Most of us are struggling, each and every day, to make sense of our lives; trying to find some semblance of peace and happiness amidst the chaos and confusion of our world. Very little of what we go through on a daily basis makes any real sense – and when we do stop long enough to take a look around, what do we see? A failing socio-political model that no longer honors the needs of the people, misguided religious ideologies that increase our sense of isolation and separation from one another, wars being fought against and by the poor in order to support those who already have riches beyond imagining, skyrocketing expenses that rob us of our hard won-earnings. Racism, sexism, ageism; sickness and famine; pollution and global warming – the list goes on… Indeed, our world is in peril and we are powerless to stop it. Or are we?
Many of us become so fixated on the outside world and everything that’s wrong with it that we tend to neglect our own inner worlds. But what if that’s the actual problem. What if it is our inner world that is creating the outer – not in terms of some theory that says you create your own reality; but in terms of how our minds have been shaped and conditioned to see things a certain way – and it is that conditioning that we are projecting outward in the direction of the world? Perhaps our thoughts, ideas, models, notions, views, beliefs, opinions, and preferences are nothing more than shadows moving through our experience, clouding our ability to see things clearly. What if our very notion of ourselves, and of the world, are complete fabrications of the mind? What if the peace, joy, and happiness that we are so desperately seeking is right here, right now, just waiting to be discovered inside of us and has nothing at all to do with the ‘world’ that appears ‘out there’?
A vast majority of religious, spiritual, and psychological tools that we have available to us today are geared in the direction of helping us become more comfortable and less stressed in the world; which can indeed be quite useful for a while. They are offering us an opportunity to improve ourselves, fix ourselves, and heal ourselves; or to escape our circumstances – and we strive valiantly in the direction they point. In some cases we may find a degree of success in our efforts; but there often remains a sense of longing and emptiness that we cannot account for. There is still a sense of dissatisfaction that haunts us no matter how many books we read, talks we go to, times we meditate, prayers we say, etc. It’s almost as if something is missing from the equation of peace that these paths promise. Are we brave enough and honest enough to admit that no matter how hard we’ve been working on ourselves it still feels like something is missing? Are we ready to look more deeply at the true nature of our pain and suffering?
There is a central theme across all ancient wisdom traditions, contemplative philosophies, and mystical teachings that most people prefer to ignore because it makes very little sense to the rational mind. Even most modern spiritual paths prefer to avoid it in favor of promising greater peace and happiness in the world. This theme, in its simplest and most digestible form is dominated by a single central question – “who are you” or more directly stated “who am I”? This question is not meant to be answered, but rather it is meant to be asked over and over again until the one who is asking it is seen through. When this moment comes, and there’s a glimpse of what’s behind the curtain, it can be a shocking and disturbing experience that rocks us to our core. Most people cannot continue and dive right back into the mind, seeking comfort and solace in the familiar. But for those who have true sincerity and earnestness, who can marshal the forces of courage within themselves, there is an opening that they can step through – into that place so long promised. What is this moment of realization? It is the direct experiential recognition, as a result of your own inner investigation, that you do not actually exist in the way that you think you do – that what you are is empty of an independent self-nature – that your separate sense of self is a figment of your own imagination.
Of course the mind will immediately react to this pronouncement in a manner that is consistent with its current conditioned state, either poking holes in it or seeking to make sense of it. Even deeply spiritual people, well established in their spiritual identities will find themselves challenged. These kinds of reactions are perfectly normal and should not be cause for concern. What is being offered here; and offered by all realized beings; is the same Truth that was offered by Jesus, the Buddha, Krishna, and Lao Tzu; by all of the Christian mystics, Indian saints, Zen masters, Sufi poets, and so many more. Indeed this message has profound implications that can fundamentally alter ones entire world view, as seen demonstrated by the lives of those who have touched it for themselves and become champions of the embodied heart-centered wisdom that results from deep recognition of our true fundamental nature. When you see past your idea of yourself and begin to recognize who and what you truly are, everything else begins to fall in place of its own accord and you find yourself free – truly free. This is the final promise of awakening from the dream of duality – but it is not a promise that is being made to your egoic conception of self – it is a promise that is being made within the depths of your very own heart.
One need not believe anything being stated here. In fact, skepticism is of great value on the pathless path of inner exploration that takes one into and beyond ‘enlightenment’. All that matters is that you consider this invitation and open your mind to the possibility of what is being offered. Nondual teachings tend to use dialectic discourse and logical deconstruction to help us come to terms with the nature of our own minds. Nothing is forced or pressed upon you – everything is offered with kindness, tenderness, and love. You move at your own pace, experiment with your own life, and take only that which is meant for you. There are no goals, expectations or judgments – there is only you honoring your own journey; taking one step at a time. Take it or leave it, the message of true inner freedom is here for you – patiently waiting to be heard. The only real question left is – are you ready to listen?