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Awakening & The Struggle With Lying

March 3, 2009

Some people say that no struggle is necessary in order to awaken. One especially hears this from the new and fast-growing crop of non-dual Zen and Advaita teachers, some of whom even offer Satsangs on the Internet.

Jean Klein

Jean Klein

After several years of studying with Jean Klein, a true Advaita master, I appreciate how easily one can be misled by non-dual language into thinking that there is nothing to be done. The truth is, however, struggle is necessary at many levels.

The process of awakening involves far more than the mind, with all of its beautiful thoughts about non-duality; it also involves the emotions and body. We have to see, as Jean Klein frequently reminded us, that we are not our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. To see this, however, we need to realize that we are constantly lying to ourselves, both consciously and unconsciously. Jean helped us in this process, for example, not just with his illuminating and loving Satsangs, and with self-inquiry, but also with other meditative approaches, including a powerful form of esoteric yoga that helped us in an intimate way to experience our bodies more as energy and emptiness than as form and substance. (I will write more about work with the body in future blogs.)

Here is a brief passage from a talk I gave some years ago that goes further into the question of lying:

“The struggle that we need to undertake is the struggle to see the way in which I constantly lie to myself. It is the struggle to be inwardly sincere. It is this seeing, a process that also requires the support of my body and feelings … that can free me from my habitual preoccupations, expectations, and beliefs—those powerful psychological states that keep me from experiencing myself and the world in the fullness of the present moment. But as anyone who has tried knows, the effort to be inwardly sincere brings with it suffering, real suffering, the immediate, painful experience of the many ways in which I cut myself off from the truth. This experience, as difficult as it is, also brings with it a great sense of freedom and joy, a sense of returning home from exile.” (From Awakening to the Miracle of Ordinary Life)

Copyright 2009 by Dennis Lewis

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2009 11:23 am

    What you say has truth to it, but so too is there truth in saying “that no struggle is necessary in order to awaken” and “there is nothing to be done.”

    When I speak about nonduality, I often take the angle of “nothing to be done”…as westerners are so overly fixated on doing things and goals. I use it to get people to cease doing and let go…and smash the ego a bit.

    Of course, it is rare for this alone to liberate…so then there is self enquiry, meditation, and introspections. But I often frame it as simply being aware and ceasing to do…it is not really letting to, it is ceasing to hold on…it is not really allowing, it is ceasing to resist what is.

    But that is just my way. Valid points you make though…good post!

  2. Richard LeBlond permalink
    March 10, 2009 10:35 am

    Language can be quite a limited form of communication, such as in the term “struggle”. Looking at “lying”, one can see different types of lying such as intentional, unintentional or unconscious lying as in “see the sun rise this morning”. This may be a rather universal lie as we all know the sun doesn’t actually rise; the earth’s rotation allows the sun to be seen. To openly say that there is nothing to do to awaken is interesting. From one perspective, if there was nothing to do to awaken, people would not be using drugs and alcohol. Intensity of struggle might be expressed as inversely proportional to the level of consciousness and Being. For those who have reached a point where there is nothing to do, in most cases, it is struggle and suffering that has made this possible. Often, it is simply a struggle for me on topics such as this to be sure that I understand the actual meaning of the discussion. I was raised in Minnesota and my former wife was a Southerner. I quickly discovered that common everyday words had quite different meanings depending on who was speaking and who was listening, which caused misunderstandings.

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