Right Makes Might (free)

I like it here in my little niche. (Is it not totally mindblowing that, even in the so-called age of communications, truth remains a small and sparsely populated niche? Indeed, Maya is the greatest wonder.) I am reminded of how much I like my little niche anytime I poke my little head out and look around. It’s scary out there in the general population of Maya’s Spiritual Asylum. I almost always wear blinders that protect me from beholding the broader spiritual environment of happily but hopelessly lost souls, but I still take in more than I care to. I see where I am and where you probably are, but what I almost never see is what lies on the outskirts of nonduality and beyond.

We can think of nonduality as a volcanic island rising up from the shoreless sea, à la Waponi Woo. First, you have to get to it, then you have to get up it, then you have to jump in it; out of the herd, up the slope and down the pipe. That’s not the full scope of the spiritual journey — there’s a lot of stuff before and maybe after — that’s just where the nonduality part begins and ends. Nonduality is not a complete spiritual solution, it’s just a vehicle, and despite all the nondual influencers who might argue otherwise, it has a very specific beginning, middle and end — and the end is just the beginning.

The real journey of awakening begins with nonduality, there’s no other path or  alternate approach; all else is vanity and a chasing after wind. Nonduality begins with the initial nondual insight and ends with killing the Buddha. There’s a lot more journey than that, but that’s the part where the nonduality vehicle can take you. In 1984 terms, Winston’s nondual journey begins when he starts keeping a journal and ends when he’s unstrapped from his chair in Room 101. He got to that beginning and went on from that conclusion, but the book part is the nondual part. (Based on my own experience and that of the few Room 101 alumni I have known, you can expect a more pleasant post-awakening experience than Winston enjoyed.)  

The down-the-pipe part is where we kill the Buddha or graduate from Room 101. That pipe is the rebirth canal where we conclude our pre-life life and undergo second-stage emergence into the life we were born to live; both graduation and commencement. No choirs of angels or radiance or ascension, no trumpets or fanfare, just stealing back the life that was stolen from us. Or, as one might expect from jumping into a volcano, total disintegration. Or, maybe both.

Down the pipe is where we were meant to go at age twelve or thirteen, so everything up to that point is just getting back to square one. That’s what nonduality is all about; it’s not a spiritual journey, it’s a developmental rectification. We were conned and coerced to go the wrong way, so now we have to go back and go the right way. That’s all we’re trying to do here. In the end, my only message is this; open your eyes and see what you see. I’m not telling you what to see, I’m only suggesting that you look.

As amusing as the total dissolution of selfhood might be, what we want to look at now is all the people who manage to avoid it; that sprawling mass of spiritual seekers who are perpetually lost in the cloud of wrong-knowing. Once we rise even slightly above them, we are forever apart from them, and the only reason we care what’s going on down in that cloud is to better understand that we don’t care what’s going on down in that cloud. (That makes more sense than it sounds like.) 

The only reason to revisit our former herdmates and once-esteemed teachers is to remind ourselves that they’re paradigmatically challenged and have nothing of value to say. It’s really an exercise in bridge-burning. Explorers and military commanders in days of yore would sometimes burn their own ships so their men would know that there’s no turning back. Maybe the men wouldn’t even want to turn back, but there’s a big difference between not wanting to and knowing you can’t. In the same spirit, you might find it a useful exercise, having glimpsed the nondual insight, to stick your head back down in the cloud to reassure yourself that nothing lies below and the only way out is up. Defying the great herd to go solo based on such a dubious premise as reality is not real is hard enough without the constant temptation to run back to the safety of numbers.

Even once we’re out of the cloud of wrong-knowing, Maya’s repeated invitations to take a load off, put your feet up and relax is a very effective trap because we don’t have the oomph to get up and get going again. It takes a fantastical amount of emotional energy to lift you off the ground and out of the atmosphere. Whitman said, once we start, we never lie by again, but as Maya knows, the flipside is also true — once we lie by, we never start again.

The thing that distinguishes we merry few from the mass of spiritual seekers is that they insist on going forward and we have figured out that to go forward, we must first go back. As a geographic marker, I think of the initial nondual insight as being the borderline between them and us, between those who seek to find and those who only seek to seek. They seem to think that where they are is fine and want to go onward from there. They make up the vast majority of spiritual seekers which makes them hard to ignore, but it’s definitely worth the effort. If I try to tune into their discordant, incoherent, static-filled transmissions for a minute, I regret it for days — like eating bad oysters. The only thing you learn from eating bad oysters is not to eat bad oysters, but that’s still a pretty good lesson.

When I was fourteen I had a brief flirtation with Le Morte D’Arthur and The Once and Future King, and the one thing that struck me and stuck with me was the question of whether right makes might or might makes right. If you brought a gun to a knife fight, might makes right, but if you’re a weakling standing up to a giant, you hope like hell that right makes might. What I wondered back then was, given the circumstances, which way would I go? It’s all kind of hypothetical and fanciful when you’re a kid, but when it’s time to put up or shut up, an actual decision must actually be made. At least, it might look like a decision. 

I know which way I’d go at the Arthurian crossroads because I was there and I went, but what about you? You can be wrong with the crowd or right all alone. Gee, it would sure be swell if we could choose being right and staying with the crowd, but that’s not on the table. Maybe this is something everyone has to decide for themselves, but maybe most people manage to avoid it. It’s really a question of who you are and how you play the game of life. For those in the herd, the question is still hypothetical and fanciful because they never dealt with it but simply defaulted to the non-answer answer, but maybe you’re dealing with it soon or now. You have the safety and security of mainstream but artificial spirituality on the one hand, and the scary but authentic solo journey on the other.

Nonduality is a tiny little pipsqueak next to religion or spirituality or even philosophy — they are an army of Goliaths to our tiny David — but what this conflict represents is the Arthurian dilemma; is it better to have might or be right? That’s what it really comes down to, fear of the false versus hatred of the lie. As you should know by now, nonduality is the real deal and nothing else is, but it comes at the highest possible price, whereas the counterfeits and cheap knock-offs are free and easy and a lot more fun.

Can you experience the initial nondual insight and still go back to the way you were before? Return to the sub-lucid state? Devolve? Go back to sleep? On the one hand, I don’t see how it could be possible, on the other hand, with a 24:1 heart:mind ratio and the mind-scrambling power of fear, what’s not possible? From what I can tell, people are entering the black hole of nondual gravity and still managing to reverse course. I wouldn’t think anyone who came within range of a clear nondual signal could back out, but it seems to happen all the time. I’m a bit conflicted about it, as I am about everything in the dreamstate that’s knowably unknowable. I don’t even know if I prefer Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety, much less why spiritual seekers do what they do. Let’s just say that, until they achieve lucidity they’re all  shitbird crazy and leave it at that.

"All progress depends on the unreasonable man."

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