Figure Your Self Out for Yourself

Lefty / Hanuman-ji

I recently read the “Enlightenment Trilogy” by “Jed McKenna.” I doubt it would be many people’s cup of tea. “Jed,” (not his/her real name), is supposedly ‘enlightened’ and he/she wrote this trilogy of books about what this means, the path, the experience, the characteristics, the ramifications, journey anecdotes, etc.

They’re fairly recent (circa 2010) and brutal books – brutal probably to the less open-minded readers whom have, at one point or another, considered themselves on some sort of spiritual path and cling to the affinity for it (for a particular teacher(s) and/or teachings) and the particular characteristics of that path. Nothing is sacred (pun intended) – meaning “Jed” leaves few spiritual paths / stones unturned or unchallenged. I appreciate that. I appreciate having my beliefs and ideas challenged. I appreciate having to take information – and then synthesize it – and figure things out for myself. I also appreciate having developed a level of experience and discernment with which I can disagree with a “Jed McKenna” (or any other 'teacher') on a few key points. That’s not my purpose here, rather, I am using the books and ideas as a springboard to then inform my own. And inform my own particular, cherished stories if you will...

“Jed” in his/her path to enlightenment said, “my life was forfeit” – he/she had no choice in this enlightenment endeavor. He/she had arrived at the state of no choice, to make a completely desperate, near suicidal attempt at enlightenment or ultimate truth – to no longer live a lie as in the “false-self,” as the ego (as in “there is no-self”) within Maya / Illusion. "Truth at any cost."

“Jed” also described what he/she calls the state of “Human Adulthood” and I attempt to describe these states he/she describes and add some of my own interpretations / perspectives. One perspective in particular, is that of spectrums (or degrees) of these states, levels of opacity – from not seeing or seeing falsely – to seeing clearly. These are simply my ideas – based upon my experience and knowledge to date. This analysis is more about my writing to better understand and metabolize the information for myself. If it’s helpful to you – great. If not, or you disagree with anything – that’s great too. In the end, you have to figure this stuff out for yourself anyway.

  • “Human Childhood” (human development spectrum). You are asleep within illusion. Within Maya. Within the dreamstate. You are firmly identified with your social role or various roles and there is a spectrum or degree (opaqueness / transparency) of “asleepness” e.g. degrees or graduations of moral judgment, attachment, preferences, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, compassion, spiritual development, the dogmas of spiritual traditions and religions, etc. It is important to understand that one can be elderly or on their death bed and still be within the spiritual developmental level of "Human Childhood."
  • “Human Adulthood.” You are awake within the Illusion. Within Maya. Within the dreamstate. You are aware (you witness) that you 'play' certain roles and there is a spectrum of “wakefulness” e.g. degrees or graduations of discernment, attachment, intention, attention, discipline, the embodiment of the Great Virtues (moral judgement), the embodiment of the Yamas and Niyamas, Service, understanding duality, understanding no-self, lucidity, clear-seeing, indications, levels of initiation, manifestation, rules inside the “Matrix” (“some can be bent, others can be broken”) the true essence of the spiritual traditions and religions, etc.
  • “Enlightenment.” 'You’ (the no-you? the no-self? The no-ego?) have stepped-outside of the illusion. Stepped-outside of Maya. Stepped-outside of the dreamstate. Unplugged from the “Matrix.” You've stepped-out of your roles, and there is a spectrum of no-ego, no-personality, no-identity, no-self e.g. degrees or graduations of the falling-way or sloughing-off of the self, like layers of an onion, the gradual elimination of non-dual, of having abiding non-dual awareness, yoga, union, Samadhi, etc.
  • Your body has died. Great Mystery. Maha-Samadhi. Are ‘you’ automatically enlightened? Is there a spectrum of being dead? – a sort of progressive death or of being dead and disembodied? Degrees or graduations of being dead? Like the Bardos? As there is a spectrum (or degrees or graduations) in the other states, it makes a certain sense that this would be the case here.
  • Maya / Illusion / G-O-D’s Imagination. Thought is movement, thought is other than simply Being. Once thought arises; duality / other / illusion. Therefore, if Maya (The Universe or Universes – another spectrum!) is the imagination of G-O-D or Consciousness, then it is other than G-O-D / Consciousness, it is in duality. Therefore, it is subject to this hypothesis (of spectrums or degrees). What would the spectrum of Maya look like or be like? Spectrums of Illusion (self), reality (no-self), false, not false, almost true, opaque, transparent, light, shadow, dark, infinite parallel universes, etc.?
  • G-O-D / Pure Consciousness. All That Is. Pure Awareness / Consciousness.


I disagreed with “Jed” on some very fundamental points. And it's important to understand that I disagree with him/her - even if he/she were absolutely correct in certain instances. It's my choice which 'stories' I prefer - which 'truths' I accept. I am in control of my own level of 'delusion' (to a degree):

  1. “Jed's” take on Maya / Illusion was completely nihilistic to me to a great degree. It seemed to affirm and reinforce the concept of solipsism. To be fair, it may be just a case of ‘strong / hard teaching,’ but my own sense and experience is that Maya (reality) is a spectrum as I’ve described above. From the ‘darkest’ to the ‘lightest’ – and everything in-between. And that Maya (reality) itself is subject to duality – meaning, there can be manifestations and experiences of the Divine or G-O-D or Absolute Consciousness within the context of Maya – or more precisely – Maya (illusion / reality) can be suspended or manipulated or interrupted – even if only for a moment.

  2. “Jed” had some fundamental steps one would be taking in a journey towards enlightenment. Almost as if there was a playbook or strategy to follow. And while I can relate to pointers, I have my own experience – and I feel that each person (ego) has their own unique path. The idea that one must “strip-away” all that is “false” as a means to get to “truth” (no-self) sounds plausible to a degree, but "Jed's" process looks to be a descent into madness – a descent that supposedly few people have had no choice but to follow. While that may be the case (?) for these few, truly ‘enlightened beings’ or the few on this path, I don’t feel that this particular path or interpretation serves the rest of us. “Jed” would most certainly agree, but I even wonder if it serves anyone except the most manic-depressive – narcissistic – nihilistic – suicidal? That’s a pretty slim and bleak pool of candidates in my opinion...

  3. “Jed” and the other enlightenment candidates seemed to all have either a financial support system on their journey – a system that allowed for this 2+ year process of “Spiritual Autolysis” (in veritable isolation) – or they had a complete and utter breakdown - a descent into a desperate homelessness of a kind of mad beggar Hindu Sadhu variety. Again, a couple of enlightenment path choices that provide a small pool of qualified (and willing!) candidates.

  4. “Jed” spoke a lot of a kind of ‘magical’ relationship he/she developed with the universe / G-O-D / Consciousness that allowed him/her to perceived guidance (“indications”) that allowed him/her to “manifest” whatever he/she needed at any given moment – and also allowed for miraculous alignments in his/her life. It’s this kind of talk that (in my opinion) sells books – something that “Jed” seemed so fundamentally against as a rule – especially given his/her complete disdain of Maya and Her dupes. Why would Maya allow for this almost fairytale manipulation if She were so nearly omnipotent and set against our waking-up? Again, it reaffirms my ideas of a spectrum within the illusion – within Maya. That Maya Herself – while being Illusion – contains within Herself all the required Paths (Healing, Freedom, Purpose, Peace, Service, etc.) for each one of us – that I don’t have to seek to attain enlightenment in the way “Jed” describes – if at all. There are other (better?) Paths.

  5. I do completely agree with “Jed’s” ideas on dogs. (#alldogsarebodhisattvas)

  6. I do completely agree with “Jed” that you have to figure this stuff out on your own.

When I think of spiritual progress, I think of tumblers in a great, cosmic clock-like apparatus. All these states and spectrums, all these different sized and graduated dials or gears within this great machine (“me”) are not set to operate sequentially (exclusively) – rather – they can operate independently (and interdependently) and therefore the combinations (states of spiritual progress) of this apparatus are almost infinitesimal. How do “i” or “I” navigate or ascend these degrees or graduations on each spectrum or dial? And what is the purpose or destination? The master combination? Is there one?

Regardless of my thoughts or “Jed’s” – when it comes to your Path, which stories do you prefer? What has been your life experience and how does that inform and shape your Path? If we’re in the complete grip of Maya / Illusion, what story, when you come to the end of your life - will really matter to this “you” or ego that “Jed” says is nothing but a lie?

“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”

Mr. Okamoto: “That’s an interesting question…”

Mr. Chiba: “The story with animals.”

Mr. Okamoto: “Yes. The story with animals is the better story.”

Pi Patel: “Thank you. And so it goes with God.”

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martell

i.e. Your life? Your Path? Your ‘enlightenment?’ It’s between You and G-O-D.

If you prefer no 'stories,' if you prefer the 'ultimate truth,' and if you absolutely cannot accept the 'lie' of who you (roles / ego) are (within Maya) and of what this world is (Maya) – then perhaps the Enlightenment Path – if there is such a thing – is for you. If this doesn’t apply to you – you’ll know it. Even if such a thing as ‘Enlightenment’ or “abiding, non-dual awareness” is possible - if it even exists.

If it does, if you've figured it all out, by all means, drop me a line. But please don't try to sell me on your particular story. It's yours. I've got my own.

"My Path is not your Path. Your Path is not my Path."

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