Why most people who say they want to be enlightened don’t really want this at all

by Vic Shayne
author of 13 Pillars of Enlightenment

The idea of enlightenment is thousands of years old and has been discussed throughout the ages by Buddhist, Zen, Taoist, Vedic, and Hindu sages. And now the topic is discussed worldwide across the internet. Television, youtube, and conference gurus abound. Oprah loves to feature them. They like to sit in a chair on a platform next to a vase of flowers and a photo of another guru. Some are quite charming and have a great sense of humor; others are lost in a sense of seriousness and solemnity. What are they saying, promising, teaching, and creating?

It wouldn’t be going out on much of a limb to say that most popular gurus who teach enlightenment are unqualified and ill-informed. They are fooling themselves and others (not necessarily in a bad way), and they are among the most popular figures. And there are the throngs of followers, devotees, and hopefuls who complete the electrical circuit. So what’s missing from the equation? In a word, Truth.

What is the ultimate Truth?

Truth is a loaded word. It implies that there is a sure answer and state of being that cannot be altered, updated, cancelled, described, transferred, or denied. The great sage Siddharameshwar has referred to it as “the stateless state.” When applied to the core of who we are, Truth is the baseline and foundation that is prior to consciousness, which is the movement, action, creation, destruction, and potentiality of all that is. Few gurus teach this and even fewer have realized this for themselves. This has led to a whole lot of people following a number of teachers who cannot deliver what they promise. Why is this?

Truth is something you realize, not what you learn.

Truth is something you realize, not what you learn or can achieve. This is the crux of the problem. Millions say they are looking for the answer to life and want to know who they are, but they do not actually want this because it means giving up something that is just too precious to let go of. To find the ultimate Truth, the ego must be fully surrendered. This is the most difficult thing for nearly everyone to do.

One of my gurus, Ellie Roozdar, has said that more than 95 percent of everyone is not ready to relinquish the egoic mind. This is what it takes to become awakened to the Truth. It’s simple and it’s difficult.

Ellie said that not everyone is ready to know the Truth. And this is okay. However, a great number of people believe they are ready, but with a little investigation it turns out that they are looking for something else. Perhaps they are seeking comfort, escape from the dullness of their lives, a way to avoid suffering, entertainment, or even an ego boost. “For this reason,” said Ellie, “there has to be an honest recognition of why you want to know the Truth. You must know this in your very core. What are you looking for and why are you looking for it?”

What is the egoic mind, the sense of self?

The egoic mind is a mind that has been conditioned by myriad influences by teachers, parents, authority figures, culture, relatives, religion, and so on. This forms what we call “I,” or “me,” or the egoic mind, or self. Jiddu Krishnamurti called it “the center,” but whatever you call it, we are talking about the very thing that you think you are — your associations, interests, treasures, needs, attachments, ideas, memories, thoughts, impulses, fears, identities, and desires.

Ellie Roozdar teaches that the search for the Truth, without any other interest, must be the ultimate desire. This desire has to be strong — so strong that it crowds everything else out. The need to know is not one of curiosity, but rather necessity. It cannot be based on a trend, popular culture, what your friends are doing, or what you think might make you happy. It cannot be said to exist merely because you enjoy going to satsangs or discussions about the meaning of life.

The egoic mind is very deceptive, which is why you must find out whether your search for the Truth is really only about your doing something to feel special or have a sense of spiritual accomplishment. And this is the rub: The egoic mind, the sense of self, is usually looking for pleasure or the avoidance of pain. If it is trying to find the Truth just to avoid pain then it will find ways to soothe itself that have nothing to do with enlightenment — even if it thinks that it has everything to do with enlightenment.

The last of all desires, after dismissing, losing, and getting rid of all others, is the desire to know yourself at the core. It is this desire that cannot be extinguished until it leads to finding the Truth that is always here. But this desire, like all others, must also come to an end in order to reveal that you are that which you have always been searching for.

Perpetuating the egoic mind feels good but will not realize an awakening.

Being a follower and a devotee of today’s high-profile gurus is not a bad thing, but it is also not the way to your Self as consciousness and what is even prior to consciousness. It is a way to placate the egoic mind. It is most usually an upgraded version of self-help and positive thinking tools meant to feel good about yourself. But who is this self that wants to feel better and becomes satisfied to bathe in the glory of good feelings? It is the egoic self so that the exercise becomes a closed circuit of ego gratification and perpetuation.

Who am I?

If you want to know yourself, if this is your ultimate burning desire, then you must do the work yourself. You don’t need to learn anything or travel to India to sit at the feet of a holy man. You just need to ask, “Who am I?” and follow this to the end.




…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (https://amzn.to/2CeaSE), consultant, researcher.

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Vic Shayne

Vic Shayne

…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (https://amzn.to/2CeaSE), consultant, researcher.

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