When Will I Become Enlightened? | Mark Whitwell On Giving Up Hope
Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga
In the conventional spiritual process of trying to attain some heightened sense of being, you can end up feeling hungrier than ever, especially when you fail to achieve or sustain some idealized state of happiness.
Feeling inadequate, instead of enlightened, is the inevitable result of striving for enlightenment. By implying that enlightenment is not already present you come to believe that you are lacking something you need to be truly happy and at peace. You believe that you are not good enough, not meditating enough, not working hard enough.
This has been going on for millennia: the belief that God is ‘up there’ in heaven, while we struggle ‘down below’ on Earth. All manner and means of seeking for God or Truth has infected human culture. And today, searching for Truth has become an uninspected habit, a cosmic game of hide-and-seek that we are all supposed to play.
Whether we are religious or not, we are convinced that Life or Reality or God is happening somewhere else, and we are missing out.
And so we waste our lives struggling away within the arbitrary methods of the patriarchy in an attempt to get somewhere amazing.
Around the world, self-proclaimed spiritually perfected people line up to seduce the gullible public with their shoddy goods. As my teacher U.G. Krishnamurti would say,
“We are doomed in the model of the perfect person. It implies that everyone else is not perfect, not yet realized.”
We are finishing up now with the spiritual culture of patriarchy. We have seen through the hoax of enlightenment. We are no longer sacrificing our lives for the sake a future ideal that never arrives. We are no longer willing slaves to deluded men (and women) wearing special clothes.
Our life of intimacy with the Given reality begins.
There is Nothing to Attain
The first thing to see is that we are alive in life as life, and there are no steps to be taken to realize life. Life does not come in the form of a problem to be solved. Life does not come in the form of a question. Therefore, there are no answers to be found. Life is simply a pure intelligence, a perfect harmony, aan utter beauty, and a vast nurturing context — and you are that, already. What else could you be?
My thing is to ask people if they have noticed that everything in the natural world is utterly beautiful: the trees outside, the light on the water, the birds singing, the moon at night. It is obviously true. And it is also true that you are of the natural world. That you are in a perfect relatedness with the natural world — your skin, eyes, hair, breath, and Sex. Your soft animal body knows how to be on this planet because it is formed out of the Mother Nature’s very substance.
So when you perceive the beauty of a flower, it is beauty looking at beauty.
This is not a philosophical statement. Or a fancy spiritual poem. It is not something you can do on yourself, like a path to take up. It is not meant to cajole you in realizing something profound. It is a simple fact. You don’t have to feel it. You don’t have to realize it. Because it is already the case. You can relax.
When people accept that they are indeed the wonder of life happening, it can have a visceral effect on their nervous system. Some have felt a startling effect like waking up suddenly to an immense implication. There can be an outpouring of energy like a volcano erupting as the mind of concepts relaxes its grip on the life current, not unlike the shaktipat as it is described in the yoga traditions, a life-changing epiphany, sudden and permanent.
Something comes into us and something leaves us and we are never the same again.
Perhaps it can be likened to a religious conversion, but it is more like an emotional conversion to life. It’s very simple. Others feel a gentler shift as they relax from the ways that they were previously working on themselves, as the life current seeps through body and mind.
We need to give up all the spiritual goals of culture to allow life to vitally flow through the organism. Life stands on its own. If you leave it alone — leave the body and mind alone — something extraordinary can happen. There can be an explosion of life from the inside to clear away the mind’s restriction and this cannot be activated by any conventional effort or additional thought structures. It only happens in and of itself, in its own time as life itself, and we are that.
Consciousness is so pure that any attempt to realize it hides it from your distracted mind that is trying to realize it. There is no need to realize it. You are it. Understanding this will end all the paths; so you will stand in your own ground of consciousness itself, as the individual you are.
Yoga Sadhana: That Which You Can Do
Once you have understood the simple fact that you are alive as life then a very natural response is to begin a short daily Yoga practice.
Actual Yoga, as it came through from the indigenous wisdom traditions of India and Tibet, is your direct embrace of reality itself. It is your whole-body prayer to life and to the life that you are. It is the practical means to embrace the Given reality.
Even if you don’t exactly feel experientially that you are the perfection of life it is never the less the fact of your existence. Yoga is your direct participation in that fact (even if you don’t feel it right now). Things change naturally. The effects sneak up on you randomly, spontaneously and unpredictably where you feel and know yourself to be in the natural state of beauty, power, and wonder.
The difference between actual Yoga and patriarchal religion’s methods however is intimacy. Yoga is your direct intimacy with what is already the case. There is no goal. There is no requirement for a psychology of attainment because these Yogas are the functional direct embrace of God.
As my teacher would say:
“The only samadhi that is valued in Yoga is sahaj samadhi, the natural state, the union that has already happened, and is the continuing, always present reality of all. No one need give you this and no one can take it away from you.”
Yoga is not about gaining any experience, any bliss, any posture, or any change of state. All of that is an imposition on the power, intelligence, beauty and harmony that is already your situation. It’s not even about trying to get rid of difficult emotions that are legitimately in you based on the condition of the society you were born in to: the crippling superstitions seeking of religious and secular patriarchal power structure put in you in many different ways.
Yoga is Relationship
No longer distracted by the promise of somewhere to get to, we recognize where we are and the beautiful and suffering people we are surrounded by.
Our daily practice of reality-embrace opens our bodies as the heart, and gives us the means to turn to each other like flowers to the sun. When we walk in the path of the reality itself there is nothing to fear or hide. We live our love through intimacy with all forms, and understand each person to be the full expression of life itself.
The mind is then used only for its actual function, intimate relatedness, the sharing of consciousness in the natural world, human, plant, animal and the entire arising cosmos.
May we all enjoy our brief lives here together on this beautiful planet.
*Listen in to the heart of Yoga podcast and hear from my friends around the world who have found relief and pleasure in abandoning the delusional search for enlightenment.
Mark Whitwell is a Yoga Teacher from Aotearoa/New Zealand who has spent the past thirty years hosting gatherings around the world so that people of all culture’s can experience the benefits of an authentic home Yoga practice. Mark is committed to equipping each person with the principles of practice that came through Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989) and his son TKV Desikachar (1936–2016). Mark studied with Desikachar for more than twenty years and was the editor and contributor to his teacher’s book The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice (1995) — a book that is regarded today as the bible of modern Yoga. Mark lives between New Zealand and Fiji. He is a father and a grandfather.
Why Have a Teacher? Mark Whitwell on the Teacher-Student Relationship in Yoga
Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga
“Spirit means breath, Sir! Nothing more.” Mark Whitwell on the Power of Yogic Breathing
Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga