I shared with some friends some information about the Croatian healer Braco, who helps many people by simply gazing silently at a large audience. I mentioned that I was going to Hawaii to see him, and I received the following question in reply:
Q: I’m wondering if any brief interaction with someone such as Braco is as useful as the permanent, deep healing that comes from an honest and consistent inquiry into one’s own true nature. Braco, after all, is not possessed of anything his devotees do not also possess, nor does he claim it. But looking at the faces in the video of him, it is clear to me that those who come to him are seeking healing outside of themselves in Braco’s gaze. Seeking is hell is it not? I am curious, is there something you feel you might gain from gazing with Braco? Are you not already at peace? I very strongly felt you were at peace when I met you.
A: I don’t see what Braco does as contradictory to inquiry, and it can even be complementary. Let me share the experience of a friend. He had a severe infection leading to a month long coma when he was a young boy fifty years ago, and he has been severely disabled ever since. He recently started gazing with Braco both online and on DVD. He has noticed a dramatic improvement in his breathing, his energy, and most dramatically in his ability to swallow. It used to take him 3-5 minutes to swallow each bite of food. Now it takes him 1-2 seconds. I used to only be able to understand him 10% of the time, and now his voice is so much stronger that I understand him 75% of the time. Interestingly, he is also a lifelong spiritual seeker and has found that it is much easier for him to drop into his Heart since he started seeing Braco. If anything, all of these results will make it easier for him to inquire and contact his inner source of Presence. This is what I mean by the truths being complementary.
My own sense and experience is that there are many levels to the truth, including the deepest truths of pure Presence and Being as well as the practical levels of living in this world. I’ve had a number of health problems, which Braco has helped me with. In addition to physical healings, Braco evokes a sense of peace and contact with Presence in those who are in his audience. Even though I’m already very much at peace in this life, there is always room for more! I’m open to help or inspiration wherever I find it. Inside and outside are all one thing, so it doesn’t matter if I recognize peace within myself or peace in another. Braco is my own Self in a different disguise.
I’m curious where you draw the line? Would you also find it contradictory with a practice of inquiry to seek help from a doctor or dentist? That is also seeking outside yourself for healing. How about hiring a therapist, plumber, or electrician? Would you never call the fire department or the police for help? And is it really never appropriate to seek understanding and inspiration from a spiritual teacher or mentor? I’m being a bit extreme to make a point, and I doubt you hold any such extreme views. Even though seeking and looking outside yourself may be limiting and is often a place of suffering, holding some idea that there’s nothing you can find outside yourself could be just as limiting.
As I explore and live in deeper and deeper levels of essence and Being, I find that my sense of what is spiritual gets bigger and bigger and includes more and more. Braco is quite a mysterious phenomenon, and I look forward to finding out what possibilities may come from my contact with him that I haven’t yet imagined.
Q: Thanks for your thorough response to my question. I didn’t ask it from an attitude of being sure of myself, but rather to possibly dissolve my own possible ignorance. In that vein, I continue with a few questions/observations:
If what’s happening is that Braco somehow transmits something to others through his gazing as opposed to others being the instruments of their own healing via the faith that they bring to Braco, then the Braco gazing phenomena is a justification for seeking, is it not? Rather than seeing that all is divine, characterized by equality of vision, always a gathering of equals, those gathered around are reinforced with the idea that the guru/gazer is something special and has something to give them. If we are one, what can be given?
Some of the sages on a radio program I offer have said that the satisfying of a desire is not what brings pleasure. What brings pleasure is the underlying happiness shining through because of the temporary absence of neediness. I would submit that Braco’s gazing is akin to satisfying a desire—to be healed—and that underlying happiness and wellness shine through for a period of time. However, without the seeing through of the illusion of the separate self, the one so healed is likely to need another fix and yet another, which is the hell of seeking. I have a lot invested in the absolute equality of all beings and also in the realization of oneness as the ultimate medicine. Tell me where I may be off here. I would appreciate it.
A: I enjoy this kind of conversation, and I also hold everything lightly and enjoy watching my own perspective shift, grow, and evolve. And especially since I’m probably one of the folks on your show who said that satisfying desires is not the true source of happiness, let me just say that I agree with everything you say.
What I would add is the possibility that all there is, is truth. So since that is all there is, every perspective has some truth or has a contextual truth. And yet no perspective contains the whole truth. Even the idea “The sky is blue” is incomplete. Today the sky is grey here, and at night the sky is black. There can also be different levels of truth that are simultaneously true. From where I stand, the sky today is grey. Up above the clouds, the sky is simultaneously blue. And even higher up, above the atmosphere, the sky is black even during the day. All three statements are true at the same time.
So what you say about seeking being a place of suffering is true, and often it is the most relevant truth. However, it is also true that for some of the people in Braco’s audience, that’s not the most relevant truth or not their truth. At a certain “altitude” someone could be there seeking physical healing and not really suffer from the experience at all, especially if it works for them. It may be, as you point out, a temporary experience of satisfaction, but it still isn’t an experience of suffering. At another altitude (or maybe depth), the whole phenomenon of Braco could be a place of intense suffering, as someone might be wanting so much and either not getting it at all or just getting enough to fuel their addiction to seeking. At still another level, the seeking (and any suffering it entails) is just where they need to be, and the impulse to seek is coming from their essence. At certain points in our unfoldment we need to seek in order go beyond seeking.
And, of course, there is a place where it is all fine and there is no suffering because there’s a clear seeing of the bigger truth that everything that matters is found in Presence itself. From that perspective, one can enjoy the experience of being with Braco and also enjoy it just as much when sitting at home alone. As you point out, at that level, we are all equally endowed with this Grace and Presence, and there is nothing to get from Braco and also no problem with getting something from him. As you also point out, at this level there is only one Being, and everyone else, including Braco, is seen as our equal and even as our own Self.
These different levels of the experience are all “true” and are all happening simultaneously within any particular audience and can even happen simultaneously in the same person. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, and we can hold more than one perspective at the same time.
Just for fun, we can also explore the meaning or truth of this idea called suffering or even “hell.” Within any experience that we call suffering, there are also levels of truth. Suffering experienced from the inside is a kind of hell, and yet ultimately, there is no actual thing called suffering. It is just a thought or concept we are believing. If suffering were a thing, we would all just have it surgically removed! At the same time that we are thinking that we are suffering, our essence, or Being, is deeply enjoying the experience. The simplest way to cure your suffering is to notice that you are also enjoying your experience and therefore not really suffering that much.
One kind of freedom is to avoid suffering and/or avoid seeking. That provides a certain degree of freedom, and when you are successful, there is no suffering. However, it is still a limited freedom, as it depends on your avoiding seeking. Yet seeking is a natural capacity of the movement of thought, and no one loses the ability to seek and even to suffer. So the freedom that depends on not seeking is still a limited freedom, and there is still a subtle effort (or you could say seeking) in avoiding seeking and even in just holding the idea that I need to not seek. I was struck by how you say you have “a lot invested in the absolute equality of all beings and also in the realization of oneness as the ultimate medicine.” That investment could be a subtle form of this efforting and suffering for an idea, even if it is an idea about the end of suffering!
An even bigger freedom is when you have fully experienced the nature of seeking and suffering and found out that there is nothing wrong with either of them. They are both just movements of thought, and there is no lasting harm done by either of them. At the deepest level, our Being enjoys everything immensely, including thoughts and desires. Then you can spend all morning seeking, all afternoon purely inquiring, and all evening resting as awareness, and it’s all great! That is a very big freedom, and that freedom doesn’t depend on what you do or don’t do or even on what you want or don’t want. I had a teacher years ago who shared that since he discovered the true source of happiness within, he wants ten times as much stuff as before. Since his happiness doesn’t depend on any of it, he just wants it all!
The difference between the sky being grey or blue or black can be a very slight difference in perspective. You can drive up a mountain and all of a sudden come out of the clouds and into the sunshine. There are also endless degrees or shades of any experience. Where does the sky stop being blue and start being black when you are going up in a rocket? Similarly, the distinction between suffering and freedom can be very slight and/or very gradual. Sometimes with the slightest adjustment to our view, the suffering just falls away and is seen to have just been an experience triggered by a thought. Sometimes there is a capacity to hold onto shades of suffering and enjoy the tension between the depth of our essence and the illusion of our ego. I think maybe it was Ramakrishna who used to say that he always held back from the final merging with his Beloved because he enjoyed the longing for her so much.
This bigger freedom isn’t something you can achieve. It is ever present as a characteristic of your true nature as Being. In fact, our Being is too damn free sometimes, because it is even free to suffer! But of course, it is also free to let go of suffering and just enjoy the sky, whatever color it is right now.