It’s very important that spiritual awakening or enlightenment not be viewed as a goal, as something with an end point. As if you awaken—or you become enlightened—and you’ve reached a goal; you’ve crossed the finish line as if you’ve achieved something and there’s nothing more for you to see. This is the great myth of awakening and it’s the great myth of enlightenment: I will become enlightened, I will know absolutely everything, not a negative emotion will ever arise in my bodymind, and I will dwell in the hall of bliss permanently and for ever. It sounds good. But it’s very much like having a good dessert and imagining that life would be fantastic if you never had to eat fruits or vegetables again. You could just live on dessert. This is a myth of awakening and it’s a myth of enlightenment that there is a point of destination. There isn’t a point of destination.


There’s only—maybe we could say—relative points of destination; temporary points. The realization of your true nature. It is the end of not knowing who and what you are. When we awaken we know we are the infinite presence. So it’s the end of not knowing who and what we are, but it’s not the end in any absolute sense. It’s also the beginning. And anybody in this room who’s awoken to their true nature—which has actually probably been the majority of you, in some way or another—knows that it may be an end of not knowing who and what you are, but it’s the beginning of another mysterious unfolding. It’s the beginning of something without end.


And so don’t ever think of awakening or enlightenment as something as goal-oriented activity. Of course, almost everybody does when they start. I wanna be enlightened. I wanna get to that point. I want to cross the spiritual finish line, preferably first. With lots of—with a big audience, right? That notices. The funny thing is—if you cross any kind of finish line—there are many points where you think you’ve crossed the finish line. The nature of realization itself—the nature of A-ha! That’s what’s true.—it always feels like it’s the end. Anytime you get A-ha! Now I get it, the nature of A-ha! Now I get it is you feel back at home. For a split second it’s as if there’s nothing else to realize. And then you take the next breath. And the next breath tells you, A-ha! This is endless. There is never going to be such a thing as a final a-ha. That’s why anybody who ever knew what they were talking about called this truth of being limitless; infinite. Infinite is just a way of saying it never runs out.


The only thing that comes to an end, really, is the end of ignorance about one’s own nature. That comes to an end. That is a great and wonderful ending, of not knowing who and what you are. That can come to an end. Thinking that you are simply the bodymind mechanism, that can come to an end. And the realization that within that and around that bodymind mechanism is presence, is space, is something that’s not conceivable—even to those who realize it, it’s still not conceivable. The most you can know is I am that. But the more you know that—if someone asks you, What is that that you are? You don’t know what that is. You can’t say what that is. You just know that it’s what you are. You can call it emptiness, or consciousness, or God, or spirit, but still there’s a certain mystery to it all.


What can you know about nothing? When you realize you’re the great emptiness, the great nothingness, the great pregnant nothingness from which everything comes and to which everything goes—what can you really know about nothing? We can only know something about something. Like, when nothing becomes a flower: now you can know something, or you can pretend like you know something. It’s a flower, it’s orange, it’s red, it’s beautiful, it’s ugly, it’s fresh, it’s dying. You can know, or think you know, something as soon as something comes into form. You can know the texture, or the feel, or the taste, the touch, the sense of the thing. But you can’t know anything, ultimately, about the unknown, about your true nature. All you can know is that you are that. You can’t separate yourself. It’s like your eye cannot look at itself. No matter how hard your eyeball tries to get a look at itself, it can never do it. And if it looks in the mirror it only gets a surface impression of itself, right? Surface. There’s the other 99.9 percent of it that’s not surface.


So we can never objectify the truth out here. Not the ultimate truth, just its display. Just its display. Just its display as your body, your mind, a flower, the chair you sit on. But presence itself—that simple, simple silence, unfathomable intelligence, wisdom, compassion—all arising from nothing, from the pregnant nothing. It’s actually quite a wonderful discovery when we find out for ourself that at the http://beherenow.synergize.co/beherenow261.gifbottom of our own existence is goodness. It could have ended up that we were just rotten schmucks, you know? At the core, actually, all that was really there was just selfishness wanting to get everything it could for itself, and that’s just the life was. It’s possible it could turn out that way.


But when we come to the core of our being we find, actually, the core of our being—in everyone’s being—is actually something very profound, very beautiful. When you’re not caught in your story then there’s naturally this causeless peace, causeless benevolence, a causeless wisdom, something that allows you to discriminate between what’s true and what’s not true. And it’s not in your mind anymore, so you don’t even really know where it comes from. In the tradition of Zen they call it prajñā, ‘heart-wisdom,’ which means the wisdom of the absolute, the wisdom of emptiness, a wisdom that simply knows, that simply can discriminate truth from untruth. Spontaneously arising, not a product of discriminatory thoughts.


Everybody has that. Everybody has prajñā. Everybody has the deepest, most profound wisdom. Not many people utilize it because they’re too busy listening to their story. How many times have you heard, at the quietest moments—or sometimes very noisy moments—that little voice that said, Don’t do that. Has anybody ever heard that? Or Do that, and you say, That? Yeah, do that. Or you’re on a date with Mr. or Mrs. Perfect—or so you thought—and all biological bells were ringing. Remember that? And something inside said, Don’t do that again. Don’t go on the second date. Just that still, small voice that said, Don’t do that. It’s not for you. Did you listen? You didn’t know that that was the wisdom of the universe, did you? You didn’t know that was the enlightened Buddha-nature, prajñā, giving you a gift of grace, right?


The beauty of truth is truth never insists, though. That’s the beauty of truth: when it comes to you from the inside, it’s that truth that is known but does not insist. That’s why you can throw the truth away so easily and effortlessly. You can not listen to it. Truth doesn’t care, it’s going to get its way. Right? You go, Ah, forget it. I’m going out with Mr./Mrs.—you know—Whatever… Hormone. All it means is that it might take a month, or a year, or ten years for truth to win out. But sooner or later, truth’s going to win out, right? It’s going to win out. It’s just like those old Midas commercials: pay us now, pay us later. You know? There’s no escape. There’s no escape from your own good sense. And then, ten years later: I knew I shouldn’t’ve gone out with him again. I knew it. Why did I marry him? Why did— you know? Why did we buy a Yugo? I knew he wasn’t as macho as he looked.


So in your own way everybody is graced with moments of wisdom, simple moments of wisdom, very simple moments; gifts. But of course we must be out of our story. We must value the gift of grace more than we value the surface wants and demands of the egoic personality. It must be valued. And those are just, sort of, obvious moments of wisdom. There’s the deepest, deepest wisdom—transcendent wisdom. And of course it all starts with the intuitive awakening of wisdom itself that lets us know from the inside, intuitively and authentically, what we really are. Wakes us up from the mind structure, from the little me. And as I said, though, this is not an end. It’s just the end of the ignorance of your true nature. It’s the beginning—it’s just the beginning—of discovering what it means to live what we realize.


Realizing who you are is a piece of cake compared to living it. Realization’s a freebie. That’s a nice thing: awakening—it’s a freebie! You don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to change, you don’t have to alter your behavior, you don’t have to alter anything in any way whatso—all you have to do is stop trying to alter things, that’s all. For just a second! That’s all. Just relax, and do nothing, and go nowhere, and be nobody. Just for a split second. It’s a freebie. And grace goes, Oh! Here’s the freebie. Here’s who you are; the realization of your true nature. All you have to be willing to do is to do nothing for a moment.


It seems as though that’s a very high price for some people to pay. Seemed like a very high price for me to pay. Took me a lot of years to be willing to pay it. I was too busy trying to be enlightened… my way. Little did I know: all I had to do was stop that and the grace could be given, free. Awakening is actually a freebie. No price need be paid. That is the greatest illusion you must let go of: that there is a price you need to be [paying] to realize the true nature of your own being, the true nature of existence; that you need to pay a price, that you need to become something different, or better, or special. That’s the biggest illusion. As soon as you jettison that illusion, then all of your psychic, emotional, spiritual energy is available to turn into presence, to turn towards presence, to turn away from the structure of mind.


From there on out, the price gets increasingly steep. It’s just the opposite. It’s like, it costs you nothing to get into nirvāṇa. Now you want to live nirvāṇa? Oh! Oh, oh, oh, oh… well, let’s bring in the other salesmen—you know, it’s like a bait and switch, you know? Like going to a car dealer, you know? One guy gets you all excited about the car and the next guy comes and tells you how much it’s going to cost, and that you’re not going to get it for as much as you wanted to get it for. And that’s when—to live this that we realize, it costs us. It costs us our fixated points of view. Whatever your fixated point of view. It costs us resentment, blame, and judgment. There’s your three costs. You want to live this? Resentment, blame, and judgment—they’ve got to go, and it doesn’t matter why you have them. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what happened, it doesn’t matter who did it. If there’s regret, blame, or judgment it’s going to be very difficult to live what you realize. You can realize it. You can realize your true nature; even with regret, blame, and judgment. You can realize it because it’s a freebie. You’re going to have a hard time living it.


Because the nature of truth itself is something without past, so no regret. Without fixated points of view, therefore no blame. With a deep love and compassion, therefore no judgment. Discernment, yes. Judgment, no. And of course when you awaken, those remaining pattern-personality traits and ego traits and hidden places within yourself—that are still in darkness—one by one start to come to the surface in the clear light of awakeness. They come to the surface, and each one becomes an opportunity to allow it to arise and to see through it. You cannot see through anything that you do not allow to arise. So everything must be allowed to arise to see through it. And allowed to arise to see through it. And allowed to arise to see through it. And each time you do, you feel a deepening in the sense of spaciousness, in a sense of presence, in a sense of openness, in a sense of a causeless love and a causeless happiness. That’s what the deepening of this truth is.


Every time we let go of another piece of the egoic puzzle, of fixated mind, fixated emotion, there’s a corresponding greater sense of openness, and ease, and peace, and being. It’s actually quite shocking when you see, for the first time, that nothing you think is true. If you’ve never seen it, it’s actually shocking when you see nothing you think is ultimately true. Some thoughts have practical value in the relative world, but that’s only two or three percent of most peoples’ thoughts; they have some practical value. You know? How do I get to Asilomar? A thought says, Get the map out. Right? I mean, those are practical thoughts. Those aren’t the thoughts that cause anybody’s suffering, do they? Right? It’s the thought that says Why should I have to get a map out? And then that old voice: Mommy told me I didn’t ever know how to read maps well. But I do! Goddamnit! Maps! I hate unfolding these goddamn… Do you see? Right? I’m just juicing it so that it becomes obvious. That’s called my story, that’s called my fixation, that’s called—right?


And then: is it true? Is it actually true? Is it true? Is this true? Is—for each of these points of fixation—is this true? Is it actually so? And so you never ask a question like Is this true? Is my thought true? Is my judgment, my blame, my regret true? You never ask that question to get an answer. That’s not—spiritual inquiry is not about arriving at answers. That’s what we do in school. That’s not spiritual inquiry. Spiritual—when you get—the [answer] to the [question] Is this particular fixation true?—the answer is simply the disappearance of the fixation. It’s not yes or no, it’s just the issue suddenly becomes irrelevant.


Have you ever had something spontaneously become irrelevant? There’s no conclusion, it just disappears. Right? Kids are great at that, adults are rotten at it. Children are much better at letting things become irrelevant than adults. Much, much, much better. Adults will hold on. I’m justified! Well I’m an adult, after all. Right? If an adult has an argument with their friend, or their neighbor, or lover, they’re not going to get over it until they work it out. Right? We’ve got to have one of those talks, a heart-to-heart to my damn satisfaction. Right? A child—remember when you were a child? I don’t know about you. You ever fight with your friend? My best friend lived right across the street from me. We had fights all the time. I hate you! I’m never gonna talk to you! You schmuck! And we’d go home and we’d slam our door so each other could hear the other one slamming the front door, and we’d sit in the house. And, like, no more than 15 minutes later we’d be like, Pssh, I’m bored! You know? [Knocking] Hi. You wanna play? Okay. An adult needs ten years of therapy, right? They want to get even. [The] adult goes: [knocking] Hi. Hi. Do you you understand where I’m at? Do you understand where I’m at? Do you understand where I’m at? Do you understand where I’m at? Screw you! Slam! We’ll try it again tomorrow.


And only because there’s this tendency to fixate, isn’t there? My view, my way, my thought, right? And then we’re always looking for resolution, for final resolution. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no value to talking, and discussing, and working some things out, I’m just saying the other 95 percent of the time… you know? And I imagine—I hope most of you have had that experience before and you just realize My god, there’s nothing to work out. We didn’t work it out and there’s nothing to work out. Acceptance of what is.


This is what—in a more practical sense—annihilation of the ego is. It’s not a once-and-for-all dramatic event. That’s not what it’s about. You might have a once-and-for-all dramatic event, but you’ll also have many other moments after that dramatic event. So the most important tools become the tools of discrimination, wisdom, and compassion. If you’ve just got wisdom, not so good. If you’ve just got compassion, not so good. Wisdom, compassion—the wisdom that comes from emptiness, that arises spontaneously; what’s true, what’s not true, what’s real, what’s not real—and the open-heartedness to hold everything very lightly. Very, very lightly; very softly. Because if you can’t hold things softly, you can’t see them for what they are. If you hold something tight you distort it. As soon as you grab something tightly you distort it, so you can’t see it clearly. Have you noticed? The more upset you get about something, the less clearly you can see; see what you’re upset about? Because it distorts the more fixated one becomes.


So awakening is something truly without end, it’s not a goal. There are points that you go across where certain things no longer have to be dealt with because they’re just done. But this is something that is an endless expanse. It’s not crossing a goal. That would be something that’s dead, right? You cross a goal. You cross a goal—it’s over. I’m dead. It’s like death. It’s not something that’s dead. It’s endless, endless, endless, endless, endless. And yet, it’s really going nowhere. You ever get the feeling you’re not actually going anywhere? That’s the paradox. In the infinite; I don’t mean egoically going nowhere, that’s just frustration. I mean even with your—you have great, beautiful, ever-deepening realizations and yet there’s also simultaneously the sense that nothing’s going anywhere. Everything’s an unfolding of stillness within stillness. But there’s really no such thing as going from here to there. It’s not some progression that you cross the finish line that the holy ones crossed. It doesn’t work like that.


It’s—if anything—it’s only a process of finding that everything is already complete. Doesn’t that seem totally irrational? Everything is totally and already complete. That doesn’t mean it’s ended. That doesn’t mean something’s gotten to a goal. It means just that it’s totally and completely complete. Everything and everyone is complete; perfect. Everything is a manifestation of the divine principle. Everything that exists is a manifestation of the divine, and therefore it’s complete.


To surface-mind it seems totally irrational, does it not? You open your little surface-eyes and nothing looks complete. Things look in utter chaos. This can’t be complete! We’ve got to get to somewhere. We’ve got to get to a place of completion. We’ve got to keep going and moving, and completing, and completing, and completing, and completing, and completing. And yet this very mindset—this is the illusion. The perception that everything is actually complete even though it looks like it’s not. Because everyone’s behaving as if it’s not and so, therefore, it looks like it’s not. If you don’t realize that everything’s complete, and whole, and perfect as it is, then your whole life becomes things are not complete, and whole, and perfect as they are. That’s what your life becomes. Right?


And then that’s what the world becomes. The world looks like everybody walking around, billions of human beings, actually manifesting a mindstate that says things are not complete, they’re not whole, they’re not perfect, they’re not as they should be. Billions of human beings walking the face of the planet with that mindstate, projecting that, living that out. What do we expect it’s all going to look like? Right? Complete disaster. And then the disaster seems to reinforce that things aren’t whole, things aren’t complete. Do you see that’s why the Buddha called it the Wheel of Saṃsāra: because it’s a closed loop. It looks like a closed loop, right? You believe something, you act it out, then the world starts to look exactly like you believe it looks, and it acts like you think it will act, and therefore it justifies the belief, and before you know it the loop is closed. It’s self-sustaining saṃsāra; self-sustaining illusion. And it just continues and continues.


This is what the spiritual—anybody who’s really deeply awakened knows—this is what’s referred to as an illusion: this self-perpetuating cycle of saṃsāra, of suffering. And as I said yesterday, it originates from a sense of wrongness. If anything, true awakening brings with it a sense [of] there isn’t anything wrong. And so even if you’re addressing what seems to be wrong, you’re not doing it because anything is wrong.


So anyway, to me this is a very subtle and yet one of the most important points of the whole spirituality: is realizing that the power of mind to create a given reality and manifest it out in the world, and then it self-perpetuates itself, and so nobody questions it. In fact, it seems totally insane to say that everything is whole and complete. Because you look around and you say, Nothing seems to justify that. That’s why I say it’s a closed loop. But it’s amazing when people start to see—really see; not as a theory, not a new-age thing where people walk around going, Everything’s whole and complete and it’s all okay, so just don’t bother me, man. Mellow out. Right? Not—that’s phony. Not phony-spiritual-person thing. I mean the direct perception.


And it starts with you. You as presence; whole and complete. And then it unfolds outward from there. And you see—anybody who really realizes this—they have a sense of wholeness within themselves about themselves, and they have a sense of wholeness and completeness about the world, and so they act in a whole different way. They act from a state of completeness. Not from a place of they do not see the world, they do not see suffering; not from that, not from disassociation, but from a place of wholeness. And it breeds peace because it’s not on the wheel of saṃsāra. It’s off the wheel.


And so this is also a big part of—to awaken, and then to embody and live what’s awakened is, you see, all the remaining pieces within yourself that still function from a place of not-whole, not-complete. From the illusion that something’s not whole and not complete. That there’s someone to blame, there’s something to have regret for, and there’s something to hold in judgment. All those three conclusions come from a sense that something, somebody should be other than they actually are.


And even after your awakening, bit by bit, those remaining pieces that still haven’t got the message of wholeness reveal themselves to be seen through. Basically, all you have to do is hold them in the light of a consciousness that sees everything as complete. You don’t necessarily have to do a whole lot about it, you just have to hold anything that doesn’t see itself as complete in the light of a consciousness that knows everything’s complete. Just hold it there, that’s all. In the light of presence.

Find out more