Writer, Poet, Philosopher, Dharma Practioner, and Devotee
Beezone would like to honor and protect the writings of a dear friend, Jeff Forrester. As you will read his writings are profound, illuminating, and magical. May you be so uplifted by reading his work.
A Tribube to a Friend to All
Jeff (Hefe) Forrester
September 7, 2015
I wanted to say a few words that might be helpful in your processing of my death, wherever you are with it in your feeling right now.
First, I want you to understand that the death process itself – to a point anyway – is actually well familiar to me. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time “off the body” and by that I mean in the etheric body, or ghost body – hovering over it, stepping off it, walking around my room and outside where I could observe my physical body at a distance, also interacting with other ghosts, or so-called “deceased” people, and in a number of cases, helping some of the truly bound into a transition “upward”, into a far greater process than simply meandering around the surface of the earth in a mostly semi-bewildered state. But there have also been an equal number of ghosts who are largely happy where they are, and are conscious, relational, conversational, and 100% as normal and functional as we are. An amusing thing.
I’ve also spent an even greater amount of time in what is sometimes called the astral or what’s effectively an inter-dimensional domain. This astral domain of life is entirely real and self-existing, as real as anything you think real on this earth, and I think it’s maybe best characterized by a small chapter toward the end of Autobiography of a Yogi, where Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteshwar, elaborates for many pages of detail his experience of this astral domain. Among existing first-hand accounts from authentic gurus, I’ve found this one to be the most accurate. The astral dimension of life is pretty much like he recounts it. If you strip his communication of some of the culturally Indian mythology and language, it is exactly the way it is.
I’m telling you this not to imply any spiritual advancement on my part or to make any of you think I’ve simply lost control of my faculties. You may find it all preposterous, but you’ll see in time that all of what I’m saying is true. I mention it here because it’s relevant. Exhaustive time spent outside the physical body in either proximate, (ghost and subtle) or distant (astral spaces), profoundly changes your relationship to human death, and even the idea of losing your bodily life becomes a matter of indifference. In some way, death as we conceive it, does not occur at all. You simply transition into new forms of more subtle, yet incarnate experience, and most often a physical rebirth into the form that matches your evolutionary adaptation, typically human in our cases.
Anyway, all this time spent ‘off the body’ has, over the decades, radically altered my feeling for and understanding of what death actually is – a “transition” – as my Guru accurately puts it – and not at all an ending. What is interesting is that both ghosts and astral or inter-dimensional beings view themselves as “the actually living” and all of humanity as being in a kind of temporary hallucination or dream-state.
The gross physical realm where we live and function is actually felt and seen by beings in a more subtle domain to be less real or even in some ways unreal. So it is the exact opposite of our own point of view, which claims that anything beyond the gross physical is likely illusory or even imaginary. In any case, you’ll see what I’m talking about and have no doubts about it at all when you’re dead. One of the many surprises you’ll find is that the thing that seems least real of all is the very life you just left behind. You turn your head back, looking at all that you have loved, cherished, and been so attached to, and you will laugh, because it seems suddenly and absolutely like a mere dream. And you love it still, without any difference, but it is yet a dream, and obviously so. I’ll leave that with you to contemplate.
Finally, I wanted you to know just how happy and deeply resolved I am about this entire event of transition. The last six months especially and even the last month in particular have been among the most transformative of my life, and in the most precious and positive of ways. Many dimensions of my person that were in any way in conflict or simply not internally resolved, have suddenly resolved themselves to an absolute degree, putting me in a place of such deep joy I can barely communicate it.
Why has this occurred? I can’t say. The depth of peace and love in me within is so deep that I’ve almost felt it as a final spiritual gift of some kind from the source of all such gifts in my life, my still Spiritually-Living Guru. I’ve intentionally pushed away that thought in the last months so it doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy about some kind of deep resolution before an upcoming death—which I’ve been fighting against to the last. But if I am dead, which I will be as you’re reading this, then yes, it was a kind of prophetic event of some kind, but what a happy one!
I mean to say that if I am dead, it could not have come at a better time. That seems strange to say, but it’s logical from where I stand. My life is culminating right now in such an extraordinary way. Whether this moment leads to death, or even more life and the continued offering to the world of whatever authentic gifts I have – either outcome is “right”. Either seems both true and deeply appropriate to me. Of course, I have, and always will choose life. Life is a blessing to always cherish and preserve. But just know that if death came, it came in the most gentle of ways, and with colossal and uncanny gifts to me prior to its to sweet arrival.
I want to say that nothing has fueled my will to live more during this very long trial than how my closest friends and family have responded to this whole drama. The outpouring of energy, service, kindness, contemplative prayer on my behalf, and a river flow of love my way has been of such a volume that it’s been truly difficult to receive at times. I wish I could say in words or poetry how much I love each of you, and just how powerfully that love for you flows inside of me, but I can’t. It’s a thing beyond speech. Just know that I’ve received this love of yours deeply and if there were literally nothing else in my life experience, it alone would have made my life worth living.
I’ve found in all of this that the love we share between us is about as close to the true sacred as it gets. It’s a force to be reckoned with and if you learn nothing else from the ordeal of cancer, you’ll learn this. Nothing breaks my heart more than to feel the loss of my friends in the Way and everywhere. All else seems miniscule by comparison.
For my friends everywhere, I want them to know that my death was an “easy death”. My life has been Blessed beyond belief, over and over again in a tidal wave of grace. I have nothing but gratitude for it. My death, not unexpectedly is equally Blessed. I find Bhagavan, my Sat-Guru, easily—on this side or the other. Or perhaps better said – He’s Always Finding me. I do not know what else to ask for in this life. Truly, there is nothing else.
I sign this letter with all, all of love to you.
I am at peace, in a deep rest, and my heart is Joyful.
I hope you will always remember how much I loved you.
I loved you with everything I have.
I so much look forward to seeing you again.
And, yes, it will be soon.
With all my love and a heart broken with the sheer joy of all of it, I bow down low, with the humility of my monk’s interior, to my Guru, to my brothers and sisters in the Way, and to each and every one who has ever touched my hand and said without a word, I am with you.
A little about Jeff
Jeff at one point lived on an island in the Pacific and would write whenever he could. His collaborators live all over the world.
Almost every word he would say, could be traced to sources not his own. His influences are multiple, but I’ll focus on the ones that are relevant to the theme of this site.
The first house of authentic spirituality he ever stepped into was a small temple in Santa Monica, the ashram of Swami Muktananda. Since that day in the summer of 1980, and in the three decades since, I’ve been sitting in the tradition of guru and devotee… on the wooden floor part of that equation.
He had been a student of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn since the age of seventeen. And I had also been drawn to monasticism, or to the core of practitioners in the Zen tradition who had taken up a renunciate life.
When he first became a student of Adi Da in his mid-twenties, He was conscious of the apparent similarities between Zen Buddhism and Adidam. In the Zen community, they meditated, lived cooperatively, related to his teacher as a direct source of Spiritual power, and we evolved in practice as a result of the force of that relationship.
The transition from Zen Buddhism to Adi Da was fairly easy for him. He said he, “felt that I was simply stepping from one temple into a larger and more spacious one.”
He regarded the Zen tradition of his past to be only a precursor of his relationship to Adi Da. He always held the Zen tradition and his former teacher in the highest esteem, because they are authentic-and that is rare in itself.
But as he said, “I have also finally seen what Adi Da had been pointing me to since I first encountered His unique Revelation as the Divine Incarnate. And this vision has been validated to me-not through reading or cultural appropriation, but through the sheer immensity of His Spiritual Power and the innumerable ways in which He has Instructed me, personally and directly, over the years.”
He had no family inheritance of a religious kind. I grew up in what was then the sleepy, coastal town of Malibu in the early 1970s, in a home that was patterned by an East Coast liberal, scientific-materialist and atheist creed.
Influences (from the words of Jeff)
JIM MOORE (POET)
I devoted most of my early life to surfing and John Coltrane. I spent my summers at Zuma Beach and studied jazz saxophone in town with the late Bill Green, and later at the Berklee College of Music. I spent my last year of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where a professor of English literature flooded my reading with Eastern philosophy.
When I graduated there in ’83, I took off to India for a year to study classical shennai and bansuri with a music guru at the Ghandarva Mahavidyala in New Delhi.
ZEN MASTER SEUNG SAHN
About three months into my stay there, I underwent a kind of catharsis that obliterated even my ability to play music, while simultaneously clearing a space for only one occupation: that of a celibate Buddhist monk. I spent the rest of that year on pilgrimage throughout the sub-continent, to places where the historical Buddha lived, taught and died.
When I got back to the States, I shaved my head and entered the Diamond Hill Zen monastery under the guidance of the Korean Zen master Seung Sahn. I remained a priest in that tradition until age twenty-three. In 1989, my present guru, Adi Da Samraj, extracted me with an invisible hand, dropping me into his company and the sangha that’s been my home ever since.
MU DEUNG SUNIM
I was educated at The New School for Social Research (Art History), Boston University (Comparative Religion), UCLA (English Lit) and South Central L.A. (Internecine War).
A spine injury has kept me in a battle with pain and physical disability for decades, but I write when I’m able.
Poetry, for the last five years in an apprenticeship with Jim Moore. .
I’ve been fortunate to have nothing but clear-eyed teachers to keep my ego at least partially in check. It’s to them this site is offered, with gratitude and praise:
One great siddha: Swami Muktananda.
One tireless friend and teacher: Mu Deung Sunim (aka Zen Master Su Bong).
Two transmission-masters: Zen Master Seung Sahn and Supreme Matriarch Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim.
ADI DA SAMRAJ
And one Parama-Guru: Sapta Na Adi Da Samraj.
My writing does not represent official religious views.
It’s merely one point of color on the grid.
I hope you’ll find it illuminating.
Beezone note: Keep tuned as Beezone will devote a section to Jeff’s writings in honor of his wisdom and spiritual guidance.
Articles by Jeff