I am sometimes asked what the greatest obstacle is to realizing the self or understanding who and what we are. I have answered this question in different ways at different times, but today I will try to bring some of those perspectives together.

Fundamentally, the question revolves around oceanology, the study of waves and consciousness. It is like a wave believing it is separate from the ocean. The biggest obstacle to realizing that one is the ocean and not just a wave is the belief that you, the individual, will eventually realize your true self and understand who and what you are. This belief is the greatest obstacle because, in my own experience of realization and enlightenment, it was not an individual “me” that awakened or realized that my true self was interconnected with everything else. It was not a “me” that accomplished or attained anything. The concept of “me” is a fiction.

That is why I have often said that all spiritual practices and seeking, to some extent, reinforce the notion of a separate self. They become a reinforcement of the “me” that is practicing, striving for results, and seeking personal gain. This perpetuates the structure of the self instead of seeing through it.

This obstacle arises from the perspective of wave consciousness. If a wave were to ask, “What is the biggest obstacle for me to realize that I am the ocean?” the answer would be thinking that it will realize its true nature as the ocean. Similarly, when we try to liberate ourselves or seek liberation, the very act of trying to achieve it becomes bondage. It is struggling within the mind, trying to escape something that doesn’t truly exist.

Imagine a scenario where someone is rolling around on the ground, contorting and asking how they can escape from a room and get rid of a straitjacket. Even if you tell them they are not in a room and not in a straitjacket, they don’t believe it because their mental attachment to a sense of self creates the struggle. The entire issue exists within the mind. We have created the problem through the mind.

This reminds me of a scene in the movie “Blazing Saddles” where the main characters are being chased by a posse across an open prairie. They encounter a tollbooth, and despite there being no real obstacle, they stop because they believe they need to pay a toll. They search for dimes, thinking they need to find a way around this perceived barrier. In reality, they could have simply ridden through without stopping. This scene exemplifies the mental entrapment and the illusions created by the mind.

In essence, this journey is about overcoming the illusions and fictions of the mind. One of these illusions is the belief that there will be a future version of yourself that will realize the truth. In truth, there is no obstacle, just as there is no tollbooth on the open plain. It is a matter of letting go of these mental constructs and realizing the interconnectedness of everything.

Thank you very much.

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