Old Critique of Jed’s Realizaton

The page on the “Realization of Jed McKenna” has been completely revised – the new version can be found here. Below is the old page.

This page is intended for discussion of Jed’s claim of
full, complete and abiding attainment of Enlightenment.

It is designed to be a place where serious discussion can take
place about his Realization, and by extension, what his
formulation and understanding of what
Enlightenment is, and isn’t.

It seems to me that there may
be a fair few people who take him at
his word on this topic, and so are willing to attempt to live
their life guided by his wisdom. I know that I often have.
But if there are limitations to his perspective,
then lets have a look at them.

Please feel free to make a COMMENT below.

Brian (Moderator)


Jed’s Enlightenment

In order to set a balanced tone for the next piece I would like to remark that no one has helped me more in my spiritual life year or so than “Jed McKenna”. I am fond of saying that “my former teacher (of 27 years) gave me everything, and I will be eternally grateful to him for that, and Jed has taken it all away, and I’ll be eternally grateful to him for that!”

So this web log’s purpose, and this topic in particular are intended to help separate the wheat from the chaff. It is intended neither as a fanboy vehicle, nor a flaming device. The main point being that “Jed” has made many statements which have a direct effect on peoples lives, and I feel that it is important that his ideas begin to receive a bit of vetting, especially for those who have enthusiastically embraced them.
I welcome your participation.

Jed’s own realization maybe vulnerable to criticism not only because his claims to a grandness of Being are in some ways not as impressive as some Teachers in the world, but because of his curious insistence on “Truth” as being the only and essential quality of enlightenment.

Jed is very big on “Truth”, which is a reasonable metaphor for liberated Mind, yet he is loath to embrace or even acknowledge Absolute Heart or Love, which I believe is also an essential quality of Free Being, or Bliss (a word he despises) or at least “peace” or “serenity”, the expression of the sublime pleasure of free vitality (the liberated “gut”). Why one and not the others?

My issue here with Jed is that anyone who is a Realizer, and many many who are not Realizers, understand that meta-concepts such as truth or freedom or love are only stand-ins or symbols for the ineffable reality of Existence, (the fingers pointing at the Moon, rather than the Moon itself).

Someone so rigidly connected to one or another metaphor is not only displaying an extraordinary naiveté about language and ideas but quite possible revealing the limitations of his own “realization”.

If you do a quick scan of your memory for all the various metaphors which have been used to describe ultimate reality (in its entirety), you will find that many many words have been used to describe It, (what I am choosing at the moment to arbitrarily label, “reality”).
Here’s a quick list :

God, the One, Consciousness, Truth, Presence, Love, Knowledge, Reality, Freedom, Mind, Heart, the Universe, (Divine) Ignorance, the Absolute, Buddha Nature, Christ Consciousness, Nirvana, Being, “The One”, Spirit, “I AM”, the Tao and the Self.

I’ve also seen nearly every one if these concepts (usually un-capitalized) used as indicators of an unreal and fragmented relationship to existence.

To adamantly affirm one faculty or expression of liberated existence, as Jed does, over another, suggests to me the real possibility of a significant separative activity or self division in the author, and therefore a partial realization of “Truth”.

Also on the ontological question, Jed can’t seem to conceive of the possibility that other individuals may also be referring to a similar realization to his own (what he insists upon naming “no self”) by using Meta-concepts such as Christ, Krishna and Buddha or God consciousness or “Self-Realization. In other words their realization may be quite the same as his “No-Self”, but because of the necessity of using the clumsy tool of language to communicate to others, they, like him, were forced to use concepts of some kind.

Also Jed’s conceit that he is the first and only genuine Realizer, and that all the rest have been charlatans (Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment) seems to me to be the height of arrogance and presumption, and doesn’t speak well of his imagination either. ( be advised— this paragraph is now under review. I need to either find the quote and cite the page, or remove it. It will take some time as I will need to reread the 2nd book.)

At this point I would like to refer to the teaching of Adyashanti as it concerns Jed. Adyashanti makes the very useful point that (at least) 3 functional areas have to be liberated in a human being before that person is enlightened. One is the mind, and another is the heart, and lastly, the “gut” (the survival instinct). There is a great deal of evidence in Jed’s books to suggest that he has mastered the mind and the gut, but almost none to suggest that he has transcended the selfish-egoic-reactive emotional heart.

Even though he claims full Realization, I believe he has yet to be liberated at the Heart and therefore I see his statements such as “I don’t do heart”, or love, can be seen as evidence of his limitations. Adyashanti makes the point that when the Heart is liberated that there are no problems with relating to humans etc. Jed makes the point that he doesn’t “get people”.

Jed also states on the closing pages of Chapter 18 in Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment that Arjuna shit his pants on the battlefield in the Bhagava Gita because at that moment he knew that what he must slay was his own Heart. Jed makes the point that the core of a human being is emotional and that the core of all emotions is the one basic emotion of fear, and that the source of all emotions is the Heart – the “Leviathan” which must be slain.

Although a brilliant analysis by Jed up to this point, his own limitations prevent him from really getting the point of that crisis of Arjuna. In my humble opinion, what Arjuna needed to slay was not his Heart but the contractions of his Heart. Or more to the point, his identification with those feeling-contractions. Arjuna needs to transcend his limited, clinging emotional attachments to his relationships, those relationships that help sustain his separative self-sense. Those attachments are not “Love”, they are ego masquerading as Love. The Masqerading ego is what must be slain, not Love.

Here Jed seems to reveal his core error: to him the heart is at essence fear-bound emotion, rather than understanding that, like the mind, which can exist in a liberated state or a contracted state, and the Vital Gut that can exist in either a constricted frightened state or a free and full energetic state, that the Free Heart is equally an aspect of Enlightenment as well as an equal meta-concept for the same, just as a Free Mind is.

The contracted emotional fearful heart is symptomatic of a deeper contraction of the self curving in upon itself, rather than being intrinsically contracted.
Jed, in many ways, says and demonstrates a lack of feeling capacity more characteristic of an ordinary dissociated guy, than that of a perfect Realizer, that he claims to be.

I believe that Jed hasn’t yet realized that:

  • the Heart can function in an un-contracted way, and is not therefore, by necessity, a vehicle of attachment, as he puts it, but is an essential functional element of a free “person”. Just as the un-contracted Mind is not limited to functioning as the contracted thinking mind.
  • Moreover, he doesn’t acknowledge the possibility that former Realizers were using “Heart” as a meta-concept, in exactly the way he does with his use of the concept of ”Truth”.

Sadly for us all, it seems to me that Jed must listen to his own advice to go “further”.

submitted by Brian