the pathless path of awakening: what is the pure teaching?
13 Pillars of Enlightenment: How to realize your true nature and end suffering
The pathless path of enlightenment is an inner journey showing you what you are and why you suffer; and at the end of this process you are said to awaken to who you are and realize why everyone and society suffers because they cannot escape the effects of thought.
taking the mystery out of awakening
Before going any further, let’s clarify what it means to be awakened or enlightened, because the concept has been blown all out of proportion. To be awake is to see how things actually are beyond the image-making egoic self. This does not imply psychic powers, an all-knowing state, perfection, the ability to read minds, having a flock of followers, or being superior to others. It is not a gift, it is realizing what you are in a way that releases the power of the egoic self from presenting a false idea of reality, attachment, and identification.
Much of the confusion about enlightenment comes from cultures that elevate the awakened guru to the status of an image of what they believe to be the divine. This is especially found in Buddhist and Hindu societies where mysticism is interwoven in with magic and the supernatural.
Because the awakened state is a mystery to people, they are often wont to place the guru or teacher on a pedestal and make outrageous and sycophantic claims about his or her state of being and capabilities. Religions have been started this way. But a true seeker will not settle until he or she is actually awakened, because there is no satisfaction (other than to the ego) — and no questions are answered — from being a follower or believer. Belief in another human being, including a guru, as being divine or magical does not serve anyone who yearns to be free of the egoic self.
mistakes along the way
There are many mistakes that we make in trying to figure out who we are and what reality is. One of these is to judge an awakened teacher solely on his or her personality and thereby miss the message entirely. In philosophy we use the metaphor of staring at the finger pointing to the moon. The message must be pure, but the guru takes many forms — people, books, movies, dreams, nature, and so on. People are also wont to judge a teacher, false or real, based on what other people say about him.
There is no such thing as perfection in the realm of forms and expressions; no guru is perfect, no human being is perfect. Because human beings cannot themselves be perfect they create a leader or teacher who is said to be perfect. It is the faulty, conditioned mind that cannot move past the senses and self-made imagery that cause confusion and conflict.
A teacher’s words must be tested by means of your own self-enquiry, whether that teacher is Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, or anyone else, because awakening has nothing to do with belief or being a follower. This is no small point to make, because world history is full of followers who have worshipped spiritual teachers instead of using their words as guidance for their own awakening.
too many false teachers
In a world of false teachers it is no easy task to find an awakened one. False teachers are at every street corner, so to speak. They have videos all over the internet and they appear on podcasts and in conferences, often rubbing elbows with credible authority figures. Perhaps some are deluded into believing they are awakened, while others are purposefully committing a fraud.
False teachers are able to mimic and regurgitate the teachings of Eastern scriptures and enlightened teachers, yet if we know how to listen closely, we find that their words reveal their pretenses. So how can such people be avoided? By knowing how to listen and by enquiring into your own sense of self without any preconceptions or interpretations. When you become clear to you, then all else becomes clear.
The true teacher only has one purpose: to elucidate how the sense of self is formed, how it causes suffering, and how you can find the truth for yourself. One awakened teacher, Ellie Roozdar, explains that “all spiritual teachers are meant to make us retrace our steps to our Original Source within. There is nothing to achieve, nowhere to go but give up our false identity with our body, mind and emotions.”
recognizing a guru
A guru is a teacher that is nothing more and nothing less than one that leads you to the ultimate truth about your true identity. If you are only looking for the Truth, it means you are looking for yourself, and therefore you must look at your sense of self. If you just want to run away from problems, avoid your suffering, resolve your relationship issues, silence your mind, join a group, or become a guru yourself, these are not going to lead you to knowing your own true nature.
a real teacher needs nothing from you or anyone else
Ellie Roozdar stresses that “if a guru is awake, he/she does not need followers, things from this world, money, devotion, or anything else from anyone. When you see a guru who wants something from you, that means he/she is in need of something. A realized person knows that there is nothing to need; all is complete.”
If you are a sincere seeker of the truth that is you, then visit Ellie’s website and read more about finding a guru.
the pathless path
The typical seeker is on a hero’s journey, looking for answers to the mystery of the self. This often takes decades. It took me more than 50 years. But at some point, if you are to find out what you are as your essence — which is the essence of all else — you come to realize that what you have always sought is your self. The seeker is the sought. And this is why the path to enlightenment is not really a path at all. A path is created by the confused and misdirected egoic self looking for answers in all the wrong places.
The attention for most seekers is directed outward, because this is where the mind has been trained to look for solutions. Eventually however, to find your own essence means turning the attention inward. This seems most obvious to those who have done so.