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Jed McKenna has a new book out, Spiritual Warfare. It is more extreme and demanding than his previous books. Jed creates a world of concepts through which the theme of death plays out in zero tolerance fashion. Everyone from your favorite legendary guru to your local nonduality guru and author, is Jed's target. YOU are his target. Target for what? For his declaration that you are unawake. How to awaken? Through death, metaphorically, and possibly literally.
Here's an excerpt that shows the kind of considerations in this book and how he views the place his readers are coming from. He assumes that you the reader are afraid of death, so Jed is going to take you by the hand like your father and show you that from his adult point of view death is not what you think it may be. The following is about suicide, and as Jed says below, "We're not talking about the commission of the act, but only the honest contemplation of it." Please read the preceding quotation ten times before continuing.
It's clear that for most or all of them, this is a distinctly taboo subject, a roped-off area into which their thoughts seldom wander. They equate suicide with misery and failure and cowardice; the act of moody teenagers and the weak and the ill. They view self-termination as an absolutely, positively last resort, and maybe not even then, whereas I, an eyes-open being, might view it as a third or fourth resort. I don't think I'd stick my head in the oven to get out of a speeding ticket, but I might do it to get out of a wheelchair or a year in jail or a bad case of the hiccups. It wouldn't, however, be based on a decision so much as an observation. Things come into a certain alignment, patterns emerge, rightness is perceived, and the clearly indicated course is followed. I've never not done something once I saw that it was the thing to do, and that includes much harder things than suicide. Despite not being a bushido warrior kinda guy, I do have a clear and abiding awareness that today is a perfectly good day to die.
"Only that day dawns to which we are awake."
If this seems like a light treatment of a heavy subject, it's because from the integrated perspective, it's not so dark and dreary. There's no evil stink to death when it's out in the open where we can see it and hold it steadily in our sight. This is what it means to befriend death, to embrace it; that we acknowledge its importance in our lives, not that we get to like it or look forward to it or develop some creepy resonance with it. The primary benefit of this honest relationship is the way in which it throws life open to us, but also important is the way it de-horrifies the spectre of death.
We're not talking about the commission of the act, but only the honest contemplation of it. The question of suicide -- to be, or not to be -- is at the very heart of philosophical inquiry, but Maya has rendered it virtually unthinkable with a logjam of highly charged counter-beliefs; we have no right to terminate our own lives because life is sacred, it's an unpardonable sin and an abomination against God, it's a cowardly act and a cheat, whatever life lessons we escape now we'll just have to experience in the next life, and so on.
Rather than being unthinkable, however, suicide should be supremely thinkable. It is the thing that most needs thinking about. At the very least, we would want to break the logjam and make some decisions about it for ourselves. If you want to have some fun with Spiritual Autolysis, begin with the question: Why shouldn't I kill myself right now?
Spiritual Warfare, by Jed McKenna
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