The Perfect Key to Awakening – The Play of the Grandiose Self

Pablo Neruda

Many people who have traveled the world and especially those who spent a fair amount of time of what we used to call the Third World, have often remarked how happy and relaxed the local people are. Often upon returning to the uptight and stressed world of the “First World”, they will talk about their easy-going smiles that seem to light up a room.

I have noticed that myself in my own travels and just that one small perception was one of the ideas that inspired my book Liberation from the Lie.

Why is that? This is the question I am going to try to answer in this post. But within this question arises the clearest expression of discovering the awakened self.

Anyone who has ever meditated – anyone who has been attracted to what we might call Eastern Philosophy – reaches a stage where they make inquiries into the self. “Who am I” they ask themselves. “What am I?”

In this way we start to explore the self – that being that we have taken ourselves to be these many years.

Awakening reveals something really quite amazing about this self. It reveals a quality that we might be very reluctant to see or admit to.

It reveals that this self is very grandiose. It’s the BIG story. It’s the MAIN story. It has a bigness to it. But it is a solitary and detached bigness. We can’t help noticing how this all-important self is separate from the rest of the world. It’s separation gives it a feeling of vulnerability – brittleness.

In contrast, realization shows a universe where beingness is without dimensions. It doesn’t possess substance. It’s just … light – ‘the incredible lightness of being’.

You might want to see if this is true for your own experience. When something is BIG, then it’s IMPORTANT. It has weight. It’s something that needs to be carried about. It’s very fatiguing. If we are to experience our essence, we just need to see this BIGNESS and get sick and tired of carrying it around.

Now let’s get back to our Third World Friends.

In places that are far less stressed, that have far fewer things – the concept of the BIG me is far less vigorous. There is an easy-going quality of the self. Because it’s not nearly so big, it can be a lot more nimble and generous. It has little, but it is happy to share the little it possesses.

Thought, desire, fear, grandiosity, all contribute to making life and our sense of ourselves so much more complicated and convoluted. We get all wrapped up in this HUGE version of ourselves. The whole endeavor takes on its own terribly serious quality. This is how we make it all so very complicated.

We really don’t need to do this.

What we need to do is just see all of the bullshit spiritual baggage for what it is – an expression of our own underlying grandiosity. This is all the false-self with all of its immense weight. It’s a life killer and the life it’s killing is your own.

So just stop trying be something. Focus on simplicity. What is your essence? What is that one and only quality that you cannot be without? What is the source of you?

Every time we want ‘to be something’, we are back on the wheel of samsara.

Read the next line as gospel truth.

The person you take yourself to be, this person that right now believes that she is reading this post, that person is just part of the show.

Everything is the show. It can’t be figured out, because he who would try to figure it out is also part of the show. It’s all a show! This is what enlightenment is – the realization that you are nothing – that everything you believe yourself to be, that which believes it is that sees, touches, feels, hears, and all the rest is all the show as it is happening right now! That which seeks to change it – to mold it to their preferences – that too is just part of the show. When this is truly seen and felt, every urge to change what it is – is seen to be the essence of futility. It all stops here and now.

The show IS the show. There is really not much more you can say about it. It is what it is.

Now let’s deal with a question that will inevitably arise: “Are you saying that I should do nothing – that in the face of all the problems we are facing nowadays, that I should just site back and enjoy the show?”

Answer: What you do is part of the show. So if you feel motivated to work on social justice issues, then do what you’re motivated to do – do it 100% – do it with all of your heart. Just know that you are playing on the stage of being. This is NOT, I repeat NOT a minimalization of doing. To the contrary, when you are Realized, the doing what you love gets massively energized. Everything is just an incredible vibe. Everything feels alive. You finally understand the Native American understanding that everything is alive – not on an intellectual level, but on a gut level. It is the purest of energies. When we believe that we are a small and vulnerable part of the show, that’s then when we get scared and frustrated. There is a very decisive difference. You will know it when you experience it.

Also, when you believe that you are this small person in this vast world, that small person will need to be the center, the focus, the problem, the issue. It is the being that must wonder HOW to get enlightened, HOW to be happy, HOW to be fulfilled, HOW to be successful. It will be the IDENTITY that needs to be seen, that needs to be respected, that needs love and to be loved, that needs acknowledgement, if only from yourself. In other words, this is the grandiose character. It is the very definition of “uptight”.

This is the essence of duality. On one side is the well-intended you yearning for freedom, release, understanding, oneness and on the other side is the perceived you, stumbling, confused, sad, frustrated, frightened.

But when you realize that everything that is happening, and most especially the person you believe yourself to be is a kind of automatic show*, then you are truly FREE and liberated. This is the truth from someone who is living that truth and this person living this truth is also part of the show.

If you have any questions about this post, just contact me. I can help you along the path.

Just feel the whole complexity of the false self and, simultaneously, feel the pure simplicity of that which notices. You are THAT. But even that is saying too much.

*what you would love to do (as briefly discussed above) is also ‘automatic’.



  1. #1 by Bob on November 23, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    I Agree. I believe it’s all about feeling secure physically and mentally.
    If I’ve got more than him…. that’s good. I relax. If I’m less than him… I’ve got to keep pushing.
    I can beat him! I’m guilty of this. It’s a neverending cycle of suffering.
    You win the World Series in baseball(Iknow you’re a Phillies fan) that lasts a year and you need that RUSH again. If you don’t get it the team failed.

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