People often ask me what is the easiest way to Awaken.
That’s it. The answer is simple. Let go.
You are The One, Spirit, Pure Awareness, seemingly living out a separate, temporary identity in a human body. Being Awake is knowing that, experiencing it always. Directly, not just mentally. Since you already are That, there’s nothing you need do to awaken. To consciously and continuously experience what you truly Are, all you need do is let go!
Let go of what? Everything! Everything you’re not. Everything you think you are. Everything you own. Every goal you hope to attain. Every trip you hope to take, possession you hope to acquire, experience you hope to experience. Your body. Your mind. Your story. Your identity. Let go of it all.
Why? Because you are not any of those things, and you can’t see and experience what you truly Are if you keep identifying yourself with, and holding onto, what you are not. So just let it all go.
I’m not saying physically neglect or kill your body and mind, give up your name and identity, give away all your money and possessions and go wander as a nameless, desireless monk. Many have done that, to try to tame their mind, transcend their body and rid themselves of all worldly desires, and you can do that too if you like. The ‘spiritual path’ is strewn with stories of mendicants who gave up everything, isolated themselves from the world or went to mortifying extremes with their body-minds, only to turn around in the end and tell everyone, “You do not need to do any of this; it’s as close as your next breath.”
I’m saying let go of believing you are these things, of clinging to an illusory life and story and identity that you are not. You have a body, you have an identity, you have thoughts, wants, problems, things you’d like to accomplish and see and do. You are the You that has all those things…not is those things. Let go of thinking that’s what you are. Have those things, enjoy them, play with them, and don’t take them seriously. Keep your attention on what You Are. Watch your story unfolding, from what You Are. If you notice you got caught up again, in believing your thoughts, plans, hopes, suffering and personal sense of self were real, important, significant (we all do)…just let it all go again.
If you noticed you are caught up again, you’re half-way there, because you’re already aware of your You, noticing that you’ve started clinging to the illusion again. That’s why the Masters all say it’s as close as your next breath. How long does it take to notice, from your True You, that you got caught up in making the illusory ‘real’ again, and then laugh and drop it all again, drop the seriousness, drop the clinging? An instant! About the space of one breath.
When I was younger I helped conduct training courses with a modern enlightened master. This particular master happened to be the one who coined the phrase, “Get off it.” In the training, someone would be speaking or doing something, and he would say, “Get off it.” Not stop saying or doing whatever they were, just stop thinking their particular story was serious. Some would just chuckle, get it right away, and let go immediately, and you could feel the whole room lighten up with them. Some, when he said, “Get off it,” would seem more stuck, and invariably ask, “How do I do that?” His signature response was, “Take two steps to the left.” A little cryptic, perhaps, but he was speaking metaphorically. He wasn’t asking them to physically take two steps in any direction, which alone wouldn’t change the person’s attitude. He was giving them an undecipherable Zen koan to stop their mind, and in that moment of breaking from their mind’s story, they had the opportunity to see how silly all their worry was and lighten up. He was giving them the key to enlightenment.
Watch a child playing with toy soldiers. While he’s playing, the soldiers are real bodies. Their plans, campaigns, victories and defeats are real. Their weapons, actions and consequences, include agonizing suffering and death, are real. This is ‘serious business.’ And, while the game is on, the child invests very real feelings of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, camaraderie and hatred in the story he’s creating. When playtime’s over, so is all seriousness and investment. He throws all the soldiers, the “us” army and the “them” enemy army, the good and bad, live and dead, into one box, and walks smilingly away to get some lunch. He let’s go.
For making your ‘personal’ life feel a little better (temporarily,) you can continue to identify with, and be so serious about, your body, mind, personal desires, problems and goals, and then work hard to improve those things. Do yoga exercises, get more college degrees, become better known in your field, acquire the best house, spouse and security from problems, travel the world, or for the ultimate sense of self-satisfaction, serve the world, make a huge contribution.
For the permanent peace of Awakening (which feels indescribably perfect and blissful, yet completely beyond feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction,) you must give all that up. There is no substitute. Not the thoughts, desires and problems, just the mistaken belief that they are your thoughts, desires and problems. Not your accomplishments, wealth and possessions, just the belief that those things are important or even real. Not a healthy body, just the belief that your body is what you really are.
Your story is not real, not who You Are. It’s just a story, that will end soon. Let it go.
The amazing thing is, even though that story is going to end soon anyway, most people would hesitate to give all that up because they think it means losing so much – their purpose, their value, their sources of pleasure, their very identity – but in letting go of all of that, you gain everything! Because when you stop identifying with all you’re not, you see, directly, what You Are. It floods you, it turns everything into light, it blows your mind, it makes you go, “Wow! All along I thought I was…,” and it makes you be silent. Deeply, deeply silent.
In Reality, You Are Everything, and nothing; so you gain everything, and nothing. I’m sure to our ego, the gaining ‘everything’ part sounds much more inviting that the gaining ‘nothing’ part – but that’s OK, that’s just our ego. The one that thinks our story and all the things we do during our short Earthly journey is real.
Truly, this seeming life on Earth is so short, the blink of an eye. That’s because all illusions are gone in the blink of eye. You’re going to have to let go anyway, at then end, when your body gets decrepit, you can no longer think clearly or move freely, and all those parts of you, you thought were real, and all those things you acquired you thought were important, no longer seem to mean anything anymore. If you are still identified with your body, mind, accomplishments and story when you’re old and infirm, it may be that much harder to let go than when you still had your full wits and senses. You will see then, as you can see right now, that it’s all just a story, an illusory entity, a role being played out without you’re volition. Let go now!
So what is the easiest way to Awaken? Let go. You are already awake. You are already perfected. You are already everything there is. You just think you’re this individual body, mind and brief story. Let that go, and you will see, Awakening happens instantaneously.
Just let go!