May 7, 2015

What is Spiritual Transmission?

Eric, Devi, Aaron chanting

I was talking to a dear friend and long-time meditator the other day about Wisdom Heart.

He asked, “In recent newsletters you’ve used the word transmission. I’ve heard this word used to describe something that happens between a guru and a disciple. What do you mean? ”

Here’s what I mean . . .

When Devi, Aaron and I were in Florence, several years ago, we went to see Michelangelo’s David. We arrived very, very early so we were at the front of the line. When the doors opened, Aaron and I ran into the gallery hoping to have a few blessed moments in front of the statue before the crowds descended.

As we turned the corner and approached the David, we were alone. Aaron looked up. His jaw dropped and he said in an awed whisper, “Wow.”

That was a transmission.

Aaron received a mind-stopping, heart-opening experience of Beauty (with a capital B). In that moment, he wasn’t a 15 year old being dragged around Europe by his parents. He wasn’t a tourist. He wasn’t even an art appreciator.

In that moment of transmission he was the Beauty. It was a moment of transmission when the seer (Aaron), the seen (the David), and the act of seeing merged into a unified field of Beauty. In short: “Wow.”

It can happen anywhere.

Our friend Christie was driving down a winding country road. As she passed a field of cows, the sun burst out from behind a bank of clouds, light illuminated the black and white bodies of the cows, and Christie’s mind stopped. The sacred, holiness of Life was unveiled. Her heart opened. A bovine transmission!

At moments of transmission, the commonplace drops its disguise.

Your life is saturated with meaning and radiance. The great American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it like this:

“There is a depth in those brief moments which constrain us to ascribe more reality to them than all other experiences.”

In those moments, you’re in touch with more of reality:

  • You realize.
  • You open.
  • You receive the transmission.

But most of the time, if you’re like me, this isn’t the case.

We’ve been trained, conditioned, to ignore the miracle that is transpiring.

Most of the time, the mind is fixated on the surface of reality, enmeshed in the drama of emotional events, immune to the blessings that abound.

There’s nothing to judge in all of this.

It’s part of the awakening process. Because, through the long slow process of simply living, moments of transmission arise again and again. Through these glimpses of truth, the fixation of surface consciousness gradually softens. Awareness dawns.

You really don’t have to do anything to awaken.

Awakening is built into the system.

All you have to do is live and breathe. Life will endlessly orchestrate conditions for you to awaken. Life does this in ways that are soft, gentle and soothing—and—in ways that are as hard, challenging and as shocking as it takes to penetrate the swirling emotions and contradictory thoughts of your conditioning.

Life is in no hurry.

Life is fully, unconditionally and relentlessly committed to your awakening.

But, life’s commitment isn’t really the issue when it comes to receiving the transmission.

It’s our own commitment that matters.

It’s your commitment that matters, for you.

Commitment . . . whew.

Commitment can be a scary word.

It can evoke images of giving-away-your-power. Of signing-on-the-dotted-line. Of blind obedience. Sadly, the spiritual marketplace is littered with just such abuses. And so-called spiritual teachings perpetuate these distorted meanings of commitment.

So, what is commitment, really?

Commitment is opening whole-heartedly to your life.

Commitment is opening to the transmission of blessings that are seeking you.

Commitment is opening:

  • Not just when you feel like.
  • Not just when you’re at your best.
  • Even when your conditioning says: “Slam shut the door of your heart and secure it with a double lock!”

Commitment is:

  • Breathing through the anxiety that interprets life’s invitations to awaken as threatening.
  • Embracing the fear that’s trembling through your body and with loving kindness saying, “You’re safe.”
  • Stumbling forward on your path instead of waiting until you’ve got the next move buttoned-up.

Yikes, right?

If you’re feeling a bit queasy, I’m with you.

I can’t be that committed.

Not all the time.

Sure I have my fierce and open moments. Moments when I soften the habits of self-confinement. But, I also have moments where I lose myself in Netflix.

We all have our sacred moments, when the Radiance dawns. And we all have our signature ways of pulling the covers over our heads.

What’s the connection between commitment and transmission?

The wisdom traditions suggest that there are four commitments that facilitate awakening. These four commitments establish the conditions that open you to the transmission that is ever-present.

Here they are, in brief:


Find a practice that fits and work with it. It won’t always fit, by the way. That’s okay. Stay with it through the ups and downs; the revelations and dry spots. Don’t dabble. Commit.


Study the teachings that go with the practice. They energize each other. The teachings won’t always make sense. Don’t believe them. Test them. Don’t just watch a YouTube. Commit.


This can be dicey. Be wary of seeking a perfect teacher (unless you are a perfect student!) Find someone who can help you stick with the practice and make sense of the teachings; someone who—when you’re with them—reminds you of your own Radiance. Oh, and when you find this person, be real. Don’t hold back. Commit.


This is huge. Find people who get what you’re up to spiritually. People who see you for who you are—radiance incarnate and a weirdo. People who are sincere but not overly serious. Give and get support. Don’t just do lunch. Commit.

These four commitments establish conditions that open you to the transmission.

Through these commitments it becomes easier to recognize that your daily life is already and always has been…sacred.

And you’ll say, “Wow.”


Relephant Read:

The Benefits of Yoga.


Author: Eric Klein

Editor: Travis May

Photos: Flickr/Adifansnet



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