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Dustin LindenSmith

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Awakening: The Modern Heresy

From Issue 3887 of the Nonduality Highlights, on this day edited by Mark Otter, comes a very interesting passage regarding a type of spiritual discourse in the Eastern and enlightenment traditions which tends to negate the idea of "enlightenment as a goal unto itself." I won't paraphrase the content of the excerpt, because the apparent paradox is explained very well therein -- I'll just say that I was moved while reading it, and that it resonated strongly with me.

Enlightenment topics are always really difficult to talk about meaningfully, especially amongst the so-called lay practitioners, of which I consider myself one. (I've really never had any of those blinding realization experiences that I've read about so often, nor have I had any serious kundalini awakenings or arisings or any of that jazz.) But I find it really encouraging to read this passage, and validating to consider that just acknowledging the possibility of a full-on awakening might actually lead to one -- in this lifetime.

The tradition into which I was originally initiated in my 20s -- i.e., the Himalayan Raja Yoga tradition -- appeared to teach me from the outset that enlightenment was something that would probably never happen to me personally. It was a lofty state to which I could only hope to aspire after a lifetime of extremely rigourous practice, and probably even then I wouldn't really "get it" by the time I died (unless I was unbelievably lucky, or received some kind of divine transmission of grace from a blessed guru, if I was even lucky enough to find one).

But enough preamble. Here's the aforementioned passage:
Awakening: The Modern Heresy

There are many factors contributing to our inability to recognize our Original Nature and our own inherent state of Natural Awareness. Perhaps the greatest of these is our addiction to the process of searching for meaning and truth. In our modern Western culture, we have often cleverly cloaked and disguised this addiction with a rationalization that it is the journey, not the destination, that is important.

While it is vitally important to recognize that:
Reality is continuously manifesting through a dynamic
and on-going process of unfolding, and
in an Infinite universe, we may never actually
arrive at a final destination or end point,
...we often lose sight of the inherent completeness and
perfection of Reality, as it is, within the present moment,
and we use the popular metaphor of a spiritual journey as
a way of justifying our restless wandering and searching
for an elusive and mysterious Essence that seems to be
missing from our lives.

By convincing ourselves that there is something noble and humble in never arriving at our spiritual destination, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to recognize our own essential and fundamental nature, and doom ourselves to living within a perpetual state of psychological and spiritual homelessness.

In fact, I believe an assertion that one has experienced an Awakening or Realization has become the ultimate modern heresy, for this declaration challenges and sabotages the accepted, intellectual assumption that we must be forever journeying toward a distant and unreachable destination.

In many Eastern religious traditions, however, there is a much greater willingness to accept the possibility that experiences of Awakening may actually be a legitimate insight into, or recognition of, the fundamental and essential nature of Reality. I have begun to suspect that, in most cases, this openness and willingness -- at least to consider the radical possibility we might one day awaken into a liberating recognition of our innate and Original Nature -- may be an essential precursor to the actual experience of Realization, itself.

Without this willingness to accept the possibility that we might one day actually experience a stunning Realization of who and what we really are, we will be forever destined to wander in search of a Reality that, ironically, is inherent within the immediacy of the present moment.

-- Metta Zetty
(x-posted here to nonduality)