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Excerpted from Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate by Brad Warner. Copyright © 2009 by Brad Warner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"People love to be told they can get a big payoff with no real investment."

  Brad Warner,
Zen Wrapped in Karma
Dipped in Chocolate
, Part 2

But since there's no real understanding among the general public of what this enlightenment stuff is, anyone can claim that just about anything is enlightenment and a lot of people will believe it.

What that waste of space who invented the wicked-cool enlightenment-in-an-hour process has stumbled on is nothing more than a way to hypnotize folks and give them a really tripped-out cool experience. He then tells them this experience is enlightenment, and since he's supposed to be a Zen master they believe him. He walks away with a few thousand bucks, and all the suckers leave feeling pretty good about themselves. No harm done, right?

Well, actually, no. In fact, this kind of thing can cause a whole lot of damage.

To show you why, let me ask you something. What do you imagine happens to a guy who gets a wild tripped-out dissociative experience in an afternoon and has some other person who's supposed to be a "spiritual master" interpret that experience for him as enlightenment just like Buddha's? How does the guy feel about the master who he thinks gave him this great gift? Does he owe the master something now? And will the guy do pretty much anything the master asks him to just so the master will keep on confirming the guy's enlightenment? What if the guy does something the master doesn't like and the master starts telling everyone the guy isn't enlightened anymore? Does the guy's enlightenment even exist without the master's confirmation? That's a key question. And, for bonus points: Having just parted with a hundred and fifty smackers, is the guy

a) more or b) less likely to admit he's been ripped off? Answers on a postcard, please.

People love to be told they can get a big payoff with no real investment. But when was the last time you got something for nothing?

Here's another way the fast track to enlightenment stuff causes real damage. A Zen teacher friend told me the story of a woman who went to Japan to study in a Zen temple that emphasized having enlightenment experiences as quickly as possible. This was a far more traditional setting than one of those instant-enlightenment seminars. Which means they wanted you to get enlightened in a couple of weeks instead of in an hour.

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