Jed McKenna

 Spiritual Enlightenment or More Maya?

Jed McKenna is an author/character who certainly seems to demonstrate a certain level of awakened, expanded consciousness. Is he the ultimate provocateur or is he  ‘stuck’ and has simply mistaken the vantage point arrived at  by his current plateau of expanded consciousness, as the end all and be all of spiritual enlightenment?

Jed McKenna is an enigma. He is the self-professed ‘awakened’ character AND author (in name anyway) of Spiritual Enlightenment, The Damndest Thing and subsequent books in the Enlightenment Trilogy.

I’m quite sure that “Jed” is merely a construct of the author’s imagination and therefore, the book is fictional, and I highly suspect,  written under a pseudonym. I’m not alone in my thinking that in constructing his book and authorship in such a way and to essentially hide behind his words, “Jed McKenna” or whoever the actual author may be, is demonstrating a certain hypocrisy, then again, I also wonder if perhaps this was done on purpose.

who is jed mckenna?

I get the sense that these books are written about a guy who ‘thinks’ he’s enlightened by a guy or gal who may or may not actually be. The character, Jed McKenna contradicts himself over and over again. His actions show him to be vastly overstating his said current state of awareness. Then again, I have a suspicion that perhaps the book was written to demonstrate the fallacy of believing oneself to be enlightened or fully awakened, "fully cooked."  With no author in sight to further explain or elaborate, I will have to be content with speculating.  


 The thing I enjoy most about this book  is it attempts to  demystify the  concept of spiritual awakening and truth realization. The  Jed character irreverently lays to rest all beliefs about enlightenment requiring any personal identification with any set religion, deity, rituals or processes. In short, he removes the 'woo-woo' from the idea of awakening.

No doubt, what the author accomplishes in pointing out the ridiculousness of cloaking enlightenment in mystery and myticism is no small feat. He does a wonderful job of stripping enlightenment bare of old, tenaciously held to ideas about truth realization that attach  it to religious ritual and new age doctrine. However, it seems he's stripped enlightenment bare of those ideas, only to reattach some of his own. 


The "I am so spiritually enlightened and you can tell because of the mystical practices I engage in" stance is really no more enlightened that the "I am so spiritually enlightened and you can tell because of the disdain I have for all so called mystical practice." 

What good is it to reveal one facade, just to replace it with another? Jed's brash, cocky, "I am so beyond all the B.S. of the average Joe," is just as much a facade as the one the new age mystic cloaks himself within.

Regarding Jed's declaration of being 'done,'  as I see it, so long as we continue to experience physical life, there is always expansion of consciousness possible. The vantage points from which to see from are infinite. I say the very interest/impetus to declare, "I am fully, completely done," is something very worthy of looking into.

“Spiritual Awakening” involves coming to the realization that what I know as my physical ‘self’ is a very minutely focused portion of the totality of my being, that despite appearances, Self is without limits. 

Reaching a certain level of enlightenment or awakening, thus involves a seeing through and transcendence  of the constructs that make up our image of self. The behavior of the Jed character raises the very valid question; Does seeing through the construct of ego mean full transcendence of egoic behavior? If Jed is to be believed, the answer is no. 

  This story raises the question; Does being awake mean a shift in the way we behave and interface with the world?  Is   'enlightenment'  evidenced in the way we move through life, through our way of being? In short, does awakening mean being more loving, tolerant and accepting of others? Jed says and demonstrates through his behavior that love has nothing at all to do with "It."

I say Jed has simply stopped too soon. One who looks outwards upon his world with a veneer of disdain and cynicism, may believe he is free, but it's a freedom that clearly does not extend to the actual moment to moment experience as he interfaces with his world. There is a point where all veneers fall away because there is simply no buffer needed between self and what appears as 'other.'


Jed McKenna is still drawing very stark lines of division between himself and those others who appear to him. The facade of cockiness, smugness and disdain he wears, is evidence of this conceptual divide.

My own responses to the writings of Jed McKenna fluctuate, often according to what page of the book I’m reading. The author, whoever he is, is a really skilled at his craft.  This book is nothing if not entertaining.

Many times while reading this book, right on the heels of chortling over Jed’s incredible egoic arrogance, I’d turn the page to something that struck me as profoundly insightful and literally bourgeoning with ‘truth.’

Although Jed is apparently actively working as a teacher of enlightenment, he tells his readers over and over again, to 'think for themselves,' regarding the awakening experience.

I think in short, I’m skeptical of ANY person who gives themselves the label of being spiritually awakened or spiritually enlightened and if they espouse that label in a manner that seems to be boastful and condescending, the skepticism moves into the arena of outright doubt.  After all, doing so involves the very same processes of self identification and constructs of mind that these so called enlightened folk generally eschew. If I'm enlightened and you aren't, in driving home such a distinction, aren't I therefore coming from a place of duality consciousness?

It seems to be lost on Jed that in a reality completely of his own creation/perception,  he has in fact created the scenario of himself as the spiritually enlightened, awakened one, and most others as the ‘sleeping’ puppets. I don’t see any moves towards taking responsibility for creating or perceiving the hierarchy that is naturally inherent in this student teacher relationship.

I do not doubt that the real author of this book has in fact reached a certain level of expanded consciousness, or is un-familar with spirituality or more particularly, non duality,  however it seems to me that he is somewhat 'stuck.' Many who reach the realization of ‘no self’ often seem to react in a similar manner to the child who has just figured out there’s no Santa Clause. They become so enamored with their new-found perspective that they become near mesmerized by it, feeling a need to constantly announce their ‘truth’ to anyone who will listen. This is where  Jed McKenna seems to be.  This only demonstrates that our ability to become attached applies to all things, ALL beliefs. Even a belief in non-duality.

This stage of recognition and realization can be very captivating as it feels like such a grand departure from complete identification with the reality of ego, self and person-hood. But I surmise that this stage of realization is NOT the end of the road, that in fact there is no end or finality to the level of awakening or expanded consciousness we can reach.

What Jed McKenna and other self professed spiritually enlightened persons fail to see is that the illusory nature of physical existence does not end simply because one edges up against a belief, 'realization' or experience that feels so much more real than any others previously encountered. How could we ever really know for sure how deep the ‘program’ goes? Perhaps the ‘knowing’ that comes over one as he deems himself as awakening is merely another level of “maya” within the game of physical life. Part and parcel of being enlightened therefore should include a knowing that “I really don’t know ANYTHING for sure.”

Jed McKenna States while speaking to one of his students, “Never bet anything against Maya. Truth is infinitely simple, delusion is infinitely complex. There’s no overestimating our ability to avoid making eye contact with the obvious. Maybe some of them will now scramble deeper into their stories, but for those who are here to hear, the leveling note has been sounded.”

I find it interesting that apparently Jed McKenna can't see that his own Maya, albeit a version that appears to be the product of an expanded consciousness, has created for him a reality where he gets to tell others what the ‘truth’ is? I find it interesting that he has stopped in his quest for truth at this juncture. I wonder why he’s so sure that more “Maya” is not at the helm of his own ‘beliefs.’

The fact is, a belief that seems more compelling than any other belief I’ve ever held is still just a belief. I’m sure Jed would say that his newfound ‘truth’ extends far beyond belief. That it is a realization of truth.

I’d ask him this; How can you be so sure that what you are experiencing within your state of expanded consciousness is not merely another plateau on the way towards the one ‘real’ ultimate truth. Or, how can you be so sure that ANY ultimate truth in a state of finality, actually exists? Can we ever really escape the filter of our own perceptions?

In summation, those like Jed Mckenna who go around denoting themselves as being spiritually enlightened or spiritually awakened while they perceive most others as ‘sleeping’ are operating from a certain level of ego. There’s no getting around it. Along the road towards ever expanding consciousness, we’ll encounter many compelling experiences and we’ll likely get stuck on those that are the most compelling, calling them ‘truths.’ All of this is okay. Even my own admitted annoyance with those who arrogantly uphold themselves as being so very different from those around them. It ALL simply IS.

I urge Jed mcKenna and those like him to continue plodding along, to remain open to the possibility of 'further.' If it is ‘ultimate truth’ that motivates them in this existence, then why stop seeking? Perhaps Jed in his realizations has just scraped the surface and is beginning now to get at the REAL truth.

If any such thing as ultimate truth actually exists I’d say it’s more along the lines of this; There is no such thing as ‘truth,’ it is always in the eye of the beholder or in the consciousness experiencing. When we drop all attachments, even to the idea of knowing what is true and what is not, we find peace.

But in the mean time, here we are, having the very real seeming experience of being physically alive with an individualized consciousness. I say, accept ‘what is’ or ‘what appears to be’ and milk it for every ounce of joy we can!

Read my review of Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment

and Spiritual Warfare also by Jed mcKenna

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