Although I do believe in Buddha, in Jesus, in Crowley, in Laozi, in Spinoza, in Epictetus, and in Nature, I also see the fundamental problem of any religious or philosophical teaching—the simple problem that it is a teaching.
A teaching is a mental framework that helps me structure and understand my own life experiences. When I follow a teaching, I adopt that mental framework. But am I a follower?
I used to take the teachings of wise men as guidelines to develop my own mental framework based on my life experiences. Yet I realized that this, too, would not lead to mindcoolness.
The problem is not about being a follower (a student, a disciple) versus being a leader (a teacher, an independent thinker, a free spirit). No, the problem is that any teaching and, in the end, any mental framework only fills the head with more thoughts to keep in mind. The more thoughts the mind has to keep, the more it heats up. This cannot be the path to mindcoolness.
At the beginning of my journey, teachings were valuable as they taught me what a mental framework looks like; and mental frameworks are valuable insofar as they cool the mind by organizing thoughts, thinking patterns, core values, and life principles.
At some point, however, I no longer wanted to be clear in and efficient with my thoughts. I wanted to be done with them. That’s when I moved onto the path to mindcoolness.
Some people might call this Zen, yet I refuse to speak of Zen when I talk about mindcoolness. In our culture, Zen is a brand, a marketing gimmick, a joke.
I’m simply a man trying to free his mind, trying to cool his mind, trying to break his mind, whatever it may be. Who knows, maybe a joke is just what I will find.
As Siddhartha once said to the Buddha,
You have found liberation from death. This came to you as a result of your own seeking on your own path, through thought, through meditation, through realization, through enlightenment. It did not come to you through a teaching! And that is my idea, O Exalted One—nobody attains enlightenment through a teaching. O Venerable One, you will not be able to express to anyone through words and doctrine what happened to you in the moment of your enlightenment! Much is contained in the doctrine of the enlightened Buddha, much is taught in it—to live in an honest and upright way, to avoid evil. But there is one thing that this so clear and so venerable teaching does not contain; it does not contain the mystery of what the Exalted One himself experienced, he alone among hundreds of thousands. This is what I understood and realized when I listened to the teaching. This is the reason I am going to continue my wandering—not to find another or a better teaching, for I know that one does not exist, but in order to leave behind all teachings and all teachers and to attain my goal on my own or die. (Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)
Thus, instead of studying a religion, I study my own bodymind, study my true self, study life as it unfolds in the Now.