Chinese proverb: May you live in interesting times.
From a spiritual and evolutionary point of view, we are living in the most interesting time in recorded history. It is only in the 21st century that every person on the planet has access to ‘the Truth’, should one wish to make the quest.
In ancient times, the Guru worked exclusively with students in a master-apprentice relationship. This was a precariously dangerous relationship back then because true Gurus were, and still are, very rare. In the modern era, David Hawkins suggested sometime in the 80s that there were only 6 to 9 beings who could be considered true Gurus; and at the time he wrote that statement, only 3 were actually practicing in an estimated population of around 6,000,000,000 living beings. Rare indeed!
Today, in the west, the Guru has received pretty much a clear death blow by the prevalence of charlatans and wackos who have been exposed. Consequently, in the general population, the Guru is anathema. This does not invalidate the idea or the need for a genuine person who has those rare and unique skills, and of course they do exist and practice – lucky is he who finds one.
In the west today, no one would dare to call themselves a Guru and expect to be taken seriously, so the new breed of beings in various stages of the ‘awakened state’ now call themselves, spiritual teachers, life coaches and various other euphemisms which point in the direction of ‘guru’.
The modern guru is a ubiquitous device known as the computer. With it, we can access the aptly named Worldwide Web. People post to it with alacrity and gusto. But, it has a hidden spiritual and evolutionary benefit. It allows any being any where on the planet to access the greatest wisdom (which in the past was only available to the fortunate few who lived in the vicinity of a great spiritual teacher) with the inspired touch of a keyboard.
Thus begins my story of discovery and clarification after years of thrashing about trying to swim in a sea of misinformation. It all became clear through diligently accessing two (there are undoubtedly others) interview programs dedicated to the presentation of ‘beings’ who have actually, clearly attained awakening, enlightenment, Self-Realization/ Liberation; and are able to describe their passage through the maze of dark ignorance, having come out the other end to discover the truth.
The two internet offerings I used to build my synthesis are Buddha at the Gas Pump (batgap.com) and Conscious TV (www.conscious.tv). It took dedicated effort to listen to many, if not all of the interviews, but finally a common denominator emerged from collating the descriptions of each person’s liberation experience. This was the moment of liberation.
There seems to be an energy thread or stream that creates the individual identity or ego. This energy thread into the ‘Unmanifest’ enables the illusion of an individuated world or universe to be created, observed and participated in through projection and experienced through the rendering of a physical body. Getting lost in the illusion is the cause of suffering simply and solely because it isn’t real. Severing this energy thread IS the solution to end suffering.
The good news is it can be done. The bad news is, like drug and alcohol addiction, breaking or, in the case of the ‘mind’ and its ‘ego’ enabler, deconstructing this machinery can be daunting. Even learning or becoming aware that there is a problem and a concomitant solution seems to be a matter of ‘grace’.
The Final Burning
What follows here are excerpts from extensive interviews with realized beings. The truth is in their biography. I would recommend that you do your own collating and synthesis, just as I did, to satisfy yourself that you ‘get it’. Historically, you had to be initiated into a religious order to receive this kind of information, if it was available at all; most of the time it was dogma and misinformation. Much of it was well-meaning, half digested material packaged for the private consumption of secret societies.
What the material showed me is that there are at least three levels of ‘self-realization’. The most important one leads to liberation from the mind and ego entirely. And that is the highest achievement possible. That is, finding out who you really are and disintegrating the ‘i’.
Don’t mistake awakening for enlightenment; don’t mistake enlightenment for realization; don’t mistake realization for liberation!
The synthesis I arrived at through my marathon viewing of the biographical material and the interview offerings mentioned above revolves around the consistency of the ‘liberation story’. For example, here is what Jac O’Keeffe described on Conscious TV:
And in India the final burning happened. And when desire was totally seen through, there was a knowing that desire needs an ‘I’. “Is it desire that creates the ‘I’? Is the ‘I’ there and it creates the desire?” And these two concepts just seemed to dissolve together and there was a knowing that the ‘I’ never existed, never existed at all. And what is it that was absolutely seen? How could anything be seen…? It never was. Even the idea of it coming back would be nuts now…
In Guru Swami G, we find a seeker who is more conventional. She had a broad cross-section of exposure to an eclectic variety of paths until she finally got directed to her last guru. For this, she had to go to India to make the connection and there she achieved ‘liberation’ through his training. Her ‘liberation’ story is loosely described as follows:
Her daily practice was to sit on the Ganges river edge and do her meditation ritual. This was a long, intense process that began when she was accepted by and engaged with her final guru. One day she entered a state of intense fear in which she had to make a choice: die, be lost in an abyss, or be possessed by demons. She surrendered to her fate, whatever it would be – she let go – and that was the final annihilation of the ‘me’.
The common denominator in these two ‘liberation’ stories is the deconstruction of the last vestiges of the mind, which is embodied in the concept of ‘me’. Not so clear, but implied, is the most famous story of all in the spiritual world – Eckhart Tolle’s transcendence story described in his bestseller The Power of Now:
“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.” I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear,
and I let myself fall into that void.
In all of his subsequent lectures and interviews, Eckhart clearly claims to have no ‘ego’. And in every interview with Oprah Winfrey he insists he has no ‘ego’, assuring her that if his ‘ego’ ever returns, he will be sure to let her know.
Essentially, these are the classic liberation stories. Some are clearer than others, but again the common denominator is the ‘Dark night of the Soul’ scenario and the release of, or the clear severing of, the ‘me’ (ego) thread.
At no other time in human history could you have compiled this body of spiritual experience to see this clear and indisputable pattern – a pattern which points to an absolute truth. That truth is: mind’s ego modality keeps spirit in bondage to an illusion. Fortunately for us, we have beings who have suffered the death of the ‘ego’ and the deconstruction of the mind who have come back to talk about it.