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I realized today that I spend most of my time on this blog talking about awakening and practices which can help the process along. What I don’t talk about is the fact that none of this is necessary.

The truth is that awakening doesn’t make you better. Awakening won’t solve your personal problems. In fact, it only solves one very specific problem, which turns out to be no problem at all. When I take the time to consider my motivation for posting my writings here, I find that it has nothing to do with trying to convince people that they should try to wake up, so they can be better, or feel better, or gain some special salvation or safety from the world. I would never want to put those ideas into the heads of otherwise ordinary people. But, the truth is that so many people are already on this path. They’ve already decided that it’s important to wake up. It’s for those people that I offer these writings. This work can take a long time, and I would hate for it to take longer than it needs to.

Emptiness is not static. There’s nothing to it, nothing that can be set apart from anything else. Somehow emptiness and awareness are inseparable in essence. This is how your own awareness is the starting point, the path, and the goal. Therefore, if you don’t feel compelled to practice, don’t! If awakening isn’t important to you, that’s fine! You’re no better, and no worse, than me. I’m no better, and no worse, than you.

Honestly, “enlightenment” as a term is terribly misleading. Reality is always-already itself. There are those who don’t know this, and those of us who do. Likewise, there are those who simply don’t give a shit. They’re probably the best off! Those who don’t know, and don’t care, are the highest kind of Buddha.

Awakening will not save you from anything. If you take it all the way, you’ll see that there’s nothing to be saved from, and no one to save. Furthermore, this has no bearing on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. All of it is still just as fluid as it ever was. Human beings are human beings, period.

Forget Buddhist clichés like “carry water, chop wood.” Go to work. Play with your kids. Honk your horn at the asshole veering into your lane on the freeway. Go to your daughter’s dance recital, and bring her flowers. And most importantly, stay up late to watch Dexter, and go to work tired the next morning.

But if you can’t do that, I guess you should practice until you can.

Spiritual materialism is “having” in a spiritual context. There are a variety of spiritual things we can have, and thus hold on to, which at minimum do absolutely nothing to help someone wake up, and at maximum (which is more often the case) get in the way of waking up.

On the less dangerous end of the spectrum of spiritual materialism are things which are physical in nature; e.g. idols, clothing, jewelry, books, zafus, pictures of gurus, places of worship, etc. None of these things are inherently good or bad, of course. What matters is whether or not one is deluded about them. In awakening, you realize that none of these things had anything at all to do with the truth, or at least not any more than anything else.

On the more pernicious end of the spectrum are those things which are artifacts of memory. Said another way, events in our personal history. Maybe you had a experience when you were 10 years old, where you felt you were one with everything, and you hold on to this as being more special than, say, your experience of taking a dump. Or perhaps your guru confirmed an awakening experience for you, providing positive proof of your relative awakeness (relative, because your guru remains over you, as your authority). Our collection of past events become a lens that distorts and contorts our perception of the here and now, leading us to favor some experiences over others as being more or less “enlightened.” At least material things can be burned up, destroyed, or otherwise gotten rid of. Our precious experiences and life events remain with us as long as we have functioning brains.

What makes our precious memories so diabolical are the ways in which present experiencing is not always confirming of them. What happens when the insight gleaned from the special memory is confronted with contradictory facts of experience? Which will you choose, the memories or the truth? So often, people opt for the memories. They cling to them because their message is seemingly more meaningful and profound (which is untrue). When this happens, it’s best to go right into the disarray, jumping headfirst into the madness and confusion of contradiction. Let it break. Let it tear you apart. But this is too scary for most people, who are more likely to consider the truth too offensive. They think (consciously or not), “That isn’t true, because I don’t like what it says about me and my memories.”

How quickly we may swap one idol, religion, practice, or empty platitude for another of equal worthlessness. But, when it comes to ditching the whole program for the truth, we’d rather stay in the sandbox, while trying desperately to keep with winds and rains of reality from breaking down our puny sandcastles. It’s time to grow up, boys and girls! It’s time to see the sand for the castle. It’s time to lift your head, to see the great ocean and magnificent sunset, and to witness the decaying corpse of the whale laying 50 yards down the coastline. It’s time to see if for all it is, so reality can once again recognize itself, and finally let go of the fantasy.

It’s time to stop all this spiritual “having” and return to conscious spiritual “being.”

Your friend, Sam

There’s a simple reason why it’s difficult for the unawakened to comprehend what awakening is like. The reason is that they are using the contrived mind to conceptualize awakening, and awakening is inherently trans-conceptual.

How so? As I mentioned before in a post on suffering, and in another post after that, before we awaken we are identified with the movements of the contrived mind. It moves toward this, and it moves away from this, and it clouds itself to ignore this other thing. The mind divides experience up into this over here, and that over there. It’s the source of the perception that ‘I’ exist separately from ‘you.’ All of this delusional nonsense is conjured up in the contrived mind, and has no basis in reality.

Waking up is about seeing this process clearly enough, by whatever means, in order to release one’s identification with the mind. At times this awakening results in a stilling of the movements of mind, but not in a lasting way. The mind does what it does, on its own. There’s no “I” or “you” in the mix, whatsoever. Seeing glimpses of reality as it really is results in longer glimpses, and then longer glimpses, until what used to be just a glimpse becomes an abiding experience.

When I endorse practice which lead to the recognition of the source, I do so knowing that realizing this new viewpoint results in decreased identification with the contrived mind. Ultimately, that’s the point – to see things as they really are. The results are beneficial enough for folks like me to dedicate our time to pointing out the way.

This is also why teachers like the mythical Jed McKenna teach techniques like spiritual autolysis, in which one simply tries to write something they know is true; something that can’t be refuted. In doing so, the futility of the contrived mind’s take on reality is exposed. This is not a practice I have engaged in to any significant degree. Though, I can say that keeping a record of my practice and reflecting on various insights was a major part of the awakening process.

Looking back through my journals, I can see the times when I thought I was 100% sure about something being true, only to completely change my mind not even a week later. Bringing awareness to this process helped me get out of my head.

So, why not put some of this into practice and see for yourself?