3 Steps to Enlightenment


Only after building, tuning, and calibrating your personal shield can you still the water of your heart enough to see to its core.

About my work: I prefer honest and ever-evolving language games to declarations of objective truth.  My opinions and explorations are conceived as sand mandalas rather than geometric proofs, psycho-spiritual offerings to the churning sea of evolutionary progress. I am always willing and eager to “follow the argument where it leads”[1] or change my opinions based on new experiences, and I like to think of theories, laws, and great ideas as devices that simply point the way to greater subjective meaning and understanding. Like Terence McKenna’s “totality symbols,” a paradigm that seeks to teach the human mind to reach beyond itself must ultimately be custom-made for each individual. “It must first of all,” as Roland Barthes said, “if not exactly take definite shape, at least try itself out, explore its possibilities and impossibilities.”[2] My writings are thus a cohesive but shifting topology where the signified and signifier remain as entwined as form and color. They are not intended to convince you of anything, but merely to help you on your journey of transpersonal unfolding. Thanks for reading.


Optional Reading Music:


One of my yoga teachers once summarized the entire spiritual path in three simple steps, to be completed in the following order:

  1. Build your aura.
  2. Open your heart.
  3. Deal with the shit in your heart.

By most accounts, the spiritual path is a mind-bogglingly complex, nearly incomprehensible undertaking. In the Upanishads, it is called kshurasya dhara – “the razor’s edge.” Equally present in spiritual teachings throughout the ages, though, is the inclination toward simplicity. It seems that the maddening convolution of the macrocosm cannot be successfully navigated by building ever more intricate systems of understanding and action; noetic toolboxes and psychological force will only accelerate the karmic boomerang of our own confusion.

Instead, the Whole may only be understood, overcome, and experienced by release into the gnosis of paradoxical simplicity: the One is All and All is One. In the words of Hermann Broch, “within and without are identical, image and counter-image, but still not the integration which is knowledge.”[3]

There’s a straightforward theme here: you will always be the key to your own spiritual path.

The Path is only a razor’s edge because of the escalating karmic responsibility that comes from knowing, unconditionally and perfectly, that you are God. The more deeply you move into this knowing, the more power of influence you gain over the universe (which is ultimately the external projection of your Infinite Self). The more power of influence you gain, the greater the universe’s reaction must be to each of your actions.

So, right relation to our Path is accomplished through right action (without which we’re likely to receive a whopping karmic slap that could set us back at least a few hundred lifetimes). Because actions rooted in total personal responsibility are only possible in a climate of emotional stability, the process of emotional mastery is central to the unfolding of spiritual potential.

Notice that the term “mastery” inherently implies a process of discipline and meticulous will directed toward a desired attainment.  When we conjure images of a spiritual master (a yogi, shaman, jedi, grandmaster, etc.), we picture a being of great poise, patient wisdom, and directed power. Spiritual work must be equally motivated by shakti (power and discipline) and bhakti (love and devotion), but the process must begin with shakti.

For many, spiritual experience is about ecstasy, epiphany, wild revelation, dissolution into the kaleidoscopic void, surrender to the color-drenched ocean that may only ever asymptotically approach the White Light at the end of space-time. This beatific mode of transpersonal projection is at the core of bhakti.

“How bhakti works: love until you and the beloved become one.”[4]

While this is certainly the place that us self-organizing, fractal reflections of Source-Light want to be, the archetype of shakti has an important lesson to teach: don’t surrender until you’ve learned to unconditionally protect yourself, for “he who looks upon the face of God shall surely die.”[5]

This is one of the many paradoxes of the Path: how do you completely release and protect yourself at the same time?  Yoga (with a little linguistic help from galactic transmission and transpersonal psychology) provides one answer: let your heart do the releasing, but only after you’ve calibrated your aura to act as a perfect, superconscious shield. Without the participation of the mental awareness, allow this energy field that surrounds the body to function as an infinitely intelligent filtering system that effortlessly disallows all influences that don’t serve your highest manifestation.

The heart is the seat of the Alchemical Process that is central to the path of all spiritual seekers. It is the center of the mandalic self, the Merkaba-form that links human microcosm to Universal Macrocosm in ways that we are just barely beginning to understand as a species. It is Love projected into physical form, and the organ most consciously connected to the cherished practices of interrelating that make us feel warm and fuzzy. James Joyce’s famous saying, “Love loves to love love,”[6] shows us why we are often quick to open our hearts.  It’s not until we experience pain, imbalance, rejection, or disorder as a result of our opening that we begin to see how nice it would be to ride atop the samsaric waves of cause and effect.

Only after building, tuning, and calibrating your personal shield can you still the waters of your heart enough to see to its core. This gazing upon one the core frequency of one’s true and infinite self (also known as “dealing with the shit in your heart”) is where the real work begins – where you begin to take responsibility for all of your actions in all of your lifetimes, and thus step into the role of reality co-creator.

I’ll delve a lot more deeply into each of these three steps into future posts, but for now: only open your heart after learning to protect yourself, and then take cues from your heart’s most inner intuition. It’s already enlightened, and waiting with infinite patience for you to catch up.

Image source

[1] Plato. The Republic.

[2] Barthes, Roland. Elements of Semiology.

[3] Broch, Hermann. The Death of Virgil.

[4] Ram Dass. Be Here Now.

[5] Revelation, 22:4.

[6] Joyce, James. Ulysses.


Ryan Greendyk

Ryan Greendyk is a conscious internet entrepreneur, writer, kundalini yoga teacher, psychonaut, and sacred space creator. He's pretty fond of tea ceremonies, entheogens, bass-beat wizardry and techno-shamanism, superfoods, gifting, fire spinning, alternative healing modalities, spontaneous outbursts of love, and spending quality time with God and friends. In a nutshell, he's dedicated to delivering others to their highest selves through the creation and promotion of communities, cultures, products, and programs built upon creativity, intentional play, and spiritual self-mastery. He is the Founder of Lightlab and the Producer of Lightlab Events.

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  • Aaron Johnston

    Very well written Ryan. I’m curious how one is to have a clear sense of when he has reached a safe enough state of aural protection to move on to complete heart surrender and the ensuing state of temporary or abiding awakening? Should there be a guide involved? Is there a point when the universe (in loving to love itself as love) will ultimately push us out of the nest of egoic conditioning into the airspace of our true nature whether we’re ready or not? In this metaphor “protection” is more of a readiness, having the holistic aptitude and agility needed to navigate intensely transformative territory and the realms that constitute the singular reality.

    Of course everyone’s path is different and “readiness” is relative, but I’d love to continue the discussion of how one can embrace a higher level of spiritual integrity by bringing greater wisdom to the who, what, where, when, and how of their transcendence and transformation.

    Again, great work!

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