Spiritual Insulin

Because I have suffered too many spiritual fools serving sickeningly sweet spiritual platitudes, I share this as an antidote:

Thank you, Ken Wilber.

“When it comes to spiritual teachers, there are those who are safe, gentle, consoling, soothing, caring; and there are the outlaws, the living terrors, the rude boys and nasty girls of God realization, the men and women who are in your face, disturbing you, terrifying you, until you radically awaken to who and what you really are. And may I suggest?: Choose your teachers carefully.

If you want encouragement, soft smiles, ego stroking, gentle caresses of your self -contracting ways, pats on the back and sweet words of solace, find yourself a Nice Guy or Good Girl, and hold their hand on the sweet path to stress reduction and egoic comfort. But if you want enlightenment, if you want to wake up, if you want to get fried in the fire of passion and infinity, then, I promise you: find yourself a Rude Boy or a Nasty Girl, the ones who make you uncomfortable in their presence – who scare you witless, who will turn on you in a second and hold you up for ridicule, who will make you wish you were never born, who will offer you not sweet comfort but abject terror, not saccharine solace but scorching angst, for then, just then, you might very well be on the path to your own Original Face.

Most of us, I suspect, prefer our spiritual teachers to be of the Nice Guy variety. Soft, comforting, non-threatening, a source of succor for a worn and weary soul, a safe harbor in the samsaric storm. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course; spirituality comes in all sorts of flavors, and I have known some awfully Nice Guys. But if the flavor tends toward enlightenment instead of consolation, if it drifts away from soothing dreams toward actually waking up, if it rumbles toward a God realization and not egoic fortification, then that demands a brutal, shocking death: a literal death of your separate self, a painful, frightening, horrifying dissolution—a miraculous extinction you will actually witness as you expand into the boundless formless radical Truth that will pervade your every cell and drench your being to the core and expand what you thought was your self until it embraces the distant galaxies. For only on the other side of death lies Spirit, only on the other side of egoic slaughter lies the Good and the True and the Beautiful. “You will come in due course to realize that your true glory lies where you cease to exist.” As the illustrious Sri Ramana Maharshi constantly reminded us. Your true glory lies on the other side of your death, and who will show you that?

Not the Nice Guys and not the Good Girls. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. They don’t want to upset you. They are here to whisper sweet nothings in your ear and place consolation prizes and outstretched hands in the self contraction, a balm for war-torn weary ego, techniques to prop it up in his constant battle with the world of otherness. In a sense, it’s very easy being a Nice Guy teacher: no muss, no fuss, no wrestling with the egoic resistance and exhausting confrontation. Be nice to the ego, pat it on the back, have it count its breaths, hum a few mantras.

Rude boys know better. They are not here to console but to shatter, not to comfort but to demolish. They are uncompromising, brutal, laser-like. They are in your face until you recognize your Original Face—and they simply will not back off, they will not back down, they will not let up until you let go—radically, fully, completely, unhesitatingly. They live as Compassion—real compassion, not idiot compassion— and real compassion uses a sword more often than a sweet. They deeply offend the ego (and the greater the offense, the bigger the ego). They are alive as Truth, they are everywhere, confronted with egos, and they choose the former uncompromisingly….

So, can you stand the heat? Or would you like more soft and consoling words of comfort, more consolation prizes for an Enlightenment that will continue to elude you? Would you like a pat on the back or are you ready to be skinned and fried? May I suggest this? If you can stand the heat, you will indeed come to realize that your true glory lies where you cease to exist, where the self contraction has uncoiled in the vast expanse of all space, where your separate self has been roasted and replaced by infinity resplendent—a radical Release much too obvious to see, much too simple to believe, Much too near to be attained—and your real Self will quietly but surely announce its presence as it calmly embraces the entire universe and swallows galaxies whole….

If you can stand the heat, then enter the real kitchen of your own soul, where you’ll find nothing other than the radiant God of the entire cosmos. For it is radiant spirit that is looking out from your own eyes right now speaking with your tongue right now reading the words on this very page right now. Your real self is glorious spirit in this and every moment, and it takes a very very Rude Boy to point that out and stay in your face until you recognize your own original face shining even here and now.”

Forward by Ken Wilber to Living Enlightenment by Andrew Cohen

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