Let me 'splain ...
Three days ago I received a longish article from a friend ... and I skimmed it, so I could tell her that I'd read it (!) ... but it arrested me ... something in me said, "slow down, read this, take it in." So, I copied it out, and spent the morning reading it ... slowly, digestively ... and it floored me.
I sent it out to a few friends ... those I thought could take it. Not only is it long, but it's challenging to what we tend to think, what we think is real ... and how we deal with life. Thus far, the responses have all been positive ... and no one has sent hate-mail my way ...! ;)
I'll share it here ... at least for food for thought ... and also because this is how I process. I need to roll in it a bit in order to own it...!
Let's start with this rather startling quote:
"You will undertake a journey because you are not at home in this world. And you will search for your home whether you realize where it is or not. If you believe it is outside you the search will be futile, for you will be seeking it where it is not. You do not remember how to look within for you do not believe your home is there."
I would venture a guess that most of us can relate to the journey part ... the searching part ... but I would say that for most of us, it's a newish thought to realize that the journey is inward, rather than outward.
Now, this should be obvious ... for Jesus told us that the kingdom does *not* come by observation (we can't see it -- it's not "out there somewhere") ... but it's at hand, in our midst, within us. The journey is from our wrong-minds to our right-mind. From the ego-mind to the Christ-Mind.
In looking around us, we see evidence of this seeking EVERYwhere ... folks looking for happiness in other people, in jobs, in fame, in accomplishment, in accumulation, in achievements ... even the US Declaration of Independence states that the pursuit of happiness is our *right*. It would seem that it's more our obsession. And we seem to be uberly confused about where to look for it. As long as I believe that I'm incomplete, lacking, defective, depraved ... I will avoid looking inside ... I will look outside. I will work on becoming "better" ... self-improvement becomes my goal, driven to measure up to some undefined goal ...
And when the outside-fixes don't work (for they can't), then I will desperately seek to hide my defects from you ... as well as from myself. The result of this is that I live in fear ... fear of being exposed ... fear of having you see what a wretch I believe myself to be. Fear even, and especially, that God will punish me for my wretched defectiveness.
However ... happiness is an "inside job". The kingdom is within ... and so too, the King.
When I try to fix an inner problem with an external solution, I end up running into the reality that all externals are transitory & temporary ... nothing in this physical realm is final or perfect. Everything outside of me is relative, contingent and temporary. And every solution creates more problems (our government is a lifesize demonstration of this reality!). Nothing outside of me satisfies me ... it only *seems* to ... but, like a junkie, I must continually go after my next "fix". I can get on that endless treadmill of "ok, that didn't work, but THIS will ... ok, that didn't work, but THIS will ..." I can get so busily distracted that I fail to look at the root of what's really going on - that happiness only comes with a radical acceptance of what IS. And what I see around me is NOT what truly IS. In judging by appearances, I'm assuring and sealing my own misery.
Religion's answer (including Christianity) is to say: "Nothing in this life is real ... if you want what's real, you have to wait -- you can't have it now. It will come when you die, or when Jesus returns to do a Utopian make-over ... so just behave yourself, deny yourself, and follow the rules 'til then. Oh - and don't let yourself get contaminated from your neighbor's spiritual cooties. Nasty stuff."
Let me quote from this article:
But, if perfection only exists in the "afterlife," what would be the purpose for being here now? What sense does it make that there be a meaningless, miserable world that one must tolerate and adapt to while waiting for some sort of reward only after this life of suffering comes to a painful and fearful end? What sense does it make to lead a life of quiet desperation, conscious unfulfillment, shifting and changing degrees of happiness, or temporary and pretend satisfaction, while only waiting to die, that we may reach fulfillment only after this life is over? This is insanity indeed! And probably why many have rejected it in favor of "Go for the gusto." Since few can find an intelligent answer or any real satisfaction in the approach that one must die to go to Heaven, most have discarded this possibility as a real solution and have instead adopted the belief in progress, growth and evolution; that while this world is not perfect, final or ultimate, we are somehow gradually moving toward that perfection. And, with that settled, continue to pursue a life of distraction from the persistent feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong here.
However, what is not really seen is that to believe perfection is only a future state is an admission that it is not possible here and now. And, if it only exists in the future, it does not exist at all as a real possibility. To be possible means that it already exists now. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven (or God) is "at hand." He did not say it was coming sometime in the future. "At hand" means NOW. So that, if perfection exists at all, it must exist right now. He also said "...the Kingdom of Heaven is within you." He did not say to go looking for it in some external form or activity.
I believe that we must first recognize that ALL seeking, all searching (whether physically, socially, psychologically or spiritually) is ultimately the search for God -- though we may call it many things. All seeking is based in our profound sense of lack, emptiness, and meaninglessness ... and it's based on the LIE that we are separate from God and from each other...!
Let's listen in again:
The search for the infinite on the part of the finite is not only impossible but ridiculous. A Course in Miracles points out,
"Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes."
It is like a fish swimming frantically, searching for "the ocean." Or perhaps, a man jumping and jumping and jumping, trying to escape gravity. No matter how high the separated human self jumps, it cannot escape its own self-imposed limitations. All spiritual "practice" is an attempt on the part of the ego to confirm and strengthen the belief in an autonomous, separated self as it attempts to find God as Thou, as other; as an object of its desire. One can never find God "up there" or "out there" somewhere, as an object of reflexive consciousness. Therefore, all forms of external seeking must be surrendered as an interference to the actual relationship with What Is in this and every moment.
"Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from the futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there? Do you prefer that you be right or happy?"
I'll continue with more of this tomorrow ...