We do not see the world as it is but as we believe it to be. We come into this world naked, as the wide open space within which the mystery of life happens. There’s a freshness to our experience: every feeling and sensation, every movement of energy, is new. Without words, concepts or memories, we meet this uncharted territory with totality. We see things as they are: everything is created equal in our eyes. The division between good and bad, right and wrong, has not yet started.
With time however, the original transparent lens of innocent seeing is inevitably tainted. We learn that some things hurt – whether they be physical or emotional hurts – and an ancient survival mechanism kicks in. We decide that what hurts is not love and we turn away to find the image we have created of love elsewhere. We feel scared, alone, vulnerable, incomplete and we seek the safety and security of wholeness outside ourselves. We forget that we are this love – that we are already whole – and we manufacture an elaborate theory of who we think we are based on mistaken identity. We forget that life is an expression of this love – that it is always perfectly whole as it is – and we paint a picture of life based on erroneous perception.
Our likes and dislikes, our hopes and fears, whether we believe that life is benevolent or life is harsh, whether we believe in fate, karma, luck or magic … all these and more are shaped by the unique story of our incarnation on earth. Our story includes the stories of our parents, the stories of our family members, the story of our education, our class, our religion, the planetary alignments at the moment we were born, and the historical era we’re born into. All these stories weave a tapestry of beliefs that colors the world we see. And then we claim that what we see is reality.
The projection of this picture onto the world is the dream most of humanity lives in. Whether this dream is a nightmare or a fairytale is of our own making. Our personal reality is a projection of our personal story. The nightmare is what we experience when we believe someone or something is to blame for our suffering. Stemming from an ignorance of our true nature, we believe ourselves to be separate from all that we perceive and from the one being that animates the whole of existence. Even if the story is a fairytale with a happy ending, it still leads to suffering because anything that can be clutched by the ego – and this includes every form, every idea, every imagination, and every hope – is destined to die. And unless we recognize the luminosity of what remains when everything dies, we are still caught in the dream.
Awakening out of this dream is the recognition that our beliefs about the world are not the truth, but a conditioned mental and emotional response based on the past and projected into the future: this is the beginning of clear-seeing. When this recognition first takes place, there’s a tendency to turn away from these thoughts and emotions. Paradoxically, it’s the turning around to meet these thoughts and emotions that offers the genuine possibility of liberation. This meeting, when executed with a gracious openness, is a sincere inquiry into what is really here. It’s a laser-beam sword of awareness that cuts the cord of suffering. Pain – whether it be physical or emotional – is experienced as it is, not as a story of pain. Without the thoughts that wrap themselves around the experience of pain – thoughts of weakness, frustration, desperation or helplessness – and without the labeling of pain as “manageable” or “unbearable” or “life-destroying”, what we call pain can be fully met without the baggage of the past and without agenda for the future.
This opening to present-moment experience, when conducted with the conscious surrender of a wave-surfer, leads us into the nakedness of reality. It’s a vertical investigation into the nature of thinking and feeling that reveals the truth that all thoughts, feelings and sensations are temporary. Much as we try, we cannot hold onto them, control them or even stop them. Each day, each hour and each minute is filled with hundreds if not thousands of thoughts, feelings and sensations. Some are positive, some are negative, some are pleasurable, painful, enlightened and unenlightened. All are rising and falling, appearing and disappearing, always changing.
The invitation in every moment is to discover that which is still here – unchanging – even when thinking and feeling changes. It’s the invitation to become an explorer, an adventurer, a scientist.
Can you see without labeling your experience according to preconceived ideas?
Are you willing to dive into the unknown, to fall into the verticality of this moment and discover the emptiness at the core of all perception?
Is this emptiness a dark void of nothingness … or is it radiant with the fullness of awakeness?
Share your own experience with us and leave your reply in the comment box below.