To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
When you meditate for decades a few things happen. On the good side, your consciousness is pure and your awareness is enhanced. You have clearly seen the personality from root to leaves and have rooted out such poisonous emotions as anger, jealousy, hatred, greed and fear to a large extent. You are also, most likely, acutely aware of living, functional inter-connectedness as well as your total freedom to make any choice at any moment and in any circumstance, however bizarre it may seem. And this is fun for awhile! Finally, the great and unchanging silence of the self becomes your soundtrack, as if played behind you through a boom box when you walk down the street.
There are also a few problems with this type of clarity in day-to-day life. The first is that it can feel extremely lonely at times. Living in the midst of the world, you may notice that it sometimes feel as if people don’t really ‘see’ you. They are doing their dream thing and unless you run around preaching or teaching, you really can’t have an impact or share with them what it is like to actually be present here. They don’t have the patience for a moment of silence – don’t even care or want to know. This ‘Grumpy Guru Syndrome’ happens because everyone approaches with a false question based upon false structures of knowing akin to asking “hey, when did you stop beating your wife?” It’s something that is rarely if ever talked about – maybe because it sounds arrogant or elitist, maybe because it does not serve to attract people to the path. But it is the truth. Once the fireworks are over you can become grumpy because you feel like you’re sitting at the kids’ table for all of eternity and it’s just not as fun as it once was.
The best story about this feeling of disillusionment is an Indian sage whose sole reason for staying alive post-enlightenment was his wife’s cooking. You can feel like a soldier with no war or a singer with no band. When guys like Eckart Tolle talk about how alive and wonderful this moment is I can see where they’re coming from, but hanging out in the bliss jhana on a park bench like a freak can get old after awhile. If he had a Zen teacher like mine he’d get his ass kicked for acting like that (Zen teachers are a’holes, in case you didn’t know).
Finally, enlightenment does not fix worldly problems. Any person that tells you meditation is going to help you manifest lottery winnings or free movie tickets should be punched. Work and daily life may even become a little more tedious, as you’d be content to just sit on the park bench smiling like a freak.
So what’s the point? Well, if you’re heading towards enlightenment you really have no choice anyway. And when I look back on what it was like to be trapped in the mind I prefer freedom any day. Plus, I have zero regrets about this life and I know there is nothing left to be done but to attend to this moment. But the most fun part? The fact that life finally starts to feel like the frivolous game it always was.