Recently, I visited Ashland, Oregon. One day a grumpy mood struck while I was in and around my ‘damp, moldy, severely rained-upon tent’. The internal dialogue was beginning to manifest a ‘me persona’–or so it appeared.
“Why did ‘I’ come here?” It began to rattle, like a snake striking out at everything in the nearby vicinity. “If only that guy in the nearby tent would stop that incessant cough…” “Why are those people over there burning a fire when it is so warm out..” The insinuation being: ‘then all would be okay’. The fact of the matter: nothing was wrong, out of place, needed to be fixed, or changed. Fortunately this part of myself was aware of this, including what you might call the ‘poor me quibbles’ and with awareness at work the distracting, inner rants chortled on but I was less interested in them.
I sat crouched in the East Indian squat in front of my tent while tea water was heating on my portable stove. Suddenly a black cat appeared in my peripheral vision. The fixated identity began to turn on the cat too. “Don’t even think about. You ain’t getting any food bubba. Take off, scram!” The stingy, small-minded, powerless energy pattern spat. Then, the black cat not listening to the banter, even to the slightest degree, gimped into camp. Once she was in full view, it became immediately evident that this fine creature had only three legs. A long sigh came out in a slow, humbling exhale and the inspiration, the deep in-breath came.
A new voice, the chant of abundance and true wealth, now audible- said aloud.
“Are you okay little buddy? Do you need anything to eat…anything at all?! She didn’t need anything from me; my three-legged angel had come only to snap the trance, remind me of the abundance that is always, already present. What grace.
Once you have seen through the veil of mind, into the truth of existence, it becomes easier and easier to drop the trance, since you are the watchful screen, awareness, witnessing the whole movie of Life playing. Nothing can become a problem; even an inner dialogue that is saying: ‘Look, there is a problem and this is what it is.’
Awareness does not care. Awareness knows that everything is appearing and disappearing and that It is the only thing that never changes.
A wonderful discovery arrives when you awaken to this truth and the transitory thoughts we call ‘mind’ no longer become the fallback state of consciousness–awareness does. What we call mind (thoughts, opinions, ideas) will always disappear and only incessant involvement with them can keep their appearance going.
So how are you going to share your inner wealth today? That is a question that came after I told my dear friend this story. We were sitting together on a bench on the cliff above the beach and as usual the conversation turned to living authentically in all ways, to finding the places we have buried our authenticity, often in spiritual garb.
What we have seen with so many so-called spiritual people, the ones who say they are on the ‘conscious spiritual path’, ourselves included, is that they avoid the places that most need the laser beam of awareness. The universe always sends us towards the areas where authenticity is most needed. Only you can really know if ‘spirituality’ is being used as a guise to bypass authenticity in areas of life.
For instance, as useful as spiritual pointers from ‘great master’s can be (those pithy, profound sentences that stop the mind, like a stun gun-revealing something beyond mind) they are often usurped by the tricky mind and used in an attempt to hide out and keep a stagnant, conditioned energy pattern or identity in place.
This is where the Zen Koan becomes useful. The Koan is a nonsensical or paradoxical question wherein the answer will lead one to true meditation and illumination.
Here is one:
“All of you are perfect just the way you are and you could use a little improvement.”