[If you haven’t already read Part 1, I recommend that you start there. This is a continuation of that conversation.]
Q: You’ve outlined that to achieve permanent enlightenment requires a pretty extreme commitment. Realistically, how many people can just be focused on enlightenment?
That’s why I don’t usually focus on enlightenment in my teaching. I focus on how to live the best spiritual life you can. I don’t judge those who “want to get spiritually high.” At least that’s a starting place. My attitude is All-ee All-ee In Free. Come on in! There’s room for everybody.
Q: So what makes what you do different? What makes how you live your life different?
I will admit that I have an unfair advantage. I was born remembering, and I’ve never lost that. I’ve stayed intuitively open my entire life and I’ve had many mystical experiences. Apart from all that, I am immersed in this daily. This is what I’m thinking about and doing more than half of my waking hours.
For anyone starting out, a good place to begin is just noticing when emotions come up. Why are they coming up? What are the triggers? Then, it’s about what choices we make with those thoughts and emotions. Do we hold on to them and blow them up? Or are we able to stay as the witness and say, “I am not that emotion. I’m not that thought.”
While there are some in the hard-core spiritual community who are pretty open-minded about mysticism and intuitive experiences (at least those who’ve seen enough to know that stuff’s real), there are even more who view all that as nothing but traps and would suggest that having those kinds of powers are meaningless.
But I think there is a very positive use, and that is when they’re used to re-center people in the natural world, to re-elevate their senses, to put those senses front and center, which strips away learned behavior and really goes back to instinctive survival behavior.
For example, if somebody’s dropped into the woods in the middle of nowhere with nothing and nobody, instantly, instantly, all of their senses are heightened. You don’t need to do anything. Nobody needs to show them how to do that. Kaboom! Instantly, they are hearing better. They are seeing better. And some of that is, yep, they’re scared. That’s what fear does. But if you can begin to turn that fear awareness into spiritual awareness, if you can turn that fear into an elevated perception of awakeness of the senses where, now, when I keep my senses open to this degree, there are so many more interesting things to know and think about.
Of course, I’m speaking in dual terms of “I am separate from nature,” but it is a beginning step that everybody can take. I know I sound like a broken record, but if we could just throw everybody outside for a period of time every day, and they did nothing except just sit with no phones, no nothing. No entertainment or distraction other than here you are, in nature. What are you going to do?
People automatically will begin expanding their senses and, on their own, will become more curious about what information their senses are starting to pick up. This is how intuition begins expanding. Because intuition is based on the need to know. If you don’t need to know, nature isn’t going to communicate with you. Or if it does communicate, you’re not going to hear it.
So how do you get nature to communicate with you where you can get useful information? Walk outside, and ask yourself, what is the weather going to be like in 12 hours? We all know. We all know when we go outside and smell the air or feel a barometric pressure drop or the temperature change, or the color of the sky, we know what that means. We are just not bringing it to conscious awareness.
That’s what I think is key as part of the spiritual journey—that elemental part. When you’re trying to strip somebody away from a body, but they’re not ready to go to the full awakening, the next step is, how can you just loosen up the boundaries of body so that they feel genuinely part of their environment? You have to start expanding it out to the environment, which is nature. And then expand it out beyond that, which is energy. And then expand it out beyond that, which begins to be the inner knowing. And then expand it out beyond that, which is awakening. And expand it out beyond that, and so on and so on, until you reach enlightenment.
You asked, why are so few people enlightened? The major reason is that as soon as you’re born, you’re trained into cultural delusion and duality. We are, in fact, born enlightened, and then we’re taught out of it; it’s taken away from us. We are born remembering, and culture teaches us to forget. That’s the reason. It’s that simple. That’s the reason why so few reach enlightenment.
In order to fit into a society, to some extent, what’s it going to be? To whatever degree each of us agrees to play the game, that’s where we’re stuck; we’re trapped in playing that game. To shed that cultural training requires a level of commitment that the modern world doesn’t permit most people. Unless somebody decides, this is it; this is all I’m going to do; I don’t care what the consequences or the costs are, their chances of fully overcoming that delusion is slim.
Somebody was just asking me about this the other day. They were saying, “Okay, enlightenment is my goal. But here I am; I’m a Western person with a family, a job, and financial responsibilities. I’m swimming in capitalism and all of the things that set us up to be gerbils on the wheel to feed capitalism. How do I start taking my life back?”
Most people will then immediately go to, “Well, I guess then you got to go live off the grid, and you got to grow your own food, and you’ve got to get into bartering. And that’s just way too hard.”
What most people don’t realize is that it’s a matter of acclimation. It’s what you’re used to. You’re used to the hardness of capitalism. You’re used to the hardness of waking up every day and driving to someplace where somebody else owns your life for a minimum of eight hours a day, telling you what to do. Yes, you’re making a certain amount of money that’s either fairly paid or not. But that’s it, that’s your life until you die—figuring out how to make enough money to have the house, have the car, put the kids to college, retire, or just to deal with health stuff as we age. We live in a world that is entirely about money.
If that gets shifted, and we decide to live in a world that’s not about money, I am not saying that you’re denying money; you’re just saying that’s not the apex, the driving force of everything you do. What does that start to look like?
And what would that look like? Is it really going back to a more self-sufficient lifestyle? Absolutely, that’s part of it. Is it going to a more materially minimalistic lifestyle? Absolutely, that’s a part of it. Is it about disconnecting from people? No, I don’t think it has to be, although it’s likely your attachments to those relationships will change. But it is about disconnecting from the cultural brainwashing.
It’s like trying to explain enlightenment to someone. The example often used is a father who wants to point out to his son what enlightenment is, so he takes him into a movie to show him the screen (which represents enlightenment). But they’ve walked in in the middle of the movie, and all the kid sees and hears is what’s happening in the movie. The father points to the screen and says, “There’s enlightenment, there.” And the kid says, “That actor?” No, no, behind that. Oh, it’s the car? No, no, it’s behind that. That building? No, no, it’s behind that. It’s the sky? No, no, it’s behind that.
The kid cannot get to the screen because once the movie starts, the screen becomes hidden. And that’s what happens to us. We’re born with the movie already playing. And there are thousands and thousands of years of this movie having been playing.
This is why people can’t grasp enlightenment. In order to get to the screen, you have to get out of the movie. And people don’t know how to do that.
For me, what’s important is showing people, “Look, here’s the screen. You want to turn on the movie? That’s easy; here’s how you turn on the movie. But if you want to turn off the movie, that’s going to take a little bit more effort. Here’s how you turn off the movie. That’s my passion.