Saturday, November 3, 2012

Selling the dream of awakening...

There are many out there that will sell us the dream of awakening, just like the man who sells buckets of water next to the ocean, if we are willing to pay the required price. We so sweetly and so desperately wish to find some cure for our unmet pain, our boredom, our deep desire and simultaneous fear of true intimacy. But will this precious longing inside our hearts ever be fulfilled by a mirage? By the parlor game of the frightened self telling stories of its specialness, so that it may continue to stay alive and separate, to keep the dream intact? By our endless chasing of some “high” “state” of consciousness, as yet another way of somehow proving that the dream is real? By the separate, special self proclaiming no-self to anyone who will listen through “very, very powerful” Skype calls. When did the precious spiritual journey ever become about “power” anyway? Everything these days is about “powerful” states, “powerful” me, “powerful” processes, “powerful” events, “powerful” grace, “powerful” experiences, my upcoming “powerful” talk about my “powerful” no-self. Power, power, power, power, me, me, me, me me. Oh, Maya, you are so beguiling…

Awakening is not some commodity that can be "given" to you if only you touch the right magical objects, take on an endless array of pre-mythic superstitions, frenetically seek some pre-programmed, conditioned “state” of consciousness, or attend some “new” and “very, very, very, very powerful” magical (multi-thousand dollar) process. There is nothing given to us in awakening; rather, it is the taking away of everything that is false. And “everything” really does mean everything – all of our spiritual superstitions, all of our specialness, all of our rambling stories about how we “have no self”, “no personality” - all of our spiritual identities and beliefs… all of these are utterly and totally obliterated in awakening – and all that is left is us, as we are: raw, naked, vulnerable, totally ordinary, non-special and no longer identified in any way with one of the special magical ones that has come to save humanity, gracing all those around us with our presence, magical special brainwaves, etc. All of our messianic narcissistic spiritual identities are totally dismantled; we have nothing left to hang onto; our reality is totally groundless, unknown, and uncertain. But is this really what we want? Really? Or do we really want to live in some permanent bliss and orgasmic reality, where there is “no conflict” like some “cosmic one” protected and shielded from the raging furnace of the realities of the wide open heart and the crushing aliveness of true, vulnerable, naked intimacy with all that is?

We so desperately want a short cut into the cave of our own heart, into the reality of love that we all so preciously long for. But it is often Maya who steps in to be our tour guide. Our heart’s longing will never be found in listening to endless stories of the self dreaming there is no longer a self, or scrambling to get your brainwaves to match up with one who has been “declared” as a “fully” or “permanently” awakened one. All of these declarations, of course, and all of the self-consumed stories, “shifts,” and utter me, me, me fabulousness… all of these arise, move, and dissolve into the mirage from which they came. Unchallenged beliefs have a way of defining us and determining the course of our lives. Do we really want to go where this leads? Throughout religious history, awakening has been peddled and sold in the marketplace of Maya. Please, be discerning, friends. Please be willing to use your heart-intelligence.

So many of you know that something is not right here; your hearts and your intuition and your deepest intelligence is speaking to you. Please trust yourselves.

We so badly want to be an “awakened” person, appearing on the weekly list of “awakened” ones, to let us know everything is okay, that we’re okay, that we’ve been seen, that we’re on the side of the divine. Finally, we can rest. We’ve “made it.” Now we can transfer our specialness to others, tell them stories about our awakening, clarify their questions with gobbledygook conceptual chattering about “levels” and “scales” of enlightenment, and have their brainwaves align with ours; like some sort of spiritual Frankenstein project. To me – and many I speak with - such a side show is deeply unkind, aggressive, and arrogant. The few examples we have of deeply realized men and women in our past would never prattle and carry on in this way. For those on the outside, this is seen as childish, immature, and actually quite harmful, unkind, and lacking in wisdom and compassion.

In these days of rampant spiritual materialism, when we want to believe so badly that the Wizard of Oz behind the enlightenment-curtain can “awaken” us through his or her profound “power” and influence over the destiny of humankind, the dream of awakening has so much to offer. Welcome to the Kansas loka. In these days, anyone can self-appoint themselves as a great realized one, change their name to something all spiritual sounding, and sell the dream of awakening to the masses through endless promises and egoic, messianic, narcissistic fables. But it is Maya that is in charge here, not awakening, and things may not be what they seem. As Rumi reminds us, “… like the man who saw water in his dream, and began leading everyone toward the mirage. So they set out with him inside the dream, while he is actually sleeping beside a river of pure water. Any search moves away from the spot where the object of the quest is. Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way. Maybe some traveler will wake you."

Like our friend Truman from The Truman Show, may we all wake up from the reality TV show of awakening and the special me, always the featured star in our own dream.

May your heart guide you, may you discern what is true and what is false, and may you find what you are truly looking for. May you peer into your heart and be luminously clear about which dream you are truly wanting to follow, and what is you really want, when all is said and done. But most of all, please trust yourselves. The signs are all there.


  1. Thanks Matt. It looks like your words came exactly when I could accept them. It's funny to find myself again at the starting point, this time without the urgency to move. Much Love, Nicola

  2. Hi Nicola, thank you for connecting here and for sharing your heart. I am happy to hear you have found your way back to the starting point - we can commune there together, friend... lots of love, matt.

  3. HI Matt...enjoyed this read and mused upon my own changing relationship to the charletanish ( just made that word up, I do that) bleatings of the many OH wise ones selling as you say awakening, I suppose I can measure my progress by how my response changes over used to madden me, infuriate me....the savage selling of empowerment at reduced rates if you sign today.....then I moved on to interest in what was being said, being a miss- matcher I found it useful in considering what it wasn't....that I could find what it was....for me and now, I see what is "out there" now as a necessary part of the evolutionary trail where hikers learn discernment....try this path..nope that wasn't it....we learn so much from being misled....thanks for the writing....♥ Ursula ♥

    1. Dear Ursula, thank you for reaching out and sharing your experience with us, of this sweet, often uncertain, always-groundless journey. And thank you for coining the term, "charletanish" - i like it. I think what you're sharing here is really important... that difficult experiences on the path, especially where we become maddened or infuriated, and where find ourselves mired in delusion and so forth, are doorways into discernment. Discernment is everything on the path, in my experience, and is very undervalued in our fast-food consumerist culture where we are frantically and frenetically looking for the next spiritual experience to help us to feel better. Yes, an evolutionary trail... a trail of kindness, compassion, and immense space... in which we can learn about the preciousness of our own hearts. Thank you again for sharing here, friend... lots of love.