Present Tense


question“Enlightenment is a destructive process.
It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier.
Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth.
It’s seeing through the facade of pretense.
It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

From destruction comes growth.  We see it everywhere, in everything.  I live in the mountains where  we saw a devastating mountain pine beetle outbreak kill millions of trees.  We watched the trees turn from healthy green to brown to red; red means dead.  In order to mitigate the outbreak, many trees were clear-cut and hauled away.

Now, as I walk around the area I see new growth; hundreds of thousands of new little trees.  We see more of the mountain peaks that were obscured by the big trees before the outbreak.  From devastation comes growth and a new perspective.  Nature is an amazing teacher.

About 3 years ago, I began the process of trying to rebuild me. I felt decimated by some of my choices and there was nothing to do but dig around in the ashes and look for some building material.  In all honesty, I was hoping that my spiritual and religious quest would bring me comfort; a soft place to land.  I wanted something that would make my crappy choices ‘all better’.  Honestly, I think I was looking for a substitute for the self-medicating effects of alcohol that wouldn’t ruin my health or further damage my relationships.  That is not what I found.

I found that there is no soft place to land; at least not for me. Once I started deconstructing me and really delving into religion and spirituality, I developed some new perspectives.  These new perspectives forced a re-evaluation of the old perspectives and it turns out that there just isn’t enough storage in my hard drive to keep the old ones around.  Particularly since the old ones weren’t all that great to begin with.

It’s interesting to try and go back and remember why you formed an opinion to begin with. If we’re honest, a lot of us just picked up stuff from parents or teachers or friends or co-workers or some idiot media pundit.  A lot of our beliefs are passed down to us, like our eye or hair color.  It’s what we heard our whole lives and so we absorb it without question and then we add to it by finding others who reinforce those beliefs and we point to them and follow them and idolize them and say, “See? I was right all along”.

I was a typical opinion/belief/philosophy sponge until I realized that whatever was animating me wasn’t really working all that well.  Once you hit ‘rock bottom’ you gotta find a way out and in my case, that meant a bit of therapy, a lot of books on religion and spirituality and a slow awakening to how closed I was to other ways of seeing the world.

We are all very invested in our truths; our core beliefs that we ride like a life raft, through good times and bad.  It doesn’t make them right or valid; but they are comfortable and they’re ours.  What I began to see is that people who may not share my beliefs and opinions feel the same way about their life raft.  So, who’s right?

That’s the uncomfortable part, you see.  None of us are right.  None of us know what’s true.  We may believe that we do, but that’s a false premise because life is random and unpredictable and full of so many variables and unintended consequences.  There is no soft place to land; no marvelous truths that we can solely and unequivocally rely on.  Does that concept scare you or make you uncomfortable?  Or am I completely full of crap?

Doesn’t matter, really.  Life will unfold as it will, no matter what we believe is true.  And that’s okay……

January 19, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , ,


  1. You just gave voice to the travails that created the enlightenment of Gautama. That enligtenment did leave what we thought we knew in ruins. Sri Adyashanti is also clear on this. There is no soft place to land. But at the end of the day, the only thing destroyed is that which is actually not true. As painful as it tends to be, enlightenment leaves us with the bare truth. Were we not after that all along? You now know to be careful what you wish for. The truth may ruin your life.

    Comment by Greg | January 19, 2013 | Reply

  2. I think those of us who have hit a few bumps have come to the realization that the landing can be bumpy. Guess what, the grass isn’t always greener. There is not always the reward or good feeling we are looking for. Life is fun, hard, softly cuddly and cold and cruel. Happy landings.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd | January 19, 2013 | Reply

  3. Might I add another book to your reading list? “Only Don’t Know” by Seung Sahn You may have run across it in your voyage, or the author anyway, but it is a heady volume that boils everything you blogged down into digestible swallows. His other book, “Dropping Ashes on the Buddha,” is even rather humorous. Good luck in your travels…it sounds like you are well on your way to Knowing Nothing–the best place of all!

    Comment by Jen B | January 20, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks!
      Will check the library right now.

      Comment by janelondon | January 20, 2013 | Reply

  4. I think that once you realize that you don’t know everything your journey begins. It’s quite a wakeup call once you understand the assumptions you’ve had throughout your life and start questioning them. The sad thing is that some people never question their assumptions and stay the way they are all their lives. Good luck to all of us on our journey.

    Comment by Tania | January 20, 2013 | Reply

  5. I agree. I have been a Christian for many years now and all was well until the day I lost my mind. Then all the questions and doubts flooded in. It took therapy, pastoral counseling and medication to get me back on solid ground. But always in the back of my mind, the question remains, “what if I’m wrong?” But, I guess that’s why it’s called faith. And I hang onto that faith, and hope when the day comes, I did the right things.

    Comment by shellybelly12 | January 21, 2013 | Reply

    • Why go through life wondering? Accept that nobody knows and that’s okay. ‘Hanging on’ doesn’t seem very comforting to me. To be honest, your comment pretty much encapsulates my discomfort with and well…rejection of religion. Are you sure that ‘when you lost your mind’, you weren’t really awakened?:)
      Did I just make it worse?

      Comment by janelondon | January 21, 2013 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: