Hello, today I want to talk about non-duality and the illusion of progress. Many people are deeply attached to the concept of progress, but enlightenment or awakening is something that occurs on its own. It is often referred to as a grace by several teachers. It is not something that can be willed, achieved, or personally brought about.
A good metaphor or analogy for this is falling asleep. Falling asleep is not something we actively do or will ourselves to do. It happens to us. We simply let it happen. I’m sure many of you have experienced this, where if there is something important to do the next day, you try to sleep but find it difficult. The effort of trying to fall asleep actually keeps you awake, even though you may not realize it. Sometimes, when you’re starting to drift off and you become aware of it, you suddenly jolt yourself awake again. So, falling asleep is truly something that happens to you, not something you do.
Various spiritual practices and rituals can create conducive environments for awakening. It’s similar to our nighttime routine when we go to bed. We may take a shower, brush our teeth, close the curtains, ensure a quiet room, and get comfortable in bed. But none of these steps directly cause sleep. They create a favorable environment for sleep, but they don’t cause it. You can be in a dark, quiet room and lying down, but still not fall asleep. The progress we associate with these actions is illusory.
Similarly, in my own spiritual journey, I have meditated, faced fears, challenged the ego, and occasionally had spiritual experiences of oneness with nature, among other things. People often ask me if these experiences indicate progress towards awakening, and they are surprised when I say no. None of these experiences brought me closer to awakening. It may be difficult for them to understand because we tend to seek progress and causal relations. However, just like brushing my teeth or laying down doesn’t bring me closer to falling asleep, these spiritual practices and experiences don’t bring me closer to awakening.
We need to recognize the illusion of progress. Just as there is no progress in falling asleep, there is no middle ground in awakening. You are either awake or not yet awakened. Trying harder or seeking progress in awakening only keeps us asleep metaphorically. Awakening is something that happens to us, like falling asleep. The more we try, the more we hinder the process.
So, don’t become trapped in the illusion of progress. There is no linear progression towards awakening. It is a state of being, an awakened state that exists or doesn’t. Thank you very much.