When we were small children, most of us had an incredible enthusiasm for the sheer experience of living. A tiny ant, a blade of grass, a new word, a green bean, a shadow on the floor, a rainstorm, or a stranger’s smile could be a source of great curiosity and delight. Even if the moment happened to be an experience of fear, or tears, or a definite “No,” it was lived fully, experienced completely from our openness to the moment at hand.
A child has a very open heart; what he or she lacks is wisdom and discrimination. But in growing up, as we are taught “about” the world, we begin to live more and more in the conceptual world of thought rather than in the felt-sense of openness to life as it is. We are taught to rely on ideas and interpretations rather than our own experience to tell us what is true and what is not. Pretty soon, we are convinced that the thoughts and images we have collected about a “me” define who we actually are. As we all know, appearances can be deceiving; but ideas can be even more deceiving, especially if we are relying on ideas to tell us about the truth of who we are, or what is true in our own experience.
The freedom to say “Yes!” to life is the freedom of our own true nature. The ego is always looking for freedom “from” life, but the realization of What we truly are invites us into a deeper freedom—the freedom to experience the whole of life intimately. Awakening to our true nature invites us to see the world through the eyes of innocence, through the felt-sense of our bodies, to live in this moment rather than in the past of the mind’s memory or the future of its projection. We are invited to discover the world anew, with the wisdom and love of our own deepest truth. We begin to trust when we need to say “Yes” to our own “No.” Many people fear a notion of death, but such a fear often masks an even deeper fear—the fear of truly living as What we are right here and now. Living from that dimension of our Being, we discover that what we “think” we know is not true “Knowing,” that Life moves itself seamlessly with or without our thoughts.
There is a Zen story of two monks, one seeing the other dressed for a pilgrimage. The one asks the other what the purpose of his pilgrimage is. The monk about to embark says he doesn’t know. The first responds, “Not-knowing is most intimate.” Not-knowing is not the same as being ignorant or confused. Not-knowing allows us to be open, spacious, curious, and intimate with the reality of here and now. Seeing and sensing the mystery and magic of experience itself, we are invited to discover its inseparability from what is silently Awake to all experiences and unfolding Itself as all moments. Saying “Yes” to life does not make us passive. It returns us to the wholeness of our Being and life’s unceasing dance of becoming.
Fourth excerpt from The Altar of This Moment