Spiritual argument so often whittles down to an argument about semantics. But we must play with semantics in order to facilitate our mental understanding of Spirituality 3.0
Thousands of years ago, it was said that desire is the root of suffering. Is this true? No. It turns out that it is not true. The word that was used was Tanha. What is the translation of Tanha? Thirst. What is the difference between desire and thirst? A whole lot. Think of choice as a two-sided coin; on one side is desire, on the other is thirst. Thirst is the shadow side of desire on this coin called choice. Thirst implies that there is a lack first and that the lack is what is motivating the craving we are calling a desire. Thirst is an attachment (craving of something) motivated by an aversion to something. The root of suffering therefore is the state of perpetual movement from aversion towards it’s opposite, which is attachment (the thing we crave because of our acute awareness of the lack of it). Attachment is nothing more than an addiction. The desperate wanting of something because of something you are lacking or trying to avoid. There is a difference between a craving and a desire. Craving is the shadow aspect of desire. The shadow of desire stems from a perceived deprivation. Desire is not bad. In fact, you cannot escape desire in this lifetime, nor would you want to if you really understood it. You can however, transmute it. You can exalt it. Desire in it’s pure form, absent of shadow is like a “yes” to an experience. It is the “yes” that occurs from sorting through contrast. But it is a yes that is not the byproduct of a no. In other words, it is a yes to an experience or the choice of an experience that is not motivated by aversion and thus it does not take on the form of attachment. Desire in its pure form is absent of resistance. It is a tool of the true self. It facilitates expansion, self-awareness and self-realization. Craving on the other hand is a tool of the ego.
Are you ready for a bitch slap? Ego is not a term that the Buddha even knew. It is a Freudian term, which was adopted into modern Buddhist circles and applied to the teachings of Buddha. It was simply the best word we could come up with to describe the difference between the enlightened perspective of no separate self and the illusionary perception of the separate self. Later, Jung called this the “shadow aspect”, meaning conscious versus not conscious. When the Buddha accurately described his enlightenment experience, what he was trying to explain was that he had observed a polarity inherent within himself; a polarity like truth and illusion, conscious and unconscious, suffering and happiness. And that enlightenment transcended all polarity. Enlightenment is not happiness any more than it is suffering. It is liberation from polarity. Up to now all movement within this universe is done to move towards something because you want to move away from something. To move towards what is wanted because of the desire to move away from something that is unwanted. This is the painful and eternal human condition, until it is no longer the human condition. When you live your life moving away from negative towards positive, you are always in motion; you can never stop to smell the roses in the present moment so to speak. All decisions are made by pain. All desires are the byproduct of trying to move away from pain. Imagine a life where there is nothing you wish to move away from. Life is lived for joy in total non-resistance to pain. In order to end this trail of tears, this perpetual movement away and towards away and towards, and in order to end this movement from aversion towards craving, which is all attachment really is, we turn in the direction of our aversion. We sit with it completely. We embrace it. We are unconditional towards it because we let it know that we are willing to experience it without needing it to change. We are set free because of our willingness to bring the light of the presence of our consciousness into the shadow of the absence of our consciousness. We no longer have an aversion to our aversion and so it is no longer our master. Desire is transmuted because it is free of its shadow. And free of its shadow, there is no longer a need for reincarnation. The craving for reincarnation is gone from our very soul. The soul now chooses from a place not motivated by aversion or craving. The process of spiritual awakening happens in three steps, I have named these steps spirituality 101, spirituality 2.0 and spirituality 3.0. Indeed, in the future there may be many more steps. But like the holy trinity, let’s explore these three principal steps that add up to awakening. First, comes spirituality 101. In spirituality 101, you see the possibility that you may be free. You are confronted with the idea that you just might create your reality. So you start to create! You go in direction of what makes you feel joy. You become less powerless. For once, you do not resist your own happiness. You go in the direction of your positive emotions. You prioritize how you feel above all else; in fact your life is dedicated to feeling better. You finally let yourself have what you want. But still, you want those things because of aversions to other things. You are still running from feeling crappy. You begin to feel deep down that this is an endless cycle of aversion and craving, unwanted and wanted. No matter what you get, you want more. This is no longer as satisfying as it once was. So, it is time for the second step, Spirituality 2.0.
In spirituality 2.0, you realize that the answer is to turn around and walk towards your aversion instead. You learn the art of allowing (and thus non-resistance) relative to your negative emotion. You integrate and you start to become whole. The unconscious is becoming conscious. Craving is becoming pure desire. You are becoming whole as the shadow is no longer separated from the light of consciousness. Instead of feeling better, your aim is to get better at feeling. When you feel negative emotion, you do not immediately try to think or do something to feel better, you remain open to what that “negative” state has to teach you. You end up in the present moment. With no aversions and thus no craving the past ceases to motivate you towards the future and you are left squarely in the present moment. You catch a glimpse of peace for the very first time. And then you are ready for spirituality 3.0.
In spirituality 3.0 you can choose to create your reality through the use of deliberate focus but now your choices are no longer the byproduct of aversion and so there is no craving. Instead of craving, we recognize our infinite creator nature and CHOOSE. We choose to be wealthy or not. And we do not choose from a place of pain. In other words, I don’t want money because I’m poor; I want it because I am saying “yes” to that perspective in much the same way that I would say yes to strawberry ice cream. I don’t want strawberry ice cream because I so so so so don’t want chocolate ice cream. Inspiration is what causes our movement towards things that we choose. We are completely in the now. No past is projecting into our present or future. This state of spirituality 3.0 arises organically, as a result of shining the light in the shadow.
To begin with, you start in the state of unconsciousness. You are not aware. You are asleep. You begin to wake up. You begin to realize polarity and see that there is a light and a shadow to that which is you. You realize you are operating entirely as a result of your shadow and so you do anything you can to get into the light. Spirituality 101 is that process. And by doing that, you have climbed out of the abyss of unconsciousness. Then, you harness the light of consciousness to descend back into the unconscious. You shine the light of consciousness into the shadow of unconsciousness. Spirituality 2.0 is that process. And thus the unconscious becomes conscious. Polarity dissipates. You are whole. You experience true peace, which is the transcendence of opposites. Peace is not what we think it is. It is not “getting along”. Peace is much more than the absence of war. It is the absence of internal and thus external conflict. It is the absence of opposition and polarity. It is the center point in the symbol of infinity. No opposites, only one, unified being-ness. That is the state of enlightenment. And the state of enlightenment is not a state of retirement. It is more like the byproduct of the ongoing process of becoming conscious. As the universe (source) becomes more conscious of itself, there is more to become conscious of and so we, a microcosm of the larger universe, must to become more conscious. Because of this, there are always further enlightenments to experience (so far).
The three steps of awakening can be seen in the infinity symbol. Because of how I have named these steps, it is easy to see one step as more advanced than another. But this is not true. They are equal to one another like two sides of a scale; it just so happens that we tend to visit one side of the scale before the other. Looking at the infinity symbol, we can see that there is polarity. On one side physical, on the other side non-physical, on one side life, on the other side death, on one side light on the other dark. But in between them is a point, the still point. This is the part of the infinity symbol that represents infinity. It is not the balance between opposites; it is the union and thus transcendence of opposites. So here we have spirituality 3.0, on one side, spirituality 101, on the other side Spirituality 2.0 and in the middle, spirituality 3.0. It is tempting to rush the steps of awakening. After all, we would love to rush to the state of transcendence, where we have no resistance at all, where we are living in the present moment and are free to choose whatever experience we wish to have. But these steps will not be rushed, because to rush is to be in resistance to where you are. Most often this desire to rush, takes place during our spirituality 2.0 process. Progressing through Spirituality 2.0 requires that our motivation is to be with ourselves completely exactly as we are rather than to change ourselves or our feelings into a better feeling state. If we are doing Spirituality 2.0 so we can get to Spirituality 3.0, we are missing the point of spirituality 2.0 and will never experience Spirituality 3.0. Some people spend years upon years practicing spirituality 2.0. In this awakening process, like life, you learn how to crawl before you learn how to walk before you learn how to fly. They are different techniques, and each leads to the next. You don’t get upset at the process of crawling once you learn how to walk. You don’t get upset at the process of walking before you learn how to fly. You realize there are different techniques needed to facilitate your expansion. Spirituality 3.0 is the beautiful fusion of spirituality 101 and spirituality 2.0. One could say that spirituality 101 is largely about allowing the light and that spirituality 2.0 is about allowing the shadow. And spirituality 3.0 is the transcendence or fusion of those seeming opposites. To use religious terms, spirituality 101 is the Father, spirituality 2.0 is the Holy Ghost and spirituality 3.0 is the Son. In other words, if light is god and shadow is goddess, the fusion of light and shadow, is the child.
In spirituality 3.0, the techniques that we learn in spirituality 101 about creating our reality and choosing thought and deliberate focus begin to be added back into our practice, but because of spirituality 2.0, they have been purified. They are motivated by entirely different intentions. The shadow, now integrated, is no longer driving us away from anything, towards anything else. And so, we are free. Free to consciously chose. It is the state of living godhood. It is the state of self-actualization. It is the state of awakened-ness.