At one time many years ago, I had a female student who came to learn Vipassana meditation with me. After some weeks she was met by a friend who also claimed a meditation practice.
‘How long have you been learning?’ asked the friend.
‘Oh, for about six weeks now,’ my student replied.
‘Are you seeing green lights yet?’ continued the friend.
‘No,’ replied my student somewhat startled by the question.
‘Then your meditation isn’t working!’ said the friend.

Some years ago I was invited to give lectures and workshops at the Mind, Body Spirit festival in London. This was intriguing for me as I would be able to meet and brush shoulders with other spiritual practioners, albeit from many so called ‘New Age’ disciplines. In the end it was an interesting and often amusing experience and it’s teachings of personal confusion and manipulation have stayed with me since that time.
The spiritual world is filled with imagination and fantasy and, like the Harry Potter films, is very appealing to many. I witnessed many things that were not only surprising to someone who had earnestly trained with a true master for many years, but actually shocking as to the level of spiritual exploitation and manipulation rampant at such an exposition.
It is true that if we are not awake, we are truly asleep and in our endless quest for happiness and ego reinforcement we will open ourselves to many kinds of foolishness, no matter how intelligent we feel ourselves to be.

A man sat in a restaurant and asked the waiter what was the special of the day.
‘We have a wonderful piece of tounge,’ replied the waiter.
The customer was shocked, ‘oh no,’ he cried, ‘I couldn’t eat anything that has come out of the mouth of an animal. Bring me an egg!’

The reality of our training is that the deep and profound truth that we call Dhamma is, in fact, quite ordinary and is always right in front of us.
However, it is the very ‘nothing specialness’ of this truth that becomes the greatest obstacle to it’s complete realisation, and because of this remains unknown to the majority of spiritual and religious practictioners who earnestly seek something out side the reality of the moment, and therefore the reality of life.
The world that we experience is always unique and personal to us, as is everything we meet and empower. It begins and ends with mind.
Wherever we feel ourselves to be in our life right now, is only the consequence of the different moments of mind that we have empowered and brought into fruition. No-one can lift you up, but no-one can throw you down either. No-one can make you happy, but no-one can make you unhappy either, only you can do these things!
The secret of true and complete liberation is always with us, and takes only a moment of clarity. To stop seeking something from outside ourselves to bring happiness, and to realise that everything that we want, we already have.
We don’t need Buddha statues or incense, crucifixes or rosaries, chanting, affirmations or magic spells.
In the end, freedom isn’t something to get, it’s something to realise.
The Buddha used his life as his greatest teacher. Old age, sickness and death. Pain, suffering, disatisfaction and fear. Happiness and unhappiness arising and passing away.
Not special qualities available to only a chosen few, but the very best Dhamma masters directly in front of us if only we know how to look and have the bravery and honesty to apply ourselves to their teachings.
The true liberation of Dhamma is never a ‘getting of something’, no matter what colour or how enticing that may be, but only the putting down and walking away from the delusion of ego and self identity – the true cause of our unhappiness and disatisfaction in life.

May all beings be happy.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Kewley is the former Buddhist monk Pannadipa and founder of the Pure Dhamma tradition of Spiritual Awakening. He trained as a disciple for thirty years with Sayadaw Rewata Dhamma, a Burmese Buddhist master, both as a monk and a layman, and in his youth in the traditions of Rinzai and Soto Zen.
He also spent time with Advaita Vedanta teachers in India, but now shares his complete spiritual understanding through the non dualistc presentation of Vipassana meditation and life-style.
He was the senior teacher at the International Meditation Centre in Budh Gaya, India for many years and was known affectionately as ‘the guru with the loving heart’. He says often that he has no teaching to give, only Dhamma to share.
On 26th May 2002 during a special ceremony at his masters temple in England he was awarded the supreme title of Dhammachariya, meaning master.
Michael's method of teaching is through the use of stories, both traditional and modern and with great humour.
To be in his presence is inspiring and profound, and everywhere in the world when he is present, Dhamma Halls are filled with the sound of joyful laughter.