The Missing Piece Part 4: How to spot the fatal flaw in any teaching

It’s an absurd image: a farmer wandering his fields wondering how to get rid of an absence of crops.

Or sneaking about suspecting the crops are already there, he just hasn’t seen them yet.

In our last instalment (How to wake up without being confused) we used an agricultural analogy to help us relate to the process of waking up.

By using the analogy we can see the correct way to relate to our subject; but the greatest virtue of using the analogy is in the images that result from seeing how not to relate to awakening.

An illustration of the absurdity of ignorance or false beliefs is far more instructive and compelling than simply seeing what one should do, which naturally follows anyway once the absurdity is obvious.

If we want to know if a teaching is an accurate understanding of reality and, more importantly, whether or not the instruction is detrimental to our progress, we can revisit one analogy in particular to bring the nature of the teaching into sharp relief.

Dealing with an absence 

If what we care about is seen to be absent, then we don’t want our present condition to stick around, and our goal - achieving what we care about - lies somewhere in the future.

It makes sense that if what we care about is absent, we literally don’t care about what is present.

What is present is simply a means to an end.

What is present is something we must use to get to where we are going.

And if the goal is all we care about, then it doesn’t matter how we get there, just so long as we do.

This is what it means to be practical.

At all costs

In an earlier instalment we introduced the analogy of the lover and beloved as a way to understand the relationship between the psyche and reality. 

Each shares in love with the other, and the love grows effortlessly (again, a generative hierarchy of equal participation). This is what it means to be ideal.

There can be milestones that are both celebrated and anticipated in falling in love: the first time you tell each other how you feel, the first kiss, the first time you have sex, building a home together, getting married, maybe even having children.

But all of these milestones or big events are simply a way of taking this growth in love to the next level, not the other way round.

Imagine going on a date with someone who announces they want to get married at all costs, because that’s how you fall in love.

Like someone announcing they want to wake up at all costs, because that’s how you get to know reality.

You can’t buy love, but you can rent it for 3 minutes

Consider a customer with a prostitute. 

It looks like love, but he is prostituting himself by using her for sex, and she is prostituting herself by using him for cash. 

It’s a practical appearance of love, and a reciprocal relationship.

They will never even tell each other they are in love, let alone get married, because neither is possible.

They are both using each other, and being used, as a means to an end.

The goal is all that matters, and the other person is just someone who must be used to get there.

Pimp and Prostitute

If our reality is seen to be unsatisfactory - what we care about is absent - then we cannot help but relate to our reality as a means to an end.

We don’t want our reality to stick around; we want this unsatisfactory reality to give way to the future reality we imagine. 

Our current reality is a means to an end, to be used up in the pursuit of awakening.

Now if lover and beloved is a perfect analogy for the relationship between psyche and reality, we can see that any practical strategy for achieving awakening is by its very nature an instruction to treat reality as a means to an end.

This means prostituting your beloved.

You’re a pimp.

Of course, being reciprocal, to follow a practical instruction you must also prostitute yourself for awakening.

And so reality is now your pimp, treating you as a prostitute as well.

It goes both ways, and explains a lot about the experience of ‘dryness’ or ‘the dark night of the soul’ or the ‘stages of suffering’ recognised by practical traditions as a necessary part of the process of waking up.

If you treat reality as whore, reality treats you the same.

It should be obvious you cannot fall in love by prostituting yourself or your beloved, and you will never even kiss let alone have children.

Pimping out your beloved is not a necessary stage in falling in love. If the process of awakening is a struggle, it’s a result of being practical - and therefore a failure in understanding the nature of the process of awakening - which is the opposite of the ideal nature of the growth you share in.

Prostitution is a practical appearance of love, meaning it is the opposite of love itself.

Practical instructions are a practical appearance of awakening, meaning they are the opposite of awakening itself.

Practicality is then based on false belief.

Ideal instructions

If we are being practical, we are using a strategy of false belief to escape the absence of what we care about.

If we are being ideal, we are using a way of knowing to participate in the presence of what we care about.

Opposites.

Esoteric contemplation is ideal practice, and we can even use the beloved analogy itself for our contemplation. Instructions for this are given in the Master Class video series available to students.

How to spot the fatal flaw in any teaching

Because a strategy of false belief is not a way of knowing, there is an extraordinarily simple way to identify one from the other.

Here’s an example:

‘Practice [insert meditation technique] for 2 hours a day for 10 years and you can expect to go through various stages - some good, some bad - with [insert number of] awakenings. If you have a bad period, don’t make any big decisions and take lots of walks. If you suspect you have had an awakening, don’t rush to any conclusions and leave it for a year or two.’

You will agree this is a great appearance of knowing all about awakening. Lots of descriptions and advice.

Here’s another appearance of knowing with advice:

‘There are no stages and awakening is sudden. You must give up seeking, and then you will discover there is no awakening and no one to wake up.’

However, these appearances fall apart when we ask a simple question:

Why?

Why is reality such that awakening is this way?

Why does awakening even exist in the first place?!

Why are we even here at all?!!

The best a pimp can offer in response: ‘Dunno’, ‘Who cares as long as it works?’, ‘It’s a mystery,’ or ‘[insert pop-psychology/quantum physics/nondual fudge].’

Remember, practicality only gives the appearance of the real thing; if the teaching is ideal, it provides a way of knowing for you to make sense of reality in its totality, that you can share in together with the person offering instruction.

No guessing, no believing, no faith required, no doubting; just the certainty of seeing for yourself.

See for yourself

Don’t be a pimp.

Or a whore.

Master contemplation, and come on the Cascade retreat.