‘It’s sooooooo easy!’
Trying to figure out how to wake up can be extraordinarily frustrating, and my usual response on retreat to this frustration usually engenders laughter, but only in that it makes the frustration worse.
I know what the student is thinking, because I’ve been there: Well if awakening is so easy, or not dependent on how much effort we make, or how much practice we do, or is so ordinary and always the case it’s never not available, how come everyone isn’t awake then? Or more importantly (screw everyone else) why am I not awake now?!
So then I go on to explain not just why it so easy, but how it is so easy.
But first of all I have to admit my claim that it’s easy isn’t quite right; awakening is sooo easy it’s not even easy! To even talk about easy and hard is to imply effort is somehow involved, when it isn’t.
(Of course, to make sense of how to wake up, we must first understand participation. Nothing else will do it. If you haven’t already, you should read The #1 secret to making sense of awakening (no one has heard of) at least once. Don’t worry if you haven’t full grasped participation yet; what I’m about to say will only help in understanding what I’ve said before.)
The fact that reality is a generative hierarchy of equal participation means that through the sheer fact of how reality is, growth just happens all by itself.
Two key words to keep in mind: effortless growth.
This effortless growth happens through participation in the greater reality that is already complete or total. The lesser shares in the greater, the greater shares in the lesser.
It’s a given.
This greater universal reality is always present and something you already participate in, at all times.
Effortless growth inside a universal reality.
Like a baby in a womb; or a seed in the earth.
Compare this with the assumption behind the frustration:
This universal reality is absent, and you want to know how to make it present.
It’s a nonstarter: a radically incorrect assumption about your relationship with reality, and the nature of awakening.
It makes sense then that if you are trying to get rid of an absence, you will always struggle and fail, because you can’t get rid of something that isn’t there.
We could call this a contraction in ignorance. It leads nowhere.
It’s the opposite of a growth in awakening.
Frustration and failure is not a part of the progress of the psyche in the wisdom.
It sounds silly to spell it out like this, but failure is not a part of success.
Failure is failure. Success is success.
If you are feeling frustrated, you might think it has something to do with awakening, but you are in fact doing something else entirely.
You’ve made a case of mistaken identity.
Farming is an archaic analogy for understanding awakening.
A farmer does not wander about desperate to know how to get rid of an absence of crops.
Or sneaking about his fields suspecting the crops are there all along, he just hasn’t seen them yet.
This is not farming.
Farming is the tending of plants that grow all by themselves. The growth is effortless. The farmer does not have to physically stretch the plants. No sweat is required for growth.
The necessary growth essential to farming is sooo easy! It’s actually beyond effortless, it’s a given.
However, the farmer must tend the growing plants to ensure a good yield; the farmer must cultivate what is effortlessly growing with a degree of excellence to ensure the crops don’t fail due to disease or for lack of the right growing conditions.
And this is where we find the effort of farming: cultivation.
Cultivation means to tend a growing seed by removing any pests or disease and by providing the best growing conditions.
The farmer never asks, ‘How am I going to make growth happen in my crops?’; rather, he asks, ‘What is the best way of growing my crops?’
Let’s translate the analogy:
You have a seed that is growing: the beholding of a greater reality that participates in the psyche, and vice versa.
This is awakening, and it is always happening, effortlessly.
But is it a seed, a seedling, a shoot, or a mature crop?
It takes time to grow a crop, but the amount of time can vary depending upon the quality of the cultivation. Crops will always pass through the same stages of growth, but how fast is down to the care of the farmer, how problems such as disease and pests are dealt with (if at all) and the quality of the growing conditions.
Awakening is a process of effortless growth that takes time and goes through predictable stages, but what kind of a growth is it?
And in terms of how long it takes, what would be the equivalent of disease and the ideal growing conditions?
This is your crop
The growth of awakening is a movement from a false beholding of an appearance of reality to a true beholding of the reality of appearance.
This movement has four stages:
Ignorance: this is mistaking the appearance of reality to be reality, without even being aware there is a problem. The darkness of the seed.
Belief: this is having both right and wrong opinions about the appearance, but with no understanding as to why those opinions might be right or wrong. The reaching towards the light of the seedling, whilst still remaining in the dark.
Understanding: this is making sense of why your opinions about the appearance are right or wrong, but without knowing why it makes sense. The shoot breaking into the light.
Wisdom: this is beholding the nature of the appearance for the first time - actual knowledge of the appearance as an appearance - and the culmination of the process of awakening to the reality of the appearance in question. The mature plant producing seed - which is the benefit of growing the crop (food) and the beginning of the next growth cycle. (Remember what we said about the generative hierarchy? Here it is again.)
Wisdom takes time and a stage can’t be skipped; no use expecting a seed to magically produce another seed.
You can’t grow by desperately trying to avoid growing.
But the time it takes to grow wisdom isn’t about a quantity of time, but the quality, because the growth is literally moving through the four stages.
And this is how you tend awakening
If growth is seeing an appearance for what it really is, then we must tend to seeing appearance for what is: the reality of appearance.
It’s that simple.
This is daily esoteric contemplation.
Problems in growth must then be wrong beliefs that keep us from progressing through the stages. We can remove these diseases or pests by seeing them for what they are.
This is regular dialectic contemplation.
The frustration of trying to deal with the absence of reality - the assumption behind asking ‘how do I wake up?!’ - is an example of a problem in growth.
You may notice that knowing this isn’t enough to prevent you from continuing to make the same error. And that’s because all you’ve learnt is a right opinion. This is stage 2 in seeing the appearance for what it is.
In order to resolve the problem for good, we need to see directly why this opinion makes sense, before finally seeing the truth of the appearance (or attaining wisdom in regards to this problem).
And this is why we need a way of knowing and a discipline such as dialectic contemplation to resolve these kinds of problem for good.
And the optimum conditions for growth?
A tradition of farming; the transmitted or shared knowledge of a master farmer; fertile soil; an abundant water source.
In other words: a Cascade Retreat.
The right question
So the question isn’t ‘How do I wake up?’, but ‘How am I waking up?’
Knowing the right question to ask means we are now able to appreciate excellence in cultivation when it comes to awakening.
And we can see the fields are full of failing crops.
However, the right question also allows us to understand why these crops are poor and how we can do a better job of cultivation.
Many crops suffer slow growth for lack of attention. The basics of gardening can be mastered with esoteric contemplation.
Some are failing to flourish due to pests and disease; easily resolved with a good dose of dialectic contemplation.
Learn both here.
Some shoots have broken the surface but are yet to produce a yield without the ideal growing conditions.
Well, reaping what you have sown is so easy on a Cascade Retreat, it’s not even easy.