Are you a spiritual seeker? Are you on “the path?” Do you want to be awakened, evolved, enlightened? By the end of this short article, you can realize your goal. Yes, you read that right. I guarantee that by the end of this article you can finally arrive at your spiritual destination, however you describe it.
You don’t believe me, do you? And I know why. It’s because you’ve spent years, maybe decades, seeking “it,” being wholeheartedly devoted to your “path” and diligently doing your “work.” And while you’ve grown tremendously, you’re still not “there.” You might be closer than you were a year ago, but you haven’t arrived.
I get it. You are reading the words of one of the world’s most devoted and diligent seekers. If there were a picture in the dictionary next to the word “seeker,” it would be mine, yet I’m not alone in this regard.
Millions of us are seekers. We’re committed—devoted even—to our “path,” seeking to realize our version of heaven on earth. Whether we call it discovering our “true nature,” finding our “authentic self,” feeling “connected to the divine,” “being one with source,” or being “filled with the spirit,” millions of us long for heaven—awakening, enlightenment, realization.
Seeking leads us to wonderful activities like meditation, workshops, ashrams or church services. We read spiritual books, take yoga, clear our chakras, go on medicine journeys and memorize sacred texts. We seek the wisdom of today’s gurus like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Scott Kiloby, Ken Wilber, or former masters like Jesus, Buddha, or Maharshi. It’s believed that these types of activities or these enlightened people can get us “there.”
If you’re tired of asking, “Are we there yet?”; if you want to awaken right now, then I invite you to do this: Open a Word document, or get out a piece paper and write down, specifically, what you believe life would feel like if you were to become enlightened. In other words, do your best to describe the experience of being fully realized. What do you imagine it would be like? Be specific. What exactly are you seeking?
I find that most spiritual seekers have never really stopped to ask themselves what they think enlightenment will be like. What is the expected outcome of our spiritual search? How will life be different? Make a list. Now. (Yes, stop reading and do it.)
Now, if that was hard, if the page or document is still mostly blank, then try this: Tell me what you think life is like for your favorite guru, yogi or spiritual master? Tell me about their life. We envy them, right? We want to experience life the way they do, correct? Isn’t that why we read their books, take their workshops and use their methods? Of course it is.
It’s like that scene from the movie, “When Harry Met Sally.” Meg Ryan is having this incredible wild orgasm in the restaurant and the lady across the isle sees it and tells her server, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
We want to have what Tolle or Katie or Maharshi are having, don’t we? So what is that? How do they experience life? Or how is their life experience different or preferable to your experience? You have to actually do this in order for it to work. Don’t just keep reading. Make a list describing the awakened, enlightened life.
Trusting that you’ve done that, my guess is your list includes things like: A sense of peace and inner serenity or a relaxed, open, spacious, at-ease experience of life. Maybe it also includes a sense of imperturbability and groundedness in the midst of life’s unpredictable twists and turns. Maybe your list speaks about the absence of regret and bitterness about the past, the lack of stress, angst or resistance to the present and no fear or worry about the future. Perhaps words like love, aliveness, joy, or maybe even bliss made your list. For many, I imagine enlightenment feels like being inseparable from the whole, connected to the all.
Here’s where the money is. Take a good, long look at your list and then close your eyes. Take three slow, deep breaths and allow your mind to settle down, just like the snow settling in a snow-globe. In other words, come to rest and just BE. And BE. And BE.
From this place of rest and Be-ing, notice that the moment is exactly what you’ve been seeking. Exactly. The entire list is fully and completely experienced in this moment of Be-ing. Everything you’ve been searching for, the end result of all your spiritual practices, the life you feel your favorite guru lives is completely here NOW. Every bit of it. Nothing is missing. It’s not “over there” in the future, hanging there like some carrot. It’s present in each and every moment when the mind is quiet (even a little) and you allow yourself to just BE.
Feel into this BE-ing moment. Is it not peaceful? When BE-ing is allowed, can you find regret, angst or worry? Who isn’t already enlightened? Where is there to go? What is there to get? Isn’t the very nature of the non-conceptual moment love, aliveness, joy and bliss?
I’m here to tell you that all the workshops, all the books, all the asanas, all the methods, all the time spent in meditation and all the “medicine” trips you take will never get you “there” because it’s already here.
You can do all those things—and I do most of them—you can go sit at the feet of spiritual masters—and I do whenever I can—but if you’re doing those things from the belief that you’re lacking something now and they or it can help you get “there,” you’ve not only missed the point but you’ve made enlightenment or awakening impossible to experience. To seek It is to move away from It.
You are already enlightened spirit. There is nowhere you need to go and nothing to you need to do in order to be that which you already are. The only issue is that you believe the thoughts that say you have to do something to get “there,” and that’s why you suffer and have “problems.” The mind says you’re lacking something, you’re inadequate in some way, that “there” is better than “here,” and the second we buy into the mind’s story, is the moment when peace ends and suffering begins. In a sense, seeking kicks us out of heaven and plants us squarely in hell.
The only difference between Tolle, Kiloby, or any other master, is they don’t believe in, pay attention to, or identify with the endless mind-chatter. They, instead, pay attention to the empty space in between the thoughts and rest as THAT. Like watching trains coming in and out of the station, so they watch thoughts come and go in awareness. They don’t get on the train; they don’t try to put the train on different tracks, they don’t even try to stop the trains from coming. They just don’t care about the trains.
Thoughts are empty. They pop in and out of awareness. Who knows where they come from and where they go. Therefore, why care? They’re as unstable and unpredictable as the weather. Why take them seriously? If the spiritual masters believed their thoughts, their identity would change from moment to moment. (Pssst: That’s what’s happening in the lives of us seekers. Who we are is our latest thought. “I’m unlovable…I’m a nice guy…I’m not good enough…I’m the best…I’m enlightened…I’m sick with cancer…I’m right…I’ll never get “there,” blah, blah, blah. Endless. Pointless. Useless.)
Spiritual masters rest in and AS the peace, joy, bliss and completeness of the present moment—no matter what the thought-stream is saying. And we can too. We just did it for a few brief seconds and notice how contented you were! For that brief moment, everything was perfect even though nothing about life changed. In that moment you experienced your definition of awakening and enlightenment. Nothing to seek. It’s Here. Now. Completely.
The only thing that stands between you and enlightenment is seeking. If there’s an enemy (and there’s not), it’s seeking. Enlightenment is not a place to reach, it’s not a thing to “get,” it’s frankly not even an experience. It’s the nature of the moment. Always. Only mind-chatter obscures it.
Finally, what are we to make of our spiritual practices? Are they essentially a complete waste of time? Well, yes and no. Yes, they are a complete waste of time, even a hindrance, if we’re using them to get “there.” Conversely, no, they are wonderful if they’re used for two and only two reasons:
• They remind us that enlightenment is not “there” but already “here.”
• They’re fun.
Furthermore, any practice, method or teacher that promises some future result, some future realization should be avoided. By holding out the “carrot of promise,” that one day you’ll go to heaven, they actually keep you from it. You are turned into a Greyhound dog chasing the rabbit at the dog track. You keep chasing the damn thing and you can never catch it. But if you stop chasing, if you stop seeking, the rabbit will come all the way around and hit you right in the ass! “It” finds you when you stop seeking “It.”
Simply do the exercise I took you through earlier as often as you can. Let me remind you:
1. Remember what’s on your list
2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
3. Let the mind come to rest and just BE
4. Notice the present moment IS your list.
Are we there yet? Yes, we are. Always. Now.