“But he that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.”
- Anne Bronte
The path to truth is a very tricky path. When dealing with the ego we can easily be deceived. There are so many things to watch out for. These are commonly known as pitfalls, sins, pāpa, “productive dualism,” dhanb, traps etc. The ultimate consequence of a pitfall is moving further away from consciousness, god, moksha, divine, basic goodness, truth, pure awareness, nonduality, enlightenment, etc. And that is why they are called pitfalls, because they hold you back from attaining enlightenment.
Generally speaking, the whole enlightenment practice is learning to let go of the ego (yourself). When we start to do this the ego will subtly fight back, which is usually when we fall into these sins. The ego is extremely crafty with lots of tricks up its sleeve, it always has a subtle card to play to stop the process of letting go. And I have fallen into many myself and have tried my best to pay close attention to these. Which is why I am writing about them. I haven’t mastered this practice by any means, but I feel that I’ve attained a decent enough understanding to share what I have learned about this phenomenon. So if you’re at all serious about finding truth you need to study this as early in your practice as possible so no time is wasted falling into pitfalls without knowing about them.
Now lets take a look at some of the biggest pitfalls that I have encountered along my own practice.
The biggest pitfall that I’ve worked with is the first cardinal sin. Its called pride. Just by the name you can tell its egoic.
So how would this look in practice. Well, after experiencing this practice you can start to become prideful of it. You start to feel special because of it, and maybe even a bit arrogant and boastful. I know thats what happened to me for a while in the beginning. And this creates a big problem. The whole point of the practice is to let go of the ego and now you start to use it to build the ego. The whole thing is quite ironic. When this happens you start to move in the opposite direction. You fall into a trap that stops your growth. This is the most common trap that I’ve seen. Some people never get out of this one, so be extremely careful when dealing with the ego. Ram Dass once said; see everything as a mother. This is a great way to kill your arrogance.
The next pitfall I found myself in is paying more attention in pointing out other peoples “mistakes” instead of your own. This one is pretty self explanatory. It also plays off of pride. When you’re arrogant about your own practice you tend to act like you have everything figured out and nobody else does. This is beyond delusion. Not everyone practices life like this and thats perfectly ok. That being said, worrying about what other people are doing (or not doing) is pointless. It wont benefit your practice. And most importantly, if you’re too busy pointing your finger at everyone else then you are being distracted from remembering to point your finger inward at yourself. Using your reaction of blaming as a reminder of your own practice is a nice way to get around this pitfall. You need to be pointing out your own delusions and pitfalls, because thats how you grow. And with enough growth you’ll be able to set an example for others instead of being hypocritical.
Another pitfall is belief. I have previously written about this, so if you want to go deeper into no belief go see the article titled “Stay Curious.”
But to sum it up. If you just take what you hear and read about “truth”, enlightenment, god on blind faith its going to be difficult to move towards an authentic understanding of what it actually is. A spiritual teaching is meant to get you to practice so you can experience truth for yourself. Because if it hasn’t been experienced then it’s not truth. It’s extremely important to make the distinction between a belief and a direct experience. One is truth, and the other will always be false. When we receive a teaching, we have simply been given a map. For example, if you are in California and were given a map of New York, that doesn’t mean you’re in, or have been to New York. This is another form of delusion and attachment. The mind can make sense of anything. Conceptually making sense of something is commonly mistaken for understanding. Belief, in and of itself is an act of ego. YOU want your ideas to be true. YOU want to be comforted from uncertainty. But it’s not about you. It takes a lot of courage but you need to let go of everything including yourself and everything that it desires. Thats when truth will reveal itself, when everything false is gone.
And lastly, what consciousness actually is goes purely beyond all of your ideas. Its actually the foundation of them. So it’s literally impossible to imagine divinity.
The last article posted goes more in depth into this next pitfall; using your realizations to hide from life. A lot of people I see think this spiritual practice is all about being happy all of the time. Or ditching your sense of self forever. But these are misconceptions. Its about embracing everything, and letting go of the ego in order to reach an existential understanding. Happiness is commonly a byproduct of enlightenment, but its not what it actually is in its essence.
I had an experience falling into this pitfall a few months ago. I was vending at a festival and it started to rain. Some of my stuff was getting wet and I started to get frustrated. I then relaxed and told myself that everything is ok the way it is. Although this is fundamentally true, I was attempting to use this realization to hide from my problems and feelings. I was subtly attempting to hide from my own humanity. Just because we can free ourselves from our addiction to the ego doesn’t change the fact that we have the rest of our lives to live as an individual. We need to find the balance between understanding our illusions, while living with them as well. As I remembered this I began to work with the rain and eventually packed up early, because I felt that was the best choice for me at the time.
I personally think this last pitfall is a little advanced, as I just realized it a few months ago. However, I did find a remedy for it, and I’m excited to share it. My experience with this new (to me) pitfall is what inspired this article. I think I’ll call it “counter practice.”
This is when the ego wants to let go of itself for itself. This is a completely natural thing to do! As my favorite teacher Adyashanti once said; “No revelation is given to us simply for our own benefit.” YOU want enlightenment. YOU want to let go of YOU for the sake of YOU. As I’ve mentioned about 3 or 4 other times in this same article; Enlightenment is about letting go of the ego. Well, this can be a little bit tricky. When we do this, we are instantly rooting the practice of letting go of the ego in the ego. With this mindset you can only go so far with this practice. And I personally reached my limit in that mindset. I wouldn’t call this pitfall being prideful, but it is using the practice to build the ego, just from a different angle. If you’re new to this practice don’t worry too much about this. I can only imagine it would make things a bit overwhelming.
So now lets get to the solution to this one, because it’s a special pitfall.
In order to stop rooting your practice in ego, you need to devote your awakening to all other beings. Which is what this business has turned into. Frequency Goods is a way I can spread awakening to all of you. Thats the goal anyway. From here on out my practice is solely for the purpose of spreading consciousness through others. So far this mindset has allowed me to let go of ego on a much deeper level, and experience a more intimate relationship with our true nature. And I know, “I’m doing it for others ultimately to deepen my own practice.” But that will just take a little contemplation to get past. Plus, I genuinely want to help people live a deeply profound life. Once you wake up to consciousness, that has to be the roots of your practice. Instead of operating from ego, you need to see everything from your deepest truth. With awareness comes responsibility. It’s an intense task, but a worthy one.
So those are some of the biggest pitfalls that I have run into. They aren’t the only ones but they are broad. There is one last thing you need to know when it comes to dealing with pitfalls. If you run into any pitfall, and work past it, that doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever. It will most likely return. The thing is, there is so much depth to each and every pitfall. I’m still catching myself victim of all of these pitfalls, but from different angles. And I’m working through them on a deeper level. That is why we call this a practice, and I’m not just talking about pitfalls here. Everything that goes into spiritual awakening takes time to work with. And it’s not about counting down the hours until you have it mastered. It’s about learning that this is a constant practice with no end. Because when you think you have it all figured out, thats when you can be absolutely sure that you don’t. In theory, the thought itself of “having it figured out” may be exactly what makes us loose ourselves along the practice. Which is one of many reasons why I like to tell people to “Stay Curious.”
So it’s not going to come easy. Thats why you have to really want to understand the nature of reality. You have to want the truth far more than you want to be comfortable.
For all of you who are already along this path, I hope this can be of use to you. For those of you who are new, I hope this inspires you to build the courage to start investigating in this experience, and maybe one day see that the egoic state is nothing but a dream.
Thank you for reading.