Jordan Bates 8 min read

If Friedrich Nietzsche and Satoshi Nakamoto Had a Spiritual Love-Child…

Consciousness & Meditation StoicPhil

jed mckenna spiritual enlightenment nietzsche of spirituality

If Friedrich Nietzsche and Satoshi Nakamoto engaged in Transcendent Cosmic Coitus and miraculously birthed an anonymous iconoclastic-mystic-sage love-child…

His name would be Jed McKenna.

I recently read Jed McKenna‘s Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing and it absolutely rocked my skull.

It is the most scathingly iconoclastic spiritual text I’ve encountered.

jed mckenna spiritual enlightenment

Noting his tenacious knack for joyously annihilating Sacred Cows, I’ve decided that Jed McKenna is the Friedrich Nietzsche of spirituality. [1]

And here’s the kicker: Like Satoshi Nakamoto, no one knows who Jed McKenna is.

He’s somewhere on Earth right now, though—not a long-deceased guru.

Makes for quite a juicy living legend, eh?

I’m in love with Jed McKenna’s irreverent, no-bullshit way of speaking about liberation and dispelling common spiritual delusions.

He writes in plain, unadorned prose that drives straight to the heart of the artichoke.

He doesn’t pull any punches.

He hits you with sentences so direct that, before you even realize what’s happening, he’s penetrating through your carefully constructed fortress of illusions and provoking core-convulsing considerations of the deepest, most frightening questions in existence.

He’s kind of a fucking badass, to be honest.

Warning: This Book Will Poke Your Deepest Fears With a Sharp Stick

Do not read this book if you are not ready to be challenged on the deepest level.

To call into question all of your most cherished beliefs.

Don’t even read further in this article if you aren’t ready to do so.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

To give you a taste of Jed McKenna that is likely either to cause you to immediately purchase Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing or say, “Fuck this guy” and close this browser tab, here are a few of the passages in the book that slapped me in the face the hardest:

“The truth, though, is that nothing is really wrong. Nothing is ever wrong and nothing can be wrong. It’s not even wrong to believe that something is wrong. Wrong is simply not possible. As Alexander Pope wrote, “One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.” Wrongness is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere else.

The perception of wrongness, however, is absolutely critical to the perpetuation of the human drama, right up there with the illusion of separateness and the certainty of free will. Drama requires conflict; no conflict, no drama. If something isn’t wrong, then nothing needs to be made right, which would mean that nothing needs to be done. Heights need not be scaled nor depths plumbed. Wealth and power need not be acquired. Future generations need not be spawned. Art need not be created, nor skyscrapers erected. Wars need not be fought. Religions and philosophies need not be devised. Teeth need not be flossed.

“The belief that something is wrong is the fire under the ass of humanity,” is how I explain it to Sarah.”

“Here’s the most directly I am able to say this: The one and only truth of any person lies like a black hole at their very core, and everything else—everything else—is just the rubbish and debris that covers the hole. Of course, to someone who is just going about their normal human existence undistracted by the larger questions, that rubbish and debris is everything that makes them who they are. But to someone who wants to get to the truth, who they are is what’s in the way.

All fear is ultimately fear of this inner black hole, and nothing on this side of that hole is true. The process of achieving enlightenment is about breaking through the blockage and stepping through the hole, and anything that’s not about getting to and through the hole is just more rubbish and debris.”

jed mckenna spiritual enlightenment

“The universe will give you whatever you want, Marla. That’s how it works, even if you don’t know it. It can’t be otherwise. You don’t have to be worthy, but you do have to know what it is that you want. You have to focus. Try to do that. Try writing out what it is you want and condensing it down until you’ve reduced it to a concise statement of desire or intent. Your path can only be meandering and your life a blur until you do that. Come talk to me when you have something, okay?”

“Let me state it plainly, Arthur: I don’t do heart. To the extent that I advocate any path, it is a path without heart, devoid of compassion, totally free of any thought for others whatsoever. The thinking is simple: Wake up first. Wake up, and then you can double back and perhaps be of some use to others if you still have the urge. Wake up first, with pure and unapologetic selfishness, or you’re just another shipwreck victim floundering in the ocean and all the compassion in the world is of absolutely no use to the other victims floundering around you. Resolve your own situation first, and then maybe your compassion will translate into something of value to others. I suppose that sounds cruel or unspiritual or whatever, but it only works the way it works. Make sense?”

“I’m not really a people person. I don’t understand people and I don’t identify with them. I don’t identify with my own status as a man or a person or a human being. I have a very distinct impression of life as a stage drama, and I find it endlessly mystifying that anyone truly identifies with their character. I watch my own life with amused detachment. I may be doing this or that—fulfilling my role—but I’m almost always out in the seats somewhere, watching it all, as unprepared for the next thing I do as anyone else. Being a detached observer is my reality and I find it belief-defying that everyone isn’t the same; that they’re up in their characters playing out all this life stuff like it’s for real. Sometimes I think that grabbing them by the shoulders and shaking or slapping them will snap them out of it. Not really, but kind of.

I watch myself being wisdom-guy and I can’t believe anyone really falls for it. I can’t believe that this stuff isn’t obvious to everybody. Truth doesn’t need to be sought because it isn’t lost. It’s not at the end of some path waiting to be discovered. It’s not the result of practice or growth or learning. Truth is everywhere at all times; never absent, never distant. Truth isn’t the tricky thing, it’s the simplest thing there is; that which can’t be simplified further. Possessing the ability not to see truth, now that’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. In fact, I would never believe it was even possible if I hadn’t done it myself for thirty years.”

All beliefs. All concepts. All thoughts. Yes, they’re all false; all bullshit. Of course they are. Not just religions and spiritual teachings, but all philosophies, all ideas, all opinions. If you’re going for the truth, you’re not taking any of them with you. Nothing that says two, not one, survives.”

That’s what I say. It rings true because it is true. It sounds a clear note that will resonate in these people’s minds until its vibration has shaken their false belief structures into heaps of rubble. I mean, how can it not? I’m not telling them something I know, I’m showing them something they know.

“There is none,” he says.

“None what?”

“There is no meaning. There is no meaning of life.”


That’s it. That’s where this whole thing has been going. Saying that no belief is true is simply the inversion of this crisp, perfect statement; life has no meaning. Our existence is utterly, perfectly, gloriously meaningless.”

I told you I wasn’t fucking around…

If you’re ready to leave no stone unturned and examine the nature of reality with unflinching courage, Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing is the book to read.

Having now finished the book and also read Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, the second book of the trilogy, I can say that I’m beginning to develop a nuanced perspective on Jed McKenna.

I can say that I fucking love Jed and find his writing to be among the most powerful I’ve ever encountered.  I also think I’ve identified some shadows and blindspots in his work, and I intuit that I will write another piece in the future attempting to illumine those blindspots.

One red flag that can serve as a keystone for unlocking his blindspots is his insistence that he is “a man whose work is done.” The assumption that the work of spiritual liberation could actually be completed in this human form is, in my estimation, quite silly. I perceive a number of ways in which Jed’s work is not done, and I encourage you to see if you can see these as well, while you read his work. Hint: Pay attention to his (lack of) integration of the Divine Feminine.

Do Not Attach to Any Teacher

Recognizing Jed’s shadows and blindspots has been another affirmation of one of the most powerful lessons of my life: Do not attach to any teacher.

As Krishnamurti put it, “The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth.”

Or Terence McKenna: “The mushroom said to me once… ‘For one human being to seek enlightenment from another is like a grain of sand seeking enlightenment from another.'”

Attach to no teacher. I have never encountered a human teacher who did not have some kind of shadow or blindspot. The best a teacher can do is point you to What You Already Know in your Soul and Who You Already Truly Are.

Follow only the voice of Truth in your own Heart and Soul; the voice of the Infinite Intelligence of Source.

Sacred texts are truly invaluable treasures, capable of helping us to remember What We Already Know, but to attach to their human authors or put them on a pedestal above your own Soul is a perennial mistake of the spiritual seeker.

When you put anyone or anything above you or below you, you fuel the egoic delusion of duality and separation. All are equal in the eyes of the Creator; all hierarchies collapse; Source is the Only Thing in existence; Source is your Essence.

Do not take my word for it. Verify this for yourself by peeling back the layers of delusion and listening increasingly deeply to your own Heart and Soul.

Again, I adore Jed McKenna; I view him as a great master who has attained an uncommonly high level of Consciousness as a human being. I intuit that I will continue to read his works with a Beginner’s Mind, taking what is useful and resonant at this stage of my journey and letting go of what is not.

My hope for Jed is that he will one day realize that our ‘work’ (or work-play, as I prefer to see it) is never completed as human beings; I intuit that it is not completed until the day our Ascended Master Souls melt back into the All. And even then, at that Sacred Moment, the whole Divine Dance likely simply begins again, a new Grand Cycle of the Endless Infinitely Mysterious Ouroboros of All That Is…

‘Enlightenment’ is not a destination. This is an insidious fallacy. There are indeed many thresholds after which your reality is never the same. But there are infinite thresholds.

And so we continue on, spiraling forever upward…

“We are all on The Path—and the road leads upward ever, with frequent resting places.”

— The Kybalion

Frequent resting places, as well as intermittent detours, regressions, loop-the-loops… Yet upward ever, indeed.

Or so it seems to me…

Peace, Joy, Love, Freedom, Power, Wisdom, Divinity,



[1] This statement is a bit tongue in cheek, as it’s important to note that Friedrich Nietzsche himself, by the end of his life, was a deeply spiritual/mystical man, though most don’t realize this. He’s mistakenly viewed by many as a nihilist, but this interpretation represents a profoundly shallow reading of Nietzsche.

Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is a lover of God, father, leadership coach, heart healer, writer, artist, and long-time co-creator of HighExistence. —

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