Back on Jed or Jedi, I touched on Tom Stine’s recent posts on the books of Jed McKenna. In a further post by Tom, a readers email suggested Jed makes enlightenment sound empty and boring. Tom responds that he finds the writing attractive as it verifies his experience and that he desires truth above all else.
I fully agree that ideas of enlightenment are always wrong as it has nothing to do with the person or ideas. It is the Self awakening to Itself through the point that appears to be a person. Awakening happens when the person is out of the way, at least the idea of it.
In that sense it’s also very true that it doesn’t happen until there is no choice. That the person becomes willing to put even themselves aside to realize who they are.
But then Tom goes into something I disagree with. He says “Enlightenment has nothing to do with bliss and joy and eternal happiness.”
To explain, awakening is a process. While there is a switch where the separate self falls away, it usually takes some time to fully make the change. Adyashanti talks about an initial honeymoon followed by a period where the mind often makes an attempt to come back. In any case, there is what I refer to as “ego shrapnel” – left over concepts and habits of mind that have to be seen through to clear the deck. And there can be a kind of dry spell where the old has fallen away but the new has not yet kicked in.
In his book Onions to Pearls, Satyam Nadeen (his web site is down) talks in a similar way to Tom, of the growing inner peace and above all the freedom that comes with the liberation of self realization.
But this is NOT the complete picture. If it is without joy, it is NOT Nirvana.
Nirvana is the end of suffering but it is also the dawning of inner joy. Not simple freedom, but everlasting happiness, unmoved by the vagaries of life. This is why the Buddha always sat with a smile.
The reason is very simple. Life is bliss. Literally, the flow of life is the liveliness of being. When we know ourselves clearly enough, we are not only silent freedom, but the surface of that, bliss. A happiness that overshadows everything else.
This is not “some blissed-out state like an infinite orgasm.” It is better than that. Believe me, I’ve been a bliss cadet. This is solid and real, like your skin. It is so ‘thick’ you can touch it. And there are layers. Just when we think we have reached the highest possible rapture, another value unfolds. But that’s not the end of it either.
As we live in that flow of bliss, everything is refined. Our perception of the world, our understanding of what is, and who is the doer. Everything is made of and arises in that bliss.
As the divine begins to flower in our perception, a new tone is set. An even deeper and greater field opens to us, that of what some call divine Love. An infinite love that is fully inclusive of all beings. It overtakes even the greatest of raptures. And that lays the groundwork for the next realization. The end of identity and the union of Oneness.
And here’s the trick – Nirvana is not the final truth, if that is your highest goal. While the Self has woken from the illusion of the person, it is still caught in the illusion of the world, God’s dream. As Genpo Roshi observes, you have to let go of even the rich transcendent truth you have gained to achieve the highest truth. That’s a real bite when you’ve worked so hard to understand the structure of creation. (laughs)
But what follows is even better. And the truth, so profoundly simple. And the experience – how can one even describe being both the source and recipient of infinite love? Evidently, that’s not the end either. 😉
Don’t stop with freedom. It is only the beginning.