Until you know you’re in prison
I remember listening to a recording of a spiritual teacher who was trying to make her audience feel comfortable. She was saying “You are safe here. Everything is OK.” But it is not. Everything is not OK. You are not safe. These days spiritual life as commodity in a consumerist culture requires an ever increasingly glossy sales pitch. But an authentic spiritual school is not a spa retreat where ego is comforted and pampered and made to feel everything is safe and OK. A spiritual school is where you are taught to forge body and mind so that they might both confront the forms of delusion and discover the greatest possibility of human life.
Enlightenment, gnosis, is not going to come through a weekend workshop or ascending the various level of this or that spiritual system now being sold. An esoteric school exists to help you become a wisdom warrior ….. not for profit, not as a business, not to build an organization or spiritual empire but because Love desires the end of suffering. Wisdom desires the end of ignorance. The deathless desires you to go beyond the touch of death.
If you wished to attain any great goal, and there is no goal greater than enlightenment, then you would train, and practice and work. The great violinist Itzak Perlman said “You can over practice, and that is not good. 4 to 5 hours a day, maybe 6 is enough.” if you wanted to be a Navy Seal you would work with great diligence and earnestness. If you wanted to climb the most challenging mountain………. Spiritual life is the greatest quest, the most challenging, it's hard work, often not fun, but it is also the birthplace of meaning, joy and deathless wisdom bliss.
We live in a consumerist society which believes it can satisfy itself, pleasure itself, politic itself, social welfare itself, consume itself beyond the touch of life’s great existential problem. It can’t. And so the modern cult-ure becomes increasingly jaded, cynical, and aggressive in the failure of this attempt. The Soma drug of the Brave New World, designed to produce a complacent citizen workforce, is omnipresent. Seldom has there been more effective means of oppression than the passive fulfillment of manufactured desires. This is why authentic, radical, spiritual, and religious life is rare - it is the single most effective form of dissent there is. To become free of desire in a consumerist culture is the great taboo. To realize, in Life Eternal, in flesh, in action, the freedom that is simultaneously worldly and divine, non-dual, is liberation from the tyranny of manufactured desires …. even freedom from death.
Grasping toward romance, sex, approval, material possessions, relationship, security, comfort as if they can bring happiness … this act, itself, makes the stuff of delusions prison bars. Grasping to gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and insignificance, happiness and suffering, success and failure, pleasure and pain, birth and death, wealth and poverty these all are the the prison walls. If the distractions of society, possessions and relationships can make you forget that you are in prison ….. then sleep on. If not then there is a chance you can wake up.
Spiritual schools exist for those who know they are in prison and wish to escape. They exist for those who have not fallen for the con of society’s decorations on the prison wall. Before one knows they are in prison they can not be helped. Before that point all so-called spiritual life is merely another trinket, another ornament in conventional life with its tedious rounds unto death. At some point the HeartMind understands the lesson of life and becomes an intense concentration on becoming free. It is only at that point that a spiritual school can help you.