Who needs to be Enlightened?

MonkIt occurred to me when I was quite young that I must know what Enlightenment was. From deep within this aspiration arose. It was a totally irrational and impersonal impulse toward freedom. This type of deep yearning for Truth, for Freedom can come from no other place. Enlightenment, in the end, takes everything from our ego, it is a total stripping down of the narcissistic self. No ego could ever want this, to want this, would be wanting one’s own death.

But what I found somewhere along the way, was that my ego also, wanted freedom, because it thought that there was something to be gained. I thought enlightenment meant to be free from suffering and that I would finally get to rest. As I inquired more and more into this, I saw that this is what the ego wants; to rest, and that this was a very innocent request. In a sense, we all want to stop fighting against the movement of Life. And there is a tremendous relief when we finally let go. But ironically, our ego will only let go for a period of time, before it reasserts its drama. Because our narcissistic sense of self, maintains itself from creating drama. So even after we fully surrender, and deeply let go into our freedom, our mind will rise again; this is normal. Yet, we remain free as long as we resist the temptation to engage in our ego’s neurotic dance.

But as I was inquiring into this seeking for enlightenment, what I also found was a part of me that wanted to be able to claim enlightenment for my own self validation. As I looked deeply at this I saw there was still a part of me that did not feel whole, and felt that if I could claim enlightenment or hold onto to it, that somehow I would be saved. That somehow I would be a better, fuller version of myself. This is again, another dance of the narcissistic ego, it is always trying to improve upon itself as a way of fully feeling better about oneself, yet it never gets there.

It is almost as if, I were enlightened, then everyone would know how lovable I am. But again this is another dance of ego. If we truly wake up, then we know we are lovable. We know that we are complete, right here, right now, even with all of our deficiencies. And we have some work to do. What begins to dawn on us, is that we are perfect; that we all are the living embodiment of the Divine just as we are. The thought that we are less than, comes from our ego which operates out of deficiency. In a sense without deficiency, the ego may not exist. But as long as we believe that we are deficient, then our ego has plenty of room to struggle against life, and recreate itself again and again. When we are seeking to be free, it may be helpful to ask, who needs to be Free? Am I following a deep impulse for Truth from within, or am I following and my ego’s need to be somebody important? Who needs to claim Enlightenment? If we are truly free, we do not need to claim anything, because we know who we Are, and we can rest in our Divinity, and we relax in relationship to our shortcomings. As we do this, miraculously many, not all, of our short comings begin to fall away.

 

 

 

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Letting Go into the Mystery We Are

To be awake, it is necessary to investigate the various parts of our self that make up our humanity; because our humanity is often where we become deluded into believing we are something, that we are not. Our will is one of the major areas where we quickly become unconscious or lost in egoic identification. Yet, our personal will is a fundamental building block of our ego. Our will is most basically, the psychological force or program within us that wants to survive, maintain, assert itself, fight against, or fundamentally separate itself in order to create a separate sense of identity. In a healthy way, our will is what makes us want to have a career or have a family or be a part of a political party; our will is what drives us to succeed at sports or want to be right. From a psychological perspective, having a good strong will, creates a healthy sense of self from which an individual operates in the world.

Yet if we believe too much in our will, and mistake it for who and what we truly are, this will lead to more delusion within ourselves. We all have known times when we have fought persistently to be right, and as a result experienced intense separation. If we give our will too much power or authority over ourselves, then we will end up believing in it’s point of view exclusively. This point of view is generally some version of me against the world. And if we see the world from this perspective we will not be seeing Life from the perspective of Unity, of Oneness.

Naturally our relationship with our will must be investigated if we are going to be free. There are many spiritual practices and ascetic techniques that work to break down our will such as hours and hours of meditation, difficult yogic asanas; many spiritual traditions prescribe difficult labor without purpose or aim, such as racking gravel in one direction and then the other. These may be helpful if done with sincerity, but if they are done from the perspective of the will, they can actually reinforce the will, not exhaust it. But a wonderful space opens when the will is exhausted, and we become so open and raw that we have no choice but to surrender. This is where most spiritual practices try to bring us, to this point of exhaustion and eventual surrender. Although, we are welcome at any point, to fully surrender our will and to let go; right here, right now. This is the direct path; to step onto the direct path, we must be deeply sincere; and be more sincere than our attachment to our own will. Sincere surrender is by far the most direct way to let go of the will and to step into this huge Mystery that we are.