Letting Go of Spirituality

Believe nothing on the faith of traditions,
even though they have been held in honor
for many generations and in diverse places.
Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it.
Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.
Do not believe what you yourself have imagined,
persuading yourself that a God inspires you.
Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests.
After examination, believe what you yourself have tested
and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.


If you see the Buddha, kill him.

-Zen saying

And then of course, the awakening part is always spontaneous. There are no ABCs on how to wake up. But when looked back, I saw these two things: stillness and silence, and the ability to be ruthlessly honest with myself, to not fool myself, to not tell myself that I knew something I didn’t, to stay with my line of inquiry. After a while, these two approaches together became my spiritual path.

–Adyashanti, True Meditation

Maybe you’ve heard this story: after a drudging decades of hand-copying spiritual books, an old monk had a thought. He realized he and his fellow monks had been copying copies of copies, so he went into the dungeons to inspect the originals. Later, his brothers found him wailing and crying over an old tattered page, moaning, “It doesn’t say ‘celibate’; it says ‘CELEBRATE!’”

letting  go of spirituality
Creative Commons License photo credit: Eddi 07

How do religions and spiritual traditions start? I don’t know of course, but here’s one plausible scenario. A human being is awakened. He tells others about it. Others copy what he says. There are copies of copies of copies. Religion and spiritual traditions develop.  Love and openness turns into spiritual traditions and hierarchy and beliefs and concepts.

Then, there is Buddhism and Christianity and Advaita and Zen—and in more flavors then Ben and Jerry’s.

Jed Mckenna, who some believe is an alter-ego of Adyashanti, has a very direct, and somewhat uncomfortable article which says that Buddhism is a failure. If the purpose of Buddhism is to produce Buddhas, it has failed. It’s been pretty good at churning out Buddhists, not Buddhas.

You’ve heard the saying which goes something like: we are not physical beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.

If that’s true, then true spirituality is a matter of subtracting. True spirituality is not a matter of memorizing new concepts and beliefs. It’s a matter of letting go of what we think we know and believe.

Spiritual traditions are of course very valuable. Many people get started on awakening with spirituality. Many others find resonance and wisdom and beauty and comfort and even a way of life in spiritual traditions.

But in the middle of all of this, there is a heart beating in the silence and stillness. What does it feel like when you can tune into your silence? When you can let go, what does the lightness feel like? In the middle of this, in every stage, through every millennium, through various versions of God and high monks and dogma and new-age concepts, through morality and commandments and precepts and noble truths—what is there?

What is there is what has always been. There is “before Abraham was I AM.” There is the fantastic and ungraspable silence and stillness which is beyond beliefs and concepts and spirituality. There is Stillness and Silence and self-honesty.

If you do tend towards spirituality, you may want to be open to some of the obstacles. The great Tibetan meditation teacher, Chogyam Trunpa, wrote that we are often “deceiving ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques.”

He called this kind of self-deception spiritual materialism.

Spiritual Bypassing

John Welwood is both a Buddhist and a psychotherapist and he writes very effectively about spiritual bypassing. This is where we do a “spiritual bypass” of our issues. We can build up a spiritual identity which bypasses the painful recognition of childhood suffering or compulsive behavior or addictions.

“ When we practice wholeheartedly, allowing ourselves to open and to clarify our perceptions through increasing awareness, we move towards a comprehension of the true nature of reality. Through our practice, little by little we can clear away the veils of conditioning, the skewed perceptions, the attachment to a seemingly fixed, solid, self. Ultimately, if we approach it with courage, humility, and a willingness to open to whatever is there— “radical acceptance,” if you will—this will lead us to ever increasing clarity until we reach that point where our mind functions like a clear, bright mirror, simply but accurately reflecting what we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and perceive, allowing us the space to respond to life situations rather than reacting to them. Along the way, however, we can open to repressed experiences such as abuse or other trauma, and even if these do not lie buried within our particular psyches, we become more and more sensitive as we become more aware. If we’re not careful, old habit patterns of reaction can be an easy “out” of these situations. If instead, we open to the courage that comes with practice and choose a new path—one of greater clarity but not yet familiar to us, we can begin to work through and release those “sticky places” and the knee-jerk reactions they engender.”

Spiritualized Ego

There are many balanced writings on the “spiritualized ego” and “spiritual materialism.” Krishnamurti and Jed Mckenna are ruthlessly direct—probably very bitter medicine for those who’ve developed a strong spiritual identity. Tolle and Leonard Jacobson are gentler, but just as firm.

The Guru speaks to us primarily in shoulds: “You should meditate twice a day.” “You should be present.” “You should be nice.” “You shouldn’t drink so much.” “You should get to bed earlier.” “You should be doing your life purpose.” “You should be saving the world.” The word should is a sign of the ego. When the Self motivates us to meditate or be kinder or more present, or even to take better care of ourselves, it doesn’t inspire us through a thought, but through an inner impetus to do these things. That impetus is true guidance coming from the Self. Such subtle nudges and intuitive messages are continually being sent to us, but we may miss them if we are wrapped up in our thoughts.

-Gina Lake, Radical Happiness

Spiritual Defensiveness

When the ego has co-opted spirituality, it will of course be very resistant. It’s easy to see in others when they have invested heavily in a certain path; it’s a bit harder to admit it in ourselves. There can be a lot of what is “true spirituality” and “my monks can beat up your monks” kind of defensiveness.

In my experience, I’ve found it best not to deny and not to follow. As the prescient Zen patriarch T’seng said, “Do not seek Truth; only cease to cherish opinion.”

Spiritual Addiction

Many of us discover some form of spirituality at a time when our lives are not working so it’s easy to see how we can become addicted to spirituality.

A spiritual person can become addicted to spiritual highs and miss the experience of Truth. Spiritual addiction occurs when something great happens and it feels as if you have received a hit of a great drug. As soon as you have it, you want more.

Soon you find that your condition is not much better than that of a common drunk, except that drunks know they have a problem because it’s not culturally acceptable to be a drunk. The spiritual person is very certain that there is no problem, that his or her inebriation is unlike the other forms of inebriation, and the whole point is to be spiritually inebriated forever.

You’re not a junkie. You’re a spiritual seeker.
This problem will last as long as there is something in you that holds out some hope for the high experience. When that begins to break down, you start to see that pleasant, wonderful, and uplifting experiences are somewhat like very pleasant and uplifting alcohol binges. They feel great for a short time, and then there is an equal and opposite reaction. The spiritual high is followed by a spiritual low. I have seen this in many students.


41 thoughts on “Letting Go of Spirituality

  1. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    Just a quick question. I love the Christmas story of Christ’s birth. Really, I get a beautiful feeling from the story, the tradition of celebrating the birth, Jesus’s birthday, etc. I cannot see in my lifetime setting that story down and never picking it back up.
    I am referring to the first poem by the Buddha.
    I am going to have to process this material a little at a time. But, for now that is my first question.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      There are many spiritual stories I like. Humanity’s spiritual traditions and religions are full of mystical and beautiful pointers and stories.

      At the same time, it’s good to be aware that we can form attachment to spirituality in the same way we form attachment to any other belief system, and this attachment can close us off.

      There is a great Zen parable which goes like this:

      Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

      Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
      The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No
      more will go in!”

      “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

      The parable points out that when we are full of beliefs and concepts and ideas, our cup is already full, and we cannot know the truth of our own being. When we are full of spiritual beliefs and spiritual stories and spiritual ideas, the same applies. This does not reduce the value or beauty of spirituality or spiritual stories. We just have to be careful that we remain open.

      Another way to look at this, from Leonard Jacobson:

      “…belief in God is the obstacle to knowing God. Belief is a function of the mind and we can only know God through direct experience. Belief is what we resort to when we do not know God through our own direct experience.

      So how does one have a direct experience of God?

      God is here now, but we are not! Mostly we are lost in the world of the human thinking mind. “

      I hope this helps a little.

      love and peace,

  2. Evita

    Hi Kaushik

    Wow, that was an incredibly comprehensive view of how the spiritual path can lead to true release, love and understanding of oneself as a spiritual being or take us back into a deeply rooted living from the Ego, just disguised in new clothes.

    This was a truly welcome and incredible read. I am a true believe that we should almost have “check-ups” every so often in our life, where we examine if we are still expanding and spiritually evolving, or got stuck somewhere and made something spiritual dogma only to limit us.

    Thank you for this Kaushik, it is a welcome and again most timely reminder.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thank you, Evita. I know you are going to a Vipassana retreat soon. One of the many things which impressed me about Goenkeji’s teachings is that he insists that the questions during the retreat be constrained to the practice of meditation. He does this because there can be a tendency to get distracted by spiritual theories and traditions. Every tradition of course has its particular point of view. It isn’t that any tradition is right or wrong–it’s more that the focus is on the practice of awakening, and not theories and concepts of spirituality.

      Honestly, this was not an easy article to publish. I’ve held it for quite a while before publishing it. It can easily be mis-interpreted.

      Thanks for visiting and thanks for you insightful comment!

      love and peace,

  3. ~ bern ~

    By letting go of concepts, one finds a place of pure sensation where one is in resonance with the spirits we invite into being. We fuse, we let go, we fuse, we grow, or change, expanding forever into infinity and beyond. Seeking the Spiritual is then forgiven and replaced by embodying the spirits through conscious acceptance and invitation. Spirituality is then transcended into Being.

    You are Beautiful Kaushik for expressing your honest Truth so fluently and so Well.

    You are propagating a wave and a message that many will soon hear.

    I smile at your divinity.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thank you, Bern, for your kind words and your beautiful description of release and expansion. We let go, we fuse, we let go, we grow….yes, exactly!


  4. Jeff Lapointe

    Hi Kaushik

    I appreciate your hesitancy to release this article as it points to many spiritual traditions and master who try and articulate what the ‘now’ is through their own life perception.

    Trying to explain our own path to a seeker, for the choices we made, the successes and failures we endured can only leave us with a general overview of concepts that move us.

    I feel we can only be an example in our Being to others which encourages them to find their own answers. It certainly is ‘too enticing’ not to try and accept other people’s wisdom of practice and yet when we do this we have lost our own awareness of the situation. We can only find a relative connection between what we Are and what others say IT is.

    This is a real cold honesty that it is only ourselves who can find our own path to awareness and yet there is the paradoxical beauty that suggests we are up to the task that taunts and dares us to take a step into this moment of discovery.

    We can do good deeds that help the world in a kinder way but all this will likely hinder our progress to awareness as your wonderful article – articulates.

    In the end I would say that we need each other. We look to your articles, to spiritual advice and feel – if they can do it, I can do it too…but how….well I guess I better get to work in my own way.

    Love and light to you Kaushik,

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jeff,
      You say it very well. In the end, it is cold, stark honesty that awakens us.

      We must be starkly and coldly honest with ourselves. We must admit to and see that the person doing the holding on is the same person who is trying to become free. We must admit to ourselves that only we can do this. This is not about blame or where we are in our paths or all the problems we have had. This is not about spiritual advancement or spiritual accumulation. This is not about molly-coddling and helping one another remain trapped. This is about seeing clearly. We can get there, and the key ingredients are Stillness and stark, cold honesty.

      So go ahead and dabble in spiritual advancement if you want to. But in the end, that is for “me” which does not exist.

      Stillness and honesty.

      Thanks, Jeff, for the clear insight.

      love and peace,

  5. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    Believe it or not I think I might actually understand some of what Bern just said. The other night while practicing stillness in the bathtub, I had this sensation that something in me collapsed and all this gratitude started coming into my awareness.
    All kinds of things became aware to me that I have many blessings in my life. I really appreciated the thoughts. Not my thoughts, just thoughts that became real to me.
    Love ya,
    P.S. If I am wrong about how I relate to Bern’s message please don’t tell me. YIKES!, that comment was really immature and fearful.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      Yes, that’s exactly it. You experienced a spontaneous release. It feels light and open. But don’t hold on to that feeling or expect it in the future. It too is just another passing. Keep releasing!

      love and peace,

  6. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    I don’t want to cross any boundary here and respond when I am not sure if you should or shouldn’t, but, Jeff’s explanation and your response are so beautiful. I am not sure if I am just beginning to understand this material or what is going on. But, Bern & Jeff blew my mind today. I am getting used to you throwing me off balance.
    In my craziness to learn fast, I rarely ever read anyone’s comments, then I made a decision to read them whether I understood them or not. So much head scratching and re-reading. Finally, and I mean finally, I am starting to get some of this. I am not going to classify this as as a miracle, but it is pretty amazing for a Tuesday afternoon.
    Love & Light,

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      I agree–the comments here are open and candid, which makes them very helpful and insightful. I’m very grateful that we have sincere seekers here.

      You, and Jeff and Bern, offer the kind of openness which helps and encourages everyone.

      We often need a jolt in our awakening path. Nice is not always compassionate. The thing in us which wants freedom is also the thing doing all the resisting. Sometimes we just need to get real, to look at ourselves with stark honesty, to stop repeating the same old pithy-sounding sayings, and to get beyond being spiritual. We have to break through the inertia and actually try to be present and not just talk and think about it. We have to face our fears and actually learn how to release, instead of being paralyzed by fear. We have to be honest with ourselves and see that we are not the “me” we have constructed in our thoughts.

      Awareness, Release, and self-honesty.

      love and peace,

  7. Mark Milan

    Hi Kaushik,

    This passage from Chogyam Trungpa’s Shambala: The Sacred Path Of The Warrior, discusses both letting go and discipline, which you’ve discussed recently, so seemed particularly apt.

    “Letting go is completely conquering the idea that discipline is a punishment for a mistake or a bad deed that you have committed, or might like to commit. You have to completely conquer the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with your human nature and that therefore you need discipline to correct your behaviour. As long as you feel that discipline comes from outside, there is still a lingering feeling that something is lacking in you. So letting go is connected with letting go of any vestiges of doubt or hesitation or embarrassment about being you as you are. You have to relax with yourself in order to fully realize that discipline is simply the expression of your basic goodness.”

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Mark. The quotation is incisive.

      When we consider carefully, the reason most of us chase spirituality is because we feel there is “something fundamentally wrong with your human nature.” When we can be easy and open, life knows exactly what to do, and we don’t need external spiritual concepts or beliefs.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful quotation.

      love and peace,

  8. Brenda (betaphi)

    Hi Kaushik

    The term ‘spiritual materialism’ is new to me. I’ve run across it twice now in the last couple of days. I’m assuming that the four caveats you’ve pointed to here are forms of spiritual materialism — the spiritualized ego and the spiritual defensiveness, bypassing, and addiction — right?

    Adyashanti’s last quote is perplexing to me — isn’t there something in all of us that wants/craves/desires/needs peace, happiness, and joy in our lives? Isn’t that the whole aim of life, to have and to maintain those spiritual highs? I can understand how that might be considered addicting, but what a great addiction. Are we supposed, instead, to want nothing for ourselves? Is that how you gain everything, by wanting nothing? Who but a few can do that?

    “You start to see that pleasant, wonderful, and uplifting experiences are somewhat like very pleasant and uplifting alcohol binges. They feel great for a short time, and then there is an equal and opposite reaction. The spiritual high is followed by a spiritual low.”

    My jolly, wonderful, feel-good got hijacked recently by three different forms of ‘-itis’ all at once. The funny thing is, I felt the inflammation happening at the same time I felt myself resisting something I didn’t want to occur, something that I felt would threaten my happiness and joy, and sure enough, my resistance to what I thought would rob me of my joy did just that. Ahh, it just ain’t always easy, is it, Master K?

    Thanks for your kind words and good advice. 🙂

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      Spiritual materialism or addiction or defensiveness etc, are all the same in that the ego has simply disguised itself in spiritual clothes.

      We want liberation because it is clear seeing and it is the end of suffering. Ultimately liberation is seeing that there is no “me”; the “me” we take ourselves to be is a false construction. Whatever path we choose, whether it is spirituality or non-dualism or some sort of practice–the important things, as Adyashanti, points out, are Stillness and self-honesty. (I also recommend Release because it can help relieve pain). Self-honesty is paramount–with self-honesty we can tell whether we are truly liberating ourselves or just fooling ourselves with spiritual advancement. If we are fooling ourselves we will know–the spiritual people who I know who are fooling themselves regularly go through existentialist crises. Unfortunately, their solution to their crises is to “deepen their spirituality.” It’s more of the same.

      If we suffer a crisis, my recommendation is to renew commitment to the practice of awakening. Renew commitment to meditation, learn to release, and this may mean you have to face yourself and your fears. Understand what love means. Love is the absence of fear. Allow, with patience and love. Above all, develop self-honesty. Stop relying on other people’s words and spiritual beliefs and pithy sayings. Look at yourself. Look at your sense of “me.”

      What Adyashanti means is that often in our awakening we may hit highs. A revelation, or a lightness after a release, or a euphoric feeling during meditation, etc. These moments should be allowed to pass. They will not last, and if we get attached to them, or if we expect and anticipate them, we will suffer. It isn’t that we are not supposed to not desire anything for oursleves. The problem is not desire; the problem is attachment to particular outcomes.

      No, it isn’t always easy.

      Thank you for a very candid and insightful comment.

      I hope you are well!

      love and peace,

  9. Mark Milan

    “When we consider carefully, the reason most of us chase spirituality is because we feel there is “something fundamentally wrong with your human nature.” When we can be easy and open, life knows exactly what to do, and we don’t need external spiritual concepts or beliefs.”

    It’s ironic, how we come to spirituality to hide, to fight, and to solve. But the answer spirituality presents is to reveal, to face, and to accept. That can be a bitter pill to swallow.

    Thanks again.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      It’s like Chinese finger trap. Not easy, not hard…maybe delicate. As you point out, if we miss the message of spirituality, which is to “reveal, face, and to accept” then spirituality is more of an obstacle than a help.

      We actually have to stop cherishing beliefs at some point and actually do the practice. We have face up to fear and actually learn to release. We actually have to meditate. We actually have inquire “Who am I?” We actually have to learn to develop self-honesty.

      All the talk and spirituality around it can be helpful. Or it can be an obstacle.

      Thanks for your insight.

      light and peace,

  10. Nitin

    Namaste Kaushikbhai,

    What else do I need to read more?,,,Yours articles has nectar of all the great books/gurus. The Honesty in you which can see all the inside out and able to come up the great conclusion all the time. Great job.

    They say, “to forget is better quality in one then to remember.” Letting go is the technique to forget and continue remember to forget as well.
    In order to let it go, something as to built-up? otherwise there is nothing to let go. (it’s like our pee, has to collect and feel great when you release it, same rule apply to all senses.)

    Now a days, I feel NOT to read any, listen any, thing any and just being with yourself and enjoy the nature.

    Your worlds are so true “Many of us discover some form of spirituality at a time when our lives are not working so it’s easy to see how we can become addicted to spirituality.”

    Human being constantly searching for meaning and why everything as to have meaning and why do we need to understand (because of ego) and what does it make different? it’s endless questions and arguments….even though one is made to unite with remain(universe) It’s does not matter how you see it, explain it or interpret it.
    We are part of Ying-yang and talk about it. It’s like chick in unhatched egg try to see/explain the egg.

    Enjoying as always. Very nice.

    Regard and cheers.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Namaste Nitinbhai,

      You make an excellent point. The thing in us which wants to hold on is the same thing which wants to let go. There are not two people in us. There isn’t even one person–the person we imagine we are does not exist.

      But the knowledge of this does not necessarily lead to spiritual success. The knowledge of spirituality and spiritual concepts does not necessarily lead to spiritual being. As you point out, “endless questions and arguments” don’t lead to spiritual success.

      Be here. Be now. Learn to release. Learn to be aware. Learn self-honesty. Inquire: who am I?

      We actually have to experience this. I say this repeatedly because there is sometimes a lot of resistance to actually experiencing this.

      I hope you and the family are well!

      light and peace,

  11. Spikyface

    Hi Kaushik

    Great article

    It helped me realise that I’ve been using spiritual highs as a substitute for human affection

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, spifkyface. The best description of human affection, or love, I’ve seen is from Anthony de Mello, who said love is the complete absence of fear.

      Good to see you here again.

      light and peace,

  12. Gnobuddy

    Janice wrote:
    I love the Christmas story of Christ’s birth. Really, I get a beautiful feeling from the story, the tradition of celebrating the birth, Jesus’s birthday, etc. I cannot see in my lifetime setting that story down and never picking it back up.
    Why is there any need to set it down? If you can just see the beauty in the story, and enjoy it without tying your ego into it, there is no need to set it down. For example, this fable speaks of the search for wisdom, having appreciation for children, having appreciation for life itself, and so on. All of these are beautiful things that only add to the good in the world. If you see these aspects of the story and enjoy them, why, what could possibly be wrong about that?

    Now, if you took the same story of Christ’s birth and turned it into some variation of “I am better than you because I am a Christian”, or “I know the *real* God, and you don’t”, or “You are my enemy, because you do not believe what I believe”, THEN you have tied it into your ego and false sense of self. And that same story is now a cudgel with which to beat other people over the head, instead of a beautiful story about love. It is now an instrument for spreading hatred and division, instead of love and appreciation.

    Sadly, many “Christians” do see this and other Christian fables in this way. They are the ones who want to fight holy wars to protect “their” God. But, Janice, I am pretty sure that you are more than enlightened enough to see the difference between those two ways of seeing the same story, and to see which one leads to freedom for you and peace for the world! So start to trust your inner wisdom – your “Buddha Nature”. It will guide you in the right direction if you give it a chance, and grow in strength each time you do.


  13. Patty - Why Not Start Now?

    So many insightful quotes and teachings here, Kaushik. “Should” as a sign of ego especially resonates for me today. I don’t care for the word, and there’s a book I’ve used to help clients explore their “shoulds” called the “Self Esteem Handbook.” But it seems like “should” has become such a key word in our vocabularies. I suppose it’s simplistic of me to think we can release these inner/outer shoulds by banning the word, but I think it’s worth a try!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Patty,

      Yes, it’s tricky thing, isn’t it? “Should” is a sign of the ego, but banning those “shoulds” is another should. That can be the obstacle of spirituality. Creating spiritual beliefs is not spirituality.

      More and more, I am coming around to the wisdom that it is about seeing through the “I.” There is no “I.” But as conceptual belief that is not helpful. We must ruthlessly follow through.

      You Self-Esteem handbook sounds interesting.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      love and peace,

  14. Lisa

    Well, you have really hit the nail on the head here. The Kalama sutra is one of my favorites of the Buddha, and I tend to agree with Jed McKenna, that Buddhism has churned out more Buddhists that Buddhas (and the same can be said of many, if not most, spiritual and religious traditions.) At times, I feel I should not even speak of spirituality at all, because it misleads people.

    But I also think it’s something most of us have to come to on our own – go through the cycle of ‘belief’ in something, of trying to be ‘good’ according to some external standard, before hitting some kind of bottom that makes us experience beyond that. Or at least that’s how it was/is for me. And at the level of healing, and personal development, and all that, there are ideas and practices that are valuable, as long as they considered ‘the truth’.

    It’s a conundrum isn’t it? If you are someone writing or speaking at all about spirituality. How to speak/write something valuable without ourselves seeming to hold up some standard for how it ‘should’ be done. Personally, I’m not enough of a koanist to do it – I’m not clever enough to write without leaving any tracks. But good try here!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Conundrum is the right word exactly.

      If the goal is to awaken, then we must be honest. So far nothing that I know of has been terribly successful in waking us up. Religion has failed. Culture has failed. Science has failed. Recently, the ideas in quantum mechanics are approaching the world view of the ancient mystics, but still science does not lead to awakening. Philosophy has failed. Spirituality has been perhaps marginally more successful, but not overwhelmingly.

      On the other hand, we each have our individual paths, and many people have resonated with spiritual traditions, and many have found some solace in these traditions.

      Awakening is about seeing through the “me” and all its stories and all its attachments, and that includes attachment to the spiritual identity. Compassion, spirituality, gratitude, goodness…these are wonderful virtues, and they are also the very things the diabolical ego will use for validation and approval.

      I wrote this article with some reluctance, for the reasons you point out.

      In the end we must be starkly nakedly honest. We have to admit to ourselves that we fool ourselves. But even stark honesty, which I favor, can be a ruse of the ego. It’s tricky.

      These days I am wondering if there is a direct way to see through the “me.” Here I talk about awareness and release and self-honesty. When we have released enough that the mind is still, or relatively still, is there a direct way to dissolve the “me”? Nisgardatta and Ramana suggest meditating on the sense of “I AM.” Adyashanti suggests to get to a place of silence and then asking “who am I”?

      Thanks for a very insightful and important comment.

      love and peace,

      1. Papa J

        Hi Kaush!

        Your recent posts are most refreshing……for their content has matched in parallel the teachings that I have been receiving recently….obviously there is nothing of coincidence for these parallels as when the truth is there when we all see it.

        Jed, Adya have been most helpful for focus on understanding the truth intellectually and internally. Additional study of Alan Watts has also be a benefit…….actually it is amazing to hear what Watts was saying in the ’60’s as the truth and wisdom that’s been around forever is like the moon reflecting the sun…had Watts had the internet more would have benefited earlier……but he has it now……what pleasure there is when you can hear the truth and understand that a thought is just a thought and not the root truth…..it has taken me a bit of time but it is being understood….


        1. Kaushik Post author

          Hey Papaji! Still enjoying the exotic pleasures of the East? Good to hear from you….

          My experience is very similar to yours. Eckhart Tolle started the whole thing off for me. Vipassana meditation, and reading Nisgardatta, Krishnamurti, Ramana, and as you point out, Alan Watts deepened the understanding. I would say that the more accessible writers are Adyashanti, Jed McKenna, Anthony de Mello, Byron Katie and so forth–the contemporaries who write in simpler and direct language, without philosophy or spirituality or mysticism.

          You’re right about the internet! It may be just the thing which reaches this simple message out to people.

          I hope you’re doing well!

          light and peace,

  15. Genryu

    Please don’t try and connect Adyashanti with Jed. Jed wouldn’t appreciate being connected to a guy who is an outright fraud like that.

  16. Gwen Houghton

    Jen McKenna has been gnawing at me lately. I feel like I am going through another transition spiritually. I don’t even know why I call it spiritually because spirit has nothing to do with it. I just don’t know how else to put it. What is the truth, I guess that is the part that is getting harder and harder to differentiate. I really do not care about the new age industry any more so I am feeling out of place with it all. That’s why I stopped doing psychic readings at SoulSong and Moore farm and why I did not want to move to Kimmy’s place. It’s all boring to me now and I’m done with it. Yes, I can still talk the talk if I need to, but it feels shallow and fake. I am even questioning my psychic abilities. Is this all fake to? Have I made it all up? Sometimes I wonder why I get this information. Do I just have a very vivid imagination or can I really walk into the future and the past and grab information for myself and other people. The truth is that I don’t really know and that is messed up. Were am I getting the information? Are there really thoughtforms and sentient beings and souls that move about the universe freely? Does this nonphysical side of life really exist, or are we humans just the master puppeteer of our own very elaborate show or story? I don’t know and it’s been on my mind more that I would like to admit. It consumes me. I mean just under the surface of my reality. The reality that is in that in-between state, between consciousness and subconciousness. I feel it and I know it’s there, and I know that the thoughts are in my head, but I do not focus on them enough to bring them to the forefront. Life is but a dream! I can see that, so why do I still react when things happen? I guess because I am still human and I still have fear in me. My ego still exists and it will always exist as long as I am in human form.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      JMK is very good at shaking up our assumptions.

      I don’t know about pyschic abilities. I am open to everything now–I don’t know the universe works. It’s not really important to me.

      What’s important to me is the understanding that the basic problem is fear, or more accurately, the persistent feeling that something is wrong with life. This basic fear sets the context of the mind. And I do think John Sherman’s looking technique is helpful in seeing through that delusion.

      The fear of course makes us all insane–insane in highly individual ways. And the recovery from the insanity is also highly individual. As the fear and its effects start to go away, I become interested in many things, and uninterested in many other things. Mostly I have become interested in my human experience, happening now. Lately, I’ve been very interested in the Conversations with God. I’m getting a lot out of it, and I’ve been meaning to write about it, but I still feel I have not absorbed it enough to write on it.


      1. Gwen Houghton

        I have been talking to God all my life. I also talk to a being who I cal Archangel Michael. I have received a lot of information from them.
        Let me back up a little. I am a psychic, medium, channel. It is my profession, as I have a doctrine in Metaphysical sciences.
        I have been reading JMK for many years and Richard Rose as well. I am at the brink of something but I am not quite sure what. I lay awake in the middle of the night and try to figure it all out. But the information is so vast that it overwhelms me. All I can do is move forward at this point. I do not know what is in my future and I am beginning to forget my past. I feel as though I am getting information on a need to know basis now.
        Don’t get me wrong, I am exited but scared at the same time. I just ran across your site and decided to share.

  17. steve marino

    Thank you for this wonderfully insightful presentation. It’s interesting that you mention Adyashanti in the same blog w/ the Buddha’s instructions not to accept anyone’s truth until we try it out for ourselves. A bit of a koan there, and he is certainly welcome to his opinion about Buddhism and Buddhists, as long as we keep in mind that it is just that. His opinion.

    In my personal journey along a Zen path, I have found that personal difficulties and situations that shake us to our core when our survival is threatened are actually wonderful opportunities to deepen out practice. So they are not “bad” experiences, they are gifts, in a sense, although at the time they may not look or feel that way. It may actually be impossible to have seep spiritual realizations from a comfortable, stress free life. Something needs to push us into action by making us nervous and uncomfortable, and that something is suffering.

    A recent catastrophe (on the surface) caused me to go deeper into my practice simply to have some rest from the pain. It worked to a certain extent on a practical level. My monkey mind was finally calmed down, and I was able to get some sleep. Sleep is very important for our survival, and when we finally get that good night’s sleep after trauma, things look quite different when we wake up the following day.

    Deciding that if some meditation was good then more would be better, for the first time in my 20 years of Zen I decided to get off the cushion (chair) and take it with me. I didn’t know what I was doing, having never been instructed in mindfulness, so I simply went w/ what I knew…. the basic Buddhist awareness meditation of following our breath. It worked so well that I “woke up”, whatever that word may mean. Actually, it was a series of wake ups that continue as I go on w/ my life, assuming that I am present. Sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindfulness when out and about are my tools to stay in the moment as much as I can.

    What I discovered was that when I got “me” out of the way, and you can’t consciously do this, it occurs in meditation, then something else seemed to be operating, and karma became immediate, not something that happened down the road. Magic came into life, but that magic was simply daily life as it is. Not a special thing, but special all the same because when “we” don’t get us out of the picture, then we can’t experience life, we just experience ego’s perception of life. This awakening is not a place that we get to, it’s always here, but we have to be in the moment to experience it. It requires doing our work too. We don’t gain anything, the whole universe and more is already right here within us, Real life occurs when we do our practice, which could be a mantra, beads on a rosary, meditation, chants, or I would imagine prayer. Each moment is a gift, and w/o this realization happiness is always somewhere else in our delusional state.

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