Saturday, January 17, 2009

Enlightenment and How to Achieve it by Neale Donald Walsh

The transcript of a talk by Neale on the nature of Enlightenment and how to achieve it, before a live audience in Ashland, Oregon in July, 2004. Slight revisions have been made to this text by Neale through the years since that talk, providing even greater coherence with his experienced truth. Neale considers this one of the most important talks he has ever given. We hope you enjoy it.
I've decided tonight to talk about Enlightenment-this elusive magical mystical experience for which everyone seems to be reaching and for which everyone seems to have a yearning, and for which every one seems to be searching. And I understand the reasons for the search, because if we all were enlightened one presumes that our lives would be better than they are now, when we are presumably unenlightened.
In addition, it occurs to me that if all of us were enlightened relatively quickly, the whole world would be different and we would experience life in another way. Presumably with less turmoil, with less stress, with less conflict, for sure, I would imagine, with less sadness and anger and less violence and much less of all the things that make our lives sad and disjointed and unhappy in these days and times.
So humanity searches for Enlightenment and we have been searching for Enlightenment from the beginning of time, ever since we became consciously aware of the fact that it was possible to be Enlightened-whatever that is.
We have not only been searching for Enlightenment, we have been searching as well for a definition of Enlightenment, because we can't get to that destination until we know where we are going. And so the first step for most human beings has been to try to define what Enlightenment is, or what it looks like, or feels like, or tastes like, or what it is like to experience that. And then, after we have that clear, after we know what our destination is, then we can try to figure out what would it take to get from where we are to where we want to be.
And there is this rush to Enlightenment that I observe that humanity, or a portion of humanity, is engaged in. And many say that they know how to get there and they know how to get you there. And so we see many, many "Paths to Enlightenment" that are suggested, recommended, created, expressed, experienced, shared, and put into the space of our collective lives. Masters of every shape and size and color have been creating a way to be enlightened for millennia.
Paramahansa Yogananda said that he knew a way to Enlightenment. The Buddha said that he knew a way to Enlightenment. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says that he knows a way to Enlightenment. Sai Baba says that he knows a way to Enlightenment. In their own way, Jesus the Christ and Abu Al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Abd Al-Muttalib ibn Hashim-Muhammad-said that they knew the way to Enlightenment.
Now the interesting thing here is that the followers of all of these Masters have insisted that their Master was right about that, that their way was the best way and the fastest way. Maybe not the only way, but the fastest way and, therefore, you needed to take that way. There was a great urgency. You needed to become Catholic or you needed to take Transcendental Meditation or you needed to learn Tai Chi, or you needed to raise your vibrational rate, or your needed to change your brain, or, for heaven sake, change something. And not some time, but right now, immediately, this month.
You needed to join this group or do that process or read this book or be baptized or be un-baptized or do whatever it is that you have been told by your particular master or monk is the fastest, quickest way for you to get to where all of us want to go-which is the place called "enlightenment," "awareness," "higher consciousness," or "vibrational harmony."
The brain is now the latest path, the latest route, everyone is talking about. It is about moving your energy, your focus, your awareness, your presence, your essence, the vibration of Who You Are, from the brain stem to the frontal lobe. Many people are teaching this now. Many people are talking about actual science, physical science, brain chemistry, as a path to this thing we call Enlightenment.
All of that is wonderful. That is just terrific, and it gives me great hope for humanity. But there is something we have to look at here. There is a pitfall here, a detour, a time-waster. And even a danger, if we choose to damage others with it. The danger of this business of Enlightenment is two-fold. The first danger is thinking that there is something specific that you have to do in order to get there, and that if you don't do that, you can't get there. The second danger is thinking that your way to get there is the fastest, best way to do it.
A few years ago-now I guess it's about 15 or 20 ears ago-I was approached by people in the est movement. Werner Erhard created the Erhard Seminar Trainings, which was a huge movement in the new thought community in the U.S. and around the world around 25 years ago or so.
The people who were involved in the est movement were absolutely convinced that this was the fastest way to Enlightenment. So they began recruiting people to take est, and they became very engaged in that process. It was almost urgent, an urgent matter with them. And they couldn't understand why you didn't get the urgency, if you didn't get it. They would look at you and say, "You just don't get it, do you?"
This was natural, because they had found something that changed their whole life virtually over night and they wanted to give that to you and they knew that this was The Way. There were many ways. This wasn't the only way, but this was probably the fastest way.
And I enrolled in the est program and I, too, became enlightened. In fact, I became so enlightened that I realized that I did not need est to be enlightened-which really upset the est people, because they wanted me to take the next level and the next level and the next level of the training.
est was a program that had multitudinous levels. You could take level one, level two, level three-they had very fancy names for them. And once you got in the program you could virtually never get out of it. You had to almost extract yourself from it. And if you did get out of it, you were made to feel by those who were inside of it that you had done something desperately sad. Not wrong, just very sad. Because you just didn't get it.
Many years ago Paramahansa Yogananda started the Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda taught in the West from 1920 until his death in 1952. He published his life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, in 1946. It went far in introducing vedic philosophy to the West.
When Yogananda, or Master, as he was called, came to America he brought a technique for "self-realization," which was his phrase meaning Enlightenment. When you realize who the Self is, you become enlightened. You are more aware. You are more at peace with the world. You are internally serene, content, and thus, wonderful empowered, in a quiet, gentle sort of way, to move through life, to create outcomes, to experience Divine Presence in you, as you.
I want you to understand, I want you to be clear, that I am not making fun of any of this. I am not putting this down or making this "wrong" or in any way denigrating or belittling any of this. This is all very real, very real. Every person who has ever achieved mastery in her or his life has wanted to share it with others; share the experience, share the path, give it away. Why? Because if they are truly enlightened, truly aware, they come to know at a deep level, they experience at a deep level, that most human beings are operating from a place of pain, extreme suffering, emotional turmoil, physical dis-ease - and that these people are, as a result, creating an entire world like that.
So the Master has great compassion. Compassion for the individual and compassion for the world that all of us individuals are creating. The Master knows that such a world, a world of such suffering and pain and lack of happiness and joy, is not necessary. But first, you have to know Who You Are.
Paramahansa Yogananda described himself as being enlightened. That is how he described himself. And, by the way, he was enlightened. He was enlightened because he said he was.
Yes. I hate to break the spell that anyone may be under, but to be enlightened is to say that you are. It is quite as simple as that, and we will talk more about that in just a minute.
People heard Paramahansa Yogananda give his talks and explain his technique for Enlightenment, which involved a process that included, among other things, deep meditation every day. And the process was one that Paramahansa Yogananda taught to his students and his students taught to their students, and their students taught to their students, on and on, until a very large number of people all over the United States, and indeed, around the world, were involved in this Self-Realization Fellowship, which, by the way, continues to function to this day and now has many followers.
If you talk to some of those members of the Self-Realization Fellowship, they will tell you, "This is the way. This is the path. Master has shown us the path. There are many other paths, this is not the only path, and this may not be the best path, but it is the surest path that we know of, and so come and join the Self-Realization Fellowship." And that is wonderful, because that is their experience, and they are sincerely sharing that.
In even more contemporary times, a fascinating man named Maharishi surfaced a few of decades ago and he announced yet another path to Enlightenment. His path was called Transcendental Meditation or, for short, TM. Maharishi made friends with the Beatles when they were at the height of their popularity, and within a very short period of time became very popular around the world and began teaching far more widely and creating temples and meditation centers all around the globe.
He established huge universities. There is a very large one in Fairfield, Iowa, right now. And there are other learning centers that he has established around the world. And many so-called TM Centers.
Now, I learned Transcendental Meditation and I learned it from other students who learned it from other students who learned it from other students who learned it from other students, who learned it from the Master. And there is some sense of quiet urgency on the part of some of those people in the transcendental meditation movement, because they will tell you that transcendental meditation is a tool that can bring you to Enlightenment in a very short period of time, and they want that for you.
When you have a life-changing technology you naturally want to share it with as many people as you can. And there is nothing wrong with that. That is very exciting and it is very wonderful. But as with sex and as with sugar and as with any good thing, it can throw you out of balance if you are not careful, if you just go overboard with it.
Now there are many other programs as well. Like Maharishi and transcendental meditation, like Paramahansa Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship, like Werner Erhard and the est program. There are many programs. Many approaches, many paths developed by many Masters. There was a book written called Many Lives, Many Masters, by a wonderful man named Brian Weiss, and he talks about the fact that there are many ways to reach the mountaintop. Which way, then, should we recommend? Which way, then, should we encourage others to take?
Or should we simply encourage others to investigate for themselves the many paths that there are, and empower them to know that inside their heart and soul they will pick the path that is just right for them if their intention is pure and if their desire is true?
God says, "No one calls to me who is not answered."
And each of us will be answered by that which we call divine, in the way which most effectively responds to the vibration that we hold and create from the center of our being. To put this another way, God, or divinity, or Enlightenment, if you please, appears in the lives of every person in a form that is most appropriate to their background, their culture, the level of their understanding, the level of their desire, and their willingness.
This very conversation, and the transcript of it that many will be reading, falls into that category. For some, it will be perfect, the perfect tool of communication. For others it will not, and they will not even have read this far and will not know what is being said here.
So there are many means of communication, and there are many disciplines: physical disciplines, mental disciplines, spiritual disciplines, and some disciplines that involve all three -- the body, the mind and the spirit.
We spoke of The Buddha earlier. It is good to tell the whole story.
His name was Siddhartha Gautama. He lived in riches and luxuries as a young man, because his father and his family were the rulers of a large area of countryside and had much wealth. They tried to protect Siddhartha from any knowledge of the outside world for many years. And they kept him on the grounds of the family compound, but one day Siddhartha ventured outside the walls to learn of life as it existed on the street.
He learned of poverty and of illness and of disease and of cruelty and of anger and of all the so-called negative experiences that no one ever allowed him to experience when he was inside the gates of his family's vast estate. And he gave up all of his riches and all of his luxuries, his whole family, left his wife and children and everyone at home and disappeared, essentially, and embarked on his search for Enlightenment.
"What can I do?" he asked himself, "What can I do?" And he then underwent a series of very rigorous physical and mental disciplines, from fasting to day-long meditations to physical trainings, of every imaginable sort. And this went on for quite awhile, not a week or two, but for a long time. Something like six years.
He sought out other Masters and asked them how they had achieved or moved toward the experience of Enlightenment, and he did as they told him, because he wanted to honor the Masters that he met along his path. But nothing brought him the experience of Enlightenment. It only brought him an emaciated body, and a life that was made difficult with physical and mental discipline and training.
One day Siddhartha Gautama said, "I've tried everything. I've done all the physical disciplines, all the trainings, all the exercise, all the starvation, all the diets, all the fasting, and all the meditation. Now I'm just going to sit here beneath this tree and I'm not getting up until I'm Enlightened."
And there he sat, doing nothing. No exercises, no meditations, no fasting, no nothing, just sitting there doing absolutely nothing. Now that is hard for many of us to do, because we think there is something we are suppose to be doing in order to be Enlightened.
Suddenly Siddhartha said with a start: "I'm Enlightened." And people came to him and cried out, "What did you do? What did you do? Teach us, Master! You have become the Buddha, the Enlightened One. What is the secret? What did you do?"
And the Buddha said something quite extraordinary: "There is nothing that you have to be, do, or have."
Imagine. After all that time. After the life he had lived and all that he did and saw. After all the luxury and then all the self-denial, after wearing a silk shirt and then a hair-shirt, after thoroughly satisfying his body and then starving his body, and no spiritual or physical discipline and then tons of discipline...after all that time, he realized it was not about doing or having anything and it was not about not doing or having anything. It was about the middle way. It was about just living life, non-attached to anything in particular. Not attached to your luxuries and joys, and not attached to your poverty and tragedies. It was not about any of that. It can be if you want it to be. It can be if that is what suits you. It can be if that is your path, but it is not necessary to be, do, or have anything in particular.
The Buddha said, in effect, "I'm Enlightened because I have realized that Enlightenment is knowing that there is nothing you have to do to be Enlightened."
Isn't that interesting? Think of all the effort that people are putting in, with years-long programs and trainings, only to find out that Enlightenment requires nothing at all!
We all have the possibility of becoming Enlightened. We all have the possibility of finding peace and joy and love. I, too, like the Buddha, like Jesus the Christ, like Paramahansa Yogananda, like Maharishi, like Ilchi Lee, choose to seek Enlightenment, choose to achieve awareness, choose to raise my vibrational frequency, choose to experience Divine Presence and Divine Essence within me.
Now, like all of those other Masters, I have tried everything. First I tried orthodox religion. I said my rosary faithfully every day, because there was this formula that you could use, there was a litany, there was a process, by which we could become connected with God, and have God hear our prayers and forgive our sins and make us holy again.
I also tried fasting. I tried meditation. I tried reading every book I could get my hands on. I took est. I learned Transcendental Meditation. I learned Transactional Analysis. I walked down many paths, many, many paths.
And then one day I had an out-of-body experience. Now that was interesting, because I wasn't trying to do this. I was trying to produce outcomes with my fasting, I was trying to produce outcomes with my meditation, I was trying to produce outcomes with my rosary and with my disciplines, but those were not bringing me what I was seeking, those were not taking me where I wanted to go.
Now here I was, just simply trying to get some sleep. I just fell asleep. But in that moment I flew out of my body quite involuntarily. Just left. And I knew that I left. It was a conscious awareness. I was not in my body and I knew I was not.
I won't take time here to explain to you or describe for you my experience, although I can tell you it was very real -- it is very real to me to this very day. I've had three such experiences in my life, two since the original one. And every one of those experiences brought me to the same place: a space of absolute -- capital "A" -- Awareness. Kind of like an AA meeting: Absolute Awareness. And when I returned from my very first out-of-body experience, I was left with two words that blew my mind. Would you like to know what they were?
"Nothing matters."
Nothing matters.
What an amazing message for my soul to receive from the Unified Soul that is all of Life. Nothing matters. And yet, like the est training, like Transcendental Meditation, like my venturing into the Self Realization work of Paramahansa Yogananda, it changed my life. And here's the message behind the message:
Because nothing matters intrinsically, I am free to declare what I choose to have matter to me.
If something matters intrinsically, that is to say, if something matters to, shall we say, God, then I darned well had better figure out what that is, because if I don't figure out what it is, I will be the thing called condemned, or at the very least, unenlightened.
But a voice in my out-of-body experience said to me, "Nothing matters." I knew then that we are free to "make matter" what you choose to make matter in our lives. And I mean that in two ways: not only to make matter, but to make something into matter. That is, to make manifest in physical reality something out of invisible energy, to turn energy into matter.
This is called "making miracles," and there are people on this planet -- monks and avatars and Masters -- who do this all the time. You can do this, too, they tell you. And you can. I do it all the time. Maybe I don't do it as fast as some of the monks or avatars, but even in my own life the Time Lapse between Choice and Manifestation is becoming scarily scanty. I mean, it sometimes scares me to notice how little time is passing these days between the time that I say I choose something and the time that I have it.
Whether it's a particular experience or a physical thing or a real-world outcome, I find that I am able to manifest things so rapidly now that I actually have to start watching what I think and say! (Which is what every teacher from the beginning of time has been telling us to do! They've been telling us that our thoughts, words, and actions are the Tools of Creation!)
So here is what I wish to share with you...
If you think there is a Path to Enlightenment that is the only path, the best path, the fastest path, the one that everyone has to know about by 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, you may suddenly find yourself feeling pressure, stress, a false urgency, even upset, and your ego may become deeply involved in convincing as many people as you can that the path you have found is the path they just have to experience.
Suddenly you will start acting not like a Master at all, but like someone who is under a terrific amount of pressure and stress, because it will suddenly matter to you whether I "get" what you are trying to tell me.
If you are not careful, you even start having quotas or goals. You'll have to get a certain number of other people to agree with you every week, or every month, or every year. And if you don't meet those goals you will think that you have not done a good job.
And yet, you have done a good job if you simply love without expectation, without requirement, without needing anything in return.
Enlightenment, when it is all said and done, has nothing to do with what you do with your body or your mind. It has to do with what you do with your soul. If you simply love everyone whose life you touch endlessly, unconditionally, with nothing needed or wanted in return, you have become Enlightened, you have achieved Awareness, and you have shown everyone how they may do so as well -- as fast as any other system that exists, like that.
As fast as Transcendental Meditation, like that. As fast as joining the Self-Realization Fellowship, like that. As fast as taking est (now called the Forum), like that. As fast as Brain Education and Dahn Hak and Vibrational Attunement and any other process or mechanism or path you can name. And if you learn to love yourself unconditionally, as well as everyone else, you will heal your entire self without lifting a finger.
Now I want to discuss this thing called health, because many people believe that you are not enlightened unless you are in good health.
Does Enlightenment mean being in good health? And what is "good health" anyway? Is good health having a body that has nothing wrong with it? Is good health living until you are 90 or 100 or 200 or 500?
Is good health having no pain and nothing malfunctioning with your physical form? Is good health the absence of anything that is not perfect in your physical experience?
Or -- now listen to this carefully -- is good health being very okay and in a place of joy and peace no matter how things are?
What is health, what is optimum health, if it is not happiness?
I know people who exercise every day, lifting weights and running and working out, eating well, doing all the right things, and their bodies are in great health, but their hearts and their minds and their souls are very ill and desperately sad. They are incomplete, unfulfilled, unexpressed, and deeply unhappy.
And I know people who are hardly able to lift a toothpick, they are so...their bodies are in such bad shape...but their hearts and their minds and their souls are bright as a shining star, and they are happy.
I know such a man, whose name is Ram Dass. Do you know of whom I speak? Ram Dass is a Master, and I am vastly privileged to have met him personally. He has taught many people for many years. He wrote a book called Be Here Now, among others.
A number of years ago now, Ram Dass had a stroke. He was a young man; he was only 63 or something like that. I met with Ram Dass after his stroke, in a hotel room in Denver, and I want to tell you something. I've never met a healthier man.
I sat in that room with a Master. I said, "Ram Dass, how are you?" And he sat there in his wheelchair and said very slowly and very carefully, "I am won-der-ful." He had to pronounce each syllable as if it was a separate word. His mouth, his tongue, wouldn't work right, they couldn't work any faster than that. But he looked at me and smiled and said, "I-am-won-der-ful."
Now that's health...that's health. That's peace. That's joy.
And I cried. Not for Ram Dass. Who would cry for a person who said something like that? I cried for myself.
How could I have missed it? How could I have walked right past this wisdom for so many years? I cried with joy as well, for my having reminded myself of it again -- before it was too late, before I could not do anything with it or about it.
Ram Dass sat there and we talked. I asked him many questions because I wanted to hear, right from his wonderful mind, how he felt about life and what he'd experienced of this time here. And he had great patience with me. He must have heard my questions a hundred times before -- nay, a thousand times before -- from people hanging on his every word. But he listened intently, as if he was hearing them for the first time.
What is Life really about? How does one achieve happiness? Is it possible for us to truly self-realize? What is love, real love, to you? All those questions that you want to ask when you are sitting down with a Master.
He did not rush his answers. I had the impression that he was thinking deeply about each one, going within to see, not how he'd answered that question before, but what his experience was now.
It was a moment of incredible giving. He was just giving to me.
Now when you have so much happiness, so much peace, so much wisdom and joy that you spend your life sharing it with everyone else, no matter what your predicament, that's Enlightenment. You have become a Master.
When your life is no longer about you, has nothing to do with you, but is about everyone else whose life you touch, you have become a Master. Because a Master knows that your life has to do with nobody else but you -- because the You that you are is the Only Thing There Is. There's nobody else in the room. I'm talking to myself now.
I'm talking to my Self.
In the end, that is why you came here. You came here to know that. You came here to understand Who You Are, and to experience it. You did not come here -- to the earth, I mean, to your body -- to somehow "get better" or to "work on your stuff." Consider the possibility that all the work you will ever need to do is finished. All you have to do now is know that.
So this moment is the moment of your liberation. You can be liberated from your life-long search for Enlightenment. You can be released from any thought that it has to look like this...no, no, it has to look like that, no, no, you have to get to it by this path, by that program, by the other process or activity.
You may still do those things if you choose to, but if you feel stressed about them, if you feel pressured by them, then how could they be a path to Enlightenment?
I know a Master named Ilchi Lee, who I mentioned just before. He created a wonderful path to Enlightenment called Dahn Hak. It is a body-mind-spirit discipline, an integration process that you can engage in for the rest of your life. People have devoted their whole lives to it. It's wonderful. I've tried it. It works. It makes you feel better. It makes you feel more whole, more complete, more integrated. Many are finding their way to Enlightenment with it. If Enlightenment is outer joy and inner peace, outer ease and inner tranquility, outer consciousness and inner awareness, then many people are finding their way to Enlightenment with it.
I asked Ilchi once whether people needed Dahn Hak to become Enlightened. His answer was immediate. "No," he said. He didn't even try to qualify his response. He didn't equivocate. He just gave me a one word answer. "No."
The point here is that there is no One Way up the mountaintop. Every true Master knows this.
So set yourself free today. Stop working so hard on yourself that you don't even enjoy it anymore. Do what works for you, but make sure it brings you joy. Enlightenment is EnJOYment. It is the pouring of pure joy into Life.
Now here is what I know will bring you joy. Decide that the rest of your life -- every day, every moment, every word -- is something that you will share with everyone whose life you touch in a way that ensures that they will know there is nothing they have to do, nowhere they have to go, and no way they have to be, in order to be loved by you right now. Let them know that they are perfect just as they are, just as they are standing there.
Spend the rest of your life giving people back to themselves, that they might love themselves, and know that there is nothing they are lacking, nothing they are missing, nothing they need, nothing they are not.
Yet how can people know that, when it seems so real that they are lacking, that they are missing something, that there is much they are not? How can you help them to see the truth?
Show them what Conversations with God has said on this subject: That which you choose to give to another will become real in your experience as well. And so, what you wish to experience, give away. Be the source, in the life of another, of what you wish to have in your own.
A sure way for anyone to experience that they are enlightened is to cause another to know that THEY are.
That is the message and that will be the teaching of the New Spirituality. That is why Namaste' has become such a powerful, such a meaningful and special, exchange of energy:
"The God in me sees the God in you."
There's nothing more to be done if we really mean that.
Of course, if we are saying that because it sounds good, then there is a great deal more to be done. But if we really mean that...if, when we say that, we really mean that...then the struggle is finished, the search is over, and Enlightenment is ours at last.
This is the message that I bring to the world. This is the message that has been given to me in my conversations with God, and I might add, in my conversations with every Master I have ever met or known of. They all say the same thing.
God sees your perfection, and merely waits for you to do so. And you will see your perfection, the perfection in yourself, in the moment that you recognize it; that is re-cognize it; that is, know it again, in the face of another.
When you see perfection in the face of another, only then can you see perfection in your own.
It has been said that the other is your mirror, and you will see there naught but what you see in yourself. Yet I tell you this. Do not wait to see yourself as perfect before you see The Other as perfect. See The Other as perfect first, then you will see perfection in yourself. Forgive the other first, then you will forgive yourself at last. Do unto others as you would have it done unto you. This is the Law and the Prophets.
For there IS no Other, save You. And when you know this, you save you.
I am about bringing to the earth a New Spirituality, and creating the space of possibility for such a spiritual experience to emerge upon the planet. It will invite the world's people, one by one, to explore the many paths to Enlightenment, and to walk the path that feels most natural, most inviting, most exciting, most joyful to them. And for some, that might mean doing absolutely nothing at all. (Neale chuckles.) Once I was giving this talk and someone said to me...
I couldn't help but notice all the Master's names you were speaking of were male. I am just wondering if you could share, if you've met any Masters that were women?
And my answer was, "No. Women are not allowed to become Masters." And there was great laughter, because, of course, everyone knew I was making fun of the way a great swatch of humanity holds this idea.
We all know that there are many, many Masters, both ancient and contemporary, who have been female. Mary, the other of Jesus, is surely held up as a Master. So are Hildegard of Bingen, Beatrice of Nazareth, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Genoa, Joan of Arc, Birgittta of Sweden, Mother Meera, Mother Theresa, and many, many others that we could all name, and whom we all honor.
One who affected my life with enormous impact was Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Jean Houston is another. Barbara Marx Hubbard is another. Marianne Williamson is another. I know many Masters who are female.
I believe that my mother was a Master, because she was the first one who taught me that happiness was being okay with exactly what is so, right here, right now. Even if something was happening that she didn't like, she would say, "God bless it!" Never God dammit. No, no, she would never say that. Always, God bless it!
When I inquired one day as to why she always said that, rather than cursing like "normal" people, she glanced at me with a look of utter surprise, as if she couldn't believe I had asked the question. "Why would I want God to damn something?" she said simply, with the innocence and purity of a saintly child.
"Always say 'God bless it' to everyone and everything, and you know what? God will."
What a wonderful teaching from your own mother!
So if you want to reach mastery, you can do it. And you can do it by going through five years of training or you can do it in five minutes. God forbid we should forget about our disciplines! But you can actually just forget about them. You can move straight to Enlightenment as The Buddha did -- and the creators of all those disciplines would be the first ones to tell you that.
So why bother with all these various "disciplines"? Because they remind you of what you are trying to do. Spiritual disciplines and sacred rituals break up our habitual movement through the days and nights of our lives and send us back to First Purpose. They cut through the routines we've established and the detours we've been taking and send us back in the direction we wish to go -- which is the direction whence we came. They send us back home.
They do so by re-minding us of Who We Are and what we are doing here. So we make the sign of the cross, or we bow to the east, or we chant a chant, or we take the trek to Mecca, or we sit in silence, or we bless the bread, or we bless each other, all so that we might know again, be reminded again, of Who We Really Are, of who The Other is, and of our sacred Oneness and Purpose.
You can either go through five years of training or you could just (snapping his fingers) decide right now that when you walk into a room, every room you walk into from now on, will feel better to be in because you are there. You can decide, right now, that this moment and this space will be the place and the time of your emergence as The One, as the Messenger, as the Truth.
What I am talking about here is simply sharing love, which is who you really are. And if you learn and choose and decide to share love -- endlessly, unconditionally -- with everyone, you will find that there is nothing else to do to seek Enlightenment. You will have achieved it.
I love you all.
Thank you, and goodnight.

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