What we unknowingly seek is our own wholeness - to express and experience all that we are. What stands in our way of finding it? Our own childish definition of the ‘me’ who seeks it, the labels we hide behind and the priority we give comfort over curiosity.
The world’s wisdom traditions point to one truth, but each highlights distinctive features. Spend time with each to see the summit from different angles before choosing your path to it. Here’s what I’ve found in several.
The fictional notebooks of Harry Haller, aka Steppenwolf, reveal the brilliant but troubled mind of a man on a journey of integration — integrating his dark, animal aspects into a fuller version of himself and integrating as a spirited individual in the maddening bourgeois world of Weimar Germany. Harry’s battle to reconcile freedom and connection contains lessons for any seeker.
Ramesh Balsekar’s core message is unpalatable to believers in personal free will. Many non-dualist teachers hold their assault on free will until late in the progression of their teachings, looking to ‘soften the ground’ first with other aspects of perspective shifting. But Ramesh moves straight to it from his starting axiom of non-dualism: All there is is consciousness, and consciousness is all there is.
After years of intellectual seeking for a ‘breakthrough’ perspective, I came across Matt Kahn. His simple message of loving whatever arises and his emphasis on the body as a gateway to truth have helped free me from a head-bound rut. He might do the same for you.
What if it is not the love of another that you feel? Could it be that in moments of being loved, you stop asking reality to be different? Perhaps that warm, magical feeling comes when you stop fighting life; when you stop withholding your unconditional acceptance. In other words, when you love.
Clarity of intellectual understanding can be a refuge for some personalities, a final bunker in which the sense of separateness shelters from what it most fears — melting into the flow and direct experience of life. Until we deal with our deepest physical discomforts, we cannot move past concepts to reality itself.
Don’t be an ass. Put down your burden. When you forgive, you shrug off a weight, unshoulder a burden. You are lighter, free of a load that has sapped your energy, stolen from your life. By teaching your mind and body that the strong sensation within your resentment is no threat, you give yourself a most beautiful gift.
When Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True, asked renowned teacher and author Mary O’Malley to define enlightenment, she answered that it happens when the head, heart and gut align. Here’s what she might have meant, and what it implies for us.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true Lord said to me: Ughhhhh! I’m tired of trying to do this through one liners.
There’s something to be said for succinctness, sure, but you guys still don’t get it. I mean, where’s the ambiguity in ‘Thou shalt not kill’?
Sweep me up,
Perform your dance.
Or will your game unfold today
In more awesome, terrible display?
I see Now.
I see Me,
And in Me, me.
Here is clear
Perception of the perfection
In reality, My reflection.
One dazzling Jewel, We,
Facets each for you and me.
Jewel, Sun, God, Sky,
Looks through these and those eyes.
Question things you’ve always assumed to be facts, the unseen beliefs that determine your experience of the world. Experiment with alternatives, even if, at first, those replacements clash with all you’ve taken to be true. Exercise courage and curiosity to remain open. Recognize that all this effort isn’t yours, and your journey brings you home.
To discover our natural divinity, we see through any apparent conflict between that divinity and our mortal humanity. We live with faith, which is to say with openness to uncertainty, to mystery.
Meet two eastern metaphors. Maya is the hypnosis and illusion that constitute our sense of separateness from the universe’s flow. Lila teaches us that the “meaning of life” has nothing to do with purpose or reason but is all about effortless spontaneity and play!
The ego has an antagonistic relationship with the present moment. Only the ego rejects anything as it happens. Included in that “anything” is the ego itself. So, if you ever notice yourself fighting the ego, then you’re actually noticing the ego fighting the ego! The noticing is powerful. The fighting is…well…self-defeating.
We drift in an undivided, complex flow. Springing each moment from nothing, this flow is called life. Life is what happens — no more and no less. What happens is the dynamic manifestation, the unfolding into here and now of a single, dimensionless, eternal, unchanging principle, called Tao.
My ascent from the underworld complete, I emerge from the shaft into daylight and rejoin the path to Mountain City. The trail is no more than a series of cairns marking a route among the boulders through which I pick my way. With the sun at its zenith, a fortress town comes into view, and I continue in the shadows of its ramparts before crossing the drawbridge at the eastern gate.
As the tunnel curves to the right, a flickering light casts onto its left wall. Soon enough, the channel opens into a small cave, a table at its center. On it burns a candle. A plump woman sits behind the table, her shoulders shaking. Is she distraught? But a few seconds’ closer listening reveals soft chuckles, synchronized with her shoulders’ rhythm. A gentle laugh, but one that fills her body.