May 11

The Seeker’s Paradox

The enlightened state of mind is often described as an expanded state where we are open to the vastness of life and experience. This is in contrast to the thought-based state we use to figure out how to get there. It may be obvious to some that these two modalities are distinct, and represent our normal dualistic nature. But yet we still try to figure out how to get from our chattering mind, full of thoughts and plans, to that state of quiescence and peace where life is somehow as we have been told by the enlightened masters.  Does it ever occur to the seeker that reading about swimming while on dry land will not prepare one for actual swimming? To put it bluntly, the modality of thinking and figuring out does not and cannot prepare us or show us the way to the non-thought state that we read about in the books. The first (and only) step is to relinquish the quest to figure out how to reach an enlightened or liberated state. Once you realize that trying to figure it out does not work you must then throw away the book and start to swim on your own. If you feel lost without a book or practice, then it means you are already swimming, albeit awkwardly. Just as with anything else in life, the more you do it, the more proficient you become. The spiritual journey is no different.


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    • sgl42 on July 15, 2011 at 1:38 am
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    similar perspective to your left-brain/right-brain view:

    refers to an extensive book re: brain and spirituality (and more):
    The Master and the Emissary: The Divided Brain and the History of the World, by Iain McGilchrist (New Haven, 2009)

    intro to book:

    interview with author (podcast & transcript):

    perhaps some of it will be of interest to you.


  1. Thanks sgl,
    These links, especially McGilchrist’s, are highly informative, and I’ve already downloaded his book to my Kindle.

    I’m glad to see your curiosity about all things has not diminished since your time on the Hermitary. Hope you will re-visit us sometime.


    • RM on March 12, 2013 at 2:03 am
    • Reply

    “To put it bluntly, the modality of thinking…….does not and cannot prepare us or show us the way to the non-thought state”

    not entirely true

    Ramana Maharshi used thought (the mental question “who am i”?)
    to cut off other thoughts and deliever one to the space between thoughts, ie., the natural state

    “who am i?” whilst a thought itself, nevertheless has the power to push the enquirer into the natural state, as it is a question that cannot be answered with more thought

      • on March 12, 2013 at 3:49 am
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      To clarify: I was trying to convey that the use of thinking (planning, figuring out, etc) as a strategy to gain access to the “natural state” is ineffective. What you are illustrating, that a single thought has the ability to shift modes is quite correct. That approach is typically known as contemplation whereby a single thought or question is posed, such that one’s attention is attuned to listen for the answer whenever it may appear. The state of waiting for an answer shifts one into that silent mode of direct experience without the intervention of thought.

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