Becoming is addictive. It’s a strange little poison that takes root in the sense of self or ego-identification and if left unchecked will grow and spread with each step on a ‘spiritual path’. My early forays into what would eventually become a spiritual inquiry took in a wide range of topics from crop circles to witchcraft. I loved to read accounts of out-of-body experiences and astral travel. I couldn’t get enough of miraculous gurus and their mystical powers.
One by one these interests dropped away, not always easily; realising the mystical powers of a guru are nothing more than sleight of hand can leave you feeling deflated and hollow. I didn’t want the world to be mundane, I wanted it to be miraculous. I felt disappointed and dejected when things turned out to be, well, normal.
In fact the world is miraculous, far beyond my wildest imaginings, I just wasn’t looking at it the right way. Clinging to self-view (without realising it) I wanted to feel special in a special world. But the ‘self’ isn’t special, it’s just another arising. It arises and it passes away like all other conditioned phenomena. It isn’t until we see beyond the narrow confines of ego that we realise the Unborn; that which gives rise to all, that which is all, that which is the real, and the more we travel in that direction (figuratively), shedding ego-investment along the way, the more it is revealed. You can’t help but surrender to that beauty, the perfection of it, always renewed, ever constant. But to experience this, to be the experiencing of this, to get beyond the sense of self, it’s good to be aware of the sticky traps of becoming and how they manifest in our lives.
So beware of feeling ‘special’: special because we’re on a spiritual path and others are not, because we’ve found a guru or teachers others just don’t get, because we’ve had some profound insight others can’t relate to. We can even get addicted to the specialness of renunciation: we’ve given up elements of our previous lifestyle others still indulge in – oh, how easy it is to judge them for their lack of sensitivity! Then there are the practices we pick up along the way. This is by no means a criticism of any of the following, it’s pointing to our relationship with them, not the things themselves. Whether your bag is crystals or psychic energies, chanting or meditation, spiritual practices from ethnic cultures or our pagan past, try to see each of these as useful tools. They can be skilful means that can serve a purpose for a time but they won’t lead to truth. You can’t find the unconditioned in the conditioned. It’s only when we let go of the conditioned that the unconditioned becomes apparent. That’s not to say we should react and give everything up, but take time to be aware of our relationship with these things. What are we hoping for? Hope is a really deceptive and tricky form of desire. The Truth is just this; this moment as it is right now. Becoming something else won’t give you access to it.
The ego that knows will always serve less than the humility that doesn’t know. Let uncertainty be your guide. Allow not-knowing to enter your life and you’ll find not-becoming follows close behind. It’s less fascinating, less alluring, there’s no tinsel and lights and bells and whistles so we’re not keen to choose it at first, but setting these aside we find silence. Silence is a great teacher; self-aware presence without the push/pull of sense attraction. Choosing stillness; seeing without being drawn into. Taking all our armour off and being open to this moment, experiencing it and all of the feelings, emotions and thoughts that come and go. It’s miraculous, isn’t it, just the beingness of it? This sensitive presence that doesn’t know, that can’t become, that doesn’t lack or need, that receives this as it is.
The simplest step is no step at all, it’s the not-leaving-home that rests as being present. So our goal is to be the knower of this. But then we always have been the knower of this, we just got lost by being drawn into the content instead of receiving it. It’s really simple when we’re silent, when we’re still. When we’re not becoming we realise that we are. Are what? Don’t name it, it has no conditions and needs no labels.
“This sensitive presence that doesn’t know, that can’t become, that doesn’t lack or need, that receives this as it is.”
Thanks, especially this sentence, it’s a lovely reminder