One of the reasons I started this blog, one of the reasons I thought I’d try and help people with their inquiry into truth, is frustration. Seeking truth, wanting freedom, wanting to see what those who have awakened see can be a frustrating business. It becomes clear that whilst we might agree with the words, and the ideas they represent, there has to be more to it. Somehow that just isn’t enough.
Well, it can be quite frustrating to write about awakening as well. If you’re not gifted with poetic or literary abilities then the words that appear on the page end up looking clumsy and sometimes even contradictory. I’ve just been guilty of this myself, I replied to a Facebook post and then replied again and contradicted the first thing I said. Of course I could go back and delete it but I chose to try and explain what I meant instead. It may not work. As my son pointed out to me once, you can’t dig your way out of a hole.
I think one of the big challenges we face with our inquiry is our culture. We expect to be able to learn things. We go to school, to college or university and people tell us things and we learn them. So why doesn’t it work with awakening? Why can’t we just be told the truth and learn it?
I think on some level almost everyone who goes to hear an awakened teacher hopes that this time, they’ll hear the right words in the right way and that something will be transferred; the truth will finally be understood and they’ll achieve this much talked about awakening. Maybe they’ve even heard of others for whom this has happened. But what if it’s not like that? What if that’s a fundamental misunderstanding right there at the start and that what’s required is a radically different approach?
For a start, and you can’t state this often enough, you have to get that this is your inquiry. No one will, because no one can, give you this. And as this is your inquiry you have to validate and verify everything you find for yourself – no borrowing, no believing, no assuming. Set aside all words, all teachings except the things that you have found by your own inquiry to be true.
You have to actually look deeply and continuously at the nature of this human experience for yourself; you have to be 100% self-reliant. Your inquiry, your looking. So you need an attitude of knowing that no one can give you this. Don’t expect it of them. Don’t expect the truth in any book, any video, any lecture or satsang.
I’m not saying don’t go, by all means read, listen or whatever but don’t expect to find the truth. The very best you might hope for is a new tool to use. What do I mean by that? Well, that’s really what this process of inquiry is all about; using the teachings or ideas of others as tools, not as beliefs or as an end in themselves. So when the Buddha said there are 5 Khandas, he didn’t mean that’s literally how it is, he meant try looking from this perspective and see how it appears. Do you see anything new? Does it help you to break or shift an old paradigm? Does it reveal a pattern of thought you’ve based your world view on that’s not useful any more?
And it’s the same with all such teachings be they from Yoga, Buddhism, Advaita or a modern teacher. Just use it to look. Look for yourself.
Because the freedom is in seeing clearly. That’s what awakening is: seeing clearly. Seeing how it is, without any assumptions, ideas or beliefs, without any attachments or anything unrevealed or unexamined, without any viewpoint at all – just seeing happening.
And so when you realise this you realise that what is seen is constantly in motion. This is always changing; change is life, life is movement. There is no fixed ‘truth’, there never was. That’s why you can’t ‘find it’ or construct a path to it as Krishnamurti pointed out.
So this work is all inner work, noticing how we see things, how we receive them, what assumptions and beliefs we hold and then challenging these because they’re all imperfections in the lens. Anything not yet seen clearly is part of the lens and therefore conditions how we see.
There’s no real point in talking about what we find, you have to work on the looker. That’s the only way this happens. So who can tell you about you? No one can. You’re the only one who has access. It has to be your inquiry because it can’t be any other way.
Yes, it needs a lot of honesty, a certain determination, a bit of courage, a persistent effort – don’t worry about how long it takes, have no concern for that at all, set it right out of your mind. And it needs not a little compassion. There is no goal in this, it’s just seeing clearly, that’s all. If you make a goal out of it, if you fill your time having expectations about it, then you’re allowing yourself to be distracted.
So if you make the shift to realising this is your path, your inquiry, your work, then you have the opportunity to learn from everything, from every experience. Then you don’t have to go and sit at the feet of a teacher hoping they will bring truth to you. You’ll realise, as a friend of mine once said, it’s already here.