The 4 Scariest (But Secretly Wonderful) Steps Toward Enlightenment

The 4 Scariest (But Secretly Wonderful) Steps Toward Enlightenment3. Ego Annihilation

“There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.” 

-Ralph Marsten

This one is arguably the most painful. The death of the ego is no walk in the park. It is more like a walk through a dark night of the soul surrounded by an angry abyss that’s really just the small-minded version of you not wanting to lose what it feels is the essence of you: your ego.

But the ego is not the essence of you, and it never was. The real you is an interdependent cosmic force, an interconnected frequency, a unified cosmic agent going through the motions of being a mind-body-soul.

“But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Ego annihilation leads to the ashes from which the phoenix of the soul rises. But first there must be descent. There must be a tearing part, a burning down, a sacred disintegration. But the task of severance is a repentance. It speaks the language of vicissitude. It howls inside you like old night. It moves through you like fresh smoke. It is the blood of a full moon’s howl.

It is a cruel wheel spinning its cycle of animal angst, of species-crimson. It is in this moment. Here, at the crux of the cross, at the knot on the wood, where the crooked trees mock your martyrdom and all your ancestors can smell the scent of your heart’s full blossom, blinking in and out of the ether, screaming at you, “It is time! There may not be another life to love.”

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And so you descend. And so you cross the Rubicon of the self, bridging the gap between Man and Overman above the Existential Black Hole. And so you lose yourself in the blue smoke, in the loose shadows. You scream out like Yin. Your fists clinch like Yang. The fish feed on their tails. The snakes do the same. It’s like heaven and hell in your body.

People can smell the animal in you, the wild-self coming to life. Death hums a eulogy in the trees, and you die a small death: the exulting death of your ego. And then you’re quiet as a doll, vulnerable, astonished, and cataleptic from the fall. But now you’re a force of nature first, a person second. And the Earth has finally discovered its salvation: the awakened human soul.

 

4. Fearless Forgiveness

“In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Things will go on as they always have, getting weirder all the time.” 

–Robert Anton Wilson

Fearless forgiveness is scary because it is uncomfortable on an ontological level. It’s both a tearing down of the walls that protect us from the world and an unlocking of the prison door of our expectations.

When we tear down the walls, fear is paramount and must be faced, and that can be dreadfully uncomfortable. But like Farrah Gray said, “Comfort is the enemy of achievement.” So it behooves us to get uncomfortable. Like Neo waking up from the Matrix for the first time.

When we unlock the door to our prison, the way the world truly is despite us, and in spite of our expectations and worldview, becomes the harsh Desert of the Real, which only we can face and resolve for ourselves. But at least now we have the double-edged sword of fearless forgiveness to cut through all the red tape.

Forgiveness hurts because it is the ultimate letting go. It’s a deep, visceral acceptance of the way things are, regardless of our need for things to be a certain way. It’s a decisive shedding of the burden of what we cannot control. Tantamount to Buddhist non-attachment, fearless forgiveness is a reckoning of existential proportions that turns the tables on the concept of control itself. It gives us permission to authentically and sincerely go with the flow.

With fearless forgiveness it suddenly becomes okay that the game of life is “rigged,” because our fearlessness is a willingness to transform whatever negative, counterproductive, unhealthy shit gets thrown at us into something positive, progressive, and healthy. And our forgiveness is a giant sigh saying, “It’s okay.” It gives us the insurmountable courage to transform demons into diamonds, fear into courage, anger into strength, and disdain into compassion.

Fearless forgiveness is allowing ourselves to be intimate with the cosmos as it truly exists. Like Dōgen said, “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.” And intimacy with all things is just as likely to hurt as it is to feel good. But that is perfectly okay. It gives us permission to take the good with the bad, the unhealthy with the healthy, and the immoral with the moral. And then it gives us the courage to transform it all into our own amazing thing: art, adventure, love.

In the end, enlightenment is scary and painful, but it is so amazingly rewarding that it doesn’t even matter. As Camus said, “Life should be lived to the point of tears.” We must ride the fine-line between ecstasy and misery in order to enjoy the great mystery.

Question thyself, overcome thyself, forgive thyself, then rebirth thyself, ad infinitum, and the path toward enlightenment shall not elude you.

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Originally written by Gary ‘Z’ McGee

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