When we started What Is Enlightenment? in 1991, I
had no idea that it would become such an important vehicle for
the promulgation of new thought. Originally it began as a small
journal focused primarily upon the evolution of my own teaching
and distributed mainly to friends and supporters. After about
three years, though, I decided, along with a handful of my
students, to take the plunge and put out a real magazine. The
thrust and development of WIE has for the most part
been based on my own ongoing inquiry into the meaning and
significance of the spiritual experience.
Early on in my career as a spiritual teacher, I found out the
hard way that while the mystical truth of existence discovered
in the experience of revelation is ultimately simple,
living that simplicity amid the complexity and
hard-core reality of human life is truly the ultimate challenge.
Indeed, it was through endeavoring to make deep sense out of my
own life and the lives of my students in light of that
simplicity that the ongoing inquiry behind WIE was born.
You see, I had always believed, as I had been taught, that the
revelation of that simplicity itself was the answer to
every question. But I found out that that wasn't necessarily
true. I had been born a baby boomer, in the middle of the
twentieth century, a time of great upheaval and change. And like
so many others of my generation, I grew up in a secular
household, had no traditional religious training whatsoever, and
was left to my own devices morally, philosophically, and
ethically. A lost soul in my early twenties, I turned to Eastern
mysticism and the promise of enlightenment for salvation.
Inspired by a brief, powerful experience of higher consciousness
a few years earlier, I knew that an answer actually existed.
When I finally found it at the age of thirty, I thought it was
Actually, it was just the beginning. Enlightenment is
simple. It is the mind-shattering revelation that all is One and
One is all. That everything is ultimately none other than that
mystical and mysterious ground of Being—that
Nothingness that is Everything. The direct experience of this
ultimate of mysteries liberates the mind from time and frees the
soul from fear. It sets the stage for human life to express
itself, to manifest its incredible creative potential in a way
that is authentic and free. But what is the moral,
philosophical, and ethical context in which that
creative potential and authentic freedom will arise? Because we
live in a time when so many of us have left the past and all its
traditions behind, where are we to look for answers to life's
most basic and important questions? The revelation of
non-duality—that all is One and One is all—in and of itself does not answer the question of how to live,
how to make sense out of the human experience in the midst of a
rapidly changing world—a world in which so many of us
have left all guidelines behind.
I found myself in a challenging yet incredibly exciting
position. I had found the ultimate answer—nonduality—but like so many of my
generation, had no solid ethical, philosophical or moral ground
in which it could root itself. And because we were nearing the
latter portion of the twentieth century, when the world I was
living in was changing at a faster and faster rate, I knew I
could no longer look to the past in order to find out how to
live a human life. I had to find the answers for
myself. And it was this very inquiry that led to the birth
of What is Enlightenment?
So for the last eight or nine years, I have spent many,
many, many hours with a select group of
students/co-conspirators—sitting around a table in a
crowded office, sweating bullets in a sauna, grooving in a
rented villa in the South of France, jammed in a van on the way
to the airport, huddled together in a café in Bangalore,
Paris, or New York—in the incredibly precious, deeply
focused, one-pointed practice of spiritual inquiry. And this
inquiry always, sooner or later, brings those elusive gems of
wisdom and understanding that, in this crazy time in which we
find ourselves, reveal how to live a human life in a way that
makes the deepest sense.
What many people are astonished to discover is the simple fact
that the evolution of the magazine has literally been the
expression of the evolution of my and my students' understanding
in real time. In other words, What Is
Enlightenment?'s inquiry is a living
inquiry. The questions that we have explored and will continue
to explore are, for the most part, ones to which we don't
already know the answers. The questions we have asked are
the big ones. Why? Because we want to know! Because we
want to know how to make sense of the human experience in the
context of authentic spiritual enlightenment in the twenty-first
century. Grounded in the revelation of nonduality, we want to
know how to live in this unique time in history,
informed by a passion for evolution and transformation.
The results of a truly open-minded, passionate, and inspired inquiry
are potentially revolutionary. And that revolution—a
radical transformation of the individual and culture—is what this endeavor is dedicated to.
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