An Interview with Mark Griffin

By Douglas A. Ertman

On November 5, 1997, shortly after 11 A.M., Mark Griffin and I sat down together and spoke for 2 hours; the first hour we spend recording an “official” interview, the second chatting unrecorded on a more personal level. The scene of our interview was a beach near Neptune’s Net, a biker bar/seafood restaurant along Highway one just south of Ventura County. We sat on a giant driftwood log that had been coughed up onto the beach by winter storms, but it was a gorgeous summer-in-November day, so hot in fact that I went away sunburned. In transcribing the tape I found our voices intermingled with the ebb and flow of waves hitting the beach, the lazy droning hum of motorcycles and trucks traveling down the highway, and the Doppler-shifted sounds of Mark’s panting Akita, Turner, who approached and receded every few minutes to check on his master—or kick sand on us.

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What was it like changing from being an ordinary guy to becoming a teacher?

In the course of my sadhana, as a student studying directly under Muktananda and receiving the blessings of transmissions from him, there was a phase where I started to cross over into the states of being that are marked as the higher conditions of being–the category of ecstatic equilibrium, to use the terminology we use in the Center. This was just a few years before he took mahasamadhi. Then at the time his mahasamadhi occurred, there were very powerful transmissions that changed the nature of these states even more so.

There’s a point where you’re approaching the samadhi states— savikalpa, nirvikalpa, different categories of these qualities of awareness—where there is an onset and development, and a kind of a retreat to normal consciousness. There was one point where this pressure, which is how our transmissions actually occur, began to increase in such a way that the onset and development of these states, which would be episodic, became increasingly deep and intense, leading up to an event.

The experience was much like in a cartoon, where you see a cartoon character that opens a door in a vast open plain. The cartoon character walks through the door, and the door is locked behind him, and he keeps banging on the door trying to get back in… and it never occurs to him to walk around the door. Well in this case it was like that, but the door just disappeared. It was no longer present.

This pushed me into a process of forcing me to find a way to assemble identity in a universal condition. The dynamic in these states in that one goes from a process of experiencing reality in a subjective, or limited, identity—individual—through an increasingly expansive list of qualities, eventually coming to what we call a universal condition. It’s pretty hard to describe. It was during this time, when I was cut off from the possibility of reforming my identity at the individual subjective level, that sadhana became very real, very intense.

This process took about four years, during which time I lived in a state which can only be described as universal, slowly assembling all the dynamics of body, speech and mind, in their formless quality, to try to come up with a new condition. Over time I succeeded in doing that. To make a long story short, one of the dynamics of the universal aspect of identity is that one feels very blended, or at one with all sentient beings. Because there is no limitation or boundary in your personal identity, the identities of others quickly become available to you. It is one of the hidden dynamics of spiritual teaching that the needs inherent in the student-teacher relationship present themselves automatically.

When did you first start waking up to the possibility that maybe you were going to finish everything in this lifetime?

There would be inklings of it…

Were you about fourteen or fifteen when you started?

About fourteen or fifteen, I could sense it clearly enough. I could use the sense that there was some other fate in store for me. I could feel it that strongly.

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