Read an Excerpt From Sudden Awakening

This desire for freedom cannot be contained. It cannot be moderated. It cannot be tailored to the expectations of others. When those who are washing by in the stream cry out that you are lost, that you are falling behind as they rush ahead, great temptations surface that urge you to turn away from your true self and to swim back into the mainstream. But the desire for freedom is not a casual affair. It is the culmination of the spiritual path. It is the end of the search. It is the end of life as you knew it. So you do not waver.

My teacher would look into the eyes of seekers who said that they thought that they wanted freedom and demand, "If your hair were on fire and you were rushing to the river and passed some friends who called out to you to sit and join them for a cup of coffee, would you stop? Would you even take time to answer? No, you would keep heading straight for the river! That is the desire for freedom. There is no time to sit and think."

Examine yourself and see what is on your own list of what you want. For most people on the path, the list goes something like this: "Sure, I want to be free, but I also want to be successful. I want to have money. I want my parents to love me. I want to have great sex." None of these desires are bad or wrong. It is simply not the way to find true freedom and happiness. Ask yourself honestly: has changing your circumstances, changing your partner, or having more ever led you to lasting peace and true fulfillment? This is not about morality or any sort of judgment. What I am proposing is simply skillful means.

If you still believe that changing something in your life will make you happy, perhaps you aren't yet ready to find true happiness and freedom. But perhaps someday when you have exhausted all of your attempts to fulfill fantasies, you will finally be disillusioned enough with the world to look somewhere else. A faster, more direct way to freedom and happiness is to go through your list of preferences and desires right now and to see that none of them are ultimately fulfilling, because they are all the desires of a slave. Then you're ripe. Then you're left with one single desire, the desire for freedom.

This desire turns into a blazing fire, because it is the only desire. It takes hold of you. This burning desire for freedom is like a funeral pyre; it burns all of the elements that made up your false identity as a slave.

Then everything is revealed. You fall into a realization of yourself that is beyond your wildest dreams. The depth and the duration of your experience in this vast realm of realization depend on the intensity of your desire. The more you surrender, the deeper it takes you, and the longer it lasts. This is the samadhi mentioned at the beginning of this book.

This, too, disappears, as all experiences come and go, but you are left with a certainty that is revealed through experience yet beyond experience.

At some point, everything that you turned away from comes back to test you. If you don't touch the temptations, they too burn in freedom's fire, and your realization goes even deeper.

The desire for freedom

Again, I ask the question, What do you really want? I repeat this question because you can accomplish nothing of real consequence until you answer this question on the deepest level. Once you answer this question, a radical reappraisal of your life may point you in a completely new direction.

Most people's lives are dedicated to getting what they think they want. The problem is that most people don't know what they really want. Most people live in the conditioned wants of family and in the manufactured wants of society, with their subconscious fantasies projected onto the world. In this way, they spend their lives invested in false wants and desires.

Most people only know how to define what they want by what they already have and what they don't have, by what they want to fix or get rid of, by what they want to keep or increase. All of this, including all relationships, belongs to the realm of objects, but ownership of these objects is only the projection of the egoic mind. This egoic mind, which tells a story to itself about who it is, feels separate, alone, and cut off. Caught in the habit of misidentification and suffering, it is desperate to defend its space.

People sometimes say, "Well, I have a family; I have children." Do you believe that your children would be better off with an enlightened parent or a neurotic one? Do you believe that your doubting mind, trying to figure out and create the future, is more reliable and responsible than enlightened love?

People caught in the egoic trap are avoiding what they really want.

But so long as there is an experience of separation, there is a correspondingly deep and true longing for union. So long as there is fear and a sense of isolation, there is a deep and true longing to return home.

8/1/2015 4:00:00 AM
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