Nothing matters…not even the
condition of your body
The is the fifth part of an extended series of explorations on “enlightenment” as a human experience. The first, second, third and fourth entries in this series may be found in the archives.
At the conclusion of Part One I said that the danger of this business of enlightenment is two-fold. The first danger is thinking that there is something specific that you have to do in order go get there. And that if you don’t do that, you can’t get there. The second danger is thinking that your way to get there is the fastest, the best way to do it.
In Part Two I wrote of the time when Paramahansa Yogananda, or “Master” as he was called, came to America bringing a technique for “self-realization” — which was his phrase meaning “enlightenment.” Self-realization declares that when you realize who the Self is, you become enlightened. And Master described himself as having been enlightened. And, by the way, he was enlightened. He was enlightened because he said that he was and, I hate to break the spell that someone may be under, but to be enlightened is to say that you are. It is quite as simple as that.
In Part Three we looked at other “Masters” and other programs leading to “awakening” or “enlightenment,” not only Paramahansa Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship, but also Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation, and, more contemporarily, Werner Erhard and the est program. There are many programs, many approaches, many paths developed by many masters. There is a book written called Many Lives, Many Masters written by my friend Brian Weiss, and he talks about the fact that there are many ways to reach the mountaintop. Which way, then, should we recommend? Which way, then, should we encourage others to take? And the end of Part Three I indicated that we would look next at the path that the Buddha took.
In Part Four we did just that, and then we ended with a brief look at an out-of-body experience that I had many years ago. I emerged from that experience with a two-word message: “Nothing matters.” I said to myself, “Nothing matters?? How can that be?” And I promised at the end of Part 4 that we would explore the “message behind the message.
The message behind the message is that if nothing matters intrinsically, then I am free to declare what I choose to have matter to me. But if something matters intrinsically, that is to say, if something matters to someone other than me, to someone else—shall we say God—then I had darn well better figure out what that is–especially if it matters so much to God. Because if I don’t figure out what it is, I will be the thing called “condemned”…or at the very least, “unenlightened.”
But God said to me, “Neale, nothing matters.” Therefore you are free to make matter what you choose to make matter in your life. And I mean that in two ways: not only to “make matter,” but to make something INTO matter. To cause a thing to become matter. That is, to make it physical matter in your life. In other words, to manifest in physical reality something that is pure matter out of invisible energy. To turn it into, to turn energy into, matter.
I have become so enlightened that I can sometimes barely explain what it is I am trying to say! You know you are enlightened when you can’t even articulate what your thoughts are. Either that or you’re totally crazy, one or the other. Wouldn’t it be funny if enlightenment and craziness were one and the same?
So if you think there is a path to enlightenment that is the only path, the best path, the fastest path, the one that everyone has to know about by 10 o’clock tomorrow morning, you will suddenly find yourself feeling pressure, stress, upset, and your ego will be deeply involved in convincing as many people as you can that that’s what’s so. And suddenly you will start acting not like a master at all, but like someone who is under a terrific amount of pressure and stress, because it will suddenly matter to you whether I get what you are trying to tell me.
If you are not careful, you will even start having quotas or goals. This is what often happens inside of organizations that begin to think they have “the answer,” and now they have to share it with others as fast as you can. You’ll have to get a certain number of other people to agree with you every week, or every month, or every year. And if you don’t meet those goals you will think that you have not done a good job. And yet, you have done a good job if you simply loved without expectation, without requirement, without needing anything in return.
Enlightenment, when it is all said and done, has nothing to do with what you do with your body or your mind. It has to do with what you do with your soul. If you simply love everyone whose life you touch endlessly unconditionally, with nothing needed or wanted in return, you have become enlightened and you have shown everyone whose life you touch how they may be enlightened as well. As fast as any other system that exists, like that. As fast as transcendental meditation, like that. As fast as joining the Self-Realization Fellowship, like that. As fast as taking est, like that. And if you learn to love yourself unconditionally, as well as everyone else, you heal your entire body without lifting a finger.
Now I want to discuss as well a thing called “health,” because many people believe that you are not enlightened unless you are in good health. Is enlightenment being in good health? And what is “good health” anyway?
Is good health having a body that has nothing wrong with it? Is good health living until you are 90 or 100 or 200 or 500? Is good health having no pain or nothing wrong with your physical form? Is good health the absence of anything that is not perfect or good in your physical experience? Or is good health being okay and in a place of joy and peace, no matter how things are?
What is “health”? What is optimum health, if it is not happiness?
I know people who exercise every day, lifting weights and run and work out, and their bodies are in great health, but their minds and their hearts and their souls are desperately sad. And I know people who are hardly able to lift up a toothpick, their bodies are in such bad health, but their hearts and their minds and their souls are so bright and they are so happy.
One such man is Ram Dass. Do you know of whom I speak? Ram Dass is a master, and I have met him personally. And he taught many people for many years. He wrote a book called…Be Here Now. And several years ago Ram Dass had a stroke. His body had a stroke and after that he couldn’t move his arm at all, I think it was his left arm that wouldn’t move. He could barely barely talk. And he was still a relatively young man; he was only 63 or something like that.
I met Ram Dass after his stroke, in a hotel room in Denver, and I’ll tell you something. I’ve never met a healthier man. I sat in that room with a real Master. I said, “Ram Dass, how are you?” And he sat there in his wheelchair and said, “I…am…won-der-ful.” That’s health…that’s health. That’s peace. That’s joy.
And when you have so much happiness, peace and joy, that you spend your life sharing it with everyone else’s life you touch, that’s enlightenment. You have become a master. When your life is no longer about you, has nothing to do with you, but is about everyone whose life you touch, you have become a master. For in the end, that is why you came here. Not to somehow “get better,” not to work on yourself. Consider the possibility that all the work you will ever need to is already done. All you have to do is know that. Remember the wonderful message from Conversations with God: “There is nothing you have to do, there is no where you have to go and there is no one you have to be, except exactly who you are being right now.”
So this is the time of your liberation. And we’ll speak more about what that looks like in our next entry here.