ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

Why I Can't Stand Reading About People’s Spiritual Awakenings

I don’t care what spiritual influencers say. What gets me is the fundamentalist tone they take (Like they are the all-seeing eye).

After a decade of yoga, Echo had become an expert at killing the mosquitos that buzzed around her head (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio)

Edward John wrote a good article about Eckhart Tolle called: 2 Problems with Eckhart Tolle That No-one Ever Seems to Talk About

Later he wrote about how much stink people kicked up about the article. People defend Eckhart Tolle like he is the messiah. But humans tend to do that. We love a good cult, but at the same time, we hate it if anyone points out that it is a cult.

Not that anyone is saying Tolle is a cult leader. But, we need to understand that spiritual experiences do not necessarily equate to enlightenment.

I am skeptical about anyone that speaks about their own spiritual experiences.

Genuine teachers warn about anyone touting their own ‘awakenings’.There is even a saying in Buddhism:

‘Experiences are like patches. Eventually, they fall off.’

In a lot of serious spiritual traditions, the practitioners are forbidden from discussing their experiences except with their teachers. This is to prevent ego attachment and pride from arising as well as guarding against misunderstandings.

Meditation in its purest form is something that needs to be directionless in order to progress. Learning about compelling experiences creates desire and spiritual ambition — obstacles that can be challenging to let go of.

A vast number of meditation practitioners have never had experiences. For someone directed towards spiritual happenings, that can be disappointing to hear. But the goal of meditation has nothing to do with experience. It is a transformation of being and a shift in perspective.

Clive was so tickled by Judy’s blowjob joke that he wet his tights (Photo:A Koolshooter)

People are so far off the mark in terms of their understanding of what spiritual realisation means.

Someone takes a few mushrooms, levitates over the pyramids and the next thing they are a spiritual influencer on Youtube. It’s like an ant lecturing an elephant on the layout of the jungle because they ran a circuit of a leaf.

In the book Kunzang Lamai Shelung, the Master Patrul Rinpoche tells the story of a frog who falls into a well. There he encounters another frog who lives in the well.

He explains to the well frog about his home, which is by the great ocean. The well frog says,

Wow, so how big is this great ocean? Is it a quarter of the size of this well?

No, it is much bigger.

What, so half as big?

No, it is much bigger.

Surely it’s no bigger than my well?

It is said that when the ocean frog took the well frog to see his ocean, the well frog was so shocked that he passed out and died.

Poor froggy.

We are all frogs in wells. Enlightenment from the Buddhist perspective is so vast, so eternal, so far beyond the scope of our understanding that if we happen to perceive it, it would blow our minds into tiny pieces.

Yet, perhaps it's all so simple as well.

After the second joint, Clark knew he had reached the fifth level of trans-Plutonian class C Wisdom (Photo: Gustavo Almeida)

There are beneficial Buddhist texts that teach us about the levels of ‘enlightenment’ at which a practitioner can get trapped on the way to actual realisation.

They talk about how people get caught at these levels and believe they are done. It’s called intellectual awakening and can feel like the real thing.

The Buddhist Master Jigme Lingpa calls them faults. He wrote a text called The Lion’s Roar which points them out as real dangers on the path of meditation.

As Jigme Lingpa teaches in The Lion’s Roar, when practitioners at this stage of mere intellectual understanding practice meditation, experiences of bliss, clarity and non-thought will arise. If they cling to these and think they have arrived at the ultimate Great Perfection, they will be bound and hindered by this partial, incomplete understanding of the meaning of the teachings — Nyoshul Khenpo

The path of realisation is a serious endeavour.

You don’t become an omniscient Buddha because you bang your head getting out of the car or because you stand on a piece of lego. Still, you don’t have to live like a monk either. The most important thing is to find a good teacher. But don't be too casual about that. Look around.

If you have to follow a rich and famous guru, at least follow one that has done a reasonable amount of actual training like Sadhguru.

I approached Sadhguru with a large amount of scepticism also. Here was this Indian guru in the most cliche sense. Yet, he rides motorcycles around and enjoys his riches like a King. You think this guy must be a charlatan. Then you listen to him. You see the work he is doing. There is nothing cliche about him at all. When he speaks about his awakening, it doesn’t irritate me.

I am not a follower of Sadhguru, but I enjoy listening to his truth. He seems authentic and without pretence at least.

I think people will get a lot more from listening to him than someone like Tolle, who seems to repeat generic spiritual statements while boasting about living a humble life and having nothing (which doesn’t really explain why you have to take out a mortgage to attend his workshops).

At least find someone who is free from hypocrisy.

Better still, find someone who lives in the local homeless shelter or on the street corner who pisses themselves regularly.

Maybe just find someone who doesn’t act like a guru at all.

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More from Frank T Bird (That’s me):

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Frank T Bird

Frank T Bird

Former British citizen sent to Australia for crimes I didn’t commit. As yet unenlightened. Buy my books you bastards: https://www.amazon.com/author/franktbird