Search and you will find. Ask and you will be shown the way.
I was clearing out my things, reducing stuff. Looking at this laminated compilation of photo prints and snippets of my sketches, I remember how 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 you might also find yourself wanting to climb the metaphorical mountain. I know even to this day, all I want to do is take myself out of myself because I want to know who is the one who is truly 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. Awakening is like peeling back the layers of an onion and at each layer I find more lessons to learn. Always there is this Knower, the Presence, who needs me to ask 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.
What makes it truly transformational is that there is really a ‘you’ that’s also not you. Who Am I is indeed the question that sparks this search. Indeed who is the constant ‘me’ that should show up consistently everywhere I go, no matter whom I meet? And if there is this constant being what would it look or behave like? Because then you will know you are approaching the truth of who you really are. Truth is lived when you shed all the trappings of the ego, and all the stories that you tell that makes you live a lie otherwise.
The bonus that comes with awakening to the truth of who I am is getting to come face to face with the Knower inside. There is indeed a pervading Presence that I call the Knower and even though I am not of any particular religion, this must be what some may call God. Ever since I realised the presence of this Presence, this Knower, I find myself learning more and more to pause and check if anything I think, do, or say will serve a higher purpose. Or, serve me and my ego.
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.
What will you need on your search? Frankly, not much except for these two essentials. A zafu, or anything that allows you to sit with spine erect because of the energy work that will inevitably happen and also a journal for creating and noting down the self-awareness that will come. All the answers to all the questions you want to know will surface. You want to write them down and reflect on them as you drill in layer by layer. That’s basically it. The search or process of awakening is something we all will do at some point of our lives. It starts when we just want to know if there is a better version of myself and my life. The truth is that change is ever constant. Change is what drives us.
Awakening is simply this. Whatever your life is like up to now has been of your own making and if you don’t like it and want to change it then you need to know the whys and hows of how you ended up the way you are. Awakening is a process of transformation and is not reserved for the gifted few but actually a systematic process of deep self-enquiry. And you almost always will begin with this one question: Who Am I? This will start you off. But you will need to stay brave because it’s more than just transformation. 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 encounter the process of annihilation. And you will willingly participate in it. This is what it means to be the caterpillar who is reduced to a DNA soup otherwise how can it become a creature with wings to fly?
~ ॐ ~