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“The Way of Benign Disillusionment”

  • On October 3, 2016
Many years ago, when I was first studying with Jean Klein, he said something that deeply struck me: An object never fulfills its promise.
In his elegant and economic way, Jean was pointing to the fact that we unknowingly project our inherent happiness onto objects.  By objects he meant things, people, ideas, and even subtle states of consciousness – everything and anything other the one who is aware. 
We have a deeply ingrained tendency to do this, to believe that if we attain certain objects – the 
right partner, home, degree, job, circle of friends, status, bank account or certain interior states – that we will be happy.  Have you noticed that it never works, not for long?
Of course we can achieve a relative happiness when certain objective elements temporarily fall into place, particularly relationships, meaningful work, stable health, and a modicum of financial security. Nontheless, a deeper, lasting happiness remains elusive. Everyone and everything eventually disappoints us. When this process is particularly acute, we may experience a “dark night of the soul” and become deeply disillusioned with life. Why is this implicit “promise” of happiness always broken? Is it humanity’s existential condition to remain tragically unfulfilled?
No. We project our essential nature onto objects. Unknowingly we cast out our implicit fullness into an apparent world and then chase after it. We always come up empty-handed – partners and friends let us down, bodies age, elevated states come and go. The golden place and time never arrives. It is always somewhere and some when else. This is good news! 
We actually need to be benignly dis-illusioned, that is, freed from illusion. Life is asking us to wake up out of our dream of lack and discover our essential fullness. This requires a stripping away that may feel like dying. Yet what dies are our illusions. We are not who we think we are, nor is the so-called world what we think it is. In this process of disillusionment and metaphoric death, space opens for Being to consciously shine and for a new life to be birthed from wholeness. What begins as a path of clarity transforms into a path of love.


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