“It is the instinct of exploration, the love of the unknown, that brings me into existence. It is in the nature of being to see adventure in becoming, as it is in the very nature of becoming to seek peace in being.”
I was recently perusing a large online Buddhist forum, and true to form, the participants were enthusiastically debating about which of their chosen sects has the upper hand on getting “enlightened”. Because it serves as a good example of a common spiritual delusion, I am using this particular scenario to make a point, although one could find comparable versions at any religious online forum.
In this situation, a lot of the arguments boiled down to a matter of speed. For example, it was claimed by followers of one Tibetan tradition that their path was the superior vehicle, since it could get one “there” faster, whereas other sectarian vehicles (or “yanas”) within the greater Buddhist arsenal were somehow inferior, since they took a lot more time (several immeasurable blocks of temporal units called “kalpas”, to be precise).
This brought a humorous image to mind of a Buddha standing at some mythical finish line with a stop watch in hand, as the aspirants dressed in various costumes emblazoned with their sect’s logo dash desperately down the track to glory. Of course, everyone agreed that any Buddhist path was superior to that of the “Tirthikas” — also known variously as heretics, infidels, barbarians, or non-Buddhists in general.
Furthermore, even within the competing Tibetan contingent, there were those who claimed that the Dzogchen version of Vajrayana was superior to the Madhyamika version (particularly if there was sufficient devotion to the Guru), because the former system could garner the aspirant complete enlightenment in one lifetime (or 16 in the worst case scenario), as opposed to the latter, which allegedly takes quite a bit longer.
What is both ironic and silly about this type of spiritual trap is that, in reality, there is no such thing as time. Time is a purely human contrivance, a convenient mental fabrication, but we are not human. Although no human has ever been enlightened, in our true nature we have never been unenlightened. Enlightenment is our natural condition, which we as Spirit might occasionally “set aside” in order to occupy various beings such as humans, partaking of their experiences, and gathering all sorts of interesting topical information in the process.
We are moved to participate in these virtual, or holographic, dramas because we ourselves are energetic emanations or expressions of Source. As the great mystic Meister Eckhart proclaimed: “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.” All sense of dualism and separation is really more like a creative play of Source Consciousness, a game of infinite mirrors, all reflecting the Light back to Itself. Despite the endless dramas that may transpire, no independently existing person is ever implicated. Upon directly recognizing this, consciousness falls back into its Source, or in a manner of speaking, Awareness wakes up to Itself.
Employing a very simplistic human perspective to that which far transcends human comprehension, we might say that Source is extremely curious about Itself, and so uses a multitude of creative manifestations of Itself (us, for example) to experience the infinitely varied aspects of Itself, just as we (as Spirit, or Source emanations) utilize beings such as humans and non-humans in the process of self-discovery — literally looking out of their eyes as Source looks out of ours.
We are given the gift of life and the gift we return to Source is the “package” of experiences which we have had. In that sense, all experiences are gifts to Source. There is no good or bad or right or wrong — just experience. This is how Source experiences itself in infinite ways through its creations that generate new and unique experiences.
For Source, omniscience is one thing, but the visceral experience is quite another, in the same way we can know a lot about the meal, but actually eating it is beyond mere knowledge. Hence, we have the mind-boggling expansion of the totality of infinite manifestation — all that is, was, or ever will be. Creation in this sense is an evolving Self-exploration (experienced within and as the embrace of unconditional love), since in reality, there is only Source, and Source is Love beyond all human imagining.
In reality, paradoxically, nothing actually happens, because all persons, phenomena, and events are essentially transitory dream images appearing and disappearing in the Mind of Source. When we dream, our thought energy is busy constructing a whole realm of people, places, and various events – all of which seem utterly real, and which in turn generate various emotional reactions. Just so, the dream of Source is the whole universe, created out of Source’s own thought energy. Depending on our angle of vision, it is either real, unreal, both real and unreal, or neither real nor unreal.
In any case, there is no fast or slow path to enlightenment, nor are there any existing beings that require its attainment. As Ramana Maharshi once humorously noted: “When you wake up from a dream, do you go about searching for the characters in that dream, to awaken them?” Of course, in the dream there appears to be the passage of time, there appear to be unenlightened beings doing time, there appear to be dream teachers who would help enlighten these suffering dream characters, and even gatherings where the dream characters congregate and argue about the relative merits or defects of various dream teachers and the timeliness of their dreamy paths. Indeed, Earth is one of those places, and humans are those very characters!
From the point of view of the expanded consciousness that is natural to us in our immortal state as spiritual beings, there is only now — no past, no future, no present. All of our human and non-human experiences are actually happening simultaneously in the mind of Source, although the human intellect cannot really process such a possibility. Instead, it requires the illusion of linear time in order to function in the objective world, and there is nothing wrong with that — it’s just part of the package that comes with incarnating into this particular kind of circumstance, frequency, vibrational level, plane, or dimension.
Furthermore, since we literally share in Source’s own self-awareness, we have complete access to the universal data base, and so not only do we experience our own mind stream, but the mind stream of all the beings who ever were, are, or will be (since again, there is no time). However, when we focus our intention and attention on the human density, we must necessarily comply with the game rules that apply in this realm, including the time illusion, as well as the illusion of an independent and concrete self.
This full immersion necessitates a kind of amnesia, in which we forget our timeless status in order to fully experience the impact of being human, along with its perception of time passing. We contract, or slow our vibration down enough, to enable fusion with the denser bio-vehicle for the duration of its lifespan, and then resume our native luminous awareness (which vibrates at a much higher frequency) when we drop off the body-costume.
We repeat the same process throughout the universe, inhabiting all manner of beings, until we have satisfied that aspect of Source’s curiosity which assumes the form and plays the role of us on the stage of eternity. In actuality, we have never been other than Source, since there is only Source, dreaming up the whole show, and living all the players. The end is the same as the beginning. Nobody has gone anywhere, in the same sense that it may seem as if we have traveled in various dreamy realms, but never actually moved from our bed at night.
The full realization of that fact might be called “enlightenment”, but who or what is actually enlightened? When Source remembers or re-cognizes Itself, does that mean that It has gained something of which It was previously lacking? Indeed, if there is only enlightenment, what use are such terms as liberation and bondage? Why talk of paths or progress over time? Can we enter into a movie on the screen to free the movie characters from their fictional predicaments?
Just so, life is not a condition which we need to transcend, nor from which we need to be saved or redeemed. Neither is it a punishment for past offenses. Why would Source want to punish a reflection of Itself? All of those notions are purely human figments of imagination, based on fear, ignorance, or control agendas. Each life in truth is Love’s own temporary but unique expression, as is each flower in a garden, or role played out on a stage. There are no better or worse ones, nor more or less advanced ones, except in limiting conditioned fantasies of interpretation on perception.
Does this mean that there is no necessity for some sort of effort, in the form of spiritual practice? No, not as long as “practice” consists of a refusal to be fooled by, identify with, or cling to the unreal. In that regard, the disciplines of non-dwelling, silence, and true meditation can indeed provide “expedient means” for minds clouded by the delusions of the “me & mine story”.
Truly, the only ultimate requirement is that we be what we are, and that is not so difficult, since ultimately, it is impossible to be otherwise. All of us know exactly what it is like to be completely happy, just as all of us know that Love is all that matters. Any pretense otherwise is just that, assumed momentarily for the subsequent joy of recognizing again and again what is real, what is true, what is now, and always has been: YOU.
As Janaka said in the Ashtavakra Gita:
“In my unblemished nature there are no elements,
no body, no faculties, no mind.
There is no void and no despair.
For me, free from the sense of dualism, there are no
scriptures, no self-knowledge, no mind free from an
object, no satisfaction and no freedom from desire.
There is no knowledge or ignorance, no “me,” “this,”
or “mine,” no bondage, no liberation,
and no property of self-nature.
For him who is always free from individual
characteristics there is no antecedent causal action, no
liberation during life, and no fulfillment at death.
For me, free from individuality, there is no doer and no
reaper of the consequences, no cessation of action, no
arising of thought, no immediate object,
and no idea of results.
There is no world, no seeker for liberation, no yogi, no
seer, no one bound and no one liberated.
I remain in my own nondual nature.
There is no emanation or return, no goal, means, seeker
or achievement. I remain in my own nondual nature.
For me who am forever unblemished, there is no
assessor, no standard, nothing to assess,
and no assessment.
For me who am forever actionless, there is no
distraction or one-pointedness of mind, no lack of
understanding, no stupidity, no joy and no sorrow.
For me who am always free from deliberations there is
neither conventional truth nor absolute truth,
no happiness and no suffering.
For me who am forever pure there is no illusion, no
samsara, no attachment or detachment, no living
organism, and no God.
For me who am forever unmovable and indivisible,
established in myself, there is no activity or inactivity,
no liberation and no bondage.
For me who am blessed and without limitation, there is
no initiation or scripture, no disciple or teacher,
and no goal of human life.
There is no being or non-being,
no unity or dualism.
What more is there to say?
There is nothing outside of me.”