Part of the problem of “getting to” enlightenment is the very presumption that it involves distance or return, as if the purpose of life is to return to its source. But how could life continue for an instant if it were separated from its source? Enlightenment involves the living of another presumption: that Source and Life are always, already indivisibly whole.
Another of the barriers to enlightenment (and the most widespread error throughout all mystic paths) is the notion that reality lies within. This implies that to go within, to turn attention inward, is to move toward truth, to be heading in the “God-ward” direction. But, in fact, there is no God-ward direction! To seek in any direction is to turn away.
Why this turning? Why the seeking? What presumptions are being dramatized by all the strategies of the search? Since reality is not a thing, a person, a force, an object of body or mind, how can it be located by searching for it?
What if the heart came to REST? Not seeking, not grasping at all. Not pretending to own or know or control. In that deep surrender, the mystery and its freedom become obvious, and consciousness stands nakedly present and unbounded. And that simple, intimate presence IS love and happiness and completeness (enlightenment).
There is only mystery, but there is nothing mysterious about the mystery. The mystery is as plain as the vast blue sky. The wonder of existence is not hidden or removed. Not even subtle. It is more intimate than our heartbeat. It really could not be more obvious! Already, in your present experience, without adding or subtracting a thing, you simply do not know what any one or any thing is. You do not know what you are (so stop imagining and pretending; quit burdening yourself with phony identities).
Typically, we draw back from the on-flowing gush of life to figure out who we are and what it all is. We withdraw emotionally, energetically, bodily. Wanting to avoid this appearance, hold on to that one. Wishing to know and control everything, in order to be safe from relationship and change and death—all threats to the separate “self.”
But, already, there does not exist a definable, isolatable, locatable, circumscribable, independent self. Instead, the sense of difference, separation and independence springs from our own act of withdrawal. In other words, the separate self is not a thing or person, but an activity—the activity of recoil and contraction. Aside from that separative activity, there is only the native feeling of wholeness (love)—even while the body-mind-“I” and world continue to arise and change.
What if we didn’t practice this habitual gesture of separation? What if (in spite of fear) instead of recoiling from the great current of life, we allowed ourselve to be engulfed in the flow, to participate in it without resistance? Then the sense of separation would vanish. There would be no survival of the independent one who seeks to know and to control. Then we would see that truth is not within, as opposed to without. Truth is ONLY. Truth is Mystery. Our condition is simply free, and we are already whole (complete). Therefore, “within” and “without” are dual aspects of a single, indivisible mystery.
Seekers who turn within, hunting happiness, become involuted, solemn and uptight. Seekers who turn without, hunting happiness, become scattered in a thousand directions.
All the while, truth is only whole. Truth is totally present now. Struggling to attain our innate nature “some day” (when you finally get holy enough, non-neurotic enough, knowledgeable enough, slim enough) ignores our innate abundance in this timeless moment.
Seeking is not required. What is needed instead is an open heart to fully trust and participate in this living mystery play. As Chuang Tzu put it, “Search for the Tao, and it is nowhere to be found; use the Tao and it is everywhere, inexhaustible.”