This is just what I needed to read:
All the promises we have heard are pure seduction. We expect the teachings to solve all our problems; we expect to be provided with magical means to deal with our depressions, our aggressions, our sexual hangups. But to our surprise we begin to realize that this is not going to happen. It is very disappointing to realize that we must work on ourselves* and our suffering rather than depend on a savior or the magical power of yogic techniques. It is disappointing to realize that we have to give up our expectations rather than build on the basis of our preconceptions.
We must allow ourselves to be disappointed, which means the surrendering of me-ness, my achievement. We would like to watch ourselves attain enlightenment, watch our disciples celebrating, worshipping, throwing flowers at us, with miracles and earthquakes occurring and gods and angels singing and so forth. This never happens. The attainment of enlightenment from ego’s point of view is extreme death, the death of self, the death of me and mine, the death of the watcher. It is the ultimate and final disappointment. Treading the spiritual path is painful. It is a constant unmasking, peeling off layer after layer of masks. It involves insult after insult.
Such a series of disappointments inspires us to give up ambition. We fall down and down and down, until we touch the ground, until we relate with the basic sanity of earth. We become the lowest of the low, the smallest of the small, a grain of sand, perfectly simple, no expectations. When we are grounded, there is no room for dreaming or frivolous impulse, so our practice at last becomes workable. We begin to learn how to make a proper cup of tea, how to walk straight without tripping. Our whole approach to life becomes more simple and direct, and any teachings we might hear or books we might read become workable. They become confirmations, encouragements to work as a grain of sand, as we are, without expectations, without dreams.
[Excerpted from The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation, by Chögyam Trungpa. (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1976.) As included in The Basket of Tolerance by Adi Da Samraj.]
* See question #1 below.
Questions we might ask:
- For students of Adi Da: Adi Da perhaps wouldn’t tell people to “work on themselves” using those words, but he might speak of the need for one’s search to fall apart, or the need for personal responsibility. Does this resonate with CTR’s comment?
- What is your experience of disappointment?
- What do you think of this: “Treading the spiritual path is painful. It is a constant unmasking, peeling off layer after layer of masks. It involves insult after insult.”