Talking to a friend recently I was reminded that most people already know that living from an awakened perspective is wonderful, and what they are actually looking for – is information on how to get there, a clear path, a secret recipe, some logical stepwise method.
I used to look for that as well, for many years, feeling envious and resentful of all those “smug” people who “made it there” and for some reason didn’t want to share how.
Well, first of all, this is the path with leads away from the logical, seemingly “concrete” world of conceptual understanding into something very different – the world of unknown, unpredictable, ever changing, ever flowing, completely devoid of any frames and limitations of conceptual thinking. The path of surrender, twisting at every turn, calling for deep listening for the guidance from inside of you.
This road leads to non-conceptual – and we want clear conceptual directions how to get there? No wonder… But of course, when we simply don’t know anything else, what should we do?
For myself, I could only say – I kind of tumbled through into it. Struggling to stop my mind for years, struggling to become “a better person”, struggling to control my emotions, “accept my shadow, get in touch with my inner child,” etc. I am sure you know it all… Following a multitude of “clear directions” – and discovering their folly again and again, following people who seem to know something – and discovering that they have no idea either, just can hide it well.
If anything – it was a path of disappointment and disillusionment in everything “clear and logical”- until I came to Zen, which plainly dispenses with everything “consistent” from the beginning and forces you to look for the solution in your own experience by frustrating your conditioned conceptual understanding at every turn.
A Zen teacher doesn’t give you clear directions, quite the opposite, without any pity “pulls the rug out from under your feet” every time you “arrive” at some conceptual “clarity”. It is very frustrating and confusing path designed to liberate the manifestation of your true nature from the prison of everything “known” and “clear.”
I know it sounds crazy, it did for me. It doesn’t make sense until you experience it, get a glimpse of it, then it becomes so obvious and natural. You realise that the path is unique to every person, and the diversity of directions exists just like a vast library of “skillful means” to point you to see something – for just this stretch of the road.
There will be another pointer at the next turn, so don’t look for any consistency, it could come from anywhere – the ancient religion or your next-door neighbour.
If I am to give any advice, it would be – listen with your whole being. Listen to what sounds true to you, look for the sense of natural flow, for the sense of natural interest and curiosity. It is in you, it is already guiding you, every moment, every step… waiting for your readiness to step into unknown, to drop all illusory security of definitions, all that accumulated knowing of how things should be, every comparison with somebody else’s path. Waiting for the moment when you wings are strong enough to fly on your own.
Your true nature is vast and creative, it has no interest in repeating anything. It is always fresh, always new and alive, it can go absolutely anywhere, take any direction, express itself in the most surprising way. Don’t try to limit it with anything that you already know – follow IT into unknown instead!