Can brainwave and biofield entrainment help in ultimate spiritual liberation?
Perhaps, according to some views that still rely on subject-object dualism, it can’t or at least may not matter that much, since they are more concerned with the empty side of the table, the transcendent Subject, which, in their schools, is divorced from the manifested world of objects—and brainwave entrainment technology is definitely a creation in the world of form and time.
However, according to the spirit of non-dualistic schools the way I understand it, it absolutely can serve as a means for liberation (as anything else in the world), for these schools (starting with, for instance, Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika contemplative philosophy school) maintain the essential unity of emptiness and form: in their view, Emptiness is none other than Form; and Form is none other than Emptiness.
These ideas have been visiting my mind every once in a while as I was processing and grasping the meaning of the role that objective artifacts such as brainwave and biofield technology may ultimately play in Integral spirituality, that is a post-dogmatic form of spiritual and religious practice that embraces theories and practices that emerge from pre-modern, modern and post-modern currents and find their expression in individual and collective realms of our shared existence (see Wilber, Integral Spirituality, 2006). Making sense of this kind of theorizing to me is akin to trailblazing and charting new territories, because it responds to some fundamental assumptions and questions that many have by providing a foundational framework. People may question whether using methods such as, say, mind-altering technologies is really a true and valid way to get them to the desired state of liberation and stabilize them in that state. The response, in my opinion, could be formulated as this eternally dancing yes and no.
There is a good way to hold the perspective of this dancing yes and no, and I want to offer it playfully. Let’s imagine that we can look through a perspective of an enlightened being, a being that realized non-dual consciousness (a pretty advanced, if ultimate, state-stage of spiritual contemplation), plunged into a post-witnessing state of turiyatita (where observation happens without the observer, manifestation happens without the manifestor, subjectivity happens without the subject) right now. In many cases, especially if we are speaking of a tantric vision, it is a perspective of a human being who recognized his or her supreme identity with the ultimate living principle of spontaneously pulsating creation that manifests in the I-consciousness (it can be formulated as “I am one with everything and I am the One”). Where an unenlightened being sees distinct forms and apparitions and suffering, this enlightened being sees the Divine world of delightful, blissful existence of unity with everything that arises (joys, pains, wrathful beings, benevolent beings, etc.) as something that arises within his or her mindscape or mirrormind.
The process of seeing itself (and feeling and hearing and everything) is a phenomenon that playfully arises in this eternal sunshine of spirit. There is nothing but radical spaciousness of ever-present awareness within which forms and objects cuddle and form alliances. Every such form and object is really inseparable from everything else (and from the I-consciousness that contemplates them), and among those forms there are sentient beings (humans, animals, insects, etc.) and insentient beings (atoms, rocks, etc.). Among those sentient beings there is a human being, a resonating soul which is said in many traditions (such as Christian mysticism) to be ultimately one with and identical to spirit. The soul goes about its own separatedness until it finally realizes there has never been separation. In the mindscape of Divine awareness—which is the supreme identity of the enlightened I-consciousness that contemplates this moment and this moment and this moment—the soul is not just another form, it is also the seat of individual existence and experience that emerged out of universal abundance for pure delight of simply being. The soul is the seat of individual awareness, the awareness that is embodied and emitted through its radiance. The body of the soul can be considered a sacred temple.
You see, the assumption of a dualistically inclined spiritual seeker would be as follows: I exist as a subject, and there are objects out there, including my body. I suffer, and if I want to get over it, I have to put my intentionality towards the goal of liberation. I have to become a good person, improve my attitude, I have to meditate a lot and become very able to concentrate my attention. I have to do something to myself and liberate my Self from entrapment in the matter (in the body, in form). Eventually, it doesn’t matter what is done to my body, I am the witness of what’s arising moment to moment and I am never entering the stream of time and the flow of space. I am beyond that.
Yes and no: even though I am beyond that, whenever I make a shift towards non-dual, I recognize that I am seated in the church of my body. My awareness has never been disembodied. Emptiness has never been divorced from form. In fact, in experiences of ecstasy pulsating and emanating through me I realize that in my subtlest body I manifest spontaneously as an energetic vibration that is unrestricted and non-local and spontaneous. I manifest into being out of spontaneity of my will to manifest into being. Now, whenever I am not enlightened, whenever I have a restricted, constricted, contracted awareness, I may forget the degrees of freedom potentially available to me. I may become hypnotized by my own self-hypnotic processes as well as by hypnotic inductions transmitted by apparitions of other powerful beings—which are essentially and ultimately one with me but appear as distinct entities somewhere “outside,” as if there was “outside.” However, if I am able to inquire into the reality and sense a particular intensity of sentience that is present in either/both myself or/and other beings (sentient and non-sentient phenomena) I could in fact track down the source of their vibration (which is ultimately identical to the source of my own manifestation), apprehend it and self-liberate.
So, the yes part of the answer to the original question whether brainwave and biofield entrainment may help in ultimate spiritual realization includes an understanding that the essential unity of form and emptiness is so all-pervasive that, basically, a transmission of enlightened energies that help transforming your body, especially in its multiple dimensions, can play an absolutely crucial role in self-purification and self-realization. However, the no part of the answer to the original question includes an understanding that an essential part of the equation is intentionality of your being, since it is this very intentionality which may intend to create; and this very intention to create and this very act of creation, no matter how small it is, is actually sourced in the ultimate I-consciousness of ever-present spirit.
In order to let ultimate spiritual liberation happen it helps if you manifest and embody a proper intention that arises from within the heart of your subjective experience.What this intention is?—I have no immediate response to that question; and I can only say that this intention and intentionality could as well be the most intimate parts of one’s own being, very uniquely expressed by you. The only thing that I can say now is that the how of this intention manifests as a regular exercise: an intention to remain in the space of liberation. It also helps, if you already had profound glimpses of this timeless and non-local awareness, to cherish an intention to reach out to your fellow sentient beings and embrace them with your enlightened awareness.
This blog ended not precisely the way I imagined it when I had started writing. In my future blog posts I will attempt to unpack the vision presented here in more layperson and understandable terms, the terms that can be grasped by many people who are roaming and are more identified with the realms of gross and subtle experience. I really want to share my victories and my difficulties in my own first-person practice of brainwave and biofield entrainment programs developed by iAwake Technologies. I also want to interweave these blogs with explorations of both Integral spirituality and Integral psychology, the two disciplines that influenced much of my life in the past 6 years, really.
St. Petersburg, Russia