As Ram Dass has repeatedly stated “Be here now. Whatever path you’re on, that’s your fucking path to enlightenment.”
Ok, so maybe he verbally expressed only the first half of the above quote.
However, my personal sense/interpretation/hallucination is that he could’ve said the the second half as well.
We get a lot of questions about how to deal with desires when you’re attempting to be on a “spiritual path”.
Of course, our standard answers are:
“Why would you be asking us?
How the fuck would we know?”
All I can do is share with you my experiences and my best guesses. Consider this your disclaimer.
Desires and The Path to Enlightenment
Desires are part of the human experience. Assuming that you’re part of the human species, you’re gonna have ’em.
I’ll never forget the first time I watched Fight Club.
It was Friday, October 29th, 1999, as a matter of fact.
I was in awe the entire time. My girlfriend reached over and closed my mouth, as the experience was literally jaw dropping. This fascination was certainly enhanced by the fact that I had been deep into the study of Zen Buddhism over the previous two years. I distinctly recall every single scene representing a teaching from the Zen tradition.
Within the trendy Buddhist communities or hipster movie crowds, the interplay between Fight Club and Buddhism is no secret. Director David Finch and both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have mentioned it in interviews. I have certainly spoken at length about it in the last 15 years to anyone kind (or high) enough to listen.
Now that BT and I created this WUH platform, I thought I’d throw it up here:
Almost 20 years ago now, I received a call from Hairy Yogurt Das. We hadn’t talked in a while and after some introductory chit chat, shit-giving and banter, HYD said, “From a dualistic perspective, I’ve got some bad news.”
“What’s that?” I replied.
“Michael’s dead.” he responded.
“Crashed his Harley.”
So, the most unusual thing about this interaction isn’t that Michael (one of HYD’s closest friends) was killed. It was that HYD clearly knew that in the bigger scope of things, there is no such thing as “bad” or “good” news. It’s just the manifestation unfolding.
However, if you want to get relative, something like this could be considered pretty fucking bad compared to Michael winning the lottery or even having a bad cup of coffee. With the intention not to insult me by assuming I wasn’t operating at a state where anything was other than what is was, he qualified that he had some bad news from a “dualistic” perspective. His parents raised him with proper manners, I’d say.
I was a dedicated practitioner and advocate of Jnana Yoga for more than a couple of decades.
I also masturbate a lot. At least more than the reported national average… but who actually admits truthfully how often they flog the dolphin.
In this post I’m going to explore the concept of Jnana Yoga being “spiritual” intellectual masturbation.
The Jnana Yoga path is that of knowledge or wisdom. I want to be clear that what I’m doing know, writing this blog post, or anytime that I think or talk about any of these “spiritual” topics, I’m essentially practicing Jnana Yoga.
So this blog is nothing but a Jnana circle jerk. Everyone is welcome, no judgments.
Some teachers attempt to make it clear that Jnana Yoga is not pursing intellectual knowledge, but rather knowledge of Unity or of Bhraman or Whatchamacallit (who remembers that candy bar?).
Doesn’t it feel good to think of God as “chocolatey”? Or is that just me?
Meeting The Devotees
My first exposure to Krishna, like many people in the 80s, were the Hare Krishna devotees at the airport. I was 16 years old and didn’t know my ass from my elbow, but I did make the effort to talk to these seemingly happy folks at each and every layover or delayed flight (much to my parents chagrin).
My initial impressions of them were as follows:
- They were all high (looked like fun, but hadn’t tried it yet, personally)
- Cool smelling incense
- The baby they were worshiping seemed to need oxygen
- They were spiritual vegetarians (which I found cool at the time)
- And most important – Was that Krishna hottie wearing anything under her robe?
Although I was somewhat intrigued, I didn’t have any further contact with the group until I got to college out in crazy California. Out there the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) had a continual presence on campus. Not only that, but every Thursday night they would have a free vegetarian feast and some funky chanting.
My friends and I would attend every week. What we noticed was that we all felt like we were high afterwards. Again, I still hadn’t ever been high, but my friends knew the state well, and swore it felt like a light buzz.
A full twenty-five years later, Big Toe and I met up in Boulder, Colorado to take our second big LSD Trip and psychedelic adventure together.
Related: Virgin Voyage: My First Psychedelic Experience
Honest to Goddess, I hadn’t consumed any mind-altering substances in that two and a half decade time period. From a spiritual path perspective, there simply didn’t seem to be any need for it.
Then I started to get an “itch”; but it wasn’t exactly an itch, it kind of felt like an ache. So I’ll call it an “Itch-Ache”.
There was something else that I needed to experience, or so I convinced myself.
As you may recall, on my first LSD trip, I spent a good deal of time after the “peak-behind-the-curtain period” in The Void. This was planned for that first trip, and was certainly liberating in many ways that I was able to carry into ordinary relative reality.
This Itch-Ache felt like a calling/desire for more than the loss of Ego into the Void, but rather a sense of Union. I was unsure exactly how this sense of Union would present itself, as I felt confident that the path of pure bliss, surrender and love wasn’t MY path. I had always been drawn to the more Jnana Yoga Path of knowledge and intellectualism, somewhat characterized by my leaning towards Alan Watts over Ram Dass.
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?
Hello Bliss Seekers,
This one is kind of a sticky-wicket. What I mean by that is that “sticky-wicket” is really fun to say out loud. Please stop reading and quickly say “sticky-wicket” out loud.
All You Need Is Love?
For those you that haven’t been exposed to all the super cool and eastern sounding Sanskrit words thrown around by seekers immersifying their egos in “Eastern philosophy and spiritual practices”, thank your lucky fucking stars. Bhakti basically means love. The Bhakti path is a path of love and devotion. Is it dualistic or non-dualistic? It depends on if the seeker has the ability to truly embrace non-dualism.
I can’t sing. It’s not that I can’t sing well… I truly suck.
We’re talking mirrors cracking and babies screaming in terror.
Plus, until rather recently, I thought that all devotional practices just weren’t my path. So I had no reason or desire to sit down for a sing-along.
Then my psychedelic-assisted mini-awakening occurred in Boulder.
Related: My Second LSD Trip: 25 Years Later
All of a sudden, my heart was filled with gratitude and I consciously sought out ways to show my devotion to God. That’s when I “found” Krishna Das.
A health check for your practice
From time to time it makes sense to take inventory of our practice and if we are effectively “moving forward”. As a start, you may want to ask yourself some of these questions?
- How would I describe myself spiritually?
- Where am I on my current path?
- How dedicated am I?
- How long have I been practicing?
- How do I feel about my progress?
- Do I feel more centered, calm, and peaceful than a month or year ago?
- How do I deal with those less conscious that I have to interact with in my life?
- Should I be doing more or adding time or dimensions to my practice?
- How knowledgeable am I on the foundation and writers in my given path?
- Do I feel good about my dedication and consistently?
Maybe even add some more of your own if you are serious about this. I suggest you briefly write out your answers before moving on. Look at the answers and assess your opinions, perspectives, and beliefs about who you are as a spiritual seeker and where you are on your path and what goals you may have achieved or are striving to.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step and are now looking, right in the face, at a steaming pile of dog shit called your Spiritual Ego.
This is a nice extra piece of luggage we can add to our existing baggage of beliefs around who we are and why we are special or a victim. The beauty of this is that we actually feel good about all these perspectives because they are “spiritual”.
We now have another dimension we can add to our beliefs about who we are physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally, and financially. We have a spiritual dimension that makes us even more balanced, interesting, and pretty fucking deep.