The New Limbo Where Souls Go When God Dies –
One Man’s Autolysis by Brian Emmett

Note: I have become convinced that I should publish this essay in it’s current unfinished form. It needs stylistic, grammatical and organizational refinement, yet I can’t seem to get myself interested enough to do it. Yet those who have read it report that it is very interesting and useful to them, so here it is, as is…version 22

This essay is my attempt to describe the experience or state that I and others have wandered into, for better or worse!

The Milieu
The Victims!
Where It Is
What Do I Know?
What Happens to the Dropouts
The Lay of the Land
Taboo Talk
The Look of It
Personal Perspective
Not Stillness but Motion and Direction
Being Still
Others Process
Focus On Self
The Future
Talking School Critique
Cultural Context


This whole thing started with an ending. It was the ending of the principle focus of my adult life. This story is about how I came to my divorce from Spirituality.
As in any good divorce, one may maintain a constructive and positive relationship to one’s former spouse -in this case, deities and teachers and practices of mediation, and experience of every kind, high and low.
Admittedly, as a result of surviving a divorce, one can become frightfully independent, often to a fault. That is what happened to me.
But the wonderful consequence of this post partum experience is that all the pressing and important issues, as well as the minutiae of life, can and do get dealt with now with relative ease.
In the new phase of life that has befallen me I find a place where the big issues, from the meaning of life and existence, to one’s place in the world, to love, or not enough love, mortality, the future of the human race, one’s relationship to any and all creators and deities etc, all these issues, are all neatly resolved within the single arena. As any of the great human issues arises and affects one with suffering or joy, confusion or vision, hope or despair, the ‘answer’ is always resolved in a new and different zone of experience, one that heretofore I never knew existed. This development does not of course allow for a release from the primal existential issue of living as an ego itself. That is a bridge yet to be crossed with any finality.
But now I must push back the focus and begin to set the stage in a meaningful cultural sense so that you can have some context with which to understand this with a little more exactitude, and hopefully compassion. That is -where I and a handful of others have gone off to, having left your spiritual scene.
What follows is a strange account of a man who has no spiritual pedigree.
All I can say for myself is that sometimes, errand boys do have tales to tell. I invite you to listen for a moment or two and see if you, dear spiritual person, can’t hear a distant rumbling of something that you do indeed recognize, however faintly.

A common assumption among spiritual folk is that those brethren who have left the Spiritual Scene, do so in order to return to an ordinary ‘worldly’ life, or maybe at best, a very compromised version of their past spiritual practice.
As a result, many of us who have indeed departed ‘The Fold,’ may wish to communicate to others several relevant facts:
” Many of us are indeed still very much interested in Conscious Life, but that we have been ejected by some mysterious force, out from spiritual life, and therefore can no longer adhere to the old ways, and cannot, for love or money, return.
” we have found what for us is a wonderful new way to go, but that, unfortunately, it is very hard to describe that place to those who do not already live there, and it is a place that is very easy to misunderstand.
This is of course partly because we can’t offer a recognizable name or label to help others to locate us on their worldview map. We can no longer say something simple and intelligible like: “I’m a Buddhist” or “I’m into Advaita” or “I’m a Sannyasin” or “I’m a Christian.”
This piece will be my attempt to give flesh to this ‘Other World’ where some of us now reside, and perhaps maybe even suggest a name for it, in order to facilitate better communications and understanding with our old friends.
The Milieu
Try to imagine that there is a way station or cul de sac that one may arrive at in the course and progress of a spiritual life that is neither well charted nor well described, in either the literature or the culture of spirituality. This place sits well below the radar. It is a relatively uncharted territory. This may be because the principles and truths of this station usually seems to contradict or deny the principles, doctrines and practices of most all spiritual cultures, and because it is correctly understood to represent a station in life that is indeed ‘un-enlightened.’
This zone is a place that no one ever visits voluntarily, no one really intends to spend any time in, and no one wants to see a friend or associate disappear into. It has few advocates and it bears no proper name.
A strange miasma of testing awaits you there. As a dweller in that place, I can report with some authority that it has many rare and wonderful qualities about it, although torturous passages abound and often predominate. Maybe one of your friends or associates lives there, although they will probably be slow to admit it. It is a true Limbo.
This place is a nether-world, a spur off the main thoroughfare of spiritual culture and practices, below the mysterious peaks of Enlightenment, and as you might expect, aloof from the humdrum valley of common materialism and worldliness.
People who find themselves inhabiting this region may discover that they are somehow misunderstood by almost everyone, except for those who have had a sustained experience of it. Folk who dwell there may appear to many to have simply ‘lost the plot.’
Not altogether surprisingly, dabbling in this zone is distinctly taboo in most spiritual cultures. If it is referenced there, it will be only with the affection and attention that we usually pay to reports of brain cancer, or tumors of some kind. Those who had a temporary brush with it and bounced off usually describe it as a bizarre and shattering episode, an experience when their spiritual practice went entirely off the rails, and from which they somehow escaped, usually by the ‘grace of God.’ Kind of like an encounter with an large shark while swimming in deep water that nearly ended one’s life – it’s just too dangerous and traumatic for most people to dwell upon. Better to forget about it and get back to ‘the Truth.’

Even for those of us who toil here in the post-spiritual world, there is indeed a great deal of uncertainty about what kind of zone we have stumbled into. That unknowing isn’t a tragedy, and in fact there are some real advantages in not-knowing.
But on the other hand, it would be handy to be able to communicate articulately with others about what our new life is like, and what the options and advantages are outside of traditional spirituality. So I find that I have a desire to describe just what the lay of the land is for those of us who are obviously not enlightened, but who feel they have exhausted ordinary, or even esoteric spirituality and have found themselves swimming in an unrecognizable paradigm.
And it also seems like a very natural and inevitable request for others to make of us: to ask those of us who have exited from spirituality just what we now do for ‘conscious life’ if it is not based on spiritual practices¸ affirmations, beliefs or relationships or discrimination.
But it also must be said, as you probably would have guessed, that there isn’t a monolithic ‘new place’ that all of us post-spiritualists have gone to when we were done with spirituality, like a lounge, or a church basement for lapsed Catholics, or defrocked Rabis.

** The Victims! **
A number of spiritual people I know have drifted rather helplessly into this world, although I also know people who went directly from an ordinary non-spiritual life into this odd space. Perhaps we all may gain something useful by looking directly at this zone where some of us have gone off to, and consider exactly why we left the pleasant or ‘uplifting’ occupation and community of spiritual life; what we are now doing; and what we anticipate may be the result of this diversion into the spiritual underworld.
You dear reader, may have either tasted of this world that I speak, or have had the occasion to ponder the fate of those ‘departed folk’: have they given up on their conscious life? Have they been lured back into the ‘material’ world? Are they inconsolably angry at someone or something? Have they… turned to the Dark Side!?
** What Happens to the Dropouts **
I am sure that some who drop out of spiritual life, do, more or less, ‘drop out’ and go back to ordinary life.
Many, no doubt, maintain a floating amalgamation of assorted practices and perspectives, organized in a personal and eclectic fashion, and not held on to dogmatically.
But these are not the folk that I want to focus on in this essay. More to the point and to set the record straight, I want to talk about how this ‘leaving’ has been a great spiritual boon for many of us, and how this leaving can even initiate a great acceleration of conscious life. It can generate (sometimes for the first time) an inexplicable, auto-generated transformation process, thereby replacing one’s heretofore cherished practice. Jed McKenna has described the most intense form of that auto-generated process as a hell on wheels. The name he gives it is ‘Spiritual Autolysis’, (as distinct from the self-generated writing and contemplation practice that he calls by that same name). Walt Whitman called it “the fire, the sweet Hell within.”
And lastly, I believe that some may believe about themselves that they have been departed as spirituality failures, and believe that, not only can’t they get it up for more traditional spirituality anymore, but they believe that they have totally failed at the game – are incapable. I believe in some cases they may be mistaken about that, but simply haven’t recovered their bearings or orientation after a very rough shift in perspective.
Consider this: The spiritual person can easily acknowledge that there are these two phases of life:
” The non-spiritual life of ignorance, resistance or denial of spiritual reality, and
” The acceptance of at least some degree of spiritual responsibility and embrace
Spiritual folk know about the first stage because most have experienced it. They know about the second also because they currently experience it. Further, they know that trying to convince a person who is in denial of spirituality is hopeless, because it requires a breakthrough incident to turn a person towards spirit and few if any mortals can supply such.
We Post-Spiritualitites are in a similar position relative to the spiritual folk who now misunderstand us. We have actually lived both the non-spiritual life and the spiritual life. Having entered into a new and distinct phase, we can tell the difference between all three! We know we can’t convince spiritual folk of what we have learned and understood because they will not be ready to understand until the breakthrough incident occurs for them. Then it will be : “Aahhaaa! Now I see what you have been talking about!!!”

* * * *
All that being said as introduction, I will say a few things that I can discern about the post-spiritual path in general, to give flesh to certain ideas, and I will attempt to expound on that phenomenon and offer specific examples, when required, from my own life, if I think that may be helpful to the reader, always keeping in mind that there are probably as many post-spiritual paths as there are spiritual paths.
Let me start by saying that the practices, lifestyles, and relationships that many of us fairly worshipped in the near past, that were the bedrock of our lives, now seem strangely obsolete to us. It does not follow from that that we therefore disrespect or wish to abuse those things; it is just that many of us feel that we have moved on, or moved off in a different direction, and would never, and probably, can never, go back to them again, even if we wanted to. The vast majority of us are not anti-spiritual but post-spiritual, and we happily support anyone who finds the ancient Paths useful in their own unfoldment. Viva la’difference.
**Where It Is **
I sometimes call this spiritual underworld ‘Post Spirituality,’ although its values and goals are in accord with many of the great truths of Spirituality and Transcendentalism, such of those of Advaita and Zen and Taoism, and the new Teachers such as Byron Katie, Jed McKenna and Eckhart Tolle. At least the parts where they tell you that: ‘there are no ‘means’ that can get you enlightened, and/or ‘you as ego can’t make the journey’.
On the other hand, Post-Spiritualists may take mild offence at the compromises that those old and new teachers make when they sometimes contradict themselves, by turning that assertion around and offering yet more ‘skillful means’ to Enlightenment!
So, in all honesty, some of us are even a little uncomfortable with the Monists/Non-Dualists/Transcendalists of the realm!
I had an Italian Uncle who was a foreman on a railroad in New York and who offered this humorous wisecrack about young dudes who didn’t fit in with the serious work program on the tracks: ‘too heavy for the light work, and too light for the heavy work!’ If enlightenment is the ‘heavy work’ then that is an apt wise-crack about us Post-Spiritualists. We are not Enlightened, but we also don’t abide any spiritual practices.
**The Main Differences**
Post-Spiritualists affirm the non-dual nature of Reality that emanates from and is sourced from the Singularity of Being. But the distinction, I would suggest, is that Post-Spiritualists tend to dismiss any practices or techniques or Masters as obsolete artifacts, as the final dalliance that usurps and ultimately the movements of their own intrinsic being towards reunification of self with Self.
For example, take this excerpt gleaned from the Internet:
“I finally got down to the business of watching my thoughts. The meditation was on. Keenly I continued to inspect each thought, comprehend it and reject it as it was Not I. I pushed on. Meditating at this time, as long as you don’t drift off to sleep, I have found to be very effective and it was no different last night. The mind began to slow and a great focus emerged. No thought was escaping awareness and each was being “digested” by the furnace of intelligence.
Soon, as often happens with these meditations, sweet joy and vast energy made their welcome appearance. No analysis was being used. Simply, thoughts were being seen for what they were and being rejected as not being “Who I am”. Awareness and intelligence were in full flow, both were acute and inclusive. Insight was fully operational. The state grew very pleasurable and seemed to continue on and on. I remained as vigilant as possible, not allowing anything to stick – not attaching to any thoughts. At some point much later, I had turned and fallen asleep, but throughout the night there were episodes where I was awake and watching, negating, enjoying. To me, this is so much fun. At another point even thought formations seemed to just cease, but the watching continued. Neti, neti – not this, nor this. The secret here is that it does not matter who you are, it only matters who you are not.”
This meditation is how this gentle soul and doubtlessly good man enjoyed himself, and had some ‘fun’. Which is wonderful! Now what, may I ask you, dear reader, is wrong with this picture? Actually it is not a question of something being wrong but of something missing. He doesn’t seem to get the autolysis part, in my view.
His last line states: “The secret here is that it does not matter who you are, it only matters who you are not”, which is a fair enough truth, but what I see him actually experiencing in his heightened meditation is: it only matters what you are not, rather than what he claims which is -it only matters who you are not.
Someone in this position has achieved a grand and wonderful capacity for mystical experience of a transcendental variety. ‘He’ remains the Observer, watching and pleasantly invulnerable. Delightfully immortalized by the event. There is no crisis here. There is no death event. It’s all a bit like watching a good movie on a Saturday afternoon with the family. Lovely to be sure and very human, but…it goes not to freedom, I suspect. I am reminded of my favorite quote attributed to Jesus, where he is reported as advising: “he who loves his life shall lose it…”
This is not an event, such as Ramana relates, of lying down and being consumed by a fear of death and then utterly surrendering himself to that impending death. Moreover it will never, I predict, become one. It is actually a distraction and a block that will prevent such an event from occurring.
You may well ask: why disparage the elegance of an Advaitic exercise whereby the user enquirers: ‘Who am I’ and then responds ‘neti, neti,’ and who in the course of that exercise ‘loses his/her mind’ and experiences a delightful bliss. The point here is that what has been undone by this enquiry. Isn’t it of ‘the mind’, and not of the self.
Freedom from identification with his thoughts and even the mind has occurred, which is thrilling, but still masks the secret seed of the self which is relating this delightful tale to us. But that’s the one that has got to die, not be entertained. This kind of refined spiritual experience is the first form of the self-contraction and the last delusion. I will echo Jed McKenna in saying that it was actually produced by our beloved Mistress, who goes by the name of Maya, done for our great entertainment, and to keep us thinking we have exited her amusement park, when actually we are just ensconced in a secret place of enjoyment, in an obscure corner of her Amusement Park. It is not about liberation.

* * *
Post-Spiritualists could also be described as Radical Fatalists insofar as they contend that any action of the ego that presumes to be non-dual (such as Advaitic enquiry directed towards releasing the self from the stranglehold of the ego, or Byron Katie questions about Truth, or Jed McKenna recommendations to do a writing exercise he calls ‘spiritual autolysis’) are at best higher psycho-spiritual exercises having no substantive bearing on realizing ‘who’ one is.
The only well-known teacher who I know of who unambiguously championed that POV of- no method, no intention, and no guru, was U.G. Krishnamurti.
So what is the worldview of the Post-Spiritualists? How is Post-Spirituality or Divine Fatalism different from ordinary ‘fatalism’? Ordinary and religious fatalism is grounded in simple ego-consciousness = “it is God’s will,” or, it “is my fate to succeed (or suffer).” An Post-Spiritualists intuits, experiences, and understands the monistic non-dual nature of reality and understands that if ‘his’ divine self wants him to be this or that – so it will be. If his divine self wants him to be enlightened, that will be that, and vice versa. If the divine self wishes ‘him’ to be striving but not reaching enlightenment or freedom, then that, and only that will happen. No ‘practices’ prevail or matter. And dare I say it: if the divine wishes to use one of its personalities to experience something extremely dreadful, well,… you get the idea!
Does the ego have ANY say at all in this matter? The truest answer may depend solely upon how transparent the questioner is in the moment when he asks it. From one POV, he does seem to have a functioning free will, and, “he can prove it! Just watch me move!” From another POV – not at all. Everything he does or experiences is only the divine acting through him. He is helpless and in that helplessness he may find an exquisite freedom and serenity.
Although I am not absolutely sure that I have ever met an enlightened person, big claims and transmissions notwithstanding, most seem to say or do something or other that compromises their own proffered Truths. They say this, but then they do that. Adi Da used to say “the way I teach is not a reflection of me but you!” and I understand that that could be but the degree that some compromise is not altogether conscionable to my mind. Even U.G. worries me with his (apparently) extreme reactivity. I am into anger and keeping it real with the dark side, but Jesus, U.G.! Could have chilled out a bit!
I think it is fair to say that in religion we attempt to access greater Reality through the medium of a Faith, that includes beliefs, practices, observances, and obedience to authority figures of many varieties.
In spirituality we insist upon a more direct connection, at least potentially, to the same or a greater metaphysical Reality, and we enact a whole series of practices in order to make that connection happen.
In transcendental ‘non-dual’ paths such as Advaita and Zen and Taoism, we abandon all those things, and we substitute a subjective and self-oriented practice (“enquire, who am I”.) That practice is a deliberate attempt to confound even the motivation to do practices or to change states.
In Post-Spirituality, we abandon not only the beliefs, the practices, and all the authority figures, (including an abandonment of ‘gods’), but we also abandon even the intentionally self-defeating transcendentalist practices that Advaita Vedanta (for example) is famous for.
In a sense we Post-Spiritualists prefer to take an existential stand, with a certain disregard for the potential for higher evolutionary development or capacity (God-Realization), substituting a radically present and surrendered relationship to what Is. We trust that there is great or greater wisdom, love or truth in the fullness of that realization than that which is suggested by aforementioned spirituality.
As a consequence, we find ourselves quite alone and quite un-sheparded by anyone; we don’t really believe anything peripheral to our new conscious life, and we have no practices that are essential to us (we don’t do a heck of a lot of formal mediation).
Our only trustable calculus of reality is the Truth we can intuit, or have the experienced of. As my old teacher, Adi Da, used to say: “Truth is self-authenticating!”
But we are still on the path – that is, just like our spiritual brothers and sisters, we love the Sun and we are drawn closer to her fullness. Or maybe more accurately, we are being pulled closer to the Sun, not by our own rocket power, but the gravitational pull of the Sun’s mass. We have lost quite a bit of control, and we are now in a ‘decaying’ orbit, because we have given up much of the struggle to get somewhere.
We are Lost in Space! Floating without hope. Dead men walking, the undead talking. Drifting ‘helplessly’. We are on our own now! Good luck! This path feels something like one of those science fiction movies where the astronauts have volunteered for a mission to a planet so far away, that by the time they return, if they ever return, everyone they ever knew will be dead and gone. Quite sobering when you think about it!
But the Freedom!!! Oh, we love our reckless new freedom. Live or die, this is the way we will go.
** The Lay of the Land **

So if spiritual practices etc don’t work, and if U.G. Krishnamurti and Jed McKenna are correct that the only event that can deliver unadulterated transcendence is a catabolic breakdown that Jed McKenna refers to as Spiritual Autolysis, then that is what has to happen- “I”, as I know myself to be, will have to die! Furthermore, there is the crucial issue as to whether one can even choose such an un-doing. It may well be, and it is consistent with everything else we have been talking here, that the ego cannot, does not, and will not ever choose to die, and therefore realize ‘The Truth’, to become enlightened.
That implies that you and me, dear reader, cannot arrange our own spiritual success or ego ‘demise’, through either gradual or revolutionary practices or even sacred intentions. That suggests, doesn’t it, that it has to come from the ‘Other End’- the ‘god’ side of us. In other words, your autolysis, your death, your subsequent enlightenment, will only come about when your ‘not-you’ chooses it. Yet another nail in the coffin of spirituality!
If that is so then I and other Post-Spiritualists have a different POV than many of the great Transcendentalists. At this point some others will no doubt assert that the guru, and only the guru, is the accomplishing device that can produce that first and last step described above. In response, others like me will quote Zen Master Linji: “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” In other words, you have wandered beyond the guru’s garden walls. You must now fend for yourself.
But I realize that there is no arguing anyone into either POV. In my opinion, both statements may be true. If you are starting out in spiritual life and you reject teachers out of hand, then you probably have a fool for a guru – your ego! But there comes a time when one must face the dark alone, when one must experience directly the cause of their suffering and begin to cease animating the activity that is creating separation and ego, and even a great guru can’t do that for you. Not in absolute terms.
Attraction? Some teachers have said that attraction to the Divine is the winning formula. There is a strong logic there I don’t doubt it. But I may like the shiny thing I see over there, but die to get it? You’ve got to be kidding me!
Then what if anything is one’s day to day responsibility with regard to a non-intentional spiritual process? I suspect that everyone, everyday, and in every way is actively involved in both acceding to and putting off a genuine Spiritual Autolysis Process with myriad distractions, high and low. That’s the ego for you.
For those gravitating towards a less self-divided experience, their response is to, as much as they are so inclined, seems to be to ‘get out of the way.’ There is only the slowing down of this machine of evolution via transformation, to one degree or another. Although paradoxically, I believe that one must maintain ordinary physical, emotional and mental equanimity in order to prevent the body-mind complex from sucking higher consciousness into its own pit of self absorption.
So on a progressive day you may find me more at peace and surrendered, and on a regressive day more reactive and distracted. But the paradox asserts itself again, right here: is it really my ego who is cooperating and behaving and surrendering and being ‘good’ that day, or does the attunement come from Source, and I only think that I am ‘in tune’ on that good day? Perhaps the Truth is indeed one of ‘divine fatalism.’ Perhaps every movement towards unity, or away from it, is only Source doing what it wants with its ‘local representatives,’ me and you.
** Taboo Talk **
A fine case can be made that spirituality is the greatest delusion that Maya ever created. How do we feel about that? And conversely, how much relief does that notion afford us? How much of a threat is it to our world-view and our sense of survival? Perhaps there really is truth in that most despised of Oriental concepts – that of Fatalism. If that is the case, then it’s not so much that there is ‘no free will’, but instead – One Free Will!
I know one thing is for sure about this question: it can’t be argued or thought through to a definitive conclusion. I can’t convince anyone of this possibility. I am sure that it is quite beyond the capacity and power of the human mind to do so. There is evidence on both sides that is quite convincing, and all I can say is that at this particular juncture of my life I am finding more evidence to support the fatalist POV. You know, it is not that far a leap because every spiritual system that I know, from Christianity to Zen, proclaims the spiritual incompetence of the ego. How far a jump is it to suggest that not only can’t the ego enlighten itself- because it is powerless to do so, but that the ego doesn’t even really figure into it? That it is a shadow puppet of the Divine Being and Will.
If that’s the case, where do we file ‘spirituality’ now?
*** The Look of It ***
The answer to the question of ‘what remains’ of spiritual life for the post-spiritualist looks something like this:
” Energetically, it lies within the context of breakdown and surrender.
” Intellectually, it is characterized more by an appreciation of not-knowing, and paradox, rather than knowing.
” Volitionally, it lies within the province of non-intentionality and involuntary progression. It is not an acausal system like Advaita, but an anticausal system.
” Sociologically, it dwells within the domain of individuality.
” Psychologically, it inhabits the province of core self.
” Physically it is feels to me to be strongly related to the chest area, although it has nothing to do with emotions or love. Notice how, when people refer to their ‘self’, they usually tap their chest.
” The mood of it would perhaps best be described as subdued.
” Attitudinally it might be described as a bit apathetic.
” Politically and culturally, it is identified with an allegiance to personal sovereignty – by a disinclination for submission to any authority whatsoever.
” Temporally, it relates to a sense of present-ness.
” And spatially it within the space of here.
By the way, by ‘present-ness’ I don’t mean ‘the Presence of the Almighty’ or some such spiritual fandango.

If you just give it a little thought, the logic of our position reveals the obvious. For all the language and instruction to the contrary, spirituality, no matter how sophisticated, is based on active work or seeking for reconnection to ‘reality’, or at the very least, the intention to experience unity with all that is!
But what happens when a person has exhausted, and I do mean physically, emotionally and mentally EXHAUSTED that capability for movement in himself? The answer is that the tide changes from flow to ebb. If you can no longer find the muscle in yourself to affirm or commune with or identify with a preferred reality, deity, guru, state or condition, what you are obviously left with is a stillness, or present-ness, that is as empty as it is palpable. Alone, quite alone. Additionally if you mingle that disposition with an auto-generated autolysis process, you may start to get some interesting fireworks.
After a lifetime of ‘successful’ meditation, I find that I can’t really seriously meditate anymore, because what used to routinely be a rich and sacred event or ‘ceremony’, is now a relatively meaningless accoutrement, that feels somehow angular, self-divided, regresssive and needy. That accoutrement isn’t bad of course, but I don’t relate to it as the real deal anymore, so I don’t bother with it too much. It has something of the quality of brushing my teeth or doing a little yoga to loosen up. Fine, but definitely not the cutting or creative edge of my conscious life. Actually, not just not cutting edge, but an actual distraction, a diversion. In contrast, the locus and experience of ‘self’ feels tangibly deeper and truer than my previous grand experiences of the Divine.
And yes, I can hear it now – “he just doesn’t want to endure the rigor of spiritual practice anymore.” “He has given up the struggle and is following the pleasure principle now!” My reply to that thing is that since departing from formal spirituality my life has become much much harder. Oftentimes it is so hard that I think that I really can’t bear it. If indeed I was taking the easy way out and had succumbed to the pleasure principle, don’t you thing that I would reverse gear and get my ass back to ‘God’ in a heartbeat in order to regain what I experienced as the easier and more respectable path, if easiness was my driving principle?
In contrast, it is my experience that rather than pursuing and or engaging ‘the Divine,’ as I did for 35 years previously, I now find that the divine pursues me: not with a flower or a box of chocolates, but “with a vengeance”. Rather than having ‘the practice’ to do every day, I now find that I have a process that “does me” every day. Another way of describing the change is that spiritual life becomes more or less involuntary, rather than volitional, as it had been in the past.
I must also admit the contradiction here that I still tend to actively presume that process is somewhat under my ‘control’ (please try not to laugh out loud at my inconsistency!) and substituting for meditation on any thing, or any state, or any guru or being, I simply cease performing spiritual activities and simply become aware of my tendency to resist my suffering and do try to allow the ‘other’ space of simply being to reemerge. Seemingly as a result, I often find myself restored to a space which appears to be situated somehow centered around my chest. I feel that I can then operate outside of, but not identified with mind, emotion and appetites. There, I feel sublime – mindless and emotionless and quite bodily serene. So my process is much more about cessation of any effort or volition or desire than connecting to the ‘all’ or the ‘other’.
To those who may ask: “but you used and validated those meditative or contemplative exercises and relationships for most of your life. Are you saying now that that exercise was a lot of nonsense”? Well, the answer is a most sincere and respectful yes and no. Perhaps the following story may begin to explain how that could be: my ex-teacher used to say that the first instance of the Divine consenting to becoming ‘unenlightened,’ and consequently, egoic, is a self-contraction in its own field of limitless infinite being, and that contraction then creates “act(s) of attention and feeling(s) of relatedness.”
But when queried about how to transcend that contraction of Being- (from relatedness and attention) and restore it back to ‘feeling and awareness’, he would answer to “put your attention on me”, referring to himself as guru and a gateway personality to the divine reality.
When further questioned about the problem of using the already derided self-contracted faculty of ‘attention’ to achieve liberation, he would admit to the clear quandary that those instructions represented, but say that he would handle that problem for us – perhaps some thing like a ‘trading of karmas’ that he referred to in the past would be affected by him.
My point here is that at a certain point it becomes your responsibility, no, your fate, your destiny, your obligation! to abandon spiritual tools, however useful they were in the past, in order to accept a different and new responsibility, because those tools are all, in essence, the form and substance of limitation and self division. Ironically I will interject a Pop legend here: when the ‘Who’ were asked why they smashed their instruments after every concert they explained that the guitars and drums, that were the instrument that liberated them from conventional consciousness, at a certain point are revealed to be the new prison walls. They felt that they had to destroy them in order to keep expanding.
At this point in my own life, I can’t really make serious use of ‘attention’, or its derivatives, or even strategic ‘non-attention’ stratagems, the way Advaita does, nor any forms of relatedness, nor any acts or practices to further my conscious life. They would all be transparently counterproductive for me. Moreover, I can’t take seriously the use of any of the ‘skillful means’ of spirituality to further that end. Those skillful means are now the part of my life we in Adidam used to refer to as, ‘conductivity (health-giving but secondary exercises).’

** My Exit **
It should be emphasized that most of us, as far as I can tell, didn’t ‘decide’ to abandon spirituality. It came about for me that after 30 years of practice with one Teacher, I rather suddenly realized that enough was simply enough, and I so formally ‘resigned’ my relationship to my guru and his institutions and culture. But that act was really only preamble. I carried on for perhaps 8 months until I heard that another teacher from our spiritual lineage was coming to town for several days. In fact, he was staying at the house right next door to me at my friendly neighbor’s house. What luck, I thought! Maybe then some communication or transmission of greater truth will befall me! Maybe I’ll even get to socialize with him in the off-hours. I participated in the preparations for his arrival and his comfort by doing a bit of carpentry and looked forward to the day.
I clearly had a need to fulfill and a hope that I treasured, that my encounter with him would be transformative. When the day arrived in July of 2007 I excitedly attended a morning Kirtan but was profoundly deflated by the event, or should I say non-event. Nothing even vaguely transformative occurred. That evening, before my weekly Men’s Group, I came home from work and collapsed in a heap of sorrow and pain. Eventually I managed to drag myself down the road to the group and broke down crying in front of everyone, sobbing like a girl, that “everything I believed about spirituality and spiritual life was false”, and more that, mercifully, I can’t recall. I knew now that my whole life had been built upon a grand miscalculation, and there was no denying it anymore.
This was not the first time that language like that came out of my mouth and changed my life. In 1987 a similar truth issued from me and drastically changed my course. But in that case, the critique was directed at me, my cultism, my idealism and my fundamentalism, as well as the foolishness of my peers. And it took me about 5 years to begin to participate once again in organized spiritual practices. I was profoundly leery of my previous missteps and on guard against the herd mentality of the spiritual community.
But the 2007 unraveling was directed at the core of the whole business: not just my teacher, and his teachings, but more importantly, the very notion of doing spiritual practice itself.
I hadn’t done a computation to get there, it was just obvious to me. I sensed with my whole being that here was something utterly false about my belief in, and participation in ‘spirituality.’ I could never go back. It was over.
The works of Jed McKenna were suggested (once again) by another friend some time later, and I read them with complete delight, whereas just year or two prior, I would have scoffed at most everything in those books. Those books confirmed the key reality that I had recently begun to work with on my own- that ultimately it was indeed necessary to ‘kill the Buddha.’ And not when one had ‘achieved’ enlightenment, but well before that point. And that time had arrived.
Otherwise, the relationship to a guru or a practice, that once was a force for liberation that drew me beyond conventional Maya, would become an new refined albatross, weighted around my neck and ultimately killing my spirit and capacity for ego-transcendence. Why? Because surrender at some point becomes a critical gesture. And one of the most precious belongings that a practitioner ‘owns’ is his practice and teacher. If you don’t find it in yourself to cast it into the wind someday, those relationships which grew you up from a spiritual child into manhood, will someday smother you, if you don’t let go of them.
But there are many layers to this unraveling that I have had to endure so I don’t want it to sound like some traditional ‘Satori’ awakening experience, such as I’ve enjoyed innumerable times. Nor do I wish it to be confused with the disappointment and upset that comes when one is disappointed in a spiritual encounter, of which I have also had so many. And there are many layers of mental, emotional, energetic, and physical obstructions that may have to be released once one detaches from the spiritual machinery. So it is no shortcut or easy way ‘out.’ The story above is simply of a layer of a persona being undone. But there are many.

In its stead, when I do indeed surrender to that mysterious pressure that routinely and unintentionally builds up inside me, I often find I descend to a depth of “presentness” that I continually assess to be far more sane, sober, still, peaceful and real than the magnificent hookups that commonly used to occur between me and the Divine, during my long history of doing spiritual practices.
And furthermore, it’s worth saying that this response is not based upon an esoteric opening or maneuvering of any kind. It’s wisdom is in standing still in the midst of the ego’s reaction to: boredom, doubt and physical discomfort mortality and the absence of love, and every and any kind of diminishment of self that the ego fears. Of late it is profoundly associated with the body in my own case, in the chest area.
In other words
In any case a new developmental phase opens up with its own costs and delights. For delight you may now find that you have spontaneous access to an experience of presentness that is extradinary and quite pleasant. It has much of the richness and, shall we say, pleasure of your best moments of god communion, but it is located in your self.
* * Not Stillness but Motion and Direction **
Our universal programming as humans is to be non-stop hunters, not altogether different from the stories we hear about sharks that can never stop swimming because it is only their propulsion through the water that brings life-giving oxygen to their gills. Without movement, they perish. Similarly, we humans even at the best of times, are constantly feeding ourselves with a vast spectrum of stimulations and entertainments and ‘accomplishments.’ Eating, drinking, sexing, loving, thinking, working, philosophizing (as I am doing right now writing this essay), contemplating and even communing with nature or deity, are all examples.
And we are doing all that ‘feeding’ in our effort to deny the gnawing reality that we, as apparent egos, have become detached from the great sustenance of Source, and are actively experiencing our impending death therefore, in every moment. Any reunion with Source demands the cessation of that separative activity of egoity. We must become aware of our perilous disposition, feel our agony at being cut-off from Source, and either by our own volition of by God’s Grace, cease to identify solely with the machinery of the body-mind. As Carlos Castaneda put it: “it is important to become aware that death is always lurking over our left shoulder.”

* Being Still**
Thus being still and present flies in the face of the machine of full spectrum consumption and avoidance. Developing present-ness is, at least for a while, saying ‘no’ to everything! Later the game may shift, but the essence of this phase, is a big ‘no’ to all but self.
Thus simply allowing all the fears and reactions, philosophies and desires to be present. Noticing the body trying to run away or implode, and simply staying with the fear of annihilation is best. Yes, you can legitimately correct obvious shutdowns like when your breathing has stopped, or the muscles in your belly have drawn into a clench, but those gestures are not seeking responses, but just common housekeeping and maintenance. And yes, there are ever deeper levels to this business.
Indeed the fire of this process is such that, as you say ‘no’ to everything (but self), you may find that the universe responds by saying no to you. The universe does this in order to help you focus on your business to stay present. So to those who suppose that this phase is a self-indulgent ‘cake-walk’, think again. Many ordinary life opportunities that otherwise would have likely come your way may not, to your great consternation. You may find yourself living in what feels like a modern-day version of the yogi’s cave of renunciation, or a prolonged ‘dark night of the soul.’ As a Westerner, you may well hate that, addicted as you are to so much entertainment and gratification. You may even lose your health and maybe even your life. Many, I’m told, have lost their sanity or had nervous breakdowns during the peak of this elimination phase.
Jed refers to what I believe he called “intelligent depression”. When one begins to see the profound falsity of the ego’s life and pursuits, one may enter a phase that often looks to an outsider like garden variety depression. Take a moment to consider the report one of one of the greatest Americans, Abraham Lincoln:
“Regardless of how he (Lincoln) felt about Rutledge (a neighbor whom he had no known relationship with) while she was alive, her sickness and death drew Lincoln to his emotional edge. Around the time of her burial, a rainstorm, accompanied by unseasonable cold, shoved him over.” “As to the condition of Lincoln’s Mind after the death of Miss R.,” Henry McHenry, a farmer in the area recalled, “after that Event he seemed quite changed, he seemed Retired, & loved Solitude, he seemed wrapped in profound thought, indifferent to transpiring Events, had but Little to say, but would take his gun and wander off in the woods by himself, away from the association of even those he most esteemed, this gloom seemed to deepen for some time, so as to give anxiety to his friends in regard to his Mind.”
Perhaps Lincoln was simply suffering the death of a neighbor and was disturbed by her absence in the community. But perhaps he was a man of greater depth than this. Perhaps her death tore the last veil of hope from him, that life would be for him something it could never be. Clinicians may speculate that Lincoln suffered from long-term clinical depression, which is of course possible, but most psychologists are uninformed about the spiritual process. Their calculus doesn’t include the phase of life where one abides for an extended period of time in a miasma of testing that includes a challenging of one’s fundamental values and life’s purpose. An aware therapist must evaluate how much of a clients depression is fear and frustration based, and how much is existential/spiritual, and respond accordingly.
The point to make here is that an autolysis phase of life may be encountered even by those who had no apparent spiritual orientation at all, and have it misdiagnosed as personal disorder such as depression. Indeed the woman named ‘Lisa’ in Jed’s third book Spiritual Warfare, is undergoing exactly such as passage, with no guarantee of success.

* Payoffs * *
The reader may well ask: what can you hope to achieve with all this ‘self’ business? There are probably a wide variety of replies to that question, but I can offer an suggestion or two. For one, presentness is its own reward. Period. The depth and richness of it, at least in its growing maturity, has to be experienced to be believed. Just think of those (terrible or wonderful) moments when time stood still, when the texture and flavor of the moment became overwhelmingly clear to you.Do you recall just how magical that was?
And there is also a bit of gratification involved in just being clear headed and knowing that you are not chasing rainbows anymore.
Paradoxically, there is also the wish (at least in me), that if I do indeed stay present to all that arises, in and as detached self, without seeking to access another reality than ‘the domain of my own self’, then ‘All that Is’ will inevitably be included for inspection, and, you know, maybe some enjoyment! and something of the previously presumed bounty, or the booty presumed of spiritual life, may fall into my hands unbidden, not fraught with the efforts of seeking and striving and believing and loss of sovereignty over my self. Remember, I didn’t claim that hope and desire is dead and buried, just disciplined.
At one level though the post-spiritual phase is in accord with the purpose and vision, and desire for liberation from the chains of ego, that are at the core of great traditions of spirituality. It’s just that we disagree on the way to get there.
You may well ask, how did I get from affirming ‘present-self’ to honoring nirvanic non-self? The answer lies within the structure of paradox. Language, and therefore communications, in order to be effective and comprehensive, has to contradict itself. At its best, that is what poetry and art achieves, while propaganda and pornography fails at: creating a patchwork of linear and logical fragments that are in themselves are only partly true, that elegantly seem, for a shimmering moment, to represent a truth about the apparently fractured duality of existence. We Post-Spiritualists generally accept the inspiration and the intuition that fixates and motivates the great spiritual tradition. It’s just that we take issue with their methods, their belief systems, their practices, and their hierarchical structures. It not so much that we are denying them, as we are ignoring them, just as they are now ignoring us!

* *other’s processes *
I appreciate that spiritual people will likely assert that they do indeed have a live process going on in the midst of their spiritual practice, or life. I agree. Many, no doubt, do; and the reason I am confident about that I myself would have affirmed the same during the period that I did my spiritual practice. It may seem insignificant to some but there is a difference, at least in degree if not kind, between a completely auto generated process and a practice that does indeed depend on one’s initiative, will or attraction of response to an other’s directions to produce a process of change or growth.
I make this point because part way through my 35 years of practice, a spontaneous process began to awaken in me. The unexamined and unanswered question remains though as to whether that process was initiated by spiritual practices, or was repressed by those same spiritual practices. Perhaps both. But at least in my case, I can say with some certainty that whatever the role that spiritual practices and relationships served in me, with all due respect, they now seem as irrelevant and counterproductive to supporting my spiritual life, as the examining of the entrails of a chicken, or reading tea leaves in order to divine the future (not to put too fine a point on it.) I now suspect that those individuals, who have become enlightened, ultimately did so in spite of their traditional path rather than because of it.

* * Focus on Self * *
A key feature of Post-Spirituality is the focus on self (non-divine), which is obviously the great taboo of spirituality everywhere. Whereas in spiritual life the focus is on surrendering the self to God, or Guru, or the Void or All That Is, in this phase of which I speak, attention begins to collapse inward onto the self itself, prior to or other than serious involvement with projections of identity outward onto the objective universe. This is admittedly not always a pretty sight. It is indeed “selfish.” But one gradually comes to understand that although the experience of “self” is, in itself, rather unenlightened, this experience of self may come to be evaluated as realer and more profound than the previously cherished states of communion or merging with a divine self deity or guru, and is almost certainly more profound than an exclusively worldly exploitation of lower self, or for that matter, even intellectual self.
And I must say, that with few exceptions, (for example, Advaita Vedanta that has its own structural limitations), spirituality generally seems intent upon actively prohibiting the experience of the terrible beauty of “just self”, either in its egoic form of ‘post-spirituality’ or even as Alan Watts pointed out long ago, in its ultimate and complete stage of ‘enlightenment.’ If you are continuously being directed to convert or shift or modulate the contents and behavior of self, or put your intention and attention on connecting to a Greater Self, then there’s very little opportunity to explore and examine the core of egoity. My old Teacher used to say “you can’t transcend what you haven’t realized.”
Furthermore, I would argue that “all is self”, at one level or another. This statement is akin to the wonderful old adage that ‘all is vanity.’ If you think about it, everyone, from the criminal sociopath, to the housewife, to the Preacher who is coaching people on how to save themselves from the fires of hell, to the esoteric and transcendental spiritual people who are either trying to merge with the Great Self, or else fall out of ego and into the non-self of Nirvana, are all tussling with the issue of SELF! Self is ‘big business’ in this universe, no matter how you slice it. So no excuses offered for that.
Another justification for delving into the self is structural. Once the ‘All’ has subdivided itself into unique separate adventures known as egos, that itself becomes the fundamental structure of its new existence. If that is the case, then the dismantling or outshining of that self requires a direct and honest assessment or confrontation with the qualities and experience of the self, both its lures and its costs. Our typical ego has been further extended from the separative activity of the original or causal layer of self contraction into additional subdivisions and has become profoundly identified with those lesser fragment such as mind, thought, emotions, feelings, body sensations and personal destiny. So the clinic of post-spiritual sadhana is rightly the appraisal and eventual transcendence of the self. But you have to ‘own it’ before you can ‘lose it.’
But it is not ‘selfish’ in the sense of wanting more for oneself than for others – an unwillingness to share, but more like a strange self-satisfaction, in which most other ‘things’ appear relatively pale, and a bit boring too. Although critics may wish to paint it as akin to ‘Service to self’ in the dark sense, it is really quite different than that.
This perspective, concerning the ‘self’, will no doubt sound like the height of self-delusion to my old spiritual buddies. Nevertheless, having cast off the shackles of spirituality (I still can’t believe that Karl Marx had this right!) it feels very much like having graduated from a University, and we are, at last, out in the world with a chance at real life (or at the least, a “realer” life.) And I also grasp that I have as much chance of convincing spiritual people of the truth of what I say here, as I do of convincing a devoted mother to abandon her children.

* * * The Future * * *
Oddly, even the greatest traditions of spirituality such as Buddhism and Advaita etc leave the post-spiritualist cold. Buddhism is content to give the ego a slew of practices to do for a lifetime in order to exhaust all the ego’s tendencies, as if the ego was stupid enough to fall for that one! And Advaita is willing to consign the job of transferring identification from the ego to the True (non) Self, to the very ego itself, via its ruminations and considerations, in spite of its infinite capacity for self-deception. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!

And while I am certain that the Guru ‘bestowal/transmission process’ is genuine, having participated in it for many decades, that doesn’t necessarily make it obligatory or optimum, and not least because its structure is obviously extremely dualistic.
Ultimately, I believe the problem with the Dharshan Yoga/Bestowal Method to me is that it is circular and self-defeating to ‘where I want to go, and dis-empowering of full responsibility for one’s fate. My experience of it is that even the strongest people who take this path must submit to the parent-child structure of relationship (as they are required to do so by their Guru.) This instrumentality may work for those seeking God-realization (absorption into the Divine Godhead), but for those on the path of (Nirvanic) Self realization, it is a distraction that must be seen through eventually if the discipline is to be free, not only because it relies on another apparent player in the dream (the Guru) to handle the ego’s demise, but because it strips an individual of his sovereignty and doesn’t trust the mysterious movement of Consciousness itself, to accomplish the ultimate deed of ego-decapitation.
Furthermore, history has shown that it is susceptible to cultic distortions and delusions of every imaginable kind and degree.

* talking school critique* *

I have also been appraised that many Advaitists, and soon, no doubt, some ‘Jedists’, will contend that there is no such phase as the one I am endeavoring to describe. They may say something like this: There is no ‘null zone’ as you describe it – either you are a deluded seeker, or you have ‘gotten it’ and left spiritual practices and relationships because you are now enlightened. End of story! I have been hearing variations on that theme for many years.
I will say in reply, that to make a statement like that in Truth, you either have be ‘enlightened’, or else you are making ‘enlightenment talk’, from a point of hidden egoity and separation. To merely affirm that “nothing spiritual works’ is just ‘book learning.’ Talking the talk. That talk is light years from the realization of truth. It is idealism in ‘Non-Dual’ variety. It has neither the energized passion and raw commitment of those who are earnestly seeking the Truth, nor the sublimity of one who has Realized it. It is just talk. The grand paradox for one processing the Non-Dual Truth is that BOTH truths must be kept in mind. You are already free and no process can get you there, AND if you are as yet unenlightened, you must submit to a autolysis breakdown process that is quite clearly not an enlightened ‘experience.’ Sitting smugly on the sidelines doing ‘enlightenment talk’ at others is not useful of inspiring.
This is the spiritual version of ‘psycho-babble. These dear folk would best be described not as seekers, and clearly not as Realizers, but as, I don’t know, ‘hiders’, for lack of a better term. And I mean that in the kindest and most appreciate way possible. They have their egoity hidden from themselves behind a façade of ‘knowing the truth.’ And specifically in this case, the ‘knowing’ that spirituality can’t succeed.and the Truth is already the case.’
While this posture is widespread in Advaitic communities in particular, and New Age communities in general, I find that is also present in those who honor Jed McKenna’s contributions.

* *Cultural context *

As I say elsewhere, I have no objection to spirituality, spiritual practices, spiritual teachers, spiritual institutions, spiritual and spiritual cultures. They are remarkable institutions, which at their best greatly enrich humanity, and facilitate higher and ascended evolutionary development. Thank God for them! They served me very well, and if nothing else provided me an alternative to getting lost in the world of mind and unconsidered lifestyles. But at a certain point, dear reader, although many can’t accept this, spiritual or transcendental apparatus’ seem as antiquated and irrelevant as worldly secular culture appears to the spiritual man or woman, who could never dream of ever going back to a life of mere mechanical exploitation of his body-mind machinery.

Another funny thing is that you begin to see that you do have something in common with your old ‘arch-enemies’: the atheists and even the oh-so-crude materialists, who at least are not floating two inches off the ground when they talk to you, as spiritual people are wont to do.
Yet one of the great pleasures of this phase of life is watching old friends and associates, one by one, beginning to emerge from under the pall of spirituality. Some did it before me, and some, I can see, will follow. In the past, we religionists regarded those who left “the Fold” as betrayers of Truth, and shirkers of their spiritual responsibilities and relationships. The cultic mind of spirituality had little sympathy and no understanding for what those people who were leaving us were about. Indeed we lumped all these “rejectionists” in with the ‘failed cases’ who just didn’t have what it took for real spiritual life.
Or worse, we regarded them as ‘dissidents’, who we now look upon with some gravity and not a little suspicion. I now see that there is a distinction. Some of those depart from spirituality may indeed be not up to the task. Nevertheless, others who leave spirituality may have actually have been speaking from another level, sensing the trap and deciding in their wisdom to ‘pass’ on the invitation.
* * *

I had thought that I had better keep this change in my worldview a bit hidden from my old friends, but I now realize that there is very little point in being so extremely accommodating and diplomatic. Because sadly, in a sense, we do indeed live in different and incongruous worlds, and we might as well come around to face that, and acknowledge it openly. So, to my dear beloved spiritual friends and cronies of old, I must confess to you: philosophically, I have as much in common with you spiritual folk as you do with dreaded materialists or atheists of old! You probably view worldliness and intellectualism as great obstacles and distractions from real life. I Understand. But I must confess that I now view worldliness, intellectualism, and spirituality as great obstacles and distractions from real life. It’s a shocker to me to find myself agreeing with that old adage “Religion is the opiate of the people”, but at last, I do. In the past I would have said in response, ‘yes, religion is the opiate of the people, of course!.’ But now I find to my surprise that even spirituality is implicated.
I have also begun to look for a name or label that, in some shorthand way, might designate this ‘post spiritual’ phase of life. Right now, I basically tell people something simplistic like this: “I am an ex-Buddhist.” That’s not too bad, but it really only reveals a fragment of where I have come from, and nothing about where I’ve gone to.
But me and my friends occupy the curious space, the Limbo if you will, of no path and no enlightenment! The place of no God, and minimalist life. Not Hell, but certainly not Heaven either. Perhaps we should call ourselves Limbotarians. That should keep the humility level high!
How is it possible that a bunch of ‘nobodies’ like us unenlightened post-spiritualists should have the audacity to gainsay the Great Realizers of history? Perhaps for two reasons: one is that perhaps the evolution of spiritual consideration proceeds in much the same way that scientific thought evolves- one step at a time. So, although “The Truth” is absolute and immutable, the path’s clarification and articulation, may well be progressive. And second, what makes you so sure that the great Realizers of history were anything but ‘nobodies’ themselves? In their truth-realization and in their humility, don’t you think that they would admit as much?
Regarding the future prospects of post-spirituality, I’m reminded of a couple of things here: one is the remark made by Stalin about the threat of attracting the reprimand of the Pope during WWII, to which he replied by asking a rhetorical question: “how many Divisions does he have?!” And the other is the remark made by a teacher named Osho who said that organizing his disciples was like trying to organize cats. In the case of Post-Spiritualists, I would have to say that it would be more like trying to organize farts! Cats would be easy by comparison! In other words, we’ve got no tanks and we got no bibles and we got no churches and we got no messiahs!
If you ask me what impact Post-Spirituality will have on the world, I would have to say: about as much as a summer breeze had to change Christendom by blowing through the windows and spires of a church, somewhere deep in medieval France. As the old saying goes, ‘we are all hat and no cattle!’
In retrospect, perhaps Post-Spirituality is just a dream that I can barely remember, and should have let go of, long ago!

*** THE END ***One Man’s AutolysisOne Man’s Autolysis


62 thoughts on “Post-Spirituality

  1. Like the others, Brian, this piece is rich and provocative with lots of distinctions that I needed to have spoken by someone other than me.

    I’m somewhere in this miasma too, where exactly I’m not sure but it’s been this way for a few years. The gurus all fell off their pedestals. After a couple year phase of quintessential strong revulsion to any outside spiritual authority and its hypermasculine oppressiveness, I have arrived at a new detente with the enemy which is a friendly peer-to-peer relationship. We are equals, me and the perennial tradition, me and the guru, and I borrow from him what he has that I need now and he gets what from me what he does whatever that is and I don’t care to know. For instance, I found after a while my complacency to be a kind of suffering that was unnecessary. I simply relieved that suffering by getting a supply of shakti transmission. For that I pay my local Sat-Guru who delivers oodles of spirit current. He doesn’t need my submission to his authority, just recognition of what he has and a few bucks or none.

    And I am depressed by my lack of clarity on dharma and distinctions of exactly what I have rejected, so I turn to my old friends: the books of Adi Da, the analyses of other teachers, the criticisms by gurus of other gurus, or their former practices, etc. I owe them nothing and they provide what I need for the taking. There is no allegiance or submission required for me to study.

    I attend a “satsang” every now and then with a guru of one or another flavor, which is like going out for dinner: I was in the mood for some advaita food so I had a satisfying meal. I don’t have to swear allegiance to it, move to Aranchala and wear a devotee diaper to do it, just go out for dinner and go home.

    It’s a kind of spiritual post-mating-middle-agedness. I’m no longer out to stud. There is the possibility of promiscuity still. Not a young man’s promiscuity, but a middle-aged silver fox’s: the hot action of youthful singledom is gone with the sands of time and known to be not sastisfying anyway. I’m not exactly crazy about the dullness of my diminished sex drive, but also not resisting the slide into this inevitable phase in life. I have a little black book of old girlfriends. I could pick up the phone and call one, and maybe I and my ex wife could have a civilized supportive conversation occasionally. But those didn’t end for no reason. They were exhausted. We all moved on. It doesn’t mean there can’t be a deeper next phase or someone new. Not the springing of hope eternal, but just the right match for this moment of maturity.

    The question is what is after this period? This probably isn’t forever, it’s a stage of maturity. The continuing process is a dynamo, a perpetual motion machine. All it needs is my body and an occasional nutrient which my mature discrimination discerns.

    Yes, egoic life is suffering, presence abides but life is painful, joyful and then painful again. It’s life. There is age, loss, disease and death, and celebrations and young people in my life too. If I live long enough, stick with my trusty own guidance and grace is shed on me, I will be enlightened. Otherwise I will merely die (it’s not complicated).

  2. Once again, I agree with you completely. It’s just a game- knowing where in the Matrix you happen to be vacationing. Some of us enjoy that kind of crap. You haven’t crossed any ‘lines’ of mine Oleg. Someone pass me the sun-block!

  3. P.P.S. I see all enlightened people (and geniuses) as freaks of nature .We may tell our self that in a positive way, but the society sees it in a negative way. They are tolerated until they become a threat, with Jesus and Osho as good examples.
    So we have to accept this fact and stop looking back for safety and security of the crowd. Its gone forever and too late anyway.

  4. Sorry, Brian, I couldn’t make myself to read all post, I jumped to the end 🙂
    Oh boy, you like to analyze and complicate! 🙂
    It’s all quite simple, and why we have to explain, rationalize and apologize?
    Those who don’t understand it, they won’t understand and agree with us anyway.

    And what is so special about Spirituality? It’s just a bunch of ideas and believes(ideology).
    Why one bunch of ideas is better or “truer” then any other? It’s all just a brainwash.
    When we see brainwash everywhere, we see it everywhere – social, political, economical, religious or spiritual, what’s the difference?
    Thank you
    P.S. Let me know when I cross the line, please.

  5. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

    I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to be a famous
    blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  6. Whatever you realize, someone else has already written it down. I’ve been struggling for a while to formulate something like this. You did it. I’ve taken a step back from (or through?) all this spirituality nonsense and are left with not knowing anything, to being able to rely on any guru or whatever and with all the satori experiences as dreamlike experiences in the past. Let’s just go back being human, take care of our own bullshit and delusions, recognize everything we want to hide from ourselves and just go on living our lives. I can see nothing else to do..

    Thank you.

  7. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just
    your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything.
    Nevertheless think of if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this blog could undeniably be one of the very best in its niche. Terrific blog!

  8. OK, Jane, you win! I won’t take it down!
    You remind me that I had another reason for creating it some years ago- to enjoy the company of people who were suffering-enjoying a similar destiny. That feature, of course, doesn’t change anything fundamental, but it certainly helped to reassure me that I had not gone totally insane, or am a totally lost soul! On that subject, I have also been toying with the idea for 2 years now of creating a Facebook Secret Group, completely hidden from any searches or even causal invitations, to make possible the creation of some sort of virtual community, where those of us on this ‘path’ could help or serve or enjoy each others presence in a little broader, or maybe, a deeper way. I have already set one up for a counselling (that’s how they spell it in Au) group that I work with and it is very invisible to outsiders and safe to use. But the question that always haunts me is not so much ‘why,’ but ‘why bother’. So I guess I’ll take this half step of mentioning it and if it seems that there is a significant desire or need, I’ll put one online.
    And welcome to the Limbotarian Club!

  9. I am slightly over whelmed at the moment at having arrived at this blog – to read the essay was a `joy` in a way and to read the comments was like living with true joy. I have traversed the hell of my inner being as the character in the book Steppenwolf`puts it It. Since I woke up with a bang and the paradigm `thought form` I had been confined in shattered, I have fought battles I did not know I was fighting, I have been in wars I did not know I was in.. I think now that limbo is a necessary stage and I am so glad I have found you all..Please do not take this blog down as which is not to say I can`t live without it, but maybe you and it are here for a reason,a reason which we do not know yet.

  10. Denise> “Do I claim to be enlightened or Awakened? No, I don’t claim. I know. And you’re right, it’s not something you ‘get’. It’s something you experience.”

    You are probably in a nice state Denise and you are honestly searching for freedom, but I do not agree to what you are saying!
    Enlightenment can never be known, because who is then the knower of it? It can also not be experienced, because our innermost Self is not an experience, its beingness, IS-ness!

    Enlightenment is also nothing we can claim or gain as individuals, it has nothing to do with our persons that are searching for enligthenment.

    In awakening its the Awareness that wakes up to ItSelf. Thats why the search for enligthenment like doing techniques etc etc is fruitless.

  11. To Mr. Goofyhat:
    Awesome contribution! And thanks for your honest and humble assessment of your experience vs. the one I described in the Misplaced article. And a very convincing tale as well. I especially appreciate the Warriors journey aspect of it.

  12. Brian,

    I read the article Misplaced Ultimacy and….while it does not seem that way it is entirely possible. Since, I dont have any religious background and only minimal book knowledge in spirituality to fall back on, the only response I can do is relate what happened / happening, how it occured and what is current daily life(for lack of a better word) like.

    Maybe it is so called enlightenment or perhaps I just spent too much time in the sun and lost my mind. Then again losing ones mind will occur either way. Hahaha……

    My memory is somewhere between blurred and non-existant these days. All I can do is give ballpark time tables and events. So please bear with me.

    In simplistic terminology my background a lifetime ago was that of a professional soldier. Not a peace loving type which 99% of all enlightenment books say one must be for such an experience to occur.

    About 5 years ago one day running rifle & pistol drills at the range (as has been done for about 20 years) the ‘I’ left in which I was now out of my body for a few moments.
    Imgine the body running on muscle memory magnified by 1000x.
    This incident scared the living hell out of me. To a guy whose dedicated life was on mastering fear, it was most unsettling.
    (Looking back now it was a glimpse of Enlightenment)

    In order to figure out what the heck just happened, I began massive research into societies which combined martial & spiritial backgrounds. The Japanese Samauri & Chinese Kung Fu Monks were the only ones found. Out of a year of research, I only managed to find one book which vaguely talked about ‘the experience’. It was a small book called Zen & the art of archery.

    There was only one or two passages in the book which applied but I knew there was something there.

    Soon after that about 4 years ago while meditating I had a Kundalini Awakening. At the time I had never even heard the words chakra, energy, satsung, etc. before. So the next four years or so was a living hell while I tried to figure out what had happened and dealt with the side effects.

    Two years prior to waking up and up to the day, I suffered severe Vertigo attacks where equilibrium was lost from 4-36 hours at a time. Went to doctors took all sorts of meds, nothing worked they couldn’t figure out anything.

    One year prior to waking up for unknown reasons I wrote a mediation book of poems & military sayings which all had the point of “Focused Rage”.

    Let us take a moment to look at this further.

    Society is made up of three different types of folks.

    Peaceful folks (Think gurus, healers, priests, hippies, civilians)

    Neutral folks (Philosophers, poets, Teachers like Jed Mckenna, all deep thinkers)

    Warriors (Soldiers)

    There is practically zero written knowledge on the mindset of professional soldiers.
    So please allow me to explain for those not familiar with this way of life.

    Civilian society & especially Prisons are full to the brim with people who know how to Hate.
    Professional Soldiers have learned how to turn Hate into Rage. And that Rage is a tool / fuel as it were to be controlled and only used at certain times.

    Think of hate as Fire. Uncontrolled it will burn anything & everything around it. Homes, forests, friends & family may all fall under its wrath.

    Rage is like a cutting torch. One can fire up a cutting torch which is at 2,000 degrees and it is absolutely safe to put ones bare hands on either side of that flame without feeling any heat.
    That heat is controlled and focused to a needle point.

    Rage is developed by storing hate insides ones self in a vault of discipline. Every time something happens which causes hate to rise one stores it inside for future use. Don’t ever waste a drop by losing ones temper.

    If one needs to release a little bit like a pressure valve, then that is ok. But only in a controlled manner. Go for a run or hit a punching bag or something. Only for a limited time though. Just enough to release the excess. And then to add another layer of discipline onto your internal vault.

    The Rage is only released in a focused manner and ONLY at very limited moments on a mission. This is how soldiers can do the horrible things society tasks them to do and still function in the so called civilized world.

    Anway, lets get back to the story.
    So first thing every morning for the last year for about twenty minutes or so was spent on relaxing the mind & honing the tip of Focused Rage.

    About 3 months prior to so called enlightenment, things started accelerating.
    I had never read a book on Enlightenment prior to this. Heck even during these last few months I could in all honesty say that I had zero interest in enlightenment.

    However, during this time I increasingly had no control over my body. I would order books on enlightenment and lay in bed reading them over & over again until my eyes bled.

    All self control was lost. Over & over, again & again I would read Jed McKenna’s books, The Haunted Universe, Duet of One, The Perinnial Way translation of the Gita & Tao.

    Most of the stacks of books read & you tube videos watched irrated the heck out of me. They were too complicated, too wishy washy. (Though looking back it is understandable)
    At the time I was seeking something solid to hang on to.
    Even if the fine details were incorrect, just give me something Simple something Black & White…something, anything to focus on.

    I took copious amounts of notes, trying to figure out What is the Ego? What is Enlightenment.

    I followed Jed McKenna’s method of waking up as best I could. Heck I thought I was Cynical before, but I watched all the George Carlin you tube & DVDs I could find.
    To not think, not believe, but Know that everything is complete and utter B*llSh*t.

    As instructed, I meditated on a grave, layed on top of it, imagined myself dead, breathing in breathing out then two minutes later everything I owned or was…was either gone or now belonged so someone else.

    Heck even if one thinks they have a wife & kids is wrong. You cant bring the with you when you die and a couple years after you die most likely your spouse will be calling someone else husband and kids calling someone else daddy.
    So one doesn’t even have that.

    I spent a lifetime abhorring lies. So I found myself at times screaming and yelling at the sky & heavens I don’t give a crap what the truth is just tell me the G*d Damn Truth!!!

    Obsessive & compulsive barely scratch the surface of the inner drive in those last few months.

    Two weeks or so prior to waking up I quit mediating. Mediation had been such a wonderful thing for me for the past ten years or so. A nice relaxing way to start off the day, now it was hollow. Why meditate? It was meaningless. It was pointless.

    The last two weeks I was doing what I guess was simple deep thinking. I would go to the grave yard, sit / laydown on a grave with my stack of books, read, think on death and explore internally.

    Death is THE focal point of it all. Literally take a loaded gun, put it into you mouth, cock the hammer, dis-engage the safety, put your finger on the trigger..and just imagine what happens if the trigger is pulled. Back of your head gets blown out, dying, dead..forever gone.

    What it is? what is true? what is? Damit I must know!

    The last morning, was like any other morning. Had my books, sat under a large tree next to the graves. Where the first light bulb went off in my head. It was the idea that people had no self control and that they were puppets of ego / maya. So it wasn’t people I hated but it was the ego.

    Then the second light bulb went off…I had an ego too.

    Instantly I became pissed off. The thought Awww…M*ther F*cker! shot through my mind.
    Immediately I popped open the nozzle of my stored Rage and focused it at my own ego.
    Instantly I felt something start to ‘melt’. Due to the fact I had a thorn branch sticking myself in the rump, I got up and walked back to the porch. Where I sat down, refocused and fully opened up 40+ years of stored Rage at Maya.

    A microsecond later the ego melted and “I” was no more.

    What was it like.

    As how I view the world goes.. I… ‘fell’…out. If that makes any sense.

    Put a pair of binoculars up to your eyes where lets say the focus is up close then as fast as you can spin the focus knob to take you to infinity distance.
    Visually that is probably similar to what happens.

    Instantly I was everywhere & nowhere, everything and nothing, I was God, I was the matrix, I lived in “the now” a place without time. I have always been here I will always be here. There is no right there is no wrong I am Ammoral….wtf!
    Yes kiddies…anybody who thinks one becomes eternally blissfull & compassionate at realizing the truth has been sold a fairy tale.
    Maya Lied to you.

    Which is a topic we will get into later on.

    Lets get back to the so called event.

    I started laughing and laughed some more. Tears were streaming down my face I was laughing so hard. Why? I was laughing at all the silly stupid things which had been concerning myself a microsecond prior. Politics, religion, money, relationships, all pointless.

    Enlightenment isn’t just seeing the void of nothingness, it is seeing the universe without its makeup.

    Reality check:
    The Universe & everything in it is…A Cosmic Joke!
    It is a 30 minutes sitcom which takes place in an insane asylum where even the doctors & nurses are mad.

    As I sat there in my chair I realized that I couldn’t move. I was looking at my right hand trying to move it and failed. Inside I screamed, lashed out with all my willpower and was unable to even twitch a single finger.
    I was a quadraplegic.

    So I sat there smiling , laughing and realized that I would just have to sit there. No panic, no worries, just acceptence.
    Then after a few minutes the body got up and started walking. I thought this is strange, wonder were the body is going. The body walked inside the house and did some normal stuff then went to sleep.

    Even though the event was about 0930am it left me exhausted. I slept two hours or so.
    I remember sleeping but being awake initially while asleep. And it being very physically painful centered in my mind.
    So much so I didn’t like the idea of going back to sleep for the next couple days.
    Both times it hurt less and less though.

    This stage lasted several months where the new mind finally re-integrated with the body.
    After 6-8 months or so things normalized.

    The first two weeks after the event, I spent stoned out of my mind. While I have never taken drugs before the experience of being stoned sounds familiar to what was experienced.

    That state lasted for a couple weeks then slowly degraded / progressed to something else over the next couple months.

    A few days after waking up, I died.
    I was walking across the pasture where my body crumpled to the ground and the ego died.
    The scene from Terminator 2, where the liquid metal terminator gets tossed into a vat of molten metal where he is screaming in denial, lashing out at everything came to mind as death took place.
    It is best described as Mental Anguish. It may have lasted 20 seconds or it may have been several minutes. I was out of it, so exact details are unknown.
    I do remember it was most unpleasant.

    During the next 3-4 months this even happened 3-4 more times. However each was time was less & less intense. These other events seemed to be…ghosts…of the initial event.
    If that makes any sense

    What is Enlightenment?
    Well it is not a destination. It isn’t like ok Im enlightened lets go save the world.
    In the first 6-8 months, there wasn’t a 2-3 day period of time where I didn’t gain a new viewpoint of enlightenment and a part of myself didn’t fall away.

    In the 8-13 months after, it has settled down to every 2-3 weeks. Every couple weeks or so Ill have a new insight to this new state. And the longer between pieces of self falling away, the larger the chunks.

    Todays viewpoint of this new state is completely different of what it was a month ago and especially from when it started.
    And Im sure ten, twenty, thirty years from now, it will be light years different.

    So that is one reason why writing or talking about it is pointless. It is constantly changing, growing, evolving, etc.

    So what is life like after waking up?

    Well whatever needs to be done gets done.
    There are no decisions to make, things to worry about or anything to do.
    I do whatever I feel like doing. Is the feeling.

    Whatever happens simply happens. Just like things have been since the dawn of time.
    The only difference now is that, this mind body character thing knows there is no such than as an “I”.
    Free will does not exist.

    Your character in this cosmic play may:

    Build a orphanage today…burn it down tomorrow
    Donate to a charity today…steal from it tomorrow.
    Join Green peace and save a whale today…become an Oil CEO and dump poison into the ocean tomorrow…

    And you know what?………….All is Perfect.

    The world is perfect. Always has been always will be.

    The play goes on.

    You are perfect….
    Believe in god…perfect
    Dis-believe in god… perfect
    Be religious…perfect
    Be non-religious…perfect
    Be a saint…perfect
    Be a sinner…perfect

    Best examples of what enlightenment is like in the movies.
    Main character in Office Space & The Joker in Batman movie.

    Ignore their actions and look at their motivational foundation.
    They had no worries, no cares no inhibitions and didn’t worry about the future or the past. They simply ‘did’ things.

    What is the point of life?

    Well…there is none. Life is pointless.

    If one absolutely needs something to hang your hat on..then I guess the meaning of life is for the universe to experience life. With all its ups & downs and pleasures & pains.
    Heck I dont know.

    My advice to all:

    Forget this nonsense

    If you become filled with unbelievable drive to know the truth. If you can follow what Jed Mckenna talks Moby Dick…relate completely with Captain Ahab…if that motivation is what fills your souls, where you will rip out your eye teeth to know the truth is the only thing that matters…where you will sell you home, leave your family, lose your health, your riches, your fame… if that is what it takes to get a single damn step closer to the truth…then …AND ONLY THEN…do I recommend you look at finding enlightenment.

    Anything less and you are simply a groupie wasting your time.

    If you enjoy being sprititual, then bless you for it..go off and be spiritual. Enjoy your life and forget this whole realization foolishness.

    If one is compelled to wake then here are a few tips & tricks foe doing battle with Maya.

    Maya has many defensive mechanisms. All of them are a wonder to behold.

    The intent of these defenses are to keep you in the dream state. And Maya will do everything & anything short of actually killing you physically to keep you here.

    Common ones:

    When you start to think about what is real, automatic defense mechanisms get engaged.

    Day dreams….sexual / love fantasies, fantasies of glory in battle, fantasies of making money, or even something as simple as making a grocery list.
    Anything to distract you from thinking on truth.

    Selective memory…You may read a book, a paragraph, a perhaps a simple passage and not be able to remember it in detail. Unless of course you read it 100 times. Maya has high jacked your mind. Controls your memories, so things read, comprehended and remembered isn’t going to be 100% when it comes to introspection & knowledge on the truth.
    Keep reading, keep thinking, keep fighing, body blow after body blow after body blow…keep at it!

    Maya will lay magnificent traps along the way. With always offering cookies & milk when things get too tough. Just to bring you back to the fold.

    You may become a great spiritual healer….Ego Trap!
    You may become a great teacher…Ego Trap!
    You may become a great holy man…Ego Trap!
    You may be able to have out of body experiences…Ego Trap!
    You may have a Kundalini awakening….Ego Trap!

    Anything & everything which happens in your life, which prevents you from seeking the truth IS a trap!

    Avoid as many traps as you can. However if you fall in one that is ok as well. You may want to take a break from the hard journey and have some fun with your new found powers…good for you.
    Just know that it is a trap. And after you play with it for short while, then get back on the road again. That is… if that is what you really want.

    After waking up the battle isn’t over. Your ego minds ghost does get a bit…stormy at times.
    When it got upity I read a home made poetry book made up of all the poems in Jed Mckennas books as well as the Gita. This was pleasant and settled the ghost mind.

    Then there is the Enlightened Ego which may try to surface. Look at me im enlightened, im special look at my saphran robes, worship me, give me donation checks.
    Trap! Trap! Trap!

    Maya has more tricks than a clowns pocket. Watch out.

    Prior to waking up I remember being a bit fearful.
    I remember reading that one becomes very lazy after waking up. So I was afraid of running out of firewood for winter so I spent weeks cutting fire wood to cover my tail if I did get hit with extreme laziness.

    I remember reading how one becomes uber compassionate after waking up. So I went hunting to try to fill the freezer before continuing reading on enlightenment so that I would have food to eat should I wake up and not be able to hunt.

    Yes, lazyness does happen, but when I ran short of wood in the winter, I was instantly filled with energy for several weeks while I gathered more. Then lazyness set in gain.

    During the winter I started running short of food, so went hunting to get some more meat.

    All one needs to know is that consciousness takes care of itself.
    If your only means of food is hunting & fishing after waking up, then you will continue to hunt & fish after.
    Now the joy / thrill will be gone forever, but food, shelter & warmth will be provided.

    Anyway after a year of this new life so to speak. These are my viewpoints.
    Perhaps it is Enlightenment the books talk about or perhaps and probably more likely this scrawny broken bodied hermit simply spent too much time in the sun which has boiled the ol brain and become a bit ‘touched’. Hehehehe…..

    These days it is all good and it does not matter.
    All my hobbies and everything ive ever loved doing are gone now. Most of my time is spent doing nothing & have all day to do it in.

    While the body does what it does, Ill look upon the world at the love & hate in it and think..people are fools to believe in such things and how the truth is so obvious and right in front of them why can’t they see it.
    Yet. they can not see. They love being miserable. They love the suffering. Which is fine.
    They are doing nothing wrong.

    This mind body spends less and less time with society. There is no control over where it goes, does or live. However life is pointless and yet at the same time absolutely magnificent in its creation.

  13. Thanks Denise
    I would like to ask you the same thing that I asked Mr. Goofyhat: to consider the perspective expressed in the ‘Mysplace Ultimacy’ essay and respond to that.

    But ‘no’ in answer to your question ” …Then coming back and having to pick up the pieces and creating myself again in order to function in this reality. Is that what you are referring to some people that seem to be prematurely claiming enlightenment? The process of figuring out how to experience this reality with what we’ve seen? “

    I am not referring the the challenge of relearning how to live, once enlightened, but the delusion most of us have experienced in having, many times, experienced our true self, or not-self, but then fallen back dealing with the POV of the body-mind, which has not yet been itself ‘enlightened’. There is a subtle but very real distinction between the two.

  14. Hello Brian, It’s been a while.
    In your response you say you are suspicious about people claiming to be enlightened and find no reason to distrust this poster…yet. Why is that? Are there different kinds of enlightenment? Are there different kinds of awakening? What do you mean by prematurely claiming enlightenment? Are you suspicious of your own experience?

    Rather than judge whether a person is what he claims to be, feel the intention behind the words. Because the words are not enough to describe the experience and the putting one self back together to function in this reality.
    For someone to give an opinion as to whether something rings true in the reading of someone else’s experiences is an oxymoron. Because it is all true. Your experience is true. To ask someone’s opinion, from someone that has opened the eyes, it’s all true. There are no sides as to us and them. There is no judgement as to whether someone is awake or not. It is only seen as a perfect manifestation of consciousness.

    For me there was the experience of blissful horror as this reality was ripped away and ‘seeing’ what we really are. Then coming back and having to pick up the pieces and creating myself again in order to function in this reality. Is that what you are referring to some people that seem to be prematurely claiming enlightenment? The process of figuring out how to experience this reality with what we’ve seen?

    My experience was when I was 43 years old. To this day I’m still finding words to describe the indescribable. When I write about my experience, I’m never satisfied with the mediocre words I’ve chosen. So what ends up happening is using analogies. But not everyone has experienced the analogies. If I were to describe to you good packing snow, but you’re never even experienced snow, my words will never give the experience. Until someone experiences for themselves, words will always be a hindrance.

    I love it when people ass-ume and anal-yze and argue over which end of the banana taste better. It’s such a joy. And now all experiences I have are pure joy. Even the experiences that I used to label bad.

    Do I claim to be enlightened or Awakened? No, I don’t claim. I know. And you’re right, it’s not something you ‘get’. It’s something you experience. If you want to know someone’s intentions, to ‘see’ if they are “ego” enlightened or truly awake, ask a dualistic question and see if they take sides. Just like the Zen master would ask the student. “What sound does one hand make when clapping?” Someone who is “ego” enlightened, will pick a side to your question and come up with reasons why that side is right. Someone that has truly seen, will see the perfection in the contradiction.
    Thank you for this experience.

    I love you Brian.

  15. Thank you Mr. Goofyhat!
    I am always not a little suspicious about people claiming to be enlightened, but I seem to like you (for whatever that is worth) and can find no reason to distrust you (yet!). So I’ll ask you a sincere question. If you would be so kind as to quickly review another page on this site- the one titled “Misplaced Ultimacy…”

    I would like to hear you opinion on whether It rings true to you about your new state of enlightenment and how you got there.

    And whether there is any possibility that you, like many thousands of us, have, in the sense written about there, already awoken, but yet who are not yet enlightened (understanding of course that no one gets enlightened, as you yourself say above). It is important to me because that paradox described there is the way I make sense of my own life, and maybe more interestingly- the claims of so many people who seem to me to be prematurely claiming enlightenment.

    A penny for your thoughts, Mr. Goofyman!

  16. Hello all,

    It is 2am in the morning, cant sleep so I thought I might add some possible tips & tricks to Jeds method of awakening.

    So called Realization happened for me about a year ago. Since then it has been a learning experience on how to live in a world which isnt there.
    Why on earth someone would want to come here or even talk about it is beyond me.
    Yet at the same time, I wouldn’t trade the truth for all the money in the world.

    Having said that, at times the ‘New’ Mind gets currious to what is going on & how to function in non society and I find myself on the internet at the wee hours in the morning.

    Jed McKinna’s method of waking up does work if one is ripe for it and of course the all important grace/luck/unluck which goes along with that.

    His Auto-analysis while effective was a bit too complicated for me. A far easier method is watching the comedian George Carlin DVD stand up acts. That man was BORN to destroy Truth.
    Straight, simple & funny dis-illusionment

    Other books which may clarify what is said in Jeds Trilology but in another simpler way are.
    A Duet of One: Ramesh Balsekar
    Haunted Universe: Stephen Norquist.

    Jed’s books besides being fantasticly informative books are great reads. However, I would recommend The Haunted Universe be read before deciding on taking the Enlightenment Path.

    It is the only book written in plain simplified speech telling one exactly what Enlightenment is, is not and the price to be paid. It gives a very up front warning of: Here there be Dragons.

    When Jed or Stephen speaks of enlightenment read it in Literal sense.
    You will die. Everything you think you are, loved, hated, etc. in a microsecond will be gone forever. It isnt that you die, its the realization that you never existed to begin with.

    The one thing that drove me bug nuts when trying to pass through the gateless gate was the enormouse complexity of Enlightenment & Ego definition. How does one describe the indescribeable? Well after seemingly millions of books read, the ones listed above to this mind body thing anyway have been by far the simplist explanations of what is, the process of and the price to be paid.

    One last note. To those that end up on this silly path of finding truth, please be grateful to the few who do teach & set up nice websites as this. Because except for the occasional curiosity which pops up from time to time I have yet to understand why anybody would want to talk about this thing.
    Seriously-What can be said.

    Be careful to what you wish for…for all your wishes may come true.

  17. PJ
    You are not in control of being “done.” So keep searching as long as the desire to search continues to arise. One day it won’t.
    Richard Young

  18. Hi All,

    I too have scoured the JM trilogy. Forget how many times? I am not “done” yet, I am “stuck” at a continual search for more words and not letting it happen as it flows. Now I am compelled to re-read again, Jed, Eckhart, Byron k, Anthony Demello, Alan Watts……is it the ego that keep me re-reading? I am aware it could be……time to stop delaying and just be! So I am meditating on what Jed says we all have, “…..everything is available for direct knowing….”

    Not Done, PJ

  19. Hello you all. Going to report to this blog, because clicked on a link in a post by Ellen in the Realization thread here about three weeks ago. So it’s coming back round. You might be interested.
    The link took me to a very odd site called RuthlessTruth. Bunch of rather angry sounding people working on seeing through the illusion of self. Which is the first step, far as I understand it, or the Gateless Gate.
    Poked around, left, and came back. Put off by the tone, as was put off by Jed’s tone. This reflexive withdrawal now alerts me. They appeared to be onto something, or completely deluded. Lots of them had read Jed.
    Seemed in the end that enlightenment by internet would be worth a try and very low risk, heh, so signed on with one of the “liberators” that resonated with me. Three days of commitment and no actual abuse later, saw that there was no I. Not an intellectual seeing.
    Still unpacking this experiencing, but there is nothing there whenever I look. I was distinctly underwhelmed by the shift, having read the glowing press releases on the subject. The reliable people are right, no big deal.
    Life is the same, and that’s good. Might change, but that was true before.
    Would be remiss not to tell this group about it. Jed is a resource to get to this, ah, condition, so I assume that is why you are here.
    Thanks, Brian for this site, I have so enjoyed it.

  20. Apologies to All: I have (once again) noticed that some Comments, having been “approved” at the Moderator level, DO NOT actually get published. There appears to be some hitch in the WordPress software involved in this.

    From now on I am going to use two methods to insure that Comments don’t get waylaid again.

    My sincerest apologies for the disruption of a smooth flow of communication being readers.

    A half dozen Comments were published today that had slid back into WordPress limbo.

    Brian (Moderator)

  21. Thanks Elizabeth for the acknowledgment…recognition. I too just keep traipsing along moment to moment, unconcerned with unwantable states or goals like enlightenment. just opening to the eternal moment and listening and watching to learn how to navigate in the dreamstate…maybe learning to grow toward “Adulthood” too. Adyashanti suggests just a balance where we sense into what is rising and moving us. If it is the self centered fictional one I have believed in so long, I just try to appreciate that we can only do as well as the present degree of grace and light allows. If it seems to come from life Itself, I know that too and am usually glad and confident..,not the false confidence of temporary inflation but the confidence that comes as clarity. Largely it seems that ordindary life gets a bit extraordinary (as compared to the usual dream of separation that ran my butt in circles for so many years)…extraordinary in that I now can sense the Field, Source, pregnant Nothingness that I am and we are. I truly love Brian’s self honest reflections and the fact that it allows me to feel a bit less alone in my aloneness. By being alone I simply mean that this waking up I know now has to be verified by looking and willingness to honestly see how the “would be” self, projects its stuff and attempts to get me to buy in and of course I do, but for only short periods too. I used to play “teacher” as I mentioned above…really trying to use what I called the flawed leader model…being one who tells on himself or reports how it looks and seems. Thats gone now or for now anyway. A subtle happiness and peace that is the natural state comes a lot, then the periods when the old momentum seems to kick up giving me a chance to allow it and not believe it. I am the happiest ever these days and can look back short periods and see that much of what I thought mattered doesn’t hold much interest now. This idea of post spirituality and this forum has given me a chance to chat with others that see this distinction. No more authority figures are needed but friends that are looking too and sharing seems a rich component of relatedness. I sense so many truly self honest voices and a warmth and humor here. The world appears insane but I know and sometimes even feel into the realization that they (others)are waves in the ocean of our shared being, so nothing to judge,,,just watch and wait and respond where and when it rises to do so. I so thank you for taking the time to respond a bit here Elizabeth

    I am rambling now too. At least this time I am looking to see if the words are coherent. My first post I didn’t even look before pressing send and it sounded a bit garrulous…I was just swept up with heart and wrote.

    Blessings Galore and clarity and warmth in the chest and a wave of Grace, Mark

  22. Just got Mark’s post in email. Thanks, Mark, for sharing, a warm embrace.
    It’s been a while since I looked in and wanted to say something, you all are saying it so well but a little bit more….
    I keep listening to Jed, probably on the 5th iteration, as do the work it seems to clarify point after point so revisiting the books is anything but boring. It’s like meeting an old friend and having a great catch-up on what we are passionately concerned with.
    There is still a surprise around every corner. I am still surprised to be surprised to be so wrong so often, and having a good laugh at the eternal naif. Really girl. wake up!
    I am not enlightened, and I am so relieved. Right now it seems like the description of human adult is about right, and since am getting old, it is about time I grew up. This is so much fun on one level, and so irrelevant on another. Gotta love the dreamstate.
    Jed is right, the chief feature of not being in hell and pain is not being in hell and pain.
    No, it is not all roses, still experiencing delusion and suffering whenever that happens, but it is so much less, and continues to be a choice to stay there or not.
    I vote not.
    All is there to enlighten me, the lovely lunatics (did I mention I work with others?) are there to enlighten me to my lunacy, when I ask for information about a subject I now expect a huge and ongoing data dump from the universe. Which must have a sense of humour, and it knows how to raise it’s voice when I have the covers over my head and want to be sleepy.
    I mean, wow, it is all so ridiculous and so interesting, and it is all simply irrelevant, except as I experience it.
    As for the fellow who did not think that we were suffering enough to be genuine, genuine suffering in my life is what I never talked about, except very simply and briefly and if it helped someone else. Now, it is prayer without words. Even for that, there is gratitude. The next moment is different. If I let it move of itself.
    Probably not making sense. It’s not real dramatic, it is all ordinary. My dogs are keeping watch with me over a smoker full of ribs, my husband is running errands, it’s a day that is fixing to be 100 degrees, and I am talking to my friends (you guys). The world could end tomorrow and it would still have been enough, and so much more.
    So very grateful.
    Be well. Love, Elizabeth

  23. There are a number of thoughts I want to express. First, having read the Jed material, and having been acquainted with the teachers and traditions mentioned here, and having been somehow similarly affected and thrown into a sort of limbo-hood, I am very grateful to have come upon the essay and the commentary here. Thank you Brian and participants.

    For context, let me say that I have been engaged in these kinds of considerations for some 40 years, beginning with “an experience” of part of the consciousness or awareness of whatever I am separating from personality and body and seeing “myself” from a kind of “compassionate witness” perspective while in jail facing a life sentence for a crime I did not commit in 1971 (I would think of the experience or reduce the experience to an out of body story later…probably to keep from seeing the fullness of its impact) . I had, until this time, largely lead the life of an unsophisticated criminal and rebel against the “falseness” of the world. I had spent some 7 of 9 years locked up (ages 14 – 23) in various institutions in Texas, including a maximum security unit of the Texas penitentiary. (Please, reader, I know this is all “story” but it is also context for any comments I may make.)

    About a year ago, a light went on that disrupted everything. I had been reading Jed again and listening to Bob Dylan sing ” Things Have Changed” a lot and then I was moved to leave my circumstances (they were built around functioning as a spiritual teacher). Of course I have understood for some time that I Am not that, that it was a costume I wore. Still, I could not really tell or see how much of what I AM was still identified with a role. etc. So I assumed whatever this is I AM ( no thing…whatever…words are pretty clumsy but hopefully not misleading) wanted to see for sure…I left everything I was acqauinted with: residence, relationships ( I only had a few left that were really that significant) position of service and all that entailed (cat herding, income producing, etc).

    I settled alone in another city and state and watched and wrote. At the lowest point, there was a collapse into meaninglessness. I could not see any purpose for playing any role or really doing anything. I did sense or partly see that this meaninglessness was still the perspective of an “ego”…but is was dark and hard and un-nameable fear was often present…fear of seeing I am no-thing perhaps, but that wasn’t evident. Eventually, I began to take some action, if only from the need for physical survival ( I had lost weight and at times would question whether or not to eat.
    With respect to Jed and also to what you are saying Brian, it seems clear to me that parting with the spiritual community in general has been necessary and freeing Although I functioned there for nearly forty years with many Teachers and with functioning that way as an almost exclusive way of life, I do not miss it. It seems very much to be one of Maya’s means of managing the dream and keeping it in place, etc.
    Today, I have no idea what to do or how to be. I once was the hunter and now it appears I am the hunted. Mostly it seems that there is less pain and/or suffering in looking directly at what the self is up to…being present to this that is happening now rather than avoiding it is the motivation….I as a separate sense of self do not have such a motive…but am afraid of Truth, want to deny, construct another prison, etc. It seems pretty evident at the moment that this separate sense cannot ever really want to realize the Truth.
    I do not really trust others or even myself much. I have seen through too much. There is no longer a point to the question of trusting anyway, it seems. It just feels healthy to question myself since this “myself lies” and decieves me in ever more subtle ways….
    Now it seems that there is a looking into all this that just goes on and mostly manages to be free of the need to come to any temporal conclusions. There are days with much clarity and days when there is less and in the days where less is the case, its OK…its how it is…who would argue…to me this limb-hood (I am not assuming it is the quite the same as yours, Brian) requires looking/seeing and the looking/seeing goes on and this seems to deconstruct.
    One other point, one of you made that I share as a POV, is that Jed provides a model for how much drive and motive are needed to leave the collective concerns to Maya and the collective ( to face down the Master/Mistress of Fear). He looks arrogant at times but this serves too in that the transcendent value is to say, if you are concerned with appearances, you are still caught in the web. It serves too to remember that Maya is an aspect of it all, one of a number which Life uses in its Mystery Play.
    Finally, that thing about the chest area…me too…I used to call it heart but I also have in the past confused this with emotions and beliefs about spirituality. I trust none of that now AND there is something in the chest now that seems to be really important…I risk using more words here…an embodying of Truth that excludes nothing and no one.
    This writing is only the second time since the explosion that I have shared my words. I am so grateful you shared yours Brian and for those that have contributed and commented. Much more of what you said, than the few points I am making here, resonated, Brain.


  24. Yes non spiritual people fall into ‘Limbo’ for certain. In Jed’s book 3 the woman named Lisa is a prime example.
    And thanks for showing up and bringing your good heart to the forum!

  25. I can so totally relate to a lot of this. Though, I posit a question here? Is it just spiritual people (or post-spiritual people) going through a the limbo-land crisis? The more people I talk with, the more people I become aware of that are experiencing this “personal” awareness that they really don’t even know why they are doing what they are doing, and nothing really truly feels correct, regardless of their notch on the “spiritual” development ladder.

    Me, personally, have felt like I’ve been in limbo for 10 years easily (and probably more than that, but for the sake of my sanity let’s say 10); And, as I grow and grow internally I do become more at peace with the fact that truly we are all in the mystery and I’m sure Jed would be one of the first to point out that no “one” really knows what tomorrow brings anyhow. I think what is happening to “personal” consciousness collectively is that we are just becoming more attuned to the fact that we really don’t know and that perhaps we are playing it day-by-day and that is really the most pointed truth that we can really ever get to (even though I do agree, there is no one truth other that I am; but there are relative truths that we can probably all agree on; and this perhaps is one. …We don’t know.

    My heart goes out to all who feel like they are living in limbo land, and perhaps Jed would tell us we are just really living reality (as we can relatively know of it) piece by piece. I have days in which I want to tear the walls down egoically and days of such utter peace and contentment…Most days are inbetween those two extremes. I’d like to say this is going to end someday and that someday i will make sense of this limbo…and perhaps I won’t. I truly do not know. What I get from this the most is that I’ve got to live out loud more and more and to live is just that; to live.

    I would love to say that I’m post-spirtualist, but then, do I have a choice? I see beyond spirtualism and I think it offers what it can; but it is an inside job. We are all spirtual by nature… I can be no more spirtual than non-spirtual. I just am and I know now that anyone who can classify me as such, would just be some kind of projection of their own self to me. Labels are just labels, way to describe things that we can not understand anyhow. And, i think that’s the point (perhaps, or not?) that we can’t get any of this anyhow.

    I also agree with Jed tenfold, no one would ever ask for this… and you are much better staying asleep and in trance. I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t want it, but that doesn’t seem to matter much. The whole point is once you’ve passed the critical point of rebirth into the spirtual self the only thing you can do is surrender and know that you must go farther.

    Just some of my observations, I hope they help…my best,

  26. Brian & other Limbo-tarians,

    Wow – what a find your blog is! Thank you for publishing and keeping it going. Thanks to others like Elizabeth, Denise and the rest for sharing your experiences as well. I just discovered it last night and devoured a few of the sections.

    I found myself fairly abruptly thrust into this Limbo place a few weeks back, and until now wondered (but without much angst) if I was having some sort of psychic break – which could be the case. At least I’m not totally alone from an experiential standpoint.

    Here’s a portion of my experience taken from my journal:

    4/11/11 I just returned from the 2,000 mile drive round trip to visit my mom in Idaho and my sis in Sacramento. Besides some interesting familial dynamics the main theme of the trip was set by listening to the audio book Butterflies are Free to Fly.

    Since a first read the book two weeks ago, my perception (more accurately my experience of life) has radically shifted and has continued to shift. It’s difficult to describe, but I’ll take a run at it. Having practiced some “self inquiry” over the past few years, as well as some other work on becoming non-identified with “self” (mental ego construct), plus having been an avid student of Taoist thought for years, I had somewhat of a running start at this whole deal.

    This book and three by Jed McKenna on enlightenment have done two things for me so far; one is that they’ve clarified the model of life and “reality” that I’m experiencing and they shifted me to a new place that’s even less identified with “self”, much of the time – not at all identified. This is the short version. Having that change, changes everything else about my experience of life.

    In short, I’ve read the books (Jed McKenna’s), practiced the two exercises and am experiencing a new way of perceiving the world. It’s surreal and pretty strange. It’s difficult to express for anyone not already in this place, but imagine already being in a place of knowing clearly that you are not your thoughts or feelings (my spiritual phase the past few years) – then walking through a door, the other side from which you can look back and see that “person” who was not identified with the thoughts and feelings – and seeing that person as the one you thought of for years during your “spiritual” phase as “you”. Who’s this new person? I don’t know – other than that it’s an “experiencing process”. The former person (and maybe this one if it’s even a person) was a completely subjective fiction.

    A possibly useful distinction might be that during the “spiritual phase” I knew conceptually / intellectually that the ego/personality is a mental construct, now this knowing is beyond conceptual it’s a simple fact. Further, this was a very abrupt and distinct shift from my previous way of being, unlike the spiritual phase and coming to the gradual realization of the ego’s fictitious nature.

    One description of this could be surrender / detachment on steroids, in that before I was “practicing” these, and now they’ve been thrust upon me (non-me).

    Thanks again.


  27. All of this has certainly been an interesting read…can relate to the post spiritual in-between limbo thing and at times it’s really funny. There’s so little left of the person that walked in the door a few years ago that it’s amusing and a little spooky at times. Am still able to engage on a social level for small amounts of time to work at a mindless silly job that suits me just fine for now; be nice if it paid a little more but it will do for now. The “looking ahead” planning part of life still surfaces from time to time but it’s more of a post mortem reflex activity than a source of angst. No sense getting out the paddles for it, no matter how many times it was zapped, it won’t live. The impulse to attach, to fit in, or be part of something is still around as an idea but the realization that it’s not an option any longer has finally taken root. The next container I fit in will be an urn but even that is just for the flesh… it’s interesting to be in this space and watch the antics of the world. It all seems so far removed, like watching a character in a movie look at another movie or at a scene outside the window in the movie. I have better times with my animal friends that with people as we connect on level where language is too slow… People still seem dear & sweet in their own way and it’s easy to relate with them in passing but there’s always the awareness of rest of the iceberg under the facade on surface. The universe provides food, shelter and whatever else is required….the old way of being part of society with good credit, income etc is gone. Living in a house that the bank may or may not own, depending the direction of the wind & the lawyers & the design of all that is. The universe found a lawyer for me that makes it fun to be sued….go figure that one.. it really is getting funnier by the minute. One living family member remains, the partners have fled, the only thing that stirs much of a protest is the job and my idea of it being required. All of what I used to define myself has pretty much dropped off & out. There really is no point in fighting it, fearing it or trusting it because these terms no longer apply or have meaning. There’s an occasional nasty streak that drops in from time to time and someone gets thrown under a train (verbally) usually my so called boss but if it’s called for then delivery is accomplished. Most meaning isn’t– things simply are what they are. It must be a relief to be a plant, they simply are, they bloom, drop leaves celebrate the spring and all comes to them in perfect timing-including the pruning shears. Why we humans make it all so complex is truly a mystery. To all of you who are other aspects of me, thanks for showing up.

  28. Sharyn
    While you are on the ego-limbo side you should probably maintain some kind of balance that prevents your vehicle from self-destructing before it has a chance to be gracefully out-shined by full realization. The way I give a semblance of meaning (balance) to my ego, which I operate from most of the time (as if I was a binary switch of either ‘On or Off’, which really isn’t my experience, it feels more like a constantly shifting continuum), and to keep it from considering suicide or despair is with the drug called cosmology.
    The Hindus have a pretty clean drug called – christ, I can’t remember the story, but it explains that the divine self of Un-manifest Consciousness (masculine) has a Creative/Creator female aspect which could be described as ‘Radiance’. There is no meaning to ‘their’ play back and forth because there is no real beginning or end and no separate identities, as all there is is the thrilling adventure of getting ‘lost’ and then ‘found’ in all the permutations of Radiance. Thus understood I can not only see the morphing I am doing into something ‘else’ but I can neutralize my ego’s freakout at being in a nut house such as this, by appreciating that the higher ‘I’ is enjoying every aspect of my life – even the dark nights of the soul. It’s all a great adventure.
    But it is a drug in that it does slow down the autolysis a bit and is ultimately untenable. But others I know use Nature or their kids or their lover or –whatever. But just as long as my autolysis keeps bounding along at a clip that is almost bearable, I have no guilt about my ‘addictions’.’
    And the time spent in Limbo does, or can, come to a close. After spending the last 4 years in it I have been seeing signs that a genuine happiness is emerging in me, not based upon my old relationship to things but from a freer place. Upon reflection I would have to say that I actually feel that although my life is still a walking disaster area, I don’t feel trapped anymore (the way I did when in Limbo). Who knows though, maybe the bottom will drop out tomorrow and I be shunted into an even darker Hell than before!

  29. Thanks Brian re: Mike’s posting (13/2/11) – elegantly put indeed. There is a difference between pointing something out in another person in order to serve that person, and taking the (falesly) superior I-know-it-and-you-don’t approach. Finding that difference is really important – it cerainly was for me!

    For what it’s worth, every day of my life I feel some level of dissatisfaction. It used to be much stronger; there were times when I was going through what some might call the ‘dark night of the soul’, and there are times (more often now) where I feel a tremendous peace, full of humor.

    I’m not interested in writing about all of that – Jed does a great job in his books! I guess I must be a boring middle-class person.

  30. I’m really glad to have found this blog. I think I’m in limbo. I don’t know anything. I watch myself going through the motions as this Sharyn character like slow-motion in a movie, detached. Am I just numb, or am I waking up? I don’t know. I want to know what the point of it all is, this human gig. Were we meant to come here (earth) for a human journey to wake up from, and if so, why? If there is nothing to save, fix or improve here on the planet, what are we here for (praying for World Peace just doesn’t ring anymore)? Do we have a soul’s journey, are we individual souls or just expressions of the Source? And if so, when we die physically, do we instantly know the truth? I talk to dead people like they should be some sort of authority, bugger. I don’t think so. And how is it that they hang around with still seemingly egoic agendas attached to the physical realm and their journey in it? Death it seems, is no awakening. So is it the point to keep showing up here (earth) in a new costume with the usual crowd (soul family??? does that exist?) to wake up to the fact that it’s not real, we don’t have a self, and then chuff off to… well where and what? I’m rather weary of the whole gig, so I’m thinking I might rather be asleep and enjoy the playground, but I can’t even do that anymore. So what’s the point I ask, I’m sick of the dark nights of the soul. I don’t like this limbo place if that’s where I’m at either. I can’t even remember how the hell I got here, it feels like I just dropped out of the sky and someone else lived this girl’s life up to now, and swapped places with me…whomever the hell me is! I don’t know if I want help, truth, death, life, a stiff scotch or…some sweet relief would be fine. I guess I would like a map but there isn’t one. Anybody?

  31. Thank you. It seems that I’ve been in this process for a while and since reading Jed’s book, it’s taken on a whole new life of it’s own. I’m really just a bystander watching it all unfold. I’m not sure how I found this page.
    But it’s really good to go some place to….confirm? Is that the word? To kinda get a feel for where I am in the process. That it’s okay, the fear I feel is very real, but not. Further. That makes so much sense to me. There are more layers and then there is a gate just out of reach. I am just a drop of water telling the ocean that I am a separate being from all the other drops of water. How ludicrous! Why didn’t I see this before! One minute I am naked without my skin clothes on and the next the hunger reminds me I’m still in the physical.

    The time really doesn’t matter in the whole picture. So maybe I’ve been burning myself alive for 10 years. But what a blessing to get cancer! How wonderful the chaos that followed! Since looking for something to tell me that this process is good, necessary, potentially deadly, it’s okay. If I die in the process, wonderful! I just take my skin clothes off and return to the ocean.

    I will revisit when I feel the flow to return. Thank you.

  32. Suzen …….

    Thirty-five years ago I found myself in a very bad place. I felt overwhelmed, afraid of the future. It sounds like you are tied to financial and legal obligations. Here’s what helped me, actually for about a year it was the only way I could function. Don’t worry about what’s coming in a month, a week or even tomorrow. Just see that you only have to live through the next minute. Just get through the next minute.

    Take care of what needs to be taken care of right now.

    Ego, the self we think we are, invariably lives either in the past or the future. Our true essential self (or no-self) always lives in the present moment. So, while you are taking care of the business of the present moment, be a witness to your thoughts, feelings and actions, just observe what’s there. Live through your attention or your awareness.

    Now, it’s actually not so easy to describe how to do this. Why?, even if one gave a precise description, you still have to learn what it means for yourself. Our internal dialogue usually jumps in within seconds. A general rule is that if you’re thinking, you’re in false self.

    Eventually, you can be present in the midst of any situation. This is based on the principle of simultaniety. Our false sense of self is like a wind-up doll. It takes energy for it to function. It operates through the cultural conditioning we are receive beginning at birth. Life keeps us ‘wound up’. If we can be present to the messes ego keeps getting us mixed up in (even spiritual messes, “spiritual materialism”), we take the energy out of ego, we can actually disengage the mechanism that winds up the doll. This leads to a certain freedom, inward freedom. And eventually you will be able to extricate yourself from your present obligations…..and possibly without creating new ones. Inner freedom can lead to outward freedom.

    Just hang in there. Do what has to be done. Be present to the doing. And know that (all) this is not easy to do. (I also wrote a few things over on the free will discussion that you might find relevant).


  33. No doubt you are correct Mike. Knowing the length of time and struggle and transformation that many have to pass thru to ‘become’ free, it is to be expected that you would find every level of experience/confession revealed on a Blog such is this.

    But you know, the easiest thing to do is to ‘go superior’ on others and start attacking those who you don’t know and haven’t taken the time to become intimate with, by splashing around with ridicule and put-downs.

    I agree that few have reveled very much about the depth or the pain and agony they have gone through to date. But if you want to share a discussion about the dark nights of the soul, then initiate one. “Be the change” you want to manifest.

    To throw in a line about being attacked is a start perhaps, but you ruin the atmosphere of intimacy that is essential to human vulnerability by aggressively attacking people, and being full of your own precious self. The gist of what you have contributed so far is: “look at me, how god-damned profound I am. You people a a bunch of pussies compared to me”.

    If you want to keep it real, then be real! I’m sure many of us would enjoy such a sharing and be happy to trade ‘war stories’ with you. But you have to approach people with some respect. So far no one, including me, has thought that a public Blog was a great place to discuss such powerful and very personal material, but you have the opportunity to start a new thread, if you like.

    So why don’t you give it a go- write something about the dark & scary side of this process, and you will have my support in securing a safe and sane place to share such stuff. Indeed, if it is interesting and people respond to it, I will create a new page devoted solely to such confessions.

  34. Friends, I feeling after reading all this, including comments, is that some have not hit a hard enough bottom. There seems to be no real sense of terror in any of these comments or the article. I mean real fucking fear. How about really being attacked by malevolent forces, trying to suck the life out of you? You must keep pressing until you can’t press anymore, you must fight, dig deeper. These comments are middle class pussyfooting around. You haven’t had the shit scared out of you yet. You are not nearly afraid enough.

  35. By the way, I liked your post-spirituality essay…a little wordy, maybe. I have embraced and left many teachers/teachings along the way and had been in independent mode for some time before joining up with the guy who pushed me into the fire (so to speak). I thought I was getting on a nice mellow ride, ha ha. What a kick in the butt. So I have nothing left to fall back on, I can’t go back in any case, so to dive deeper is all that’s left. Maybe that’s the cool thing about divesting oneself from all outer forms of spiritual addiction, there’s no longer a safety net, nothing to grab onto. As one of my teachers put it, “My job is to make my job obsolete.” A successful process/teacher eliminates the need for it. Why keep creating it over and over again? I guess no one can imagine a world where everyone is awakened. What would we do without all that drama?

    Well, there sure would be a lot less noise, not so much blah, blah, blah, That would be nice.

    Peace to you…..

  36. I’ve been watching myself in this process of deconstruction and so interesting how one moment the lila is all so real, and the next I completely forget who I am and what I’m doing. Only if I “look” for it does the pain reappear. Like a little sore in one’s mouth, the tongue seeks it out and explores it, and of course the emotional memories follow. As soon as I catch myself doing this, the experience changes into something else. Life flows, always in motion, so I can’t ever really grasp it. But there is is in the background, breathing.

    I don’t really want to distract myself, I want to SEE it all up close, in all its bloody ugliness so maybe this time whatever insanity compelled this “me” to act out will end once and for all. Ha, like I have any control over it. I’m raw and ready for whatever will free me, I guess this is what it takes.

    Thanks for the support, even though there is nothing one can do, there is no “fix”.

    Prefer chocolate to TV, but that joke, in any case, is one of my son’s favorites.


  37. Suzen,

    To the person wanting relief from what they are going through (or, in other words, to be somewhere else other than where they are right now), there are many words of advice. Gorge Crunch chocolate bars, watch TV, listen to Led Zeppelin full blast (especially ‘Whole Lotta Love’), etc., are just a few I recommend. Perhaps a good joke might lighten the load:
    Q. Why was the number 10 worried?
    A. Because he heard 7, 8, 9.

    As to the ‘serious’ business of Truth, I could not presume to know what is appropriate for anyone else. Hell, I don’t have the answers for myself these days (probably because there are almost no questions left to ask!). I will say, however, that a smile breaks out on my face when I hear a person express their uncertainty and their dismay at what they are doing. It feels so much more real than the gleeful enthusiasm of many so-called ‘spiritual’ people.

    Thanks for your honesty. I do hope the pain dissipates, AND I have a sense that what you are going through is as necessary a journey as what all the gleeful enthusiasts are going through. Jed McKenna reminds me that no consolation will ultimately do it. Good luck!

  38. I don’t know what could be of use or comfort, but just that once we actually fully surrender to the onslaught, it always passes (in my case, so far) .

    I am sure that in order to make it all especially interesting, the ‘creator’ probably has it rigged that way to make it as outrageous and thrilling as possible. Kind of like going to the movies to see a real cliffhanger! Who would bother to go if there wasn’t a hell of a lot of drama – hanging by our fingernails–and at the last moment — breakthrough! (I read that last bit somewhere, and it seems to be true enough).

    So I guess the wisdom that applies to these kind of things is that the drama will last as long as you struggle to survive. You knew that already but maybe you needed an outsider to take an outsider’s look and say to you “yeah, she knows that she has got to surrender but its clear that she’s still fighting it”.

    My ex-guru Adi Da made it a fundamental point of his teaching that our suffering is an activity, not a state (the “self-contraction”, he called it). That means that we are doing the suffering to ourselves, moment to moment. That insight has never failed to be useful to me.

    Best of Luck!

  39. So….I am in the middle of the most hellish, horrific battle of my life. A close encounter (very close – boyfriend and business partner) with an “awakened” individual has destroyed my carefully constructed life such that every dream I ever had is shattered. I didn’t know what I was getting into. My life savings are gone, my family is gone, and I am stuck in a foreign country with a huge mess of disgruntled investors who thought they were supporting a healing retreat center, until said “awakened” person bailed. I am being crushed every day as I attempt to walk through this. This isn’t about blame, this is about dying before I die. I stumbled upon Jed and this site on my way. Any words of advice to see me through?

  40. Hi Rachel
    I am delighted that you enjoyed the site. It encourages me to leave it up rather than dumping it, as sometimes I think to myself “what a pile of useless self-involved garbage I have presented, why don’t I just either abandon it or delete the thing!”
    But if nothing else, it gives me a chance to hear from and talk to interesting people, which isn’t a bad thing.

  41. ((Sorry for the earlier spam: I’m going to relocate that post so since it’s “awaiting moderation” just go ahead and delete them from here, if you don’t mind.))

    On a sidenoite though, your essay really is nice. It’s refreshing to see that someone else is at the place that I am, that is if you haven’t moved over yet. It’s a difficult place to be…I’ve been having trouble communicating with and relating to my old friends as well, and even further I’ve lost interest in meeting new people. None of my friends were ever very spiritual so they have no idea…they’ve even protested my statements on several occasions, which is to be expected ha ha. But yeah…you’re very articulate about what it’s like in this limbo. Thank you for posting it.

  42. Ack, I thought this was a message board as I didn’t read the long essay. I like your essay. It’s nice to see someone on the internet (contactable) that is “Post Spiritual.” Feel free to delete or relocate or set that last comment on fire. ha ha. It’s all good.

  43. Jed. Jed. I first read his books in high school like 9 years ago. I loved them, they resonated for me, but I didn’t really get them. I worked with another spiritual teacher for quite a while, an off-the-radar enlightened woman who does not “teach” but instead does therapy, which I think is pretty appropriate really…anyway…several months ago I lost someone very close to me and it left me questioning everything that mattered to me…family, friends, interests, etc. I picked up his book again and it was like I was reading it for the first time.

    I’ve spent over 9 years working through my shit. I’ve waded through my feelings, my thoughts…I’ve spent years trying to accept life, to meditate through my thoughts and to sit and fully experience my feelings, but I think that all of it was vital to reaching the point where I could hear Jed. Jed likes to say that everything that isn’t his “bolt of lightening” is worthless, probably because that’s how he experienced it and so he assumes that’s how it works. Where he would probably dismiss all those years of soul searching, it was vital for me to reach the point where I could even hear him.

    I think his problem is that he’s not so good at expressing what you have to do to work through your crap. He just says it’s hellish, but anyone who’s ever seriously tried to burn through ANY of their ego will tell you it’s not fun. He’s not a terribly helpful teacher, but I think he’s right about what enlightenment is; a state in which you’re free from suffering brought on by your ego, but everything else is optional.

    What I’m coming to realize, as a “student” that’s finally making it to the other side of “the exit of the theater,” is that people don’t become someone different when they reach enlightenment. They are free from their ego which means that they don’t care what you think of them. Thank about that. If you always sounded arrogant before you were enlightened, there’s no reason why you would lose that tone unless you’re thinking in terms of the guru fantasy role of an all-loving soul…probably the only difference would be the motivation. Before, you might have been arrogant to make yourself feel better than others, when you really felt small and frightened. After, you have something that others want to find. Why wouldn’t you boast? The only real deterrent to not sounding like an asshole is the fear that someone (whether it’s a stranger or your mother) won’t like you. If you don’t have that fear then you’re free to do and say whatever you want. I’m guessing that’s the point Jed tries to make all throughout his books, by donning such an arrogant ‘my way or the highway’ tone; that just because you’re enlightened doesn’t mean you love everything and everyone.

    But I think that if you’re a loving, compassionate person in the egoic sense of the word, you probably won’t lose that either. Unless your love of others is entirely ego-driven there’s no reason why you wouldn’t still love them when you reach the other side. I think whoever the real Jed is, he probably wasn’t the warmest guy to begin with. But I think he doesn’t want to say that kindof thing because he knows a lot of people will mishear him. They’ll hear ‘you’ll be compassionate and loving’ and think that’s the only option; it will reinforce their stereotypical guru image, when the truth is you might walk away from humanity and never give them another moment of your time.

    By donning his image of an arrogant, truth-obsessed tough-guy he’s just saying, ‘this is a personal trip, and who you are doesn’t change, only the motivation, so you don’t have to spend your life trying to perfect yourself; figure out the truth and just be free.’ And that’s not a message you hear very often. I think Jed, or the persona of him, is a pretty cool dude with a good way of expressing that.

    Or, of course, I could be totally wrong, ha ha.

  44. Oh dear, I don’t get Tony Parsons and ilk, either. Who cares? Maybe someday, and then it won’t igzactly matter.
    Here it is, as far as I can tell.
    This post-spirituality gig is awakening into the dreamstate. That means that you know you are not real. You keep walking through your life, you notice that you don’t have a clue as to what comes next, or really, how to live as someone who is shedding identity in chunks. You are getting more and more naked. You care less about almost everything. You don’t care if you get enlightened, but you are still trending towards that, as far as you can understand it. You know you should be alarmed over becoming nothing, but you can’t work up much (any, actually) fear about that. The deepest snarls of emotional goo still rise up and startle the hell out of you. You’ve become used to not being crazy! It’s exhausting to shed long held thoughts, but that is no longer a choice, either. They are ridiculous under current circumstances, emotionally painful, and you don’t do pain unless it’s real.
    Life is more real and present to you now that you are not playing the dramatic lead. You really are grateful to be human, and cherish your attachments and trivial joys as beautiful ephemera. Surprising to me is the sadness that comes with the progressive realization that we (and this world we live in) don’t have any existence, really, which is maybe what Prabha is actually talking about. Sort of a mourning period, accompanied by fellow-feeling for the rest of the players.
    I’d describe this ongoing process as becoming more visceral, and light years from intellectual. Smart is not going to make it. Honest is.
    Just what I am experiencing. Hope it helps someone. E.

  45. Hi dear Bryan and all,
    If we consider that the presence nor the absence of our spiritual story, together with all of the mis-underestandings or with the underestandings an realizations , (previous, during and post), add nothing nor they removes anything from That what we are, because That, (which we can’t not not be), does not need any conditions or advantages, nor it needs to get rid of advantages or not-valuables conditions in order to Be; then?
    If we consider that the presence nor the absence of fear and doubt and self-doubt, add nothing nor it removes anything from That what we are, because That (what we can’t not not be), does not need any valuables ideas or advantages, nor it needs to get rid of not-valuable conditions in order to Be; then?
    If we consider that the presence nor the absence of any definition of self, add nothing nor it removes anything from That what we are, because That, (which we can’t not not be), does not need any valuable definition or the lack of non-valuable definitions in order to Be; then?
    Is there any dream where That which we can’t not not be, is not?

  46. Ah, weighing back in after Brian’s long comment on the whether or not-ness of enlightenment. Having watched very bright people plant the flag “half-way up the mountain,” I also have a healthy respect for Maya, and for people’s need to promote and expand both ego AND income stream.
    It’s good not to lie.
    If you don’t feel enlightened, if there is something that is not liking the word, why join armies of pretenders? What, after all, is wrong with being where you are?
    This place, while not the elusive “it”, is so much farther than you’ve ever been. From here you can see delusion, rather than live lost within that stupendous, seemingly shared dream.
    As to the dryness, it seems to be breaking up here. So interesting, the next thing happening.
    Thanks again, Brian.
    Love, Elizabeth

  47. Brian,

    You are correct in everything you say. There is a bit of a finality about it when you cross a certain point though. It is unmistakable. You can’t muster up the thought structures that used to hold you back from your reality any longer. You’ll find this out sooner than later. Be a bit cautious with all of your caution though. Ol Capn Ahab would probably take a harpoon to you 🙂


  48. To D.G.

    In response to your remark I would like to say a few things. While one can certainly feel the generosity of your comment, Don, for me there are a few important things to be considered around the notion that “you are there”. I don’t wish to play with words here, and I may be mistaken, but it would seem to me that “there” is indicating a type of attainment of a very specific kind (abiding non-dual awareness?) which is something of an absolute, generally speaking.

    Whether there is some clear-cut line in the sand, some threshold that one can cross over and call oneself enlightened for permanently abiding in non-duality, as Jed and many others seem to suggest, or whether ‘enlightenment’ is a relative term, a continuum of evolution, that one shifts on as one gradually identifies less with the body-mind machinery, on into infinity or personal annihilation, I really don’t know.

    I say this coming from the experiences of my life, rather than from the words in a textbook or from a teacher: Yes there has been a growing openness or freedom, first, in my cognitive capacities, that have indeed brought me ‘beyond’ formulations about truth and the dogmatic clinging to same. This has been a gradual process epitomized perhaps by the event I described in my “Posy-Spirituality” essay where I refer to the day that I awoke from my preferred dogmatism of 30 years. This in my opinion was a major step towards getting “there” mentally and intellectually, free of the binding constraints of the conceptual mind as applied to spirituality.

    Over the next couple of years the focus shifted to the emotional dimension of myself where my needs for social company, community, a partner, love, friendship, respect or status in society, and emotional validation in general, were eventually stimulated and agitated until the point where I was ready to let go of them through a gradual, albeit very fiery process.

    While in the states of mental and emotional freedom I was often mistakenly tempted to affirm that I was convincingly “there,” or at least ‘somewhere,’ judging by the freedom and peace I then experienced.

    But then over the next couple of years the challenge became physical and my relationship to life and body and mortality came into very keen and intense focus, by virtue of getting very very sick for a very very long time. That stress, without any consoling philosophy or social and emotional support system, forced me into the predicament of eventually having to deal with the excruciating process of accepting rather than resisting my own death. By accepting my own death I do not mean I accepted it intellectually, and I don’t even mean that I accepting it emotionally, I mean that I mentally and emotionally and physically gave myself over to whatever divine or mysterious process that had generated my life, and communicated to ‘it’ that I was ready to let go of my life, then and there, if that was what was in the cards.

    Yet whatever amazing breakthroughs that those events produced and continue to deliver to me today on a daily basis, (although intermittently), I still prevaricate, and I equivocate with surges of identification with my thinking, feeling and acting machinery.

    Why? I don’t know! I just don’t seem to be in charge, and therefore am not master of my process. Something else that I can’t identify seems to be the boss.

    So while I find it very kind and generous that someone would want to reassure me that I just have to ‘own it’ because I already “have it”, in my experience there is far too much opportunity for narcissistic idealism, even within a non-dualist worldview, to accept such a notion before testing it for myself over an extended period of time and in many many different situations. Perhaps when I can sit for a week without being distracted by the motivations of self, the promotions of the thinking mind, the e-motions of feeling self, or the locomotions of body, I might then be willing then to consider accepting that ‘I am somewhere’. That capacity would mean a lot more to me than the various levels of satoris that I routinely experience.

    Why so cautious? If toughest gig in the world is to actually escape from the confines of Maya’s amusement park, then easiest thing in the world is to delude oneself into believing that one has escaped it! I’ve seen far too many people (like myself) fall into that one to go quietly into that bright night!


  49. Brian,

    No offense man, but I think you’re there if you look a little more closely. You just have to own it. Not in a deluded egoic sense as many neo-advaitists would do. But in the sense that when you’ve let go of everything, consciousness will still experience different things at different times: boredom, lack of direction, bittersweetness, happiness etc. These feelings eventually mellow out until there is just a sort of contentment. The question will never be about attaining anything, but only to what extent have we let everything, everything go. Remember Jed pointed out in his diagram that after “the event” there is just an arrow continually angling up. Of course it is just a conception, but it’s one I can concur with. On this angling up, things just get more refined and as I said, content. The enlightenment/ not enlightenment question is like all things we can speak of: just a paradox. By the way, great website. There needs to be a place to discuss these things. Jed dropped some serious bombs on us all.


  50. Brian,
    Thank you. There is not a lot written about the Limbotarian state and it is much appreciated here.

  51. Brian, and whoever publishes this website, thank you very much.
    I am amazed to find this place so succinctly summarized.
    It’s both very dry and the best place you’ve ever been.
    Past that I get kind of incoherent, heh. Deer in headlights, anyone?
    Love, Elizabeth

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