Pain and its veils bring shadows to a world filled with light. We get lost and confused searching for resolution from one condition to another.
Chasing the light like a cat determined to grasp the sunbeam on the wall. An endless futile pursuit. But one that stimulates the mind.
As we enter the stage of our life when acceptance is the mandatory curriculum, we get to choose whether we go in peace or frustration. Are we aware enough to know that a perception is unreliable? Even if that perception is “The light”.
In the world of personal growth and in the world of horses, I see how the mind uses the search for the holy grail as a subtle distraction. We want to feel connected. We search for that feeling of peace. And often that very search leads us astray.
I once heard a story of a robber and a jeweler who both reside in the same town. They knew the bond that was unspoken as the robber wanted the jewels the jeweler possessed. The jeweler was traveling on the train to deliver the greatest gem to a king. The robber booked the train and even stayed in the same cabin as the jeweler, hoping he would steal the great jewel. The jeweler was wise and slipped the jewel in the pocket of the robber for the extent of the train ride. Because he knew the robber wouldn’t look there. Just before they got off the train he bumped into the robber and took it back.
This is how we can miss what’s hidden in plain sight. We are looking for something outside of us that is actually our true nature. We see that others have what we want. Or we blame others for taking something from us. So we continue to search. This search lands us, again and again, in frustration, feeling empty and alone.
Even when we are sitting in a heavenly environment we can feel lost and alone. It’s like a permeating hum. Just an edge of discomfort. Eventually it builds and we blow like steam from a boiled kettle.
But there is another way.
We can come to see that within our very own heart is the holy grail we search for. The gem is hidden in our own pocket. Realizing our own self worth is not an act of egotism. It is essential to peace. The “worth” of the mind is an elusive game of win and lose, enough and not enough, right and wrong. It’s a battle that never ends.
But the way to the riches is direct. It requires no map. It holds within it instant and unending freedom from the fear the mind creates. All the judgments and feelings of separation can be undone in an instant. The work involved is letting go of habit. And this does, for some time, require effort.
As my teacher would say, “Freedom is free but it’s not cheap”.
Of all the questions that I hear throughout my work with people, the most predominant one is “What do I do?” After decades of discussions and watching folks in their pursuit of happiness I began to see that if I told them what I thought they should do, the habitual way of living prevented them from doing it. It became obvious that telling them what to do was not an effective way of teaching.
I related to my own way of learning and realized that I learned through experience. How could I offer an experience that would teach? Well truthfully, it was quite simple. I simply asked them for one moment let go of opinions. Basically let go of thinking for 30 seconds. Anyone can do it. It need not be hours of meditation. One moment will suffice.
Inevitably, with this experience we realize we are free from thought. We simply had never realized it before. As soon as the attention stands alone the thoughts are no longer important. Opinions about the world and justice, enough or not enough are external thoughts clouding our inner environment. We see immediately that thoughts are not what we are. And with this is experience. Now we have found the gem in our pocket. And this realization will never go away.
The Habit! What about the habit of defense and scarcity, the habit of proof? What about the returning clouds? This is where I come in.
Long ago I tried to quit drinking while I was working at a bar. Although a gallant effort it was futile. The habit was too strong. I had to do things differently. I had to create a new environment. And I had to be dedicated to my freedom.
This is why folks return to chasing the light on the wall. We want an instant fix. We want a pill, or a metal, a diploma or certificate to prove once and for all we are enough. But the burden of proof is in itself the problem. Why would we need to prove what we indeed already are? Do we have to prove that we breathe? It’s natural. We don’t go around convincing others we can breathe.
So this is the path that leads to the gate that only we can walk through. No one can even take our hand. There are many ways to get here, but the final crossing must be our own. We must be willing to see differently and no one else can do this for us.
The willingness is enough to propel us forward. The path we choose is still only a path. The final step will end the need of travel. The final step brings us home.