught by King Solomon. When he wanted to negotiate with somebody important from another country, perhaps to borrow money from them, he would make love to a woman from his harem with a strong Sun trine Jupiter in her horoscope beforehand. That way he would fill his aura with that positive energy just before he would talk to this other king, and improve his chances at obtaining the loan.
SHELLY: In deep meditation, the observer and the observer become one, and the energies of the Sun and the Moon balance out. The bliss experienced in sex is a reflection of that sense of balance.
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22. War SHELLY: Have you ever known any military leaders? RAY: No, I haven't. SHELLY: Many of them come down here to Florida to retire. They're the most conceited group of men you ever met. Most of them figure that they were ordained by God. Alexander the Great knew that he was practically the son of a god. Take me-I think I'm the greatest military genius who ever lived! I've had that feeling since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I have no reason whatsoever to base that on, of course, but that's the utter conceit of the German mind. But I'm sure of it! And every once in a while I'll offer some nation my military services! (laughs) That's my humor. I'll guarantee them a victory, see? In my studies since I was young, since third grade, I extolled the stupidity of Napoleon, who I thought was a stupid militarist, and knew nothing about military strategy. He did know one or two things, that's true; he knew how to use cannon, and he did know how to pick out leaders. He could run down and look over a group of his men and pick out, "You, you, you ... " and turn them in to sergeants and lieutenants. Some say his ability was simple: he just went down the line and picked out the men with the biggest noses. RAY: Is that somehow related to the fact some believe the nose is ruled by Mars? SHELLY: No, the large nose supposedly indicated intelligence. Because your nose is one of the things that never stops growing. So a man with a big nose is an intelligent man, or at least a more
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experienced man. The older you get, the bigger your nose gets. RAY: I have a strong Mars in my chart, but I can't think of anything more horrible than the horrors of war. SHELLY: How many times do you think you've died on the battlefield?
I had no answer for that.
23. Imagination, Tulpas, Possession RAY: I've heard it said that speaking something out loud helps to materialize it. Is that true, and if so, why? SHELLY: Because you're pouring more energy into the thought. It doesn't take much energy to think something. But it takes a lot more energy to take your vocal cords and start sounding it out. In other words, you're using more stages of awareness to express something, and the more energy that comes into the expression of something, the more permanent that thing exists in the astral.
SHELLY: Young men often get to thinking about a dream girl. Well, they can dream about their ideal girl so much that this girl begins to become a definite entity in the subconscious mind of that individual, and really, in the astral world. When this individual falls in love with some other girl, this dream entity can interfere with this love affair. RAY: You're kidding? SHELLY: No, I'm not kidding at all. RAY: I'm familiar with the notion of thought forms, of tulpas, and all that. But just how conscious can a separate entity like that ever really become? SHELLY: It cannot have spirit, but it can sure have soul, and can function just like a computer can function. RAY: Will that entity eventually die at some point, perhaps if he stops feeding it emotionally?
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SHELLY: If he stops feeding it, it will eventually exhaust all of its energies. But remember, even with a computer, if it's given enough power and sophistication, some entity can enter into it. So if you create an astral form, it is possible for an entity to enter into it too. And in this way, it could conceivably try to get control of you.
RAY: I've heard some claim there really is no such thing as genuine i i possession," that it's really just different parts of your own mind, your own unconscious coming forward. But can other entities actually enter into us? Is there really such a thing as actual possession? SHELLY: Yes, sure. This has been well known, and you find it referred to in various scriptural sources, like the Bible talking about casting out the demons into the swine, and so on. You have the lore of demonism in almost all the religions upon the face of the earth. Now you can translate it in this way, if you prefer: if a person's horoscope is of such a nature that there are no fissures there along that line, you cannot get a being of a certain nature to possess that individual. So in this manner of speaking, the flaw must be in the individual himself, in order to be possessed. Because with some people, you couldn't get any coarse entity to enter into his or her body. But with other people, it would be quite easy. You might say they have to think the "demon thought" to begin with, otherwise a demon couldn't get in. In other words, you are in rapport with all those beings who think the same way as you-birds of a feather flock together, so to speak. So if you didn't have the fissure or the disturbance
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within yourself, you wouldn't have attracted that entity to begin with. So it matters what your point of view is regarding possession, and how far you want to take that term. In one manner of speaking, the possession can be the result of your own creation, and in another sense, you're in harmony with some other person's thinking, and you become attached. Is there not a "possession" between a man and a wife who love one another very much? They're separate, but one is controlling the function of the other to a very great degree; the opinion of one is really influencing the other tremendously. That's a form of possession, too. RAY: Is it possible to be possessed by higher, more spiritual entities, angelic beings? SHELLY: This is possible, yes. See, you could say that possession is a form of telepathic rapport between two individuals. So a great deal depends on how you're going to interpret the word possession. RAY: That does seem to be part of the problem. SHELLY: For example if I take a subject and hypnotize them, I'm controlling that subject's reaction in relation to stimuli. I have "possessed" that subject with my ideas. RAY: Is that unhealthy, for a person to give up their free will in hypnosis like that? Do they become a slave to you, in a way? I'm curious what your opinion of hypnosis is, generally. SHELLY: Hypnotism is of no value whatsoever if I want to evolve another person spiritually. That's because I am imposing the discipline on the individual, the individual is not doing it themselves. So on that level it does not help them at all. However, if you want to use it for working with psychic phenomena, or for enhancing psychic powers, then yes, hypnosis is a great tool. But that's an entirely different thing. For spiritual progress, no, it won't do anything.
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24. Psychic Investigations Along with his own experiences with psychic phenomena, Shelly entertained a long-term interest in scientifically investigating those abilities. That sometimes included testing human mediums as well as analyzing scientific devices alleged to involve paranormal energies. The following exchanges from our conversation reflect some diverse viewpoints on the subject, occasionally from a skeptical perspective. RAY: You've made a clear distinction between psychic abilities and spiritual development. Yet you've utilized psychic skills yourself. SHELLY: Yes, I have used psychic abilities. RAY: Would you care to give an example? SHELLY: All right. Many years ago my sister was in the hospital, and had been operated on. They told me I'd better come down there to the hospital, because she was not responding, and they didn't know how long she would live. Now there happened to be a young boy who had a crush on my sister, although my sister didn't feel the same way towards him. But I'd used him in some of my experiments before, with his permission, and I was able to take the forces out of his body. So I said, "Will you come down to the hospital? They say my sister is dying, and she needs some energy, and I'd like to use the energy in your body to help." He was only too glad to help. After all, he was giving, and he was in love with my sister, so he was ideal. So I went down to the hospital and I asked how she was doing, and they shook their heads, because they thought she was dying. I went in and she was pale, and it was very difficult to
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feel any pulse. So I closed the door so the doctors couldn't come in and interfere with what I was doing. (laughs) They had knowledge of what I could do before that, so they weren't going to interfere with me. So I hypnotized my sister, even though she was deep under a condition like that, and I took J-, and had him hold both of her hands, and I took the energy out of him and poured it into my sister until her cheeks became rosy red again. Then I woke her up and put her into a natural sleep. I then opened up the hospital room door and left, where the doctors were waiting. They came in and said, "We don't know what you did, but she seems OK now." And they looked at him, the young boy, and said, "What happened to him?" I said, "That's where I got the energy to make her like she is." RAY: This runs in your family, apparently?
SHELLY: Yes. But my sister and I have most of it. My grandmother was very highly sensitive. But she was very conscious of it, and never used it except to know how many people were coming for dinner, so she could get more plates out and say, "I'm always prepared." And there was always the correct number of plates out. Things like that. But she was sort of afraid of it. She was a Pennsylvania Dutch woman, and she did not want to have any of these "devil's powers." See, I was born with pointed ears, and my mother rolled and rubbed them until she broke one of my ears. I sat in her lap until I was seven years of age, getting my ears rolled and rubbed off. She didn't want to take me down into the Pennsylvania Dutch country and have those people think she had consorted with the devil, because I had demon's ears! Ever since then, my ears have been very sensitive and I'd rather not have them touched.
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SHELLY: Remember, when it comes to studying psychic phenomena, always explain everything by normal procedures first whenever possible. When you can't do that through normal procedures, only then begin looking for abnormal explanations. That's because humans have a tremendous propensity to believe. You'd be surprised by how gullible people are. Which is why charlatans can pull the wool over so many people. This is why I learned the techniques of stage magic, because if you're going to do any investigating of psychic phenomena, you have to learn how to first reproduce them fraudulently. Because that may be what the other guy is using. Of course, maybe he isn't, but you at least have to know what to look for. And I have seen spiritualist phenomena and I have examined the rooms they've taken place in, and I can explain some of the phenomena which I have seen. In fact, I have seen a lot of phenomena which I could have done even better than they did! But I have also seen some phenomena which I couldn't explain. RAY: Can you give an example of something you couldn't explain? SHELLY: OK. His name was Clifford Bias, he was examined by the Society for Psychical Research, by Duke University, and he came out with the highest score of ESP of anyone they tested. This was in Chesterfield, Indiana. There was no money involved in this at all. He's a medium, where the trumpets floated around and talked-things of this sort. I was able to examine the room we were in beforehand, and I was there with an artist named Carlin (O'Dell?). They put a rug across the door to make sure no light was coming in so that it would be as dark as possible.
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After we sat down and the lights were put out, all of the sudden lights began to float around the room, little balls of light. And then a trumpet rose up, and somebody talked out of one trumpet to Carlin, while a young girl was talking to me out of another trumpet. So if that was ventriloquism, well, it was pretty good, because he was talking with two voices at the same time. Now there are a number of ways to get a trumpet to rise up, such as through electronic means. So I wet my finger and touched the trumpet to see if I could see a slight spark, or something like that. But I couldn't see anything, and the trumpet floated away and kept floating back up. So I took my hand like this, and with the balls of light floating around, I could see enough to see where the trumpet was ...
The tape unfortunately cut off at this point of the conversation. I don't recall the specific details of what came next, but I do recall Shelly was impressed by what he saw with Clifford, and was unable to explain it fully.
SHELLY: There was a woman spiritualist I knew, a Mrs. Smith.
When I met her, I drew up her horoscope. The spirits were telling her this was a period to expand her plans and how wonderful this period was going to be. But her horoscope showed she was moving into a difficult period; there was a progressed Sun square Saturn coming right up. So I told her this was not a time to expand, but instead to curtail her projects. It turned out the spirits, if that's what they were, (laughs) were wrong. She lost an enormous amount of money, she lost financial support, as did her investors. But she was so sure that she was right.
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I have known a number of cases where the psychics had the spirits come through and make definite statements, and I told the supposed spirits on the other side what I saw in the psychic's horoscope, which was very different from what they said would happen. The spirits said they would transcend the astrology. They did not do so.
SHELLY: I knew a mystic who claimed he had the ability to override what was written in the stars, so he left this part of the country and went out West to develop a gold mine under Saturn conjunct Mars. It cost him more money for every foot they went down than they anticipated, and he lost all his finances. He wound up having to go to work doing something else. So he didn't triumph over the stars at all. Yet the spirits told him all kinds of hopeful things. (laughs)
SHELLY: I used to have a laboratory set up where I did a lot of experiments to try and isolate pranic energy. And I was able to generate pranic energy.
RAY: In what sense? SHELLY: I was able to make it stronger in one part of space than in another. But I speculated that since I was doing this with electronic equipment, perhaps if I increased the power, that would increase the prana. So I went from about two watts and increased it to about 550 watts of energy. I had very large tubes and big transformers, and everything else for it. And when I got finished with that, I discovered that I hadn't increased the amount of pranic energy at all. So it wasn't related to my energy
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factor. That's about the only thing I found out. And the amount of pranic energy I was able to generate was not as great as what a single individual was capable of creating simply by meditating. And I have torn apart many devices that were purported to have psychic properties or functions. I have diagrams here and there around the house, of instruments that I've brought into this house by researchers, that I've torn down and put back together. There's a big collection of psychic instruments up in (Kennebunkport?); I've had every one of them down here in this house and examined to see what made it tick. And most of the instruments are what scientific engineers would call fraudulent. In fact, one was supposed to protect certain orchards from freezing out in California. Someone brought a suit against him, and he lost.
SHELLY: A lot of your so-called scientific researchers in the paranormal field are not very scientific in their methods. For instance someone was doing Kirlian photography in color, and he was doing that by counting out, "One one-thousand, two one-thousand ... " (laughs) Without an actual timepiece, you're not counting off the seconds exactly as seconds! You can get away with that in black and white, but you cannot get away with it in color, since it will cause a shift in your color.
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SHELLY: Never be 100 percent sure about anything. Keep your mind just a little bit open, so that you're not rigid.
Kriyananda once related a story from the time he was living and studying with Shelly at his home in Minnesota, which was located on the fringes of a large wooded area. One day while talking about the ways meditation can enhance a person's intuition, Kriyananda casually posed this challenge to his teacher: if I were to walk into the woods a considerable distance without you seeing where I was headed, would you be able to locate me, using only psychic abilities? Shelly said yes, that was possible. At that, Kriyananda proceeded to walk from the house into the forest, zigzagging frequently and widely, stopping roughly a half-mile from where he started. It was shortly after that he saw Shelly walking through the trees directly to the spot where he was standing, a smile on his face.
SHELLY: So we are much farther advanced in the psychic field in our military efforts than most people realize. Do you know how they sometimes found out where the Vietnamese were underground during the Vietnam War? (Shelly leaves the room at this point and comes back with what appear to be dowsing rods.) They would walk over the ground, and when the rods they were holding crossed, they would drill a pipe down and pour explosives down it. Now, not everyone had the ability to do that. At one point they even came and contacted Kriyananda and asked him if he knew anything to help them locate things of that sort, but he didn't do it. The military is very interested in things of that sort. Because the new war is shaping up to be on the battlefield of psychics.
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This conversation took place in the late '70s, when it wasn't widely known about military investigations into psychic abilities, though it became far more publicized in later years.
RAY: Would you care to share another example of how you were able to use hypnosis in connection with psychic abilities? SHELLY: OK. My sister has a body which is similar to mine in
that her soul or spirit is very loosely knit into her body. So I can hypnotize her and put her out of her body very easily. And I can project her into the future with great ease. There was one occasion during World War II: her boyfriend was in Texas, he was a flyboy [pilot], and she was going to go down to Texas to marry him. But I could tell she was anxious about it, so before she went, I said to her, "Well, Priba, let me project you into the future and see if you're really going down to marry this boy." She was working in a restaurant at that time, and was supposed to leave for Texas that Sunday night, and our get-together was on a Friday. So I said to her (during the hypnosis session), "Now, it's Sunday evening; what are you doing?" "Why, I'm getting ready to go to bed. I am not going down to see him! But I know I'm going!" So I said to her, "Then keep on going forward." And she said, "Well, it's Monday, and I'm going back to work at the restaurant." So I kept pushing her forward, a week at a time. Then she said, "Now I've received a telegram and I'm going down to see Jack ... " And she was hoping that was to get married. She described getting on a train, and when she got on the train she told me what it looked like in detail. And now, she said, "Here comes a young sailor-and I just know he's going to
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sit down beside me." And he sat down beside her and made some comment. And it went on for a while, and she said, "All of the sudden the train stops. Why, I see Jack coming!" So she rushes off of the train and jumps into his arms. By the way, she said that when looking out of the train window the grass looked blue, not green, the way grass normally is. I brought her out of the trance, and let her remember everything. But she said, "I just know I'm going to Texas!" She showed me the telegram and everything else. Well, I heard from her that next Tuesday, and she said, "You were so right. They transferred Jack to California, so I can't go see him." Then, about six months later, she said to me, "I'm finally going down to see Jack, I got a letter from him, and he's been stationed at an airfield in Kentucky. And she said, "We might get married, I don't know." But when he came to Kentucky, he decided that he was going to go over to Europe as a bomber pilot, and he felt that the war was so uncertain that he'd better wait until afterwards about getting married. As it turned out, he died and never came back. I'd also projected her forward to where she saw that too. She later told me she'd rather not do that anymore. But she mentioned that when we did that it was like looking at a newsreel, and there was no feeling involved, but when it actually happened, feeling was associated with it. "Everything happened exactly like I saw it, hour by hour, going forward into the future," she said. "But with one change. You remember that little sailor who sat down next to me on the train? He said this, I said that, he said this, and I said that, and then I told him what he was going to say next. His face got as white as a sheet, and he got up and walked away!" But that was the only difference in the whole setup as to what actually happened.
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25. Illusion, Reality, Propaganda RAY: What do you say to people who claim that reality is nothing but an illusion? SHELLY: If someone believes the world is only an illusion, just tell them to go over to the nearest expressway, close their eyes, and try running across it. They'll discover very quickly how orderly this illusion is. But it's one thing to say things aren't real at all, and another to say they aren't as they appear, and that we don't see things clearly. Which is very much the case. In fact, things are often exactly the opposite from the way you think they are. To use a simple example, when you're traveling in a train and you pass another train, it looks like the other one is going backwards when it isn't. When you're on the Earth, it looks like the Sun is going through the signs of the zodiac, when in reality it's you, the Earth, going around the Sun. It only seems like the Sun is doing all of this. When you say the Sun is in Aquarius, that really means that the Earth is in Leo! This is one of the reasons I suggest to people that they study the laws of illusion, the laws of a magician, especially if you're going to do any research into psychic phenomena. You must know all the tricks of the trade. RAY: When you say" magician," are you talking about stage magic here, or true high magic? SHELLY: I'm talking here about ordinary sleight of hand, yes, not the "magi" form. You see, when I refer to a true magician, as you'd say, I sometimes use the word magi to make a distinction between that and the fellow up on stage who saws a woman in half, whom I'd call a magician.
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RAY: And to study stage magic would help someone how? SHELLY: To better understand reality. To understand how easily the mind is tricked, into thinking something is so when it really isn't. And this is a definite science and art. For instance, you' re under the impression that the Moon rotates around the Earth, and that the Earth rotates around the Sun. At one time they thought that the Sun went up into the sky and then went down. But in much the same way, the Moon does not go around the Earth, nor does the Earth go around the Sun. It's all an illusion, a matter of perspective. RAY: I'm not sure I understand what you mean. SHELLY: All you have to do is imagine going out into space, and into the pole of the Sun you stick a pencil, and into the pole of the Earth you put a pencil. Now you let the Sun and the Earth draw lines as though they're moving through space, like on a blackboard. And you find out that the Sun is going this way, and the Earth is going up and down, and it isn't going around the Sun at all. RAY: What does that mean? SHELLY: It means that the Earth is going up and around in a wave pattern, that it has two frequencies, up and down like this, one slower than the other. So if you're referring solely to the Sun, and looking at the Sun alone, the Earth is indeed going around the Sun. And if you're looking with reference of the Moon and the Earth, and use the Earth as a reference, the Moon is indeed going around the Earth. But if you put a pencil in the north pole of the Moon and a pencil in the north pole of the Earth and watch them as they go around in their orbits, the Moon does not go around the Earth; it produces a wave formation, with two waves, two frequencies.
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RAY: So does the Sun go like that, too? SHELLY: The Sun goes up and down in a wave pattern, depending on the position of the various planets, especially on the position of Jupiter, which produces what is called the variable plane. Because of its tremendous mass, it causes the position of all the other planets to follow suit. He establishes the law of the solar system. Jupiter is also the "breaker-upper" of comets coming into our solar system. So the more you know about astronomy and can translate that symbolically, the more you know about the destiny of nations and the destiny of humans. But also study the works of propaganda, which were written up by the Romans. Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin-they read those books and brought them up to date. As I mentioned earlier, it's relatively easy to make a mob do exactly what you want, and even to rule a country without the necessity of a large army. Rome had to learn this technique over the course of its history. Also, it's important to learn the techniques of subliminal suggestion-how it works, and how you can influence another mind to do exactly what you want, without that mind ever knowing you are controlling it. All these are very important in understanding how easily we can be influenced, and how easily we are led to think certain things are true when they aren't true at all.
RAY: As long as we're on the subject of illusion versus reality, I wonder: are you just a thought in my mind, or do you have an independent existence of your own? SHELLY: (pause) Both.
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26. Magic Shelly was raised in a region heavily steeped in magic, both "white" and "black," which was an integral part of his native Pennsylvania Dutch culture. He was gifted in the art from a young age, and engaged in the normal run of magical activities many others at the time engaged in -love spells, divination, manifesting good fortune, warding off negative energies, healing, and so on. From there he moved into practices of a more elaborate nature, such as the rite of Abramelin the Mage. But as he became increasingly involved in spirituality and meditation, he realized the potential problems-and unintended consequences-of many magical activities, and began limiting himself to operations of a more spiritual nature. In several of these exchanges you'll see the enormous importance he placed on noninterference in others' lives, and on the ethics of not having an unfair advantage over others. It was also apparent that he regretted some of those earlier activities from his youth, something he hints himself at in the closing exchange of this section. On a more personal note: it was obvious to me Shelly was well aware of the difference between "outer" and "inner" magic, between what scholars call thaumaturgy and theurgy. That is, it's one thing to use magic to effect changes in the outer world, quite another to employ it toward effecting spiritual changes within. A simple example of the latter would the Christian ritual of Holy Communion, where the ultimate purpose is more internal and spiritual in nature; another example would be the internal visualizations and mantras employed in Kriya Yoga or Mahayana Buddhism. Personally, I've nothing against outer magic, but I don't feel I'm smart enough to fiddle with it, so I just leave it alone. I've seen a few too many people set things into motion they hadn't bargained on. As you'll see, that was Shelly's advice to me as well.
SHELLY: When I was with Yogananda we used to exchange what I knew about Pennsylvania Dutch magic for his Hindu magic. This had nothing at all to do with God consciousness, of course, but it was very good for passing the time. (laughs) I told him I knew a method for making two beings fall in love with one another, and of course he wanted to exchange certain magical things for that. He said, "I'll give you this if you give me that," and I'd say, "No, no, this is too good for that!" We'd barter like that. (laughs) Now there was a woman there at the ashram who hated a certain man, and he was an ex-marine. There was quite a bit of age difference between them; he was in his thirties and she was in her seventies. So I said to Yogananda, you've got to get three strands of hair from each individual. But remember: they must give it to you, because love has to be given, it can't be taken! He said, "Oh, that's no trouble, no trouble at all. They'll give me anything I ask." Yogananda said this would be a good experiment to see if it worked. So he picked the two most difficult individuals he could possibly find, you see? (laughs) The rest of the disciples knew what was going on, and they thought that I was teaching Yogananda black magic, and that I was in danger of making Yogananda a black magician. And they kept knocking on his bedroom door where we were working, but finally he told them that only if some very dire and violent thing happened were they to disturb him! Otherwise they weren't to come in and pester him anymore. He finally said, "Now we'll have peace." So I was chanting away there, and I was weaving and combining the hairs, and when I finished it I was going to put it in my (unintelligible), and he said, "No, no, let me keep it!" He added: "I'll take all the karma, I'll take all the karma." I said,
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"OK, but they might take off and get married, Yogananda!" "Well that's OK, I'll take all the karma, I'll take all the karma. " Well, it wasn't very long until, at the end of Encinitas, where the hermitage used to be, there was a movie theater. And once a week I would go to the theater there and see a movie. I liked movies. And as I went in, the man who owned the theater said, "You know"-he named the ex-marine and the older woman" they' re slipping down behind the main streets, hand in hand, giggling. They come down here to the theater, but they don't really watch the movie since they're so wrapped up in one another." Yogananda had his own grapevine, so he found out about this, too, and he was telling me about how all this took place. He was clapping his hands with glee over what was going on, because it was all working out as planned, you know. Then he came to me and said he wanted three strands of my own hair. Why, I asked? Because he had three strands of a donkey's hair and he wanted to combine mine with the animal's so that I would fall in love with this-he called it a jackass. I said, "No, I've got to give it to you! You can't take it from me!" But he said, "I've found a way around that!" And knowing Yogananda, well, maybe he did find a way around that. (laughs) At any rate I wasn't going to get close to him so he could get three strands of my hair! So he had a wonderful time chasing me to get those three strands. He would wait behind doors and behind trees, and everything else, to try and sneak up on me. But he finally said, "I can never sneak up on you, you can always feel me in your spine, can't you?" And that was true. I could feel him in my spine. Eventually that all passed. He was just having fun with me. These are some of the things that he pulled on me. We had a lot of fun, I liked him.
RAY: Did you ever find out about the couple, and if they stayed together? SHELLY: No, I lost track of them. But I hope they were happy together. RAY: I'm intrigued by what you said about twining those hairs together, and the mechanics behind all that. SHELLY: Well, this is ceremonial magic, though it sometimes goes by different names. There's a book called The Long-Lost Friend from the 1800s, which goes specifically into Pennsylvania Dutch magic and the symbols used there. But any kind of symbolism you can conceive of that's in symbolic relation to what you want to do can be used. RAY: So it can be essentially self-designed? SHELLY: Yes. The ceremony is mainly for focusing your awareness. But it's important to pay attention to the materials you use as well. If you are using certain metals, they should be pure; if you're making a ceremonial object, everything that the object is made up of should be as new and unused as possible. RAY: Why's that? SHELLY: So that the object is not contaminated. Remember, everything is thrice compounded as it is. You want it to be as pure as possible. For example, some have come to me and say they're going to make talismans out of jewels. One fellow said he wanted to know how to make a talisman to avoid some of the adverse energies he had in his horoscope. He had quite a few dollars, and he obtained a silver disc. I told him he had to get pure virgin silver. Then he created an image of the Moon out of silver, and he put it in one place; then he created the symbol
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Saturn, which he made out of lead; then he took gold to make the symbol of the Sun. But then he took pieces of iron and riveted those on there! I said, "Why did you use iron?" He said he could easily buy iron rivets, so it was convenient. But I said, "Now you have Mars functioning in there, since Mars rules iron, so I don't know what the end result of that will be. You have to get rid of that Mars; if you're going to rivet it all together and it's on a plate of silver, use silver rivets, see?" So he did that, then he came and he showed it to me, but now he had a brass chain attached to it, and that caused his skin to get black. Connecting brass to silver causes an electrical current to flow! I told him to get rid of the brass, because I don't know what psychic force fields he was activating now. Another fellow came here and said he wanted to make a lot of money crafting talismans out of jewels, and selling them. So I looked up what these jewels were, from a Hindu point of view. But because those were fairly expensive to get a hold of, he substituted another kind of jewel because the jeweler said it was just as good! I said, "You' re not really a magician now! I don't know what that particular jewel is." The jeweler made up a line of jewels for the different months and simply substituted different ones because they were easier to come by. (laughs) It had nothing to do with their occult potencies. But the fellow who came to me was only interested in fleecing other people out of their money with these talismans. He wasn't really interested in making a true talisman. At one point Yogananda went to get a talisman made which he intended to put on a number of his disciples' arms. It was made out of gold wire, copper wire, and silver wire. But when he measured the gold wire, which he did by finding its specific
gravity by putting it into water, he found out that it was not pure gold. And to be used as a talisman, it should have been virgin gold to begin with. They explained to him, "But pure He didn't want it for how long it would last, he wanted pure gold for the effect. The person providing the gold wanted to use eighteen-carat gold, since it would hold up better. So Yogananda finally had to contact a doctor he knew in Boston, and he got the virgin gold through him, from gold nuggets, in order to make it. Otherwise it would be contaminated. So you find these people who go around making talismans for certain effects, but they do a lot of things which aren't in the textbooks, yet still expect to get results. It's similar to the man I knew who bought a boat, a schooner, and decided to "fix it up," and change some of the basic features which had been designed into it. And by the time he was done, it wouldn't sail properly. He thought he was going to outdo the masters. RAY: What are some of the mechanics behind making
talismans? SHELLY: Talismans are usually drawn up according to the
astrological positions of the heavens. RAY: For a given person's chart?
SHELLY: For a given person's chart, yes. But there are also
certain times when a planet will be in conjunction with a given star, say, and then you take the nature of the planets and the stars and metals, and you have them in a fluid form. And the magician who is going to make the talisman goes to great lengths to cleanse himself physically; if it's a man, he has no relationship with any woman or even thinks about sexual matters for a long period of time, at least one month, and that includes masturbation. And when he goes forth, he uses only
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brand-new white garments, which are put upon him after he's been bathed and cleansed with incense and herbs, things of this sort, all of which are conducive to the nature of what he's going to do. And each step and element is as Kabbalistically sound according to ceremonial magic principles as possible. Now you're putting this into a molten form, with the rays of the light coming down through a telescope or some other device into the liquid; you let it slowly congeal so that it traps the essence of the planetary bodies, all while you are chanting whatever' s appropriate to what you want to take place, so that your awareness is penetrating into the amalgam that you are solidifying. Now you can solidify it into a coin of some sort, and carve any kind of symbol which is appropriate to whatever effect you want. RAY: And then this would serve what purpose? It would bring out certain qualities or energies in the person who wears it? SHELLY: It would reinforce whatever the influence of those heavenly bodies were when it was congealed, along with what you were chanting into it. And remember: you have to believe that you can do this. If you don't believe in what you're doing, you aren't going to make a good talisman. But if you get a talisman made in this particular way, it can have a tremendous effect. But also you can't buy or sell it. For a talisman to have any efficacy, it must be given. RAY: Really? SHELLY: Yes. Understand, you're dealing with the basic effect of unselfish love. How can you transfer something down and confer it from one being to another in a bartering way? You see, this is an act of giving. It's like when you work with the law of
love. If you steal the hairs from an individual, you can't work love; they must give it. Love is giving. RAY: Do they have to give it with knowledge of what's going to happen with those hairs? SHELLY: No. But they must give it. You must ask if you can have three strands of their hair, and they will say yes or no, and if they say no, then you're out of luck. Because you can't pick the hairs up and use them in that respect, at least not where love is concerned. Love is an act of giving, not an act of taking. Taking is selfish love, and that is not the love of God.
RAY: You spoke about chanting while creating a talisman. Would that be in English, or perhaps in Sanskrit? SHELLY: You could use anything like that at all, really. RAY: So the point is you're just trying to center the mind? SHELLY: Yes. And you want to center it towards what you want. So this is what you're telling it; this is the influence you're putting into the thing. RAY: And presumably the power of any talisman, wand, or ritual depends on the person making it? SHELLY: The magician? Absolutely. Now it has a certain efficacy regardless of who the magician is, because the symbols are presumably correct. But the strength of the talisman or wand, or whatever it may be, depends on how good a magician he is, on the power of his or her intention.
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RAY: What can you tell me about a magician's wand? SHELLY: If you want to make yourself a wand, you can make it according to what is written in the textbooks on magic. But remember: what happens to the wand happens to you also. The wand symbolizes your spine, and it must be the same length as your spine. Or from here to here (pointing to the distance from his elbow to his fingertips), which happens to be the length of your spine. RAY: What material would one use to make it? SHELLY: You could make it out of a number of different substances. You could make it out of a peach tree, for that matter. You use the same kind of material that the dowsers use for dowsing forks. And on the wood might be carved names of God. RAY: Would the material determine the nature of what you could do with it? For example, could you use tin, if you wanted to increase abundance with it? SHELLY: Yeah, but if you wanted to use a real wand, you would want it so that it would conduct pranic energy of whatever varied sort you wanted to flow though. RAY: But what is the real purpose of a wand? SHELLY: A wand is a system to direct an enormous amount of energy or thought force towards any kind of effects that you're creating. Also, while you're "working," if you feel negative forces come in, you can use the wand to direct them away. RAY: What else can the wand be used for? SHELLY: Almost anything that you'd want to direct it for. A wand is like a lens. A lens will focus light into a point, right?
SHELLY: I do know that music was used in various traditional societies in their magic. Like the Egyptians, who used music in the diatonic scale, and each note as it went up was for a different spiritual principle or state of consciousness. And as I think I told you before, AMO RC [the Rosicrucian group] still uses the diatonic scale as one of the methods for unfolding the chakras in their system.
SHELLY: Magic is dangerous. It is among the most dangerous forces known to man. Whenever you start working magic, you move yourself into opposition, because there's nothing you can do that doesn't step on somebody else's toes. And when you start working magic, there are a lot of beings who have a lot of savvy and know-how, and as soon as you start creating your own stuff, you're in danger, so you can't afford to be off-guard. And make sure that you have control, and make sure you have at least thirty days of being a celibate, although it's better to be celibate for longer than this. So it's best to avoid this field altogether, but if one truly intends to go into it, one better study all the various subjects and related fields. Because you are working now with the forces of nature; and if you're going to do that, you'd better be wise and study all the texts that explain it. But if you get any of these books, be cautious, because the person writing the book always makes sure that he always leaves out a very important ingredient. Like when he draws up the numbers in a magical square, he will never draw them up in a perfect square, which it has to be in order to work. He will always draw it up in a rectangle, because he doesn't want to evoke any forces from the book.
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And from those numbers he arrives at the signature: the symbol of the spirit and the symbol of the intelligence, which are different. If you examine the numbers carefully, you can find the technique that was used. And he will then draw those wrong, because he doesn't want to evoke these forces, since if he draws these correctly, he will evoke these forces. In the same way that if I connect up a transistor or a diode with some wire, and I do it correctly, certain phenomena begins to take place when I connect a battery to it, does it not? Because I have drawn the circuit correctly. And remember: all magic works. But you don't know how long it's going to take; it might take two or three incarnations until it comes to fruition.
SHELLY: All you're really doing when you're dealing in magic
is you're taking basic energy and modulating it, you're directing it. That's true whether you're making a talisman, you're working magic, or you're modulating the future. But remember: a little bit of magic goes an awful long way. RAY: For better or worse ... SHELLY: Right. And usually it's for worse. RAY: Why? Because it gets out of hand? SHELLY: That's right. And you're not wise enough. You don't know enough. How do you know what the end results of the magic will be? Are you wise enough to know all that? This is why the wise man tells the magician to leave magic alone, and why it became forbidden by the churches. Because it gives you an advantage over the other individual, and should not be used. It really shouldn't be used. (A simple analogy here would be athletes competing in the Olympics; athletes using
performance-enhancing drugs enjoy an unfair advantage over those who don't, since they're not relying solely on their naturally-given talents but upon other aids.) RAY: But if it's used strictly to better one's own life ... SHELLY: You are still manipulating the force fields of God. When you're using magic, you're taking advantage of other beings who don't have this. You are now motivating the aura around you so that they have no choice. You're beginning to interfere, to interfere with your fate. RAY: But you're interfering with fate and taking advantage of others by striving in any ordinary sense, too, such as working hard in the world towards a career goal, aren't you? SHELLY: No, no, you're not taking advantage of them that way, because you're not using any force fields or any power factors that they don't have also. When you start using your psychic factors, now you're using force fields which they're not capable of. RAY: So what is the difference between positive thinking, where you envision your life goal already completed, and what you're talking about here, of psychically picturing the symbols leading to your given goal? SHELLY: In the one case, you're deliberately using magic to gain your end result without any physical labor. In the other, you're planning the movement towards the physical labor of accomplishment. RAY: Is making talismans magic? SHELLY: Yes. RAY: Is holding to an astrological symbol to evoke a state of mind magic, too?
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SHELLY: Yep. RAY: Well, Kriya Yoga uses symbols in some of its practices, too, doesn't it? SHELLY: Kriya Yoga is the path to God consciousness. It's not doing anything to anyone else. What it does to anyone else is enhance anyone who comes close to you. You become a better person, you become a more unselfish and loving person. Who's going to be hurt by your breathing Kriya, by meditating? RAY: OK, let's say a person has a planetary energy in their horoscope they want to amplify and bring out more, strictly for spiritual purposes. Suppose they make a talisman to do that ... SHELLY: Well, if that person wants to bring out that energy in their horoscope more, that's different from spiritual work. Remember, the [spiritual] path is not the path of the wheel. And you keep talking to me about the path of the wheel. The path is not on the wheel, and you're talking about using the path of the wheel to accomplish the Sushumnic path. RAY: I guess that's the distinction I'm trying to understand. SHELLY: In Sushumna, none of the planets are on the wheel, they exist in a balanced state. So how can you use the planets on the wheel to get there? The wheel is for the wheel. You're asking because you don't yet understand the basis. The wheel will always crucify you. And as long as you use anything on the wheel, or any form of magic that involves the wheel, it's still on the wheel and won't direct you toward Sushumna. So anything which you do with magic on the wheel is pure magic-and that's taking advantage of someone else, either directly or indirectly. Now if you happen to be with a group of magicians, and each is working with or against a different magician, that is different,
because now you're balanced by the abilities of others, it's more of a level playing field. That's more like going out on a job where men are working together, but the man who can shovel more can maybe get more money than the guy who can't shovel as much. See, that is the result of their karmic positions, where the one has got a stronger body and can stand up to more duress. There's a great difference between psychic power and spiritual power. Psychic power has to do with the wheel, yet spiritual power hasn't got a thing to do with the wheel.
SHELLY: If someone intends to become a magician, a real magician, or a mystic, then they should learn to meditate, to breathe Kriya. RAY: I would think that a meditation like Kriya would make you less inclined to work magic, since it would make you more centered in Sushumna, it would take you more off the wheel than on it. SHELLY: It will. But after you stop breathing Kriya, you're back on the wheel, you're back in the world. Are you not? But now you have a greater degree of self-conscious awareness, you have more controlled awareness. And now you are more in control over the forces of nature. And you don't need too much more control than the average individual in order to begin to have influence when you start being a magician. That is, if you want to be a magician. But being a magician takes terrific self-discipline. In fact, any of the forces involved when you go into magic or the occult involves self-discipline. And the most important thing to control? As any of your textbooks on magic will tell you, just to be an ordinary magician, you must control sex. 148 AN INFINITY OF GODS
RAY: Why is that? Why is sex energy so integral to psychic
powers, and mystical and magical powers? SHELLY: The prana flows around your spine, right? If it flows around your spine and hits Scorpio (an energy center at the third or Martian chakra) and is directed towards your procreative organs, you have dissipated that energy. But if it goes around and it isn't dissipated and goes back up-ahh! RAY: But isn't a man always creating seminal fluid, whether
he's breathing Kriya or not? SHELLY: Nah, he isn't. If you truly breathe Kriya, you will stop
creating seminal fluid. RAY: But for a married man, would that really be desirable? SHELLY: If one is married, well, that's a horse of a different
color. (laughs) RAY: So if you're doing Kriya while you're married ... SHELLY: Well, you can control your Kriya. You can reverse it,
you know. You can move it in either direction. But here is what Yogananda says: if a priest or a minister tells you he's celibate, and he's a natural, normal man, but he doesn't know a technique similar to Kriya, then he's a liar. Yogananda was straight out about that. He said very definitely: a man and a man, friends? Yes. A woman and a woman, friends? Oh, yes. A man and a woman friends? No. Sooner or later, the head of sex will rise, and they will either love one another or destroy one another. You put a man and a woman on an island and come back in a year, they will either be lovers, or one will have killed the other. And I've examined what he said and watched that, and found it to be accurate. RAY: So the point of controlling the sex energy is ... SHELLY: If the energy is poured up here, then it develops this
center (pointing to forehead). The brain is what is being developed. Now you have energy to use for other things. The average man dissipates the energy as fast as it builds up. How can he possibly use it for any kind of psychic or occult force fields? He's using it up. He's weak. RAY: So renunciation will send the energy up here? SHELLY: Yes. And you'll have more energy for your occult operations, or more energy for anything else, including Kriyafor whatever you want. RAY: What exactly is that energy? Is it prana? SHELLY: Yes, this is the basic energy of life, you might say. It's prana, the creative energy, and you can use it for thinking, for creating artistic works, or a composition, or anything of this sort. I have known some young Catholic priests who were very sincere, and you could almost see the saintliness in their attitude and their face and skin. They were true celibates. And I knew this one old priest who was given this young man to instruct, and he wouldn't even smoke a cigar in the young man's presence. He said to me, "You notice the light from his skin?" I said, "Yeah." "He's eventually going to learn what reality is like, but it ain't going to be from me." So this priest tried to be good so as not to be the one who ruined this saintly attitude of that young priest.
RAY: Where did that magical tradition in the Pennsylvania Dutch culture come from?
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SHELLY: It came from the Weimar Bible of Germany, which had the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, which were deleted because they told how Moses did his magic. RAY: And presumably that magic came from the Egyptians? SHELLY: Yes, that's where Moses got it. Now, who knows who Moses really was. Tradition has it that he came down the river in a reed boat. In those days, whenever anyone had a child they didn't want, they put it in a reed boat and floated it on the river. The river was loaded with babies floating down; it's one way you got rid of babies in that day and age. And so we' re told that Moses was found in a reed boat by the princess, and she raised him as her own child. He was raised to be a pharaoh, and he went and studied in the temples of the priesthood; he was a learned man, he knew all the techniques of the Egyptian priesthood, he was a master of them. And according to the legends, when he was producing the curses and plagues on the pharaoh, the pharaoh called in his wise men and said, "Find out what all the vices of Moses are, because we must control Moses." And what better way to control a man than through his vices? See, if I wanted to control you, I'd get a good-looking woman you couldn't resist, and I'd let her wave her perfume around you and seduce you! And so, after they looked up and got the records of when Moses was young, and everything else, they came to Pharaoh and he said to them, "Well, did you find out about Moses' vices?" "Oh, yes, Moses has many vices. In fact, Moses is heir to all the vices known to man." At which Pharaoh smiled. But then they added, "But it will not do any good, because he can take them or leave them alone. He's not subject to those desires." In other words, Moses was a true magician. He could control all the desires and vices inside himself. This is important for being a true magician. For example, if your desires are controlling
you, and you call up certain Venusian forces, they can seduce you, and you won't be here anymore. RAY: Won't be here anymore? SHELLY: No, you won't. You protect yourself from the allurement of those forces. Remember, those beings have tremendous psychic force fields, and if they touch you, you're dead. You stay within your circle when you're working out some of these magical rites, and you don't step out, no matter how much they entice you. RAY: Those forces are dangerous because they have so much energy they'd obliterate you? SHELLY: Yes. See, they fill you with desire, and the thoughts come in: "Oh, they won't hurt me," you know? And those thoughts are planted in your mind, until you start believing the circle isn't all that important. But if they're trying to entice you out, there must be something to all the warnings. But you forget all this, and begin to think, "Well, it's nothing but a line drawn on the floor ... " And then you step out-and you find out. In the working of circles and the magic and the conjuring, they have found many a person dead in the rooms of Europe, because they stepped out of the circle. And there's not a mark upon them. As I said, magic is dangerous. RAY: So let's say that Pharaoh's magicians knew the vices Moses was susceptible to. What could they actually do? SHELLY: They could use those vices to control him. RAY: In what sense? How? SHELLY: For instance, one man's vice may be alcohol. So if one of Moses' s vices is to drink alcohol, and he's going to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he wouldn't be able to do anything if he's drunk, would he? Someone could just give him a barrel of alcohol and let it go to work.
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RAY: So this wouldn't necessarily involve anything mystical or metaphysical, you could just send him a bottle of alcohol? SHELLY: Not a bottle, but a barrel! You know, let him drown his sorrows in a big way. Because that's his vice. RAY: But let's say in a magical sense, if you knew my vice was beautiful women ... SHELLY: Well, this means a magician could use the symbol of Venus in magic, and they could use the forces which existed in copper in order to gain control of you. So they would set up the symbols of Venus, and these you would have little or no defense against. RAY: But how would that specifically manifest in my life, in terms of me being led a certain way? SHELLY: The magician could make something or someone so alluring that that you would have no choice but to move in the direction of your allurement. They would use that as the enticement. And you would move in that direction like a moth to a flame! And you wouldn't even really know why you were going. RAY: Is there a way of knowing when you're being manipulated like that? SHELLY: You could look at your horoscope and see if there are any aspects to your twelfth house. RAY: Because the twelfth house is the house of hidden enemies? SHELLY: Yes. Usually, if someone puts a hex on you, the twelfth house is involved. RAY: What's a protection against that sort of thing? SHELLY: There are all kind of ceremonial methods and theories. If you read that book I mentioned, The Long-Lost Friend, it tells
you some things. And then there are conjuring words which can help. These are all in the types of books which deal with these things, like that red book I showed you with the long title by L.W. de Laurence [The Great Book of Magical Art, Hindu Magic and East Indian Occultism, and the Book of Secret Hindu, Ceremonial, and Talismanic Magic]. But then there's a more spiritual perspective on this: someone who has a high degree of self-conscious awareness is very difficult to work magic against. RAY: Because they're not as subject to their horoscope? SHELLY: That's right. And they're more under control of themselves. And a person who has controlled self-conscious awareness is not an easy person to unbalance. Remember, to control a man, you've got to put him out of balance. If I'm going to trip you, I've got to put you out of balance, don't I? Jujitsu is working with leverage against you. It doesn't mean how strong you are as to who's going to win; it's "Can I work your weight against you?"
RAY: One of my friends got in a very serious motorcycle accident last week, and he's still in a coma. He may or may not survive, I understand. I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to help speed his healing along, by using a photograph, maybe, or ... SHELLY: Well, one of the simplest things is to meditate looking at his picture, expressing what it is you want. But remember: now you're becoming more than 10 percent involved. It may be
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his destiny that he should leave at this time-but you're going to "save" him. RAY: Well, I'm not sure I'm trying to" save" him so much as try to make it easier for him to recuperate. SHELLY: You want to interfere with his karmic destiny, that's what you want to do. RAY: Hmm ... I don't really see it as"interfering,"but... SHELLY: Well, you're trying to decide what's going to happen to him, aren't you? RAY: I don't want to do anything that will change things too drastically, but I want to help somehow. For example, I've been sending him blue light. Is there a way of intensifying that, or making it more effective? SHELLY: Yes, through meditation. But send it in such a way that he accepts it if he wants it, and doesn't if he doesn't. You force nothing upon another being. You merely give. And you give in the unselfish, loving manner of God, so that he accepts what he wants out of it. This gives him the utmost form of free will. Remember, unselfish love is the one gift that presents the least compulsion upon another individual, the least force field. It gives the other individual the maximum power of freedom. If you become highly interested in another individual, if you go
over that percentage of noninvolvement, you're no longer an observer, you're beginning to lead their life for them. You have to be careful about this; now you're becoming involved. Now, when you get a spouse, they're going to be more than 10 percent interested in you, and you' re going to be more than 10 percent interested in them! So she's going to interfere in your life, and you' re going to interfere in hers. If you' re just going out with her, you're not going to have as great a degree of
interference as when you are living together. Then you have maximum possible interference with each other's lives, and there better be some harmony or tolerance on both of your parts, in order to compensate for that tremendous amount of interference with each other. For example, if you're driving down the street with your wife and you see a cute woman over there, and your wife notices you watching that woman, that may disturb her. You're not supposed to do this! (laughs) Unless you have a spouse who is very tolerant and says you can look just as long as you don't touch, of course! And that goes the other way as well. Like I said, how does one really know what the end result of any magic will be? Who's wise enough to really know this? Let me tell you what happened to my cousin. When I was young, my relatives knew that I could work magic, and I had quite a favorable reputation with them. So my cousin came to me and told me about the most wonderful man that she'd met. Would I arrange for him to be her husband? See, she really wanted him. Well, she was my cousin ... So I gave him to her, through a working of magic. And afterwards she came back with her husband and introduced him to me. Now I had no idea she had only known the guy for just two weeks! So this was really not meant to be. I had stretched fate, and it lasted four months, but that's all. They weren't meant to be man and wife. I'd wrongly assumed she'd known him a lot longer than that. And after my father had died, my mother met a man, and she wanted him. And I gave him to her. (pause) You see, I shouldn't have done all those things which I did ... (long pause) And then there's my brother ... You see, we're not supposed to interfere like that.
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This last exchange took place late at night, after a full day of talking, and while he showed no signs of tiring, the conversation was moving now at a much slower pace, and I was surprised by his candor. This was the one time in all of our exchanges when I detected a genuine sense of regret about his past actions.
27. Saint Lynn To my mind, one of the more unusual stories from Shelly's time with Yogananda was an anecdote about his interaction with a fellow student in the community, a wealthy businessman from Kansas named James T. Lynn. While the incident struck me as motivated largely by curiosity, it was clearly out of bounds, and Shelly got called out on it in a very public (and clever) way by Yogananda. Whatever else it conveys, the story is instructive for what it says about mind control and the potential dangers of hypnosis. SHELLY: There was a wealthy disciple of Yogananda's who he referred to as "Saint Lynn" because of what Yogananda said was his high spiritual attainment. I was simply curious whether that was true, and I decided to find out. So one day Saint Lynn got up to give a talk before the group, and I left my body and I floated up to the front of the room where Saint Lynn was standing. I started giving him hypnotic suggestions, just to see how in control of his mind he was. I started telling him he was getting sleepier and sleepier, and after a short while he started looking a little tired. Finally at one point he began to yawn, and he eventually said to the group, "I'm sorry, but I'm very tired. I'm going to have to lie down." And right there up on the platform, in front of the entire group, he began lying down on the floor. At that point Yogananda finally figured out what was going on, and abruptly stood up from his chair and turned around to the group and said, "Everybody, stand up! There's a demon afoot!" You see, back in those days I couldn't get back into my body very fast, so while everyone else in the group rose quickly to their feet, there I was, still sitting in my chair. And so of course
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from that point on everyone knew exactly who the "demon" in their midst was! (laughs)
As this conversation took place shortly after George Lucas's first Star Wars film premiered, I couldn't help but think of the iconic scene in which Obi Wan Kenobi hypnotically intones to the storm troopers blocking his way, "These are not the droids you 're looking for." That idea is repeated in Return of the Jedi, when Jabba the Hutt speaks of "Jedi mind tricks" and says to Luke Skywalker, "Your powers will not work on me, boy." Incidentally, it's worth noting that Shelly came to feel great fondness for Lynn, and described him as a sensitive and sincere soul.
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It's hard to know whether Kriyananda's choice of words in this anecdote were meant to be taken literally or figuratively, especially as concerns terms like "God's dream" or "Eskimos." But whatever the exact wording or intent, it was obvious the incident said something important about Shelly's independent attitude towards spirituality and, more generally, life itself. As he related the story, Kriyananda had been studying with Shelly when the latter informed him he was about to engage in an intense sadhana (spiritual discipline) essentially designed to reveal how he might "help fulfill God's dream." And so it was over the next few days that Shelly began a set of disciplines "the likes of which most people could barely even conceive," Kriyananda added. After about a week, Kriyananda asked Shelly, "So did you find out what you wanted to know?" "Yes," was the calm reply. "And what was that?" "God wants me to go to the North Pole and teach the Eskimos," Shelly said. "Oh. So when are you planning to leave?" "No, I'm not going," was Shelly's calm response. Surprised by that answer, Kriyananda asked, somewhat haltingly, "But I thought this discipline was supposed to tell you your mission here?" Shelly's response to that was simple: "I don't like cold weather."
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And that was the end of that conversation, leaving Kriyananda at a loss for what to say in response. It's important to note that by this point Shelly had spent many years living in a remote area of northern Minnesota, where he and his family suffered through several brutal winters. As perplexing as this was initially, Kriyananda explained how he regarded this exchange as a profound teaching for him, because of how it suggested that our individualities do count for something in the greater scheme of things, that we aren't faceless clogs in the divine machinery meant to follow the Divine Will unquestioningly. Or, said a little differently, we aren't simply children of God but cocreators with God, entitled to our own visions, our own dreams.
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29. The Binary Self SHELLY: The law of awareness is to become aware of. It mimics. And the greatest mystery it can become aware of is itself. And this is what it is trying to do, one way or another. And therefore I AM AW ARE THAT I AM is the reason the ancient sages say, Man, know thyself. For this is the font of all wisdom. And you could say that in the knowing of oneself, the mystery of existence is formed and unraveled. The Self must forever meditate upon itself in order to sustain the Self. It's through this act of Self-reflection that the Self not only regenerates itself but all of the existences of which it is aware. It has always done so, and will forever do so, for were the Self to ever cease reflecting upon itself it would cease to be. And if this could happen unto one's own spiritual being, it could happen to all. And in the infinities of existence, if it could happen to one, it would have already happened unto all, and you would not now be here listening to this.
SHELLY: The self-generating nature of the Self is the meaning of the ancient symbol of the snake eating itself, the ouroboros. The Self must forever eat of the Self to sustain the Self.
The ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a snake eating its own tail-for Shelly, representing the mystery of consciousness beholding its own nature, in eternal self-contemplation.
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SHELLY: The Self is a One that forever functions as a Two. Both the viewer and the viewed are the same thing; it is as though one is seeing the other through its own reflection. And in so doing it is solving the maze of self.
SHELLY: When you are meditating upon the Self, or upon anything, really, how many factors are involved? There are four factors: there's you, the meditator, then there's you as the object of that meditation, since you are seeing yourself as if a reflection. Then there's the act of meditation, and then there's the all of your parts, which is the fourth part, which can be also called the memory track. RAY: Is this related to the tetragrammaton in Hebrew mysticism-the four-lettered name of God? SHELLY: Yes, this is the meaning of JHVH, which stands for I AM AW ARE THAT I AM. Two of those letters are the same (the H's), which relates to how the self is viewing itself, with both being exactly the same thing.
SHELLY: The mathematicians tell us that the unit One is not a simple existence. We need four dimensions to make a One. So any unit has at least four dimensions. Self-conscious awareness is based upon this law of four dimensions. When you are aware that you aware, it's dimensional. Two of the dimensions are pretty much the same, because it's the Self viewing the Self. We
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could call one of them positive and the other negative; one is like the reflection of the other, like the difference between the Sun and the Moon, or the difference between any body in space that's emitting light and one that's reflecting light. In selfconscious awareness there are only four factors, and they cannot be reduced to less. The fourth factor is like the memory track, and this is the soul of spirit. Any being with selfconscious awareness is composed of these four factors. Reduce it by one, and it is no longer a being of self-conscious awareness.
In this next exchange, much of which I'm recounting from memory since the recording at this point was in poor shape, Shelly offered his insights into the nature of creation, and how manifestation arises out of the interaction of the viewer and the viewed, subject and object, the Self and the reflection of Self: SHELLY: Self-conscious awareness, by its very nature, has an infinite amount of energy to create power. RAY: What do you mean by"power"? SHELLY: OK, think about it like this. (he walks over to two aquariums at one end of his living room) If the two aquariums are perfectly level and I connect a pipe from here to here, there is no movement of water or friction, and no energy is created. But if one of these two tanks is higher than the other, the water here will flow from the one to the other, because this is a higher potential than this. And that creates energy. That is "power." This is how hydroelectric dams are able to generate energy, because there is a differential between the water levels. It's much the same thing with self-conscious awareness. The
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Self is viewing the Self, but we don't know who the viewed or who the viewer is. That is an imbalance. And because we don't know which is which, there is an uncertainty principle here. If there is an energy differential, space begins to become curved. And that's a cumulative effect-it continues to curve. Space can curve no greater than a certain limit, and that limit depends on the laws of pi. In other words, we measure self-conscious awareness by the very law it sets up itself, the law of ratio of the diameter to the circumference of the circle. RAY: You've referred a number of times to the significance of pi, and the relationship of the diameter to the circumference. What does this have to do with spirituality or with mysticism? SHELLY: The diameter indicates the masculine attribute of God-of self-conscious awareness, if you wish. The circumference represents the feminine attribute of God, or of self-conscious awareness. And the masculine attribute does not create the universe. The feminine attribute of self-conscious awareness is a result of the uncertainty principle as to who is the viewer and who is the viewed. The energy differential causes the beginning of the curvature of space-the curved line symbolizing the feminine attribute of God, of self-conscious awareness, as I said. As soon as space begins to become curved, that means the diameter is curved. And since it's cumulative, and the most perfect form of curvature is a circle, when the circle takes place, when the diameter begins to become more and more curved, pi is no longer equal to 3.1415 ... Pi begins to become less than this. And when space curves to where it can't curve any more, when the diameter is equal to one-half the circumference, or when pi is equal to two, at this point the amount of energy becomes
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infinite, there can be no more increase in energy; anything which causes an increase in energy-even a single photon-will cause the diameter to become greater than one-half the circumference. This causes a blip-and the thing explodes. And then we have the Big Bang, the explosion, the cause of creation. And this is a feminine attribute. The universe is a reflection of God's imbalance, you might say.
Years after this conversation, I was reminded of Shelly's final comment here while reading a scientific article explaining how the universe arose from a slight imbalance between matter and antimatter, and how without that imbalance the universe as we know it would not have come into being.
SHELLY: Hindu philosophy states that Brahma breathes the
cosmos in and out of existence. On the out breath the cosmos is created, and on the in breath it is dissolved. This implies that a state of perfect balance hasn't yet been achieved; each of the creations is closer to balance, and at some point there will be equilibrium; that would be equivalent to what the cosmologists call the "steady state" universe.
RAY: Could you say a little more about the diameter and the circumference? SHELLY: The diameter is linear. And when things are linear,
more than one thing can occupy the same position of space at the same time without interfering with one another whatsoever. Now a curved line allows us to be aware that other things exist. Now two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The curved line gives us meaning to existence. The straight line gives us the understanding of existence.
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SHELLY: You see, we always pretend to be something different than we are. To other people we pretend one thing, we think we are something entirely different from what we pretend, and we're neither of these, we're something entirely different. The inner you sees us for what we really are. RAY: The inner you is always aware of the whole ball game? SHELLY: Yes, because it's seeing everything in an interdimensional movement. It sees the sum total of you from the cradle to the grave, so to speak. You're probably aware of this example, but it's like you're on a boat going down the river and many events are taking place, and you can't see around the bend. But if you're high up here on the mountain peak and you look down, you can see all of the things that are in store for the individual.
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30. Astrology RAY: What is astrology? SHELLY: Astrology is the language of the soul. Astrology is nothing more or less than a symbolic interpretation of astronomy. You're taking the sum total of all the factors in the solar system and translating these events symbolically. That's all. And the more you understand a planetary body's nature in the solar system, the more you understand its true meaning. For instance, Jupiter is so large that it sets up the law of the variable plane. That's the plane upon which all of the planets rotate around the sun. Jupiter establishes it, so it establishes the law of the solar system. Symbolically, Jupiter is the lawgiver. The meaning is given in its role within our solar system. Perhaps more clearly than any other system of symbolism, astrology can tell us about our relationship to everything that's ever been, everything that will be, and everything we are aware of now. When an event happens, there are two possible interpretations: the literal interpretation, which is what obviously happens as the ordinary person sees it, like the Sun rising in the morning, and the symbolic interpretation, which is looking at the Sun more as a spiritual or symbolic principle, which is how astrologers use it. You have to know when the literal meaning of the event is more important, and when the symbolic meaning is more important.
RAY: Is it possible to tell how spiritually developed someone is from their horoscope?
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SHELLY: No. There are two things you can't see in the horoscope. You cannot tell how highly evolved a saint is, nor can you see how deeply someone is in love, just from looking at the horoscope. Because what causes real love, or what causes a saint to be a saint, is not on the wheel, but it's in the chakras, within Sushumna.
SHELLY: Astrology is there to aid you in the normal everyday purposes of existence. Remember, forewarned is forearmed. If you know something about the future, you have a chance to do something about it. If you don't, you don't have a chance. If you consider that you have free will, this is what it would take to prove that you actually do: you must have some way of predicting the future with a rather high degree of accuracy, and then change it. If you can do this, then you've proven that you really do have free will.
SHELLY: You have both a genetic code and an astrological code that you're born with. Together these determine your behavioral patterns. When your astrological code is in agreement with the genetic code, you can be born into that environment. But when they don't agree, there is a malfunction, and that can lead to premature death.
RAY: Can a person really transcend the difficult aspects in their horoscope? SHELLY: I'll explain it like this. Yogananda's secretary was a good astrologer, and she wrote for astrology magazines. But Yogananda told her she was too enslaved by it. So he said to her, "Pick out the worst possible aspect for me to do something, and I will do it just to show you that I can transcend the planetary energies." So she gave him just such a time. He wanted to bring a church made out of redwood that he liked down to Hollywood. This was a big project, and he needed money to do it, so he put out fliers to everybody, and the money came in. They moved the church from its original spot; but a telegram came in saying that the trailer had broken loose and crashed into some farmer's yard. That led to legal problems, as well as damage to the crops. As a result, Yogananda needed more money, and sent out another flier. He had hoped to get the church into place by Easter-and he did so, but by the skin of his teeth. He finally had it set up so that people could go into it. And by then, all the adverse aspects had finally passed. He said, "You see, you can transcend your horoscope. But not without difficulty!" (laughs) Here's another example. I knew a man who had Mars square Mercury, and he wanted to be an auto mechanic. Boy, he learned the hard way. But he kept at it, and eventually he became a very good auto mechanic. In other words, you'd say that this individual, through a lot of effort and perseverance, "trined his square." And so in his next incarnation, he might have a Mars trine Mercury, rather than a Mars square Mercury. RAY: So you can resolve those aspects so that in a future life ... SHELLY: Oh, yes, even in this life, you can. Like this young man. By the time he became an excellent auto mechanic he was about thirty-six years of age, but he started before he was twenty. And
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the reason they put up with him was the owner of the garage was his relative! When he started out, he was a nuisance, he did everything wrong; he hurt himself, he cut himself-with Mars there, you can see that. He made bad decisions. But he kept at it, he kept at it, and he kept at it. Naturally, that was one of the strong desires of his nature. He wanted to keep at it, see? And eventually he learned what he could and couldn't do, all through hard knocks and hard experience.
SHELLY: Besides its philosophical importance, there are very
real practical values to astrology. For example, say that a person comes into your life. You can mark down the exact moment that happens, and then move your horoscope to that exact moment. For instance, let's say the ascendant right then is ten degrees of Taurus. Move your own chart around so that ten degrees of Taurus is on the ascendant. Now you can tell what this person means to you. RAY: Let me see if I understand that. You check the time when you meet the person, and see what the degree of the ascendant is at that moment? SHELLY: Yes. If it's ten degrees Taurus on the ascendant at that
particular time, you spin your own horoscope so that degree now becomes the ascendant; find ten degrees of Taurus in your chart and spin that around, and see where your own planets fall within that new framework. This then gives you the meaning of that person to you, or for that matter of any event that transpires in your life, in relation to your own chart.
For instance, say you have a progressed Mercury trine natal Jupiter in your chart happening. Your progressed Mercury has moved to five degrees of Gemini, and your natal Jupiter is in five degrees of Libra; this is the aspect firing in your chart at a particular time. So suppose that a man comes into your life right when five degrees Gemini is on the horizon, and says "I've got a new project for you!" Listen to him! But let's say Mars is square Saturn in your natal chart, and Mars is in Taurus at two degrees. Suppose that same person came into your life when two degrees of Taurus was on the horizon. That would trigger your Mars square Saturn, see? You'd need to be very cautious of that person. Don't go along with them, since they could cause you trouble. RAY: So do you go by the moment they presented the idea to you, or by the moment they first came into your life? SHELLY: You'd go by both. RAY: Which would be more important? SHELLY: Well, the first moment they come into your life is would be real important, as far as their meaning for you generally. Now remember, you can have a good friend, and he might be emotionally very favorable to you, but he can have a whole bunch of screwy ideas which you wouldn't want to go along with on other levels! I had a very good friend, and just on a friendship level, he was an ideal friend. But it also said, in my chart, don't get involved with him in a business way, because he's a screwball as far as business is concerned. So I never got involved with any kind of business proposition with him, and we remained very good friends. So you've got to know the individual, you've got to know his nature.
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After all, not all of us are good in everything. In other words, a man might be extremely good in one thing, and real bad in something else. We all have the same planets, but they're all in different aspects. And somebody might have a trine in one thing and a square in another. Avoid his square influence as much as possible, (laughs) but enjoy his trine influence!
SHELLY: If you know someone's horoscope, you have a way of knowing how they're going to react to various stimuli. For instance, a person with Saturn square Mars is going to react very differently to stimuli than someone who has Saturn trine Mars, are they not? You'll see two men working on a job, and one man says, "Isn't this wonderful? I really enjoy doing something productive like this." And the other fellow is working the same job but he says, "This is terrible! I'm doing it, but I wish I was doing anything else." Yet they're doing the same exact thing. So there are the events in our life, but then there's our interpretation of the events. RAY: So does the chart show our subjective attitudes towards the realities of our life, or does the chart actually show the external realities and conditions themselves? Or a little of both? SHELLY: Well, maybe a little of both. But either way, you are the interpreter. As far as interpreting any chart goes, the main thing is to feel it. For example, when you say Mars, you must feel Mars; when you say Jupiter, you must feel what Jupiter is, not think what it is, but feel it. So when you see it, you really see it. You clear you mind with meditation, which is like clearing your circuits, and now you let the feeling flow around it, you let it read itself.
RAY: That's the art of interpretation. SHELLY: That's the art. And it involves intuition. Astrology is one way to develop good psychic ability. RAY: It is? SHELLY: Oh, yes. Even reading the Tarot cards is one good way to developing your psychic ability. Or even reading the tea leaves. What does it matter which modality you use? You can throw sticks up in the air, if you know the technique, and read how they come down. But whatever your system, you must know the science first. And you must know it to the best of your ability, and when you've digested it, convert it into feeling, and like a poet you let it write itself, you let it tell its own story. You no longer do it consciously or laboriously.
SHELLY: Your chart is nothing but a karmic pattern, and it tells you when certain seeds which have been sown in the past are due and payable. Now you have to pay for these seeds, but meditation and prayer-if they are contrite prayer and meditation-can neutralize the cause without the karma coming out in any other way. RAY: They can? SHELLY: Yep. Because it's being satisfied symbolically, not literally. But if you don't meditate, it will then take place literally. RAY: So you mean, do you direct your meditation or prayer specifically towards neutralizing that given piece of karma? SHELLY: Not just to "neutralize" it, no, because that would give you the idea that you can escape karma, as though you were saying, "I sow as I will and reap as I please!"
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I'm reminded here of a criminal I saw being interviewed on TV who spoke about committing a crime with the thought that he'd "make up for it" by confessing at church the next day, or by making a huge donation to charity. It was like a business contract to him.
RAY: How does one do it, then? SHELLY: You must feel genuine contriteness, that you want to make amends for what you did. If you don't feel this, that you are balancing out an adverse situation and improving yourself, and compensating for what you have done, it won't work, see? RAY: It sounds almost like praying for forgiveness. SHELLY: Yes. But you are really forgiving yourself; that is what you' re doing. You see, in the last analysis, no one else is going to judge you, you judge yourself.
Kriyananda once made a comment that struck me as complementing this last statement of Shelly's, when he said, "Don't feel as though you need to get forgiveness from God. You were never accused in the first place."
SHELLY: There's a lot of chaff in the information of astrology, a lot of stuff that isn't true, as well as a lot that's overlapping. That's why I keep it as simple as possible in my delineation. I see Venus as alluring, Mars as energy; Jupiter establishes the law, Mercury communicates, the Sun amplifies, the Moon feels. RAY: How about Saturn? SHELLY: Saturn is the foundation. You see, you build a house
either upon the sand or upon the rocks. And Saturn crystallizes things. But it's "good" or "bad" depending on what it crystallizes. Saturn is also the principle of time, or Chronos.
SHELLY: Trines produce dreams. Trines make life easy. And they can be just as difficult as squares, but in a different way. Take the person whose chart consists solely of trines: they tend to think the world owes them a living. They dream away. They can even become a parasite, and take everything away from you they can get. If someone has a whole bunch of trines in their chart, be
extremely careful going into business with them! That individual thinks the world owes them a living; he'll dream away and take everything from you he can get. And a grand trine can be the aspect of dreamers, very definitely. They need a square-or something-to get them out of their dreaming, to do something about it. You see, a square indicates a problem that has to be solved. And it takes effort to solve the problem, it takes a measure of control. That couples well with the opportunity provided by the trine. This much I do know about astrology, that it's the science of balance. If things are too favorable, it's just as bad as if they're too unfavorable; too many good aspects can have the same exact effect on the individual as so-called bad aspects. The ideal is to have both a harmonious and an inharmonious aspect to each planet-say, an adverse aspect to Jupiter will stimulate it, and a good aspect will give it something worthwhile to do, and some luck. But if there's too many good aspects to Jupiter ... you
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see, Jupiter by itself only gives you dreams, it becomes more Neptunian than anything else. RAY: Even if it's angular? Say, if it's on the cusp of the tenth house? Wouldn't it have a lot of power then? SHELLY: Oh, it has a lot of power, and it will bring some success. But it can also give delusions of grandeur, similar to Neptune, especially on the cusp of the tenth. Any aspect to Neptune increases the imagination.
RAY: What are your thoughts about relocation astrology? Does moving from one's birthplace really affect the way one's horoscope functions? SHELLY: Let's say you want to move out to Los Angeles, and how your horoscope will play out there. You take the Greenwich mean time of your birth, and you move it out from Chicago to Los Angeles. As you go westward, your planets are going to go down. In other words, what's on the eastern horizon will go into the second house. If you take a look at your Sun, say it's at the midheaven; as you go to the west, the Sun is no longer on the midheaven. And if you go far enough, it's on the horizon, it's just rising in the east! Remember, to get yourself oriented, you must always point your back toward the North Pole. Now your left hand is where the eastern horizon is. The right hand is where the western horizon is, and you see the Sun come up in the east and set in the west. So if the Sun is on the midheaven in Chicago, and you go westward, you'll find that the Sun keeps going like this, and if you go far enough westward, the Sun will be on the eastern horizon, see?
So, you don't change the position of your planets, or their signs-those remain the same-but as you go westward to L.A. you'll find that the planets' positions in the horoscope change. So suppose you have Jupiter in the ninth house. But as you go westward, that Jupiter eventually winds up on the cusp of the tenth house. That's a good position to have Jupiter, if it's in a favorable position, is it not? But if you have Mars in the ninth house and it's square Saturn, as you go westward, that Mars will wind up on the cusp of the tenth house. That is your position in the world, and it will tend to deteriorate. RAY: Could one do aurelocation"horoscope for moving to another planet even, if you were an astronaut, say? SHELLY: Yes, yes. See, if I was born on Mars, I would know how to use our solar system to set up a horoscope for Mars. RAY: Really? SHELLY: Or if I was born on Venus, I would know how to do that. Because I know the basic laws of consciousness. You see, the basic law of self-existence was applied to this sector of time and space, the solar system. But if I was someplace else I could apply it there too. RAY: So hypothetically, you could do that even for a being born on the Sun? SHELLY: Yes, although in that case you would have to use a form of heliocentric astrology. On the planets it would always be geocentric, from the point of view of that planet. And when you go to the Moon, the Earth becomes the moon, so there wouldn't be too great of a difference there. But on the Sun you would need to cast the horoscope from that central vantage point rather than from any of the planets.
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RAY: I was wondering whether the chart can tell one about
past lives. SHELLY: Yes, with the chart there are ways of telling what you
were in the past-what you did and how you did it, things of this sort. I pay little attention to these things, because this incarnation now is the highest incarnation, as far as your spiritual unfoldment is concerned. In any of the others you weren't as highly evolved spiritually as you are now. Now, socially, you have been all kinds of things in the past, from a peasant to a king. But regardless of what you were in the past, this is the highest spiritual incarnation you have ever had. RAY: Isn't there some value to knowing about one's past
experience, though? For example, there are some astrologers who do past-life readings in hope of helping people understand why they have the karmas they do, to help clarify a lot of the vagueness they have about their current challenges. Is there some value in knowing these things? SHELLY: If God thought that was so important or necessary, you would be remembering those things.
RAY: But it's not God's fault that I can't remember! I could remember if I had the psychic abilities. SHELLY: If it was so important to you, you would have the
psychic abilities, you would be remembering. I've found that most people go into their past lives to find out if they were somebody important then, because they are not important in this life. And I've heard them say, "I may not be so-and-so now, but boy, in the past life I was really important!" For instance, in this house were two good friends of mine, both men. Each one thought that in his past he was Quetzacoatl in Mexico, the man in that culture who was like Christ. When ASTROLOGY 179
one left my house, the other said, "Boy, he sure thinks he was something, doesn't he? Why, I was Quetzacoatl!" (laughs) So each one was convinced he was that particular being. Yet they didn't have the inner qualities to indicate they were any such being in the past. We're now dealing with spiritual characteristics, see? And this shows up from one incarnation to another. RAY: How, exactly? SHELLY: Your emotional pattern is almost identical to what it was in your past incarnation, and so your response to stimuli is almost the same. You may not remember the intellectual things which you carry on from one incarnation to another, but emotionally you do. So your emotional pattern slowly changes. In order to see a great deal of change in your emotional pattern over lifetimes, it takes about three to four incarnations. If I take a picture of you now, and a picture of you at the same age in your past incarnation, and I put them together here, you would say it's the same person. Everyone would recognize you. But after about three incarnations, no, they wouldn't recognize you anymore. And after seven incarnations, there would be a tremendous difference.
SHELLY: Some karmas aren't completely alleviated in just one incarnation. For example, a man may have Sun square Saturn in this life, and maybe in his next incarnation he'll still have Sun square Saturn, but it won't be as intense next time around. He may have suffered out a great deal of it, but not all of it, unless he has resown the seeds of that energy and intensified it. But
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usually, when you keep getting knocked down enough times ... As they say, the guy may not learn very fast, but he does learn slowly. But one can always create another batch of karma because one isn't responding properly to the teaching. All paths lead to God consciousness, but the path of karma yoga, the path of the wheel, is very slow. RAY: When you have a closing aspect in your chart that completes itself by progression, is that the end of that piece of karma all together? Or just for this lifetime? SHELLY: That's the end of it for this lifetime. It might even be the end of it completely, but that depends on how well you have satisfied it at this time. RAY: Are there ways of telling whether you've" satisfied" a piece of karma or not? SHELLY: Yes. Let's say you're born with a Saturn-Moon square. Even after that aspect completes by progression, it will be triggered every so often in other ways, such as by the transiting Saturn. Or the progressed Moon will come all the way around and touch off that natal Moon again; you'll see what happens to you. If nothing happens, you have probably satisfied the karma and it's over with. But if it hits again with intensity, then you haven't satisfied it.
SHELLY: The horoscope can tell you things about the nature of your karmas, but it will not tell you what the intensity of your past karma was. It merely tells you which adverse seeds you have sown, or the favorable seeds you have sown. Cosmic law says, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" -and astrology is the proof
that karmic justice does exist. And it not only tells you what karma is due and payable but when it's due and payable. But it doesn't tell you what its intensity is. RAY: But wouldn't the intensity be shown by how close the aspects were, by degree? SHELLY: Oh, no, no. Here's a case which is well-known among astrologers. In Great Britain a king (George VI) was born at the same time a commoner was born. When the commoner rose and opened up his own store, the other man became king. They both reached the same relative position of elevation, but one was much higher than the other. A cow can be born at the same time you are, and the cow will go up and down in the scale of events like you. But the cow is still a cow. Astrology in that respect just tells you the cycle of what is going up and down in the different houses. RAY: But doesn't the horoscope show the intensity of the karmas, in a way that's proportional to each being? SHELLY: Yes, but you don't know how great that intensity is. It didn't say the commoner was going to be a king too. In other words, if I merely take tenth-house matters as the point of reference, all the chart shows is that the tenth-house matters of each individual were going to rise. But it didn't say how far. No one could tell from Hitler's chart that he was going to rule Germany. There was undoubtedly a cow born at the same time Hitler was, and that cow wasn't going to rule Germany. So for instance, here's a woman, and she was born with Saturn square Mars. In a past life maybe she hurt her husband, perhaps even physically, and knocked him out. So that karma comes up for her in this lifetime, and what does her husband do? He blackens her eye a couple of times, maybe. But that's the extent of it.
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But now take a man who is born at the same time and under the same aspect, and in his past life he worked in a torture chamber and tortured to death many people. So he's got a progressed Mars square Saturn coming up-and woe unto him! Look what happens to him when that aspect begins to fire. He's not going to get hit and simply have his eye blackened by someone; he's really in for it. You see, the symbolism is the same for both, but one has a much greater intensity, and you can't tell that from the chart. The woman and the man may have been born at exactly the same time, both of their karmas are due at the same time, and one gets a tremendous wallop from the aspect, the other gets a black eye. There's a huge difference.
RAY: When looking at a horoscope, how do you determine what the most important factor in that chart is? Are there certain basic guidelines? SHELLY: I take three things as being the most important when looking at a chart. You take the ascendant, the planet which rules the ascendant and where it's at, and any aspects to that. For instance, if the ruler of the ascendant is in the eighth house, then the person will be interested in eighth-house matters. If the ruler of the ascendant is in the ninth house, then they' re interested in ninth-house matters-religion, philosophy, higher learning, or things that are far away. And if the ruler in the twelfth house, they like to do research, detective work, and so on. And it's important to look at any planets the first-house ruler forms any close aspects to. Say, for instance, you have Cancer
rising and the Moon is in the second house, and it's trine to Jupiter in the sixth; you'll earn your money through sixth-house matters. I knew a woman whose first-house ruler was the Sun. It was in the second house and forming a trine to Jupiter in the sixth. She made a tremendous fortune raising gladiolas. RAY: What would show plants? SHELLY: The sixth house is the house of animated wealth. The Sun was in the second house, and the trine showed that she could make a lot of money from animate wealth. RAY: So in other words, you put prime importance on the
rising sign? SHELLY: That is very important. Now next, there's the Sun and
the Moon. In a man's chart it's the Sun. In a woman's chart it's the Moon. So these are the three important factors: in a man's chart, first there is the ascendant-any planet that's in the ascendant, and the ruler of the ascendant and any aspect it makes. Then it's the Sun-,, and anything that aspects it, and where that Sun is at; then finally the Moon, and anything that aspects the Moon and where it is at. And in a woman's chart, it's first the ascendant, and anything in aspect to the ruler, and then the Moon is next in importance. You see, in a man's chart the Moon is usually indicative of a woman in his life, while in a woman's chart, the Sun is usually indicative of a man in her life. In fact, for a woman the Sun symbolizes the man in her life in some ways more than it symbolizes herself.
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SHELLY: The Sun in the horoscope I conceive of as mainly an amplifier. It amplifies whatever it touches and wherever it's at. And as soon as it enters into a sign, it amplifies the whole nature of the sign. RAY: As well as the house that it's in? Shelly. Right. And so does the Moon. The others are very minor in comparison. The luminaries (Sun and Moon), as well as the first house, can make or break almost any horoscope.
RAY: You mentioned before about the planet which"rules the personality" in a horoscope. Were you talking about the planet which rules the ascendant? SHELLY: Not necessarily. The ruler of the first house is not always the ruling planet of the horoscope. Whatever is the strongest planet in a chart is the ruling planet, really. And to determine that you would have to take into consideration various factors, such as its strength by sign or house, its exaltation, its detriment, and so on. For instance, by house, the first and the tenth houses are by far the strongest. Then next in strength would be the fourth and the seventh houses, then the next two in strength are the eleventh and ninth, then the twelfth and the eighth house, then the second and third houses, and then the fifth and sixth are the weakest houses. But the first and the tenth are by far your key houses. Along a related line, a key factor to look for is the planet which is higher than any other planet in your chart, which may or may not be in the tenth house. In some ways that can be the most important planet in the entire chart, because what is up here is lord over all the others.
RAY: Does the tenth house show fame? SHELLY: I'll explain it like this. There are three houses of wealth: the second, the sixth, and the tenth. The second house is inanimate wealth-gold, money, possessions, etc. The sixth house is animate wealth-animals, food that is grown in the ground, things of that sort. And we used to wear animal skins, so this also became known as the house of clothing and apparel. Now the tenth house is the wealth of position-your reputation. Some people can use their reputation to make a lot of money, and it tells you how well you get along with other people. This relates to class consciousness. If someone has the Sun up there, that tends to show good class consciousness. Sometimes fame. Or if someone has Venus up there, that can make them socially acceptable. But with Saturn or Mars up there, it becomes more challenging.
SHELLY: By progression the two bodies that are most apt to be noticed by the individual and leave a lasting impression are the luminaries: the Sun and the Moon. It almost doesn't matter what type of progression you use, these are the ones that you'll remember the most-especially the progressed conjunctions. So look for that, because these will produce phenomena. I call the conjunction a "Sun" aspect, because this amplifies your awareness of things, and they sometimes call this an aspect of prominence. After that comes the opposition, and this too will produce notable phenomena.
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RAY: Why is it that some mystics or magicians refuse to reveal their horoscopes? Is there a reason for someone keeping that information under wraps? SHELLY: If you know someone's chart, you actually have a tremendous advantage over them. Not only in terms of timing factors, but in terms of working magic on their horoscope. Some say that is the reason Adolf Hitler put several different dates or times out for his horoscope, so that his enemies wouldn't know exactly when he was born.
RAY: What about the Aquarian Age? SHELLY: Well, it's a fixed sign so it's not going to come in easy, either socially or even geologically. And when the wave of change is coming through, it hits humanity first and then it goes into the material, into the Earth itself. And the youth are the first to respond to this unsettled condition. Look at the unrest we've seeing among young people these last couple decades. RAY: Are you saying this is related to bigger changes taking place? SHELLY: Yes, this is their response to the stimuli. The youth are the most emotionally expressive of all the people in a society. So they feel this movement before anyone else does, and it affects them and they' re the quickest to act under an emotional disturbance. The older you get, the less apt you are to react, since you become more inert, more Saturnian in your nature. And young people are anything but Saturnian in their nature!
RAY: As far as what the horoscope shows about relationships, are we automatically drawn to the type of individuals who will manifest the karmas in our horoscope? Or can we choose differently than what our karma suggests? SHELLY: Well, for instance, let's take the chart of an astrologer I knew. I'll give you his aspects: Saturn ruled his seventh house, it was squared to Venus in the fourth house, and it was square to Jupiter in the tenth house, and naturally Jupiter was in opposition to Venus. In other words, he had a T-square to Saturn in the seventh house [which shows major challenges in relationships]. So this individual married a woman who he thought was beneath his station, and the reason he claimed he married her was to "uplift her spiritually." You see, he thought he was himself quite evolved spiritually! And after he'd lived his life with her, he said it had been a waste of time, because he wasn't able to lift her even one step up, spiritually. They fought all their life together, and he was always trying to leave her for some other woman. But you could say it was his destiny to live with a woman he'd fight with all his life, because he wouldn't have felt normal being married to any other kind of woman, see? He had a tendency to want to be with a woman who would harass him and holler at him, and generally be difficult. This is what his chart said he wanted; he actually wanted to be browbeaten by a woman, and that's what he got. If it were any other kind of woman, he wouldn't have felt satisfied. At a deeper level, you see, he felt he had "sins,"-which his chart said he probably did have, in terms of some difficult karmas-and this was his time to pay the piper. And the time had come, so this is what unfolded.
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RAY: What is the most significant thing to look for in terms of a person's relationships? SHELLY: Well, as a man, you have to look to what your Moon is in aspect to, any forming or closing aspect particularly, as well as to what the ruler of your seventh house is, and any forming aspect to that. Also, to your Mars and Venus. Together, these will give you some idea what your love life is going to be like.
RAY: I've recently been looking into Hindu astrology, which of course uses a different kind of zodiac than most Western astrologers use, what they call a"fixed" or sidereal zodiac. What are your thoughts about that difference? SHELLY: They are both correct, in their own spheres. RAY: How can that be? SHELLY: Because they have observed over a number of years that, even if there is some disagreement over the starting point for their [the Vedic] zodiacal system, at least it's consistent. And if it's consistent, that means they are compensating for the system and it's the same as though they had the exact rising point. I have used Hindu astrology in a number of cases to see how it worked out, and it was quite accurate. It showed things that our system did not show. It went into more detail in showing some things. But you see, when you're not used to it, it takes a lot of
time, with a lot of calculations. They might draw up maybe nine different charts in order to delineate a certain life, and that's plenty involved. (At the time Shelly said this, astrological computer programs were virtually nonexistent, which made calculations extraordinarily time-consuming.) But remember, the early astrologers of India were supported by their government. They didn't charge for their work, they were supported, and they did everything for free. And they were sent all around the world to learn and to teach. It was similar to what you had in Ireland, where your poets were supported by the government and you had a highly cultured civilization. That was when the British were still relative barbarians, while the Irish bards enjoyed a tremendous high culture. Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from the fixed zodiac is that we need to pay attention to the actual stars. They still are in existence, you know, they still have an effect! So that effect gives you the fixed zodiac influence, and then you take your movable zodiac, which has its own influence. RAY: So you use the fixed stars in reading the chart? SHELLY: Quite a bit. RAY: So what do you do with them? Do you look to see if there are any planets conjunct a fixed star? SHELLY: Yep. Now, I only take the conjunctions, I don't take the oppositions. I also see where they connect to the midheaven and the ascendant. I don't think the other aspects are quite strong enough. But if you do know your exact birth time, then the midheaven and ascendant are very strong points, and look around for any conjunctions. RAY: Do the various authors pretty much agree on the meanings of these points?
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SHELLY: Yeah, there's not too great of a difference. Except you get some of the older authorities, and they're more direful with their omens and interpretations. So I wouldn't go too far back into time. For example all the old texts say there's nothing good in Scorpio at all, and that it's all bad. So one look at my chart, and I realize what an evil demon I really am! (laughs) But really, there is no one sign that's better than any other sign. And there's no one sign that is worse than any other sign. Scorpio deals with ultimates, so it can be dangerous when aroused, that is true. He can be the most dangerous of any sign, because he can destroy you. And that's because he deals with ultimates, and he can't help but think in terms of those extremes. He doesn't do or feel anything by halves. So if he's a researcher, he'll take a formula and run to the ultimate end of it, and that's good. But if you make him an enemy, watch out. He can't help this, really. Unless he's a reformed Scorpio, that is. Remember, there's Scorpio in the form of the scorpion, or in the form of a serpent, or in the form of an eagle-the three forms of Scorpio. Which really means if you see a Scorpio who's become an eagle, you'll find a very different person, you'll find an evolved Scorpio. But if you get a Scorpio who truly is a "scorpion"-his front end isn't dangerous, it's his tail. So he doesn't attack in the normal manner. You see, different signs express their aggression in different ways. If an Aries says he's going to kill you, just keep away from him for five or ten minutes and he'll cool off. But if a Scorpio says he's going to kill you, he won't do it within five or ten minutes, he'll wait a year or two. That's because if he killed you in five or ten minutes, they'd be on to him and catch him, wouldn't they? So when he comes around again, he's very friendly to you! But the more friendly he is, well, you'll know
the time has come. Because he wants everyone to know what good terms the two of you are on. But he's probably setting you up for the kill! (laughs) Now the true Scorpio can help a lot of people; they can be the healers of the world. They can do an enormous amount of good. Until they're crossed.
SHELLY: Sometimes the node of a planet can cause an awful lot of activity when it's in a certain position of a sign or the chart. But very few people use nodes. The Moon's nodes can cause such an enormous effect, but look at what the other planets can produce. RAY: Are there any others in particular? SHELLY: Yes, Mars nodes would be rather important. But I think any of the planetary nodes would be important.
RAY: How did astrology originate? Where did it come from? SHELLY: Astrology is really the laws of self-conscious awareness applied to this particular space-time continuum, in this solar system. The Kabbalah and mathematics are nothing but the laws of self-conscious awareness applied in more mathematical ways. Palmistry, or chiromancy, is nothing but the laws of self-conscious awareness applied to the palm. Where it's more clearly defined, though, is in astrology. So when you say, "Where does it come from?" it comes from the very nature of consciousness itself. When you behold yourself,
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it sets up this law, the law of the twelve, the law of the Self. In other words, any being anywhere in existence who finds out the nature of itself is going to come up with the same laws of self-conscious awareness that we have been teaching, any place in the cosmos. This is why the name of God all over the Earth is often a four-lettered word, symbolizing the same thing. RAY: Symbolizing the four points on the symbolic fixed
quadrant? SHELLY: Symbolizing I AM AWARE THAT I AM. And when
you have four factors, two of which are the same, they can only be arranged in twelve different ways. This is why there are twelve signs of the zodiac. It's why Hercules had twelve labors, Christ had twelve disciples, there are the twelve tribes of Israel, and so on. The basic idea of the twelve is based upon the laws of self-conscious awareness-I AM AWARE THAT I AM. I am standing off and viewing myself: I am the observer, I am the observed, I am the act of observing, and I am the all of my parts. These are the four factors. RAY: What's that fourth factor? Is it the memory of the other
three? SHELLY: Yes. (Within the fixed quadrant, that fourth factor is
symbolized by Taurus, the sign of wealth, which includes the wealth of one's memory track, according to Shelly.)
RAY: The more I study all these different symbolic systems,
the more confusing it feels sometimes. SHELLY: Why is that?
RAY: Well, I can't quite reconcile the fact that they're based on such different principles or frameworks. The astrological system is essentially a twelve system, but the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is more of a ten system, while the I Ching is based on sixty-four, and so on. If these systems have a universal or archetypal basis, how could there be such difference? SHELLY: I told you how there can be more than one system simultaneously. Yes, the astrological system is a twelve system and the Kabbalah is more of a ten system, or twenty-two, if you go with the Hebrew alphabet. And there are other systems based on different patterns, like the geomantic system, which is a sixteen system, and which exists simultaneously with a twelve system. And remember, in Egypt, in some tombs you had to go down sixteen steps; they didn't do that for no reason at all. You can think of all this as being like different keys or modalities in music; composers can write great music in any of the keys or modalities. They're just different ways of vectoring into the truth. Or you can think of this numerologically, and how there is a different system for every number: a system based on three, one based on four, or one based on a seven system, see? Or you can relate that to geometrical figures: a pentagon expresses the "five" principle, a triangle expresses the "three" principle, a hexagon the "six" principle, and so on. Which one is the "right" one? Each one has its own truth, its own relation to the truth, to the center.
In one unrecorded conversation, Shelly offered an interesting view on the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which he believed could be linked meaningfully to several different symbol systems, including astrology and the chakras. For example, the alphabet's twenty-two letters are traditionally divided into three categories: three "mother"
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letters, seven "dual" letters, and twelve "simple" letters. For Shelly, the three mother letters could be equated with the three channels of consciousness along the spine: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna; the seven dual letters could be associated with the seven basic chakras; and the twelve simple letters related to the twelve signs of the zodiac, as well as the twelve secondary states of consciousness in the chakric system. By combining those letters in various ways, one could represent or magically invoke a wide range of states of consciousness.
31. Your Little Toe Kriyananda told a story about the time he experienced an unusually powerful meditation in which he felt nearly overwhelmed by "oceans upon oceans of bliss, seemingly without end. Words couldn't even begin to describe it," he said. So out of the ordinary was this experience that he determined to ask his guru for his opinion about what happened the next time they met face-to-face. Upon hearing Kriyananda finish his story, Shelly was nonchalant, saying simply, "You woke up a few of the atoms in your little toe, Kriyananda, that's all."
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32. Future Science Whereas Yogananda was more devotional in temperament, Shelly possessed a more scientific mind, with a penchant for mathematics, physics, and electronics. Sometimes that led him to venture into more futuristic directions, with speculations about possible inventions yet to come. SHELLY: Eventually, they'll have a machine that will be able to tune into the Akashic Records. The advantage of that would be that the machine will not have imagination, so you won't get a personalized distortion of the information, which is what happens now. Mind you, you actually can build imagination into a computer, and you can even build emotion into a computer, if you want. But if you want the least amount of distortion, you'd rather not have those involved at all.
RAY: How would one go about creating a computer like that, that not only matches the human mind but maybe even taps into paranormal information? How would that be possible? SHELLY: You first have to decode the human mind, so that you know how a person thinks. The human mind uses FM, AM, analog, and digital, and it uses single-sideband in order to process information. It uses chemicals, it uses electricity-it uses everything you can conceive of to process information, including things they haven't even discovered yet. So you need to use all of these factors. Don't just use this or this, in other words; use this and this, use everything you know.
In fact, if you're going to create a really smart computer that's comparable to man, also incorporate laser devices for the computer, since those are dealing with much higher frequencies, and you can include more bits of information per
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unit of time with a laser than with any other system. So you'd be using fibers and lasers associated with it. And of course electronics too. Once you've built an intelligent computer, you have to go into the field of "psi-tronics" in order to get into the psychic memory banks. So far you don't know how to decode that stuff, but if you keep going, you might find out how, and then you can telephone into the memory banks of the cosmic dream of God-or for that matter, anyone else's memory banks. The only difference between any two beings is the curvature which represents their particular frequency; everybody's functioning on a slightly different wavelength. But that wavelength has nothing to do with the electromagnetic types of wavelengths used in computers today; it's on a transfinite frequency, and time and space are not the kind of mathematics you use to express it. All information is in white noise, really; all you need is a sifter. So if you can find a sifter, you can have all information that exists. I can't tell you how to do that, because the noise or "static" levels here are extremely loud, especially where telepathy is concerned. And what you're trying to do is override the very thing that those who control this sector of time and space are doing so you don't have these particular bits of information.
This following comment from Shelly was obviously meant to be amusing, but also thought-provoking. Years later, when I came across the works of writer Philip K. Dick and the movies he inspired, like Total Recall and The Matrix, I thought back to what he said:
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SHELLY: In the future it's possible scientists will devise a way to capture someone's life memories like a recording, which other people can then play back and relive like it was their own. Think about it, Ray: how can you be sure what you're experiencing now isn't just a recording of your life that someone else is playing back far into the future?
SHELLY: Everything is living, everything is alive. Even a piece of metal has been shown to have a memory track. As an example, take triple-distilled water, and freeze it in five or six test tubes. Water freezes at thirty-two degrees. Now you let those tubes thaw out and you try to freeze them again-not one of them will freeze at thirty-two degrees. They will all freeze at a lower temperature than that. Some test tubes have you down to a couple of degrees below thirty-two. They remember that! You might almost say they don't want to freeze! (laughs) Now if you wait a while, they'll freeze again at thirty-two degrees. But you've got to wait until that memory track fades out. But it's got to be triple-distilled water for that to work. RAY: Why triple-distilled water? SHELLY: You have to have it as pure as possible. If you have contaminants in, this involves different memory tracks.
In the course of one conversation about science, Shelly mentioned the speed of light being an "absolute," which prompted the following question from me:
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RAY: Isn't the process of thought faster than the speed of light? Isn't it instantaneous, such as when someone astrally projects to a distant point in the cosmos? SHELLY: You see, now you're dealing with the psychic sciences, and you're dealing with things in an entirely different frame of reference. Technically, there are ways of going faster than the speed of light by means of the conventional sciences we're familiar with. Namely, you would need an infinite amount of energy to go faster than the speed of light. But by using the psychic sciences, you can easily get around the limitations of the physical sciences. This is why in the future it will be possible for man to travel from one sector of the cosmos to another in no time at all. Or you could even come back before you left, because you're using an entire different reference point, and an entirely different set of laws. RAY: Will that be within physicality that they could do this? SHELLY: Oh, yes. In other words, you'll be able to step across a line, and as you cross it you'll move from being on the Earth to being on Mars, without any time lag at all. It would be the same moment that you left Earth. Or you could even fix it so you'd arrive on Mars before you left Earth, if you wanted. Or you could fix it so you'd arrive sometime later. You'll be able to control it.
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33. Palmistry RAY: There's a theory in palmistry that the left hand reveals
what potentials you came in with, and that the right hand reveals what you've done with those potentials. What are your thoughts about that? SHELLY: If you're right-handed, what is written in your right hand seems to predominate. If the person is left-handed, the left hand tends to predominate. RAY: But what do each of the hands mean, respectively? What
will the left hand show that the right hand won't? SHELLY: Well, if the person is right-handed, the left hand is supposed to show inherited traits, the karmic conditions which exist. The right hand indicates what the individual is doing about the inherited characteristics, and whether they're progressing or not. If you examine two hands over an extended period of time, say you wait twenty years, and you've actually taken hand prints and not depending on your imagination of what you saw, and you examine them over that period of time, you seem to see more changes in the right hand than in the left hand. So it does seem that the right hand of a right-handed individual does show some effect of free will, whether he is making use of it, or going upwards or downwards, you might say, with what is in his inherited characteristics. But the amount of basic change in an individual-I have not seen a great deal. Minor changes, yes. You could do that with a young child and compare it that person when they're seventeen or eighteen years of age, and check it. You'll find very little difference.
Now I have not done 10,000 palm studies in this way, but I have worked with my own brothers and sisters. I was quite old when my younger sister and two brothers were born, so I didn't take a hand print but I did draw it on paper, and checked it sixteen or seventeen years later, and I didn't find any great changes. And I've studied my own palm, and there have been some minor changes, but no tremendously great changes. But one should never use their own palm in this, since we' re prejudiced and don't see objectively. And don't use that of a person you love; you'll definitely see all kinds of good things for her, and miss the bad things! That's true in astrology as well. RAY: How do you see astrology and palmistry working together? For example my palm doesn't seem to relate to what my chart says, though that could be just my experience or my interpretation. The people who have looked at my horoscope have been quite accurate, but the palmists who have read my palm haven't been as accurate. SHELLY: Well, I would say that those weren't very good palmists. However, I have used palmistry in conjunction with astrology, and there was some things I found easier to read in the horoscope, and some things which I found easier to read in the palm. RAY: Such as? SHELLY: Like the number of wives or husbands, or the number of children a woman was going to have. The palm can reveal that quite well. RAY: The number of wives is shown by what? SHELLY: The number of spouses is shown here (points to the edge of his palm just below the pinky), and the number of children will be shown by how many lines extend down from those lines. So a person may have two strong marriage lines,
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which may show two strong marriages or two major love affairs. These things may not be as clearly indicated by the horoscope as by the palm. But there are a number of things you can look at with the palm besides just the lines. For instance, if someone's fingers bend back to any degree, that indicates flexibility. You'll find some people whose hands won't bend back at all, and that tends to indicate a relatively closed mind.
If you really want to know something about palmistry, I'd advise you to read no less than twenty books on it, study it and commit it to memory. Then you have some idea of how the palmistry is going to go. And then start reading, and see if the individuals you read for are satisfied.
34. I Never Did the Guy Any Favors Kriyananda described Shelly as being unusually even-keeled and unflappable in circumstances, even remarking once that "of all the teachers of the Kriya lineage, Sri Yukteswar and Shelly were probably the most balanced in their personalities." I had glimpses of that myself during my own conversations with him, but that stands out even more in some of the stories Kriyananda related about their time together, like this incident involving a farmer and his shotgun. Kriyananda had been studying with Shelly up in Minnesota and was out with him in a nearby field talking with a couple of local farmers one day. Suddenly the air was pierced by the sound of a voice hollering loudly from a short distance away. Looking up, Kriyananda saw the silhouette of a man racing towards them from over a nearby hill with a shotgun in his hand. The man was obviously extremely angry about something, and just as obviously looking for whomever he was angry at. Upon seeing this, the other two farmers standing with Shelly and Kriyananda quickly cut the conversation short and ran away, nervous about the approaching danger. According to Kriyananda, though, Shelly didn't budge, and continued standing quietly in place. Beginning to feel a bit nervous himself, Kriyananda finally asked his teacher, "Aren't we going to get out of here?" "Why? I never did the guy any favors" was the response.
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35. Self-Mastery RAY: What is the purpose of our existence? SHELLY: The purpose is balanced self-conscious awareness. When you've reached a state of balanced consciousness, it's a state of ever-new, ever-changing, ever more glorious bliss." So there's never any boredom, it's an ever more enjoyable state of existence. Then you have learned the control of Self, you are in a state of controlled awareness. /1
For example, if you are feeling very pleasant, and someone hits you on the chin, you are liable at this point not to feel very pleasant about it; you might even want to hit him back. But if you can be criticized or even hit on the chin and it still doesn't disturb you, then you're in a state of enjoyment of selfconscious awareness. Now you have controlled self-conscious awareness. In other words, if a stimulus can hit you and you're able to feel what you want to feel, and not what the stimulus is supposed" to evoke, then you don't need any modality to make you feel things. Like you'll have a person who is used to using one system or another to get high and stay high; as soon as he comes back down to what is considered the norm, he just can't stand it, he's got to get high all the time. That's because he's being controlled by a modality, he's not under control. You listen to some of the drug users after they've taken their drugs, and they'll say they can take 'em or leave 'em alone, you know? But it's not under their control. They're controlled by it, and they don't realize it. Or they refuse to admit it to themselves. /1
So the question is, does a stimulant control you, or do you control it? Let's take the strongest stimulant a man has-sex. Does it control you, or do you control sex? See, there's nothing wrong with sex. Religions have come out and made it like sex is
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evil. But it is not evil. However, if sex controls you, now that's where problems arise. That is the most important thing to control; think of how much self-control this produces, if you can control it! So the whole idea is to seek balance. And the only real path is through meditation, which is controlled awareness. RAY: Can any or all these things be used as tools? SHELLY: Yes, yes, they can all be used as tools, providing you control them instead of them controlling you. For instance, there's nothing wrong with alcohol, providing it's done in moderation. But when anyone let's alcohol control them-ahh! Yogananda came over to this country, and they gave him coffee, you know. He got to where he thought this habit of the Americans was a nice thing. Then one morning he didn't get his coffee, and he had a headache. So he said, "I don't know why I have a headache." And someone said, "Oh, you haven't had your coffee, have you?" "Why no," he said. "Aha! Now that coffee is controlling me, instead of me controlling it." So he stopped drinking coffee. This is the whole trouble with any form of narcotic or alcohol. It's a modality that controls the individual; it's in the opposite direction to which God consciousness exists.
SHELLY: True, you must sacrifice things in order to be free, spiritually. But everything you want in life involves a compromise. You can't even build a boat without compromise. You do one thing, it reacts in one way; you do another thing, it reacts in another way. So even in your own life there's compromise, and then still more compromise. Some individuals
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are willing to pay that price, but others are not. To become wealthy, if you're willing to pay the price, you can become wealthy. But some of the things you sometimes have to do to become wealthy-well, I wouldn't do some of those things. So it depends on what you're willing to sacrifice. And it depends on how much you say you want what you want versus what you are willing to do. You see, a lot of us think we want things, but we'd actually prefer to just think about them. Now, there's nothing wrong with simply dreaming or fantasizing, but we need to be honest with ourselves. I knew an individual who dreamt about going off and mining for gold up in the mountains, but when the opportunity came for him to do it, he didn't do it. Because he was more comfortable dreaming about it than actually doing it. Or a man might fantasize about becoming involved with some pretty woman he met but never actually takes the steps to pursue her, because he's more comfortable with the fantasy of a relationship than the reality of one.
SHELLY: Spiritual unfoldment is self-discipline.
36. The Blessing The following anecdote was related to me by my friends Eric and Devi Klein about a visit they had with Shelly in the late '70s. The young couple sent a note to Shelly requesting a meeting with the teacher, and received a reply saying they could come down for an afternoon talk. Happy to get the green light, they flew down from Chicago and spent a total of five hours on the given date speaking with the teacher. At the end of the afternoon, just as they were about to leave, Eric asked, "Can we have your blessing?" (a common request made by students when visiting a venerated teacher). At which point Shelly looked at them both and said, with a slight smile: "What do you think I've been doing for the last five hours?"
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37. Parting Words RAY: If you knew that you were going to die shortly and you were asked to sum up your life teachings in one final statement, what would you say? SHELLY: Very simple. To those who came to my funeral, I'd say
this: take three minutes of meditation to prove that this is the way. Because it is the path, truly, to God consciousness. Even if there is no God, the technique of meditation leads to a very favorable degree of self-conscious awareness. And this is well worth it, because this is controlled awareness; you are always placing everything in its correct order, all the experiences that come into you. And the experiences that come to you are therefore blissful, rather than there sometimes being experiences which are painful because you haven't placed them into balanced order. That's what meditation leads to. Anyone who has gone any depth at all into meditation becomes aware that it is the golden path, the way in which the alchemists are changing base lead into spiritual gold. You're climbing up the ladder, what the Bible calls Jacob's ladder, and it is the expression of the law of self-conscious awareness. And that's true for all beings in existence who have self-conscious awareness. What is the difference between God and you at any given moment or place in time? Only one. He is complete balanced self-conscious awareness. And these basics are true throughout all existence. All the other stuff that I say, those can be variables, because they're just musings about things. But it's the basics that are important.
APPENDIX 1 The Poem While Shelly never wrote any books ("My students are my books," he once remarked), he did leave behind one piece of writing, a mystical poem that summarizes his perspective on the big question: How did it all begin? He never actually distributed this work. Rather it was found on the floor of his workshop by my friend (and fellow student of Shelly's) Steve Cozzi. I've sometimes wondered whether there may have been more than meets the eye to that seemingly chance discovery, because of the ethic of "noninterference" touched on earlier in this book-that is, not imposing one's teachings on another. However, if others should happen to find or request that teaching, of their own free will, that's a different matter altogether. Knowing how important that principle was for Shelly, it's reasonable to think he could have left the poem where it would likely be found, as a way to assure the least possible interference in others' lives. But at this point we'll never know for sure either way. The fact that this is the only spiritually-oriented work Shelly committed to writing during a long life of teaching makes it clear it meant something important to him in terms of encapsulating his views on these weighty matters. Note that the terminology employed is as much Kabbalistic as it is yogic, if not more so, though the juxtaposition of elements is distinctly his own. Those who have carefully read my exchanges with Shelly over the previous pages will be in a good position to understand a great many of the points, but I'll add a few clarifications afterwards. Here it is in its entirety:
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Before the beginning Chaos reigned in the infinities Countenance beheld not countenance In balanced equilibrium Creation followed creation In unsustained furies Until one Brother held forth the Vestments of honor In his essence, the maze of Self was solved In him, countenance beheld countenance In balanced glory Bliss flowed forth in undulating waves of joy The sustained spiral of creation Hewed forth into being The Brothers flocked to pay homage And obeisance before the Master The wave of bliss spread unto all willing That they might sup upon The crystalline dew They descended into Him And moved about the pathways To behold the law of the maze Brother communicated unto Brother The golden essence of truth Countenance beheld countenance In the splendored visage of balance Brothers became lost in the maze Others descended to lend aid The sustained creation was maintained In balance against The folly of the fallen Brothers Sustained creation shall remain sustained Until all Brothers in infinity stand Hallowed by the blissful countenance Of balanced being
To begin with, note that this passage describes the existence of countless individual beings or spiritual entities. The one great being we normally call "God," or what Shelly and Yogananda referred to as the "Cosmic Dreamer," did not create us, nor is he our father or mother. Rather he's more akin to a brother or a sister. As for the gender-specific language Shelly used here, it's important to remember this was written before conventions on these matters changed to where they are today. Those familiar with Indic philosophy will notice that Shelly's perspective falls into the dualistic perspective associated with the Samkhya philosophical school, which holds that there are indeed individual spirits in the universe. This is a view which stands in contrast to the nondualistic Vedantic school, which contends all appearances of diversity or separation in our world are really just illusions-or, as one contemporary spiritual teacher put it, "Behind all these masks, there is really just one of us." Shelly's view is different, but subtly so, and recalls a line from the popular '90s song "What If God Was One of Us?" To Shelly, we are all divine beings, or "self-existent ones," and God really is just "one of us." The difference is that God has attained a far greater degree of balance than any of the other spiritual beings in existence. In the poem, he suggests that we've chosen to enter God's creation, his memory banks, the records of his cosmic dreaming. In doing so we benefit from the lessons, challenges, and beauties that this vast dream offers. The problems arose when we became lost in that creation, a development commonly depicted in some legends as "the Fall." In the Gnostic tradition, for instance, that process of enmeshment is expressed through the story of Adam and Eve leaving the Garden, whereas in the Hermetic system this is conveyed through the image of Narcissus becoming lost in his own reflection. As a result of
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accumulating karmas coupled with degenerating states of consciousness, we sank progressively further through the levels of God's dream, in the process completely forgetting our true nature as self-existent ones. Yet there are spiritual beings, called bodhisattwas in the Eastern traditions, who willingly descend through the levels of the cosmic dream to teach others and help all of us "fallen angels" escape our delusion and awaken to our true natures. Importantly, Shelly remarked that no one is ever truly or eternally lost; in fact, simply by merit of our presence within God's cosmic dream and our being guided along its pathways, we will all eventually reawaken and "stand hallowed by the blissful countenance of balanced being." Shelly uses the phrase "countenance beholding countenance" repeatedly through the piece, terminology he borrowed from the Kabbalistic Book of Concealed Mystery. As we've seen earlier in this book, this refers to the seemingly dual nature of the Self, the word countenance" essentially being synonymous with consciousness. (I say seemingly" dual since it's a mistake to think of this in overly rigid terms.) As Shelly explained it, the Self is forever reflecting upon its own nature, as if folding back upon itself, in constantly varying degrees of balance. This is the true meaning of the ouroboros, the ancient symbol of the snake eating its own tail. /1
Here's a simple analogy to help explain this. If you hold out your hand and look at it, it might appear as though there are two things present: your eye here and your hand over there. But in fact both your eye and your hand are the exact same being. It's much the same situation with the mind's relationship to its surrounding world. The Self sees its environment and thinks it's perceiving something apart from itself, yet it's all really the Self.
That confusion over what is or isn't the Self relates to his comment "countenance beholding countenance and not knowing it's beholding countenance." But when it reaches a state of balance, the Self finally discovers that everything it sees and experiences is nothing other than itself-at which point the situation now becomes one of "countenance beholding countenance in balanced glory." And it is at that point that one has truly "solved the maze of Self." As Shelly explained it, "This means that balance is not the natural state, but imbalance is." For some, that may seem an unorthodox notion, but it's useful to remember just how many spiritual and mythological traditions-including the Old Testament-describe chaos as the primordial state, and it was only later that the Supreme Being or Divine Principle brought order out of chaos, and Eden came into being. Likewise, the iconic line in chapter 1 of Genesis, "Let there be light," implies that God himself had, in some sense, been in darkness prior to his illumination, symbolizing an awakening from lesser consciousness to greater consciousness.
Intimations of a New Mythology? Before closing, there are a few other points which are worth mentioning. Shelly's view of a cosmos inhabited by multiple self-existent ones strikes me as closely aligned with a broader shift in thought taking shape these days, with the idea of a spiritually democratized cosmos in which we aren't subservient to the Divine but more akin to cocreators. This coincides with what some astrologers (including me) have described in connection with the emerging Aquarian Age, where the principles of equality and democracy are shaping not only politics but spiritual philosophy and mythology as well.
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One even finds hints of that shift in popular works like The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy discovers upon meeting the godlike wizard that he's just an ordinary person like herself, albeit occupying a greater position of power and authority. But The Wizard of Oz reflects that shifting mythic sensibility in another key respect, namely, in how its four protagonists each have their own distinct goals. There is true individuality involved, in other words. By way of contrast, classic mythic tales like Jason and the Argonauts or the Knights of the Round Table feature a group of heroic figures all questing for the same exact thing, whether that be the Golden Fleece, the Holy Grail, or some other treasure. In the Oz story, however, the seekers are aligned in their journey yet harbor more personalized aims: for Dorothy, it's returning home, for the Cowardly Lion it's courage, for the Scarecrow, it's intelligence, while for the Tin Man, it's heart. In short, there is an element of independence and individuality in their quests which is absent from more traditional group-hero narratives. In a way, this is similar to what Shelly taught with his spiritual cosmology, in which all the self-existent ones are all joined together within God's cosmic dream, yet each one possesses his or her own unique identity and destiny. Which finally brings us back to the problem of dualism in the piece, with its cosmic population of individual spirits, rather than one overriding deity masquerading as separate entities. One way to understand this would be through a comparison with the classic Eastern image of Indra's "Net of Pearls,"-a famous Buddhist metaphor illustrating the complex interconnectedness of all phenomena and beings. In much the same way that broken-off pieces of a holograph contain the entire image, so the image of Indra's net describes a vast
network of pearls (in some versions, gems, dewdrops, or jewels) in which the polished surface of each pearl reflects all the other pearls in the net, and all the pearls reflected in any one are in turn reflected in all the others, giving rise to an infinitely compounded series of reflections. In short, distinct yet unified. I've often used the image of a jazz band to convey the shifting sensibility of the emerging Aquarian Age, as we already see it starting to manifest on various fronts. Though there may be a nominal leader in a jazz ensemble, it's fundamentally a democratic system, in which all the members of the band are essentially equals in their roles as cocreators, each one having his or her own say in the unfolding creative process. To my mind, that dynamic also meshes closely with what Shelly taught in his spiritual cosmology. Likewise, Shelly's teachings described a cosmos of spirits who are distinct unto themselves yet simultaneously and inextricably interconnected with the whole, and with all other beings. There is actually some precedent for this idea in conventional Western theology, and bears resemblance not only to the Old Testament notion of the Elohim (by some translations, a pluralistic view of divinity) but also the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. How is it possible for the Divine to be singular yet multiple at the same time? Is there just one God, as monotheism suggests, or several? Theologians have debated this point since the early days of Christianity, and will likely continue doing so for centuries to come. But from a more holographic perspective, like that described in the story of Indra's net, it becomes far easier to understand, and suggests a philosophical hybrid which I've sometimes called nondual dualism. Put another way: is the cosmos a "One" or a "Many"? For Shelly, the answer would be both.
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APPENDIX2 Shelly Trimmer and the Self-Realization Fellowship If one were to visit the headquarters of Yogananda' s organization, the Self-Realization Fellowship, these days and ask any of the senior staff members for their opinion of Shelly
Trimmer-or for that matter, Goswami Kriyananda, Roy Eugene Davis, Swami Kriyananda of California, or the many other Kriya gurus not officially affiliated with the organization-it's likely you'll receive a polite but firm dismissal of their roles as "legitimate" teachers in the Kriya Yoga lineage. Therein lies a convoluted story about the legacy of Yogananda' s organization and its relation to the array of individuals around the world professing to be Kriya Yoga teachers. To get to the heart of the problem, we need to go back to the very first edition of Yogananda' s autobiography, published in 1946, in which the famed guru made the following statement: "The actual technique [of Kriya Yoga] must be learned from a Kriyaban or kriya yogi." In other words, Yogananda stated that essentially anyone who is a dedicated practitioner of the Kriya system could serve as a legitimate teacher of the Kriya technique. After his death, however, Yogananda' s organization altered his statement in subsequent editions to read as follows: "The actual technique should be learned from an authorized Kriyaban (kriya yogi) of the Self-Realization Fellowship (Yogoda Satsanga Society of India)" (emphasis mine).
That small but critical change in phrasing meant that only individuals formally authorized by Self-Realization Fellowship should be regarded as legitimate teachers of Kriya Yoga. Needless to say, that change has become a source of considerable controversy-sometimes even litigation-among followers of Yogananda and his teachings, and has resulted in no small amount of dispute about who really is or isn't a "genuine" Kriya Yoga teacher. What prompted that alteration in the text of Yogananda' s book? SRF's explanation has been that they made the change on the basis of instructions given by Yogananda during his lifetime, to be executed posthumously, and was simply meant to clarify his true intent. Without documentation, however, there is no way to validate that claim one way or another. A more skeptical reading of the situation is that it was a way for the organization to consolidate control, and perhaps even profits, for the organization and its teachings. Whichever way one chooses to interpret it, the suggestion that SRF-authorized teachers are the only legitimate representatives of the Kriya Yoga tradition fails to withstand scrutiny for a simple reason-namely, there are a great many Kriya teachers around the world who weren't taught by Yogananda at all, but by other gurus in the Kriya lineage prior even to Yogananda. For instance, I once attended a lecture by Swami Hariharanda (1907-2002), a Kriya teacher who was initiated by Yogananda's own teacher, Sri Yukteshwar. In other words, Hariharananda and Yogananda were fellow students under the same guru. It's untenable to suggest that Hariharananda wasn't a legitimate Kriya Yoga teacher simply because he wasn't authorized by Yogananda or the Self-Realization Fellowship, any more than suggesting Yogananda wasn't a legitimate Kriya Yoga teacher since he wasn't authorized by Swami Harananda and his organization. 218 AN INFINITY OF GODS
Likewise, Yogananda' s guru's guru was a figure named Lahiri Mayasaya (1828-1895). In 1982 I met with Lahiri's grandson at the Mahasaya family home in Benares, India. He was himself a devotee in the Kriya lineage, having been initiated by his own father, who was in turn initiated by his father, Lahiri himself. That means his spiritual training and education were in no way connected to Yogananda or his organization. When I raised the issue of legitimacy among Kriya Yoga teachers to him, he had strong opinions about the matter, pointing out how there are many teachers of Kriya Yoga around the world who hail from that root lineage who are completely unrelated to Yogananda' s group. So how could SRF claim to be the sole organ of Kriya Yoga methodologies in the world, he asked? To his credit, I never once heard Shelly make a disparaging comment about SRF, or for that matter any other spiritual teacher. He felt that individuals gravitate to the guru or the organization that's right for them at that particular time, and that that was true of those who gravitated to SRF, its teachers, and spiritual methods. My own feeling is that SRF has done an enormous amount of good throughout the world by disseminating Yogananda' s teachings as widely as it has, and the individuals I've met through the years associated with the organization have uniformly struck me as good people. But I also believe that SRF' s decision to close ranks by claiming to be the only legitimate channel of Kriya Yoga teachings has been an unfortunate and ultimately misleading one. In the end, I think it's important to take Shelly Trimmer's value and importance as a teacher on the basis of his own life and teachings, rather than on the basis of whatever official connection he did or didn't enjoy with Yogananda' s organization.
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Glossary Akashic Records. The subtle imprints of all that has ever occurred over time, as recorded within the spiritual planes of consciousness. The cosmic memory banks. Ascendant. The segment of the horoscope associated with the first house, believed by astrologers to govern a person's basic, everyday personality. Aspects. The angular relationships between planets or points in a horoscope, some of which are considered challenging, others of which are considered comparatively harmonious or "easy." Assiah. The Kabbalistic term for manifest, physical reality. Astral Plane. A subtler dimension of reality beyond physical forms, generally regarded as comprised of various levels ranging from gross to increasingly subtle. In the dream state, it is believed that the average person leaves their body and inhabits one or another level of the astral. Atziluth. The Kabbalistic term for the highest plane of reality, or God consciousness, and the transpersonal divine. Bilocation. The belief that an individual can exist within two bodies simultaneously, either as a transitory, short-term phenomenon (e.g., someone temporarily astral projecting into the body of another) or as a more long-term condition (someone incarnating within two or more bodies simultaneously over many years or even lifetimes). Briah. The Kabbalistic term for the plane associated with enlightened awareness, or what some Western occultists term "Christ consciousness." Chakras. Energy centers or nodes of consciousness located within the subtle body. Though tradition speaks of thousands
of chakras, in practical terms six or seven (sometimes eight) are considered primary. Countenance. A term used in some Kabbalistic texts to signify consciousness. Shelly's phrase "Countenance beheld countenance" thus relates to the act of consciousness becoming aware of itself. (Some translators associate "countenance" with the notion of the microcosm or the macrocosm, although Shelly disagreed with that view.) Deva. The Hindu term for a divine being (the feminine form being devi). Horoscope. A diagram of the positions of the planets and celestial bodies at the moment of any event, action, or birth. A natal horoscope specifically refers to the birth of an individual, and synchronistically reflects the personality and destiny of that individual. Houses. The twelve divisions of a horoscope, each one of which governs certain basic areas of life experience. Ida, Pingala, Sushumna. The three primary channels of energy (nadis) within the subtle body. Ida is the "left-hand" channel, associated with emotions, dreams, and one's inner life. Pingala is the "right-hand" channel associated with rationality, waking life, and the external world. Sushumna is the central, balanced channel associated with spiritual awareness, and constitutes the pathway of kundalini. Kabbalah. An esoteric tradition of Judaism. Kabbalah broadly refers to a body of mystical concepts and disciplines pertaining to the hidden dimensions of reality, the creation of the world, the architecture of the soul, and humanity's relationship with the Divine.
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Karma. The spiritual law of cause and effect, whereby actions or thoughts produce consequences over time. Kriya Yoga. A system of spiritual disciplines designed to assist individuals in achieving enlightenment and general well-being. The term Kriya itself is commonly defined as "action" or "effort," and broadly refers to any psychospiritual technique, discipline, or activity that works with an individual's energies and states of consciousness. Magic. As distinct from stage magic, which is the art of illusion, this is the hidden art of manipulating reality and its forces by means of ritual, symbolism, and the focusing of the will and imagination. Microcosm and Macrocosm. Terms that signify the "little self" and the "big Self," the individual and the larger cosmos, the former being a holographic reflection of the latter. Midheaven. The highest point in the horoscope, associated with ambition, public awareness, reputation, and sometimes spiritual aspiration. Midpoints. The mathematical point located between any two planets or positions within a horoscope. Nadi. A subtle pathway in the body through which prana (or subtle energy) flows. Tradition describes fourteen principal nadis, but three of these are deemed the most important (Ida, Pingala, Sushumna). Prana. The subtle life force described in yoga as permeating all of existence. As the late yogic scholar Georg Feuerstein said, "The Chinese call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the Ameridians orenda, and the ancient Germans od. It is an all pervasive 'organic' energy."
Progressions. A form of predictive analysis in astrology based on the symbolic movements of planetary bodies. One of the most common of these is referred to as "secondary progressions," which uses a "day for a year" method of forecasting. For instance, to see what the planetary positions will be during one's twentieth year of life, look to the astronomical tables to see where the planets will positioned twenty days after one's date of birth. Samadhi. A state of heightened consciousness. The yogic tradition describes various levels of Samadhi, ranging from more common experiences of highly focused awareness (such as what a world-class athlete might experience when they're "in the zone"), all the way up through fully transcendental states of being, or what the Buddhist tradition sometimes refers to as "mind and body dropped." (Note: for those unfamiliar with these terms, Samadhi and Sushumna are easily confused. A simple way to clarify the distinction would be to describe Samadhi as a stage of heightened awareness, whereas Sushumna is the pathway or channel through which that heightened awareness moves. Said another way, in order to even exist within the Sushumnic channel requires a certain degree of Samadhi, whereas the specific degree of Samadhi determines which level of the Sushumnic channel one will settle on, or ascend to.) Soul. The memory banks of spirit (or consciousness); the part of us normally associated with emotions and personality. Said another way: while "spirit" is what you are, "soul" is something you have. Spirit. The principle of pure consciousness, the essential I AM THAT I AM.
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Transits. The birth (or "natal") horoscope captures a snapshot of the planets and their positions when one is born. As these planets continue to move through space, they form angular relationships to those various birth positions. These unfolding patterns are known as "transits." Tulpas. Energetic thought forms created by the human imagination that are believed to take on independent lives of their own. The Wheel. A term sometimes used to describe phenomenal existence, which Buddhists describe as the "wheel of rebirth." To "get off the wheel" is synonymous with transcending the karmic processes of desire and fear, birth and death, and abiding instead within a state of blissful balance. Yetzirah. The Kabbalistic term for what Western occultists generally refer to as the "astral plane."
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About the Author
RAY GRASSE has authored three previous books, including The Waking Dream, Signs of the Times, and Under a Sacred Sky. He worked for ten years on the editorial staffs of Quest Books and The Quest magazine, and is currently associate editor of The Mountain Astrologer magazine. He graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago with a double major in filmmaking and painting, and studied extensively with teachers in the Kriya Yoga and Zen traditions. For more information see www.raygrasse.com.
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Made in the USA Middletown, DE
oFGODS ~ CONVERSATIONS WITH AN UNCONVENTIONAL MYSTIC
AN INFINITY OF GODS is a fascinating look at a little-known mystic and spiritual teacher, Shelly Trimmer (1917-1996), who was a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi). Based primarily on transcripts of conversations between Shelly and Ray Grasse during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ray's book offers a glimpse into the wide-ranging thoughts and insights of this unusual teacher. Among the topics covered are meditation, magic, future science, astrology, psychic phenomena, sex, relationships, enlightenment and God.
Written in clear and easy-to-understand language, this compelling selection offers a thought-provoking look into the life and mind of an American original. "Rule number one in the spiritual search: the best masters are the ones you never hear of and can hardly find. Ray Grasse's absorbing portrait of Shelly Trimmer proves yet again that this is true:' - Richard Smoley, Author of How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible