Topic 17: How Long Will It Take?
If there is any lament spoken by those who are curious enough to consider another way to live other than the one given to us at birth, it is the weary-sounding question: How long will it take? In this world of NOW, charged with a manic need for instant gratification, the question sounds quite reasonable.
When we are finally willing to accept that life lived from our egoic state of consciousness is no longer bearable, that in itself feels like a monumental accomplishment. It then seems only fair that things should change quickly. People wanting enlightenment of any sort are much akin to dieters who want the weight, gathered over many years, off in a week or two. On top of that, the means, whereby we come into an awareness of a new order, a life lived from a different frame of reference, are nothing like how we learn using our intellect. The books, the teachers are resources, but the actual learning process is experiential and what we experience are insights that come from within us. The intellect is useful for posing questions, but our answers are no longer a product of rational thought. This too is disturbing, for it feels like we have nothing working on our side when in fact what we are poised to learn is that the entire universe is on our side, always has been, always will be. What has thwarted our awareness of that fact is our egoic focus that gives us a world, dominated in our minds, by people, and they appear to be all we have to count on, definitely a booby prize far too often. Remember Topic 5: Squeezing the Infinite into your Briefcase, that spoke to our narrow focus and the ramifications of it for us? Let’s face it. We have shaped even God in the form of man, giving “Him” gender, personality, anger, jealousy, and conditional love, and wonder why so little solace abides there when we most need it.
There are far too many spiritual teachers out there today that relate their story of awakening as a halleluiah-I-am-saved experience, and though this is inviting, it is an erroneous picture of how we come to know. There are instantaneous insights, and some can be most powerful, but there are no instantaneous awakenings. We do not come into a sense of who we truly are in a blast of light and trumpets. We work at it, guided by our instantaneous insights and the occasional push from someone a tad further down the road.
There is, however, a special beauty to this manner of “learning,” perceiving the world anew. Instantaneous insights mean whatever we learn in the moment, we learn all at once. You come to know something totally in that instant. And by “know” I mean you have it then and there as a truth in your belly. What is not instantaneous, however, is awakening to the truth that defines human nature – the bigger picture of what we are really. That takes years of integrating the insights into a working model that daily increasingly becomes your experience of life, your first true one since childhood.
I’m no longer in sales, though it took me a while to let that go. I don’t candy coat this choice anymore, there’s no need. People gravitate toward it or they don’t. It often looks like a turning caused by an egoic life that has become unlivable, but I think that’s an appearance, not the truth. What has someone’s head turn toward seeking Truth beyond all else is still an enigma to me. And those who do, after a while quit worrying about how long it will take, for the siren song of truth, ultimately becomes all they hear.
Here’s a picture for you if I can paint it well enough. Meet Ike and Mike (I could get a picture of only one though they usually ran shoulder to shoulder pas de deux) our first two orphan lambs at the outset of my farming career, an experience in retrospect that had an uncanny similarity to this journey to truth we’re talking about. We knew nothing at the outset, not even to anticipate orphans. So when these two little gaffers arrived, the only thing we had on hand were beer bottles, an essential in any Canadian home, and two black rubber calf nipples we borrowed from the neighbors. The choice of beer bottles was not good, for every time two clinked together at any social gathering on our farm, Ike and Mike would come running like the Hounds of the Hebrides, their little heads as if attached to the bottles, never moving from their trajectory, while their little bodies swayed to and fro like a strange elfin dance to bypass rocks or logs enroute. When they arrived, they would jump anyone, looking for the bottle they sought. This was cute when they were babies, but at fifty or sixty pounds, a lamb jumping into your lap is a tad more jarring. They, however, were unconcerned, their mission being only one thing.
Some of us start early, some are late bloomers; it matters not. But for those who hear “the clink of the bottle,” all there is to do is get up and get moving… again and again. Let the universe handle the rest.
Next week in Topic 18, we’ll take a look into The Impersonal and make a nodding acquaintance with what’s real about us.