Information Overload: Simplifying Spirituality
Updated: Jul 12, 2020
Daily meditation, continuous study, acrobatic yoga postures, energy work, psychedelic plants. These are just a few of the many tools used for spiritual development in the western world today; but are they completely necessary for achieving the goal of spirituality? Is there a goal? Is there a destination to arrive at while walking the path, or is the journey itself the destination? We live in an extremely unique position in the modern age with regard to knowledge. Right now, you and I have access to more information in our pockets than was ever contained in the Library of Alexandria. At first, this seems self-evidently to be a fantastic thing, and it is! But there is a price to pay for its convenience. This ease of access to facts, theories, and data has created a society of information junkies, an addiction that flies so far under the conscious radar that nobody sees it as a problem. Don’t get me wrong, gathering information isn’t automatically an addiction or even a negative thing. We all do it. The problem is how we respond to and use this information in relation to our daily lives.
For 12 years I was a devout, albeit confused pursuer of what has been coined within various new age circles as “Enlightenment.” I read every teaching on liberation and meditation that I could get my hands on, a task that became progressively easier with the advent of the world wide web. There wasn’t a digital or literal stone left unturned in my pursuit of a system of belief that would end my search for the Truth. From teaching to teaching, I bounced back and forth looking for any substantial doctrine that I could hang my dusty coat from and say “I’ve figured it out, I get it now, my search is over.” Ironically, this happened several times over the years, and each time the authenticity of the realization would fade after only a few days. The amount of personal embarrassment and discouragement I would feel afterwards was almost enough to make me give up altogether. Almost.
Fortunately, and somewhat mysteriously, there always seemed to be something pulling me back to the search. It was as if my mind would feel the disappointment of having once again been conned by some Guru or other prolific teacher, but something else inside me was unaffected, unfazed, and not at all surprised by the apparent failure. It was during one of these experiences that something finally clicked... It wasn’t the specifics of the information that was the problem, it was information itself. Turns out I hadn’t been fully listening to these teachers, as each and every one of them had expressed this in one way or another. Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Krishnamurti, Eckhart Tolle, Nisargadatta, Rupert Spira, Ramana Maharshi, and countless others; each giving their listeners books worth of information while simultaneously suggesting that the information is not the teaching. For over a decade I completely overlooked this; or maybe my mind couldn’t handle the paradox, I’m still not quite sure. What I am sure of is this: the mind alone is not capable of grasping the depths of these teachings. Conceptualizing the process of enlightenment, is not enlightenment. Furthermore, enlightenment is not an event to be chased after, it’s a choice. The very act of accumulating information about “enlightenment”, could postpone enlightenment, even though it’s not a temporally bound phenomenon. Confused yet? Me too. Basically, the thinking mind is good for two things, reviewing past experiences and imagining future scenarios. Neither of which have anything at all to do with the present moment. As long as we are playing around with the contents of our minds, we are overlooking the very nature of our being; or as I like to call it, effortless awareness.
This blog will be dedicated to carefully and responsibly discussing the realistic nature of spiritual enlightenment. With a focus on dispelling common misconceptions around this non-event, we will be comparing and contrasting different approaches to Self-realization found throughout various traditions in an attempt to extract common elements existing between them. This blog will do it’s best to help the reader grasp the foundations of Self-realization, aka enlightenment, without needing to employ the analytical mind. The essays and reflections readable on this website will inevitably contain a lot of "fluff". This is because I enjoy writing about these topics, and not because the information provided is necessary for self-realization. There is only one thing you need for that, yourself. As Papaji once said to a group of listeners, "Give me someone who's never heard of spirituality or enlightenment, and I could have them self-realized in 5 minutes." By this he meant those who are capable of receiving the teaching tend not to have any interest in it, and those who really want it have often accumulated too many ideas about it to see it. I suppose this is my only disclaimer: none of the words or ideas written here or anywhere else are necessary for realizing the Self. Writing and discussing spiritual mythology has always been a passion of mine, and I see no harm in it as long as the reader understands the golden rule: the information is not the teaching. It's simply a pointer.
My name is Alex M. Chase. Having lived most of my life on the United States East Coast I found an unshakable appreciation for nature early on in life. Nature is our intrinsic reminder that the finite human mind is an unnecessary component of being. Nature breathes for us, beats our hearts, and fights our illnesses; non of which require a separate thinker or doer. Trees do not need to think in order to grow and produce fruit, wolves need not think in order to hunt and protect their young, and you and I do not need the activity of our minds to feel happy and fulfilled in this world, it happens automatically! In fact, if happiness and contentment are what we are after, the mind will always be our biggest obstacle. Nature knows exactly what she's doing; our only job is to get out of her way and enjoy the ride.
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