On being Enlightened. Or not.

In my early meditation training days I was very fortunate to study with a Taoist meditation master. One of the first things I remember him telling us was that the Taoists do not really believe in being enlightened with a capital E. He told us with some disdain in his voice, that the very idea of there being some final ‘Ah Ha’ moment or a attaining The Brass Ring through meditation ‘levels’ was silly. You should keep having ‘Ah Ha’ experiences the longer you maintain practice. There is no master list for them.

In my book I break with a certain viewpoint among some meditators that you shouldn’t talk about your spiritual experiences. I’ve heard a lot of good supporting ideas as to why you might not want to do that. One of the biggest is: bias. You don’t want to bias new students in meditation into thinking what spiritual experiences should or should not be like. You don’t want to give them expectations because they may either try to mentally manufacture the experience artificially (and incompletely) or feel frustrated that they themselves have not had a similar experience.

Another reason why a person might not want to talk about spiritual events is due to interpretation. Once you talk about it or print it out or define it in words and allow others to read those words, then you open yourself up to their criticism and analysis. I’ve seen this in certain online forums when someone talks about an experience of divinity attained through prayer, everyone and their mother wants to weigh in on it, dissect it, label it or define it ‘properly’ to put it in its place. Everyone seems to have an opinion as to what it ‘means’ and I think it dirties the experience a little when other people walk all over it with their feet like that.

In writing about my own spiritual experiences, I set myself for interpretation and dissection from others. The only official take on it of course, is mine. I know that I can’t stop people from projecting their own bias onto my experience.

I don’t want people getting the wrong impression so, I am saying it now. I am not enlightened and I have not mastered my ego. In fact, between you and me, I think most people have no idea what they are talking about when they say “You still need to work on your ego,” or “Your ego is this that and the other thing,” but let’s leave that for a discussion another time.

If that is what you are looking for, I hear there is a pretty popular European guy who knows something about egos, bliss, and Enlightenment, and has written a few books about it. But understand that I do not know anything about those things. I am not a Buddha of compassion or a Taoist sage.

I don’t radiate compassion for all humanity. I try not to be politically correct if I can avoid it. I am not a saint. I say insensitive things sometimes. I get pissed off at people who are deliberately being offensive. My vibes aren’t so holy that flowers spring up in my footprints and birds alight on my shoulders. I am not like that.

Meditation did not turn me into a peacenik or a hippy. I don’t have sacred reverence for all forms of life. I will kill a mosquito or eat a salmon steak without hesitation and I won’t feel bad about it. I can be fiercely protective of people who are not naturally dominant or ‘switched on’ as the saying goes. Meditation did not make me perfect and I won’t pretend for a second that I am virtuous.

When it comes to anger, I am a passionate and temperamental person. I have a quick temper sometimes, to be sure.  But consider that I have not been arrested for assault in years. In the past, I have punched holes in walls in at least a half dozen places I lived at. I haven’t punched anything out of anger or rage in at least fifteen years.

My anger was once so out of control that going two weeks without smashing something into pieces was major progress in self-restraint. I still have scars on my hands from that kind of anger and the resulting damage I caused to myself by striking all manner of objects.

So can I get angry? Sure I can and I do. But it’s human anger now, not a demonic, unquenchable, frightening anger that once unleashed I can’t put back in it’s bottle for hours and days and weeks. Do I have remaining anger still? Yes, I do. I have some anger towards the system that brainwashes parents into forcing or coercing their children into taking psych meds that are known to cause brain and CNS damage. I have ‘activist anger’ or righteous anger or money changer anger or whatever you want to call it. If I didn’t nurture a little bit of activist anger, I would not be able to write powerfully, passionately and persuasively about my concerns.

Please, if you read my book and you are digesting my meditation experiences, do not project attributes to me that I do not possess. When I talk about inner peace, I am talking about something that is qualitative and relative–not absolute. I make no claims other than this: I beat depression and mania too. I don’t have thought broadcasting delusions or paranoia or anxiety any longer. I don’t have PTSD anymore. I have been a pretty happy person in general for the last fifteen years. I am not claiming any more than that.

I am not a mother Theresa reincarnate, I don’t channel love and empathy. I am not always a nice and agreeable person. I know it and I am happy with where I am. I did some good work curing myself of three mental disorders, I am in no hurry to attain ‘higher states’ or better vibrations or new attunements or any of that stuff. I am not working on my ego or anything else.

When the book comes out and you are wondering what it means that I had some meditation experiences, ultimately it’s going to mean what you project onto it that it means. But you have it here in my own words that you should not take it as indicative of some vaunted level of actualization. It was what it was and if I didn’t write about them now, I was going to forget certain details as time caused the incidents to fade in my memory.


About Jane

Ms. Alexander. author, activist, artist
This entry was posted in meditation, mental health, mind and body, spirituality, Taoism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to On being Enlightened. Or not.

  1. Hearing Whispers says:

    I love your youtube videos and blog postings. You give a ray of hope to what is otherwise a bleak medical model outlook for those (including myself) with some kind of schizophrenia spectrum disorder.

    Will you ever put your videos back up? I would love to show them to my friends so they can derive the same hope and wisdom I have. Also, what specific meditative methods/products do you recommend? I know you have written about the Water Method by Bruce Frantzis, but for those of us on a tight budget, do you have any specific recommendations (books, workshops, etc.) pertaining to the Water Method? Or any other meditative practices that are useful for curing oneself of auditory hallucinations?


    • Jane says:

      Hello there HW,

      Re: my videos
      The plan right now is to make some new vids about the same subjects. I learned a lot about making vids and giving talks in recent years during my time on youtube and I think I can do a lot better than I did. The first gen mental health videos I made were never supposed to be up ‘forever’ anyway. The main focus has been finishing the book. And it’s almost done. When the book goes up for sale I will be able to focus on making new vids. So please, be patient and bear with me for there will be videos again.

      Re: meditation
      As far as BF’s offerings, the most economical way to get involved and learn more is probably to buy his books. If you were going to buy just one then I would recommend his latest in the WM series: ‘The TAO of Letting Go’.

      Re: techniques for dealing with delusions/hallucination
      To date, in my opinion, the most effect method for coping with that is the dissolving method that BF teaches. It is my intention in the future to write more about the specifics of how I dealt with delusions using dissolving, either in a vid or perhaps someday as a chapter in a book about meditation. For now, dissolving, hands down. Dissolving teaches you to release and let go of thoughts and feelings.

      I hope that answers your questions. Take care for now, and thanks for stopping by!

      • Hearing Whispers says:

        I ordered the Tao of Letting Go today. Can’t wait to get started on it. I look forward to reading about your personal experiences with it. Thanks again, Jane!

  2. venushalley1984 says:

    Thank you so much for this blog.

  3. Max Spencer says:

    Anger is said to be a cure for depression Cry anger – Jack Birnbaum. I think channeling it properly to let it do it’s job is the trick. It’s basically rising up one’s life energy to meet the environment. Anger can be given up of expectations given up, but that can’t happen unless it’s expressed and felt. I get the impression a lot of anger management wants to skip the actualization stage , or they don’t like “anger”. I think it’s healing for all people to learn to enjoy tall their emotions fully including unhappiness , sorrow and anger.
    The majority of people seem to be aghast at this suggestion but i think they have not realized that negative events are outside of themselves while their emotions are part of themselves Too not love one’s emotions is to not love oneself.

    • Jane says:

      I agree with what you said here.

      In my experience there are different shades of anger. I evaluate anger as to it’s effects on you. Having angry th0ughts all the time is hugely corrosive to your peace of mind and stress levels. Some ego maintenance may be required to find all the things you find yourself constantly angry about in order to see if some of those of things you can do without. But I think people are entitled to be angry and to have angry feelings. An emotionally toxic state can evolve from suppressing and not expressing or being allowed to express anger. The anger you should be afraid of is the creeping unexpressed anger that slowly accumulates and is never let out until its killing time. That kind of anger is not healthful and will almost always end up in destruction, of the self or others.

      As an afterthought, revolutions and other sharp turns in social history were rarely preceded by apathy and ambivalence. Someone got riled up enough to rile others up enough until enough riling had happened and things were changed. I would actually encourage people to be bothered by and concerned with what is going on in this country with the medicate-everyone-for-anything-and-everything situation we have now.

  4. Max Spencer says:

    Yeah, I think anger’s got a bad rap. I enjoy my anger and celebrate it, I love it as one of my better emotions It brings my energy up, actualizes me, solves problems, sometimes in personal relationships and sometimes in just smashing down evil SOB’s in survivalist necessity.
    Of course it transforms, but only if it is nourished and does so by it’s own natural path. It is a effective component of communication.
    The more you love it the less you have it All the strong emotions seem to be that way. Running away from them feeds them – a trick of the mind as it were.

    Yeah, it’s big topic , I know but generally the mental health community is really negative toward anger – an attitude which facilitates un-wellness rather that wellness.

    The person who has experienced extreme negativity will always have a capacity for extreme anger, or just using the behaviour mechanisms – it is part of an developed emotional range which can be used and disappear in the twinkle of a moment.

    Perhaps there are a large number of counselors, therapists etc who are uncomfortable with or just can’t accept this part of human experience – they are more interesting in policing behaviour rather than facilitating it. They do a great deal of harm.

    And yes you are right. IF all those emotionally ill people became cured overnight there would be an onslaught of radicals, revolutionaries and reformers who would try to tear down the existing system of social and economic repression. Healthy people demand their rights and freedoms and protect themselves from abuse. The .01 percent of the population who control the wealth and media have good reason to be peddling Soma and “Behaviour Management” to the masses.

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