The Quest for Enlightenment

The quest for enlightenment is the quest for truth or reality. It’s not a quest for ideas about truth—that’s philosophy. And it’s not a quest to realize your fantasies about truth—that’s fundamentalized religion. It’s a quest for truth on truth’s terms. It’s a quest for the underlying principle of life, the unifying element of existence.

In your quiet moments of honesty, you know that you are not who you present yourself as, or who you pretend to be. Although you have changed identities many times, and changed them even in the course of a single day, none of them fit for long. They are all in a process of constant decay. One moment you’re a loving person, the next an angry one. One day you’re an indulgent, worldly person; the next a pure, spiritual lover of God. One moment you love your image of yourself, and the next you loathe it. On it goes, identified with one self-image after another, each as separate and false as the last.

When this game of delusion gets boring or painful enough, something within you begins to stir. Out of the unsatisfactoriness of separation arises the intuition that there is something more real than you are now conscious of. It is the intuition that there is truth, although you do not know what it is. But you know, you intuit that truth exists. Truth that has absolutely nothing to do with your ideas about it. But somehow you know that the truth about you and all of life exists.

Once you receive this intuition, this revelation, you will be compelled to find it. You will have no choice in the matter. You will have consciously begun the authentic quest for enlightenment, and there is no turning back. Life as you’ve known it will never be quite the same.

A great Zen master said, “Do not seek the truth; simply cease cherishing illusions.” If there is a primary practice or path to enlightenment, this is it—to cease cherishing illusions. Seeking truth can be a game, complete with a new identity as a truth-seeker fueled by new ideas and beliefs. But ceasing to cherish illusions is no game; it’s a gritty and intimate form of deconstructing yourself down to nothing. Get rid of all of your illusions and what’s left is the truth. You don’t find truth as much as you stumble upon it when you have cast away your illusions.

As the master said, “Do not seek the truth.” But you can’t stop seeking just because some ancient Zen master said to. Seeking is an energy, a movement toward something. Spiritual seekers are moving toward God, nirvana, enlightenment, ultimate truth, whatever. To seek something, you must have at least some vague idea or image of what it is you are seeking. But ultimate truth is not an idea or an image or something attained anew. So, to seek truth as something objective is a waste of time and energy. Truth can’t be found by seeking it, simply because truth is what you are. Seeking what you are is as silly as your shoes looking for their soles by walking in circles. What is the path that will lead your shoes to their soles? That’s why the Zen master said, “Do not seek the truth.” Instead, cease cherishing illusions.

To cease cherishing illusions is a way of inverting the energy of seeking. The energy of seeking will be there in one form or another until you wake up from the dream state. You can’t just get rid of it. You need to learn how to invert it and use the energy to deconstruct the illusions that hold your consciousness in the dream state. This sounds relatively simple, but the consequences can seem quite disorienting, even threatening. I’m not talking about a new spiritual technique here; I’m talking about a radically different orientation to the whole of your spiritual life. This is not a little thing. It is a very big thing, and your best chance of awakening depends on it. “Do not seek the truth; simply cease cherishing illusions.” And if you’re like most spiritually oriented people, your spirituality is your most cherished illusion. Imagine that.

© 2007 by Adyashanti.

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What Can Be Said About Love?

What Can Be Said About Love?

© Dorothy Hunt, 2009. All rights reserved.

The following poetry and words are written by the wonderful poet, spiritual teacher and psychotherapist Dorothy Hunt from San Francsico CA. They came out of her monthly newsletter which I highly recommend. http://www.dorothyhunt.org


What can be said about love?
Nothing, really.
We are either being love
or we’re talking about it.
Talk is cheap; love can’t be bought.

It is not about flowery words,
or the agony or ecstasy of emotion.
It is not even about relationship,
or merging union with the Divine.
Where are there two?blleed

And yet . . . and yet . . .
This wordless pull of connection–
even when the mind
wants no connection.
What is that unsought warmth?

That melting of resistance,
the fire that makes
even iron turn to liquid,
or a caterpillar dissolve
before wings emerge?

Love’s only true language is Being.
Demand love, and it will flee.
Bargain with love, and you will lose.
Eventually, you will rejoice in defeat;
Love refuses all separation.

Love moves, responds, touches,
returns the unwanted pieces of your life
back to wholeness. Its language is truth,
and truth speaks love, but these are words,
and not alive, until your heart opens.

Every moment love is gently knocking
from inside, longing to flow out;
but we are busy looking elsewhere,
searching in the market place of “me’s”
to fill the emptiness that is, itself, vast love.

What can be said about love?
Nothing, really. These words fail.
We are either being love
or we’re talking about it.
Choose the former, if you have a choice,
for love alone transforms.

© Dorothy Hunt, 2009. All rights reserved. http://www.dorothyhunt.org

Dorothy continued in her Moon Mountain Sangha newsletter with the following words.

Dear Friends,

I would like to invite each one of you into your true, open, and undivided Heart to discover the Love that is already deeply present. The mind asks, “How?” But it is not the mind that will tell us. There is no “I am loving” in the deepest love, no efforting, no demanding, no thoughts of worthiness or unworthiness, and no one claiming to be Love. Love simply shines as itself on whatever it sees. Such love has no conditions, demands no rewards. Love is all it knows to do or be. It springs from Awareness, arises right out of Emptiness. This is a love that transforms whatever it touches but has no agenda for anything to be transformed. It is totally unself-consciousness; it simply moves when our heart is opened, when we are no longer fiercely guarding our separation. A little teaching story told by Anthony de Mello goes like this:

What is love?
The total absence of fear.
What do people fear?
Love.

We can remain “separate” to the death, but in love, we cannot continue to hold ourselves separate. Perhaps this is the real reason we fear love while simultaneously longing for it. Are we ready to let go of the “one” searching for love so that Love can simply move us?

© Dorothy Hunt, 2009. All rights reserved. http://www.dorothyhunt.org