JED McKENNA

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CHAPTER 34

JED McKENNA

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JED McKENNA:Question: You seem to use a lot of quotations from Jed McKenna, who isn’t a real person – or at least that’s not his real name. Do you think he’s actually for real?

Answer: I  said  Robert  Scheinfeld  stopped  along  his  path  as  a  scout.  I  think  Jed McKenna also stopped at a certain point to write his Enlightenment Trilogy. He claims to have emerged from the cocoon as a butterfly… “All that scorched-earth wandering wasn’t the end, it was just the beginning. JED McKENNA:I still  had  my  own  personal  deconstruction  to  do,  which  is  how  I  spent  almost  the  next  two  years,  until  I  got  to  a  place  called  Done….  My  reality  now  is  the  awakened,  untruth- unrealized state… I spent the next ten years trying to make sense of this new world; a  non-world in which a non-I nevertheless seemed to reside.”1 …but I don’t know whether that’s true, for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t believe it’s possible for Jed to write his three books without stopping in the cocoon and delaying the  final  transformation  into  a  butterfly. JED McKENNA: Maybe  in  the  years  after  he  finished  his  last book, he went on to become a butterfly. That’s entirely possible, since we’ve never heard from him again. Reason Two… well, I’ll get to that. First I’ll answer your question. When  I read  The Enlightenment  Trilogy by Jed  McKenna  the  first  time  through,  I knew immediately this man – whoever he really was – was totally authentic. He had to have actually experienced what he was writing about or he couldn’t use those words and describe his condition so perfectly. I knew here was a man – another scout – who stood in full  view  of  the  Pacific  Ocean;  and  he  was  expressing  the  very  same  thoughts  and feelings  I  have  come  to  know  can  only  be  thought  and  felt  when  one  has  reached  this point along the journey. For example…. “I am here, live, on the scene, and I have chosen to describe it as I see it. I don’t  defer. I don’t rely. If what I describe conflicts with the ten-thousand other reports – no  matter how revered those reports and those who filed them may be – then to me those  reports  are  nothing  more  than  fable  and  folklore  and  should  be  consigned  to  the  dustheap  of  history.  The  simple  fact  is  that  I am  here and  ‘here’ doesn’t  look  all  that  much  like  anyone  says  it  does  and  I’m  not  going  to  waste  my  time  or  anyone  else’s  pretending otherwise.JED McKENNA: It should be noted that ‘here’ isn’t mist-enshrouded or poorly lit.  It’s  neither  mysterious  nor  mystical.  My  knowledge  is  unflawed  and  my  vision  is  unobstructed. This is a tricky point to make, but a critical one. I am not interpreting. I am  not translating. I am not handing something down that was handed down to me. I’m here,  now, telling you what I see in the most straightforward possible terms.” “It’s very simple…. Enlightenment is truth-realization. Not only is truth simple, it’s  that which cannot be simpler; cannot be further reduced.” “Enlightenment isn’t when you go there, it’s when there comes here. It’s not a place  you visit and then remember wistfully and try to return to. It’s not a visit to the truth, it’s

the  awakening  of  truth  within  you.  It’s  not  a  fleeting  state  of  consciousness,  it’s  permanent truth-realization. It’s not a place you visit from here, this is a place you visit  from there.” “The  enlightened  view  life  as  a  dream,  so  how  could  they  possibly  differentiate  between  right  and  wrong  or  good  and  evil?  How  can  one  turn  of  events  be  better  or  worse than another? Of what real importance is anything in a dream? You wake up and  the dream is gone as if it never was. All the characters and events that seemed so real  have  simply  vanished.  The  enlightened  may walk  and talk  in the  dreamworld, but  they  don’t mistake the dream for reality.” “The  truth,  though,  is  that  nothing  is  really  wrong.  Nothing  is  ever  wrong  and  nothing can be wrong. It’s not even wrong to believe that something is wrong. Wrong is  simply  not  possible….  If  something  isn’t  wrong,  then  nothing  needs  to  be  made  right,  which would mean that nothing needs to be done.” “The  enlightened  have  awakened  from  the  dream  and  no  longer  mistake  it  for  reality.  Naturally,  they  are  no  longer  able  to  attach  importance  to  anything.  To  the  awakened mind the end of the world is no more or less momentous than the snapping of a  twig. ‘The wise see the same in all,’ says the Gita. ‘The wise are impartial,’ says the Tao.  The enlightened  cannot conceive  of anything as being wrong, so they don’t struggle to  make things right. Nothing is better or worse, so why try to adjust things?” “Once you get past the notion that duality (by any name) is ‘bad’ and unity (by any  name) is ‘good,’ you also get past any need to ‘help’ or ‘save’ anyone. I, for instance,  don’t do what I do because I think it needs doing. I am moved by no ethical or altruistic  motive. I don’t think something is wrong and that I have to make it right. I don’t do it to  ease suffering or to liberate beings. I do it simply because I’m so inclined.” “I heard that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was very happy with his reclusive life in the  foothills  of  the  Himalayas  and  may  never  have  rejoined  society,  but  that  he  began  hearing  the  name  of  an  Indian  city  in  his  head. JED McKENNA:It  simply  appeared  unbidden  in  his  thoughts. When he finally mentioned it to someone, they advised that the only way to get  the name of the town out of his head was to go there. He did, got swept into a speaking  engagement,  and  the  whole  Transcendental  Meditation  movement  grew  out  of  it.  That  makes sense to me. You observe events and you allow the flow of things to do the steering  and you go where you go.” “Fear,  regardless  of  what  face  it  wears,  is  the  engine  that  drives  humans  as  individuals and humanity as a species. Simply put, humans are fear-based creatures. It  may  be  tempting  to  say  that  we  are  equal  parts  rational  and  emotional,  balanced  between left and right brain, but it’s not true. We are primarily emotional and our ruling  emotion is fear…. Fear of the hollow core. Fear of the black hole within. Fear of non- being. Fear of no-self. The fear of no-self is the mother of all fears, the one upon which  all others are based. JED McKENNA:No fear is so small or petty that the fear of no-self isn’t at its heart.  All fear is ultimately fear of no-self.” “This trajectory I’m on will take me as close to non-existence as anyone can get and  still have a body. In other words, I will continue to channel progressively less and less  energy into my dreamstate being, my teaching will reduce down to its most refined and  least  tolerant  form,  my  interest  will  withdraw  from  the  world,  and  I  will  become  as  minimal as a person can be.”

“I  had  spent  years  as  a  closet  butterfly  moping  around  with  caterpillars  and  dreaming highly fictionalized dreams of becoming a butterfly. I knew that I was distinctly  different  from  the  caterpillars.  I  knew  that  an  uncrossable  chasm  separated  us,  that  I  wasn’t one of them anymore, that they weren’t like me nor I like they. I knew I was able  to communicate with them only in the most superficial sense based on my rapidly fading  memories of their language and habits. What it took me a while to understand, though,  was that the reason I wasn’t one of them anymore was because I was something else, and  that  the  difference  was  absolute.  I  had  earned  admission  to  a  whole  new  reality  but  I  hadn’t yet passed into it because no one explained to me that this new order of being I  had become was what caterpillars meant when they said ‘butterfly.’” “And  then,  one  day,  there  it  is.  Nothing.  No  more  enemies,  no  more  battles.  The  sword that seems welded  to your hand can now be dropped, once  your fingers can be  pried from it. There’s nothing left to contend against and nothing left that must be done,  and there will never be anything that must be done ever again.” “Enlightenment  isn’t  like  graduating  high  school  only  to  start  college,  or  even  finishing  college  to  enter  the  ‘real’  world.  It’s  the  final  graduation.  No  more hunt,  no  more chase, no more battle. Now you can go out in the world and do whatever you want;  learn guitar, jump out of airplanes, write books, tend grapes, whatever.” * * These quotes are from just the first few pages of Book One, Spiritual Enlightenment:  The Damnedest Thing, and there are three books in all – definitely worth the read. That  being said, it  is also clear  to  me  Jed and I took different  routes to  get  to  the same place, which results in a disagreement on several key points. I want to discuss those in  some  detail,  mainly  to  let  you  know  different  scouts  will  have  different  ways  of expressing the path, and that Jed and I are not 100% in agreement except about the end result. For  example,  his  underlying  tone  when  discussing  Human  Children  is  one  of judgment and criticism for being asleep within the dreamstate.JED McKENNA: “Human Childhood is petty and fearful and grating…. it’s a hideous affliction.” Jed  obviously  does  not  share  the  concept  of  the  movie  theater  being  intentionally designed to create limitation and restriction. If he did, he couldn’t judge the state of being a Human Child, but would instead see it as a perfect part of the Game. Or, for example, Jed’s constant reference to Maya as the “goddess of delusion,” and as the personification of the ego, can easily lead one to believe there is some force “out there,” some entity, some power that is intentionally trying to keep people from joy and abundance and truth. “Maya might best be understood as the intelligence of fear. She is the keeper of the  kept, the warden of the Dreamstate. It is Maya who bestows upon us the miraculous and  life-giving  power  to  see  what’s  not  and  to  not  see  what  is.  It  is  Maya  who  makes  the  Dreamstate possible and escape from it nearly impossible. She enables the Dreamstate to  exist, and if you wish to awaken from it, then it’s her you must destroy, layer by layer.” Which  brings me  to my third question  about  Jed – his warlike  vocabulary and  his attitude that there is an “enemy” to be fought and destroyed…. “Real spirituality is a savage insurrection, the oppressed rising up in a do-or-die bid  for freedom. It’s not something people do to improve themselves or earn merit or impress

friends  or  to  find  greater  joy  and  meaning  in  life.  It’s  a  suicidal  assault  on  a  foe  of  unimaginable superiority.” “People  who  take  this  stuff  seriously  have  no  need  of  me  or  anyone  else,  only  of  finding the next question, of taking the next step, of finding the next enemy and fighting  the next battle. People who don’t take this stuff seriously are invariably looking for ways  to occupy and distract themselves so they don’t have to take any real steps or fight any  real battles.” His third book is even entitled Spiritual Warfare. So I have to assume the route Jed took across the Rocky Mountains required a lot of fighting to get through; a lot of battles with the elements, the Indians, the wild animals; a lot of machete work to cut through the trees. Whereas the route I took had very little of that. In fact, one of the key steps inside the cocoon is the realization there is no “enemy,” no “out there” out there, no duality of “it” or “them” versus “me.” Jed  also  makes  no  mention  of  quantum  physics,  or  of  any  real  scientific understanding that “it isn’t real; it’s just a game.” Instead, the general tone of his books is to take all this very seriously…. “Personal  revolution  is  fueled  by  emotional  energy  of  the  purest  intensity.  That  intensity  comes from focus and that kind of focused emotional energy doesn’t look like  love or tranquility or compassion. It looks like seething rage or ugly business, but that’s  how it works. Suicidal discontent; that’s how revolutions are won and that’s why they so  seldom are. Rockets aren’t launched into space on chanting and prayers, and escaping  the ego’s gravity requires an equivalent amount of explosive force. We have to take all  the  emotional  energy  we  normally  blast  out  in  a  thousand  directions  to  keep  our  dreamstate characters animated and focus it on a single point. It’s all or nothing.” But,  in  fact,  it’s  all  just  a  game  –  a  wonderfully  complex,  exciting,  challenging treasure hunt for the truth. Finally,  Jed uses his first book,  Spiritual  Enlightenment:  The Damnedest Thing, to describe  his  process  and  transformation  inside  the  cocoon.  He  speaks  of  the  state  of freedom from the movie theater in glowing terms, and the reader should come away from that book wanting to be where Jed is. Then Jed spends half of Book Two,  Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, describing how  difficult  it  is  to  get  where  he  is,  giving  excellent  examples  from  one  of  his “students,”  Julie,  of  her  own  spiritual  autolysis  process  –  a  realistic  look  at  the  time everyone will spend inside the cocoon. (The other half of the book is Jed patting himself on the back for being the first ever to figure out Melville’s Moby Dick.) In the third book, Spiritual Warfare, Jed bends over backwards to try to convince the reader they don’t want to go where he is, but to stay inside the movie theater as a Human Adult instead…. “The most important distinction to be made between these two states is that Human  Adulthood  makes  sense  and  Enlightenment  doesn’t.  The  main  benefit  most  spiritually  inclined people can derive from having a clear understanding of what it really means to  be truth-realized is not so they can achieve it, but so they can dispense with it and reset  their  spiritual  sights on something  worthier  than enlightenment,  which  is, literally,  the  biggest nothing of all time.” * * I could mention other smaller areas where I disagree with Jed, but I’m not trying to be picky. I simply want to point out that Jed’s viewpoint is biased by the route he took across  the  Rocky  Mountains;  and  although  his  description  of  the  Pacific  Ocean  is extremely accurate, his way of getting there is not the only way, and not everyone has to go through what he went through. Nor will everyone feel the same way Jed does when he arrives. I don’t, for example. I  also  want  to  emphasize  that  you  will  find  isolated  sentences  or  two  throughout Jed’s books that contradict the general tone of his writing, like… “It’s all just consciousness, you are just consciousness. JED McKENNA:There is nothing else.” “Maya, it should be remembered, is not an actual arch-deity thwarting us from on  high. Maya is inside us, a part of us… she’s not a she and she’s not external to you. She’s  inside you and those layers are the stuff of which your ego is made.” “Instead  of  adopting  a  warlike  posture,  we  must,  counter-intuitively,  lower  our  shields  and  defenses.  This  seems  confusing  until  we  understand  that  we  are  both  the  protagonist  and  the  antagonist  in  this  conflict,  both  attacker  and  defender.JED McKENNA: This is  the  paradoxical nature of the struggle. We can’t win by fighting. The very thing that fights,  that resists, is the thing we seek to overthrow.” And Jed does, occasionally,  express his appreciation  for all  the things he seems  to judge and criticize so frequently, even Maya…. “I can’t think of anything more fascinating or lovely or worthy of appreciation than  Maya; the architect of delusion.” “The idea that…  the dualistic universe is anything other than the grandest and most  wonderful of all blessings is laughably absurd.” So if you read Jed’s books with a discriminating eye, overlook the general tone and be  watchful  for  the  key  sentences,  you  are  in  for  a  real  treat.  In  my  opinion,  the Enlightenment Trilogy is required reading for anyone who wants to become a butterfly.

FOOTNOTES 1. All quotes in this chapter are from McKenna, Jed. The Enlightenment Trilogy – Back to reading

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