Given how many mystical, spiritual, and philosophical books I buy from Amazon, my favorite online book store should be cautious about carrying this title:
"Beyond Awakening: The End of the Spiritual Search," by Jeff Foster
Indeed, since I read this slim book (141 pages, whose message could be encapsulated on one or two) I haven't bought anything in the What's It All About genre.
But give me time. I doubt that I'm really at the end of my spiritual search. Could be, though.
I like a lot of what Foster has to say, which is supremely simple. He ends the book with...
Yes, at last, here's the secret: this moment is life's only meaning.
New Age'y? Yes. Non-dual teaching cliche? Yes. Something I've heard jillions of times before? Yes.
However, this doesn't take away from the fact that, while I was reading the book, I'd frequently feel "Yes! That's how I see things too!"
For example, during the thirty plus years I was in my true believing phase my generally faithful psyche still would wonder about such things as:
-- if a guru supposedly has lost the drop of his ego in the ocean of God, why does he allow himself to be set up high on a pedestal (both literally and figuratively) by followers who lavishly worship his personality?
-- if a disciple is bent on pursuing a path that leads to loss of self, how is it that so much attention needs to be paid to what this person does and doesn't do, given that supposedly that "self" is an illusion?
-- if a spiritual seeker is supposed to devote himself wholeheartedly to traveling the road that leads to God or ultimate reality, what guarantee is there that the traveling ever will end, since this is the point of being on a path?
Here's some quotes from Foster's book. See how they strike you.
This is the only miracle: that you are here (however or whatever you are) and it is now.
This is not about following a path; there is no path, although there may be the idea of "a path."
This is certainly not about "putting an end to the I." Only an "I" would want that.
Oh, the mind loves that story: "If I could just see the fiction as a fiction, I would be in liberation!" And the search for liberation goes on, and the mind has saved itself again.
The spiritual search can only ever end in frustration, because what is sought is identical with that which is doing the seeking.
"My past and my future" are thoughts arising now. What you take to be yourself has no more reality than that.
Here's what to do with your life: do what you do. That is all.
So yes, this message is really about living in the moment! This moment is all there is. It's all we have! This is your last moment!
Oh sure, make plans, of course! But they're just assumptions! We never know what's going to happen... We just don't know.
Whatever happens, happens. But the mind will not accept that. The mind wants to know, wants to choose, wants to plan! It wants to be in control. It wants to think it's in control, wants to play God.
You cannot have what you want, ever... What we really want is an end to our wanting, but even the wanting of an end to wanting is another want, perhaps the biggest want of them all.
How to point to the absolute miracle of existence, the awesome gift that is each and every single moment?
There is only ever this -- what is presently happening. And stories about awakening and liberation and enlightenment may arise in this, but they are only ever stories, and have no deeper reality.
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 ...