On the back of my last post about the fact that there are pitfalls in contemplative or meditative practice, my continuing inability to transcend humanity as a meditator, and the wisdom of combining retreat with sex and/or romance, I'd like to talk about something related: pace.
One of the reasons I haven't written a book which contains all of the really cool super-secret Thomasine practices I only discuss with Initiates is pretty simple. It's not because the un-initiated are spiritually impure or because the stuff I say or recommend that people do is particularly special and in need of protection, it has to do with preparedness.
I discuss stuff with Initiates because I know them and they know me. We talk about their practice and what's happening as a result of that on a fairly regular and constant basis.
I could dump all of the doctrine (e.g. the stuff I teach) into a book, and you would know all about the Fictitious Mind, Delusion, The Illuminated Mind, Ignorance, Arrogance, Comfort, Attachment, Passions, Motivating Emotions, Nepsis, Hesychia, Illumination (or at least what I know about it), and a whole host of other topics.
However, it would probably not do a whole lot of good. Thomasine practice is something that grows over a period of time. It's a slow, gradual thing. My own teacher called it putting the mirror in front of your face. It's done slowly.
First we talk about why people choose to engage in this kind of practice (e.g. Suffering), then we talk about Ignorance and Arrogance, and then we talk about Perception and Observation. There are exercises that go along with these. After that, I usually introduce some practices to cultivate Nepsis (or Awareness). Then meditation is introduced via Luminescent Water, with an admonition to start slowly and not to spend large amounts of time in meditation initially. Then maybe we'll talk about a meditation designed to expose "negative" emotions, and perhaps after that we'll talk about one called The Mirror and work on the concept of self.
What you're introduced to and when all depends on you and on your teacher.
Why does it work this way? Well, I like to avoid people saying things like "I feel like I've lost my self-identity" or "I feel like I've been encouraged to destroy my personality" or "I feel like what you've taught has caused me to suffer."
I sometimes browse Rick Ross's forum, and these are all things I've read from people who've followed folks like Eckhart Tolle and Ken Wilber. My own teacher used to tell me about students who he felt he moved too quickly with, which ended up with students having adverse reactions. I've done that in the past, too. It's one of the reasons I stopped teaching for a while; I needed to have a better understanding of what I was doing.
So, I try to move slowly with people whether they come to me with no experience in contemplative traditions or whether they come to me steeped in Zen or Advaita or something else. I also don't indiscriminately publish large volumes of material or "teach" via big seminars or online distance learning scenarios.
I get to know you, you get to know me. Gnosis is a flowering conversation. It blooms when it blooms. There's no prize for first place, because this isn't a race. If you bite off too much too soon you could puke cookie all over yourself or you could choke on it.