Starting on the Spiritual Path or Why There Is a Buddhist Monk in Everyone
Most people go through life in a hurry, always striving, under pressure to get somewhere, to do more, achieve more, become more accomplished. As if they know what life is about. Or what we all do here on this planet. If you asked them: “Why all the hurry? Why all the stress?” they would come with a reasonable explanation. They wanted to do this or that — buy a house, build a business, grow the business, retire, etc. And then, they would’ve finally “arrived”, it would all be fine. Other people strive, fight and run until they realize this endless pursuit, this self-imposed journey of chasing after something will never end. And they slow down to check within what life really means. What this experience is all about. We stop seeking outside and look for answers inside.
This shift from looking for fulfillment outward to start looking inward is hard. And may require years or decades of fruitless striving to get things in the external world right. To arrange all the building blocks perfectly — a loving relationship, a family, a rewarding career, living situation, health situation, finances, social status, etc. One may need to play this game for thirty, forty, fifty years or more before a realization comes, it is all futile. Empty. Pointless. Most often the tipping point for this realization is a dramatic event — a sudden loss, a divorce, a bankruptcy, etc. Which finally reveals to us the unstable nature of external things. Because things are meant to break or change. Even if the relationship or the house still stand our attitude towards them changes and they don’t satisfy us any longer. If we rely on them for lasting joy and fulfillment, we are doomed to failure.
Then comes the question “I’ve been living that meaningless rabbit race* for so long and I’m still dissatisfied. Still searching. What am I searching for”? And here it is! The first time there truly is some space within, a detachment from external things and a deeper dive in one’s inner reality. An inner shift has started. A shift from being absorbed in the phenomenal world out there, including the incessant stream of habitual thoughts and emotions, to being rooted in something vast and spacious within. Something which is beyond material form, which is deeper than what happens on the surface of life experience. A new dimension starts to emerge in you. Which cannot be described with words or symbols. It cannot be grasped conceptually. It is immediate, a direct realization of what is.
This “new” dimension may appear in the midst of a devastating loss — when life seems so unbearably painful on the external level that the shell of resistance cracks open and one surrenders. Gives in fully to what is. Pain may still linger on the surface, but there is also an added dimension of peace and graceful stillness in the background. The external loses its absolute importance.
This “new” dimension is nothing more but a realization that we are already complete. That we are not separate from, but an inextricable part of this universe. That everything is taken care for us by a higher intelligence we just have to cooperate with and trust. We simply give ourself to the flow…
Us trying to control things is believing we are isolated fragments upon which something depends. Hence there is fear, anxiety or at best an underlying unease.
Believing we are nothing more than our bodies limits us. Believing we are a sum total of our experiences and past events, conditioned thoughts and emotions, our possessions or achievements obscures our true nature from us. Which is love, oneness, wholeness, eternity, timeless presence, spaciousness, pure consciousness and simply Being — hiding in a human form. Being in touch with our indestructible nature dissolves all fear and wanting, bringing peace and completeness in our life.
If the depth within is not discovered no life experience will ever be fulfilling. Sometimes a realization comes not through suffering but during a “peak” moment in one’s life. When someone has achieved fame and fortune. Then, even though one has seemingly “made it” (the big mansion, the perfect family, the wild success) and there is nothing more to want from life, this individual realizes that is not it. Something is still missing. He or she is not home yet.
Once there is a glimpse to this “new” dimension of pure consciousness, which is our essential nature, our whole life changes. It puts us on a spiritual path. which we intuitively follow. It may involve starting a movement practice such as yoga, breathing, meditation guided by a mobile app or something else. Then there might be periods of dropping it, getting completely drawn by the outside world once again, and resuming our spiritual practice after another disappointment or an inner call. It slowly starts to dawn on us no purpose on the outside can satisfy us if we haven’t realized our inner purpose. If we haven’t connected with our most authentic self within. In this respect we become a modern Buddhist monk in the city. Of course, a spiritual practice may not necessarily be needed. On this path of self-realization nothing is truly “needed” and must be “added” to us. We are already whole and complete, now and in any moment. And we are in touch with the perfect practice and the perfect teacher already. We just have to listen to it more deeply — it is called LIFE.
*The racing of dogs around an enclosed track in pursuit of an electrically controlled and propelled mechanical rabbit… Which is always right in front of them but they never catch