Part 1: The Search
There is a great paradox at the heart of all seeking. Enlightenment can’t be caused by anything. It is your inherent nature. It is uncaused. The truth of who you are is already here, waiting to be discovered. All paths and the search itself lead away from this fundamental truth. There can be no path to what is already present.
The reason we are not usually aware of our true nature except in glimpses, is that our attention is almost always distracted by thoughts, feelings, impressions and sensations: what we identify as ‘me’. When our attention is no longer distracted in this way we experience peace, wholeness, and profound well being. The knowing and being of that as my true nature and not the ‘me’ I thought I was is one definition of enlightenment.
The paradox is that it usually takes single-pointed intention and intense, sustained effort to be able to slow the 'me’ processes down enough to be able to experience this always present ground of being and recognise what it is. For the key transformative shift in identity or awakening to happen however, there is no certainty that our practice or method will succeed. Indeed it is often in the complete failure of our chosen method or path and the exhaustion of all efforts that we are most likely to finally relinquish our tightly held grip on the personal identity and, seemingly against all odds, find our way home.
What are we searching for and why?
The fact that we are searching at all suggests that we intuit or are aware that there is a greater possibility or greater potential available to us.
So what is it that we are searching and longing for?
Ordinarily we tend to have a confining sense of self or personhood that experiences an undercurrent of anxiety and fear, and feels in a sense cut off from something essential. There is a generalised sense of unease and lack.
We compensate for this inner lack by seeking satisfaction and fulfillment outside ourselves in all kinds of ways: through relationships, possessions, experiences, power and recognition. However, except momentarily, we are never fully satisfied. We rarely find any peace from the constant stream of thoughts and emotions and the drives of our senses.
There is a deeper aspect to our being which becomes known to us when we are still and quiet enough to become aware of it. This deeper aspect is in fact who we are, our true unchanging nature as simple present awareness/beingness, and when we experience it we want for nothing and nothing is missing. We are no longer cut off and separate and we may experience ourselves as integral to, and in essence, no different from the Whole.
We come to know that what we thought was ‘me’ with all its craving and unhappiness was in fact a false identification and in that recognition the contracted, false sense of self or ‘me’ falls away or falls into the background. We have in other words realized our Self, our true nature and come to the end of seeking.
In realizing the Self the most surprising thing I found was the recognition 'I have always known this. This has always been the most intimate and familiar part of me'.
Nothing new was added to me but many things were taken away: my anxiety, my nameless fear, my unhappiness, my constant striving. All these things were taken away and what was left was a peaceful, simple, ordinary person who felt fulfilled and complete and not separate from the whole of existence.
'Now don't think that awakening is the end. Awakening is the end of seeking, the end of the seeker, but it is the beginning of a life lived from your true nature.'
Is this what I truly want?
In the common, romanticised version of awakening this realization would be the end of all our suffering and our inner and outer conflicts but unfortunately this is not the case.
Awakening revolutionises our whole being including our psychological and emotional structures, belief systems and societal/familial conditionings. Sooner or later, this inner change as it becomes integrated, revolutionises one's outer life as well, demanding that everything aligns with it.
Treasured relationships can unravel, ambitions dissolve and whole ways of life may disintegrate. You will most likely be faced with layers of unconscious psychological patterns coming to the surface. If you want to be comfortable or are clinging to any aspect of your inner or outer life you will almost certainly suffer.
Awakening isn't a special experience that will be added to you, the individual, to make you a better, more special and improved version of yourself.
The individual you is what falls away or falls into the background and is replaced by the Self. You, the individual personal self will gain nothing from awakening and you run the risk of losing everything. We have to then ask ourselves: 'Is this what I truly want?'
In order to come to the end of seeking which will take extraordinary dedication and determination and which will in the end leave the personal self with nothing, we must first ask ourselves 'Is this what I truly want?'
'The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live. But if your motive is love of truth and life, you need not be afraid.'
- Nisargadatta Maharaj
'Awakening won't get you anything. If awakening got "you" something, it wouldn't be awakening at all, but just more of the same old dream of getting and becoming. Awakened, you will not feel that you have attained or gained anything. Life will go on just as it always did.'
- Robert Saltzman
'Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It's seeing through the facade of pretense. It's the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.'
'Enlightenment is ego's ultimate disappointment.'
- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
'The root of all desires is the one desire: to come home, to be at peace.'
- Jean Klein
'That which comes and goes, rises and sets, is born and dies is the ego. That which always abides, never changes and is devoid of qualities is the Self.'
- Ramana Maharshi
'All the evil in the world, and all the unhappiness, comes from the I-concept.'
- Wei Wu Wei
'Within the mind there is yet another
Rom Landau to J Krishnamurti -
'How did you come to that state of unity with everything?'-
'People have asked me about that before, and I always feel that they expect to hear the dramatic account of some sudden miracle through which I suddenly became one with the universe. Of course nothing of the sort happened. My inner awareness was always there; though it took me time to feel it more and more clearly; and equally it took time to find words that would at all describe it.
It was not a sudden flash, but a slow yet constant clarification of something that was always there. It did not grow, as people often think. Nothing can grow in us that is of spiritual importance.
It has to be there in all its fullness, and then the only thing that happens is that we become more and more aware of it. It is our intellectual reaction and nothing else that needs time to become more articulate, more definite.'
- J. Krishnamurti
'The Great Work consists in transforming a helpless other-directed puppet into an inner-directed unified being that understands its place in the scheme of things.'
- E.J. Gold
'True happiness is when you find your inner stability, inner comfort and when you know you are connected to something much bigger than what you can even imagine. True happiness is when you know that there is some power in you which is unshakeable. The love or God that is deep inside you is that which manages or keeps the orderliness in the whole creation. When you know that then, nobody and nothing whatsoever can take away your happiness.'
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
'Happiness, which is the simple knowing of our own being as it essentially is, is not dependent on the conditions of the body, mind or world. It is our ever-present nature. It lies, shining quietly, in the background of all experience, and when it is recognised it overflows into the foreground, pervading all experience with its qualities.'
- Rupert Spira
In the following section 'Fundamentals II' we will discuss the prerequisites needed to establish the most favourable conditions for this shift in perspective to occur.