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LATEST DIALOGUES The Path of no Path

no-pathSpiritual teachers with non-dual leanings say that there is no path to enlightenment. There is nowhere to get to; you are already enlightened, you just do not know it. There is no need for a technique or practice; they will only keep your mind trapped in the illusion of relative phenomena. Do not meditate; do nothing.

There certainly is a profound truth embedded in such statements. When awakening occurs, there is the realization that there really was nowhere else to get to, no higher state of consciousness to achieve. The world remains as it is, and your experience remains as it is. What shifts is your relationship to experience, or rather your non-relationship to it. The identification with a constructed sense of self is no longer there. “You” are not thinking, seeing, breathing; thinking, seeing, and breathing are just occurring. It is obvious that it always was this way; but all our wanting, striving, clinging, avoiding, and self-identification obscured this simple fact.

In this sense there is nothing to do. The very opposite: it is our doing that is the problem. When we let go of all attachments as to how things should or could be, we wake up to the truth of what is. Even the word enlightenment is misleading; it implies some other, “higher”, state of consciousness. This is what makes the statement “you are already enlightened” so confusing, But to say you are already awake, but not awake to your own wakefullness, or you are already aware, but not fully aware of awareness, makes more sense.

From the awakened perspective, it is true that there is nowhere to get to. This is why many teachers say: Do nothing. Stop. Don’t meditate. Don’t try and get somewhere other than you already are. There is nowhere to go. Nothing to do. There is no path.

And yet… Many of these teachers did tread a path. Some spent years investigating the true nature of our apparent “I-ness”. Others followed a path of total surrender, or a deep deconstruction of experience. My own glimpses of the truth have come in periods of deep mediation, when the mind is totally relaxed and still. Then I see so clearly there is nowhere to get to. And yet, if had not followed a path that allowed me to drop into a deep stillness and let go of my habitual mode of experience, I would not have fully appreciated this truth.

So from the unawake perspective—which is where I am most the time, and probably most of you are most the time—there are paths to follow. And, until such time as they are no longer needed, the paths that help the most are those that develop the skill of letting go, allowing the mind to relax, releasing all effort, all trying to get somewhere. So, do not meditate an intent to reach some enlightened state of being. But do take time to let the “doing mind” die away, to sink into your own being. Take time to learn how to do nothing.

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Peter Russell is a fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, of The World Business Academy and of The Findhorn Foundation, and an Honorary Member of The Club of Budapest. At Cambridge University (UK), he studied mathematics and theoretical physics. Then, as he became increasingly fascinated by the mysteries of the human mind he changed to experimental psychology. Pursuing this interest, he traveled to India to study meditation and eastern philosophy, and on his return took up the first research post ever offered in Britain on the psychology of meditation. He has written several books in this area -- "The TM Technique," "The Upanishads," "The Brain Book," "The Global Brain Awakens," "The Creative Manager," "The Consciousness Revolution," "Waking Up in Time," and "From Science to God".

2 Responses to “The Path of no Path”

  1. November 28, 2014 at 1:34 am, Abhijit Dam said:

    The ancient Vedas have always held that there is divinity in all living beings… then what is the difference between an animal? Just that we are the same SELF on different stages of our evolutionary pathway; we are the Jivas blessed with the ability to discriminate, which sets us apart from animals, for we have evolved. Unfortunately, most of us do not utilise this unique oppourtunity called human birth to realise our true nature which is of the nature of Sat, Chit & Ananda. The day we realise our SELF, we transcend the lives of birth & rebirth and attain Moksha.

  2. October 27, 2018 at 1:50 pm, PeteAnanda said:

    I really like this article…I was just doing a little writing on the subject myself and the first half of what I wrote is almost identical to what you wrote 🙂 But the second half is different.

    I too treaded on these paths and had an event occur that I consider realization of the self. But I had nothing to do with it and I don’t think my practice had anything to do with the ultimate event itself. I do think however that the several decades of practice showed me these states temporarily as a wonderfully gentle introduction, i.e., the explosion of realization event wasn’t traumatizing because I was familiar with the mind states.

    Many people have had the self realization event without following a path of meditative training and for some of those it has been devastating…maybe some sailed right through…but I could see how it could be overwhelming with no background.

    I do not believe there is a path to self realization because my experience leads me to believe existence realizes someone when it does and that is that…the reason is a mystery.

    I do however believe that training in meditation and spiritual studies leads to a better life and allows you to experience some of those mind states, especially if you are sitting with someone already in them!

    Thanks for the article…


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