Enquiry is Enlightenment is Death

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4 thoughts on “Enquiry is Enlightenment is Death

  1. Hey Bear, hope all is well. Thanks for continuing to give wisdom. Awhile back I asked if you had ever read Jed Mckenna’s books. I’m interested in getting your take on him because I think the two of you compliment each other well. You deal with more mystical experiences, but you both focus on truth and waking up. Everything else is entertainment in a way. I hesitate to recommend him to anyone because I can see how his tone might be off-putting. People will find a reason to dismiss information they don’t want to hear and gravitate toward the enlightenment idea that fits what they want. I’m probably no different. Being awake, his books are unnecessary for you, but if you find the time some day have a look. I attached the first one (PDF unfortunately). It is a complete book so there’s no need to read the other two in the trilogy, but I like them as well. I actually listened to the audiobooks if you ever want to check them out.

    Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 01:33:47 +0000

    • Thanks, Mark. I don’t see the PDF but I edited out your email address in case you didn’t mean to post that. I remember there was some internet writer type back when we were doing Paratopia who a bunch of people thought I should interview. It wasn’t clear if he was writing fiction or not. Was that Jed McKenna? If so, we had a few polite exchanges and he checked out our message board, but obviously nothing beyond that. It might not have been him, but someone who was writing darkly about “enlightenment.”

      I did just watch a youtube vid of someone reading Jed’s waking up moment into a desolate post-apocalyptic landscape. and then I read this: http://www.spiritualteachers.org/jed_mckenna.htm

      Based on those two things, the first sentence that came to mind was, Enlightenment for the clinically depressed.

      That said, I find this piece of his book, as quoted in that article, to get to the heart of the issue nicely:
      __________
      “Spiritual awakening,” I continue, “is about discovering what’s true. Anything that’s not about getting to the truth must be discarded. Truth isn’t about knowing things—you already know too much. It’s about un knowing. It’s not about becoming true, it’s about un becoming false so that all that’s left is truth. If you want to become a priest or a lama or a rabbi or a theologian, then there’s a lot to learn—tons and tons. But if you want to figure out what’s true, then it’s a whole different process and the last thing you need is more knowledge.”
      __________

      If you stop reading right there you might be inclined to think that this is a man with food, not the menu. But earlier he’s quoted as saying:
      __________
      If I were to reduce this book and my teachings to their essence, I would say it all comes down to nothing more than this: Think for yourself and figure out what’s true. That’s it. Ask yourself what’s true until you know. Everything else in this book, everything else I have to say on the subject, turns on that center.
      _________

      And somewhere in there the author of the article says Jed’s second book is filled with U.G. Krishnamurti quotes. U.G. is someone I consider to have understood “it” intellectually but nothing beyond that. To understand as thoroughly as he did was to produce a lot of great and challenging material on one level that completely falls apart on the level you need it to speak. I think he had a lot of rational insights, but still didn’t get it to the point of transformation, grew fed up, and said, “Screw it. If there’s nothing for me to find then I must already be enlightened. Because I can proclaim that and no one can contradict me, it’s true.”

      If you want my completely unfair first assessment of Jed based on nothing more than the above, it is that he’s a more creative U.G. Krishnamurti. Truth isn’t something you know; Truth becomes the knower. I’d guess he hasn’t experienced that and so can say, “Ask yourself what’s true until you know,” while also saying, “Truth isn’t about knowing things—you already know too much. It’s about un knowing” – because, like U.G., he mistook the depletion at the end of the intellectual journey of self-inquiry for essence and so cannot tell that the first quote is false and the second correct.

      In other words, one may come to know that the second quote is true by taking the first quote’s advice. But that knowing isn’t “enlightenment.” It is another brick blocking it out. It’s the menu, not the food.

  2. You know me, I didn’t mean to leave a public comment at all. Glad I didn’t say anything inappropriate. In the second book he does quote U.G. Krishnamurti where their views overlap. He also says “There’s a lot I really like about U.G. Krishnamurti, and there are times when I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.” Nice to know It’s not just me. Thanks for the unfair assessment. I’ll look and see if I can find anything that addresses the contradiction.

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