The sofa test

There may not be much within Western culture that will encourage us to do so but every now and then each of us asks the question: what is it that I really want in life?

Okay, so it’s a biggie and there are probably lots of answers, some short term, some are long term life goals. The reason for reflecting on this is the reason for this blog. Is enlightenment anywhere on your list? How’s about freedom from suffering?

That sounds a bit more like it doesn’t it? Enlightenment is a bit of an airy-fairy term, it can mean so many things. And though you might be thinking, ‘I’m not suffering right now’, we all know that sooner or later we’ll experience a vague sense of dissatisfaction or at the other end of the scale grief, anguish and despair.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it this way but just using logic it’s easy to see that life is all about constant change. Everything in the universe is changing all of the time, some things slowly, some quickly. We like to say things like, ‘I’ll love you forever’ but really we know we aren’t going to be here forever.

The point is that whatever we attach to might bring us great joy and happiness for a time but being realistic it will also bring us suffering if we don’t learn to let it go when the time comes and we have to do so. And most of us don’t like letting go do we? It involves change and most of us don’t like change. I’m not by the way suggesting you should never love or feel happy, that would be a bit pessimistic.

Well, I could talk about keeping a perspective on change and being aware of our attachments but actually that isn’t the purpose of this blog. This blog is for anyone who’s just a bit more world weary than that. When you get to the stage where your life goals aren’t the big house, flashy car, great job, higher station in life or maybe even true love. When, in short, with an eye on what all the world has on offer, there doen’t seem to be anything ‘out there’ that you really want any more, then perhaps you’re ready to hear this.

You’ve may have studied a few religions, looked into things like Eastern philosophy, modern day sages and wondered if there really is anything that they can teach you. Perhaps you’ve picked up some good stuff along the way and I doubt you’ll have failed to have been inspired by one or two of the ideas.

If you’re at that stage then this blog is intended for you. It’s about the next step. It goes by lots of terms from different cultures: elightenment, nibbana, moksha, nirvana or even awakening, realisation or liberation. What I expect you need and want to know is how it happens, what it actually means and whether it’s attainable by you in this lifetime.

The good news with regard to the last part is a resounding ‘YES’. I say this because it has happened to me – unexpectedly I might add.

I’m not going to say that what led me to this will work for you because everyone’s path is there own but I do believe that some hints, tips, advice and informed perspectives can make it easier to get to the edge – the rest is up to you.

So that’s what we’re going to look at in these postings. It’s not mysterious and most of it isn’t even hard but gradually over time I hope it can guide the path of others as mine has been guided by those whose words gently and sometimes more fundamentally informed my direction in life.

So to start, a simple test. Next time you’re sitting comfortably alone, maybe on your sofa; you’re not hungry, thirsty or in discomfort, take a moment to look inside. Switch off the TV, the music, literally do nothing but just sit there. Now, if you’ve no physical needs you should be able to sit there and feel nothing but perfect peace and contentment shouldn’t you?

But perhaps you don’t. Perhaps there’s something inside that’s not quite content. It might not be easy to put your finger on or maybe it is but either way, you’re may not really at peace, not for long. So why not? Why have we got that urge to reach for the TV remote, check your Facebook, read the text that just popped in or go to the fridge?

This is the challenge, to really understand this. In this blog I will offer some reflections on this in the hope that you’ll be able to find something of use to your practice. Thank you for reading.

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