An excerpt from Jed McKenna’s “Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing.”
I think I should talk about myself a little more, not to demonstrate how remarkable I am, but how ordinary. Obviously, I haven’t always been an enlightened guy. I was a cute baby, a happy kid, a problem teen and a wayward adult. No one looked at me back then and figured me for the future wisdom heart of a rural American ashram project. On the other hand, I have always possessed something of an insightful nature. I started struggling with cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) in my early teens. Throughout my teens and into my twenties I wrote short stories and essays that were trial assaults on the nature of reality, which helped me bring my thinking into focus.
My thunderbolt epiphany came in my late twenties, around fifty pages into reading my first book of a distinctly spiritual nature. As all good epiphanies should, this one struck my brain like a bullet of light and redefined my entire life in a single instant. The realization was nothing more or less than this:
I was absolutely stunned. The lines of my being were redrawn in a flash. I was staggered by this simple statement, by the sheer absurdity of it. After all, how can someone not realize that truth exists? But the truth is, I didn’t. My thoughts were so constantly turned towards denying what wasn’t that I was effectively blinded to what was. The very act of fighting for liberation had imprisoned me. In order to oppose the false, I had to dwell in the half-light where falseness thrives. Finally understanding that truth existed was the equivalent of crawling out of a putrid sewer and into sunlight — sunlight the existence of which I should have suspected all along, but never quite did.
But now I was in the sunlight and it was totally mind—blowing. In that moment I was finally born, “Truth exists!” my mind was shrieking. “It doesn’t matter what it is or where it is. Somewhere, somehow, there is truth. I don’t care if it’s in Christianity or Judaism or Islam or in the most despised cult in the deepest bowels of depravity, it exists and I will not spend another minute of my life flailing blindly around in the filth and miasma of ignorance for any other reason than to find it. The universe isn’t vague and ignorant; I am vague and ignorant. Something is true and it doesn’t matter what it is, I`m not going to be false anymore. I have not even the slightest trace of the slightest reservation about the fact that I would rather suffer and die figuring out what is true than continue this life as a slave to lies and ignorance.”
– Jed McKenna, “Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing.”