i’m not exactly sure how to approach this subject, but since i already have the reputation of being a little weird, i’ll start with an explanation of where i’m coming from:
POINT 1) for some time now, i’ve been under the distinct impression that my view of “reality” differs pretty significantly from just about everyone else’s view of reality. the most recent example of that is this public display, sponsored by a musem in california, which contained a tapestry house from a hindu family, that contained a swastika. the museum got complaints from the general public, so they posted a sign that basically said “this is an ancient hindu symbol, not the relatively recent nazi symbol that everyone seems to think it is, and we’re not going to remove it, thank you”, and even went so far as to get the local rabbi to say that he didn’t object to it, because it was a hindu symbol, and not a nazi symbol, but the museum continued to get complaints from people who were probably not even born when the swastika was actually used as a nazi symbol, and the museum finally caved in and removed the tapestry. when i pointed this out to a friend, he said “people are dumb”, but i think it’s more than that. philip k. dick said “reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” and that’s the kind of shift in reality that i am seeing here: i “believe” that reality is one way, most of the rest of the world “believes” that reality is something completely different, and people who i would expect to not only know the difference, but who are supposedly expert in teaching dumb people how to be smart, actually go along with the “dumb” people and remove something that is decidedly not nazi, simply because these “dumb” people thought it was.
but it goes back a lot further than that. i pretty regularly find myself totally at a loss to determine why someone who was faced with an eminently apparent and logical choice to do one thing, deliberately and blatantly chose to do the exact opposite, and was cheered by society for doing so.
there’s a place in the bible where we are encouraged to “enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (matthew 7.13-14). it’s my impression that the vast majority of people have happily gone for the broad gate that leads to destruction, whereas i have always chosen the more difficult route that leads to “life”, whatever that may be…
POINT 2) ever since i first started learning about spirituality, i’ve heard one basic message from every single bona fide spiritual teacher i’ve ever met (there are a number of scam artists who people think are spiritual teachers that don’t teach this message, and they’re not the ones i’m talking about), which is that you don’t “pretend” to to something, you don’t “try” to do something. it’s like yoda said: you either do, or do not. there is no “try”. you don’t “pretend” to be an artist, or an engineer, or a truck driver: you either are, or you’re not. in the same way, you don’t “pretend” to be enlightened: you either are, or you’re not. and (a very important point to remember) nobody can say conclusively whether another person is, or is not enlightened: they generally have to rely on what the person claims for themselves. my experience, in general, is that you don’t often get people going around saying that they’re enlightened, and in general, i would be extremely suspicious of anybody who was doing so (so don’t expect me to make a big thing out of this), but you have to start somewhere, and this as good a time as any (rabbi hillel said that).
POINT 3) for a long time (upwards of 35 years now) i have been learning a lot about spirituality and have developed what i believe to be a unique path. i’m not interested in finding other people who agree with me spiritually, much as i’m not particularly interested in what people think of me when i walk into home depot wearing a kilt, a pink long sleeve shirt, and a fez (and, believe me, there were definitely some eyes cast askance in my direction when it happened, but at the time i was totally oblivious to everything except the project that i was working on). i’m firmly convinced that the path i have discovered is exactly the right path for me, in spite of the fact that, when it comes to explaining that path, many have come to the conclusion that i am totally crazy. i don’t let opinions like that dissuade me from pursuing that path, however, and so far (again, for me) i haven’t been wrong.
POINT 4) i experienced what i can only describe as a “shaktipat” moment (specifically, तीव्रमध्यशक्तिपात tīvra-madhya-śaktipāta) while i was driving in the car this afternoon. i was thinking about the fact that my perception of “reality” appears to be so skewed and i realised that either there is something “wrong” with society, or something “wrong” with me. as i find no compelling reason to think i’m crazy, seeing as how my perceptions tend to be more “what people should do” than what they, themselves, do, i was forced to this conclusion:
i get the distinct impression that i am “enlightened”.
this was such a profound revelation to me that, in spite of the fact that, during the time when i was experiencing shaktipat, traffic in my lane (and only my lane) suddenly went from 65 miles per hour to a dead stop in two seconds, and the guy behind me layed on his horn when we didn’t move forwards quickly enough to suit him, i was really enjoying myself, turned up the radio (which was playing classical music) and laughed out loud.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
there is a famous zen saying, which goes: before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
what i take this to mean is, that it doesn’t matter whether or not you have enlightenment. you get no special powers or priveledges from being enlightened: it is a purely spiritual experience, and can only be appreciated on a spiritual level. anything having to do with my body, or my physical surroundings will not be affected by my enlightenment in the least, and very likely nobody else will notice…
but the way i perceive “reality” will be drastically altered forever.
instead of wondering why society is so screwed up, and why i’m so different, i have an entirely different view: one where it’s okay for people to do screwed up things that don’t affect me, because people are going to do screwed up things whether i am here or not. of course, i will do my part to make sure that people don’t do screwed up things, and to help people see the screwed-up-ness of what they have been doing, if they ask, but if they don’t, i won’t worry about it.
you don’t have to be a monk to be enlightened: Shyama Charan Lahiri was an enlightened householder, and one of his main messages was that anyone could become enlightened. i feel it is quite an honour to follow in the footsteps of Lahiri Mahasaya, which i have been doing for 25 years…
my impression, based on the behaviour of people i suspect to be enlightened, i would guess that i will develop ways to “trick” people into doing things that i know will be more beneficial to them than the things they were going to do, but my guess is that it will take a while and i’ll probably face abject failure more than once before i get the knack of it.
i’ll probably get frustrated and angry about injustice, but i got frustrated and angry before i was enlightened: before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. nothing has changed on the physical level.
what i know for sure, already, is that many people, including many “educated” people (doctors and suchlike) believe i’m crazy, or mentally challenged, or something like that. i truly don’t care, to quote frank zappa. if the only way that some people are going to accept my beliefs is to ascribe them to a person who’s off his nut, that’s fine with me. i don’t have to interact with those people on a daily basis anyway.
Once upon a time, Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded, would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.
Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water, and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.
On the appointed date, the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his secure retreat and drank his preserved water.
When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realised that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.
At first, he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his own supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving, and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had been miraculously restored to sanity.
i guess, what it comes down to is that i am not willing to “drink the new water”, so if people want to call me crazy instead of trying to understand, that’s to be expected.