The Noblest Pursuit
In the pathless path to spiritual liberation, it is easy to become like a lifeless zombie, dead on the inside, devoid of joy, inspiration and enthusiasm. In the pursuit to eradicate any remnant of self, one can easiily miss the mark and hold onto some idea that to awaken is to kill one’s capacity for thought, feeling, sensation, creativity, relationship and engagement with life on the relative level. It’s so easy to confuse notions of the absolute with the relative, moving through life like a T-Rex striking violently at the ego with teeth that seek to devour any sign of it. And in this pursuit, humanness is discarded, ridiculed or even hated. The world is considered nothing but a material cesspool of manifestation. Trophies are (metaphorically speaking) handed out to those who claim to have transcended thought, emotion and sensation completely. There are actually studies and research projects out now that place those who claim to have transcended these things at the top of the spiritual ladder. It’s as if leaving humanness behind is somehow a noble pursuit for a human. The irony… Wouldn’t physical death be easier and more efficient?
What about the possibility of something else? What if the investigation of self, other and world doesn’t have to lead to zombie-ism at all? What if nothing is discarded whatsover? What if everything is transformed in the investigation? What if the whole world is essentially left untouched – seen to be an illusion but celebrated fully anyway and in every way? Every feeling is met, included and loved but not identified with. Every thought is seen and acknowledged but without any clinging. Everything is allowed as it is without any desire to eradicate any of it. What about the possibility that there really isn’t an ego to eradicate in the first place? There are patterns of thoughts that feel stuck to emotions or sensations. And as the investigation goes deeper, this stuckness is unvelcroed. That’s all. If there really is no ego – if there is only this patterning happening – then the pursuit to eradicate ego is dead in the water from the get-go. A fool’s game.
What if this investigation does not take you out of life or out of the world but places you more firmly within it, able to move through it with a fearless and fierce enjoyment and enthusiam? What if you investigate the notion of separation between self and other, but the result is not some transcended state that denies both? What if the result is that both are embraced as two inseparable sides of the same coin. What if…the relative is embraced simply because that is all that it is – an appearance of relative things, each thing having its place and identity only in relation to other things. Each thing being empty but so perfectly placed and so important within this intricate web. The relative is embraced simply because that is all that there is. There is only this play. Nothing existing by itself, on its own side. Everything existing only in relationship. And in that seeing, there is a complete diving into this web of relationship rather than a revolt against it. An embrace of the bliss, the pain, the puke, the piss, the love, the hate, the joy and the anger.
What if the divisions between the ocean and the waves, between awareness and appearances and between the absolute and the relative do not delineate ultimate divisions at all but are merely part of the intricate web of relativity? More mind stuff. Don’t believe what I’m saying. I’m only asking “what if.” I’m inviting you to look and see. This invitation scares only those who cling to the notion that there is something beyond the web of relationship, something ultimately real and transcendent, some island out beyond everything else where one can sit in a meditative trance comfortably untouched by life with its messy humanness. Something beyond the beyond the beyond. But this begs the question: Where are we going? What are we trying to achieve? What are we running from? Does this island look appealing only because we seek to escape the rough waters of our everyday human existence? If liberation hinges on escape, is it liberation at all?
What if you love so deeply that your heart breaks wide open each time? What if you do not seek to leave behind the circumstances that led to the breaking or attempt to procure insurance against any future heart breaks? What if, instead, your broken heart leaves you even more raw and vulnerable, even more open to hurt and pain that may come? What if fear is not something to get rid of, but becomes the door through which you open to life even more? What if anger is not something to hide or avoid? What if feeling it is really the only way to discover the riches of the fear underneath it? What if liberation isn’t liberation from, but rather liberation right in the midst of all of this humanness? What if, in this investigation, you let your enthusiasm for how you show up right now have its way with you.
What if the ocean won’t shelter you? The waves are allowed to wash right through you? Awareness doesn’t protect you from appearances? You find that you only wanted the protection of awareness because you were clinging and identifying with the appearances? If that clinging stops, why would you even care about awareness?
What if your own death is merely one of those appearances and once you face the fear within its perceived threat, you finally begin to live fearlessly and finally begin to enjoy your life fully? You give up your future spiritual and worldly pursuits and find that everything you were ever looking for is already right here, right now. You are smack dab in the middle of spirit and spirit is the world itself. What if liberation is not some spiritual state or transcendent realm. It is in that toaster you are putting bread into. It is in the breath in your chest. It is in the movement of your feet walking. It is the smile or frown of a loved one. It is in the joy of having a face. It is in the pleasure of watching your favorite TV show. It is in the loving feeling in your chest as you allow yourself to be intimate with a stranger. It is in the crisis you find yourself in at the moment. It is in the pain itself.
What if you left behind the pursuit to eradicate ego in favor of just being you however you show up, without regret, without self-judgment, without doubt or a sense of lack of deficiency? What would there be to eradicate? Wouldn’t your pursuit for liberation fall flat on its face? What would you be pursuing if your only goal was to be here right in this moment? If this sounds like a tall order, just simplify. Make it easier on yourself. Whenever you resist, love the resistance. Whatever you avoid, move towards it. Whatever you don’t want to feel, feel it until it makes you feel like you will explode. Whenever you have a scary thought, look right at it, don’t turn away even for a moment. Don’t stand as the witness. Let it devour the witness and devour itself. Keep it that simple and everything I’m saying here will make perfect, undeniable sense. Make your only pursuit a pursuit to see, feel, hear and allow everything that you are experiencing right now.
This will not take you out of life. There will be nothing to move beyond or transcend. This will not eradicate a non-existent ego. This will not lead you to the Tao. You don’t want those three letters. You want to live this human life, right? This will merely make you more perfectly human in every way. Isn’t that what a human life is really about?