Well everyone, it has been an incredible two and a half year hiatus from writing and an immense experience of learning and practical application. In the last few years I moved from solitude in the forest to Las Vegas of all places and became a school teacher and then was in training to become a principal at an elite private school, got married, opened two yoga businesses, was recruited for a traveling teacher trainer position, assisted in opening four more yoga studios, lived in southern California and Oregon, and then left it all and finally moved to Hawaii and am back to my preferred lifestyle. Biggest take away, knowing something conceptually and applying it when everything starts to spiral out of control is another. So the time has come to finally return to my writing it seems and reflect on my intense immersion into the world. With that being said, there is so much to share from my journey, here is the most recent:
I see now there is no place to get to, no thing to acquire, no achievement to accomplish or attain, no goal to reach, no information that needs to be learned or degree earned, no ritual performed. There is nothing that can be added or gained to me. There is no completion to achieve from the external world. It is only in the existential surrender to the present moment that we find the truth of who we are. We find that in being fully present as our authentic self in each moment that all is taken care of in a mystical, strange way. That is to say, our common concerns of, “How will the future be taken care of if I am not thinking about it constantly?” seemingly just works itself out one moment at a time without needing to actually be focused on in the common form of stress.
Let’s jump right away into an example because this is always the most common concern. I need to pay a bill in the future and so I need to make sure that my finances are in order. However, I do not have to overly think about how this is going to happen, or try to remember to do this. I just naturally at some moment eventually remember or check on when the bill is due and pay it (yes, it may be ahead of time and still perfectly responsible). The money needed for it gets secured on its own through my choices in the moment, not because of a neurotic need to fulfill the future, but out of genuine authenticity in the moment. What this would look like in real life is such: I have bills coming up and I suddenly and naturally decide, without forcing anything, I’ll go ahead and get the money ready now. You might ask, “But you had to be dwelling on the future to have made that decision, were you fully present?” The answer is I was present, I was present with the realization of a future need and therefore the steps were taken without neuroses or stress. In the moment the need to transfer the money arose and the action was taken. Then once taken, the moment moved on to something else without clinging to hoping it will work out in the future, “I hope it’s enough money, I hope there’s not extra charges, I hope I’ll still have enough to eat, etc.” And likewise, no clinging to the past. “I hope I didn’t make a mistake, maybe I couldn’t have afforded that, I don’t know if I made the right decision, etc.”
If it is a matter of where will the money come from then the situation would play out similarly. I don’t need to overly stress about the future bills that are coming, I know they’re coming, my thinking about them doesn’t help me, it only causes stress and takes me out of the moment, which is where any possible solution will come from. So I stay present in the moment, knowing that I am short the money I’m going to need. I do my best to stay calm and know that everything will work out, one moment at a time. I notice that the stress of life is coming from a story about the future, that story is primarily that I will not get the money I need and thus my mind is telling a story of failure, “I’ll go homeless, my wife will leave me, I’ll be seen as a failure, I’ll be embarrassed, I won’t be able to eat, I’ll ultimately die…” This is the end of the spiral of the monkey mind, it ultimately is projecting to an unknown future that it’s going to die. Of course that’s going to cause stress, now making money for some bills is causing us to think we’re going to die. But this is not true. Seeing this for what it is, we push on, move forward, and ignore the mind’s story that is not even true. It is an option that we can participate with or not. Staying in the moment opportunities will arise that I can only see if I’m paying attention. I found that it always seemed to work out, despite my stress and overly thinking about it. It is our fear that prevents us from seeing the opportunities in front of us in each moment and enjoying the ride. That is because if we are immersed in the fear then we are not present, we are living in the past or future (that are not even real). So then how to stay in the present? We have to trust. Super hard sometimes, I know. But it is the truth.
Each moment allows itself to unfold without clinging to the past with longing, doubt, or fear, and likewise without projecting ourselves into the future with longing, doubt, or fear. Essentially this is a radical presence because we realize that all is complete and whole now. There is no “where” else that it is better. The grass is not greener somewhere else. When truly understood and embodied, this is such security and confidence that each moment everything that is needed will unfold, without fear – nothing wrong will ever occur. Heavy I know – and loaded with “what ifs”. If there is trouble accepting such a radical presence we tell the devotee to surrender to God or a Higher Power, as that which is All loving and therefore will provide and take care of you in the best way possible. Yet from the highest perspective we must understand that this God/Higher Power that we have been surrendering to has been ourselves all along. In Reality, we need to surrender and trust that in each moment we are perfect exactly as we are and worthy of such perfect love and nurturance. The reality of the situation is we fear surrendering to ourselves. The honest truth is that we fear we won’t take care of ourselves. How could this be – we are perfect and without fault, innocent and divine.
Now this is pretty difficult for us to accept for some interesting reason, and that is due to none other than our ego. Which we might want to rename our collected identity. I say collected identity because it is a conglomeration of everything we’ve been taught is “me”. This includes belief systems, perspectives, values, judgments, genetics, physicality, intellectualism, spiritualism, religiosity, etc. All of which has been taught and not actually true of a radical sense. Only a perceived identity that we wore; like a mask we put on. And it is this persona that we adopted that we don’t trust, we don’t trust that we will love and care for ourselves. We don’t trust that all our needs will be provided for if we just surrender to the moment. That is because this identity we are associating with has a secret pleasure in self-sabotage sometimes due to its inherent feeling of incompleteness and lack (its designed this way, it’s not our fault). Yet, we have to see all those collected forms of identity are not necessarily true, we just accepted them as true. Which is an effortless and honest accident. So have compassion. We are not the body, we are not the mind, and thus everything we classically identify as “me” is actually not me. It was a persona that was adopted and accepted.
So then where to go from here? The first step is to realize that all seeking is of the persona and not of reality. Happiness, meaning, completion, and satisfaction are not elsewhere. There is nothing to gain from life. We don’t exist to get anything from life. We exist to participate, give, and experience life needing nothing from it. Completion, perfection, and peace already exist as fundamental to who we are. If we exist then we are already complete and perfect. The rest after that is just the story we choose to listen to and fantasize about, but it’s not actually reality. We seek completion and satisfaction outside of ourselves because that is what we’ve been taught to believe is the thing to do. Yet this is a meaningless task that will never be satisfied if we think it’s going to “complete us” or give us some sense of lasting satisfaction. We have to radically accept ourselves in the moment, that is the only “place” it can ever come “from”. Without fantasizing about a “complete” or “perfect” future self that we’re trying to become, and likewise not a nostalgic past self that was somehow the real, true you, therefore better than now. “Those were the days…”
Humans therefore search for themselves outside of the moment. We search for ourselves everywhere but where we actually are. Here, now. It is not our fault either, it is the result of a society and dualistic apparatus of perception that created a misconception of reality. We were born into it, it was an honest accident and not even “wrong” in the traditional sense of the word. (Even now it’s important to note that this is not even a “problem” that needs fixing it’s just a situation we observe, without judgments of better or worse – just objectively so.) We identified with that which was being perceived and so confused who we are with what we are not. The subject became confused with the object. We think we’re the objects of perception. If life were a movie and our true Self is the observer than we’d be so confused that we thought we are the characters in the movie. We became so immersed in the story of the movie that we thought we were it. Until it’s over that is and we remember, “oh yeah that was just a movie, I was just sitting here watching that the whole time, none of it was real.” Yet we do this even in this human life when we watch movies, we become so immersed in them that we feel the emotions of the characters, don’t we? So you can only imagine how easy it is to become immersed in the Divine movie. Do you see how interesting that is though? And yet that is what we are doing.
Take an example, when we review our lives it seems that ultimately we always desire more, when we have everything we still desire an elusive peace and happiness, it doesn’t end. Sometimes people actually yo-yo back and forth from surrendering all to gaining all, and so go back and forth trying to uncover the secret of lasting contentment and happiness. Yet the truth to this game is to participate without attachment – as Krishna told Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Seek without actual need, lose without actual loss. This is the truth. Be unfazed by the variety of life’s changing ways. Peace and contentment are ever present its only a matter of remembering it by not becoming attached to the story and thinking its “me”. In a sense, remember: you are not the movie – you’re watching it.
A simple guideline to follow is: express the nature of your being without need. Express the nature of your being for the sake of expressing, not because it’s supposed to fulfill anything. If we are living each moment in this way then there can be no clinging karma, nothing can stick to us. The fruits of our labor have been surrendered before we even start. It’s as if before we begin a task we say to ourselves, whether I win or lose it doesn’t matter, whatever happens this was for me and the sake of expression and not anything else, whatever happens – it changes nothing, whether I succeed or fail it doesn’t matter, whether I rise or fall it doesn’t change me or effect me. I am the same regardless of the outcome. I am the same regardless of the outcome. I am the same regardless of the outcome.
You see, the I doesn’t ever change. I am always the same, from beginning to end and everything in between, eternally now, always and forever, without beginning or end I am. There is no change to Me. My expressions come and go and yet I always remain unchanged. Therefore I do not need to dwell on or fear the future or the past because I would only do this if it gave me some sense of gain or make me feel complete or whole. It does not though because it is not me, it is elsewhere and not now – it’s not even real. Therefore realize that I AM – here, now. There is no complete self to gain or achieve, this was a product of the linear world and is what runs an economy and pride. There is nothing to gain that will make us feel finally at peace with ourselves. Again, that can only come from realizing the truth – we are already complete and whole, and always have been. All this chasing has just been for fun it doesn’t ever actually give us anything as far as genuine satisfaction is concerned. If you don’t believe me accomplish some big goals in your life and notice what happens next over time…
I do not need to escape and bypass this moment of Me for then I would be missing out on my expression of infinite brilliance. I would be missing out on the magic of Me unfolding in every moment. If I am mentally somewhere else than I am missing it all and ultimately not satisfied with myself now. This only occurs if I am not secure in myself. This only occurs if I think there is something else I’m supposed to know, do, or be. In short, it only occurs if I am afraid that I am incomplete. Afraid that I somehow will be lacking or less if I do not perform this mental escapism. I am running from who I am. I am running from myself. Come back to the moment, find Me here and now. There is no where else to go, there is no thing to get or be, there is nothing to accomplish. I am complete and perfect always and forever. I am waiting to be remembered.