Master was walking barefoot on his rounds of the village when a thorn pierced his feet. The insertion was deep so he had to hobble and stop. A carriage was called for. In the time it arrived, master sat beneath a tree and spoke thus:
“Physical pain as I experience today, is easy to see and rationalize. To an extent even emotional pain can be attributed to events. Existential pain or lack of connect with big life or purposelessness however is invisible, pervasive and causes great misery.
“Master, why do these pains exist?” A disciple wanted to know.
Physical pain is a tool for entity survival. Emotional pain is an aid for society or specie survival. Existential pain is nudge for the whole ecology survival. They are all alarm clocks to which our waking up is tuned. When we take action to lessen these pains we start to awaken.
“Physical and Emotional we understand, Master, please talk to us about existential pain and what causes it?” A recent convert wanted to know.
“True Self’s default mode is of being asleep. As real self is sleeping, ego gets to be in the driver’s seat. Have you seen a child draw a picture of a lion on a sheet of paper and then get scared of it. Ego works on the same false positive principle. We conceive of it first and then make it real by doing what it commands.
Now ego’s main need is validation (as it is fiction) and its grand strategy to secure that is material and power acquisition. More it can commoditize, accumulate, control, dominate, safer it feels. So it promises you pleasures and keeps pushing you into its web of drama and addictions. However ego’s game of thrones is a laced with a paradox.
So saying, the master paused for a moment to wipe the droplet of blood that had formed on his wound. Having cleaned that with a rag, he resumed;
“Ego’s drive of self crowning, results in our alienation from the environment and thus starts to cause existential pain. More ego drives us in our sleep, intense the existential pain becomes. You can take medication, seek more pleasure, philosophize, rationalize but the pain doesn’t recede. It continues unabated till you are forced to wake your true self up. So ego’s fear of its bluff being called out is a self fulfilling prophecy, owing to its own excess.”
“Master what is this true self awakening and how does one identify it?” Another disciple wanted to know.
“Self awakens or spiritual awakening, as the cure for ego caused existential pain, happens in three broad steps. They are identification, opening and expansion. You first start to identify ego based brokenness all around you. Earlier what used to suck you in its drama now starts to invite compassion from you. Slowly you start to realize that all broken people you see are merely a reflection of your own brokenness and what you were reacting to all along, was your own image. This realization makes you turn your compassion inside and thus starts the healing of your existential pain or your awakening from your sleep.
Next, as opening phase is reached and empathy for self and others take hold, all your complaining , controlling starts to recede. You start to become generous of spirit, humbler in outlook and start to feel more for others. In fact sometimes when you feel their existential pain, tears well up in your eyes for no reason. You begin to reduce expectations, give more, become kinder to others; even to animals. In fact you start to become, an Anti Ego Being (AEB) or the exact opposite of what all advertising and modern world wants you to be.
As awakening accelerates in the expansion phase, you stop the process of fight or flight from flow of life; you start to see all of its outcomes as expression of the big pattern. As you now increasingly align with impersonal truths, a universal understanding and acceptance starts to guide your actions. Also at this stage, as opposed to ego based, narrow pleasures, wisdom based pure joy starts to abound.
Ultimately and if taken to its end; awakening leads to enlightenment.
The carriage having arrived sometime back, was waiting for the master. As he got up with support of two of his disciplines, another disciple could not suppress his curiosity and asked
“And master what happens after enlightenment?”.
“You cut vegetables and clean the courtyard”, master smiled.