The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment

Steve Roberts black ink drawing: the word "Love."

I’m a lazy man.  Laziness keeps me from believing that enlightenment demands effort, discipline, strict diet, non-smoking, the other evidences of virtue.  That’s about the worst heresy I could propose, but I have to be honest before I can be reverent.

So begins one of my favorite books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, by Thaddeus Golas, published in 1971.  It’s a spiritual treat so slim (only 80 pages) it can slip into a back pocket, yet so rich it can nourish one’s heart indefinitely.  At least that’s been my experience over some 30 years, even though during most of that time the Guide, as it’s known, has stood patiently on my shelf of treasures waiting for its yellowing pages to be turned. 

It’s no secret that I delight in being a cheerleader of what I playfully call the most fear-provoking point-of-view the world has ever known: everything is a gift.  It’s such a juicy idea, I find.  Entertaining it can oblige us to revisit all sorts of judgments we’re so attached to.  My post-card definition of reality is that the purpose of our lives is expansion––to grow our love until love is all we do, all we know, all we are.  Thus, within every experience, even the most horrific, is the opportunity to grow love…even if it takes us years and every ounce of courage to do so. 

Recently, in need of a reminder of what’s what, I read Mr. Golas’ book cover to cover for the first time in probably a couple of decades.  I was struck by how much of the perspective he celebrates I’ve absorbed over the years, and what a debt of gratitude I owe him and other lovers like him:

Each of us is the same kind of being, capable of outflowing attention and awareness, or withdrawing.  And that is all we need to do: give full, permissive, loving attention to absolutely anything that we see in our minds, in our bodies, in our environment, in other people.

Expansion in love is an action that is available to every being in the universe all the time.  A willing awareness will take us to heaven, a loving attitude will make us free.  Nothing else controls our fate.  Good or bad behavior is secondary.  Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it.  Whatever you are thinking, love yourself for thinking it.  Love is the only dimension that needs to be changed.  If you are not sure how it feels to be loving, love yourself for not being sure of how it feels.  There is nothing on earth more important than the love which conscious beings feel towards each other, whether or not it is ever expressed.

You will not be able to rise above your present vibration level to stay until you love the way you are now.

No matter what your spiritual condition is, no matter where you find yourself in the universe, your choice is always the same: to expand your awareness or contract it.

There is no wisdom or holiness that is ever an excuse for the failure to love, in ourselves or others.

If you love everything you feel and do, including your emotionally dry and empty moods, your pleasure will keep coming back.

Love is the highest and holiest action because it always contains that
which is not love within itself, it always and ever moves to include the

How much compassion and forgiveness to you want for yourself?  Give it to others.  Go to the extreme: forgive all beings for their karmic debts to you.  Grant to others the freedom, the love, the consciousness that you want for yourself.

Hindsight may make it look as though you were being tested, but in truth you are always being allowed to decide for yourself, to define the universe that is real to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

"I honor that we are killing the earth for the same reason I consider being an alcoholic a privilege: it is a doorway to the profound self-understanding required to make truly healthy choices."

The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth