“At this point some instinct- I was almost about to say a hand laid on me – made me change course. I began to look more closely, not at things but at a world closer to myself, looking from an inner place to one further in, instead of clinging to the movement of sight toward the world outside. immediately, the substance of the universe drew together, redefined and peopled itself anew. I was aware of a radiance emanating from a place I knew nothing about, a place which might as well have been outside me as within. But radiance was there, or, to put it more precisely, light. It was a fact, for light was there. I felt indescribable relief, and happiness so great it almost made me laugh. Confidence and gratitude came as if a prayer had been answered. I found light and joy at the same moment, and I can say without hesitation that from that time on light and joy have never been separated in my experience. I have had them or lost them together.” Jacques Lusseyran, blind hero of the french resistance
So much of our time is spent throwing our attention at the world outside of us. I will throw my awareness at that movie. I will throw myself at those new shoes. I will throw all of my energy at that beautiful woman. I will become enlightened and then I will be happy. I will find spirituality by chasing after this or that. We spend our whole lives spending energy which we do not even know the source of. We end up depleted, frustrated, feeling lost. Or we go from great highs to great lows, feeling like sages to scumbags very quickly. What did Leonard Cohen say?
“When you’re not feeling holy your loneliness tells you you’ve sinned.”
We look for answers in everything from diet to books to spirituality, a lover, to fulfill us. We go out there searching.
Some people, like Mr. Lusseyran, hit a huge obstacle in their lives like illness or in his case blindness which compels them to look in another direction, often by mistake. And in this new direction, they discover their awareness had previously been flipped inside out. They see by not reaching, they find a source which has been with them all along. By the very habit of reaching, they had lost it. By the very act of trying to grasp it, it dissolved. To get a sense of this, one often needs to be completely lost, at wits end. Completely vulnerable, feeling as if she has lost everything, she finds something which is not extra, not glamorous. She experiences something which does not fade nor is it created because of skill or technique or cleverness. Something which she has been waiting all along.
In the monastery the Roshi would always say “You think that it is your muscles that are holding you up?” He would often say, “You must receive, receive.”
Once a person begins to trust this life energy, they see that where once the world seemed like something that had to be overcome, something to fight with, now is something to rest in. This changes ones sense of faith about life and death.
If we can honestly, curiously, courageously look within ourselves, we will find a flake of light burning independently of all of our scheming. If we can become more intimate with this light, more open to it, it will begin to be our guide. Where once we looked outside for guidance, we will now look to that light. Of course at first we will slide back into old patterns and lose our connection to it. But slowly we will learn to use it as our guide. We will see that when we lost our connection to it, we are in the darkness of our small self.
“Armed with such a tool, why should I need a moral code. For me this tool took the place of red and green lights. I always knew where the road was open and where it was closed. I only had to look at the bright signal which taught me how to live.”
No longer will we need to chase around spiritual teachers or self help books. No longer will we look to knowledge for truth. Those things may help us in our lives still, but we will not be searching for our bottom line from them anymore. And the more we can be open to this light, it will grow. At first it will seem to fade and disappear. It will be elusive. But slowly over time it will be second nature. The more we can be transparent to this energy, the less we will need to manipulate our lives. Either we will feel connected with this light, or we will feel off, and that will be our guide. And even at our lowest point there is a flake of light there for us to show us the way. This is a beautiful and messy process! But if we can truly die into this light, it will guide us through the mesh of reality. We will have a life of great faith in the universe. We will be bathed in the light of everything.
*All of the quotes in this post except one from Leonard Cohen are from the great autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, And There was Light