Search and you will find. Ask and you will be shown the way.
Snip, cut, thrash… I was clearing out my things, reducing stuff. Looking at some of my old photo prints and sketches before I binned them, I remember how once upon a time, I traipsed through India in search of my ‘teacher’. Yes, that was inevitably my answer when anyone cared to ask me why I had come to India. Oh, I am looking for my ‘teacher’. Who’s your ‘teacher’? No idea but when I find him or her, I will know. So, search I must even though I am told time and again the teacher isn’t out there. Then I come home and while I was living my life and dealing with all its vicissitudes, then it began to become really clear that hey, there’s my ‘teacher’ right there all along, in me, around me. The people, the circumstances, my actions and the reactions I receive, these are all my teachers.
During this search I also found myself wanting to climb the metaphorical mountain. It’s like as if I needed to take myself out of myself just so I would know who is the one who is truly in there. Who animates me? And if I made a decision to think, do, or speak something, I need to know how that will serve me or those around me. And that’s what the search does to one. You keep asking the questions and learning the lessons that come. Awakening is like peeling back the layers of an onion and at each layer I find more to learn. Always there is this Knower, the Presence, who prompts all the painful questions. Will it be self-serving? How does this benefit another sentient being? How can I be of better and greater use? Am I living my truth or am I spinning a story here?
So climbing the metaphorical mountain is about overcoming all the nasties in me. Things that don’t serve me in my pursuit of greater clarity as well as goodness in my intentions. In my case, one of the physical mountains I just had to climb was Mount Rinjani. It’s a very odd thing. It’s like you just have to go. You can’t ignore the call. It’s that strong. It’s like only climbing a mountain would do. And the most ridiculous thing is that at the end of the search or climb or whatever one has to do, it would be just like in the song: The search is over. You were with me all the while. So now I know. You don’t really have a choice. You simply have to live the truth of these words yourself.
In this way, more and more I have come to ‘know’ myself, warts and all. I have also come to know that I am indeed capable of more than my this little self-serving self. I could be more patient and kinder. I can definitely be a better version than what I am anytime. And so you are always peeling back the layers, and with each layer exposed, another door opens and you enter another phase where you again drill in and then drill out to live your life according to the principle of as within, so without.
In that sense, you never quite come off the mountain because this is where life is and life isn’t entirely all up to you anymore. The call to reach the summit keeps you on the path up. Yet you also know that you are down there at the foothills, too, where the teeming pond is. And live like the lotus in the pond. In this world but not of it. At the same time, we bloom and help bring the light where it needs to go to help dispel the darkness. If we can just do one tiny bit for humanity it would be to live in such a way that it has helped another sentient being to be a tad happier, more peaceful and free from suffering.
Know that awakening is a process of transformation that is not reserved for the gifted few but is actually a systematic process of deep self-enquiry. Read Alan B. Wallace and you will understand why I say this. He describes the process very well. The search begins once you ask these questions: Who am I? Why am I like this?. You will need to stay brave because it is also a process of annihilating all that do not serve you or the higher principles. Yes, you will come to this stage where you will relinquish and burn off all that you once were. You will willingly participate in it. This is what it means to be the caterpillar who is reduced to a DNA soup. It’s the only way to have wings to fly.
~ ॐ ~