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Releasing the Unspeakable Glory of the Absolute

by Andrew Cohen

Shortly after I moved to northern California in the spring of 1989, I discovered what was wrong with the modern American spiritual scene. I found that the absolute necessity to put the call of the spiritual life and its demands above and beyond anything else if one truly wants to be free in this life was too great for most modern-day seekers. Indeed, the shocking degree of compromise that has become the status quo in the modern spiritual world hit me as never before. What had been a naive assumption on my part, that most seekers are true seekers—which means clearly understanding the price that has to be paid by any man or woman who wants to win true spiritual freedom in this life—was soon shattered. It became obvious that very few seekers and meditators take seriously the possibility of going all the way. In fact, it gradually became clear that for the vast majority of seekers, spiritual experience provides merely an escape from the mundane. The call from the Absolute—the call to go all the way—fueled by an enthusiastic willingness to give up anything in order to succeed seems to strike far too deeply into the solar plexus of many.

The call to liberation is an impersonal one. It is a call from the Absolute. A beckoning from the Self to the self. When that call is heard directly, even if only for a split second, uncensored by fear or time, in that second one knows everything. One recognizes, even if only for that brief instant, that only that is real and all else false. In that realization comes the understanding that attachment to and investment in that which has been recognized as being false, impermanent and unreal is ignorance, and causes bondage, suffering and potentially endless stagnation. The vision of unending liberation, that vast expanse without beginning or end, poses a great threat for the majority of seekers who still remain attached to the mirage of selfhood, and who more often than not choose to create the illusion of movement through gradually approaching no limitation by slow and always calculated incremental steps.

The call to awaken from the Self to the self is absolute by its very nature. How could it be otherwise? Those who are pure of heart, when recognizing this fact, do not object. But those whose investment in this world is still great experience the call of the Absolute as the ultimate threat to all that has come before and all that they hope will be in the future. The response to the uncompromising nature of the call from the Absolute in the individual who is still attached to this life is experienced as a deep, visceral NO!

Little do they know that the joy experienced when giving spiritual evolution the highest priority is extraordinary! Allowing oneself to embrace a life without compromise and free from pretense is utterly liberating in its depth and singularity. Like none other, it enables the individual to give their full and undivided attention to the destruction of all that is false, wrong and untrue. The individual who has taken the bold step of leaving the world and all the compromise that it represents behind in order to completely and irrevocably destroy the very seeds of that compromise in themselves, when successful, often becomes the enemy of the source of that compromise. The source of that compromise is, in the collective/individual mind, a fundamental and deeply existential fear of dissolution, nonexistence and insignificance. It represents an absolute and final loss of freedom for the false and limited notion of self. This fear, which usually remains unconscious and unquestioned, causes the individual to blindly adhere to fixed notions about the nature of reality, including shallow and destructive notions of a personal self that almost always serve to create a world where profound evolution becomes impossible and the law of the spirit is one of stagnation.

The modern spiritual world is in many ways in a similar condition. In spite of the fact that more and more people seem to be expressing interest in the spiritual dimension of life, the deeper layers of the fundamental attachment to time and history usually remain largely untouched. Most revealing about the time we are living in is that even now, when one dares to consider without reservation the deepest implications of the uncompromising call of the Absolute, that individual often becomes suspect in the minds of many. And when one not only considers the implications of that call but dares to respond to it unconditionally, thereby stepping outside the collective norm, one is often viewed with suspicion, fear and sometimes even hatred, not only by society at large, but also by those who profess deep interest in the spiritual life themselves.

The spiritual status quo of the time we are living in shies away from extremes for fear of making the same mistakes that many have made in the recent past—either by becoming too intimately involved with charismatic and too often corrupt spiritual leaders, or by allowing oneself to take the call of the Absolute so seriously that one would begin to neglect more worldly concerns in a way that would be considered irresponsible. This is understandable. But the fact is, the Absolute cares not for our fears or our worldly concerns! The true Self cares only about itSelf. The degree to which we are willing to allow ourselves to respond to Its call is the degree to which the explosive power of Truth and Love, unrestrained by the status quo, will make itself known in this world. Liberated from the grips of the visceral no, that power reveals itself to be a hurricane of destruction leaving in its wake only perfect peace and unqualified harmony. When the spiritual status quo of any time is allowed to remain anything less than one of constant and permanent revolution of body, mind and soul, the inevitable result has to be the suppression of the very force of life itself.

In the time we are living in, as in the past and as always will be, unless we are willing to take enormous risks, unless we are willing to step outside of and beyond the status quo, unless we are willing to respond fearlessly and wholeheartedly to the call from the Absolute, the unspeakable glory of our own true nature will remain locked within the forbidden depths of our own heart.


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This article is from
Our Modern Spiritual Predicament Issue


More articles and interviews about similar subjects:
Contemporary Spirituality

Spiritual Awakening