A PLANETARY TERMA
Open Source Earth Wisdom for Kali Yuga
* JLL reading this essay
The Mahanirvana Tantra is an 11th Century Sanskrit text that anticipates in some ways the emergence of Planetary Tantra one thousand years later. A foundation text of Hindu Tantra (distinguished from Tibetan Tantra). it takes the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati who represent the ideal tantric couple. Addressing his consort, Shiva says:
To my mind, what the Mahanirvana Tantra says of sexual rites—which belong, properly speaking, to practices of Kala Tantra—applies equally to the elementary rules and practices of the more general access path, Planetary Tantra. There is no mumbo jumbo in my treatment of PT. No metaphysics, either. Absolutely no make-believe. But there is plenty of genuine mystery to be explored without indulgence in mystification. I don't have a hidden agenda. I like to keep my pretences and claims right out in the open. Time is at a premium in Kali Yuga when, as the Tantra says, human attention spans becomes reduced to a few minutes at a time. My commitment to everyone who would now consider the option of Planetary Tantra is:
Anthropos altar, terton casita, Andalucia
Terma and Terton
Human nature being what it is, the human gift for language being what it is, people expect an individual to be identified in some manner, by a name, a tag, a label. We all carry some form of ID as a syntax accessory. Be it a driver's license, a passport, or just a role ("single mother") etc. JLL carries the Terton ID. That is to say, I identify myself as a terton. This is not a make-believe or magical claim. It is not even a mystical claim. It is just a statement of fact that others by now have also attested.
Traditionally the words terma and terton come from the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Scholar and historian Tulku Thondup wrote the first book to disclose this exotic tradition to the West: Hidden Teachings of Tibet. The Tibetan ter means "treasure, something discovered [in the earth]". Interestingly, there is the root of terra, earth. Add -ma and you have terma, "wisdom treasure or treasure teaching." Ma is of course a phoneme universally associated with mother, earth matrix, the source of life, shakti, the telluric powers, etc. It could be said that a "treasure teaching" is a spontaneous revelation deriving from "the Mothers," the mother powers of the cosmos. In a more specific sense, the infernal or telluric dakini powers of Gaia.
Tibetan tradition attests that termas, said to be initially formulated by Padma Sambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal, were implanted in the wisdom sphere of the dakinis. You can't be more explicit than that. In my experience, that is exactly where the Terma of Gaia Awakening originates. But I add this spin, that those dakini powers are aspects, modalities, or frequencies of the full-spectrum intelligence of Gaia, the living earth. Where is the wisdom sphere of the dakinis located? In the subliminal zone of your ordinary mind AND in the external body and atmosphere of the earth, simultaneously.
Shenrab Chamma, Loving Mother of Wisdom
A close equivalent to Gaia-Sophia can be found in the pre-Buddhist lore of Bon, the indigenous shamanism of the Tibetan plateau: Shenrab Chamma (above). At a still deeper layer of the Asian psyche, you encounter the sacred mother of the mountains, an archetypal figure of telluric numinosity even closer to the present Gaia-Sophia. On Infinity Ridge, I was directed to the name Zangza Ringtsun as a version of Gaia in pre-Buddhist mysticism. This figure represents the graphic portal of the Gaian emanation of Kali as a stream of brutally intense tenderness that strips away all illusions, especially the illusion of compassion. In an immense, shattering paradox, you receive the highest elixir of compassion when you surrender your egoistic notions of being a compassionate person. Such was my experience, anyway. An experience that utterly and permanently changed my view of my "humanity", and indeed, my generic concept of humanity itself.
Termas belong roughly to two categories, earth treasures and mind treasures. The former are said to be physical artefacts such as small coffers or scrolls buried in the earth or concealed in a cave. When Buddhism reached Tibet from India around 750 CE, the indigenous Bon shamanism had to be repressed so that the doctrines and hierarchal system of the new religion could prevail. This story is told -- more honestly, mindlessly repeated -- with triumphal pride by pro-Buddhist historians. Visiting the Rubin Museum in January 2009, I saw a thangka showing the mountain mother pictured as a woman's body merged into the features of the land around Lhasa, being chained and held down by spirits of the invading religion. The conquest of Tibet by Buddhism is typical of the anti-goddess tyranny of divine paternalism seen in the Judeo-Christian tradition. (In her magnificent book Buddhist Goddesses of India, Miranda Shaw, attempts to correct this error and set the record straight.) In the effort to save their sacred heritage, the Bon shamans buried scrolls and tablets to be recovered at a later time. Hence arose the rumor about earth treasures.
Mind treasures are said to be concealed in the hidden layers of the human mind, symbolically represented by clouds and sky. However, I would attest that mind treasures are in some manner actually stored in the sky, in the register of the unknown atmospheric properties, especially nitrogen, but also argon. Physically, my investigations show that dakinis are labile fractures in the nitrogen zone of the atmosphere. These fractures catch the eye by erupting first into fractal patterns and then often, but not always, assume the form of naked dancing women.
In Tibetan iconography, dakinis are often pictured naked with the genital slit clearly shown (above, detail of Vajrayogini: www.tharpa.com). I have often wondered how this convention originated, who instructed the thangka painters to portray dakinis in just that manner. I was uncomfortable with this image for many years, regarding it to be salacious and sexist, at worst. I took it for a ploy used by clever but prurient old men to appease the sexual cravings of Buddhist monks vowed to celibacy. Condemned to live in an all-male environment, secluded to the mountain fastnesses of Tibet, many monks might not have had the opportunity to see a naked women even once in life. Yet they could ogle a glorious set of tits and the muffless cunt to their heart's content. Where is the mystical significance in that vision?
How the iconic convention arose, I don't know. I can only speak from my own mystical adventures regarding the spontaneous eruption of dakini imagery in the sky. Such visions as I have encountered accord closely with the testimony of Longchenpa, the legendary shaman and terton. In The Seminal Heart of the Dakinis, a female acolyte possessed by Yeshe Tsogyal explains: "This type of sky appears when a lama who is a spiritual guide who will accomplish vast benefit for others is appointed to his religious seat of authority." Note the paternalist jargon and the appeal to male authority. That I can do without. Nevertheless, the nature of the celestial vision is clearly indicated: "It is an apparition of the field of buddha bodies and primordial gnosis." LCP and his gnostic cell of Tantrikas attest vividly to "the external radiance of emission of Emanational Bodies (Nirmanakayas)," breathtaking sights seen in the sky.
Seminal Heart recounts a long group session of shamanic trance, comparable to the orgia of the telestai in the Mysteries. Significantly, there are sixteen participants, the number observed in Gnostic cells. Longchenpa's team are inspired by drinking beer strained through "malt dregs," i.e., fermented barley producing LSD-type effects. similar to those of the kykeon of the Mysteries. LCP is frightened and asks a luminous presence, "Who are you?" The dakini replies, "I am in all phenomena.... I am Namdru Remati, I am guarding your terma, the wisdom treasure I am going to give to you." Still in shock, LCP is doubtful about how to regard these vivid, luxuriant, sentiently active visions. The dakini counsels him, "Being pleased or displeased are both a miraculous show of mind. You can come to be whatever I am!"
As the shamanic party concludes, all those attending witness "the sky filled with rainbows and the expressions of the dakinis" (Tantra in Practice: "Longchenpa and the Dakinis," David Germano and Janet Gyatso).
The Tibetan word for dakini, khandroma, means "sky dancer." The nature of these nubile maidens is said to be of a diamond-thunderbolt, dorje. Also called adamantine: "The samadhi (supreme concentration) of the vajrayosana (adamantine girl) is the way to the ultimate bliss" (The Chinese Hevajra Tantra, XII.32). The Tibetan name for the Terma of Gaia Awakening is Dorje Namkhai Khandro Nyig Thig, "Seminal Essence of the Diamond Sky Dakinis". Diamond Sky refers to the fractalization of the nitrogen zone into a dome of hexagonal cells (Bénard cells), an immediate effect of seeing the sky with the dreaming attention. When you observe the sky with the second or dreaming attention, it turns green.
I have witnessed "the external radiance of the emission of Emanational Bodies" in the presence of others who saw what I did. My own guardian Kali often assumes the nirmanakaya of a vulture in the skies above my house. The vulture is a real phantom presence, as well as an actual bird. She flies in a particular manner to distinguish herself from others in the flocks that spiral effortlessly in thermals over the rugged hills of the Serrania de Ronda. There is a characteristic splash of color on the upper side of her wings, buff tinted with the color of dried blood. Shamanic practice generates "true hallucinations," to borrow the felicitous term of Terence McKenna....
But to return to the dubious topic of the muffless cunt. I had seen a good many dakini fractures in atmospheric nitrogen, and conversed with these glorious apparitions, before I got the trick. The revealed slit is the cue to an event. Unless you undergo the event first hand, you miss the cue. For instance, if I wear a tie with a thick blue ripple on it to indicate that I am a tour guide at Niagara Falls, you might be puzzled by the design of my attire. Standing before the falls, you would immediately realize what the ripple means. The entire power of the rushing, thunderous waterfall is compressed in that detail, that adornment.
Just so, there is a specific (super)natural power indicated by the genital slit. No Tibetan master has ever revealed what it is, to my knowledge. But in Tibetan Buddhism you encounter a great deal of prattle about the generation and completion practices, touted as the pinnacle of lamist magic. Also called the development and perfection stages of Atiyoga: utpannakrama and sampanakrama in Sanskrit, bsKyed Rim and drDzogs Rim in Tibetan. In this presumed act of sympathetic magic, the lama visualizes a particular tantric deity (generation) and then dissolves into the visualization (completion), thus assuming a divine status for the aim of realizing the primordial nature of mind. Volumes and volumes of endless, archontically routinary lists and tedious inventories, categories within categories of mental states and practices, present the rigamarole that dresses up this practice. Making the goal nearly inaccessible due to baroque trappings.
But the time for male hierarchal monopoly over the spontaneously arising dakini wisdom is over. Lamist mumbo-jumbo goes down with the male power elite whose foundations are currently being demolished by the wisdom goddess herself. Since summer 2008, the highest goal of Tibetan Tantra is now an open source adventure. My message to all those fopped up lamas and tulkus and rinpoches is, thank you very much for preserving the decor and dogma, revered gentlemen, now get off your parasitic power trip and get the fuck out of the way. There's a new kid on the block. The Anthropos.
What the Tibetan lamas have never said to the world—perhaps because they do not know it themselves—is that the iconographical convention of showing the genital slit is a cue to the sublime event of being at the receiving end of generation. Note this point about the traditional practice: the lama directs a monumental focus of attention upon the yidam, the dakini pictured in lavish graphic detail in meditation at the first stage, generation. To generate means to concentrate one's power of visualization toward that image. Now imagine the opposite process: the full-bore concentration of the dakini's magical power turned upon you. Coming in your direction like a torrent. The exposed slit has to be dissociated entirely from biological connotations. It has nothing to do with giving birth, even metaphysically, or any sublimation of reproductive processes, etc. The object of dakini generation is the Unborn in human guise. The genital slit of the dakini does not reproduce anything: it introduces the pure force of originality, the awakening of original mind. "You can come to be whatever I am!"
In practices of Gaian Tantra, I realized that what comes from the revealed slit is the generative torrent of the wisdom dakinis of the earth, pouring our way. It is the generative power of the Aeonic Dreaming of Gaia-Sophia directed upon and into the human mind. To stand upright, hold steady, and receive this current is like standing in a wind tunnel. The full power of the Shakti Cluster is an eighteen-bore torrent of pure, crystalline animation erupting from the nitrogen zone of the terrestrial atmosphere. Such is my instruction.
So much for termas and those who guard and transmit them supernaturally, the wisdom dakinis. A terton is someone who discovers a terma, a treasure finder. The most famous terton of the Nyingma lineage was Jigme Lingpa, initials JL. Figure it.
This is not a hint, hint, wink, wink. I am not the reincarnation of Jigme Lingpa nor of Longchenpa, whom Jigme Lingpa claimed to have been in a previous life. I am the avatar of Lash LaRue, the cowboy revenge of the Goddess. Look out there, old boys. This planet many not be big enough for both of us.
Having received the Terma of Gaia Awakening in the summer of 2008, I found myself in the role of a terton, a treasure finder. But a rather unusual one. Without a lineage, without an entourage, without sacerdotal qualifications or initiations notched on my belt, without the traditional framework that supports and to a large extent legitimates the "Tibetan Treasure tradition of channeled authorial voices" (Germano and Gyatso, ibid). I don't channel and I have no authority based on paternal precedents. I am the son of a widow.
Also, whereas termas in the Nyingma lineage all derive from Padma Sambhava the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, the one I received did not come down from that source; although it can be said to have some deep affinities with that source (an untold story, there). This Terma comes directly from Gaia, the planetary animal mother. This Terma is her explicit instruction on how the human species can be interactive with her to the highest attainment of its divine potential in planetary magic reaching the cosmic dimension of awareness, integral with the Pleroma. It short, it carries the instructions for achieving the potential that Sophia encoded into the human species in the first place, acting with her consort Thelete ("Intended").
For lack of a better term, or any preexisting framework to determine how I would be recognized and identified, I had to look upon myself as Gaia's first terton. I may not be the last. I expect others to show up, women and men tertons, but there is a faint chance I could be the only one she requires. Maybe one is all it takes. I really don't know because I cannot predict or preconceive how Gaia-Sophia will act in correction. No one can. Anyone who claims to know the ultimate plan of the wisdom goddess is a self-deluding fraud. Perhaps well-intentioned, but bound to mislead others. So what do intentions count if they are based in error? No one can know the plan of Sophia because she has no plan. She has a course to navigate, but not cosmic design to observe. Error, spontaneity, and novelty are intrinsic to her adventure. And ours with her. Those who claim there are no accidents in the universe may need some reality therapy to restore their damaged faculty of common sense. Shit happens. The empirical evidence of the senses is authoritative. That accidents and unanticipated events occur even at the galactic level is unacceptable to small minds in need of reassurance that cosmic order will prevail. This viewpoint is dangerously naive. Even a Pleromic Aeon is not omniscient. How bored it would be to know in advance how it is all going to play out. Sophia doesn't know everything in advance. She has a pact to honor, but no preformulated agenda to complete. Sophia is a free agent.
The Pleromic Aeons are avid gamblers, placing bets on how experiments in the galactic spiral arms are going to turn out. No Aeon knows the outcome of any experiment generated from the galactic core. Otherwise, they would be bored stiff in a mere million years. If you know the stakes of Pleromic gaming, you are party to divine delight. Kali instructs that in her Age all phenomena, human and divine, may be mastered by putting them into a gaming metaphor. The Pleromic Aeons dance, romp, and gamble. For them the game is never rigged as it can be in human affairs due to the deviant effect of the archons. Freedom is inherent to all cosmic experiments. But there are designs called "fate" that determine the bias or spin of an experiment.
In the initial moment when I received the Terma, certain of its features were vividly disclosed to me. Its fail-safe mechanisms, for instance. These guarantee that it cannot be turned into a religion or twisted to fit a cult agenda, although participation in the Terma is necessarily tribal in nature, thus assuming a cultic look. By definition, any small group of people devoted to something -- constructing ships in bottles, raising rare orchids, playing the ukulele -- make up a cult. As it comes into practice by small groups of people, Planetary Tantra will appear to be a cultic activity. But due to the way the Terma propagates in human imagination somatically aligned to the earth, it has immunity to the usual problems and pitfalls of cults.
This claim may be hard to believe and I don't ask anyone to take it on faith. The obvious objection is, any kind of message of a religious or spiritual or metaphysical nature, purporting to carry cosmic truth, can and most likely will fall into the cultic syndrome. The results are predictable: the original message will become distorted and turned into dogmas and rules, infested with fanatism, riddled with secrecy, perverted from its original meaning, broken up by competing factions, run into the ground by egomaniacs, and so forth. It is often argued that "the original messsage of Jesus" was initially a true and valid teaching that got corrupted and coopted. I have argued firmly that it was corrupt from the get-go. I stand by that view.
On this note, how about I go out on a limb and say this: it is difficult to conceive a spiritual-religious message that cannot be corrupted or coopted, perhaps for the very reason that the world has never seen such a message SO FAR. All such propositions have gone down the same road, so far. I ask you to consider this: no teaching so far has had the kind of origin that this Terma has. If everything proceeds from "initial conditions" -- a trusty proposition there, and well worth observing -- then we, the human species, may have not yet produced teachings from original conditions that would insure the preservation of its pure intent and operational integrity. But if the Terma of Gaia Awakening satisfies those conditions, it may well be the first teaching produced SO FAR by the human species that is truly incorruptible and cannot be coopted. When I received it, I was indeed given this assurance.
I do not say that no one will TRY to corrupt or coopt it. This may well happen. But no one can succeed. Again, don't believe me. Time will tell.
The Terma of Gaia Awakening comprises Planetary Tantra, Kala Tantra, and the Gaian nautical adventure which is an actional metaphor for human participation in Sophia's correction. To a large extent, the features that preserve and protect this Terma cannot be straightforwardly explained in the syntax of the first attention, that is, logical linear thinking. These protective features are rooted in the Supernatural where the Terma itself originates. You understand them when you enter the Nagual and see them operating, vividly disclosed to the dreaming power of your attention. You realize, for instance, how the dakinis hold a second trigger on the occult skills (siddhis) they confer -- such as the power to paralyze someone, or strike them dumb, or the power to sexually attract someone you desire. If a dakini of the Shakti Cluster like Idris confers such a power on you, you cannot misuse it, you can only use it correctly or not at all. Each power is rigged with a double trigger and only works if the conferring dakini pulls the trigger at the same time you do. That is an example of a supernatural fail-safe.
Pretty exotic. A little too mysterious, maybe. But perhaps there is another way I can suggest in conceptual terms suitable to the first attention what is so special about the Terma of Gaia Awakening that I would dare to claim that it is immune to co-optation or distortion. What I say now could have only been put into language with Sophia in correction since March 2011. Before that moment, it was humanly impossible to conceive it. To assist the first attention in a user-friendly way, I resort to narrative syntax. You see, the first attention can follow a story, but it cannot invent one. The second attention does the inventing. Now that Sophia is recapitulating her history as an Aeon that morphed into a planet, her terton tracks her recall with the second attention and brings it to the first attention as narrative. To tell the entire narrative as she recalls it, I would have to remain in ecstatic trance 7/24 and recite it to a team of scribes. The best I can do is present snippets of her recall process. So here is one snippet, the one that applies to the unprecedented conditions of the Terma. Don't panic, it is short and sweet.
So there you go. That is the snippet in its entirety. If you reflect on that narrative snippet, you will perhaps be able to grasp the terton's claims concerning the Terma he discovered in August 2008. I live in the absolute certainty that the Terma of Gaia Awakening is the direct transmission of Sophia's instruction to the human species, that will allow the species to complete the pact she made with us before we emerged on earth, and even before the earth itself existed as a planetary body. The Terma presents Gaia's instruction for interactivity with her, reflecting the original pact she made with our species, period. The instruction is blood simple, consisting of three lines, a secret name, and a Vow to be ritually performed. That is the totality of the operative core of the Terma. Practice involves learning Her Story in its recovered and restored form, and eventually encountering the wisdom goddess directly in the Organic Light, and receive instruction from the Light, the primary substance body of the Aeon.
Kala Tantra is a particular practice of interactive magic using sexuality. The Gaian nautical adventure is an experiment in interactivity with Gaia-Sophia that comes to definition uniquely in correction, and could only have been formulated after correction began. It is as simple at that. There is no make-believe or metaphysics in Planetary Tantra. That is the whole enchilada.
Now consider this: Interactivity with the wisdom goddess, undertaken in this visionary frame of practice and guided by the Sophianic myth, is a singular, unique, and totally unprecedented opportunity for the human species to realize its divine endowment and nothing SO FAR has ever presented this opportunity, exactly in this way. This message cannot be corrupted and coopted as all preceding spiritual teachings have been because it fulfills the pact Sophia made with our strain of the Anthropos. No other religion or spiritual teaching or metaphysical system has EVER contained that factor. This Terma does not go the way of anything that proceeded it. That is monogenes, singularity. Novelty. Pure innovation, the mark of genius in our species. The signature of our divine endowment.
I don't know what anyone thinks of my claim to be Gaia's first terton, and I really don't give a toss (to use a British expression). But I would tell you this, up front: if you appreciate anything in this teaching, and you wonder (naturally) about its origin and presumed author -- I am the finder, not the author -- then imagine what privilege I enjoy if what I am saying it actually true. And I can only hold that privilege as long as I confer it. So I confer it to you. When you feel that privilege as well, you are approaching the right attitude to discover with me and others the exact terms of that pact.
The Terma of Gaia Awakening is the first planetary terma, and could be the only one, for all I know. Maybe one is all it takes: one terma to a planet. One story to a planet: Her Story, the Sophianic myth... Nevertheless, this terma is an open-ended, open source experiment in cultivating the wisdom of our species, a project fully amenable to elaboration and extrapolation. It is a serial, group-generated terma with a duration of 208 years from October 2008. Potentially, any number of people could participate in the ongoing development of this wisdom treasure. Right up to the end of Kali Yuga in 2216. If they wish to count themselves into the process, that is. That's a big IF. Sadly, counting oneself out of enlightenment is the routinary and mundane stance—a cheap bourgeois tactic, no less—for maintaining narcissistic self-concern under the false pretence of humility.
"I can only say this about my enlightment: it's yours."
Alas and alack... I find that human ingenuousness is deeply lovable in spite of its glib, shallow, feckless, self-deprecating and self-defeating tendencies. But I care less and less whether or not my love reaches those to whom it is directed. Or reaches anyone at all. The role love plays in the Terma and the divine experiment as Sophia conceived it is a dicey subject I am have to get around to, one of these days. But I digress.
I have said before, the practice of Gaian Tantra is generous but the elaboration of this terma is not an anything-goes proposition. There is no make-believe or metaphysics in Gaian Tantra. The only way to elaborate the terma is by dakini instruction from the Shakti Cluster. No other elaboration of content from any other source whatsoever can be integrated into this terma. It simply will not take. It will flake off, fray, disintegrate. It will look ridiculous, foolish, trite. This terma is invested with enormous apotropaic properties, repelling fakery, warding off contamination, repelling fanatic projections. The dangerous protector of this terma is Kurukulla, and the titulary guardian is Durtro Lhamo, patron of termas and tertons. Mess with these powers and you get a messed up mind, but the Terma of Gaia Awakening goes untouched. Don't believe me. Do the Vow, call to VV. Try it out, then try to bend it to your likes, and see what comes your way.
No one can promote Planetary Tantra by seminars and class or lectures, for which a fee is charged. There can be no commercial profit attached to the propagation of this Terma, no instructional fees, but ritual objects and shamanic tools used in the practice may be traded or bought and sold, as happens among indigenous peoples. Anyone charging you to teach PT or expound the Terma of Gaia Awakening is a fraud and a huckster, and delusional into the bargain. Anyone who claims to have my approval to transmit PT is a liar.
Such are the terton's rules. Disregard them at your risk. I cannot impose those rules on anyone, of course, but I can state them, and there, I just did. Now let me tell you the rules to which I am subject in my role as Gaia's first treasure-finder, the Maine terton.
During the nine years of my association with the Marion Institute, I had the privilege to meet privately with Tulku Thondup. Does that name ring a bell? Above I noted that his book, Hidden Teachings of Tibet, which came out in 1986, broke a taboo of oral-only teaching and disclosed the acrane topic of termas and tertons to the English-speaking West. It so happens that Tulku Thondup has for many years been supported by the Buddhayana Foundation set up by Michael Baldwin, one of the founders and funders of the Marion Institute. Now there is the most ingenuous person I ever met in this life. Through Michael and his genial and intrepid brothers, Ian and Philip, I was brought into a circle of contacts that allowed me to meet privately with Tulku Thondup. This I did in Cambridge, Mass, around 2002, as I recall. It may have been November 2001 after the Marion conference on Gnosticism with Elaine Pagels, or the next year. I am not certain. TT did attend that conference and expressed keen interest in my unusual view of Gnosticism and the Mysteries. He encouraged me to write a book on the subject. Five years later, Not in His Image appeared.
At my meeting with TT at his apartment in Chelsea, I brought up something that had been shifting around in my mind for years. I asked TT if he thought it was possible for a terton to appear who would in effect be "free-lance." That is, not associated with the Nyingma lineage or any other Tibetan tradition. I asked him point blank, "Could treasures from the wisdom sphere of the dakinis surge up in anyone's mind, producing the revelation of a terma, or is that privilege reserved exclusively for people in the centuries-old lineage of Tibet?"
His face brightened at the suggestion, as if the idea delighted him in some way, and he replied, "Sure, certainly, it could happen to someone outside the existing framework. That's entirely possible." Then he paused for a beat, looking thoughtful, pensive. "But they would have to have criteria for testing it. To determine if it was legitimate."
I was deeply struck by the added comment. In posing the question to TT, I had described a number of experiences throughout my life that appeared to resemble termas or terma-like eruptions of inner wisdom. One characteristic was special: the eruptions came intact like a Zip file. The total content of the teaching or insight received was present all at once, compacted. This is also how termas come to tertons, I understood. Although I was convinced of the similarities between my terma-like experiences and the traditional instances, I was totally at a loss on the matter of criteria for assessing the authenticity of the terma. When TT put that point to me, I was non-plussed, unable to imagine in that time and setting how I would ever work out such standards. It seemed an impossible challenge. Needless to say, the exchange left me feeling somewhat insecure.
In short, I was certain of my terma-like revelations, but totally unprepared to legitimate them.
That meeting occured just at the time when I was conducting my first conversations with Gaia on Infinity Ridge here in the Serrania de Ronda of Andalucia. What I could not have known or guessed at that time was that the criteria would become evident to me once I had advanced that contact and delivered the supreme terma, a mission for which I had been prepared through my entire life from the age of four. With the treasure revealed, it did not take long for me to recognize how to legitimate it. But it was rather a tricky process, let me assure you. In her biography of Jigme Lingpa. Apparitions of the Self, Janet Gyatso devotes considerable attention to the problem of legitimation among tertons. Traditionally, legitimation is huge concern and may require years to resolve. Gyatso shows that the Nyingma JL himself doubted the authenticity of some of his termas.Rather like a schizophrenic, he struggled to steady his mind at the shifting boundary between the real and the imagined, the actual and the invented.
I have suggested the term mythophrenic for someone who lives in the mix and merge of the actual and the imagined, and may take the imagined as being more real and having a higher value relative to truth. I contend that mythophrenia is not a mental disorder but a liminal state normal to human beings. Supernatural forces push the mythophrenic one way or the other, inducing destabilization. People who can't handle this condition become "borderline personalities" or otherwise unstable cases. Those who handle it well become notable artists such as Herman Hesse, Philip K. Dick, Frido Kahlo, and many others. Some mythophrenics like Antoinin Artaud handle it for a while and then crack up.
I contend that the Supernatural, including the wisdom sphere of the dakinis, exerts considerable pressure on certain mythophrenics so that it can break into the human psyche to inspire and even fertilize the ordinary world. But many mythophrenics resist this call through denial and evasion, taking refuge in the mundane, in convention and conformity. I am convinced that this failure of nerve happens primarily for one reason: they are unable to stick with the supernatural guidance they receive from the same zone of powers that induce destabilization. i.e., put their sanity at risk.
I was contacted by my guardian dakini Kali at the age of four. I had lucid dreams in my adolescence, spontaneous eruptions of kundalini, and other psychic and paranormal experiences—typical signs of the Supernatural breaking into the human psyche. I am convinced that almost everyone has such experiences, but the trouble is, the vast majority of people do not manage to stick with them. They discount them, they relegate it all to weirdness, or they are discouraged from taking it seriously by others, they succumb to conformity, etc. But if you do not hold steady to the guidance given by the supernatural powers that destabilize your psyche, you cannot bring anything of value out of your mythophrenia.
To return to Jigme Lingpa, my Nyingma counterpart. There was an accomplished mythophrenic who had the training required to handle the influx of the Supernatural and balance the actual and the imaginary. Still, he went through considerable insecurity with his termas. JL was supported intellectually, spiritually, and materially by the institutional system of Tibetan Buddhism to which he belonged. He had an entourage of students who assisted him in assessing the termas he received. Yet even with institutional support and an entourage, he faced considerable difficulty with particular termas, unable to fit them to the received criteria, or verify them by reincarnational recall. And worse still, unable to determine if he was faking them. You have to read Gyatso closely and empathically to get the tortured feeling of such a mystical dilemma.
Now imagine my dilemma. Without institutional backing, no tradition to rely one, and not one single person for a sounding board, I had to determine all by myself how I would establish the authenticity of the Terma of Gaia Awakening. No one around me was willing to engage that particular challenge with me. In fact, the people I knew at the time fled from me, they turned tail. I saw a friendship of 25 years betrayed. Others cut me out of their loop. I don't hold it against them. The flare of the Supernatural that played around me during the initial months of receiving the Terma in 2008 and going into 2009 was truly terrifying. It was a blaze of Dionysion madness, an outburst of divine mania drenched with erotic vapors of a lurid hue. I had sixteen infernal bitchs of the Shakti Cluster breathing down my neck. The intensity was daunting. It blew away everyone who was close to me. Everyone split, but for one simple and decent person. But one is all it takes.
That intensity also tore the flesh off my bones and stripped my humanity down to a gleaming carcass. I care much less about humanity in general now that I have delivered Sophia's instruction to her pet species, the Anthropos. You don't have to love the human race to give it your best. Come to think of it, it may be better if you don't.
Over the course of three years since discovering the Terma of Gaia Awakening, I have come to define the criteria for authenticity that Tulku Thondup proposed, the standards for a free-lance terton. I will list them here without elaboration as that would require me to write an entire book.
And last but not least,
So, such are the standards to which I hold myself, and anyone else who would contribute to the expansion and extrapolation of the Gaian Tantras. Item 3 is especially crucial in the wake of Sophia's correction. If you cannot exhibit some mastery of astronomy and star mythology, you cannot play any directive role in developing this Terma.
There is no place for metaphysics and make-believe in Gaian Tantra. Such contrivances are neither desired nor required. One-on-one veracity is the hallmark of this experiment. Interactivity with the wisdom goddess has nothing do with individual empowerment, however. It is a power-sharing arrangement, a rite of consacration, not a ploy for self-empowerment. I have described Gaian Tantra as Shaktism reinvented, Shaktism being the "worship of power." but I revise this syntax as follows: not the love of power but the love of handling power, is the mark of a Shakta. The power you handle is telluric, erotic, infernal, voluptuary.
Everything I describe about my first-hand mystical experience in Gaian ecosorcery can be verified by independent winesses, and should be. I do not claim to have had any spiritual revelation from the Godhead in a state of transport or out-of-the body experience in which I was shown abstract principles of cosmic order. I refuse and refute any metaphysics that derives from out-of-the body transport. I recognize only those events of mystical illumination undergone in the body, firmly grounded to the earth. I also reject all false polaric notions of male and female powers in the cosmos, and other mental contrivances that purport pefection and balance in the cosmos. While I recognize the gendering of the Aeons and telluric powers, I do not claim there is or must be a state of balance between these dyadic energies. On the contrary, there is imbalance, extremity, and assymetry. Therein the Dance.
It is my wish that the Terma of Gaia Awakening be shared by all tribes to emerge in the Black Time of Innocence, the end of Kali's Age, so that each kula or tribal community will find its own elaborations of termas, the basis for ritual practices of healing and learning, love, war, and earthbound magic.
Written July 21, 2011, posted February 5, 2013 with reading.
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.