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"Spiritual Autolysis"

an excerpt from Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing

by Jed McKenna

"Here's all you need to know to become enlightened:

Sit down,
shut up,
and ask yourself what's true until you know.

That's it. That's the whole deal - a complete teaching of enlightenment, a complete practice. If you ever have any questions or problems - no matter what the question or problem is - the answer is always exactly the same:

Sit down, shut up, and ask yourself what's true until you know."

"But . . .

a complete spiritual teaching
that fits on a matchbook cover
is not what anyone really wants.

( So . . . )


Arthur tells me he wants a technique. Rather, he wants the technique. I really only have one technique and everybody who comes to the house soon learns what it is from other students, but, oddly, nobody seems to practice it until they receive it from me. I've laid it out many times and tried to put it in the public domain for the use of whoever wants it, but it has remained strangely proprietary, as if the only way it can work is if this comes directly from me. There's really not much to it, but I guess there's not much to closing your eyes and repeating a mantra or counting your breaths either.

"Okay, Arthur," I begin, "the technique is called Spiritual Autolysis. Autolysis means self-digestion, and spiritual means . . . hell, I don't really know. Let's say it means that level of self which encompasses the mental, physical and emotional aspects. Put the two words together and you have a process through which you feed yourself, one piece at a time, into the purifying digestive fires."

"May I ask a question?" Arthur asks.

"Yes, Arthur."

"You make Spiritual Autolysis sound rather unpleasant."

"Yes, Arthur, it's an unpleasant process."

"Oh. I see. Thank you."

"You're welcome. The process of Spiritual Autolysis is basically like a Zen koan on steroids. All you really have to do is write the truth."

"Write the truth?"

"Sounds simple, doesn't it? Yes, that's all there is to it. Just write down what you know is true, or what you think is true, and keep writing until you've come up with something that is true."

"There are three hundred and sixty degrees in a circle," says Arthur.

"Sure," I agree. "Start with something as seemingly indisputable as that, and then start examining the foundation upon which that statement is built and just keep following it down until you've reached bedrock, something solid - true."

"There aren't three hundred and sixty degrees in a circle? he asks.

"The question presupposes that there's a circle."

"There's not a circle?"

"Maybe. I don't know. Is there?"

"Well, if I draw a circle..."

"I? When did you confirm the existence of an "I"? Draw? Have you already raced past the part where you confirmed that you are a separate physical being in a physical universe with the ability to perceive, to draw? Have you already confirmed duality as truth?"

Arthur is thoughtful and silent for several moments. "I guess that's what you mean by following it down. This is very confusing. I don't even know where to start."

"It doesn't matter where you start. You could start by using Ramana Maharshi's query, "Who am I?" or "What is me?", and then just work at it. Just try to say something true and keep at it until you do. Write and rewrite. Make it cleaner and cut out the excess and ego and follow it wherever it leads until you're done . . .

"And by done, you mean . . . ?"


"Oh. Is this like journaling? Like keeping a diary?"

"Ah, good question. No. This isn't about personal awareness or self-exploration. It's not about feelings or insights. It's not about personal or spiritual evolution. This is about what you know for sure, about what you are sure you know is true, about what you are that is true . . ."

excerpt from Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing by Jed McKenna


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