Hi, I love the Buddha and the dharma. I look forward to learning more here and making some friends! Let me tell you about myself.
As a young boy I would often lie awake at night contemplating the mysteries of existence. I was not raised in a religious household which is a blessing. I had no answers provided to me and was just left with pure investigation. I would wonder "Who am I?" "Why am I me and not somebody else?" "How am I me and not somebody else?" "How can consciousness be limited to this form?" etc. I remember having a conversation with my mother about these mysteries when I was ten years old. I asked her what happens after we die? and she said that she didn't know. Then she asked me what I thought and I answered her with Buddhist philosophy even though I never heard of Buddhism yet. The way I viewed it then, consciousness is everywhere, the body and thoughts give the illusion of a boundary that keeps consciousness isolated to the form of the body or head. I remember that my mother was very surprised. I didn't realize emptyness or anatta though.
That was my first satori. Then as a teen I was always interested in the mystical. Unfortunately I was young and naive. The only mystical teachings available were cheesy books on wicca. I got into that for a while convinced that magick was the nectar that I was seeking. While I laugh at my interest in Wicca in those days, I do have to say that it is a good container for my love of nature, and a refreshing change from the organized abrahamic religions that were my only other options.
Then, as a young adult of 20, I had another satori. A strong one that made me commit to the search for truth as my highest priority in this life. It is interesting that a profound satori experience can lead to disturbance. I feel like the flash of insight that leaves one trying to make sense of it with one's intellect raises all the misconceptions to the opportunity to be recognized or not. It is funny that what I experienced at that satori was what I was looking for the following 20 years or so.
This satori experience lead me to believe that the Eastern religions are the only container to make sense of my experiences. So I started studying Hindu yoga and got all delusional fancying myself a great yogi with dreadlocks. Haha! I got into all kinds of delusional beliefs even trying to be celibate as a young 20-something year old with no teachers, and too arrogant to have a teacher.
This lead to a great disillusionment when my celibacy failed and I was confronted with the very real fact that I was going to be a father. So I took this as an opportunity to face reality. I did not give up my love of truth, but rather I saw that my previous role-playing game as a yogi was full of hypocrisy. I had become self-righteous and had a spiritual self-image. A spiritual ego.
I figured it is more truthful to be just an ordinary man then to try to be a great yogi. I embraced normal life and enjoyed normal enjoyments. I relaxed. I was not ashamed to be lustful or having any other normal desires. I became very aware of self-righteous behavior in others.
Fast forward a few years. I got very much into lucid dreaming which is a very mystical neptunian outlet for my thirst for mysticalness. Lucid dreaming has been the best spiritual practice for me. This is what led to Tibetan Buddhism. I was really exploring deep into the dream world. I started doing a practice I made up where I was mixing lucid awareness with waking life while reenacting my dreams of the previous night. Strange things started happening that I won't go into here, let me just say that I began questioning my sanity and for the first time it seemed that real magick was happening.
This is when I came across a book by Namkhai Norbu called Dream Yoga and the practice of Natural Light. This was amazing! This is when I realized that if I subscribed to any religion, it is Buddhism! This is what I had come to know as a child! But still, I am very independent and believe that I don't belong to any religion, even Buddhism, but they all belong to me instead. I do not identify with being a Buddhist, but I often same I am a Buddhist for convenience sake so others can understand me a little better.
So last spring I was invited to join this spiritual group on facebook by a friend who created the group. I really don't like hanging out or talking to "spiritual" people to much because I like down to Earth folks who are not self-righteous, who aren't trying or pretending to be something they are not, etc... Anyway, this group was full of people judging each other as less awakened than themselves. Full of spiritual rhetoric that I have heard for 20 years over and over again. It was full of people posing as Hindu Advaita gurus etc. Any time somebody would say something like "I am confused..." someone would post "Who is it that is confused?" As if this is some deep profound insight. Like I said, I have heard this for 20 or so years at least and am quite sick of the empty spiritual cliches.
So, in a moment of frustration, I declared that everyone already knows their own true nature and that enlightenment is a hoax. Folks are only pretending to be unenlightened. Prior to this I had been hanging out with a bunch of Native Americans and was really enjoying learning their view. The folks I was friends with have seen plenty of American Buddhists and Yogis, etc. and laughed at them for "looking for themselves". This is what influenced my revelation that everyone already knows their true nature. This is what the Native Americans said. Their view is that the Eastern teachings convince people that they are unenlightened as they are and have to do many years or lifetimes of hard practices to try to "improve" themselves. They have a point! Nothing can make somebody feel less than sufficient as a teaching that tells you that as you are you are unenlightened.
So, immediately after posting that on facebook, I thought about the paradox. If I already know my true nature, and that true nature is the Buddha nature, and enlightenment is a hoax, I can relax and be enlightened right now, why do I still seek? I resolved to end it right there. I said to myself "I must be enlightened right now!" I looked at my sense of self, saw that it was empty, and that emptyness overflowed and filled the world so that everything I looked at was empty, just a shape and color of awareness. I laughed and laughed that it worked! I was enlightened right now! I was so relaxed! Such a relief! It was right there all along! I was everything that I had been seeking! I was in bliss for three days and hardly ate, hardly slept, but mostly just sat on the chair of my porch observing my front yard and the street and the trees and the birds and the moon and sun.
I became my own guru. I told myself "Now this is just a spiritual experience, it will pass, don't hold onto it." But I couldn't resist. I held onto it after it left and was filled with desparation to regain that lost state. But as my own Guru speaking as the mind of clear light I told myself "But it is ok if you lose it because it cannot be lost, if I appear to lose that state it is not lost but just apparently hidden. Luckily, I realized that my satori 20 years before had been a little version of this satori and I had gotten lost for 20 years because of that. Being musch more mature now than I was 20 years ago I started studying Dzogchen and put the practice of no practice into effect and now I recognize the mind of clear light, or Rigpa as always present.