The Hard Yards

12919918_10153350785446924_4105346997683154030_nThe Buddha died from food poisoning, Socrates drank hemlock, Christ was crucified, Al-hallaj was executed. Ramakrishna, Ramana, Gurdjieff and Nisargadatta all succumbed to cancer.

We love the idea that we can somehow by-pass our ordinary lives by leaping into spiritual beliefs and practices designed to free us from our suffering. We are drawn to anything which promises the good news of transcendence, reincarnation or an afterlife because actually we don’t want to be here and now, in this moment. 

We travel the world and take psychedelics to access the heights of consciousness (or is that the power of our own imaginations?) and then crash down to earth afterwards, often unable to integrate whatever understanding we thought we had.

We don’t want this raw grit moment. We want short-cuts. We want a way out of this mess. What we’re really seeking is not truth, but an escape plan.

But of course it doesn’t really matter what traditions we join, what practices we devote ourselves to, what names we give ourselves; there is no way out.

There is only a way in.

The way in is much more difficult because we have to be able to fully open to our own suffering. We must allow it to be felt and met with innocence. No more by-passing or clever arguments. We must meet this moment as it really is, not as we would like it to be.

The real spiritual practice is measured by the hard yards of suffering which test us physically and mentally, and not the easy stroll of love and light that so many of join, where our ego’s can play themselves out under the mask of “spirituality.”

Even for the enlightened there is no magic trick to escape death. There is only a natural intimacy with the pain and discomfort which arises without any resistance whatsoever.

The idea that we must somehow be beyond pain and suffering comes from the ego, and it puts us under pressure to push down any raw human emotions we may encounter, rather than allowing them to bubble up and dissipate.

We must let go of who and what we imagine ourselves to be and surrender to the fire of suffering. It’s the fire which purifies.

Spirituality is big on transcendence but that’s only one side of the coin. The other half is immanence which means that the divine is not simply “watching the show” but that it *is* the show.

Immanence means that we can open to suffering because suffering is also truth. It is also reality, it is also Brahman.

And because it is immanent we don’t have to go looking for it, we only have to stop looking for it for it to appear. When there is no longer any seeking there can only be finding, and we can only find what is already present, here and now.

We cannot ever avoid all of the sorrow and suffering. We cannot leap away into love and light. But we can meet ourselves right here and right now, however that may be.

For those who desire awakening with all their heart, it is the gospel of no escape which is the real good news.

Explore more