I'm sixty-four years old. I guess my spiritual searching for whatever began when I was thirteen. At least, that's when I composed my first documented philosophical writing.
So I've done more than fifty years of meditating, guru-worshipping, psychedelic drug-taking, mystical contemplating, and other sorts of spiritual'y pursuits. Golden anniversary gifts, please!
Send them on, Ultimate Secret of the Cosmos, I deserve them.
But you know what? The older I get (I'm not saying wiser, just older), the more I feel like my spiritual searching has pointed to one conclusion:
There never was anything to search for.
I've said this before. Many others have said it.
What's necessary, though, is for the saying to become who we are, not something separate from us. Then, perhaps, the end of the spiritual search is seen to be the same as the beginning.
A fiction. A fantasy.
Yet an utterly believable one so long as it is believed in. Before writing this post I Googled my own blog to see how I'd previously described the realization of "nothing to realize."
I liked what I found. Damn! I know a lot when I'm not pretending there's something spiritual to know. Here's some links and some excerpts.
We try to know who we really are. Why?
Because we feel that if we knew, we'd be better off. Happier. More at peace with ourselves and the world. And religiously speaking, we'd be saved, enlightened, God-realized, whatever you want to call it.
We presume that there is a self, a soul, a psyche, a "me" -- something objectively real -- which is going to be known by us. So we search for it via meditation, prayer, contemplation, drugs, psychotherapy, walks on the beach, studying books, and many other sorts of ways.
But wait! Who is doing the searching?
Why, it must be...me. Who else could be doing it? Hmmmmm. This means that if I find myself, it won't be me, because I'm the subjectivity doing the looking, not the object that is found.
There's a spiritual/philosophical and a scientific/logical way of looking at this. Both end up in the same place: There's no "self" in myself. No "ego" in my egocentricity. No "soul" in my soulful searching.
Mystics, like Rumi, say that what we're looking for is so close, we don't recognize it.
I've dived deep into the teachings of Rumi, Eckhart, Plotinus, Kabir, St. John of the Cross, Ramana, Zen masters, and many others.
They all say, in one fashion or another, that whatever ultimate reality is, there's no way to it. No path. No technique. No method.
How could there be? It's ultimate reality. It's what is. It's what we and everything else in existence are.
"Closer than your jugular vein." "Right beneath your feet." "The light with which you're searching is what you seek." "Chop wood, carry water."
There's lots of ways to express how close at hand -- so close, there's no place to go -- ultimate reality is. Yet somehow we keep missing it.
Because we're looking for it. And it can't be seen.
Tonight I walked by myself for a few blocks through downtown Salem. After a rainy spell, now we're enjoying crisp clear November air.
A low-lying full moon hung not far above the city. Streetlights partially illuminated mostly deserted sidewalks. Trees were still full of fall color.
I looked through my sixty year-old eyes and thought (or, more accurately, felt) "This is all there is. This is all there needs to be. This is all there will ever be."
Like Foster said, life is mind-blowing amazing at every moment -- just because it is. Someday it won't be for me. And for all of us. The "is" won't be an "isn't." Most likely it'll be...nothing.
Except, not even that. Because nothing is a lot more of a something than death promises to be.
So I had the urge -- the necessity -- to suck in life in all its downtown Salem glory, right then and there, knowing that there won't ever be any other knowing than what was going on in that moment.
Which is this moment. And this one ... and this one ...
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.