A guide to uncovering the enlightenment already within us
• Builds on Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist wisdom to express the timeless and ever-present nature of enlightenment
• Reveals the negative impact of social and cultural conditioning on our psyche and how to counteract this through meditation and reframing our understanding of time
• Shows how to uncover the original spontaneous awareness we were born with
In this philosophical, psychological, and spiritual exploration of enlightenment, Jason Gregory addresses how to access the original spontaneous awareness we all came into this world with. He exposes the illusion that we must strive to reach enlightenment, uncovering how our yearning for future accomplishments, attachment to the past, and reliance on authority outside the self are social constructs that distract us from the reality of the now. The author explains how our original enlightened nature has been obscured by social, cultural, religious, and egotistical conditioning of the mind caught in time.
Building on knowledge from spiritual traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, Gregory expresses the timeless and ever-present nature of enlightenment. He illustrates how rigid practices and initiations can become a form of spiritual postponement, continually putting off our enlightenment because we feel we are doing something good and noble. To chase enlightenment through spiritual practice is to assume it is a quality bound to time. The author helps us see that we are already what we are seekingonce we understand that existing in this world is itself a miracle beyond words, then the magic and beauty of our world will unfold. In the same way we remember someone’s name without thinking about it, we also remember that we are enlightened when we stop searching for the experience.
Emerging from the Middle Way of the Buddha, Lao-tzu’s Way of the Tao, Yoga, the Great Work of Gnosticism, the Hermetic Art of Alchemy, and quantum physics, Gregory presents a way to the state of consciousnessenlightenment, nirvana, or samadhiin which eternity and time are one. He shows us how to counteract the negative impact of social and cultural conditioning on our psyche through meditation and reframing our understanding of time. The author explains how meditation in its truest form takes our awareness of nowness from theory to practice. Guiding us away from a time-bound understanding of enlightenment, Gregory shows us how to find ourselves in the stillness of now where the peace you are is the peace you give to the world.
|Publisher:||Inner Traditions/Bear & Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Jason Gregory is a teacher and international speaker specializing in Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. Author of The Science and Practice of Humility, he divides his time between Asia and Australia.
Read an Excerpt
Enlightenment Is Natural, Not Artificially Induced
THE REAL SENSE OF UNITY at the core of enlightenment is eclipsed by the overstimulation of our relative existence. People take up a spiritual practice for a lifetime and somehow never attain enlightenment. This happens because the art of the practice is thought of as inducing the enlightenment state, while our relative being, ego, goes on through life with its habits, tendencies, and little idiosyncrasies unchecked. Numerous individuals in the world practice yoga, tai chi, meditation, and so on, but continue to live imbalanced through their need to overstimulate the senses. I’m not saying here that we should discard our sense activity, as that is impossible. What I am saying is that bad habits and tendencies become “bad” when there is a propensity for excess. If we are more conscious of our own being, we have an intuitive feeling when a particular part of our life is out of balance.
This propensity for excessmaterial and habitualis best reflected in our diets: the obesity epidemic, obsession with food, and problems of overexercising or being underweight in our culture are all the result of imbalances in individuals’ lives. For example, obesity is often the result of psychological imbalance, as we tend to mask pain with unhealthy foods. An individual suffering from this kind of obesity finds it difficult to realize enlightenment because the focus on excessive food intake veils the innate intuitive faculty and connection with the universe.
On the opposite extreme we have those individuals who are very rigid and strict in their diet. Some vegans and vegetarians would surely fit into this category. There is nothing innately wrong with being conscious about your diet. But when you are overly concerned about everything you eat, very subtle forms of stress develop within your body and mind or as in the above example you are masking something deeper. In both extreme poles there is a lack of balance within the physical and mental planes of consciousness.
When one realizes their own imbalances they become more attracted to spiritual practices because they are thought of as a medicine for our relative ills. This is true in one sense and false in another. True because spiritual practices will center your focus if backed up by dedicated discipline, and false because the excessiveness that made our ills can begin to be projected into our spiritual practice. Once our spiritual practice becomes excessive, it loses its natural flexibility and enters the intellectual domain of becoming rigid, ego-driven behavior to attain the “goal” of enlightenment. Then our spiritual practice has more to do with repetition and anxiety than with liberation.
Almost all spiritual paths are vexed by this paradox as a majority of traditions involve excessive discipline. But as Gautama the Buddha realized after his seven years as an ascetic, no matter how hard he strived for enlightenment it continually eluded him. It was only when he completely let go of all his searching and accepted a milky soup from a young farm girl under the shade of the infamous Bodhi tree that he realized he was searching and striving for what is intrinsic to our nature: enlightenment. Paradoxically though, Gautama the Buddha needed to be on his journey to realize this. We could say that it was absurd for him to adhere to seven rigorous years of asceticism to realize what is ever-present, right now, but we lose sight of the fact that without those seven years he could not have become enlightened.
If Gautama the Buddha was not deluded by intellectual striving and at the same time sincere on his search then there would be nothing for him to let go of in this life. There would have been no attachment, as to his practice, that could have eclipsed his spiritual perception. It is only when we are attached to those aspects that eclipse our connection with the universe that we could know the freedom in being detached. This is a paradox, but the mystery of life exists in paradox. Gautama the Buddha’s Middle Way spawns from this mysterious paradox and essentially is why it is so difficult to discover the Middle Wayit is beyond the sphere of category and discernment.
This paradox is often left out of new-age spirituality because of its depth and because it implies that there is still an immense amount of self-work to do. An artificial spirituality comes into existence when we just take the pleasurable aspects of any story and build our foundation upon that. In the case of some new-age spirituality, the complete letting go aspect of Gautama the Buddha’s story is highlighted while the rest of it is ignored. People are taught to forget about spiritual practice or any desire one has, especially for enlightenment, because all you have to do is let go and enlightenment will be your reality. Though this sounds like a sweet deal, those of us who are authentic and sincere with ourselves know this is only a half-truth, one that needs to be supported by spiritual growth in the relative world. This mindset overlooks the fact that the absolute realm of mystery is in direct relationship to the relative world. Form implies formlessness and formlessness implies form in the same way that the universe produces consciousness and consciousness evokes the universe.
The real spiritual significance of transcendence means going beyond the idea of who you think you are. Real transcendence implies self-work and a stepping through the artificial aspects of our being. In our culture and society it becomes normal for individuals to not be conscious of their own latent habits and tendencies. As a result we dive head first into an excessiveness that keeps us distracted from reality. Reality can only be experienced when we make a conscious effort to eradicate the excessiveness in our lives that distracts us from our original nature. As Gautama the Buddha realized, freedom is not for free, but it is our original nature.
Table of Contents
Out of Time and Into Enlightenment
1 Monarchical View of the Universe
2 A Superficial Initiation into the Future
3 The Occult Initiation of Purusha (Pure Awareness)
4 The Imperfection and Nonevent of Enlightenment
5 Fast-Food Spiritual Junkie
6 Enlightenment Is Natural, Not Artificially Induced
7 Enlightened Attunement
8 The Pattern and Order of Universal Consciousness
9 The Journey Is the Destination and the Destination Is the Journey
10 Now Is Enlightenment