I’d heard it said that this human experience is a sensitive one. I’d heard it but until recently I hadn’t fully appreciated or understood it. It was a sentiment I could agree with but it hadn’t been realised. I believed it because I believe the teacher but I hadn’t taken time to really look at my own sensitivity and see it clearly. That’s really the only way. You can’t awaken by being a believer. Belief rests in thought. Awakening comes from seeing clearly, it only happens through seeing clearly and so you have to look, to investigate, to inquire.
It may seem paradoxical but what you find through your investigation isn’t as important as the looking that led to it. Sure, some beautiful and deep insights will arise but it’s good practice not to attach to these as often over time they become more refined or we update them. It’s the looking ‘muscles’ you develop that are really the point.
Let’s take an example, reading a health and fitness magazine will not improve your fitness one iota. It’s not until you put into practice the advice and techniques offered that you’ll get fitter. And the point isn’t the exercise itself; for example in a football or hockey training session you might dribble the ball around cones. The point isn’t to become an expert cone dribbler, it’s to develop skills that can be applied on the pitch during a game.
So why be mindful when you brush your teeth or wash the dishes? It isn’t so you become more expert at chores, it’s so the next time someone insults you, criticises you, shows no consideration towards you, you see the arising of emotion and recognise the pathways and habitual reactions laid out before you. Then there is choice, there is freedom. We practice mindfulness because if we don’t then our moods, our actions, our thoughts are all conditioned blindly by whatever arises around us and we get lost in them. Which I guess would be fine if life is going fine. But life doesn’t always go fine does it? Life is tricky.
So where does all this mindfulness lead? Well as we see more clearly the processes and pathways of this dynamic human experience, at some point the realisation occurs that that’s exactly what this whole humanity thing is: processes and pathways; beautiful patterns. Changing, fluid interactions without any separation, any permanent fixed element or aspect i.e. no owner, no self.
This realisation doesn’t come about through agreeing with it. Your opinion of it isn’t relevant. It comes about through seeing clearly and seeing clearly arises from mindfulness and insight; the result of investigation or inquiry. Does that make sense? If it doesn’t please ask, because it should make perfect sense. It’s not esoteric or arcane, it’s not intended to be some hidden mystery uncovered after years of research in libraries or at the feet of teachers.
So if it’s said there’s no path, well that’s true, there is no path as such, it’s just seeing this (This) clearly; seeing this human experience with clarity in the moment. Doesn’t sound so hard does it? The challenge we face, even when we get it and start practicing is that there are aspects of this human experience we don’t want to investigate. Things we’ve done or feel that we’d rather ignore. There are aspects of this life we might struggle to accept or reconcile.
For example I always wanted to be brave. In any of my childhood games I wanted to be the hero, the brave one, the champion. But I’m not brave. I’m easily frightened. I get nervous and I can feel very insecure. When we see an aspect of this that doesn’t fit with how we want it to be or feel it should be then we find it difficult. But not only do we have to fully investigate these things we have to learn to unconditionally accept and embrace what we find. Why? Because it is this was. It is this way and wishing won’t make it any different.
So this pathless path can take time but it’s always laid out before us. The choices and circumstances of our life present us with the perfect opportunity to look and experience. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to read, just see this clearly. Use meditation, use mindfulness and practice inquiry. Fewer words, more silence. And on that note…