Prasanna Natarajan

Spiritual Enlightenment - The Damnedest Thing - by Jed McKenna

READ: 2019-07-05, RATING: 08/10

I came across this book after reading the mindblowing “Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life” article. It didn’t disappoint.

The summary of this book’s message is well articulated in that article, which is:

  • Life is meaningless. But that’s good news because I get to make my own meaning.
  • I’m going to die and after I die there’s just absolute Nothing. Being alive means I get to perceive. I get to be conscious. This won’t last long. During my sleep and after my death, there’s no consciousness available for me. So, make the most out of each moment I get, to perceive life. Be grateful and spend it on things I consider meaningful.

In short, don’t waste time.

The book might feel repetitive at some point. But it was short and I liked the tone of Jed.

New truths and aha moments for me due to this book?

  • The real meaning of being depressed. (search for ‘depressed’ to find it below)
  • Killing the Budhha concept. Budhdha, Krishna, Jesus, Swami Vivekananda, SaiBaba etc are all just sign-posts on your journey to find the truth. Don’t stop your journey, lose focus and worship these dudes. Take their message and remember to go further.
  • Maya is extremely powerful. She skillfully detracts us from our path to truth without us knowing or feeling it. Movies, Religion, Family, Bodily needs etc. All these are Maya’s powerful attempts at making us forget the Truth path. I’m now remembering a story I read, I think in wikipedia, about Ramana Maharishi where he was so focused on meditation that he ignored his body and ants were feeding on him! Dude was a badass in bitch-slapping Maya with his utter disregard. Basically, every moment that I’m not being ‘present’, and even every moment that I’m not doing what I want to do (coding, writing) are moments that Maya had won over in trying to seduce me.

I haven’t done the “Spiritual Autolysis” assignment that the author mentions here. Am I afraid to find out about my truths? Maybe. But I’m also not itching to find it right now. When the itch comes, I know what to do. I’ll let the world collapse around me then. But not now.

Reading this book, and then coupling this with Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” meditation app, I seem to have found my “truth” right now. I like building apps by writing code. I like learning about how the world works. Everything else seems to be trivial. But it’s not so easy to get into that flow. I’m just now realizing the powerful holds of Maya in our lives. Breaking free from her and focusing on the real task at hand is really difficult. (For example: I set out to continue building my little app I’m working on for the past few days. But then for the past 1.5 hours I’ve been working on this book-note blog post. Somehow Maya finds a cunning way to detract me. 🤷‍♂️)

See Goodreads Page for details and reviews.

My Highlights

It would be nice to believe that my words were clicking in her mind like the beads of an abacus, but I know they’re not and I’m comfortable with that. “Act, but don’t reflect on the fruit of the act,” said Krishna to Arjuna. Sign me up.

“I am come as Time, the ultimate waster of people, ready for the hour that ripens to their doom. The warriors, arrayed in hostile armies facing each other, shall not live, whether you strike or stay your hand.” - Krishna during the Mahabharata war to Arjuna when he was being a pussy.

I doubt she identifies herself with Arjuna, paralyzed by confusion at the start of the Gita. I doubt she equates enlightenment

I doubt she identifies herself with Arjuna, paralyzed by confusion at the start of the Gita. I doubt she equates enlightenment with the direct experience of reality in its infinite form. I doubt she knows that in her own life war is coming and that she is a breath away from giving the signal that will spark the conflagration that will incinerate her world.

Awakening is the process of deprogramming. Enlightenment is the unprogrammed state.

Anyone, myself included, who has had a taste of mystic union will naturally assume it to be the very summit of human experience.

The enlightened cannot conceive of anything as being wrong, so they don’t struggle to make things right. Nothing is better or worse, so why try to adjust things?

Enlightenment is about truth. It’s not about becoming a better or happier person. It’s not about personal growth or spiritual evolution.

It’s amazing how desperately we cling to our beliefs. As history shows, the fastest way to reduce otherwise decent people to a state of savagery is by tampering with their belief system.

An easy way to distinguish between caterpillars and butterflies is to remember that the enlightened don’t attach importance to anything, and that enlightenment doesn’t require knowledge. It’s not about love or compassion or consciousness. It’s about truth.

When the mind is at peace, the world too is at peace.

You are neither holy nor wise, just an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

I can’t stand in line at the grocery and carry on a normal conversation if it gets much past the weather. I can’t go to a bar and have a beer and shoot a game of pool because I can’t pretend to share the experiences and interests of the other patrons. In other words, there’s no commonality.
(Jed speaks the experience of being an enlightened person Kamal Ravikant once said similar. After a life-changing pilgrimage, in which he probably became enlightened, conversation with his old friends seemed trivial and boring.)

To be enlightened—just to take the First Step on the actual journey toward enlightenment—is to be henceforth and forever excluded from the whole human thing.

The process of Spiritual Autolysis is basically like a Zen koan on steroids. All you really have to do is write the truth.” “Write the truth?” “Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s all there is to it. Just write down what you know is true, or what you think is true, and keep writing until you’ve come up with something that is true.”
“It doesn’t matter where you start. You could start by using Ramana Maharshi’s query, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What is me?’, and then just work at it. Just try to say something true and keep at it until you do. Write and rewrite. Make it cleaner and cut out the excess and ego and follow it wherever it leads until you’re done.”
“With this process you tear away layer after layer of untruth masquerading as truth. Anytime you go back to read something you wrote, even if it was only yesterday, you should be surprised by how far you’ve come since then. It’s actually a painful and vicious process, somewhat akin to self-mutilation. It creates wounds that will never heal and burns bridges that can never be rebuilt and the only real reason to do it is because you can no longer stand not to.”

“Let me state it plainly, Arthur: I don’t do heart. To the extent that I advocate any path, it is a path without heart, devoid of compassion, totally free of any thought for others whatsoever. The thinking is simple: Wake up first. Wake up, and then you can double back and perhaps be of some use to others if you still have the urge.

As all good epiphanies should, this one struck my brain like a bullet of light and redefined my entire life in a single instant. The realization was nothing more or less than this: Truth exists.

I have not even the slightest trace of the slightest reservation about the fact that I would rather suffer and die figuring out what is true than continue this life as a slave to lies and ignorance.”

I scoured bookstores and took full advantage of the local library’s statewide lending program. I bought a computer and spent hours every day hunched over the keyboard trying to express the truth. I read and I wrote. I edited, discarded, and rewrote. Every few weeks I would delete all my files, reformat all my disks and burn—literally, in a kettle barbecue—all my notes and handwritten pages. I almost never read anything I wrote because the mere act of writing it rendered it obsolete in my thinking. I severed all ties—no job, no friends, no family—and had only a few possessions. I did nothing else. I had no other thought. I went for long walks, thinking, pounding away at whichever door I was stuck behind at the moment. And then one day after a couple of years of this I was suddenly done. Just like that: Done. Although I didn’t think of it in these terms, I had become enlightened, satoried, awake, truth-realized, a jnani, Buddha, whatever you want to call it.

I don’t identify with my own status as a man or a person or a human being. I have a very distinct impression of life as a stage drama, and I find it endlessly mystifying that anyone truly identifies with their character. I watch my own life with amused detachment. I may be doing this or that—fulfilling my role—but I’m almost always out in the seats somewhere, watching it all, as unprepared for the next thing I do as anyone else. Being a detached observer is nearer my reality and I find it belief-defying that everyone isn’t the same—that they’re up in their characters playing out all this life stuff like it’s for real.

Too lazy to be ambitious, I let the world take care of itself. Ten days worth of rice in my bag; a bundle of twigs by the fireplace. Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment? Listening to the night rain on my roof, I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.

Thoreau called himself the self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rain storms.
I think of storms as boisterous sound and light shows put on by the universe for those who have the sense to appreciate the majesty and grandeur of them.

I never figured out how desire got to be the bad guy and compassion became the good guy.

Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all about keeping God happy so he keeps us happy. Hinduism is similar, but with more gods.

There are many by-products of enlightenment, but cultivating them, no matter how devoutly, would never actually bring about enlightenment. It’s easy to look at an enlightened guy and say ‘Hey! He only eats rice. We must only eat rice if we wish to attain Nirvana!’ But, of course, that’s not true.

“The non-attachment thing is the same,” I continue. “If you’re looking at it as a key to peace and happiness, then I can’t discuss it with any authority except to say that it sounds a little dull. However, if you’re looking at it as an important step on the path to awakening, then I can assure you that it’s not. Wake up first, and then you can have non-attachment by the truckload.”

“you, Andrew, are both in the soap opera and of the soap opera. You desire to break out of the soap and that desire is the dangling carrot that, as actors say, provides your motivation, which, in turn, provides the dramatic impetus for many tragi-comic Andrew-centric episodes.”

“Oxymoron. There is no true self. Truth and self are mutually exclusive.”

There is a benefit, however, to realizing that who you are has little or nothing to do with you. It may be difficult to imagine not taking yourself personally, but it can be done when you see clearly that who you are has little or nothing to do with you.”
“Me who?”
“Well said.”

Students, quite naturally, think that it’s important to understand. They think that it’s vital that their information be correct and precise. They think that this is like school where you have to understand one thing before you can understand the next thing. But all that is about knowing and this is unknowing. All this so- called knowledge is exactly what stands between the seeker and the sought.

In her book Halfway Up the Mountain: The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment, Mariana Caplan has this to say about the Sirens’ song of enlightenment: “The most common, widely-held fantasy about enlightenment is that it is freedom from suffering, the transcendence of pain and struggle, the land of milk and honey, a state of perpetual love, bliss, and peace. Enlightenment represents the collectively-shared dream of an idealized and perfect world of pure beauty and joy. It is not only New Age fantasy, it is the secret wish of all people. It is our shared dream of salvation. But it is only a fantasy.

So now Andrew wanted to throw the Buddha at me, but I have no use for the Buddha, and, though he didn’t realize it yet, neither did Andrew.

To begin with, neither one of us has the slightest idea what the Buddha said because he didn’t write it down and get it notarized. And since he’s not here to explain, we’re on our own.”
If Prince Siddhartha made it on his own, you can too, right? The Buddha was just some guy who got serious and figured it out for himself, so maybe that’s his real teaching—that you can figure it out for yourself. Maybe the point isn’t that he was some sort of deity or superman, but that he wasn’t. That he was just a guy like you or me.”

“As to suffering,” I continued, “forget it. It’s a non-issue. Suffering just means you’re having a bad dream. Happiness means you’re having a good dream. Enlightenment means getting out of the dream altogether. Words like suffering and happiness and compassion are just bags of rocks. Eventually, you’ll have to set them down if you want to keep going.”

The way to become a sage isn’t to act like one. Become a sage first and then you pick up all the sagely characteristics free and easy.”

Real Zen is about the hot and narrow pursuit of enlightenment—the shortest distance between asleep and awake. No rules, no ceremonies, no teachings, just the muddy, bloody battle of waking up. New Zen—the Zen that drives a publishing and merchandising industry—is all about being asleep and staying asleep.

I whined about the cost of it at one point and Sonaya just looked at me like I was soft in the head. She knows that money is just something that flows—that it comes and it goes and that if you don’t disrupt the flow there’s always plenty.

“Just a little heads up, Jolene. People don’t like to have their version of reality fucked with. Try it if you still need to get it out of your system, but prepare yourself for unpleasant results.”

Enlightenment is to be restored to Divine humor, to realize that nothing is necessary.

The giver is always the true recipient. It’s one of those universal laws that keeps everything balanced.

When it’s all over it’s time to be a human being in the world again, and that means slipping back into costume and getting back on stage.”

Julie is a good storm watcher. You can tell good storm watchers because they’re lucky. Without any conscious effort, they’re always looking in the right place at the right time. They don’t have to snap their heads around and say, “Oh, I missed that great bolt of lightning,” because they were looking right there when it happened.

Arjuna, as a moral creature, throws down his weapon and refuses to launch a war. Krishna converts him to a creature of right action by freeing him from delusion and Arjuna takes up his weapon and launches the war. Right action has nothing to do with right or wrong, good or evil, naughty or nice. It is without altruism or compassion. Morality is the set of rules and regulations that you use to navigate through life when you’re still trying to steer your ship rather than let it follow the flow.”
Right action isn’t the highest degree of morality any more than agapè is the highest degree of love. When you understand and are able to act from right action, morality is no longer necessary—it’s instantly obsolete and discarded.

the act of faith in something other than self allows you to release the tiller—to surrender. Whatever the reason for doing it, whatever name you give to the new steering agent or agency, it’s going to be a very positive change because it’s going to be the infinite and unerring intelligence of the universe that takes over.”

Here’s all you need to know to become enlightened: Sit down, shut up, and ask yourself what’s true until you know.
In other words, go jump off a cliff. Don’t go near the cliff and contemplate jumping off. Don’t read a book about jumping off. Don’t study the art and science of jumping off. Don’t join a support group for jumping off. Don’t write poems about jumping off. Don’t suck up to someone else who jumped off. Just jump.

“Insane? It’s about time somebody asked. Well, let’s think about it. I basically believe that I know everything and nobody else knows anything. I think I’m sane and everyone else is z’/zsane. I’ve never met another like me and I have to search through centuries and civilizations to find anyone similar. The greatest men and women who have ever lived are just children on a playground to me. I think that I know the mind of God, that the universe does my bidding, and that all of creation exists for my amusement. By what possible definition of the word am I not insane?”

I wait for unfolding. I sense currents and I flow with them. You don’t have to be enlightened to operate this way; you just have to release the tiller.

“This is it. Not some other time, not some other place. Right here. Right now. I am standing at the exact center of infinity and I see perfection and beauty and absolute delight everywhere and in every thing. The touch of the slightest breeze, the sight of a single star through cloudswept skies, the howls of coyote pups in the distance, and the sheer glory and beauty of it all is enough to tear me to shreds and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!”

I am He. I am The Sage. I am The Superior Man. I am the Crown of Creation. I am daft, clouded, obscure. I eat when hungry, sleep when tired. I move with; not across, not against. I rub my chin at the appointed hour. I see only patterns. I have no eye for detail. I don’t go. Why go? Go where? It comes. I don’t try. I don’t do. Nothing goes undone. I don’t take sides. I have no preferred outcome. It’s all me. It’s all mine. Otherless, what’s to want? I have amazing powers! I get good tables in restaurants. I haven’t stubbed a toe in twelve years. I can destroy the universe with a thought.

“Beliefs are candles that man uses to ward off the surrounding darkness. They are the charms we use to hold infinity at bay, to dispel the black cloud that hovers over every head.”

“Ever been depressed?” I ask them. “Really depressed? Like nothing means anything? Like there’s no point to anything?” I can see from their reactions that they all know what I’m talking about. “And what’s the worst thing about those dark moments? Where do they get their power?” I wait a moment so they can think about it, so they’ll recognize it when I say it. “From their undeniability, isn’t that right? From the fact that there’s no argument? When you’re in that state, don’t you know perfectly well that it’s true?”
“That’s right. When you’re in that space, you know it’s not just a mood. You’re seeing something you don’t normally allow yourself to see. Your moments of blackest despair are really your most honest moments—your most lucid moments. That’s when you’re seeing without your protective lenses. That’s when you pull back the curtain and see things as they are.”

“All beliefs. All concepts. All thoughts. Yes, they’re all false—all bullshit. Of course they are. Not just religions and spiritual teachings, but all philosophies, all ideas, all opinions. If you’re going for the truth, you’re not taking any of them with you.

Saying that no belief is true is simply the inversion of this crisp, perfect statement—life has no meaning.

Never bet against Maya. Truth is infinitely simple, delusion is infinitely complex. There’s no over-estimating our ability to avoid making eye contact with the obvious.

The ability to open the next door is never denied, but the ability to open the door after the next is never granted. In this sense, you’ll have many, many teachers. In this sense, a passage from the Bible might be exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, but that doesn’t mean the entire Bible is the right thing all the time.

I have, uh, heightened abilities might be a good way to put it, that most of you haven’t gotten around to developing or recognizing in yourselves yet. These abilities are not really related to enlightenment directly, though—at least, they don’t hinge on it, nor it on they. I’m talking about the ability to manifest desires, for one. To shape your personal reality. Another might be the ability to view life not in detail, but in broad patterns, as if from a greater altitude, and to flow through it from that more elevated perspective.

Strange as it may sound, I sometimes forget that people are actually listening. I guess I sometimes get the feeling that I’m just singing my song because it amuses me to do so. I forget that it actually amuses others also.

“All right, you got me. I spend a lot of time just killing time. I play video games, read books, watch movies. I’d say I probably blow several hours a day that way, but I don’t see it as a waste because I don’t have anything better to spend my time on. I couldn’t put it to better use because I’m not trying to become something or accomplish anything. I have no dissatisfaction to drive me, no ambition to draw me. I’ve done what I came to do. I’m just killing time ‘til time kills me.”

The Matrix would be a good example of a movie I could get a lot of use out of. Total Recall, The 13th Floor, Blade Runner— those are all good looks at the flimsy and even arbitrary nature of what we consider reality. Joe vs. the Volcano is another one I’d use because of the parable-like view it takes of the death-rebirth process. There are probably a few dozen more if I thought about it. The Peter Brook version of The Mahabharata certainly. All the Mornings of the World would be a nice look at the teacher-student relationship. What Dreams May Come to demonstrate the relationship between thoughts and reality. Plenty of others, for different reasons. Harvey, just because.”

“As for books, besides the ones that you would all guess—various versions and translations of the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching—there’d be a version of The Mahabharata accessible to Westerners. The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau, Stranger In A Strange Land by Heinlein, The Razor’s Edge by Maugham, Waiden, Leaves of Grass, Emerson’s essays, anything by Stan Grof, Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot, and so forth—all good for different reasons.

find channeled material very useful and interesting, not just for teaching but for my own understanding of the phenomenal world in which, as you can see, I exist just like anyone else. If you want me to be specific, I’d say I like Michael for understanding ego and personality structure. When it comes to personal reality, I like Seth. If I have questions about flow and manifestation and desire, then I read Abraham. I might be forgetting something, but those are the main ones I like. A Course In Miracles certainly has its moments.”

I close my eyes and lean my head back and everyone takes that as a signal to give me some peace. They talk among themselves but I am not listening to them. I’m listening to everything and nothing and feeling the light rain on my face and breathing the fresh night air, bringing it all the way down so it cleanses me and carries away the heaviness that builds up after long periods in character. I’m not tired or ending the evening, I just want to not hear my own voice for awhile. I want to pay attention to the rain and the breeze. I want to let one topic fade out so that a new and fresher one might come along.

Much of what you’ll read about Zen is a finger pointing at the finger pointing at the moon rather than at the moon. Keep that in mind

“Think for yourself. That’s the golden rule. Think for yourself. Make it your mantra. Tattoo it on the inside of your eyelids.”

The universe is funny about how it puts us exactly where we need to be to pick up the next piece of the puzzle.

There are all sorts of Big Things to have, but they’re never the final destination they may at first seem. They’re more like island stopovers on a perilous ocean journey. But as they must, all such islands disappear beneath the rising sea and the journey perforce resumes. Love, God, compassion, guru and consciousness are examples. They’re all very tempting havens, very safe and snug at first, but none of them are final destinations as anyone who stops on them will eventually come to realize. But that’s no reason not to stop on them. Life is not a race and the only destination is the journey itself.

Chris’s insights into the nature of delusion avail him not in the least in his bid for freedom. Ironically, he is imprisoned by his own views of freedom. He does not possess his views; they possess him. All his knowledge and his urgent desire to express it and to have it validated stems directly from his ego’s need for reassurance that he is ahead of the curve, which, of course, stems directly from his fear that he is well behind it.

For me, the word ‘further’ was the single most important word in my own journey. It was like my mantra, but it had very specific and poignant meaning. There were many times when the word further came to my aid. Like when I’d think I had finally arrived someplace solid, someplace worth staying, and then I’d remember the word further, and what I understood further to really mean, and I’d realize that as much as I might like it where I was, I really wasn’t where I was going yet.” This is an oversimplification meant to soften Chris up a bit to the idea that where he is isn’t where it’s at. “Even though I may have attained knowledge and understanding beyond my wildest hopes, even though I may have surpassed my highest expectations of what I might accomplish, even though I may have moved beyond many of my own mentors, the word ‘further’ was always there, echoing in my mind, reminding me that there’s only one objective of the journey and that I wasn’t there yet.”

where only nothingness exists. The illusion of opposites—good and bad, love and hate, joy and sorrow—these aren’t available out in infinite reality, only in bubbles.”

The illusion of opposites—good and bad, love and hate, joy and sorrow—these aren’t available out in infinite reality, only in bubbles.”

“Without the element of containment, the opposing elements could not exist, much less maintain their balance. The container is what defines the whole of which black and white are the two aspects.”

“So who are the priests of all religions?” Maya asks me. “They are your shepherds,” I respond, “keeping the sheep in the fold, away from the cliffs.”

“And who are the saints and sages of the great spiritual traditions?” Maya asks. “They are your final level of containment. They are the weavers of the final web, masters of subtle misdirection—convincing because they are convinced. For every million that get near the edge, perhaps only one steps over.” She smiles. “And where do I dwell?” “In the heart,” I respond. “In fear.” “Fear of what?” she asks.

Krishna, however, is not a god of love and light; he represents the whole thing, so in him all qualities must be found. A god of love and goodness would be merely a single aspect of a god who is defined as absolute.

“All thought is immoral. Its very essence is destruction. If you think of anything, you kill it. Nothing survives being thought of.” What he might have meant is that falseness exists only in shadow. Illumination by intellect “destroys” the untrue by revealing that there was never anything there to begin with. Just as light banishes shadow, scrutiny banishes illusion.

The man in whom Tao acts without impediment Does not bother with his own interests And does not despise others who do. He does not struggle to make money And does not make a virtue of poverty. He goes his way without relying on others And does not pride himself on walking alone. While he does not follow the crowd He won’t complain of those who do. Rank and reward make no appeal to him; Disgrace and shame do not deter him. He is not always looking for right and wrong Always deciding “Yes” and “No.” The ancients said, therefore: “The man of Tao remains unknown. Perfect virtue produces nothing ‘No-Self’ Is ‘true-Self’ And the greatest man is Nobody”

(Q: “Why am I always so dissatisfied? Why can’t I ever just be content?” A: “You weren’t born to be content. Your discontent is the engine that drives you, be grateful to it.”

“In the process of waking yourself up, you quickly realize that there’s no outside authority. You have to verify everything yourself. If you adopt something someone else said, it’s only after you have verified it for yourself. If Jesus, Buddha, or Lao-Tzu made it, you can make it. There’s no choice about this—you can’t walk in someone else’s shoes

Belief and faith as being ways of dealing with things you can’t know for sure, and I am not involved in not knowing for sure.

Wouldn’t an enlightened Zen master believe in Zen? Wouldn’t an enlightened Sufi believe in Islam?” “You’re talking about vehicles and destinations. Once one has arrived at the destination, the vehicle is discarded, forgotten. If I take a train to Chicago I get off the train and enjoy Chicago. I don’t drag the train around behind me. It did its job. I don’t need it any more. Of course, if one is going to turn back and help others with their journeys, then he would rely on the vehicle he knows.”

“For instance, shame. The underlying cause of all shame is the deep and unshakable suspicion that I am an imposter. I sense the absence of true-self in myself, but not in others, so I naturally assume others to be real. Seeing the outer shells everyone else has so convincingly erected and not knowing them to be hollow, I necessarily feel singularly fraudulent and, of course, shameful.”

The way to defeat rational depression is not to try at all costs to turn back from it or to cling to the illusion of meaning, but to plow right on through it and see what’s on the other side. Rather than recoil from the horror of nothingness; plunge headlong into it.

Depression, for instance, might be hard to combat; because it can be perfectly rational response to a highly irrational situation—namely, life—especially when the depression revolves around futility or insignificance. After all, you can’t be much more futile or insignificant than a character in a dream.

I like happiness as much as the next guy, but it’s not happiness that sends one in search of truth. It’s rabid, feverish, clawing madness to stop being a lie, regardless of price, come heaven or hell. This isn’t about higher consciousness or self-discovery or heaven on earth. This is about blood-caked swords and Buddha’s rotting head and self-immolation, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something they don’t have.

He weighed the cost against the gains set down his weapon rather than launch such a war. The Bhagavad Gita is the story about why he picked his weapon back up. It is summed up in these two lines: The unreal has no being; The real never ceases to be.

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.

It’s your show. It’s your universe. There’s no one else here, just you, and nothing is being withheld from you. You are completely on your own. Everything is available for direct knowing. No one else has anything you need. No one else can lead you, pull you, push you or carry you. No one else is necessary to your success. It cannot be simpler—you are asleep and you can wake up.

“I am come as Time, the ultimate waster of people, ready for the hour that ripens to their doom. The warriors, arrayed in hostile armies facing each other, shall not live, whether you strike or stay your hand.”