13 Pillars of Enlightenment:
How to realize your true nature and end suffering
Since I was a child of about four years old — 60 years ago — I regularly experienced out of body travels. While I never thought this was special or unique, I also didn’t think much about these experiences at all until I met my wife while we were students attending college. At that point, we started to talk about esoteric things, including my OBEs and, of course, the meaning of life. This took us through a lifetime of searching for some ultimate Truth, whether it existed at all. About eight years ago, my wife and I began practicing self-inquiry meditation prompted by some serious reading of the works of enlightened teachers, including Jiddu Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi, Papaji, and Nisargadatta Maharaj. We avoided modern-day self-appointed gurus (you know who they are) famous for drawing big crowds and leading the New Age movement. After having gone through the New Age thing in the 80s, we knew it could not get us closer to the Truth.
Self-inquiry is essentially the search for the Self beyond the egoic sense of self, the persona. It starts with the question: Who am I? and then, without judgment or preconceived ideas or any other teachings or dogma, it the act of observing to find the root of this sense of “I.” We discovered that all of what we know — knowledge — and thinking would never find this source of Self because the Self is itself created out of thought. Thought cannot get you to a place that exists prior to itself. Eventually, we both found what we had been looking for. It comes in a realization, not an experience and not as a teaching or knowledge. A realization is when you understand something by embodying it. It’s not a flash of light, a vision, an idea, insight, or any of the typical things we are told that it is. It is simply the sudden and lasting realization of what life is in totality, as one singular movement of consciousness, as well as the silent stillness that underlies everything. I realized that in this reality, we call existence, I am consciousness, which is the totality of all that is. I am consciousness experiencing itself by way of this body, and all other expressions of consciousness are also experiencing itself through other bodies. But the consciousness is singular and undivided.
As a professional writer, I began to write several books in this new direction, including one on the Self as a belief, one on consciousness, one on myth and metaphor, and my latest book, 13 Pillars of Enlightenment. What I realized about enlightenment is that it is not something that can be taught, transferred, experienced, or learned, because all of these are temporal. Instead, it is an awakening to what you have always been; what has always existed. So I wrote a novel based on my own path to this realization. The story is fictional, but the meat and bones of it are true, based on my struggles and what I have found. My idea was to present this realization simply and in the most reader-friendly way possible. I am the first to say that this book is not for everyone, merely because most people are not ready or motivated to face who they are and to reject the belief system that has created the sense of Self. It’s too scary, too threatening, and too upending. Instead, people tend to want to be happier, entertained, distracted, pacified, and soothed. There is nothing wrong with this, but I was tired of all of these things. I wanted the Truth at any cost to me or this so-called life.
13 Pillars of Enlightenment: How to realize your true nature and end suffering is a book about what we are not. A true guru can be a person, book, pet, enemy, nature, or anything else that points you back to your sense of Self. This the intent of my book — to be a pointer for the reader.
Vic is a New York Times bestselling author, researcher, and mind-body healthcare consultant. His latest works explore consciousness and the sense of self that leads to universal suffering
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