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Reading This Could Be Harmful to Your Spirituality
am 31. Dezember 1999
WARNING: This book may be hazardous to your spiritual practice. In fact reading Satyam Nadeen's ONIONS TO PEARLS could end your spiritual practice altogether. This self-proclaimed, "awakened" (he dislikes using the word "enlightened") ex-convict and drug lord postures that awakening like all else in our lives is preordained through what he calls Destiny and Grace. It does not matter how many hours you sit cross-legged in front of a statue of the Buddha or how many years you spend in an ashram or a Zen monastery. If you are not predestined to awaken, then you will never receive a wake-up call from the Source regardless of how deep your spiritual practice may be. And, if you are predestined for enlightenment, it will happen even if you are doing hard time in a maximum security prison like Nadeen was.
Do I think it is true? Of course, it is true. Every guru down through the ages worth his or her zafu has stated that. So, what's the big deal? Well, I suppose that Michael Clegg, alias Satyam Nadeen, is the big deal. Or should I say dealer? First, it was Ecstasy, the drug of the eighties, that Clegg was dealing. That got him a mountaintop retreat in Costa Rica, a private plane and the opportunity to hang out at ashrams and monasteries all over the world. Eventually, it got him busted, and he had to spend two years in a holding cell in Florida, where he received his wake up call. Then he did seven years in a Federal prison at San Pedro, where Clegg went through his "Deliverence," a deepening process that integrates one's awakening with the world of duality and illusion. Although he negates the concept of karma completely, I would say that Clegg got his just desserts, considering he was doing spiritual practice while profiting from recreational pharmaceuticals. Now, Clegg is dealing strictly in enlightenment, which is much more profitable than Ecstasy. He gets $200 for a weekend intensive and up to $2100 for a week-long retreat in Costa Rica, and there are no Federal or State statutes to guard against. To his credit, however, Clegg did hard time, stuck it out and found a way to even profit from it. That's much more than I could ever hope to accomplish. I doubt if I would last a week in such a situation. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like for someone living such a luxurious lifestyle to find themselves suddenly ensconced in the worst of all possible circumstances. Clegg eventually came to accept his fellow prisoners as being one with the Source and a reflection of the perfection of life rather than a flaw. According to his insight, they help balance out the Freedom/Limitation equation of life. If there were no hardened criminals, there would be no Mother Teresas or Dalai Lamas.
He goes even further to state that those who maintain a spiritual practice for reasons of self-gratification are less in tune with the Source than criminals who are "being" exactly what life intended them to be. It all works out in the end the way it is supposed to, in spite of us, not because of us.
The problem with ONIONS TO PEARLS is that it is repetitive to the point of agonizing boredom and somewhat self-indulgent. Clegg could have stated his entire book in just a few pages: "Consciousness is all there is...You are not the doer." What I find so auspicious is that both Clegg and I received our wake up calls from the same source, Ramesh Balsekar who wrote THE FINAL TRUTH. You may want to read Balsekar or Scott Morrison instead. Both write in a selfless, to-the-point style whereas Clegg is rather cold and dogmatic.