September 23, 2015

Why We’re Missing the Point in Our Quest for Enlightenment (& Other Spiritual Goals).

Flickr/Eddi van W.

Caution: there’s a wee bit of adult language below! 

Many spiritual practices revolve around the idea of union or yoking with the universe and thereby achieving some form of spiritual transcendence, or as many unconsciously see it, “getting on up in the universe.”

In practice this means doing postures, breathing, and meditation with the belief that it will eventually lead to some transformation of consciousness, union, enlightenment, satori, or samadhi.

But in actuality, we can easily observe that this could be an exercise in futility and endless self-deception for a few simple reasons.

We are already unified or yoked with totality, if we weren’t, we would be alive.

This is like saying Im going to do some kind of lifestyle or discipline to unify my big toe with my nervous system, it’s already there, if it weren’t, than it wouldn’t be.

We did not come into this world from some other place, and we aren’t here on probation. We came out of this world much like a tree or a flower, and it is our home.

People obsess and fixate over things like enlightenment or satori, but in reality, each are nothing special, not a big deal.

What do they mean?

Satori: A blowing out.

A blowing out as in that natural response we all have when we feel a sense of relaxation or relief.

Enlightenment: To create or engender a state of lightness in the mind.

A sense of lightness in the mind when we relieve ourselves of some of stress.

There is also the desire to somehow get one up on reality, so to gain some kind of superpowers, and to make everything light, but no dark, all up, but no down. Some kind of deep longing that reality really must be permanent and our sense of I-ness must really be solid.

Each of these programs, again imply and recapitulate more separation and illusion. All day and no night? All expansion and no contraction?


Striving after unity while operating under the logical construct of two separate things coming together can never succeed. Likewise, operating under an idealistic version of unity won’t do either since obsessing over unity still implies separation.

These practices are typically based on a belief that “I should be different” and what usually labeled as “unawareness” or “lack of consciousness” is more closely just a habitual pattern of anxiety, blocking, or wobbling.

Let me illustrate some of what I mean by using a couple of common beliefs:

I don’t trust myself.

You do trust yourself, you are just trusting your mistrust of yourself, which is a form of trusting in yourself.

“I lack awareness.”

Awareness of lacking awareness is still awareness, so wouldn’t the absence of all of that be a real lack of awareness? This kind of thinking is usually more along the lines of “Im not good enough” or not living up to an imagined ideal.

“I must be more spiritual.”

This is based on a false belief that the spiritual and physical are separate and that one is higher than the other. This is quite the contradiction to the whole unity concept, not to mention a big middle finger to our inherent humanity to believe its bad, evil or not enough—and that becoming some kind of saint or superman would be better.

This is kind of like laying down to go to sleep at night and repeating over and over “Okay, I must get tired, I must go to sleep, must get tired.” Or going to the toilet and repeating over and over “Okay, I must have a shit, I must have a shit.”

The reality is that it can’t be done, forced, or coerced and the application of these things tend to just lead to anxiety and a departure from normal human health.

The fact of the matter is that the cosmos is already a unity and we always have been at one with it, so there’s nothing to do.

Likewise your heart is already beating, your food is digesting, your ears are hearing, and your eyes are seeing, there is nothing to do. In fact, it is quite often our anxiety or interference with these natural processes which are at the root of many dis-eases and imbalances. That is so say, we are creating our own problem to a large degree, when in reality we need only to relax, observe, and see through a few key illusions.

Maybe a way to understand enlightenment or satori is remembering those moments when we have a realization and letting of some bullshit belief or opinion we’ve long held about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. What I don’t mean is letting go of one thing and replacing it with other, I am saying something different entirely.

Literally, letting go is letting go and replacing is replacing—they are two quite different processes.

One allows a breath of relief and a sense of lightness; the other provides a temporary high, only to be followed by the revisiting of the same old pattern in a different guise.

There is much more to explore on this subject and I hope this has given you some food for thought…or not.




More on this from Brandon: 

Why we Shouldn’t Try to Wake People Up.

What to Remember when we feel Completely Alone in the Universe.


Author: Brandon Gilbert

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Flickr/Eddi van W. 

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