Sitting on the beach meditating, watching the waves roll in and the sun setting. I really was just wanting a peaceful experience that would fill my heart with joy and to feel one with nature. It was beautiful. It was perfect.
I was enjoying it, that is, until a couple entered the water, making out passionately with each other, and ruined my serene vista of the waves rolling in and the sun setting. Next thing you know, some parents set up camp right next to me. Their kids chasing each other screaming obnoxiously. I felt like they were all ruining the serenity of this moment!
I thought to myself, “They obviously don’t realize they’re trampling under foot the delicate beauty of this present moment!” I tried in vain to ignore their presence which I felt was disrupting the peace, which they seemed totally oblivious to.
But then it dawned on me, “Wait a second. Who am I to say that they are ruining this moment? Perhaps it’s not them who are imposing upon this moment, but me! I am saying it should not be this way, but another. I am not allowing what is, to be as it is.”
With that, instantly, I found the beauty and serenity I had been looking for. It wasn’t in the waves or the sunset, it was in the acceptance of what was happening in that moment, and not fighting it by wishing it were somehow other than it was, thinking it would be better if it were more in line with my idea of perfection.
From there, I looked at the children playing and felt joy, and looked at the affectionate couple and felt love. And it was perfect.
Whatever we happen to feel, is a byproduct of our thoughts, a visceral manifestation of our beliefs. If we believe certain thoughts, they may cause us to feel angry, sad, frustrated, or afraid, because those sensations are the tangible qualities of these thoughts. But if we believe we are what’s seeing, regardless of what’s seen, then we naturally feel open and receptive, because these are the characteristics of seeing, being felt experientially.
Seeing doesn’t judge, doesn’t hate, doesn’t fear, doesn’t fight, doesn’t feel limited in any way. Seeing has no need to be enlightened, it itself is the light. Whatever is being experienced, is simply being seen. It’s only later that the mind comes in and forms ideas about what was seen, whether it was good or bad, right or wrong. But identified as what’s seeing, even negative thoughts which generate suffering can be welcomed, while still remaining completely open, receptive and at peace. In this way, these suffering beliefs, these ideas of limitation, have the space and freedom to be fully experienced, and having fully expressed themselves, have run their course and dissolve on their own.
This could be called love or compassion, even though seeing didn’t do anything special, just what it always does, sees openly and impartially all that arises. All appearances, whether it’s the body, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, they arrive on the stage, do their little dance in the spotlight, and once finished bows down in gratitude for your attention, then proceeds to depart from the stage. Yet you have remained what you are and have been the whole time, that which is seeing. By being so, you provide an essential part in the play of consciousness, because without an audience to bare witness, there could be no play.
During the night, you dream you’ve lost your job, then your house, then your family. You’re living homeless on the street and develop a drinking problem to cope with your tragedy. But then, suddenly, you wake up in your comfy bed to the phone ringing, and your spouse tells you it’s your manager asking if you can come in today.
Do you start looking for a job, or seek counseling for your imagined alcohol addiction? Of course not! So what changed? What happened to all of your problems? When you wake, you realize it was only a dream. When you see the cause was imagined, you realize so are the effects, and simply let it go.
The same happens when we realize that this life is no different from a dream. While dreaming, we’re naively identified with the body, it’s activities, problems, and all the worry over outcomes of events. That is, until we wake up and realize these ideas had only been imagined. Then we cease being troubled by our dreamt up narratives of what happened in the past, or is happening now, or will happen in the future. We just simply let it go. It’s understood that nothing which happens in the dream, can define or affect who we are that has awakened from the dream.
“I know that I know nothing.” If one is looking for truth, then we must empty ourselves of our assumptions and beliefs. What we think we know, is the only thing which actually stands in the way. The minute we think we know something, is the very moment truth is lost. It’s an attempt to explain what can’t be explained, and then imagining we’ve succeeded. All that we successfully understood was our fabricated concept, and not reality.
To know we are clueless, is all we need to know. Only then can truth be revealed, because it isn’t something which is conjured up in the mind, but originates in the experience of simply being. Being never needed to be translated into concepts in order to be experienced. To experience is a far richer way of knowing, with nothing lost in translation.
Our being is something that’s always being experienced, and so there’s no need to look somewhere else or to some distant future to find this. The moment we give up trying to comprehend our present being through concepts, is the moment we understand it directly through our senses. Once this is understood, we’ll see that the knowledge we once thought was sacred, is just a bunch of rotting garbage, and will gladly throw it out in exchange for truth.
‘A’ is both a letter of the alphabet and a word. ‘I’ is both a letter and a word. Why is no one talking about how to free ourselves from the tyranny of ‘A’? It’s because no one confuses themselves as being this. There’s no identity built up around the word ‘A’. If there were an identity built around it, there would be countless retreats, self-help books and counselors to help us improve our poor definition of an ‘A’. How identifying with a word/idea creates so many unnecessary issues!
But then there’d be those who would question this, “What the hell is an ‘A’ anyways? Why does it need improving?” They’d discover it’s just a word, an idea. In which case it would lose it’s meaning and relevance.
Just as you understand you aren’t an ‘A’, do you also understand that you’re not an ‘I’?
What would happen if you decided to stop internally talking to yourself? If you stopped commenting on all that you experience? Just as you can decide to not open your mouth to speak, what if you realized that you can also choose not to speak thoughts? What would happen if you no longer had this stream of constant chatter going on all day long? You’d then see things as they are, rather than through the story you were making up about it. You’d soon realize that absolutely everything you had been telling yourself has nothing to do with reality, but is heavily engaged in delusion.
That is the moment of awakening, to realize that no story that you create, can capture reality as it is. Understanding this, there’s no desire to go back to creating and believing made-up stories that can’t actually explain the truth of what you are. Not only is the idea of personhood given up, but also of being things like consciousness, bliss, awareness, The Self, Brahman, God, these all are also just concepts which serve no purpose once one realizes that stories are not needed in order to be what you are.
Just as a fire can’t burn itself, it burns only that which is not it, neither can knowing know itself, but only that which is not it. Nothing of which you know, is you, or real, so throw what’s false in the fire and watch it go up in smoke.
Can you imagine what it must be like to be a toddler? Not knowing anything, the world is a buffet filled with an overwhelming array of delicacies of which to partake. There are so many brilliant lights, colors, textures, tastes, visions of unknown faces that for some unknown reason distort into the most amusing faces that just make you want to laugh. So many interesting sounds that catch your attention. Things feel so strange. You just want to put everything in your mouth, you want to experience everything to it’s fullest.
The world is fascinating, because it’s unknown. But soon you’re taught this is a this, that is a that, you are a you, and start making all sorts of conclusions, thinking you understand yourself and the world. Those ideas are seeds which sprout, grow and begin to compete with your natural joy and wonder.
As you grow older, that wonder gradually seems to be replaced with routine, knowing what each day is going to offer before it’s even begun. Though this may seem novel at first, gaining control and mastery of the unknown world, it eventually grows stale. The older you get, the more you long for the days of old, when the world was fresh and invigorating, where nothing was known and everything experienced new.
What’s amusing about this, is this is how it always is. All things are always fresh and new. It’s only our ideas which give us the impression that we know something. When we think we know something, we imprison the fresh and hold it hostage, and in our grip it’s image rots. But when letting go of our stronghold on the past, we’ll surprisingly see that it’s immediately replaced by something vastly more beautiful than the stale images we had thought of as reality.
Life can not be held onto, it’s forever moving, and must be experienced in the moment. The child is not concerned with the yesterday or tomorrow, but with the wonder of it’s current experience. See as a child, see the wonder, see how things actually are.
This sculpture well represents the struggle for freedom, breaking away from the mold, from old and outdated belief systems. But there’s also irony in this idea. The very one that thinks it’s necessary to break free, is itself part of that outdated belief. Just as this lone figure is not a separate independent sculpture, but one conceptual work of art, so also the idea of an individual seeking release is not separate from the system that fashioned it’s sense of identity.
Working in this manner requires constant struggling, improving, maintaining, evolving, and yet true freedom will always elude us while working within that framework. This is because it’s based on the belief that there’s a problem to overcome, and a limited ‘me’ here to accomplish that. Without the idea of a limited self, then where is the problem?
Unconditional peace and freedom, however, is dependent on nothing, there are no stipulations. It is as it is, free, under every and all circumstances, regardless of how they may appear. Being that there’s no cause, there’s no working towards it, acquiring or even maintaining this. Experiencing freedom entails nothing more than recognizing it’s already so, and has always been. Our ideas of ourselves and the world never actually bound us as we had once falsely imagined. Now that is freedom!