The book hurts -
the pain is noticing clearly the ego's persistent claim to exist.

If you point fingers, you're always pointing at yourself (common wisdom)
You are what you see (Osho)
Your thoughts determine your experiences (H. Palmer)
You are what you eat (macrobiotic)
What you don't know, you don't see. (NRC Newspaper)
So, are you what you say, see, think, eat, know... ?

Yes, but do we also realize that we are what we read?!... In other words: what you read, is what you are.
I didn't know this.
Never thought about it.
Jed McKenna's book, Spiritual Enlightenment - The Damnedest thing, threw me into that playing field.

The following is neither a dialogue nor a conversation. It is what it is - a discussion by two women about a book and a man, a friendship and an apparent sense of 'I'.

My friend Niyati in South Africa was so thrilled with this book that she took it to bed at night and woke up with it the next morning.
She sent me the book via e-mail and my computer went into instant shock, resulting in my being unable to send or receive e-mails for days on end. < And I get these furious e-mails asking me if I have gone completely bonkers or what, and that if I EVER again have the audacity to send you something of this sort, you will NEVER have anything to do with me ever again, etc. etc.>

I had asked a befriended publisher for a desk copy of the book from the American publisher. He received it, took one look at it and put it aside straight away - eleven pages of 'foreplay' (10 plus the entire back cover of the book), full of sensationalist recommendations, so much twaddle, so American - out with this thing!
Another friend had read the book, or flipped through it, was irritated, found it worthless and dumped it. I retrieved it from his garbage bin. Mmm, there are limits. I had a New Age thought: 'apparently I need to read this book, there is no way out for me.'

I started to read it because Niyati wanted me to read it. Do I have a choice?
Definitely not.
No spiritual book has ever made me laugh so much. < I had the same. That's exactly why I insisted you read it, you nitwit!! > I instantly fell for this vibrant man. I loved the way he dragged everyone through the so-called spiritual mud. < Yes, that's what I also found absolutely fantastic, little nitwit!!! > It touched me to read about those disciples. I felt the same, that time (with Osho, ShantiMayi, with Alexander Smit...). < Well... I didn't quite have the same reaction... My response was more one of 'Why don't you stop putting that guy on such a pedestal!', even though I loved certain parts of the interaction with disciples, like for example 'FUCK BLISS'. And I also loved the part where he's playing a video game whilst entertaining a dialogue with some boy who thinks he knows it all already, when in fact his very ideas about liberation form the walls of his prison.>

Whilst Niyati, who was pages ahead of me, < No, I had finished reading the entire book WAAAAAY back when you finally made a start with it. And during that entire period I could NOT share anything with you, tear, tear, and all you did was declare me mad, tear, tear> had already recognized that after all, Jed did not exactly meet her longing for ordinariness, lack of holiness, simplicity, it turned out that I enjoyed his irony, his cool observations and the mocking manner in which he pulled the rug out from under his disciples' thinking (yes, yes, yes, that's how it happened to me too...).< The contradiction you're stating here is not quite right - I did also thoroughly enjoy his razor sharp decapitation of all the holy cows, I've never seen this described in such a sharp manner and with such sense of humor. What 'clashed' with me, was that I regularly got the impression that he saw himself as separate from his disciples, as if he had already 'reached' something they hadn't - and furthermore, I often got the feeling that he again turned enlightenment into something special and difficult to reach and only attainable for the very few, etc. etc. >

I saw Jed as a kind of Osho prototype, who from a Guru viewpoint observes everything out of the corners of his eyes and describes life with disciples and the disciples' behavior in his Ashram in a witty and cool-ironic manner. And not to forget, the magnificent beauty of the South-East Iowa nature adjacent to the Mississippi river...
I thought to myself: 'the ability to mock oneself is a virtue.'

I appeared to recognize myself in everything: whatever I read had relevance for me, he was always talking about me, it was my experience in the ashram: close to the guru, the closer the better, the worse, the more chance for me to see, feel, understand IT. < Yeah, that whole mindset came across very strongly, and I have of course had the same thing, in particular with Alexander, and in a certain way THAT is deceiving!!! Because one gets the tendency to project IT outside of oneself and to personalize IT - as if 'he' has got it, and 'you' don't - and that's just plain bullshit, and it is deceiving because it is NOT personal, as you know. So that's why I felt that Jed is in a way still caught up in an old paradigm, which no longer fits in with the current spirit.>

Disciple after disciple was grabbed by the balls and described in detail. In short: I had the impression of Guru Jed as the Guru-hero who mocks us all and describes how HE views that bunch of loonies being immersed in 'striving towards' and 'hoping' and being fascinated by their desire to reach enlightenment, here and now with Him. Meanwhile he is trying to be ordinary, to go skiing and parachute jumping and is giving a hilarious interview about Realization to a journalist for a New Age magazine, who is eventually so completely shaken up that she nearly faints from sheer enlightenment. < Yes, that interview was also the topper of the entire book for me, and I nearly killed myself laughing when reading that interview! >

Meanwhile, Niyati in South Africa, had a totally different view on the book from mine. < No, that is not true, you nitwit and thick-headed individual, for the most part I see it the same way as you do, APART FROM my remarks above. > She had a draft of the book on e-mail, she had never read the 11 pages full of recommendations (with which the book opens) from every self-respecting Guru who ENTIRELY agreed with Jed. I loved those sensational ads, I saw them as ironic; I thought and still think that all those so-called guru's don't really exist, that it's all a farce and that is exactly what I found it so enjoyable, innovative and refreshing. 'How on earth did he get to all of this?', I thought to myself.

Niyati had made a 180 degree turnaround. < NOT AT ALL!!! See above. >
She started to get irritated with the 'himself respecting' Guru called Jed, who, according to her, was only busy showing off how Enlightened he was/is. She started to despise him and she could not understand how I could see/read/experience it differently. < Now, this is really a prime example of your lively fantasy, I have NEVER had a feeling of despising towards Jed, but it is true that all that superiority fuss started to irritate me and I find it deceptive, that's all. Of course I understand that you experience it differently, because you are simply mad. So, end of that. ; - ) (By the way, I have already written to Jan K. that he will need to mediate between us in order to SAVE our friendship!!!! He said though that he has not been able to get hold of the book yet.) > The communication was fiercely intense and insightful. < Neither fiercely intense nor insightful. Now what is intense about it, little nitwit? Look, if you were not 'mad', I could never have been your friend, because I'm muuuuuuuuuuuuuch madder than you are!!! >

We ask ourselves who Jed is, is he really alive, is the book's content real, is there anyone who knows him, or, if you read the book, what do you think of it? < Yes, that is what's great about this book - that it evokes so much! Indeed, I also questioned if he is 'real' and if that Ashram in actual fact really exists at all.> Or is the book only fun for people who have lived in an Ashram for longer periods of time and who have had a real life experience of what actually goes on behind the spiritual facade? < Look, that is perhaps the root of our differing views - I have never lived in an Ashram! I got involved only after Oregon and when I did want to live in the commune, I was refused because they found me too arrogant. Funny hey! >

I have learned this:
I really think that everyone reads his/her own book. < YES, that is where we come together again, and I herewith declare our friendship SAVED!! Without Jan's help, we don't need him anymore!! All right then, you're right, it was insightful after all. You're right again...> What you think, that's what you read, that's what you encounter, that's what you see, that's what you are. That is, on the level of appearance and in that particular moment.< Yes, all right then, I love you again. Enjoy reading. Keep in touch.>

[Belle en <Niyati>]

* Enlightenment – The Damnedest Thing van Jed McKenna- existing or non-existing, who knows... - with quotes from giants like Walt Whitman, Rumi, Chuang Tse and others and the author himself. A Wisefool Press publication, enlightened publishing. (ISBN: 9714352-3-5)


(Jed McKenna)

(By the way, Kriben Pillay (publisher of Noumenon in South Africa) let us know that at this moment Jed does not invite people; he is in retreat, doesn’t reply to any mail and is preparing another book.)