Purity of Intention — Awakening is a discovery of the truth about you, and because it’s a discovery you cannot bring your assumptions and dogma and beliefs along with you. You can’t trust your thinking. You must first sharpen your instruments of knowing. You must observe, as a witness.
But awakening does require you to face up to yourself. Which is the thing nobody wants to do.
Yet, some people are able to. Why is that? What’s the difference in these people? Why are some people able to overcome the fear of looking at themselves?
I think it’s the purity of intention. When there the strong and pure intention to know the truth, we can overcome the fear of looking at ourselves.
Cognitive Dissonance–the common psychological condition in people who create beliefs which are the opposite of what they fear in themselves. For example, people with repressed anger will often preach non-violence; abusiveness/judgment/control is often rationalized as a passion for peace; latent feelings of homosexuality often come out as homophobia; ex-smokers are more fervently anti-smoking than non-smokers; unhappy people will often ascribe their unhappiness as other people’s fault. It is Shakespeare’s “she doth protest a little too much” and it is the hysterical person who is screaming the loudest for everyone else to shut up. It is the inability to accept clear evidence which is against an existing belief.
The mind’s ability to hold these contradictory beliefs is easily defeated by self-observation, by becoming conscious, but it’s a bit circular, because the mind doesn’t want to be observed.
“The belief that something is wrong is the fire under the ass of humanity.” –Jed McKenna
“Fear, regardless of what face it wears, is the engine that drives humans as individuals and humanity as a species.” –Jed McKenna
“All fear is ultimately fear of no-self.” –Jed McKenna
I’m discovering that I don’t know how to talk about awakening with people who have not started to awaken yet.
Mostly, I don’t try to, but recently I’ve been part of group where awakening is being discussed.
Seems to me very few us actually awaken. It takes serendipity. Some things have to happen to help us get over the fear of looking at ourselves. The impetus is perhaps the exhaustion from suffering, or the overwhelming desire to know truth, or accidental.
Most of us do not want to look at ourselves. The start of it as simple as observing thoughts, as witness, dispassionately, but It’s hard to get over the fear of looking at ourselves.
So then why is it that a few people are able to? What’s the difference?
As far as I can see it is the purity of intention. When we can form the strong intention to know ourselves, to know truth, at any cost, that’s when we can overcome the initial fear of looking at ourselves.
I read a beautiful book, a Pulitzer-prize winning novelization by Katherine Boo, “Behind The Beautiful Forevers” in which she describes corruption and social oppression in a slum in India.
Corruption is woven through every layer in India, even in people who just barely subsist in a slum. It is the thing which holds India back. There’s a funny news story about the time when the Delhi police collectively forgot their mothers’ maiden name and the name of their first grade teacher, because they could not log on to a portal which collected corruption complaints for eight year!
That’s how the ego works in the human mind. The ego is corrupt, and will hijack awakening and corrupt it, so that awakening then becomes something of the mind, and can no longer be called awakening. When awakening is no longer self-observation, it becomes a practice of spirituality or the accumulation of fixed mental positions or dogma.
We may say that if corruption is defeated in India there will be plentiful opportunities for every Indian, but this is tricky to execute because as Katherine Boo points out in her book, corruption is the opportunity right now.
And so it is with the ego. Corruption is the opportunity.
If you were in a car accident and hit your head, and doctor asks you how you feel, and you say fine, and she says I know you think you are making sense but the words coming out of your mouth are gibberish, and then another person says the same, and another, and at first you dig in your heels and decide that world is trying to do you in, but after repeated head-banging, you decide that may there’s another possibility. Maybe you’re not looking at this right. If you were really talking gibberish but it sounds right to you, how would you know? How would you find out?
This is the first insight of awakening.