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by David Truman





















Spiritual success is not the same as worldly success

The ego's version of failure

The EGO'S version of giving up on ego

The SOUL'S version of giving up on ego

The purpose of the frustrating school of experience

You can't fail if you don't try

The wisdom of giving up

The failure of the ego-self is the success of the true Self

Life after enlightenment

Love is the Remainder, and you are Love

We look for success, but in spiritual life, the pot of gold is at the other end of the rainbow -- the failure end. The instant the soul conclusively recognizes ego's failure, Truth takes over, and life becomes a better story. Such is the story of enlightenment.

Enlightenment is not the condition that many people picture -- a personal triumph, achieved by getting "on top of" more and more things. It is not a skill you acquire in the midst of infinity. Closer to the truth, enlightenment is a failure.

Cold

Getting warm

I am experiencing a tremendous spiritual growth. My God given abilities are strengthening rapidly. At this point I am a very Strong Empath. I have other wonderful God given gifts, but the Empath is the strongest. I have known since I was very small that I was special and always had a Guardian Angel with me. I was not taught this by my parents or anyone, I just knew. Of course, at that age I wasn't sure what all this meant. However, I now know what my purpose on this Earth in this lifetime is through Meditation.

I've been struggling to rise beyond ego, and to have the faith necessary to turn my life over to the Divine energy that is God. It is a constant preoccupation and I am repeatedly filled with a sense of failure and doubt. I know that my ego is wounded much too easily, and that I then act defensively and purely in the service of ego. I think that I also need to learn to be gentler with myself and my human failings. In fact, I believe that my preoccupation with whether I am acting egoistically reflects my egocentricity.

Spiritual success is not the same as worldly success

We should not, then, project worldly images of success on enlightenment -- as if the enlightened person is somehow a corporate executive! More accurately, an enlightened man is one who failed at being a janitor. This is not to suggest that enlightened people are failures in worldly, practical terms -- but they are certainly COSMIC failures in this respect: Having tried and tried to succeed as egos, they saw the futility of that approach, finally realizing that NO ONE can succeed as an ego. No ego can absorb, know, master, or conquer the Real Truth. Seeing that, they gave up on their own ego, and surrendered to Truth.

So you see, we misconstrue enlightenment when we assume that the enlightened guy is the coolest guy, the one who's on top of the most things, the one who represents the greatest degree of success and competency in terms of personal skills and attainments. We do better to see that he's the one who acknowledges, simply, the perennial failure of a human ego to dominate, control, and succeed at living. We should follow in THOSE footsteps -- for we do best when we acknowledge the same failure in our own case. Enlightenment, you see, is not just the failure of ego (which is always the case), but our RECOGNITION of that failure.


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The ego's version of failure

The failure of ego is a given, but the way we RELATE to that failure is crucial. True understanding of ego starts with the simple observation that the ego makes a mess of practically everything. Duh! But even so, ego is hard-pressed to give up on itself. And consequently, as a general rule, human beings find failure to be more UPSETTING than ENLIGHTENING.

We tend to feel like victims when our attempts fail. For example, we try to follow some recommendation or achieve some goal, but when the attempt doesn't yield total success, we blame others, life, or God: "I tried so hard and it didn't work. Everyone's against me!" Or "Things never work. Life isn't fair!" To react with blame to our failures simply reflects unwillingness to accept the reality of failure, and to give up the ego that causes the failure.

Another of ego's survival strategies, when faith in ego starts to break down, is the tendency to construe our ego's failure as our personal failure. That's almost inevitable, because during the time of transition, we still strongly IDENTIFY with the ego. So we will think, "I am a failure." That thought leaves us too depressed to do effective battle with the ego.

Who we REALLY are cannot and will not fail. But enlightenment is the fundamental recognition that the person we THINK OF as "I" or "me" is ALWAYS failing, even when it thinks it succeeds. Enlightenment depends on the deep recognition that the ego-I is bound to fail ultimately, completely. That recognition is the ego's Undoing -- if it leads us to release our affinity for the ego, our identification with it, along with our tendency to live AS it.


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The EGO'S version of giving up on ego

But often, in response to its failures, ego prompts us to try harder, stubbornly, in the old egoic fashion. Or else, it encourages us to "give up" -- again, in ego style. But in truth, the ego's version of giving up more closely resembles marrying the ego than giving up on it. "I'm no good! It's no use! No one loves me! Woe is me! I think I'll just give up, be irresponsible, wallow in misery, and just sink into the mud."


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The SOUL'S version of giving up on ego

The SOUL'S version of giving up on ego is notably different: When the soul gives up on the ego and its personal purposes, it lets ego go. The constructive and true way of giving up on ego is this: "All right, that didn't work, and nothing anything like it ever will! Now, God, what SHOULD I do?" And, the soul turns to Truth in a spirit of surrender.


The purpose of the frustrating school of experience

We do well to renounce patterns of childish frustration with failure, and earnestly consider WHY our failed attempts didn't work. Not SUPERFICIALLY why, or CIRCUMSTANTIALLY why, but FUNDAMENTALLY why. Almost invariably, they didn't work because the ego was involved. The ego is a mess. The ego doesn't work. No matter how idealistic our dreams, our ego is not up to fulfilling them. The ego is hopeless.

For enlightenment, it's not enough to recognize our obvious FAILURES as such. We also need to recognize that many of our so-called SUCCESSES are also failures in disguise. What ego views as success is nothing but MORE failure, NEW iterations of failure in the making. For example:


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Getting what you want can create problems.

Getting rich can be hazardous to your spiritual health.

Pride cometh before the fall.


Therefore, people who are still dominated by ego should not be surprised if all of their projects fail -- or if every one of the things they try to do ends up in a mess. Frequent frustrations of the school of hard knocks are simply proving to us that ego doesn't work, so that we can give that ego up. We're bound to surrender SOMEDAY. The question is, are we ready to surrender YET?


You can't fail if you don't try

People are fond of saying, "You can't succeed if you don't try." In terms of enlightenment, the appropriate slogan would be, "You can't FAIL if you don't try." Clearly, we cannot meaningfully fail if we haven't sincerely tried. In that sense, if we're not ready to surrender, we are better advised to remain active. We may as well keep on doing our thing until we are ready to give up on our thing for real and do God's thing instead. Surrender is useless -- LESS than useless, actually -- until we are ready to REALLY surrender. And we may have to try hard and long before we're WILLING to conclusively see failure for what it IS.


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Example: What if Joe decides to be completely honest, and tries to be honest, but his newfound ego-honesty proves a downer to his friends. When he discovers everyone's mad at him, Joe might egocentrically conclude, "Damn it! I was just being honest, but no one is ready for honesty." If he's willing to be a little more humble, Joe might think, "I tried to be honest, but it didn't work very well." A still more enlightened perspective might suggest, "Well, maybe that ego-tinted resolve to be honest was BOUND to be a failure. What can you EXPECT from ego-styled honesty?"

Another example: Molly decides to "be happy." She TRIES, putting on a perky face. But, her façade feels hollow -- it's superficial, fake, and compensatory. And more to the point, it's a complete failure to be truly happy. If Molly is insightful, she will realize that she was unable, using ego-power, to force happiness into existence.

You probably can think of many other instances in which the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. Often, the ego's solutions to its problems are no better than the problems themselves -- sometimes worse!

Eventually, thoroughly frustrated, the egotistical person may finally get the message -- that ALL the things he or she tries to do result in failure. The person may feel deeply upset, resentful, if not hostile: "I am cursed, the world has it in for me," etc. But honestly, it's selfish and destructive to respond that way to the failure of our own doing. It's like a frustrated toddler beating on a wall. A more mature response would be to quit dramatizing negativity, and do the APPROPRIATE thing: Give up on egotism itself. After all, egotism is the real culprit, the core problem -- isn't it? Why throw good money after bad? Why not cut your losses, and be done with it!


The wisdom of giving up

To be a human being is a failure. Just to be born is to be forced to die -- probably against one's will. Yet death is the destiny of every human body. And ego failure is the lesson of every life. The fate of every human is to be so reduced, and polished, and ground down -- such is the evolutionary path. The enlightened being is the Remainder, the true Self, the Self that remains after the ego has bitten the dust.

The path of Undoing need not be half as long as we, in our stubborn refusal to surrender, make it. Surrender is an option we are free to embrace ANY time. Every moment, every day of experience is enough to show us, a thousand times over, the failure of our own prodigal purposes and actions. Surely we see how when we try as an ego to make someone happy, it doesn't work. And just as surely, we see how when we try as an ego to make OURSELVES happy, it doesn't work. Surely we can see how when we try as a sovereign ego to BE anything, or DO anything, a mess results. To the extent that we see these things, we have grown enough to witness the failure of our own egocentric self-concept in relation to all the various possibilities of living.

Can you accept that the EGO is a failure from beginning to end, and give up on that part of yourself which is of the ego, or which identifies with the ego? That, friends, is the dawn of enlightenment. Everyone is being invited in every moment of experience to give up, even if, at any given point in time, few are interested in giving up. Most people would prefer to look good, and keep on struggling to "win" -- whatever they think that means. And yet, the only true spiritual victory is ego death.

The greatest potential of ego-identified humanity is the potential to fail, and to see that failure as what it IS. Instead of getting completely irritated about that, we need only to accept the fact of it. Then and only then can we realize the REST of our human potential -- the part that is truly SPIRITUAL. We CAN transcend what we, while ego-identified, think we are. We CAN be, and by God we ARE -- much MORE than merely mortal. But until we realize our spiritual potential, the BEST thing we can do is to observe that self, so long as it is ego-identified, fails on every side. We must come to the point of seeing that ego fails perfectly. Indeed!


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The failure of the ego-self is the success of the true Self

If you think the prospect of ego-failure sounds depressing, look at the alternatives -- denial, or worse, ego-SUCCESS. You can readily see the problem there! So, people who are seeking enlightenment should not be thinking of winning; they should not be thinking in acquisitive terms at all. They should be trying to be good, yes, but they should not be associating enlightenment with victory, skill, and on-top-of-itness.

The Way of Truth never promised us success in mortal terms. The Way of Truth promises the Undoing of the entire fiasco of prodigal living -- including our creature-powered attempts to succeed as a human being in the midst of infinity. We need to try very hard to succeed -- so we can fail. The whole point is to fail. But in order to get comfortable with trying and failing, we have to accept the possibility of failure, and even the inevitability of it. More than that, we have to accept the ultimate benefit of failure: Undoing! Enlightenment! Cosmic surrender!

It is wise to consider the possibility that our moments of (ego) FAILURE really are closer to success, spiritually, than our moments of (ego) SUCCESS. It is appropriate to appreciate the ultimate value of the ultimate personal failure, rather than striving in vain to reach the unattainable goal of personal success.

The fact is, evolution is the progressive failure of the ego, which runs parallel to the progressive victory of spirit. Know, therefore, that as long as you are an ego-identified person, your bread is buttered on the side of failure, not on the side of success. Hope for "success" just prolongs the ego's hold on you. In the heart of your spiritual aspiration, know that the entire search for God is -- or certainly should be -- the search for the release from ego. The way to God IS the Way of Undoing.

Granted, seeing the failure of ego can be painful at times. But under the veil of your tears, know that the dawn of Truth in one's consciousness IS coincident with the recognition of the ego's hopelessness. The failure of the ego-self is the success of the true Self. Given that, it should be completely understood and happily accepted that failure is exactly the best program and plan to have for the ego!

Enlightenment does not mean the ego gradually gets on top of life in methodical increments. It means the ego gets seen as it is and always has been -- a cosmic loser in the midst of infinity, the one who would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. As soon as you give up on that ego-I, you'll be able to see the I that is capable of success. The true Self, the Remainder, constitutes the Being of the enlightened ones, and it is your true Self as well.


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Life after enlightenment

The impact of enlightenment is hard to describe, but suffice to say that enlightened people are mysteriously vacant. Their personalities are hard to define or confine. People expect a congealed personality to come of enlightenment, just as they seek that for themselves. But enlightenment is not congealed. It's a vacancy; it's vacuity. And likewise, the enlightened personality is practically absent. It doesn't amount to a hill of beans. In enlightenment, you are no longer this person planning like mad, doing this and that, and trying like hell to succeed. To an enlightened person, that is an absurd idea!

You cannot motivate an enlightened person to be someone. Enlightened people have already seen the futility of being someone. The ego is still there in some form, but it has failed in their cases. An enlightened one is the living embodiment of a failure -- a person who failed at being a person. If you think of the enlightened ones that way, you will be more accepting of your own ego-failure, and you will be positively disposed to the ultimate spiritual success that ego-failure represents, in your own case.

What will you do after you are enlightened? Very little, in terms of WILLFUL activity. Mainly, you will follow instructions (Divine promptings). When an enlightened person is doing something, observers may think, "Wow, he must have planned this out." In all likelihood, he probably didn't think about it at all.

The enlightened ones DO love people. And you too will be a great lover -- after you give up on yourself. But meanwhile, clearly, the human ego can't love. The ego is made to survive, NOT to love. Consequently, acts of love that ego-identified beings perform are tainted with ego motives -- selfishness.


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Love is the Remainder, and you are Love

What does it mean to love as the enlightened ones love? The true Self does not DO acts of loving. Essentially, Love is not a doingness; it is sharing God's love, or, as the spirit, simply BEING love. Love is the constant experience and native disposition of the Remainder -- the Self that is found after you surrender your ego into the Truth. Love IS the Remainder, the being there, the enlightened condition -- before, during, and, most obviously, AFTER the Undoing. You ARE Love.

by David Truman

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