We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is not easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go of long-held perceptions. We may experience great resistance to seeing through even those illusions that cause us a great amount of pain.
I don’t use the word enlightenment much. We can have a taste of it, or shift into it, by noticing content of experience and allow it, or rather notice it’s already noticed and already allowed. And that’s clearly not about “positive” emotions, which is another term I don’t really use.
It’s not easy, because it means a continuing disillusionment. It means looking at any belief, any identity, any identification, any hope and any fear, and see it for what it really is: a bundle of images, words, and sensations. It doesn’t exist outside of that. That disillusionment. We “see through” our most cherished identities, fears, and hopes, and that’s not always so easy, even when we cause ourselves a great deal of pain by not seeing them for what they are.
In this process, there is also an opening to anything unloved, unquestioned, and unhealed in us. All this tends to come to the surface, sometimes as a trickle, sometimes in great chunks at a time. And that’s not easy either.
So why do people seek this? That’s a whole other question, and the exploration could – and probably do – fill several books. The simple answer is twofold. One is that we seek awakening or enlightenment because we think it’s something else than what it is. We project our hopes into it. We think it’s a state. We think it will make everything easy. We seek it as an escape. The other is that it’s a natural movement for many of us. It happens whether we like it or not. We seek a more real truth, love, reality. We sincerely seek truth, love, reality. Truth, love, reality seeks itself through our life.