"Clear your mind must be, if you are to find the villains behind this plot." — Yoda
It's 5.12 am as I start to type this post.
Don't ask me why, but this quote, and a few others of the Wise One, migrated to me as I was waking up.
How are you?
Still too early to say?
That's fine. This time of the day, even the dog isn't ready to engage. In fact, I think he's taken himself off to the lounge where he's fast asleep 💤 on the sofa. Lucky old boy.
Clearing your mind, eh?
Isn't that what most people are told when they embark upon a spiritual path? If not that little trope, it always involves a process of self-enquiry.
And that's fine, honest, but sooner rather than later you come up against a brick wall.
"Yes, but who is it that does or has all this thinking?"
I'm loathed to give you the answer but, at best, all we can is:
I know, it's such an anti-climax. Worse still, how do you live your life, your one and oh-so-precious life, not knowing who or what you are?
Actually, that's a slight misrepresentation of the position. You might, but I can't be sure, opine that you can now operate from Beginner's Mind — wonderful, I say — because if you seriously don't know who you are, you can't (surely!) make a mistake?
Again, I don't know.
For a while, just to be clear, I was lost down this black hole. It wasn't until I returned to a podcast of Darryl Bailey (trust me, he's no spiritual guru) that I stopped chasing emptiness and instead, in a diametrically opposing way, acknowledged one, overriding fact (and this one, for a change, is unarguable):
And? I'm up to my neck in debt, dealing with a crappy job or can't find any meaning in my life and you're telling me that!
Yep, afraid so.
We could go 10 rounds on this point but it would be very tiring. Instead, I'd invite you to consider what that means to everything you've taken as fixed, particularly your thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations and, yes, even the more permanent things in your life.
I tell you where it always leads me (welcome again dear friend), namely the Heart Sutra:
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
I know more mystical clap-trap.
But think about it. Are you a fixed form, let alone your emotions, when everything changes?
You can't be.
Sure, it's hard to accept the idea of a formlessness when you feel so wrapped up in the story of 'me', but if there's one thing you can't fail to acknowledge, even when you think you've got your sh*t together, is that it, whatever that is, isn't going to last forever. In fact, you know, as I keep remarking, at some stage, you won't be here so that will be that. Hasta la vista baby.
OK, I get it. But then again, knowing this and leading my life in a normal, productive and happy way doesn't, at least on the surface, correlate.
I see that; but then again, at least in my case, what it's left me feeling is that nothing really matters.
I don't say that to appear defeatist nor that I exist in some sort of trance state — I wish — but then again, combined with the fact that we don't and/or can't will our will, what really do we need to stress over that:
(a) isn't part of some swirling, moving, shifting, energetic experience (in the moment); and
(b) whatever is arising, is just arising, notwithstanding what we've been conditioned to believe? In other words, despite appearances to the contrary, we don't will it.
It's OK, you've already been put on the spot enough to answer my slightly non-sensical questions.
If none of this grabs you, the only other thing you might place your attention on is to ask yourself what's happening right now, absent your thinking mind. I don't mean to suggest that you can will its silence but just imagine for a moment, much like the Beginner's Mind example, that instead of calling something coffee, or breakfast or hardship, instead, you sat with the actual experience in all its beauty, anger, rage and most of all its aliveness.
How would you describe it?
Is it you?
Or are you it?
In the end, though, as I've said many times, this language, couched as it is in slightly prosaic terms, isn't, for the vast majority of people, going to cut the mustard. They want answers now or perhaps, better still, they've no interest in any of this mumbo jumbo, happy-clappy nonsense. Either way that's absolutely fine. In fact, it's more than fine, it's how you're disposed. But then again, if you feel you're lost in an ocean of hazy and at times ruinous thinking, perhaps you need to stand back from everything you've been told and/or understood and invite a more beautiful question than the one that, to date, has eaten up so much of your life.
That's at least what I did when I was asked to consider:
"Yes, Julian, that's great [i.e. all that stuff you've ingested over the years] but who are you?"
Blessings, and much love.