From a 1994 talk by t.k. at a Drikung center:
By and large every one is under a spell, enchanted. What, you may ask, are they enchanted by? Well, they are enchanted by the deluding mechanism of suffering. They are enchanted by the magic of samsara, enchanted by unreality, enchanted by delusion, enchanted by the power and untruth of duality. And in this spell, this enchantment of derangement, they wander the worlds of their own creation believing perfectly in the self-apparent logic of insanity. There is a story from the Middle East that speaks to this.
Once upon a time a man had a dream that the next day there would be an enchanted rain and anyone who drank the water from this rain would go mad. Of course, the rain would fall into every well, every river, every pond, ocean, cistern and all the water everywhere would become the method of this enchantment. The man, who recognized his dream as one of clarity and wisdom, woke the next morning and began storing water in barrels. He stored an enormous amounts of water so that he could remain unaffected by the magic rain and perhaps help his fellow man.
The rain fell and the people went mad, but they all went mad together and in the same fashion. The result of this was that none of them knew that they were mad for they all perceived the world in like fashion. To the one sane man, it was obvious that all those around him were deranged and he tried to speak to them but they, of course, in agreement with one another, thought he was mad. Days passed and the sane man fell into despair over the loneliness of his situation. Finally, after the seventh day, he went to the town well, pulled up the bucket and drank deeply. Instantly, everything was different and he found himself in harmony with those around him.
There are two kinds of religion, one kind strives to make peace in the world of insanity and to guide people little by little along a path which one day, in some life, will allow them the freedom to want to wake up. This is exoteric, societal religion. This religion is careful to not disturb the sleepwalkers too much, to rouse their suspicion that something is wrong. It mixes good strong doses of hope and fear in with consoling messages and helps people to find some degree of balance. This is important, for without this type of method, people would tend towards greater and greater degradation. At the same time, this form of religion is itself often in opposition to the other, inner, esoteric path of Truth.
There is another path, the Way of Truth. This path is not so consoling. As the Nazarene put it, “I have not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword.” This deep religion, this spiritual force, requires courage, intelligence, hard work, creativity, and great capacity for independence. It is not a way for the “pashu.” A pashu is one with “herd” mentality. Those afraid to stand alone. This is a journey of bravery, a quest, a journey from the alone to the alone. The Way of Truth, the way that destroys the enchantment of samsara utterly, is a radical path in which one awakens from the dream of things the way they are to discover a vastly different orientation to everything. This great path of awakening has been taught by great adepts throughout history, but quickly, quickly, as fast as it can, society turns the radical teachings of liberation from the dream of ordinary life into a social construct which can support society and governmental structures. It transforms the way into a glue binding the conceptions of duality together in a way which always seems like it just might make samsara work. Luckily, alongside this, behind it, under it, is the stream of esoteric religion, and for those who are ready, the Guru appears. The way manifests from the very fabric of what a moment ago seemed like ordinary life.
Priests of exoteric religion, your friendly neighborhood religious professional or academic comparative religionist, can teach you some philosophy or better manners and some very good ideas, but they cannot wake you up. Within the domain of authentic esoteric religion, one must encounter the awakener. The professional religionist can teach some techniques, sell you some self-help, but they cannot intervene in the physics of delusion. They cannot set fire to the house of samsara. For that, one must meet a person who has smashed the idols of duality. The true iconoclast, the friend of the heart, is the one who is free beyond the conventional strictures of seeming ordinary life. They are not free of this or that, but free in and as the single mysterious dimension of reality. The history of such beings exists in the background of every religion, sometimes as the well known adepts such as Buddha, Padmasambhava, Jesus, Rumi, or as the lesser known holder of their traditions such as Saint Seraphim of Sarov, the Baal Shem Tov, Hakim Sinai, the avadhoots of every time and place.
The avadhoot is one who “shaken off” the structure of the egoic false personality and lives as the compassionate display of spiritual benefit. This tradition is not only found in the East but in every major western religion as well. The true Sufi Sheik in Islam, the authentic Tzadik in Hasidic Judaism, the Holy Father in the esoteric Orthodox Church. When these figures are not mere figureheads but living examples – the possibility of spiritual realization within their traditions – then they represent the intervention of the divine in the everyday world of meaty personalities. Because they have cast off the illusion of duality, they play a crucial role as the living force of the self-liberating dynamic of divine reality. Perhaps these beings will appear as ordinary, the most ordinary for they have no “need” to seem like special beings, or perhaps they will appear as crazy wise madmen, celestial jokers, wild cards in the deck of life. Unbound by the constraints that make the world seem like other than the play of awareness, they may appear in any guise that will help others.
These beings live to break the spell, the enchantment, which bind everyone to suffering. They live as the magicians of spiritual wonder and exaltation. To enjoy the company of such a one is to be brought into the dimension of infinite possibility. Even when they appear in the guise of ordinariness they are crazy, wild, mad for they do not live in the world we live in – they live in the dimension of birthless and deathless great bliss and their every action invites us to join the dance. This is the invitation of the adepts. This is the nightmare of the religious professionals who would like to keep you always happy in samsara and sell you a little more of the Eight Worldly Concerns at a 10% discount!
Those who have ears can hear. Those who have eyes can see. When the disciple is ready, the Guru appears. Before that, only salesmen appear before the gaze of the eager consumer.