I once attended a meeting of a particular group who told me that before attaining enlightenment one must perform 10,000 prostrations before the Buddha.
The idea was that the prostrations humble the ego. The funny thing is, this reminded me of the Buddha in the forest before enlightenment, undergoing severe rituals, before he realised the folly of such a path.
You see, rather than subordinate the ego, 10,000 prostrations reinforces the ego and accomplishes two of it’s primary goals;
- Bring about the idea of progression and achievement. Rise higher in the ranks of the spiritually enlightened ones.
- Put off awakening indefinitely.
Why does the ego want to postpone awakening?
Because awakening is the death of the ego. The ego wants to continue as a separate entity, in control and pursuing it’s own destiny.
The truth is there never was a separate entity, nothing was in control (read that both ways) and there was no personal destiny to pursue.
If you’re still here, well done, your ego/mind wanted to leave the conversation there.
Let’s be clear: a spiritual path is a great way to feed the ego, with accomplishment, community, perhaps “spiritual” gifts, self-esteem, prestige, maybe even grooviness and a certain cool factor.
Up to a point, the point when (and if) the ah-ha moment comes and the ego is annihilated.
Then the idea of a person collapses and all of those things, the whole, are seen to be a story. Whoops, apocalypse. This can be a great shock. Eckhart Tolle talked of sitting on park benches for two years staring at sunsets. Ramana Maharshi is said to have been chewed on by rats as he sat immobile.
No wonder the ego would rather consider itself on a near infinite path to enlightenment than to realise it is right here, right now. It’s like a condemned prisoner preferring to be at the start of a lengthy series of appeals than in the execution chamber. No surprises there!
And yet, and yet…
There is nothing to fear. It would be like the character in a dream fearing the awakening of the dreamer (interestingly, for the most part the dreamed character is never aware of the dreamer). The analogy has been used before but it bears repeating (and playing with).
When we are dreaming we have a localised point of view and the dream-world obeys rules and laws, even if, upon awakening these rules and laws seem absurd or illogical.
It is boundless love that we collapse into. Boundless love that we are. Boundless love is all that is.