The idea that through simple physical proximity, sight, sound or contact a person can share in the awakening of another.
This idea causes bouts of explosive denial in many.
The endless historical records of transmission are written off as self-serving fantasies or simple parables never meant to describe a real event.
The countless reports of transmission from students of 20th century gurus and teachers are brushed aside as ‘lies’, ’hallucination’, ‘confirmation-bias’ or ‘placebo’.
After all, there is undeniable evidence these gurus were self-aggrandising con-men and women, often responsible for abuse on a large scale.
If we admit these people really did participate in transmission, it would mean everything else they claimed - the miracle cures, the superstitious advice about HIV, their abusive behaviour being ‘crazy wisdom’ for the benefit of the abused, their divine infallibility - would also have to be true as well, right?
Half of all Isaac Newton’s literary output was concerned with Biblical prophecy.
We would make a grand error if we concluded physics is bullshit too.
Seeing the awesome truth of physics in action for ourselves is not evidence we must prepare for Judgement Day.
Participating in transmission with a guru is not evidence the guru is omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent.
It’s not even evidence the guru is sane, intelligent or trustworthy.
Transmission is not a reason to give him your trust fund.
Or your body.
Imagine you are a seeker, and one day you begin to go through a series of awakenings. Suddenly, other seekers under certain circumstances spontaneously begin to experience the same awakening in your presence.
‘Wow’, you think, ‘this is an awesome power! I’m not sure how it works, but it seems to be coming from me, so it must be mine, right?’
People flock to you, all gooey-eyed and ecstatic. You can’t believe it! They tell you special things are happening to them, things they can’t believe either. It’s miraculous! And it’s all down to you.
‘Well of course’, you think to yourself, ‘I must be special to have such a presence: I’m literally blowing minds! It’s a mystery for sure; but then maybe everything I do is miraculous and a mystery too…’
You see where this leads.
Imagine if your awakening happens in the presence of an already established guru, who then confirms you are the most important spiritual teacher since the Buddha or Jesus?
Culturally, we are simply not ready for an adult conversation about the reality of transmission, which is why the above scenario is doomed to repeat itself.
Of course people can lie about transmission, of course people can be mistaken about transmission, and of course the very idea seems too implausible to be true.
But then so is reality.
Those that claim reports of transmission are only evidence of ‘hallucination’, ‘confirmation-bias’ or ‘placebo’ should really learn what those words mean and, even better, take the time to familiarise themselves with the studies that describe and demonstrate what these psychological effects are.
For someone who’s never experienced transmission, it’s unbelievable, yes; but it’s equally unknown too.
Of course, to have the right opinion about transmission doesn’t require first-hand experience; we need simply use a way of knowing to make sense of first-hand transmission events as part of a scientifically-rigorous study program.
Once we have a few decades worth of scientific evidence, it’s possible transmission will be normalised. Structure + Purpose is one such program.
It’s also possible our culture will respond so badly to the evidence it will refuse to accept it for a long time, as prone to confirmation-bias, the placebo effect and hallucination as it apparently is.
Currently the truth of transmission is politically-incorrect because it implies a hierarchy, with these appropriately detested, abusive gurus at the top.
But as we know from The #1 secret to understanding awakening (no one has heard of), this isn’t just a hierarchy, but a generative hierarchy of equal participation.
Just like the relationship between a parent and child.
It should be obvious there are extraordinarily bad and abusive parents in the world; but this doesn’t prevent their children from becoming parents themselves, and often, much better parents too.
But these bad parents are always the greater in the hierarchy; our parents don’t cease to be our parents simply because we wish otherwise, or have children ourselves, or even become better parents than they ever were.
As with the farming analogy introduced in How to wake up without being confused, the parent isn’t responsible for the actual growth of the child, but they have an equal share in the quality of that growth. In other words, cultivation; because the child is going to grow regardless through the sheer fact of participation.
As parents, the question we ask ourselves is, ‘How am I sharing in the growth of my children? In the best way possible, to the best of my ability?’
Analogically, the abusive guru is the worst kind of parent.
Ignorant of participation, these gurus take credit for growth happening at all with their students, as if this were enough to make them a good teacher (and as teachers, this growth is taken as evidence for the power of the teacher as 'someone who knows'.)
Transmission - a shared growth in awakening through proximity - happens through the sheer fact of participation, as result of the greater (reality) literally growing within the lesser (the psyche of the awakened human being); and the lesser (the psyche of the student) growing within the greater (the reality within the psyche of the awakened human being).
No credit can be taken for the fact of transmission.
But excellence in cultivation is the responsibility of both student and awakened human being alike.
Pimp my transmission
In How to spot the fatal flaw in any teaching, we revisited the lover and beloved analogy and discovered it’s practical equivalent: pimp and prostitute.
There is nothing like transmission to bring out the pimp and prostitute in people.
‘Alan, I want to come on retreat, I’m looking for the transmission effect!’ read a recent email.
And he didn’t even offer to buy me a drink first.
The assumption that someone could come on a Cascade retreat to wake up through effortless transmission, without having to concern themselves with excellence in cultivation as an ongoing practice, is a detrimental delusion, and a set-up for crop failure. (This is why it's only possible to attend a retreat once you're a student on the site, so you have a solid grounding in the basics of practice first.)
After all, transmission means you've entered the ideal conditions for a confrontation with challenging false images of both yourself and reality.
To go beyond these images requires cultivation: esoteric and dialectic contemplation, and a shared commitment to excellence with a group of like-minded people who think it’s time we did things differently.
People who have come together to be a source of modern wisdom.
If this sounds like you, then maybe I can buy you a drink on retreat.