Friday, 18 December 2009

See You On The Other Side

Got an add on Facebook the other day. The guy put a personal message in with his friend request, and it went something like this..

"Ciaran, you are an asshole. What's happen to your blog? You haven't posted in months. Where's the next update?"

Of course I immediately accepted the request. I like him already.

And he's right, where is the blog? What's the status on the experiment? Why haven't you posted?

Well, here's the deal.

I stopped the experiment because it was obviously not working. It was having an effect, but not the one I was looking for.

I could launch into what that effect is, why is was and what I'm doing now, but that brings me to why I stopped the blog.

There's a lot of people in the world, in this crazy blog-happy planet, who are more than happy to churn out their opinions, thoughts and ideas for the consumption of a hungry netweb.

And if opinion were all there were, I would continue to be happy to join in. But as I peel the layers on this onion we call reality I am increasingly convinced that this is not the case.

Simply put, there's something out there. Something really real, something very strange and potent, a place where all the questions dissolve and the answers are not simply obvious, but have a thundering power that is all their own.

There also seems to be a way for a person to connect with that power in a way which is also very real. Or at least, there's enough evidence, circumstancial and otherwise, to make a serious investigation of this phenomenon worthwhile.

But here's the thing.

It's a bit like heisenburg's uncertainty principle - what you look at, you change. The thing that you examine changes with the act of your examining it.

I thought I could use this blog as a kind of explorer's journal, charting a journey which others might be able to follow, to a place where crazy dreams like saving the world might actually be possible.

But I became aware that the act of writing about these things was interfering with my ability to really come to grips with them. It's hard to explain, but it basically boils down to the fact that writing a blog in which I punch deep into the stuff I'm looking at knocks off my aim.

And there's another reason - I am not enlightened. I've had several experiences which chart up there with any description of satori that I've ever read, but nothing permanent.

I'm still lost, still blinded by the delusion that plagues us all. And the thing is this, boys and girls - if this shit I'm looking for isn't real, this blog is worth nothing. And if it is real, then until I've cracked it, I'm just another douchebag with an opinion.

My wife asked me the other day how I was getting on with all this and I replied by asking her if she'd seen the film Armageddon. Because there's this bit which I kind of remember - where Bruce Willis is sitting on an asteroid that's going to destroy Earth. He has to drill a hole in the asteroid so they can place the bomb in the centre of it, and break it apart before it hits. They have eight hours to drill to 1000 feet.

The captain of the mission turns to him and says "We've been here four hours. How deep have we got?" And Bruce Willis is all evasive, and like "Well, you know, I mean..." And the captain is like "How deep?" And again Willis is evasive, and then the captain shouts at him "HOW DEEP?" And Willis mutters, almost under his breath "80 feet."

The captain looks stunned, then he turns away, determined to detonate the bomb and at least give the people of earth some slim hope of survival. Then Bruce Willis stands up and says "I know it's bad, it's really bad. But goddamn it, I have been a driller for 20 years and I have never missed a depth, never, not once. I will drill that hole."

That's kind of how I'm feeling. Enlightenment is tough, don't let anyone tell you different. Oh sure, it's easy to mince around the place saying pseudo-profound things you've ripped off from Gandhi or Tolle, Maharshi or Maharaj, Christ or Buddha, Alan Watts or Obi Wan Kenobi.

And you can tell yourself that you believe them, hell, you can actually believe them 100% with every fibre of your being.

But it don't mean shit.

There is something here, goddamn it. Beyond all the bullshit, behind all the spiritual crap and philosophical circle-jerkery, there is something here. And I have never missed a depth in my life.

I may miss this one.

But I don't see anything around me in this world to break myself across that has the potential to change the world like this shit.

So once more into the breach.

I'm not going to be posting here until I feel I have something to report. That is to say, once I feel there's a serious case to be made for my own enlightenment. At this point, after a lot of false dawns, I'm pretty cynical - but that's good, because it means I have high standards, and won't get suckered in by every spiritual buzz I can pull out of my subconscious.

Well, fingers crossed.

So look - the blog stays up, and the mailing list stays open. Sign up on the side of the blog if you haven't already. The next time I post, God willing, I'll have something to say you won't want to miss.

Thanks for all of you who've stayed with me. Anyone who hasn't signed up, sign up now.

And to those of you out there who see this world the way I see it, yes, this is tough, and it can be scary and treacherous at times. Dangerous, heartbreaking, lonely - all these things. But good God - we are so lucky to be here, born in these broken times.

For all of human history, the truth of this thing has lain buried beneath power and theology, stifled by priests and philosophers, kings and dictators and mobs and motherfuckers. And yes, we live in a time where the beauty and moral simplicity of those days has gone, and it's a scary thing to spin through the shrill and toxic desolation of this, our neon world.

Much has been taken, and many of us - the overwhelming majority of us - face daily the gnawing truth that meaning itself is weakening and leaving us alone in the cold.

But guys look - if there never was any meaning, then we have lost nothing but our illusions. And if there is meaning and it is real, if there is something true and eternal, some great power which can be tapped to heal this world, then the shallow glittering hollowness of this world is the best fucking friend we could ever hope for.

Indeed, there is a legend of Buddha's upbringing which states that a god intervened in his life to shatter his illusions, shake his world view and take away his ability to be content.

Looks like that god went mainstream. Good.

So what are we left with?

We have an ocean of information at our fingertips. We can pull up the unedited back catalogues of the great spiritual masters from any computer in a matter of seconds. We have ourselves, and the answer embedded within us. And we have free time and Starbucks coffee shops to sit in so we don't get distracted by XBOX360s or Heat Magazine or whatever, if only for a brief while.

I am not a prophet, nor really a leader of any kind. If you're sitting back waiting on me to crack this, you're a fucking fool. My chances in this are impossible to calculate, but all I know is that better, smarter, wiser and deeper men than me have thrown their entire lives into this and have failed utterly.

But more than this, if you're sitting back waiting on me to crack this, you are a coward. Hide behind your excuses if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. It won't for long. If ignoring this shit was an option, I'd be front of the queue. It's not. One way or another you'll deal with the emptiness of this world. You can get all up in its grill and try to stop it, or you can bury your head in the sand and wait for it to find you. Either way, there are no spectators. Not anymore.

I am a grunt.

Stinking, unwashed, rude. If this shit is going to go down we need less people directing the fight, and more people bringing the pain. Less pie in the sky, more boots on the ground.

But then of course, we live in a big world. Six billion and counting. And I refuse to believe that I am unique. I think there are others who look at this like I do. It's probably all in my mind, but in my darkest moments when yet another beautiful and promising avenue of inquiry has led me into yet another brick wall, I refuse to believe that this is simply me against the night. That there are hundreds, maybe even thousands out there willing to throw themselves upon this problem. Maybe you are one of these people. Maybe you are not. But by the law of averages I think it unlikely that they do not exist. God, I hope they exist. Because if this shit is on me, we're more roundly fucked than Tiger Woods.

I leave you with this, it made me laugh out loud. I was reading Nisargadatta Maharaj's book 'I Am That' and I came across this bit in it where the interviewer (who is from India, presumably) asks Maharaj about Western culture, and how Western culture doesn't really have the idea of an enlightened person.

Maharaj tells the story of his own master who was asked "what about the enlightenment of those in the West who have no concept of enlightenment." He said "It is useless to try. Let them live useful lives and be reborn in India."

Which in a way, is an insult. And in another way, it is a joke.

But there is a deeper sense in which it is a challenge, a challenge I believe it is our duty to answer.

So, this is Ciaran signing off. I don't know how long it's going to take. Nisargadatta Maharaj is said to have cracked it in 3 years. Buddha is believed to have taken 49 days. Jesus, apparently, did it in 40.

That said, Buddha and Christ weren't going at it fresh, looks like they'd been trying to crack it for at least a couple of years before their 49 day / 40 day final stretch.

Shit guys, I don't know what is going to happen. I feel like I'm on the brink of cracking this, but I've felt that way for months now, and I always end up turning up nothing. But time and again, although I fail to hit the mark, I am increasingly persuaded that there is a mark to hit.
This isn't easy. I've done some serious stuff in my time, taken on some serious challenges, and this is right up there with the toughest stuff I've ever tried to do.

A lot of the time I'm haunted by doubts, by how ridiculous it is for a guy like me to even attempt this. But then I think about the pointlessness of anything else I might be doing.

I also am keenly aware of how much of what I do is motivated by my weakness, which has always been egotism, vanity. But then I think that no matter how base my motivations for walking this path, the real question is not what has brought me to this search, but whether this search is credible in and of itself. And it seems plain to me that it is.

And sometimes I think I'm just ridiculous and I should just get a real job.

And sometimes I'm reminded of how lacking I am in any of the traits needed to walk this path -- wisdom, genius, compassion, patience. But then it strikes me that those traits aren't requisites for this journey so much as part of the destination itself.
Which is to say, you don't need them to get there, you get them from going there. Or something.

But truth is, I have made real progress. That is to say, looking back about 6 months to a year ago I can't believe the shite I was sifting through. The shite I'm sifting through now is much better.

Will I share that progress with you and talk you through all the positive steps I've made?

Well therein lies the rub. Guys and girls - I have no business writing a blog about enlightenment when I am not enlightened. No matter how slick my stuff is, and no matter how much effort I piut into making it good, it can never rise above the general haze of information out there because it just isn't coming from a pure enough place.

I need to get this done, and then I think I'll be of use to my fellow man. Until then, I'm just one more voice in a hurricane of noise, as are we all. And what's worse - writing about this stuff, thinking about it and dressing it up in words is something that's only going to fuck my ability to actually crack it.

So this is goodbye for now.

There is something here, people. I intend to find it, and I know how ludicrious that sounds. As soon as I have something to tell you, I'll hit this blog, so if you want to keep your finger on the pulse, sign up for the mailing list on the sidebar if you haven't already done so. It will keep you immediately updated of any posts I put up.

Also, add me on Facebook if you want to, I announce all my blog updates (as well as general life stuff) there and I'll almost certainly accept you as I have appallingly low standards. Natch.

Good luck and godspeed, and I mean that especially to those dumb enough to be doing what I'm doing. If you are that stupid and you want to share experiences, ask questions about what I've learned so far, or lessons I've pulled from the 1000 Days experiment, feel free to ask.

I might even answer.

Stranger things have happened.

See you on the other side, you crazy motherfuckers.

Much love.