The path to enlightenment is not about fixing or changing ourselves. Becoming enlightened is simply revealing what is always there. We cover over our essential nature with false identifications, false understandings. We believe we are our body, our thoughts and our feelings, forgetting we are pure consciousness. We attach our attention to our senses and live an outwardly oriented life, seeking pleasure from the world outside of us, in relationships, circumstance and conditions.
We have forgotten who we are. We desire love, acceptance and worth from others because we believe they will relieve our insufficiency. We desire wealth, power, health and position because we believe they will relieve our fears. We desire houses, cars, sex and intoxicants because we believe they will relieve our dissatisfaction. These become our endless desires that we hope will bring happiness and satisfaction. Even when we get what we desire, it always remains temporary, a momentary respite from our grasping.
Why do we keep trying to find it outside?
From birth we have been conditioned to find satisfaction outside. We have been taught and ingrained: Find the perfect partner, have the perfect wedding, have the 2 children and you will be happy. Have the big bank account and you will be secure and happy. Have the beautiful face and body and you will be wanted and appreciated. All that will make you satisfied and happy. Our society and economics are founded on this conditioning.
How often are we conditioned that we are consciousness and living that experience is blissful? How often have we been taught how to still our monkey mind? How much actual time is spent in experiencing this?
Even when we understand that bliss does lie within, it is rarely a quickly achievable goal. Realistically, it takes a lifetime or two of spiritual effort to realize and experience a consistent state of stillness. Our conditioning is very strong. And we get brief experiences of joy from the senses, from outside, and we can’t seem to get it from inside. We actually spend a significant amount of time distracting ourselves from what’s inside: the monkey mind and all those bad feelings. We drink, use drugs, have excessive sex, gamble, become addicted to social media, watch pornography all to distract ourselves, hoping for a brief moment of joy.
It’s all OK. Our dissatisfaction is a wonderful thing. It tells us over and over and over that those things outside are not going to make us truly satisfied. Dissatisfaction is our teacher. It takes real determination, real understanding, and a few experiences of what’s really underneath those endless thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it takes faith and trust in the great enlightened beings to push through the dissatisfaction and continue practicing.
Remember the moments of peace, even if there was just one. That peace came for your depths, not the thing outside. ‘What makes you peaceful’ is your pole star. What truly brings inner peace is your compass. Your peace is what’s important. Peace leads to stillness and stillness reveals realization. Meditate, chant, pray, serve, be still, be with nature, and repeat your mantra. They are the doorways to peace. What we give attention and time to is what we become.