Why the recovery is hard

Why this is difficult

I like happiness as much as the next guy. But it’s not happiness that sends one in search of truth. It’s rabid and feverish, clawing madness to stop being a lie, regardless of price, come heaven or hell. This isn’t about higher consciousness or self-discovery or heaven on earth. This is about blood-caked swords and Buddha’s rotting head and self-immolation, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something they don’t have. -Jed Mckenna

If you’ve been with me on this for a while you know what we do here is to try to wake up the truth of life.

And so you probably also know what I mean when I say it’s hard.

This thing I do is compelled. It would be insane to do this out of choice. It drives me crazy. There is a back and forth nature to this which is very frustrating. There is a tendency to isolate myself. Maybe you know what I mean when I say that my external life can become messy, and there isn’t much motivation to do much about that. Everyday is an adventure. There are times of high confidence and clarity. There are times of low energy and low motivation and doubt and confusion. How this thing I do reconciles with the everyday and conventional demands of life is not an easy thing to figure out.

Some of the most popular articles on this site are related to the Dark Night of the Soul. The phrase is misleading in that it suggests it’s one night we’re talking about.

So why does this happen? Why is it hard?

A recent revelation is that the reason I experience this degree of difficulty is because of a mental conflict. The mental conflict of not getting what I want.

Here’s an illustrative example.

I quit smoking with the help of Allen Carr (Easyway method). Well, to be clearer, I’ve quit smoking many times before that time and each of those previous times was a five day long nightmare. I don’t have to describe that to smokers and ex-smokers; they know. But when I quit with Allen Carr’s method, there was no pain. It was in fact, absurdly, an enjoyable experience.

Why? What was going on?

The lesson in that was a lesson about the mental conflict of desire. Briefly, part of me wanted to smoke and part of me did not, and this conflict makes the small event of nicotine withdrawal symptoms into a horrible nightmare. Truly, the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, are nothing, and I know smokers and ex-smokers will protest up and down about that, but when you look, they are negligible. Allen Carr is much better at explaining this than I am–don’t take this as a lesson on how to quit.

Having learned that lesson from quitting smoking, I saw the truth of it in many of my addictions and bad habits and even desires. But I don’t have clarity in those areas, so I’m not qualified to talk about that, but I do think the same thing is going on in the recovery.

I think the recovery (waking up, becoming a natural human being, whatever you want to call it) is hard because of expectation. I have some nebulous expectations of what it feels like to be free and natural. The reality of it doesn’t match up what I think I want. The difference is the mental conflict. The mental conflict leads to not-nice feelings.

It’s not even that I have any big expectations. It’s not like I want to be a guru or I have visions of being swarmed by spiritual babes. Well, maybe a little of the second.

The expectations are more subtle. They have to do with it life would feel like when there is no resistance. When decisions are easy, what to do next is easy, what to say and how to be and how act and what to think–when all that is easy. And in my experience that does happen. But it’s nothing like the mental projection from an expectation. This difference between expectation and reality manifests as a difficult recovery.

Something like that–my words are not clear yet, but I want to explore this a little further. What happens if I drop all my expectations? What happens if I notice the subtle expectations which I had not noticed before and drop them as well?

The spiritualized ego

Another thing I wanted to address has to do with some conflict that came about in the comments in the last article–accusations about spiritual advancement and spiritualized egos and so on. I want to address it but I don’t think I have the skills to clearly explain that way I see it.

If in wherever it is that you are there isn’t any room for self-questioning, it’s probably a trap. I’ve trapped myself several times. In the first year after reading The Power of Now, I was all about presence. For two years after that, I was about observance and self-honesty. That wasn’t bad actually, until I realized self-honesty is just another mental process, easily subsumed by the ego. The break came after that, when I realized that the central problem was fear, in the sense that the Buddha calls dukkha. Not the particular emotion of fear, but an entire context of mind.

And with that I gave up the mad search.

It’s not that the searching stops. It’s just no longer about anything which is not reachable in direct experience. It’s not about transcendence or enlightenment or a mystical union with the universe. It’s not about spirituality or spiritual practices or spiritual advancement. It’s not about loaded words like God and awareness and presence. It’s not even about meditation–meditate if you want to, it has some great benefits, but waking up is not one of them. It’s not about concepts which are not within my direct experience. It’s no longer about other people’s words.

And so my conjecture is that the search up to about a year and half ago, was not necessary. It wasn’t without value, but maybe I can save some people some time.


It’s very helpful to think of this in terms of fear. Not the emotion of fear. The context of fear–what the Buddha called dukkha.

Thinking about it in these terms does not require us to stretch our beliefs to anything which is not already in our direct experience. We know fear. We know the context of fear–we’ve lived it practically everyday since birth.

And in terms of the solution, we know what it means to “look at you.” We know what “you” means. It means you, the sense of existence, what it feels like to be you. We know what look means–it means attention.

The only part of this which might be outside of direct experience is why the looking cures the affliction of fear. This we have to prove or disprove to ourselves.

My experience of the looking was that first, I understood it right away. I had already seen the fear thing a few months before I went to John Sherman’s site, so I think he already had credibility with me. The looking he suggests is something I had already tried with Nisargadatta and Ramana, but John Sherman was exceptionally clear and simple, and I finally understood what was meant. I looked, whenever I remembered to, for about three months. I looked once and the urge came up to do so again and again. I felt some agitation for a couple of weeks. That went away. After about three months, the urge to look went away.

And then the intervening months were not fun. There were intertwined periods of high confidence and high doubt, of feeling very connected with life and feeling very confused. That recently cleared away, and the understanding that a lot of these not-nice feelings are due to the difference between expectation and actuality is very helpful.

That’s about where I am. I can’t say I am completely free of resistance and fear. But I can say that the looking does something, and you can explore it and prove it or disprove it for yourself.

What we want is to feel human, to feel the extra-ordinary satisfaction of being human, to feel the peace which surpasses understanding. We want this because we know it’s possible. The thing, the only thing, that’s in the way is the context of fear, Buddha’s dukkha.

So far as I can see, in the understanding of this, nothing is required which is outside of direct experience. For me, that is excellent news.

Of course, in pointing this out, the question comes up, how do I know where I am now is not a trap?

I don’t. I’m open to that. If there isn’t any room for self-questioning, it’s a trap.

30 thoughts on “Why the recovery is hard

  1. Blueflame

    Hi, I never talk on these forums/whatever’s…I’ve been all over the place reading-learning. What I found is all that stuff you tried before was just talk. Almost mind fashion/chess games. Tolle, LOA, and all the rest are just playing chess with themselves! How can you win against yourself?

    To me the mind uses every piece of knowledge, experience you ever had in life to just reason a way to park your car in a timely manor! Your mind is just too big!
    People try to reason with this fantastic computer between our ears to find peace or satisfaction…good luck!

    I just started the ‘looking’. When I start to feel what you and John are saying about the fear falling away, then I will try what Bashar says to do. ” follow your joy and when ever you find resistance, that is where a false belief must be.Change it or focus your attention on it to reveal if it serves you at all.”

    Kaushik, follow your joy!! I know Bashar is a little weird but if you say your fear has mostly gone away, don’t you think following your joy might be a walk in the park for you?

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Blueflame,

      I’m glad you’re trying the looking. I hope you report your experience of that.

      I don’t know how the universe works and I am open to it all. And so, yeah, Bashar may be for real. But the urge to explore what he says doesn’t come up.

      And I do think there is something to following your joy. Our emotions are like pointers; they can guide us. But I don’t have a lot of clarity on this yet. I think that we cannot authentically follow our joy while we are saddled by fear and resistance. And so it makes sense to me to first be free.

      I also see what you are saying about the mind. It’s a supremely complex machine and it’s useless to try to control it or understand its workings. I personally don’t even think we have free will in the mind. But we are able to control attention, and putting attention on the sense of existence, does do something, and if it really has the effect of removing fear and resistance from the mind, well, that is a pretty good thing. And so for now, that is what I’m exploring. I’m always open to self-questioning.

      I look forward to hearing more from you.


      1. Blueflame

        I thank you on your response Mr. K. You are spot on to what I was trying to convey. I don’t have the words like all of you have but I have clarity.

        The message Bashar is generally saying is do what excites you at all times as much as your ego will let you. This is connected to believing that your higher self will lead you to the next higher joy and so on to find out who you are.

        You must listen to his You Tube video’s to understand. I was trying to find out if it works through you because you are successful in your recovery with ‘looking at yourself’ to get rid of fear.

        I believe with loosing your fear in looking at yourself (successfully as you did) combined with a wonderful goal as to follow your joy as Bashar explains it, this would excelerate your progress towards a happier fulfilling life.

        That’s what I’m going to try to do if and when I get some thought/sensation as you have. Maybe by then I may feel as you do to not try it.

        1. Kaushik Post author

          I watched one of the videos. As you say, Bashar is interesting. I’m always suspicious of people who sell any message of spirituality. That doesn’t make them wrong; Tolle for example has made a great deal of money and continues to do so. But I personally always prefer the model which is based on voluntary donations. I am also skeptical (but not closed) to anything I can’t prove or disprove to myself.

          In spite of all of that, I also know that I don’t know how the universe works and I am open to it all. The thing about following your greatest excitation makes sense to me. It’s a reasonable hypothesis and I want to test it. I feel that I will be much more effective at exploring these things after I solve the basic problem of fear.

          And that’s what I recommend. Whatever it is you are interested in, whether it is a better experience of life through Bashar or LOA or similar ideas, or it is spiritual enlightenment or advancement, or it being close to God, or it is some conventional goal in life–I think you will much more effective at what you want if you first do the essential thing of being natural and free. Just being.

          Thanks for the pointer, blueflame.


          1. Blueflame

            Thanks again. I’m a realist. I don’t believe a thing till I see it working. So far nothing has changed other than learning to meditate when I’m all twisted inside. None of the above Bashar, LOA or Tolle and the like changed a thing. I don’t get mad as much as I used to in life. I do believe an effort to keep a positive prospective helps
            I hope I’m doing ‘the looking’ right and or I hope I feel/notice something like you have. One week ago I started. Good Day.

            1. Kaushik Post author

              Good to hear. I can assure you are doing the looking right. It is self-correcting. and it is completely typical to feel that maybe you’re not doing it quite right. I’ll soon write about the looking itself, which will hopefully give people a chance to talk it out. In the meantime, you can explore the forum on John Sherman’s site.

              1. Blueflame

                Hello, I have explored most of his site. I found him months ago in some obscure interview with this TV show guy. I remember saying to my self “that’s it, I am”? Finding I am? I thought he was the biggest of the ‘go this way go that way, now your hear, now your there, guru’s out there.

                But then I was at the Tolle forum noticing you leaving your ‘fear of life bombs’ here and there. Fear of life rang my bell.

                Two things. Did you notice that his site has a very quiet forum? For having bin around for as long as he has been trying to get this message out, the reply counts are very low. I believe the forum has been around for at least 4 years?

                Second question is: How can you live without fear when you are constantly watching out for slippery sidewalks, hot car seats, etc?.. I know I’m making lite of my point but I notice that life has millions of ‘caution signs’ though out. What is the distinction between a weather report for a flash rain storm and the falling off of the fear of life?

                1. Blueflame

                  Quick example: Those kids that jump off house tops, clearly having no fear what so ever. In turn breaking bones on a regular bases? Or walking naked on main street? 100% no fear of life right? I just can’t see the split between what John says and what transpires in life if I’m expressing myself correctly…I bet I’m not!

                  1. Kaushik Post author

                    Hi blueflame,

                    On the fear of life: I think there is a misconception about what “fear of life” means. Maybe the word fear is not right. The “fear of life” refers to a context of the mind. It doesn’t refer to the particular emotion of fear.

                    The emotion of fear is frequently a very sane reaction to what can happen. For example, if a tiger jumps in front of you, you will react with fear, and that is completely normal. You don’t go around doing reckless things and breaking bones because of common sense and because you have learned that doing that hurts. Maybe that’s a kind of fear but it’s not the “fear of life.”

                    You don’t walk the streets naked because of social conditioning. In some societies people do exactly that. But that too is not the “fear of life.”

                    The fear of life is the same thing which the Buddha referred to as dukkha. It’s the fear which Anthony de Mello means when he says that love is the absence of fear. It is an off-centeredness. Very early in our lives we are hit by a fear. This fear affects the mind, it affects everything we think, feel, say, do, experience.

                    The fear itself isn’t a big deal, because most of us push it down. Some of us can feel it as the small but constant hum of anxiety in us. But in any case the fear itself isn’t that important.

                    The important thing is that the fear sets a context. An entire way of looking at life. And so our minds look at life as if it was something separate, something to defend, something to be afraid of, something treacherous. We feel disconnected, disoriented. We are not in the natural flow of life. It makes everything uncertain.

                    So maybe it’s better to say separation of life, disconnectedness, off-centeredness. Something like that. I don’t think I am doing a good job describing what it is. It’s not the emotion of fear. It’s an entire context of off-centeredness.

                    Thanks for bringing this up. I will think more on how to describe this better.


                  2. Kaushik Post author

                    So I think what you are getting at blueflame is that how can we really know. Who do we believe? It seems many of these people say “go here go there” and often they say things which sound contradictory. Some of these people sound way too mystical and some too spiritual and some are all about meditation and some about presence or some are about blissing-out or the law of attraction and so on.

                    I feel the same as you do. If it is about truth, how can truth have so many faces? Why isn’t there a simple, direct way?

                    I don’t have an answer to that.

                    I do what I do here. My approach is that of direct experience. I see that people like Nisargadatta and Ramana and Sherman and and Mckenna and Tolle and Buddha, and whoever our favorite guru is, are just people who can give us ideas. That’s all–they are fallible human beings and they can make mistakes and they are not necessarily good at explaining. I explore the next thing which my intuition tells me to explore and I report on it on this website. I try to be as honest and authentic as I can, knowing that it’s very difficult to be completely honest and authentic. Honesty is a mental process it is easily taken over by the ego. So I know I am not completely honest even to myself. That’s how it goes.

                    It’s confusing. But now I also understand why it is confusing, why it feels difficult, and why it seems that there is no clear voice out there.

                    I see the problem of fear with crystal clarity. I don’t mean the emotion of fear; I mean the entire context of the mind. The mind is off-center. Because of an early fear.

                    If that isn’t the entire problem, it is at least one problem. Before I go on I have to be free of the context of fear, because it makes everything else uncertain.

                    The reason I am compelled to find the solution is because of the context of fear itself. The reason I feel confused by all the various spiritual teachings and directives out there is because of the context of fear.

                    You see what I’m saying? It’s a circular problem. We are trying to understand something in a mind which has already been knocked off-center.

                    I’m pretty confident that what I say about the context of fear is truth. I see it in everything. And I leave room in it for self-questioning. Yes, of course, it’s possible that this is not the entire problem. If that’s the case I will find out. I’ve already learned the lesson of attachment–I try not to dig in my heels or get attached to any particular viewpoint.

                    Still, the fear thing makes a lot of sense to me in many different ways.

                    What I’m not sure about is whether the looking is really the solution. But the looking does do something. And it is the same thing which Nisargadatta and Ramana were saying, so for me it has a bit more credibility. And so I suggest to people here to try it. Explore it. See where it goes.

                2. Kaushik Post author

                  You’re talking about John Sherman’s forum? Yes, you’re right, it has low attendance. I’ve been to one or two of his online meetings, and those too are of low attendance. But I do think a substantial number of people listen to him–I don’t know how many, but he runs the organization on donations and seems to keep going.

                  1. Blueflame

                    Thanks for so much attention to my questions. Like you and probably everyone out there, I have a need to take apart or find some truth to what I’m buying so to speak.

                    I try to find a common thread amongst all the teachings out there. But then they are reading all the same books that I have read or all that’s out there I haven’t even touched on.

                    You have helped me see much better or I can relate to ‘off center’ feeling more than the word fear. To me when ‘looking’ at yourself you are going right to the number one spot. Number two and three spots to me are Gods, egos, and all else that keeps cropping up. The beauty of it being number one spot is you can’t get underneath or above it etc.. because it’s the only thing we know that exists. It seems to begin with me or I am? Who knows we will see.

                    1. Kaushik Post author

                      Well, that’s it. Use your intuition. Don’t believe anything. Don’t get attached to any particular viewpoint. Explore and test. That’s what I try to do.

  2. Yvonne

    Good to see another post from you Kaushik. I can definitely relate to what you write about experiencing difficultly due to expectations and mental conflict. It’s so easy to simply not notice this conflict, yet I’d say that becoming aware of it is, for me, the most effective way to – to love it I suppose. When I forgive these conflicting desires or beliefs they dissolve. And so does the fear. (At least, right now, this seems to be the way of it.) I’m guessing this is something similar to what you describe as “looking.”
    LIke you, I’m somewhere in the middle of this, and more and more I realise that life gives me what I need to wake up. I don’t need to search if I look at what is right here.
    I like Blueflame’s suggestion to follow your joy, and for me, welcoming this aspect lessens the fear. Sometimes just welcoming fear dissolves it; other times there is a lot of resistance, circular thinking and holding on to fear, times when I resist happiness. Opening to the possibility of joy or love creates the shift. The grip on fear loosens.

    I do tend however, to disagree that Tolle is just talk.There are many paths to waking up, and for me, reading Tolle was definitely a step along that path. I do think though that in trying to control things by the LOA all that’s experienced is wanting control or an over-inflated view of one’s individual power, so I’d agree with the description of that being mind-chess. (And yet, I could be wrong on that too.)
    A while ago I saw a cartoon – I think it was Snoopy – the character is sitting with an empty plate and says something along the lines of: “I’ve just eaten that entire plate of donuts, and I wasn’t full until the last one. I could have saved myself all the bother if I’d eaten the last one first.”
    None of it is a waste of time, and thinking that it is just perpetuates the division into good-bad, right-wrong etc. I’m really just realising this as I write it, and not trying to dictate to you or anyone. I read a long argument on an entirely different “type” of blog earlier today – an argument to do with women trying to have perfect bodies and there were a lot of misunderstandings, but ultimately both sides were trying to find self-acceptance. For some of those involved, it could be the starting point for awareness, or it might not, but the opportunity is there.
    I’m agree with you that we don’t have free will in the mind – how can we control what thoughts appear? I had an idea of what I would write when I started this response, but I’ve written is different. These days I write a lot of what could loosely be called “self-help” articles, and generally they turn out different to how I imagined. I like to think that’s because I’ve surrendered control to some deeper wisdom, but I could of course be fooling myself!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Yvonne! It’s been a long time–good to hear from you again.

      You put it very well–I think the seeing of and forgiving desires and expectations can help us navigate some of the difficulty of the recovery.

      The looking I talk about is different. It is looking at you. It is what Ramana and Nisargadatta were getting to and John Sherman describes as “Try to put your attention on that subtle feeling of me for just a tenth of a second.”

      I agree about following joy/pleasure. Our emotions can guide us. But I do think the first step is to eliminate the context of fear. I think there is some confusion about the fear. By fear, I don’t mean the emotion of fear or anxiety that we sometimes feel. By fear, I mean an entire context of the mind, which is set in very beginning by fear. It is the context of mind which becomes the entire unexamined assumption which forms our minds, which influences all our thoughts and beliefs and emotions, which renders everything else uncertain.

      I understand what you’re saying about Tolle. I will always be grateful to Tolle, as he got me started. I think the most important thing Tolle did for me is that he showed me there is another possibility.

      And I understand your vacillation about the LOA and similar belief systems. That’s where I am and I am completely comfortable with that. We do not have know how the universe works–that we can learn. The important thing is to be a natural and free human being.

      You are right that there are opportunities of awareness everywhere. As I look back on my life, I see that every moment of unhappiness and confusion and existential anger and fear was always just me nudging myself.

      Yes, my experience tells me that there is no volition in the mind. There is some scientific evidence of that now, in experiments related to the brain’s readiness potential. But I also find this is an area which is highly uncomfortable for some people. And it’s not terribly important to the understanding of the basic problem and the basic solution. What’s important perhaps is the understanding that even if we do not control what goes on inside, the one thing we do control is attention. And the one thing which is undeniable is the sense of existence. Bringing this two together is the what the looking technique is.

      Thanks, Yvonne, good to hear from you again.


  3. Janice

    This is a timely article for me. I have harbored many incorrect ideas about awakening to my true self for some time now. I have misunderstood that the deep level of pain and confusion that I have felt is somehow really my efforts to move forward. In truth my pain is really just really great pain and saddness. There has been no real effort or discipline at all.

    Sure I read, I enjoy the “search” of a realized self and I love to talk about it. But, work, no not so much. My condo is in shabbles, need major organization work, my office at work could use about three days of focus on priorities. My diet is healthy for a week and then sloppy for the next week. And I have not excercised in an age. But, I have read, talked and searched about my confusion and pain to the point of complete self indulgence.

    I know folks who have gained so much clarity through service to others, challenging yoga and other physical exercising, contributing to their source of religion (I know not a highly supportive activity around this site, practicing religion) giving of themselves to their families.

    Wow, I did mean to go on so long about that, I just remember reading “chop wood, carry water”, and letting that go in one ear and out the other. I just need to live in the “do the next right thing” and allow my life to move forward. Thinking that I have to be alarmed because pain or saddness has appeared again does not mean I did anything wrong. It means (for me) that it is what is present at this moment and I can still feel joy and attunement whether any feeling is present or not. I do not deny the feeling just acknowledge and keep going.

    Mr. K., you taught me that a feeling, is a feeling, is a type of energy, sometimes it teaches things sometimes it just shows up for whatever reason.

    Oh well, if you happen to read this thanks for listening. I have no idea where all this came from. I have learned a lot from you, Mr. K. and all your friends. Now, to clean the play room for my grandkids visit this week.
    Take care, I love you all.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice! Long time–I hope you have been well.

      What you feel is very common. You feel it as pain and sadness; I’ve felt it as anxiety and depression. I am actually shocked that every human being is not depressed. Pain, sadness, depression, discontent, worry, confusion–these seem to be very logical and inevitable consequences of the original fear. Maybe some people learn to pretend it away–I don’t know, I do know I’m always fascinated that not everyone feels the effect of fear in this way.

      And yes, this search for truth can feel self-indulgent. Because society and everyone around us expect something different. It can feel sometimes like something must be wrong with us, that maybe we’re bit insane, maybe we should just get on with life the way most people seem to do. But you will also find that you are compelled. You really have no choice but to pursue this. And so I’ve found easier just to make this my life purpose. This is what I am about.

      Yes, that’s the way I see feelings. It’s energy, it’s a message. We can invite, allow, make space for it, make even more space for it.

      Enjoy your grandkids!

      with love, k

  4. Mikkel

    Just came back to see this new article. I was surprised by the title turning on the subject of recovery. Through my own awakening process, it never occured to me that there was something to recover or change. I was stuck with absolutely nothing more than demonic fear of loosing that very fear. Which was somehow very steady (to avoid using the word satisfying).

    I have lost the ability to interpret what is meant by suffering, other than being a specific action, to which I can respond the one or the other way.

    So when Im confronted with other peoples problems, I have also given up analyzing whenever an experience is unhealthy, fear-driven, desire-driven, and according to what sence of the words and to whom. That is too hard to elaborate on.

    I will also recommand everyone UG Krishnamurti videos on youtube. He really has a way to make things very clear very fast. He would often interrupt any question half-way through: “…nothing but empty words you are repeting.” – instantly causing the questioner to wonder what part of his question that was empty, and before knowing, loosing every solidity of it.


    1. Kaushik Post author

      The recovery is definitely part of the fear. I think it’s part where you say fear of loosing that very fear. I see it as a process.

      Good pointer about UG. I haven’t listened to him for a while. I’ve been re-reading Jed Mckenna’s second book and in it he has quotations from UG, so I’m reminded. I’ll check it out.

  5. Joshua Tilghman

    Quite interesting. For myself, I have found that what we are really looking for is the opportunity to create what makes us feel good. In other words, the real joy is in the journey, not any kind of arrival. Arrival is just an illusion anyway since everything is impermanent. That being the case, I think I understand when you say that:

    “It’s not that the searching stops. It’s just no longer about anything which is not reachable in direct experience. It’s not about transcendence or enlightenment or a mystical union with the universe. It’s not about spirituality or spiritual practices or spiritual advancement. It’s not about loaded words like God and awareness and presence.”

    Is this sort of what you mean?

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Joshua,

      I think I’m saying the journey is not satisfying for most of us because of the context of off-centeredness.

      I’m being careful with the word “satisfying.” I don’t mean the emotion of joy or happiness. I don’t mean the feeling of finally being done because you’re right, life is a journey–it can be up and down, things happen, sorrow and grief can happen, and there is no arriving.

      It’s not about a destination. It’s more about our orientation to life.

      I think for most of us, our orientation to life is one of fear (off-centeredness, separation, discontent).

      The “looking at the sense of you” is a possible solution.


  6. Shailesh

    Hi K,
    I keep coming back to this website from time to time wanting to read your articles and everyone’s responses… Well.. all these words like fear, expectations, dukka etc. stem from the fact that we are always looking outside of ourself. What would life be like if we dint have this scenario in the first place. Then it would be just ME and myself. This is where I really a like how Osho would simply define it by saying all you have to do for this is to be “Selfish”!

    What it means is simply loving yourself enough over and above anything and everything else. Power of Now by ET has been one of the best books I have read to understand this concept of ME beyond my mind. His book The New Earth is also a equally good book, though not presented in a question & answer format. Simple things like” I dont mind what happens” is the secret to my life – the famous line of J. Krishnamurthy. or the concept of “Maybe” – refusal to judge anything that happens as good or bad are great pointers.

    Yes finally, most of us if not all of us are aware about this thing called spirualized ego. This is a terrible disease to be affllicted with no cure! A lot of spiritual followers and if I may add gurus suffer from this.A projection of I have figured it all and I know it all or been there done that kinda concept and belief just makes the ego stronger albiet unintentionally!

    Conflict also happens when part of you wants it and part of you does not! How true about this dreadful habit of smoking. God knows how many times I have tried to give up this nasty habit knowing every good reason there exists to quit but alas the pleasure along with the pain of hurting yourself knowingly- typical capricorn in this, brings me drawn back to it. Like the joke of Smoking kills you slowly- So who’s in a hurry to die!!!

    For me the bottomline about everything in living life spirutally or otherwise comes down to understanding the concept of attachment or rather DETACHMENT both mentally and spiritually.Once you figure this one out the rest of it takes care of itself!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Sailesh,

      Yes, you’re right of course, we must look inside. The Power of Now is indeed a good book to get started with. I think I have in the recommended section. I also like Jed Mckenna. His direct and no-nonsense style is quite jarring.

      Yes, good point about the spiritualized ego–I mention it often here.

      If you want to quit smoking, look up Allen Carr. His video are very effective. It makes quitting smoking not only easy but actually enjoyable–I didn’t believe it when I first heard it either. And it’s a great lesson in the conflict of wanting and not wanting something at the same time.

      I’m glad that detachment is resonating with you. I think I’ve come to place where I don’t think it is about any one particular understanding or technique or practice. It seems to be one thing, and that things seems to sure and exclusive, and then it fades away and the next thing appears.

      Good to hear from Sailesh.


  7. Neerav

    Hi Kaushik,

    Good blog post. The spiritual ego section was interesting, and sadly, it is true. I have seen it time and again, not just with others, but with myself as well. It really just makes me shake my head in sadness. Why people want to give into thier egos and act like they “know everything” or “know more than others” is beyond me. You know, despite all of the spiritual books that I have read from different spiritual traditions, and the spiritual practices such as prayers, meditation, self-inquiry, etc… I still know NOTHING. Absolutely nothing at all. It is better to know nothing and be taught by God what you need to know than to have book knowledge and be arrogant. Humility as always been taught as being very important.

    Surrender and humility, as well as devotion, faith and commitment are the hallmarks of a true spiritual seeker, as well as those like you, who just want to be “free and sane human beings”. Too bad there are not that many on this planet right now, but at least, you and I can practice this and stray above the negativity of the world. Not being arrogant with a spiritual ego is one way. Remember, it is the ego (including the “spiritual ego”) that is the source of all guilt, sin, fear, anger, hatred, condemnation, jealousy, greed, judgementalism, suffering, etc… as well as any so-called “Hell” that one goes through. Whether it is a spiritual goal or just to be “a sane and natural human” (as you want to be), freeing oneself from suffering (caused by the ego) is a common thing, and regardless of the goal, I only wish for success for the person involved. To see someone not suffering (be it from pain, sorrow or misery) is something that brings me much joy.


    1. Kaushik Post author

      Well, the spiritualized ego is just something I’ve found that I need to be alert to in myself. Even with the alertness, sometimes it is not seen except in retrospect.

      Honesty develops, but honesty is a mental process so it too is limited.

      This is probably the trickiest area of what we try to do. Periodically I write down what it is that I know for certain. It comes to very few things, no more than ten. I know there is a sense of existence, I know the “I” in thoughts is a delusion, I know the mind had been affected by fear and is healing from it, I know it is possible to be a natural and free human being.

      In spiritual circles, there is a commonly held belief in God or consciousness which is eternal and timeless and spacious and so on. I don’t see it that way. What I see to me that if we actually look with all honesty and bear down attention on it, what I see is that consciousness just is. It has no qualities. So others either see something I am not able to see, or they have created beliefs in themselves. It’s worthwhile checking if these beliefs come from fear. People want to believe in an all powerful, pervading, eternal consciousness because they are afraid of the opposite. But the fear is necessary as those are not the only two choices. To say “I don’t know” is not only a valid choice, it is actually the most powerful choice.

      And so this thing about the spiritualized ego is very tricky. I don’t see a direct solution to it. We can try to be honest, knowing that even honesty is limited.

      Thanks Neerav.


      1. Neerav

        That is correct! Consciousness is without qualities, though when one engages with it, it feels very peaceful, silent, still, joyous and loving. The qualities that you speak of are those that are mind-given attributes. It’s paradoxical. When I do prayers, either with my eyes open or closed, or even meditate, I actually feel this Consciousness inside and out, and it feels good. And just to correct you, this “Consciousness” or “God” (i.e. the Self) is not a “belief” in spiritual circles, because it is beyond any beliefs of the finite mind, and is known only by direct experience, which is beyond the mind and its capacities and abilities. So those who are talking about it do it from actually experiencing it, and not by making up some belief from the mind about it.

        1. Neerav

          I forgot to add……the terms “God”, “Divinity”, “Being”, “Diety”, “Consciousness”, “the Self”, “Awareness”, etc… are names to describe That which is Indescribable…….to make known that which is Unknowable……..to help people understand That which is Incomprehensible. If it was not for this, then the ultimate goal of religion and spirituality would be impossible and undoable, and there would be NO way for anyone to permanently escape the pain, suffering, misery and sorrow of one’s existence and the world. Yet, the Ultimate Reality (in His infinite Love, Compassion and Mercy) decided to make Himself (or Itself) known so that people can attain Him as a goal that is an alternative to the seemigly endless pain, suffering, misery, conflict, strife and sorrow of one’s physical/worldly existence. That is why we have such words, which are descriptions of something known by only direct experience, not beliefs of the mind, which are finite and have a limited value. Without them, attaining a state of permanent, eternal and infinite peace, bliss, love, satisfaction, etc… would be absolutely impossible.

          You also said: “And so this thing about the spiritualized ego is very tricky. I don’t see a direct solution to it.”

          My Answer: There “is” a way to eliminate it…….unless you want to give into the spiritual ego and believe otherwise, in which case, you will continue to suffer at its behest, which it will feed off of in order to stay alive at your expense.

          First off, is to not give into the spiritual ego’s temptations and illusions, as well as any obstacles and roadblocks that it throws in your way. Remember what Eckhart Tolle teaches…….to always be in the present moment or “the Now” by concentrating on what is going on with you right here, right now. This way helps to weaken the ego’s influence on you. I find this very helpful, and do it regularly, and it does work quite well.

          Second is to surrender the ego (or the spiritual ego) to God or a Higher Power, an Avatar such as Jesus Christ, the Buddha or Lord Krishna, or even a Divine Guru. The ego HATE surrendering to God or a Higher Power, as that entails humility,which the ego also does not like, in addition to having its “imaginary control” relinquished to God or a Higher Power. Also surrender all of your spiritual efforts/works/practices, as well as whatever outcomes/fruits/results that may come from them to God or a Higher Power – in a way, practice karma yoga while doing them. Since the ego (or the spiritual ego) likes to claim doership for them and take all the credit (thereby validating its existence in order to stay alive), this will greatly undermind the ego and also wither it away. This also goes the same with surrendering oneself and one’s ego (or spiritual ego) to God, an Avatar or a Divine Guru.

          You can also do an alternative, which is be compassionate and forgiving to the ego and gradually melt it away with Love until it collapses. Any of these work, if not by themselves induvidually, in combination. Try it and see over time, say, over a period of a month or so, and see if you feel any change in your ego’s influence over you. If you go longer, say for three months, six months or even a couple of years, then you will really see change.

          – Neerav

        2. Kaushik Post author

          I don’t disagree. I’ve personally found it very helpful not to talk in spiritual terms. And not to reach for anything which is beyond my direct experience.

      2. Neerav

        Actually, self-honesty is effective because the more you are honest with yourself, the more you can see yourself clearly. The ego/spiritual ego does not like honesty, for which, humility is needed. Doing so would expose it’s schemes to be undone. The ego would rather lie and tell half truths/falsities than to tell the truth, which it sees as its enemy. It would rather make you lie to yourself and others in order to serve its own selfish ways than you telling the truth and telling this delusional self to back off. That would also keep someone from taking a look at themselves and what you call, the “sense of self” or “the sense of I Am” in an honest and straightforward manner for which one can see past the ego and its games/schemes.

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Yes, you’re right. Self-honesty develops. My point was it’s good to keep in mind that the self-honesty is a mental process and so it can be subsumed by ego and fear.

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