[…] Even the Buddha recognized that people could progress through the path in at least 4 different ways:
1) slow progress that is very difficult (probably what Brad is describing)
2) slow progress that is pleasant
3) fast progress that is very difficult
4) fast progress that is easy
Fast progress, and Iâ€™m talking extraordinarily fast, does happen. Iâ€™ve seen it happen for others, have heard of it happening, and have at times experienced it happening. My opinion is that as practitioners, no matter what point in the path we are, we need to hold this open as a possibility and respect and appreciate it when it happens. I suspect that not doing so only creates a disempowering air around enlightenment, and may actually prevent people (if they buy that one-sided perspective) from deepening in insight. […]
It also seems that however it happens, it evens out in the end… in two ways.
When Ground awakens to itself, that’s it… and there is also the realization that it all, the whole human drama and drama of awakening, was no other than emptiness dancing… an appearance of a drama unfolding over time, all happening as no other than this awake emptiness, this timeless now.
And also, the long and/or difficult process has its own rewards. It gives a different depth and richness of experience for this human self, which can be very valuable in aiding others through the process.
Something more about stories in general, and stories about awakening in particular:
Any belief in it being inevitable slow or fast, easy or difficult, is just another boundary. It is an attempt to make life smaller than it is, and life will inevitably show up outside of this box. Life will remind us that any idea is only a relative truth.
We each know one path (our own) better than any other, so there may be a natural tendency to take that one sample as a template for a general pattern. But life will quickly show us that it is not so. Life is different from and more than any idea about it. God awakens to itself in innumerable ways, and although there may be some general patterns and broad categories of these patterns, each is different from the others. What we (think we) know does not predict what is or may be.
We may have all the evidence in the world, support from science, traditions, masters and own experience, but whatever stories we have still remain stories. They are no more than relative truths, with at least a grain of truth in each of their reversals.