Pamela Wilson: Sweet and kind enlightenment

I told myself I wasn’t going to write any more one-star reviews… and then I saw Pamela Wilson.

pamela wilsonSome people believe being sweet and kind is a sign of enlightenment. It’s not. There’s nothing wrong with being nice and, in fact, I think there are lot of nice people in the world. I’d rather live in a world filled with nice people, but what I want doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with enlightenment either. Awakening is not about finding happiness, peace, beauty, or smiling buddhas. Awakening is about finding the Truth and being open to whatever that may be.

This, preconceptions about enlightenment, is on my mind because of Pamela Wilson. I attended a satsang with her in California and found it one of the most saccharine, vacuous performances I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing. It was a bit like having your Kindergarten teacher reappear, only now she’s talking about spirituality. The problem is, she still acts like you are in Kindergarten… and she’s mildly buzzed on a narcotic.

Pamela Wilson began the evening with twenty minutes of meditation. After that she gave a rambling preamble, interspersed with a number of self-amused giggles and faint “umm” noises as if she were enjoying eating a donut… at least that’s the sort of noise I make when enjoying a donut. When she stopped speaking, there was a long silence… really long. Not a profound silence, either, the kind of silence where people are waiting for you to say something and you don’t. Pamela flopped her head over and rested it on the microphone. “Sometimes I like resting on the microphone. You can actually rest anywhere. It’s amazing.” Yeah… that’s amazing.

Finally, someone asked a question about his mean boss at work who was undermining all the good he wanted to do in the world. To which, Pamela answered along the lines of: that’s wonderful; thank you. You just need to honor yourself, be kind and gentle with yourself. “The most important being is you honoring you,” she said. “What’s so lovely about you as a sage is that everything returns to you.”

Another questioner illustrated a prime difficulty with neo-advaitic teachings:

Q: Since everything is one… I seem to be in tremendous pain, vacillating with moments of awareness. [Notice the assumption that everything is one, yet the admission that in practical matters that assumption is not helping.]

A: Ahh… yeah… hmmm…. Maybe some kindness to what feels all that is needed. Like a respite. Hmm…. Perception of pressure ignites the defenses. A little kindness causes that to relax.

As best as I can remember there were three or four questions the entire evening from a group of thirty-plus people. If you have little of value to say, people won’t ask anything. People won’t take any notes from your session, either, which is why I don’t have many direct quotes to share.

Here are a few other quotes from the satsang:

As a sage, you are divine mischief and your word is law.
I haven’t found a deep pleasure in tension yet.
If you just look within, there is the warm, benevolent space.
It’s always blessing all beings, but hasn’t been trained to bless itself.
Oddly enough, it comes down to relaxation. The clear seeing, that’s what is.
We can trust what we notice. What we notice is in service to the universe.
Yummy.

Pamela had her recognition with Neelam in 1997 and started offering satsang shortly afterwards. Neelam is a 1996 sprout from Papaji’s widespread lineage. Who in Papaji’s lineage is truly enlightened is a matter of some debate. I can’t help but feel Pamela Wilson is a diluted version of whatever Papaji offered. You will find many others, however, who feel blessed by Pamela’s work. It may help you feel good about your self, but I don’t think what she offers is a particularly direct or effective way to the Truth.

Here is an interview with Pamela Wilson that fills in some of her backstory: Chapter 1.

Here is a typical Pamela Wilson satsang:

The official Pamela Wilson page is PamelaSatsang.com.

11 thoughts on “Pamela Wilson: Sweet and kind enlightenment”

  1. It might serve you to look at all the perceived and believed things you don’t like about Pamela Wilson and see how they are true for what you don’t like about you. A simple and classic spiritual practice… :o)

  2. You’re funny dude, I’m thinking maybe you haven’t noticed yet that the Pamela Wilson you’re writing about exists only in your imagination? I bet you’re familiar with the old ‘mirage’ metaphor hey? or the one about mistaking the map for the territory? you have no experience of an objective Pamela Wilson to go on, because there isn’t one; you’re critiqueing a figment of your own imagination, just like I am now;
    Anyway, I like Pammies blurbing, and I’m imagining that if you said the kind of stuff to me that you’ve written here, I’d put you over my knee and give your ass a fucking good slapping;

    Barry

  3. I laughed so hard when I read your take on Pamela Wilson. It’s really amusing how disguised sages can be!!
    I too felt all the sweetness, kindness and almost shyness when I heard Pamela. I also was reminded of my archetypal image of a kindergarten teacher. (I think I actually skipped kindergarten and certainly have never been much a fan of finger painting). But what I also noticed was on a more subtle level. I felt a very intense experience of energy in the room and when dropped most of the packaging heard a few extremely pointed precise words dropped here and there that were incredibly powerful for me. Her image for me keeps shape shifting so I cannot really tell you who she really is but I can suggest that you honor that delightful disguise that she presents as if she were the complete embodiment of a non threatening woman. She appears to be everything my father wanted so much for me to be as a woman, really for my safety. For her it comes natural. But, what is amazing is experiencing her fierce and unwavering strength, her precision and deep knowledge of the liberated nature of reality. It’s also funny to notice how under those grandmotherly glasses, straight blond hair covering her face, is a beautiful elegant and ageless sensual woman.
    So Shawn, thank you for writing your reviews, for going to satsangs, for wanting to evaluate spiritual teachers and for allowing me to share my experience with you and anyone else reading this post. Hurray for Devine mischief.

  4. Based on the way you wrote this article, I’d say you pretty much are still in kindergarten. I’d go on to explain why but it’s so obvious your mind would miss it. I’ve enjoyed much of your expression but the tone of this article is so egoic and judgmental, it really needed to be mentioned.

    1. Hi Rafael,

      Thanks for the note. I think a site (this one) that proposes to rate spiritual teachers will have a dose of ego and judgment. But alas, you have judged me for being judgmental — and thus the world goes round and round.

      1. Yes, that is a fact Shawn. I felt a judgment about your judgment. I feel like a lot of your insights about spirituality come from a deep discrimination that has been cultivated with sincere contemplation. I recognize this in much of your poetry and filmmaking. I’ve found in my own life experience that sometimes I can get carried away with stepping out of the true contemplative discrimination and entering into the critical and judgmental comparison arena (perhaps this is what I am doing here). If such a movement does arise, I take the opportunity to investigate it. Certain conditioning based on impressions from childhood up to 18 are hard to shake off and eventually the approach here is not to try to shake them off but just observe and understand.

        My main point to share with you is that for years whenever I saw anything about Pamela on the internet, I had a judgement and saw her in a way like you reported here. I do transcription work for a client that has done close to 100 interviews with spiritual teachers of all traditions and she did one with Pamela. So, I found myself typing the hour and a half interview and at first I had some resistence and still some judgment and then I found a lot of what she was saying was melting all that mental comparison tendency and a deep relaxing into what I call heart and what many call loving presence occurred.

        After typing that interview I watched some of her interviews and satsangs and found that she really is bringing the approach of Self-inquiry with a feminine tenderness that is much needed for so many overly masculine mental types (like myself). The fact that I’ve been most influenced by Ramana and that Pamela was with Robert Adams (the only American that actually spent 3 years with Ramana and the gave satsang in the West) added to the feeling of respect and appreciation of her sharing.

        So, in a sense, during my short period of researching Pamela, I discovered your critique and I felt to defend her and in doing so, I judged you for judging her. Lastly, I would recommend that you give her another shot, and enter it from the standpoint that you are curious about your own mental tendencies that obscure a deeper, more relaxed, open-hearted, loving presence. In other words, surprise yourself with a willingness to deepen into the feminie aspect of yourself.

  5. It’s been a long time, but from my recollection, Pamela is a kind, sweet woman. You don’t sense that this is necessarily artifice or schtick. But really, is this her true calling? In other words, does every ‘spiritual teacher’ really need to cling to the trappings of the particular venue they’ve chosen to inhabit? Hers is the venue of Papaji-anointed satsangers. This is a murky field…filled with instantly-enlightened purveyors of ‘non-duality’ etc. Unfortunately, many or most of them tend to associate themselves with some sort of ‘lineage’ of Ramana Maharshi (Papaji is not of this ‘lineage’ as Ramana claimed no lineage). While Pamela was not personally anointed by H.W.L. Poonja, her teacher, Neelam, claims such a ‘blessing’ from him. Even though her blessing was solicited by her in a letter sent from California, requesting him to allow her to give satsang. At that time, he was getting old and wasn’t entirely in control of his mental faculties at all times (saying this because I met Neelam when I visited Papaji in Lucknow, at the time of her alleged awakening). His response to her request was lackluster at best and could hardly be interpreted as a true blessing or request for her to teach. There is some question as to whether he even really remembered who she was. Like I said, he was getting old and was kinda dotty sometimes, and most people who knew him then would concur.

    Neelam was so eager to become an anointed Papaji teacher, she began offering her services to the flock even while she was still in Lucknow sitting at his feet. I dare say, she even asked people if she could counsel them, people who were there to see Papaji. There is much more I could say in regard to her, and so many others who took on the mantle of ‘Ramana’s (alleged) lineage’ but it’s not necessary. The flimsiest veneer of authenticity is all that is required for so many of these people to launch into a spiritual teaching career. Neelam called herself ‘sat-guru’ for quite some time in the beginning of her guruship. Her then husband followed behind her holding a parasol above her head as she strolled through Ramana’s ashram followed by her devotees. She later toned it down, but in any case, her ‘self-realization’ is highly questionable at best.

    I don’t know exactly when Pamela met Neelam, but you can see a tendency of the blind leading the blind in many of these acolytes. I think Pamela seems like a lovely person, but still I feel it is sadly fraudulent for these people to claim they are teaching true awakening or self-realization, or that they truly express Ramana Maharshi’s wisdom.

    It would be far more authentic if they could speak from some actual awareness arising from their own realization…whatever that may be, and not tired repetitions. It would be also far more refreshing, and far less misleading to those who believe these folks are actually offering ultimate liberation. What they are offering may have value to some, but to assume they are self-realized, enlightened, or teaching the awareness Ramana was authentically living and expressing, is laughable and immature at best, and at worst, a kind of fraudulence because it is delusional (and/or, in some cases, deceptive). There may be some genuinely ‘aware’ teachers of ‘non duality’ at large, but this is a generalization referring to most of them…

    Pamela comes across as more naive than duplicitous. She could perhaps cast of the tired old mantle of Papaji’s spiritual spawn, and make an honest living just being herself. : )

  6. Hi all and greetings from Europe. Thanks for a very interesting site. I havent been in the spiritual field for so long and reading the power of now was sort of my big aha moment, probably like so many else. But its very funny too see Pamela reviewed here. A couple of years ago i was surfing spiritual (Tolle) videos on youtube and i came across a video with Pamela and i liked it. That same same night i dreamed (yes!) i was in my childhood room and i was told by my father that a new friend would come to visit from my school, which was really wierd because i was grown up in the dream. But then, Pamela knocked on the window (and apparently she was the new “flying” friend:) And then she actually said in the dream “come to the states- we are gonna have so much fun”- and then she flew away, shouting dont “worry about money”. It sounds really silly but i remember the dream very clearly and when i woke i was laughing because the dream was so silly and funny at the same time. SO very long story. I was going to Canada later in the summer for work and i checked out Pamelas website to see if she was giving retreats i could go to in the states after my canadian stay – and she gave a retreat in Canada, actually. And i went. This was my first retreat so i was very excited and must say also disappointed, because nothing really happenden. People were hanging out and then there was some satsangs with Pamela , but then after the second day going into the third, i awoke very early in the morning and felt this very suttle, very intense sweetness in my heart. I dont know how to describe it, it was kind a like someone was tickling me with a feather, inside, in the middle of my chest. In the beginning it was kind a suttle but going into the day and the next day, the feeling intensefied and it felt very nice, but also akward because i was afriad to laugh out loud for no apparent reason. The last day it felt more like peace, and i had a talk with pamela about the phenomen and i cant quite recall the talk, but we talked something about a river and how it contained peace and sorrow at the same time and i know it sounds cliché. But that day of the last satsang i felt SO happy, i just felt so incredivly great, and still i felt i had to control my self because every thing people said or the way they looked, just small things was really funny. Kinda like being high?! Just much bigger and clearer and super, super peaceful. Also i didnt feel like talking because the peace became less tangible. I have never experienced anything like it, but i still laugh when i think about it or Pamela, i think shes very, very sweet and wise and can only recommend going to her satsangs. Cheers (and merry christmas)

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