The Struggle To Awaken

Some people say that no struggle is necessary in order to awaken. One especially hears this from the new and fast-growing crop of non-dual Zen and Advaita teachers, some of whom even offer Satsangs on the Internet.

Jean Klein

After several years of studying with Jean Klein, a true Advaita master, I appreciate how easily one can be misled by non-dual language into thinking that there is nothing to be done. The truth is, however, struggle is necessary at many levels.

The process of awakening involves far more than the mind, with all of its beautiful thoughts about non-duality; it also involves the emotions and body. We have to see, as Jean Klein frequently reminded us, that we are not our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. To see this, however, we need to realize that we are constantly lying to ourselves, both consciously and unconsciously. Jean helped us in this process, for example, not just with his illuminating and loving Satsangs, and with self-inquiry, but also with other meditative approaches, including a powerful form of esoteric yoga that helped us in an intimate way to experience our bodies more as energy and emptiness than as form and substance.

Here is a brief passage from a talk I gave some years ago that goes further into the question of lying:

“The struggle that we need to undertake is the struggle to see the way in which I constantly lie to myself. It is the struggle to be inwardly sincere. It is this seeing, a process that also requires the support of my body and feelings … that can free me from my habitual preoccupations, expectations, and beliefs—those powerful psychological states that keep me from experiencing myself and the world in the fullness of the present moment. But as anyone who has tried knows, the effort to be inwardly sincere brings with it suffering, real suffering, the immediate, painful experience of the many ways in which I cut myself off from the truth. This experience, as difficult as it is, also brings with it a great sense of freedom and joy, a sense of returning home from exile.” (From Awakening to the Miracle of Ordinary Life)

Copyright 2009-15 by Dennis Lewis

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