This article was written as an explanation for the Summer Island Enlightenment Transmission Retreat "The Enlightenment Process" with Dave Oshana, 7th-14th July 2012
The Enlightenment Process is neither well-taught nor well-understood within the spiritual enlightenment seeking community. Prevalent are confused enlightenment teachings lacking clear understanding and vital details. It is similar to the 1970's when anyone could claim to be a kung fu or karate master especially if they appeared to be of oriental descent.
2012 represents the culmination of a shocking sequence of growing egregious claims about attaining Enlightenment which will leave the soul trying to ascend the Enlightenment mountain dazed, naked and bereft of understanding. Karl Marx wrote that those who do not understand the past are cursed to repeat it – and those who do not understand the Enlightenment Process reincarnate into lives of suffering until Enlightenment is attained. Misunderstanding the Enlightenment Process is like washing your hair in car grease, even two rinse cycles are not enough.
Whether you recognize it or nor, you are following an enlightenment plan most likely comprised of a smorgasbord fantasy, hearsay, bad teaching, peer pressure and fad. You need to reassess your navigation tools – your spiritual map and compass to determine if something is off. The further you spiritually travel without the correct coordinates the further, not closer, you get away from the spiritual goal.
Enlightenment teachings fits into several broad, sometimes mutually exclusive, camps:
- Follow the Guru, blindly
- Understand the philosophy, impractically
- Receive energy transfer (on faith)
- Practice techniques, mindlessly and carelessly
- Do nothing and wait, endlessly
Items 1-4 are elements of the typical conspicuous guru (right hand) path. Item 5 represents the anarchic hidden guru (left hand) path wherein the guru/teacher openly claims that he has no teaching but continues to preach to his followers/students.
The right hand path is borne of slavish adherence to tradition. The left hand path is rebellious reaction against tradition. Both contain fallacies but if a seeker is determined he could derive some limited benefit, typically at the psychological level, but not at this stage, Enlightenment.
The right hand path says "this is the process, follow blindly, do not ask questions and never deviate". The left hand path says (note, I am not specifically referring to Hindu Tantra but Western deviations) "there is nothing that you can do, it (codeword for Enlightenment) will happen or it will not".
The right hand path admits that Enlightenment exists, and offers tools to attain Enlightenment, but over time these have lost sense and meaning. The left hand path exists as a sanctuary for those who despair at mind-numbing slavish conformity to tradition and guru worship of the right hand path and its lack of results. The left hand path comforts the refugees and rejects from the right hand path with a diet of comforting platitudes, humorous anecdotes, comradeships and smug elitism that they are wiser and making better progress than their right hand brothers. The reactionary left hand path offers relief from obsessive compulsive right hand practices. Such relief can be valuable but the left hand teaching can quickly degrade into silliness, lethargy and moping. The left hand path does not automatically create happy shining people. A messed up right hand adherent will become a messed up left hand adherent unless it was only the weight of right hand practice which was messing them up.
The left hand path having no explicit authority (although this is taken as a given by its adherents) promotes, as any religion does, a set of axioms which if accepted will, as any religion, tie the followers mind up in knots. The left hand path's axioms predispose its adherents to eschew any teaching which promotes the idea of an Enlightenment Process. You might have such ideas, in which case, it is worthwhile noting and identifying them with yourself.
The left hand path's circular and confusing axioms are thus:
- Enlightenment does not exist
- You are already Enlightened
- You do not exist
- There is no one to get Enlightened
- Enlightenment will happen when it happens
- There is nothing you can do to get Enlightened
- Trying to get Enlightened will stop you getting Enlightened
- Wanting Enlightenment gets in the way of knowing Enlightenment
- Misunderstanding prevents Enlightenment
- There is no teaching
The left hand teachers, and his oh-so knowledgeable insiders, hint that understanding the above axiom list will help get you Enlightened, although typically will explicitly deny that they are making such an implicit claim. The left hand path, in the end is very much like the right hand path, only it seems to be more anarchic. However, it often has the same elements of tradition, guru adulation and even worship, a teaching and a hierarchy which the right hand path explicitly enshrines. Today's left hand path will become tomorrow's right hand path.
The right hand path has lost the way. The left hand path focusses so much on throwing off the right hand path that it loses and confuses the way.
A seeker may have different needs at different times. To follow a clear cut, simplistic, authority led, tradition backed, popular system he chooses the right hand path because it gives a sense of security. When he needs an alternative to the mind-numbing mind-drumming slavish addiction to authority, tradition and guru he may seek comradeship in the smaller, less popular, rebels camp of the left hand way.
However, when the spiritual seeker is ready, he should understand the Enlightenment Process otherwise all his time, energy and life will be lost. Understanding, of course, is not the only essential element, he needs to get involved, apply, learn and change. This is how learning and development occur. But note, this seeker progresses by losing misunderstanding at the psychological and spiritual senses level - thus progress, is in this sense, a return to what was, it is not an accumulation.