The Inner Search
It seems that we have to discover “who we are not” before we can truly discover “who we are”. It seems that we have to exhaust all the external (dead end) avenues for finding peace, happiness and contentment before we seriously consider looking within. In the end, it is usually our yearning to be free from our suffering that prompts us to embark on the inner search. Only after we have learnt the hard way that none of our old strategies ever really worked!
Looking within is scary for most people, because that is where all the “stuff” that we have been avoiding lies buried. Out of sight and out of mind, or so we think. But the truth is, none of our “stuff” is ever completely buried – it always finds a way to show us that it’s there. Every time we become frustrated, angry, tense, anxious, afraid or depressed is our subconscious “stuff” nudging up into our conscious awareness.
Embarking on the Inner Search
Our conscious awareness is used to being focused at the periphery of our being, because it has been outwardly focused for thousands of lifetimes, so it takes time to re-orient our awareness inwardly. Our true-Self resides at the very core of our being, beneath all the subconscious layers of psychological material that we have repressed over the years. Our inner world can seem like a labyrinth at first, full of dark and scary places that we don’t really want to go. It can seem very challenging but it is all part of the process of Self Discovery. Demonstrating that we have the courage to face our shadow side is an important milestone on our path because it shows that we are truly ready to begin to awaken.
When we initially embark on the inner search by consciously looking within, we don’t immediately awaken to our true-nature or instantly achieve lasting peace, happiness and fulfilment. First we have to explore the inner terrain of our psyche, to discover and dissolve the psychological material that impedes our pure awareness and pure expression. We have to become aware of our reactive psychological patterns and overcome them. We have to get to know our soul and align ourselves with it. We have to learn to stop resisting and trust life. This inner quest can take many lifetimes, so patience, perseverance, courage and curiosity are required. Even then our progress will be slow and we will keep slipping back into the ways of the ego. We need to remember that we are attempting to undo the habits of thousands of lifetimes in only a handful, so it is important not to try to rush or put pressure on ourselves to succeed, because these old ego strategies will lead us away from our true-Self.
Being and Becoming
We achieve our full potential by allowing our consciousness to unfold naturally through living consciously (being), and by proactively working with that natural process (becoming):
- Being is where we are on Life’s path, right here and now. It is the inherent perfection of the present moment. It is our own inherent perfection, just as we are; and it is Life’s inherent perfection, just as it is.
- Becoming is the natural unfoldment and evolution of consciousness that comes from proactively engaging with Life. It is our inherent perfection becoming even more perfect. It is the living journey.
Western spiritual people tend to be more focused on “becoming”, i.e. striving to improve themselves and get somewhere. Eastern spiritual people tend to be more focused on “being”, i.e. being content with where they are spiritually. These are our natural propensities, so we may need to focus on the opposite one to ensure our development remains balanced. Western people often need to slow down and relax into their being, while Eastern people often need to become more proactive rather than just sitting in blissful meditation or devotional prayer.
If we focus purely on “being” – being content with ourselves and our lives exactly as they are, then things will stay the same. If we focus purely on “becoming” – becoming awakened or enlightened, then we will never achieve it, because there will always be distance between us and our goal. Our approach to life must include both being and becoming. Our goal (becoming) is the dynamic unfoldment of consciousness that continually manifests in the present moment (being). We are perfect just as we are right now, and we will always be perfect whatever we become in the future. By “perfect” I mean the perfect psychological and spiritual configuration for the development of our consciousness; I do not mean subjective perfection.
Being and becoming can be compared to surfing the crest of a wave (of life). We are standing still (being), yet we are moving through life (becoming), and it is almost effortless. The flow of life carries us along in a seamless series of present moments. The ego is generally dragged along (kicking and screaming) in the wake behind the wave of life. The ego is reacting to life (after it has happened) rather than engaging with life (as it happens). The ego is trying in vain to control events that have already happened; it is trying to change what has already happened. This is why the ego suffers so much – because all of its struggling, striving and resisting are futile.
A Better Way
There has to be a better way, and there is. The ego-self just needs to step back and allow the true-Self to take care of things. The true-Self is an instrument of universal will and a channel through which Life can flow without resistance. Without resistance there is nothing to prevent our intention from becoming our reality. When we align with Life all the different parts of us become aligned (like iron filings in a magnetic field) and stop pulling us in different directions. All of a sudden we are living in the flow of Life; we are living in grace.
We are all unique so we all choose different paths through life, none of which is better or worse than any other – everyone’s path is perfect for them. We all choose to journey at different paces, and fast isn’t necessarily better than slow. Everyone’s pace is perfect for them because we have all the time in the world. However, each of us does have an optimum path and an optimum pace, and it is up to us whether we choose to live it. All it takes is conscious living – living in the present moment with pure awareness, absolute acceptance and total trust.