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4.6. Several roads to enlightenment

One way to wake up is by looking bigger at everything, looking from an «outside» perspective that includes yourself, and discovering what you are a part of and indeed are.

The Bhagavat Gita (Song of the Lord), one of the central texts of Hinduism, gives three ways to become spiritually illuminated. In the 15th century, a fourth was added:
  1. Karma Yoga, the Path of action
  2. Bhakti Yoga, the Path of devotion
  3. Jnana Yoga, the Path of knowledge
  4. Raja Yoga, the Path of meditation
In sum, these are often called «the four paths to realisation». It is about how one can come to insight, know, understand or experience something higher, something divine.

I am no expert on Hinduism, and these four paths are the subject of endless discussions and many interpretations throughout history. Instead, I will give you my intuitive understanding, not to illuminate the Bhagavat Gita, but because this quadruple in my eyes makes sense and because I need to expand on what I have already said in this chapter.

So there is not just one way to be enlightened. There are as many paths as there are living creatures, for we are all on the way to «knowing ourselves», as Jesus said – «transcend ourselves», one would say in the East.

It is thus about understanding oneself relative to the whole.

To get there, we must put aside our Ego, look beyond the notion that I, I, I, I, I ... am, do, believe, think ... based on just myself.

You should come to the realisation that who you think you are is not who you think you are. You must discover yourself as something other than «yourself».

I phrase it just like that to bring out the circular, the catch-22, the chicken and the egg, the apparent paradox of being able to know something about oneself from the perspective of the same self.

It can, in principle, be solved in only one way: by stepping out of the circle, obliterating this problematic self, and understanding that paradoxes can not exist, because everything is, in reality, one.

To experience this oneness, the whole, real – all the seemingly divided, separated, individual, must be abandoned.

Put a little simpler: You have to forget yourself, if only for a moment. Then you will see, understand, experience, that something else and infinitely much greater exists. A little glimpse is enough to bring you on a whole new course because once you know something, have experienced something, it can not be forgotten.

So the four roads, then? How can they be explained simply?

Here is my version for «dummies like myself»:
  1. The path of action: You dedicate yourself to good deeds and care for others. Through it, you remove the focus on yourself and discover that we all have the same hopes, longings, needs, thoughts, etc. You realise that we are the same, in essence, and that this essence is what unites and does not separate us. You discover «the great oneness».
  2. The path of devotion: You submit yourself to something greater and more powerful than yourself. It can manifest as worship, prayer, ceremonies, text reading, religious studies, etc. You focus on the divine and not on yourself. Dogmatic religions (based on doctrines) do this.
  3. The path of knowledge: You experience on your own, through trauma, your psychology, intuition, openness, absence of fear or ability to enter into fear, your divergent view of the world – that things are different from what most people think. This whole book you are reading now is one such story. How to come to knowledge on your own will be highly individual.
  4. The path of meditation: You can put away your Ego through deep meditation. But I want to say it slightly differently: You can discover your authentic self by expanding your awareness. Then you discover the awake, vigilant point inside you that is you, the one who imagines your Ego, the primary role you play, the one you think you are, but which is only a self-made construction. The key is to discover the now, and that all your thoughts about the past and future are just spin. Only now exists, and if you let go of everything else entirely and go into it completely, you experience it.
Osho has an eight-minute video where he convincingly explains and demonstrates total presence, total vigilance, total awareness, full meditation – in front of the camera and a large crowd: You Have Thousands of Opportunities Every Day to Have Wonderful Experiences.

It's that simple, says Osho. You need not believe in God, not worship a Messiah; you need no holy book, rituals, church, or anything. You just have to stop entirely and simply be.

Vigilance. I came to know vigilance in 1985. It was a recognition, a return to something known. You will hear about it in the next chapter about Alma.

Osho tells us to experience the world as it is; without interpreting or trying to understand it.

Do not make it into knowledge.

He thus defends the opposite of everything I have said so far: that you should come to knowledge; more excellent knowledge, greater perspective.

Osho shows us a different path, which I know is the right one for people who are not as analytical as myself, who are not traumatised in my way. I have seen in their response that this is right for them.

Do not think, do not understand, do not name anything, do not look for connections, do not quest for a bigger picture, something higher or deeper or different. Resign yourself altogether and simply be, here and now.

Just be vigilant, I would say. It's the same.

Do not think that the birds are singing; listen instead to the song, do not think of the song, listen to the sounds, do not think that there are sounds, only listen! Take it in. Watch, smell, taste and feel everything the same way, without explanations based on the past or expectations about the future. No judgement. Do not say that something is pretty or ugly, one way or another. Just accept.

There is nothing you need to do.

It is so basic, simple, immediate, uncomplicated, and devoid of all ideas and mechanisms.

The world is.

That's a fact, the only thing.

Osho shows in the video how he stops and goes into it. Every day you have thousands of opportunities to be fully vigilant, fully aware, says Osho. Try it, he encourages, even if you are in the middle of a marketplace.

Make this your way of life, your existence. Be present here and now, always. Experience directly. With practice, you get it and will eventually find yourself in a life devoid of suffering. Instead, you will find happiness, lightness, love.

«Don't worry, be happy», to borrow some words from Bobby McFerrin.

«Don't worry 'bout a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be all right,» to quote Bob Marley again, now from the song «Three Little Birds».

Osho goes further than that.

You will experience an explosion, he says. It is one of the most wonderful experiences you can have, even if you are in the middle of the world. Also, the hustle and bustle of the world assume a beauty of its own; for you.

Osho's wakefulness is his primary path to insight, it seems. Mine is another, but I also know this wakefulness, vigilance, sensitivity. I have experienced it entirely on many occasions and can confirm that it is something extraordinary.

It was a moment two years ago in the square in front of the town hall in Oslo, where I often stop on my bike rides, sit on a bench and watch people. On this day, it was like being in a theatre. I saw people rushing back and forth, all in their role, in an interaction, concerned with being something, doing something, planning something, reacting to others.

I was suddenly on the outside.

I was anything but all this.

I saw my fellow human beings as characters in their roles. The businessman hurrying to a meeting, the hectic woman trying to reach the bus, the lazy teenager, the giggling girls, the bragging boys, the lonely outsider – all portrayed as if they were participating in a children's play.

Humans became colourful characters who were one hundred per cent inside their idea of themselves. I watched them just as they appeared and had to laugh out loud! They were arrogant and tried hard, or they were just something all to themselves, without understanding how caricatured they were.

When they met my gaze, I understood that they felt exposed. They were caught in the act, observed, dressed naked. Some became insecure; others smiled wholeheartedly and enjoyed being exposed to my sharp, non-judgmental gaze. Many tried to make themselves invisible, but most noticed nothing. They were simply in this very life of theirs, obviously without reflection.

But the children stood out. They saw me the same way I saw them. We saw each other without roles. I have experienced this many, many times with children. Surely you too. It is fantastic.

It was all a performance that I was suddenly able to not interpret, not put my stuff on top of. It was just a lot of fun!

What I experienced that day is also the magic of the theatre. The actors show us roles and their stupidity and confusion. They portray and caricature life in all its misery and imagined greatness.

The audience sits in their comfortable seats and gradually understands that it is all about themselves, not anyone else. They view themselves from a position of stillness and tranquillity. A good play provides insight, epiphanies, catharsis, cleansing, healing.

We discover the absurd in our behaviour and performances.

That's theatre at its best, at its most authentic, the way it was centuries ago when the king was offended by blasphemous poets and itinerant jugglers. Gradually the theatre stiffened; became obsessed with form, preoccupied with the visual and stylistic, the linguistic and the rhythmic. As with everything else in society, it was forced into genres, styles, structures and rules.

That is against the essence of theatre. That's why we yawn when we sink into the deep seats at the National Theater, the country's leading stage, which is the most «perfect», i.e. stiffened, of them all.

Theatre has become a product. Life can never be a product, not on the deepest level.

Thus, there will always be an opening for improvisational theatres, new types of circuses, experimental theatre, clowning etc. They all attempt to remove the frozen rules, restore relevance and create the magical moment when we see ourselves from the outside.

Then we suddenly understand that maybe we are not just members of the audience who enjoy a performance, but something more. We watch actors pretending to be people like ourselves while doing things we often do.

We see life as it «passes revue», while we, I, you, are something other than all this.

We are the viewer.

Osho says that you should not reduce the experience to knowledge, never be clever.

Knowledge is like dust in front of your eyes, preventing you from seeing what is. Reality is always available, but you are not available to it. That is the core of Zen, says Osho; he himself a Zen master.

Not reduce the experience to knowledge?

This whole book is dissemination of deep, intuitive knowledge acquired through life, processed analytically and presented as a theory, a system – of just knowledge.

How can both these ways of being present in the world lead to spiritual insight?

The answer is simple.

The two ways are the same.

Abstract knowledge acquired intuitively and experienced as thought – and the experience of the same knowledge as something materialised in the world around and within you – are two ways of experiencing it which are both equally valid because both are experiences of the knowledge in the Collective.

What is not valid is to distort the knowledge that is the «real» world, let your private interpretations, thoughts and ideas lie on top instead of what is actually. Your Ego is allowed to dominate everything you think and do, and your Ego is «blind».

That is what is meant when, in spiritual circles, it is said that we «dream».

We might as well say that we make our private buzz in our heads, usually caused by fear. When the mental noise calms down, we see what really is; we «wake up».


I use words here and talk about things that we have not yet considered thoroughly enough. I will return to this in the sequel, perhaps especially in the last two chapters.

Just read on; you will reach the finish line, even if you think you will fall off here and there. I pry the understanding in, manipulate you without you noticing it (boo!) – but sometimes you notice it anyway.

What you were experiencing right now – my little explanation in the previous lines – was a small piece of meta, i.e. information about the information, words about the words, an observation of the observer. An out-of-yourself experience. A view from a meta-position, from a higher position. That is precisely what I experienced at the town hall two years ago.

Where were we?

«The path of knowledge» says that you should seek knowledge about how everything is connected.

«The path of meditation» says that you should experience reality directly through your senses and mind by silencing all thoughts about how it all fits together.

The two paths are seemingly contradictory.

Both paths provide access to tacit knowledge that cannot be conveyed in words but must be experienced.

They are two very different experiences, but at the same time, they are the same.

Gaining knowledge is experienced as having a vast encyclopedia available at all times. The encyclopedia provides a precise, intuitive understanding of all movement, dynamics and relationships that exist. You know how it works and realise the necessity of everything that happens.

That intuitively collected knowledge can also be explained to others because everyone has access to this knowledge. They just keep it out of focus all their lives. Therefore, you will encounter curiosity but also an incredible amount of resistance and fear when you extract truths from this immediate source.

Getting to the real thing through mindfulness and meditation is experienced as cosy, quiet, safe, friendly, protective, warm, loving, vibrant, peaceful, simple, authentic, all-encompassing, indisputable, genuine. It's like coming home to something you've always known, the place from where you came. It is a pure feeling, devoid of mental interference.

Both paths open access to «that which is behind yourself», and both are subjective, tacit experiences that can not be fully communicated to others.

Knowledge and non-knowledge are the same.

In my eyes, it is a sensational observation.

Once you have awakened, you have an experience that can never be taken away from you. But it can again fade into the background and be forgotten daily, for our lives effectively overshadow the more profound and subtle.

That is why there is often talk of «remembering» – that we must remind ourselves of everything we know. That does not only apply to those who have had the experience of waking up in one way or another. For what we discover through an awakening is something we also knew before we were born.

Now I could talk about reincarnation, but it's too early. We are missing pieces in the puzzle.

Right now, I want to point to another video with a young woman named Anna Brown. She calls herself «just a lass who likes to sometimes chat about this beautiful simplicity».

The clip is approximately twenty minutes and shows a person who has essentially «broken through» by fully opening up to her awareness and sensitivity.

Listen to what she says, but also watch how she is present. It is fascinating and telling:

Don't Worry Just BE.