DEATH, REBIRTH & VANITY
9. SHAWN NEVINS
Shawn Nevins runs
He's trying to write this bio in the third person, but not having much
luck. Suffice it to say that writing, talking and otherwise communicating
about the spiritual search is his passion. He lives in the San Francisco
Bay area. Perhaps after he gets his teeth whitened, he will release a
do you think about these
Nevins: Frankly, I think only one of these questions is truly important, and
that is, "at the point of death and the breakup of the body, what happens
to the mind?" My answer to that isn't important. What is important is
that you find the answer, in your own experience – not adopting someone
else's answer, but discovering for yourself. That is what enlightenment is:
the discovery of what we really are.
personality may change radically, moderately, or not at all. Such
personality quirks may make it impossible for a enlightened person to be a
teacher, or even a friend. If you are looking for a teacher, find someone
you can respect, who has the capacity for friendship, and who resonates with
something deeper than your personality.
lose their temper and drink alcohol if they were alone in the jungle with
NDM: What about "Dhutanga",
a number of specialized ascetic practices and monks like Ajahn Mun,
to have overcome their deepest fears while living in the
jungle and regularly encountering wild tigers, elephants and other
potentially deadly animals?
I have engaged in ascetic practices and found them to be useful
in turning the attention from the distractions of daily life. That is very
different from thinking fearlessness is a prerequisite to or symptom of
enlightenment. The problem I see with formalized instructions such as Dhutanga,
are that they treat everyone the same (i.e. we are all going to do "this" and it
will yield "that"). That is as narrow-minded as Western medicine, which for
years said "give this pill for this symptom." Just as the concept of
"personalized medicine" is slowly taking root, we also need a personalized
NDM: What about jokes, would somone who is
enlightened make jokes about other teachers like this?
Shawn Nevins: Again, this returns to
personality. Unless you hypothesize that enlightenment changes the personality
so that it is non-offensive to every creature in the universe, or enlightenment
first requires that one become non-offensive to every creature in the universe,
then these questions about would an enlightened person do "X" have no practical
basis. I do hypothesize that enlightenment requires a moment of complete and
utter honesty and reaching that moment may take one down many paths. Those
paths may change the personality, and enlightenment itself may change the
personality, but there is no set change that must occur.
NDM: Would an enlightened person be able to
tell a deliberate lie, or deliberately mislead others for their own selfish
Shawn Nevins: This is the same question dressed in a
different suit. Short answer, yes.
END OF INTERVIEW