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Enlightenment Now: Liberation Is Your True Nature Paperback – October 10, 2016
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"Enlightenment Now and Jason's previous title, The Science and Practice of Humility, teach you one of the easiest and most effective practices for cultivating spiritual awareness, which is this: the moment you stop doing things, saying things, and thinking things and just rest in your basic unadorned state of being, you’re enlightened and you’ll know it, right here and now, not tomorrow or next year or in your next life. It’s really that simple, and it doesn’t require much effort." (Daniel Reid, New Dawn Magazine)
“Enlightenment Now beautifully shares that the idea of enlightenment comes ‘from the inside out’ and shares that pathless path magnificently. Jason Gregory describes pure awareness as the true form of consciousness itself, free from the veil of personality and our limitations of time.” (Steven L. Hairfield, Ph.D., author of A Metaphysical Interpretation of the Bible)
“Jason Gregory takes to heart the famous slogan of twelfth-century Tantric Buddhist master Chekawa Yeshe Dorje when he writes ‘Self-liberate even the antidote.’ The message is that in the end, even our zealous, pious practice of spiritual disciplines need to be left at the door to step into the timeless bliss of full awakening, of enlightenment. Though such practices are considered by aspirants to be more effective and/or valuable than the awakening that life itself offers us in each moment, few are willing to break the shackles of display of sacred appearance, to live in each moment--awaken to a sneeze, the movement of waves, the giggle of a baby--free of any religious mantle. Read and savor Enlightenment Now as a celebration of our true and timeless nature.” (Robert Sachs, author of Becoming Buddha, The Passionate Buddha, and The Ecology of Oneness)
“Jason Gregory takes us on a spiritual journey deep into the dark world of polarized perception, showing how suffering and veiled consciousness developed. Then he leads us right back out again.We end up returning to where we’ve always been, and we get the cosmic joke! As usual, he integrates many fine points into an interesting and comprehensive narrative.” (Penney Peirce, author of Leap of Perception and Frequency)
“An erudite and scholarly overview of our spiritual struggle to arrive at a place where, ironically, we already are. Quoting amply from many literary references, this multilayered book documents man’s historic spiritual quest for the very core of Truth. By fully addressing the paradox of awakening, the author points out that enlightenment itself is nothing other than the discovery of our very own true nature. If you’re willing to take the time to carefully read this intelligent and in-depth exposé, there are many hidden treasures to be mined here. Recommended.” (Chuck Hillig, author of Enlightenment for Beginners)
“Jason Gregory has done it again. With a deep understanding of spiritual, psychological, and linguistic traditions he reveals how we are hypnotized into a disconnected worldview. This latest book strips away the veneer from our fast-food culture of consumerist enlightenment and points toward the need for genuine individual self-work. Gregory shines clarity onto the false joyride of our lives and makes us see clearly that the journey itself is the destination. Enlightenment Now is the ideal antidote to the spiritual sloth endemic in our ‘get quick’ cultures. Highly recommended!” (Kingsley L. Dennis, author of The Phoenix Generation and New Consciousness for a New World)
“In Enlightenment Now, Jason Gregory has provided a comprehensive overview of man’s search for enlightenment. His research draws upon a wide range of resources and walks the reader through perspectives of modern philosophy and culture all the way back to the ancients. One nice feature is that the book is rich with wisdom quotes from sages. Along the way, Jason includes his own commentary and suggestions for the contemporary seeker as to what works, what doesn’t, and why. It is a book many readers will benefit from and enjoy.” (Peter Dziuban, author of Consciousness Is All and Simply Notice)
“Jason Gregory has done a fantastic job of cutting through to the heart of enlightenment and the spiritual teachings of the ancient wisdom traditions. The illusory nature of the spiritual journey is explored with a profound clarity that will certainly help to guide those interested in meditation and personal liberation.” (Damo Mitchell, author of Daoist Nei Gong)
“This book reminds us that enlightenment is nowhere else to be found other than within the confines of our own skin. He eloquently describes how easy it is to lose sight of our own capabilities, living in a world that is too often governed by greed and profit. Jason’s simple yet effective solution is to live in the moment and thereby find the answers we seek within.” (Gary Wagman, Ph.D., L.Ac., author of Your Yin Yang Body Type and founder of the American Institute o)
“A philosopher’s view regarding the endless paradoxes we encounter on our way to enlightenment--Jason rightly points out that enlightenment is not something we can attain like a new car; for ultimately, enlightenment is ‘no thing.’ Yet, it is a ‘no thing’ that we can realize, that brings ultimate freedom. But here again there is paradox, for the freedom of enlightenment is not free; it entails discipline of body, mind, and speech. It does free us from the jail of our conditioned habits and egocentric behaviors, but at the cost of realizing that every action we take is ultimately beyond our personal control, interdependent upon the movement of the entire universe. As a philosopher, I revel in Jason’s correction of our mistaken views regarding enlightenment.” (Richard Miller, Ph.D., developer of iRest Meditation and author of Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart)
About the Author
Jason Gregory is a teacher and international speaker specializing in Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. Author of The Science and Practice of Humility, he divides his time between Asia and Australia.
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Liberation Is Your True Nature
Reviewed by Henry Reed
One of the fun things I do in a class on spirituality is to ask someone to step forward in front of class. Then I instruct the person, “Just be yourself!” These simple instructions create a lot of confusion. “Just what do you want me to do?” That’s the usual question I get from the person standing there. “I don’t know you, I don’t know how you’ll go about being yourself while standing there… that comes from you!” That’s my reply. True, but not necessarily helpful.
Why is it so hard to be ourselves? We are trained to look outside of ourselves for directions. We learn what areas are OK to explore, which ones are not. We learn how to form our letters correctly so that others can read our writing. We read and study for tests where we are asked what we read. And on and on.
And it’s not just our culture, it’s human nature-socialized. Even in ancient Japan, where we have records of Zen masters encouraging their pupils to “just be.” We turn being ourselves into a job. Just ask someone to notice their breathing and they immediately take a deep breath, as if breathing is their personal responsibility, not an aspect of nature that they can simply observe.
Why is enlightenment so hard? Why cannot we naturally experience ourselves as an enlightenment being? Why do we have to seek it so hard? What I like about Jason Gregory’s bok is that he tells it like it is, right from the get go, in his opening sentence:
“The most important mystery that we encounter on our endeavor to be free in this life is that what we seek we already possess.”
It is as simple as the New Age slogan, “Be Here, Now!” In other words, the conscious awareness that we experience is the enlightenment. Just notice it.
Interesting that there’s that word, light, in the term, “enlightenment.” It is interesting that we equate conscious awareness with light. Is it simply because we can see better when the lights are on? Or is there something about consciousness that actually is light itself, the light of awareness.
Just so! That’s the Zen master’s response to the question about enlightenment.
What I especially like about this book is that the author surveys much of the world’s spiritual traditions, and explains how they are trying to give us the key to ourselves. He explains how a certain mode of consciousness takes these traditions in a materialistic manner, thus obscuring the symbolic, mythical dimension that speaks straight to the phenomenon of consciousness within us. Jason Gregory is to be commended on his ability to translate these ancient wisdom sayings into something simple. He can use words to make enlightenment seem as simple as imagining that you have no head—that the world and you are One in awareness.
Conscious awareness is the big mystery and to be aware of awareness brings enlightenment into consciousness. Jason says it better, so better to go to the source itself.
To explore Enlightenment Now on Amazon.com, click here!
From the Publisher, Inner Traditions:
A guide to uncovering the enlightenment already within us
• Builds on Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist wisdom to express the timeless and ever-present nature of enlightenment
• Reveals the negative impact of social and cultural conditioning on our psyche and how to counteract this through meditation and reframing our understanding of time
• Shows how to uncover the original spontaneous awareness we were born with
In this philosophical, psychological, and spiritual exploration of enlightenment, Jason Gregory addresses how to access the original spontaneous awareness we all came into this world with. He exposes the illusion that we must strive to reach enlightenment, uncovering how our yearning for future accomplishments, attachment to the past, and reliance on authority outside the self are social constructs that distract us from the reality of the now. The author explains how our original enlightened nature has been obscured by social, cultural, religious, and egotistical conditioning of the mind caught in time.
Building on knowledge from spiritual traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, Gregory expresses the timeless and ever-present nature of enlightenment. He illustrates how rigid practices and initiations can become a form of spiritual postponement, continually putting off our enlightenment because we feel we are doing something good and noble. To chase enlightenment through spiritual practice is to assume it is a quality bound to time. The author helps us see that we are already what we are seeking--once we understand that existing in this world is itself a miracle beyond words, then the magic and beauty of our world will unfold. In the same way we remember someone’s name without thinking about it, we also remember that we are enlightened when we stop searching for the experience.
Emerging from the Middle Way of the Buddha, Lao-tzu’s Way of the Tao, Yoga, the Great Work of Gnosticism, the Hermetic Art of Alchemy, and quantum physics, Gregory presents a way to the state of consciousness--enlightenment, nirvana, or samadhi--in which eternity and time are one. He shows us how to counteract the negative impact of social and cultural conditioning on our psyche through meditation and reframing our understanding of time. The author explains how meditation in its truest form takes our awareness of nowness from theory to practice. Guiding us away from a time-bound understanding of enlightenment, Gregory shows us how to find ourselves in the stillness of now where the peace you are is the peace you give to the world.
Enlightenment Is Natural, Not Artificially Induced
THE REAL SENSE OF UNITY at the core of enlightenment is eclipsed by the overstimulation of our relative existence. People take up a spiritual practice for a lifetime and somehow never attain enlightenment. This happens because the art of the practice is thought of as inducing the enlightenment state, while our relative being, ego, goes on through life with its habits, tendencies, and little idiosyncrasies unchecked. Numerous individuals in the world practice yoga, tai chi, meditation, and so on, but continue to live imbalanced through their need to overstimulate the senses. I’m not saying here that we should discard our sense activity, as that is impossible. What I am saying is that bad habits and tendencies become “bad” when there is a propensity for excess. If we are more conscious of our own being, we have an intuitive feeling when a particular part of our life is out of balance.
This propensity for excess--material and habitual--is best reflected in our diets: the obesity epidemic, obsession with food, and problems of overexercising or being underweight in our culture are all the result of imbalances in individuals’ lives. For example, obesity is often the result of psychological imbalance, as we tend to mask pain with unhealthy foods. An individual suffering from this kind of obesity finds it difficult to realize enlightenment because the focus on excessive food intake veils the innate intuitive faculty and connection with the universe.
On the opposite extreme we have those individuals who are very rigid and strict in their diet. Some vegans and vegetarians would surely fit into this category. There is nothing innately wrong with being conscious about your diet. But when you are overly concerned about everything you eat, very subtle forms of stress develop within your body and mind or as in the above example you are masking something deeper. In both extreme poles there is a lack of balance within the physical and mental planes of consciousness.
When one realizes their own imbalances they become more attracted to spiritual practices because they are thought of as a medicine for our relative ills. This is true in one sense and false in another. True because spiritual practices will center your focus if backed up by dedicated discipline, and false because the excessiveness that made our ills can begin to be projected into our spiritual practice. Once our spiritual practice becomes excessive, it loses its natural flexibility and enters the intellectual domain of becoming rigid, ego-driven behavior to attain the “goal” of enlightenment. Then our spiritual practice has more to do with repetition and anxiety than with liberation.
Almost all spiritual paths are vexed by this paradox as a majority of traditions involve excessive discipline. But as Gautama the Buddha realized after his seven years as an ascetic, no matter how hard he strived for enlightenment it continually eluded him. It was only when he completely let go of all his searching and accepted a milky soup from a young farm girl under the shade of the infamous Bodhi tree that he realized he was searching and striving for what is intrinsic to our nature: enlightenment. Paradoxically though, Gautama the Buddha needed to be on his journey to realize this. We could say that it was absurd for him to adhere to seven rigorous years of asceticism to realize what is ever-present, right now, but we lose sight of the fact that without those seven years he could not have become enlightened.
If Gautama the Buddha was not deluded by intellectual striving and at the same time sincere on his search then there would be nothing for him to let go of in this life. There would have been no attachment, as to his practice, that could have eclipsed his spiritual perception. It is only when we are attached to those aspects that eclipse our connection with the universe that we could know the freedom in being detached. This is a paradox, but the mystery of life exists in paradox. Gautama the Buddha’s Middle Way spawns from this mysterious paradox and essentially is why it is so difficult to discover the Middle Way--it is beyond the sphere of category and discernment.
This paradox is often left out of new-age spirituality because of its depth and because it implies that there is still an immense amount of self-work to do. An artificial spirituality comes into existence when we just take the pleasurable aspects of any story and build our foundation upon that. In the case of some new-age spirituality, the complete letting go aspect of Gautama the Buddha’s story is highlighted while the rest of it is ignored. People are taught to forget about spiritual practice or any desire one has, especially for enlightenment, because all you have to do is let go and enlightenment will be your reality. Though this sounds like a sweet deal, those of us who are authentic and sincere with ourselves know this is only a half-truth, one that needs to be supported by spiritual growth in the relative world. This mindset overlooks the fact that the absolute realm of mystery is in direct relationship to the relative world. Form implies formlessness and formlessness implies form in the same way that the universe produces consciousness and consciousness evokes the universe.
The real spiritual significance of transcendence means going beyond the idea of who you think you are. Real transcendence implies self-work and a stepping through the artificial aspects of our being. In our culture and society it becomes normal for individuals to not be conscious of their own latent habits and tendencies. As a result we dive head first into an excessiveness that keeps us distracted from reality. Reality can only be experienced when we make a conscious effort to eradicate the excessiveness in our lives that distracts us from our original nature. As Gautama the Buddha realized, freedom is not for free, but it is our original nature.
*Excerpted from Enlightenment Now, from the Inner Tradition website, Copyright C 2016 by Jason Gregory. All Rights Reserved.
To explore Enlightenment Now on Amazon.com, click here!
Jason really hit the mark about enlightenment here. Those interested in this subject should definitely read this book. This is written with historical accuracy and we follow the trail of enlightenment across the globe, ending right where we are now. The book is very helpful in focusing on what is very real in our lives, our own present time enlightenment.