Until I was 31 all I really did was study meditation and write enough software to half-pay the bills. I wasn’t aiming to be a guru or a teacher, but it was generally expected that when I matured I would teach.
Then 9/11 happened and put an end to all that. The lineage of teachers that I’d joined made it pretty clear that the work I’d been doing on trying to understand the teachings in a western context was no longer urgent and packed me off to do something useful. I wound up working for Hunter S. Thompson’s next door neighbor, then for the Rocky Mountain Institute on Winning the Oil Endgame and Small is Profitable and inventing the hexayurt and everything else.
So I’m half way up a spiritual path. I never finished the “how to be a teacher” part of the training, although I got about half way through it (up to the third chakra, for those who are curious about the technicalities.) So I don’t teach anything beyond the basic practices, and I refer to people like Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath, one of my own teachers, for those who want the traditional Indian forms, or Alan Chapman of Open Enlightenment for people who want to try something more modern and western. Alan’s work on teaching enlightenment without gurus (treating the guru-chela tradition as a cultural institution which does not travel well) is, I think, revolutionary and important, although still in the early stages.
I have no intention of finishing the teacher training in this lifetime. I’ve gone down the other path, of working on the political affairs of the world, and it’s work I’m well suited to. There’s a fairly strict separation of Church and State in the Hindu tradition, as in the American one, and I’m heavily on the State side at this point. You can’t have your teachers make political compromises.
I do teach meditation from time to time, but not the specific practices which lead to enlightenment. I teach the basics, and pass the map to teachers who can do the rest.
Up until now, I’ve fairly strictly adhered to Buckminster Fuller’s rule: “if you can’t make a model of it, don’t talk about it.” Generally Bucky didn’t talk about his rich metaphysical life as the core of what he was doing: he was an engineer.
I am an engineer, but I am also a yogi, and Bucky’s way has begun to constrain me. I am doing all of this because it needs to be done, for humanity, for justice, for the world, for the future, for the soul in everything. I’m doing this because I cannot stand the thought of all those kids being raised in needlessly shoddy tents in NGO-run refugee camps all over the world, not to speak of the millions in the villages dying before their time.
I’m doing this because I want every human on earth to be able to live to their natural span, and enjoy as much of the world as possible before they die among friends.
I’m doing this with my life because I can do no other. I understood enough of what Bucky wrote, and what Gandhi did, to know that I had no option but to carry on their work, on behalf of the world, as closely as I could manage to the examples they set, within the constraints of my own capabilities. And Stallman, of course, did the first really good “techno-Gandhian” synthesis, and we must all be grateful to him for pointing the way forwards. He gave us the concept of Open Source – well, he gave us the concept of Free Software and we degraded it to Open Source. But all this Open Culture and Open Content and Open Everything Else is Stallman’s work. He actually raised the bar. We could do worse things with our lives than to footnote Gandhi, Fuller and Stallman.
I’d like us to Free (yes, Open Source) all the basic tools required for human living on planet earth – homes, and water filters and toilets and improved agriculture and all manner of needful things. Nobody really needs to be making money on a bucket that purifies water, past the cost of production, the science has all been done. Let’s reclaim some of those billions wasted on international aid and use it for humanitarian design without patents. Let’s actually look at solving the problems of the developing world as an engineering challenge, and as a place for us to personally sharpen our moral mind and evolve.
You know it is the right thing to do. Now all that is left is the doing of it.
I mediated until I realized the greatness of these masters, and then I attempted to follow. That’s what is unsaid.
I’m trying to build the tools we need, Free to All, to get us the lives we want, in full knowledge of the consequences of our actions. And the thing that drives me to do that is the thing which is sometimes called enlightenment, the thing that I saw at the top of the mountain, when I talked with god.