The epiphany is to break down the self if we are to rebuild something with more wisdom, wholesomeness and acceptance.
But does that mean any of us are lacking something right now? I think clearly the answer is no, we lack nothing at all.
And that may really be the point to awakening ourselves to this reality. There are no steps to climb, no progress that needs be measured, no trophies or finish lines to cross. And thoughts of needing to gain something, give-up something, or even measure our progress, are only limitations that we impose upon ourselves without reason. And we are equally foolish when we compare ourselves to others.
Our mistake may begin with using the word “path” for our practice. Path denotes coming from somewhere and going to somewhere else. And I am just now seeing that this is the antithesis of the Buddha’s teachings.
Perhaps for me, part of this misconception became installed in my mind from a Christian upbringing. At least the way I understood it, the path had a goal of Heaven. And don’t get me wrong, I mean no disrespect to Christianity, only to say that those who taught me certainly ingrained this in my psyche.
And it has taken 13 or so years of this practice to finally make me aware that I was unconsciously still operating on this premise to a great degree. I suppose I substituted the goal of enlightenment, which I now see can never possibly be achieved if I perceive it as a goal. First of all, that premise is based on “I”. Secondarily it requires desire, and delusional perceptions about what could be or should be. And lastly, it requires a foundation that we should be something or somewhere other than where we are right now.
All of this has only come about by my own “dark night of the soul”, so to speak. Feeling weak, hopeless, disheartened and lost. A failure in my practice, a hypocrite of my own writings. To paraphrase the Carole King song, “I felt the earth move under my feet, I felt the sky come crumbling down”.
But I know see just how wonderful that experience has been for me. I had to break down the self, the ego, the facade that I had held to, and understand that I am here. This moment, with these feelings. Whether they be good or bad, they are the human experience. Like getting past the sweet chocolate candy shell to reveal the nut inside. And I’m good with that. There’s no need to read ten more books, or learn to chant in Pali. I only need to accept, once again, this life that I have. And with gratitude.
The pressure is off, the goal is eliminated, and there is nowhere to get away from or get away to.
Whew, what a relief!
May you be well, happy and peaceful.