This can be a very discomforting thought and will make many seekers anxious. Let’s face it, in the spiritual journey, there are an abundance of competing options positioning themselves as a sure fire path to get us to a goal that almost no seekers ever attain.
Search for ultimate truth is a high risk, low reward game to get involved in and the uncertainty of how to proceed on this journey, to somewhere we’ve never been, makes the average seeker feel pretty fucking lost.
Believe me, I know.
But wait! What could be more comforting and provide the lost ego more piece of mind than the statement that “All paths lead to the same place”.
Whew! I’m not fucked nor do I have to think any longer about the fact that I could be taking the path that seems easiest, least assaultive on my ego, or is most popular right now. This one is right up there with, “No matter what sins I commit, if I confess them, Jesus will forgive me and I’ll go to Heaven when I die.”
Who wouldn’t grab these moronic beliefs with both hands as fast as possible?
Of course, to add the minimal amount of credibility to blindly accept such a fabulous “get out of jail free” card, it helps to have a priest or someone who has a few followers believing they are enlightened say these out loud. Then we can say, someone more knowing than I told me this truth and God damned if I don’t like the sound of it.
Now I don’t have to really question how many people has a path delivered to the promised land, is the teacher enlightened or not, etc. I can even fall pray to the consensus approach to truth with a back door exit. I’m off the hook and can leave doubt about my approach to spirituality in the rear view mirror.
Maya is a crafty bitch.
Let’s just say all paths did lead to the same place but only 1 out of every 2 million seekers would get there and most of those would be by accident, superior DNA for supporting advanced consciousness, or just random acts of grace.
Try arguing with this one – almost all of the paths you’re treading have lead millions and millions of seekers exactly nowhere. 99% of all seekers die without attaining enlightenment or they are all very clever about guarding their attainment.
So given the history and grim odds of any path actually getting you anywhere near the top of anything except the big pile of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk I’m pointing at, why bother?
The answer is being a “seeker”, whether we ever make it anywhere profound or not, provides escapist hope that there is more than what life appears to be. New paths provide new hope where a worn out hope avenue starts to wane one’s confidence. But “seeking” itself provides some peace of mind and comfort when we deep down know we aren’t getting to the top of the mountain. Just the same as buying a lottery ticket right?
Any new path will do…
Now before we move on, let’s also acknowledge the possibility that the mountain range has many peaks, which provide many different views. Maybe one peak makes you feel unconditional love, another compassion, another pure consciousness, another bliss, another absorption in white light, another a sense of resting in the void.
Are these all the faces of God and each peak delivers all of the above or are these difference places in consciousness and different paths take you to different places?
Maybe they are all contained within consciousness but not inclusive of it. Could you feel a lot of love all the time but have no sense of connectedness to all that is or clarity around a sense of truth or ever have a mystical experience?
You may say, who cares, anything more profound that my mundane daily conscious experience is worth it. A path on one mountain may not lead to the top of another mountain, so you better well know which mountain your climbing and what the fuck is at the top. Here it is in a nutshell, you’re not seeking truth, you’re just seeking escape.
The Real Questions To Ask Yourself
Am I seeking truth or escape? Actually, that’s just the first question.
The second question may be, “Who is the “I” that is seeking anything?”
The third question could be, “Is that “I” really capable of attaining anything other than it’s current contracted state of consciousness?”
Fourth question, “Is I real?”
Fifth question, “How do I disassociate my awareness with “I” to associate it with something more inclusive and profound?”, and so on.
Wait, those are the questions of someone seeking truth.
Or, do I come clean and realize that I’m not willing to dismember my psyche for hopes that something better will emerge and I’m just looking for peace of mind, comfort, and hope. Shit, I might not have to find truth, be awake or enlightened.
If peace of mind and hope of something better are what you really want, then go for it and you can find a lot of paths to lead you there or at least allow you to continue to be a “seeker”, which provides an ongoing sense of hope and greater purpose. Plus it’s safer and failure isn’t really that bad. It’s not like you’re going to go insane, never be able to put yourself back together, or need to be locked up if you end up, like most, failing to get anywhere on your prescribed path.
Just being on a path and being a “seeker” can provide comfort and when you get bored, there are many new novel paths you can switch to and join a new community of seekers with a new flavor of hope and comfort. Plus, you get to add another category to your spiritual ego. Now you’ve tried Zen meditation and japa. You’re a bit more wise and spiritual than just the japa-only practitioner.
However, back to the mountain, is there more than one peak? If one is the highest, is there an all inclusive truth? If so, do all paths really lead there? And what if you are already there but too clouded by your identification with your sense of self, our beliefs, opinions, and perspectives to experience your true nature?
So what paths lead to unclouding or cleaning the lens or reducing the ego? If the camel can’t pass through the eye of the needle, what is the path to becoming as small as possible to empty the cup so there is room for something to come in?
Maybe instead of adding to who we are, we need to be subtracting, and learning what we aren’t that we thought we were.
Does chanting (kirtan), japa (mantra repetition), Zazen (staring at a wall), hatha yoga (postures), bhakti (love and devotion) all dismember our belief systems, reduce identification with the sense of “me”, eliminate opinions, and perspectives?
I’m sure some of these may do a bit of that as a byproduct but not directly. These practices can get you high and create a temporary feeling of calm and peacefulness, maybe even love.
But, guess what, the high wears off and you are right back where you started. Does getting high more often create a higher probability of getting stuck in the high state? Would smoking dope more regularly cause you to eventually stay in that state without the aid of the drug? Does taking LSD more often eventually break down the doors of perception so one no longer requires the drug to access a unified conscious experience?
I’d position that the “you” that you seem to believe you are, isn’t real. It’s not here and now it’s thought based and a collection of beliefs, fears, opinions, perspectives, and psychological reaction habits. These are all imaginary things that require thought to exist.
So “you” is based on imaginary thought.
The awareness of pure consciousness shines through all that crap to create your distorted fictitious interpretation of a world. Much like the sun shining through a stained glass window creates a colored light. Remove the stained glass and the light is pure as the origin. Remove the beliefs, opinions, thought and you become what’s left.
The imaginary “you” has to be gone for awakeness to shine through. So “you” never really get to add this experience to who “you” are. The second you do, you are in thought and out of “Being”.
So what paths work on directly removing the “you”, the sense of self?
Does repeating a mantra allow you to trace thoughts to the beliefs they are based on that are ego supportive and the fear they are protecting you from?
Fuck no! I bet you if you did a study on people that just did mantra repetition for 20+ years and what percentage have attained a unified ongoing waking state, the percentage of success wouldn’t be any higher than a random sample of the population.
It may help you calm your mind and become centered more often, but you still have all the shit that makes up you in the way creating this sense of “me” that can’t ever go through the gate.
Bhakti yoga and focusing on loving everyone, your guru, your dog can certainly help you spend more time focusing on being love. However, that won’t lead to your unidentified beliefs being exposed and falling away or your fears of not being that create the mind’s desperate attempt to retain and enlarge our thought-based ego to become minimized.
Sure you have found a better place of spending more time feeling connected to others, loving, etc. Maybe even your intolerable life becomes more tolerable and now it’s not so bad staying in the dream state of Maya so you can continue to spend lifetimes enjoying the play.
There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s what it’s there for and it’s perfectly a part of What Is or God. But that doesn’t mean you are awake. It’s not a bad distraction, though.
However, if the “you”, that believes itself to be, needs to eventually die so there is no sense of orientation, perspective or cliff to hang your belief packet on to derive a sense of self, then a very different experience may need to take place.
A humbling, disorienting sense of not being able to count on anything you previously thought was real could be critical parts of the mix. It’s about reducing your support structures… not adding to them.
So ask yourself, how is your path reducing everything you believe to be true about your world and you? If it’s adding bliss, love, peace of mind, feelings of being a part of something/group, it’s not subtracting the components that make up your false identification with yourself.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but deep down, this is kind of what you really fear. To manage the fear, taking on an additional belief of “All paths lead to the top of the mountain”, sure helps doesn’t it?
This is fine as potentially a preparatory path or a softening up period. A path that gets your mind used to concepts that eventually are in closer alignment with truth. Take what those paths have to offer but don’t blindly accept that the path will dismember your false sense of self behind the scenes.
At some point, as Fred Davis says, you’ll decide you’re ready to ride the Big Ride. Guess what, it’s scary but so what. It’s not for the timid. When it’s time to stoke the fire to cleanse the false identification with reality, you need to know what your signing up for.
As Jed McKenna says, “You can’t negotiate with fire and nothing doesn’t burn.” Burning doesn’t always feel good.
So, if you aren’t too attached to your path and your beliefs about why your path is working, recognize your path could have exceeded it’s usefulness.
Some paths seek what we really are. Those paths don’t work without a component that helps us get rid of what we are-not. Can’t have one without the other.
All paths don’t lead to the top of the mountain. Matter of fact, most don’t at all. How long have you been seeking? Are “you” still here? If the answer is “less than before”, maybe you’re going in the right direction.
P.S. Don’t hate me just because I’m a Big Toe pointing at your pile of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk.
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