Saturday, January 31, 2009

The myth of exclusive enlightenment

There are many myths about enlightenment, and as many myths about what an enlightened person is like.

Look inside. You will find an idea about what an enlightened being is like. He/she must be experiencing life in a particular way. He/she would act only in a particular way, and so on. And then the implicit assumption is that when I start to experience those things and act like that, then I will be enlightened.

Even the most experienced spiritual seeker, who has been exposed to all the myths, still harbors a very subtle and maybe even highly sophisticated idea of what enlightenment is. And this idea comes in the way of knowing what we are. The mind keeps comparing our idea of an enlightened being with our own self, and finds the self wanting.

In a recent satsang, we talked about squiggles in a painting. What somebody said was that if we zoom in on a squiggle inside a painting, it appears meaningless and ordinary, but when we zoom out and see the whole painting, it suddenly acquires meaning and beauty. This is something we can all relate to, right?

A wonderful analogy, but it still does not come close to capturing the essence of this awareness that we are. The squiggle is not beautiful only in its relation to the painting. This would still be to find the beauty outside oneself. Rather, the totality that is the painting, is as much and as fully in the squiggle, as in the painting. When the squiggle recognizes itself to be the same totality as the painting in which it appears, this is the end of the separation of the squiggle from the painting. They may retain their different forms as squiggle and painting, but they are essentially the same totality - like a holograph.

How is this connected to what we started out with?

When we try to put enlightenment and enlightened people into a box with only some specific attributes, we lose the totality. And we miss the point. Enlightenment and unenlightenment co-exist as one. You who think you are unenlightened - you contain both enlightenment and unenlightenment within you. The teacher who you think is enlightened also contains both enlightenment and unenlightenment within himself. The totality excludes nothing, and includes everything.

The difference between you who think you are unenlightened, and the teacher who you think is enlightened, is that the teacher is fully ok with the unenlightenment within. There is no wishing for it to be different than what it is.

The enlightened squiggle :-) loses its identification with its squiggleness, and sees itself as being the totality that contains the squiggle form. Now the squiggle is not the squiggle. Yet it continues to appear as the squiggle. But it would not be true to say that the squiggle is enlightened, because there is nothing that identifies itself as the squiggle anymore. And yet the squiggle form continues. Until it doesn't. But it is only this totality appearing as the squiggle.

Examine your idea of enlightenment. See how it excludes so much. Can enlightenment exclude anything? Can totality exclude anything? So long as you identify with your enlightened self alone or your unenlightened self alone, you miss the totality of you that contains both.

See through the myth of exclusive enlightenment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Truth, not peace

Here's a great question to ask oneself:

Do I want the truth more than I want love and peace?

This is a tough question, is it not? It may conjure up unpleasant images that we would much rather avoid. Yet it is a critical question, and it must be faced at some point or the other on the spiritual journey. So are you ready to ask this question now? If you are not ready, no problem - being honest about yourself is always a good thing, is it not? And if you are ready, then go ahead. Get tough.

The truth is that the deep spiritual journey carries no incentive. There is no grand prize awaiting us that makes all the heartache worthwhile. If you are on this journey and holding out for the grand prize, then you are setting yourself up for great disappointment. The deep spiritual journey is its own incentive. We are on this journey, because it chooses us and not vice versa. Any idea that the mind has about pursuing eternal love and peace on this quest is just that - an idea.

The rational mind wants to have a worthy objective and so it makes up a story about the spiritual goals of eternal bliss or eternal contentment. And then it leads us to believe that we are looking for those things. And then what happens? We may have a wonderful spiritual experience or two or even a dozen. But we always seem to return to the life we had before those experiences. In other words, life outside those experiences is not necessarily always blissful or content. So we seek more spiritual highs, and we seek new teachers, new teachings, new techniques - anything that promises us eternal peace. And we end up not with eternal peace, but with eternal seeking. What a mindtrap! Is it not?

Somehow it never occurs to us to question the spiritual goal itself. What if we are deluding ourselves about the goal itself? Am I really seeking eternal love and peace? And even if such questions do occur to us, we dismiss them easily, because mind produces some weighty distractions that help us avoid them. For example, we start to think about all those wise and realized men and women who emanate peace and bliss, and they are shining examples of what can be achieved, is it not? So that justfies the goals we have set ourselves. And it just shows that we need to do something differently to reach those goals. Or so the mind would have us believe. And then off we go -seeking in new fresh ways again!

And yet, can you think of even one realized master who said that he/she was in this to find peace and love for themselves? Yes, many of these masters embody and emanate love and peace. That part is true, but the rest is imagined in our minds. The idea that they pursued that love and peace for personal gain can find no support in their authentic accounts or their teachings. Isn't that true? Don't believe me - check it for yourself.

What these great teachers tell us is that love, peace and contentment are the bye-products of living in truth. But they cannot be grasped at, for what is grasped at and sometimes attained also slips through and is often lost. This love that they radiate is not the idea of love that we carry around in our heads. It is a love that loves without cause. It is a love that loves because it is its nature to love, because it cannot help itself. This is the love that does not need to hold on to itself, lest it should slip away. And this love is a bye-product of seeing and being the truth of what we are. Because living in truth means an openness and appreciation of whatever arises; it means being in unity with what is.

So go ahead, if you are ready. Ask yourself the question:

Do I want the truth more than I want love and peace?

Allow yourself to delve into that question for a few days or a few weeks. Discover what compromises you have made, or may still be making in order to choose peace over the truth. Find out if such a peace really satisfies you in a sustained way. Rediscover what you already know - that the truth is not always peaceful. Really let in what you already know - that you cannot know what this moment will look like for you - that there is no guarantee of peace.

It is not my purpose to make you feel bad, and it is certainly not my purpose to make you feel good! This question is not for the faint of heart. But if you are willing and ready for it, it will change the course of your seeking.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Infinite potential

I am a rose
and I am a thorn
I am neither alone
I am both

But wait
I am a tree
I am a cloud
I am the sky

Nothing lasts
And I am each
And neither
And all

Time is
this moment extended
in the mind
thats all

No time
No future
No past
Only this moment
And infinite potential

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I am a rock

I am a rock
in love
with the water
around me

Its currents
and pools
and eddies
and flow

They caress me
and coddle me
and gently
break me down

I laugh
as the water's gurgle
I cry
as the water's flow

Anyday now
I disappear
As the water
Claims me whole

I can't resist
I am in love

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Being love I dance life

This nothing that is

finds the love
in being this body

finds delight
in concrete expression

expresses love
in this form
is love
as this form

being love
I act

being love
I dance life