“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.” – Adyashanti
So many of us are on a spiritual path, intending to live more authentic lives. Hopefully along the way we will find more peace, joy, love, freedom, your own favorite. I’ve heard and read lots of people describe their understanding of enlightenment. Adyashanti has a very different way of explaining the process. It has to do with seeing through the illusionary world we have created. And, while its true we may have beautiful, magical experiences in meditation, nature or a retreat, that’s not it.
In his book The End of Your World Adyashanti explains enlightenment as being destructive. It destroys everything about us that is not true. We all have thoughts, ideas and beliefs about who we are. Once we awaken – even if it’s just a momentary glimpse – we see beyond the dream we have constructed, the false self.
One way to begin is to become more aware of your thoughts. Thoughts are in two categories. First are the thoughts that are practical. They help us get through life on an everyday, material level. Bills must be paid, chores must be done, we earn a living – our minds and thoughts are a great tool when used in this way.
The second category is where we spend most of our time. Those random, almost monologue thoughts that are constantly drifting by. Some of them are like Velcro, we get caught by them and here we go. These kinds of thoughts are like a fiction novel. They are not true. The never-ending story. When we can disengage from them and see them as just a fiction novel, everything begins to shift. Just consider – how many times in a day are you stressed or doing something you really don’t want to do because you followed a random thought that isn’t even true? Once we begin to be aware, its somewhere between hilarious and frightening.
Then there are all the roles we’ve played. Many of us feel we must be somebody to be accepted and loved. As we look deeper inside, each of those roles are destroyed – they fall apart. In my case my children are grown. I still love them dearly and yet they no longer need me in a mother role. That part of me was needed at one point and is now gone. I am no longer a wife. I am no longer a career woman. I am no longer an artist. I am no longer a crafter. I no longer sew quilts. The list goes on. All roles I’ve played at different points in my own evolution. All necessary, maybe. And, all destroyed. Gone.
When spiritual teachers talk about letting go. This, in part, is what they are talking about. Letting go of all the roles we constructed, played and identified with. Those roles are not who we are. They never were. And, letting go of all the never-ending story thoughts, the novel you are constantly listening to.
As you awaken from the dream, the illusion, you can be left empty, disoriented, without purpose. Congratulations! You are getting closer to the truth and are identifying less and less with the dream. Somewhere right about here we begin to realize on a feeling level we really are One. It’s a slow, subtle process for most of us. Awakening maturing into enlightenment. And, many illusions destroyed along the way.
Now what? The title of Jack Kornfield’s book After the Ecstasy, the Laundry pretty much says it all. We are still right here living our lives. And just maybe for the first time ever we are completely aware and awake to what is going on, what is actually true for us. No shoulds, coulds, trying or role playing. No longer living in the fiction novel of our random thoughts. Can you imagine your life lived from this completely aware place?