Whatever paths and spiritual journeys we may take, the only destination is right here, right now. The answer to our quest for understanding is right in front of our face, if only we can see it.
This is the great secret : it’s so simple, that we don’t notice it. It’s the story of the fish, which goes as follows:
A fish was, one day, swimming around, much like every other day. He did his chores, ate, swam with the shoal, cheekily dipped a fin at an attractive she-fish, and opened his gills to catch the oxygen, just like he always did. This day, everything was calm, and his mind was still and open. Quite suddenly he noticed something that changed nothing, and changed everything. He noticed the water.
When we realise that we are present to existence itself, life transforms. Nothing changes; we still have to get up, deal with family and work, breathe, eat, defecate, and go to sleep. There are still bad times and good times, life and death, coffee and taxes. But everything changes; our perspective alters. We know that we are no longer, and never have been, separate from existence itself. And moreover, that existence is unchanging, and it knows it.
When this becomes apparent, we understand that all that we perceive, feel and think, are no more than contents of mind, and that ‘mind’ has a space-like, infinite, non-judging and timeless quality. It’s not even ‘our’ mind. And it offers infinite possibilities.
Happily, this realisation is not difficult to come by. We just have to create the right conditions, and one day, quite unexpectedly, this truth appears. Paradoxically, however, if we go looking for it, we’ll never find it. It’s too well camouflaged. The core conditions are to be relaxed, yet alert; and to take the approach that it’s not about ‘me’.
The ancient Hindu story of how the ‘godhead’ was hidden illustrates this:
Originally, all men were divine, but due to their abuses the Gods decided to hide the ‘godhead’. After considering burying it in the earth, sinking it in the ocean, or ejecting it into the sky, Brahma suggested that they hide it in man himself, the one place he would never think to look.
Right now, as you read this, you can touch on this realisation. Notice that between each sentence there is a gap, like this one here: . Now do the same with your thoughts; observe that there is a gap between thoughts. Or use the gap between your in-breath and the out-breath. Catch the feeling of this gap. It has no ‘me’, it has no agenda, and it is unchanging. That’s it. Now, stay with it, and you’re done.
The term that’s used today for staying with it, is mindfulness. Mindemptyness, or selfless attention, might express it better.