“I have been an [explorer] and still am.
But I stopped asking the books and the stars.
I started listening to the teachings of my own soul.”
It is not because I have read a few books, bathed in the presence of some beautiful beings, and participated to many retreats that I know where I am, what I am at, and can now follow the upward course of a promised, enlightened destination. I’m not like an arrow steadily cutting through the air. It’s not like that I’m afraid. I confess: I’m a lost bird. One that’s flapping its wings on the winds of uncertainty, not knowing how, where and what to proceed. I spend all my time in the forest, flying around like a mad bird, thinking that I have one thousand things to do to secure a more decent life for myself. And this is an endless, confusing activity.
I have a nest though. It has its name on the front door: ‘Awareness’. It is safe and inviting, and I go there from time to time. In it, four nestlings are eagerly waiting to be fed, screaming after me. They won’t leave me untiI I have fed them all. Their names are Peace, Beauty, Love and Happiness. Not the kinds that you can leave behind if you ask me. Occasionally, I bring a small twig to consolidate the nest, or an insect for the tiddlers. But I’ve been careless lately, attending to my own, separate needs. As a result, the children have become a little meagre.
I’m a truth seeker by the way, spending all my time searching, begging for a happier life, and in the process forgetting my own sacred parent responsibility. You would think that this quest should lead me to that very special place I have been looking and longing for all my life. Well it’s not like that. Again and again, I am drawn away from the nest, allured to go in the opposite direction.
I went to a meeting the other day, near London Bridge, in a small patch of green haven beside the Southwark Cathedral. It is a convenient place for the proximity with Borough Market draws birds from all walks of life. There were sparrows, pigeons, crows, tits, robins, magpies, all here to listen to the discourse of a beautiful skylark. Towards the end, I raised my wing and asked the question of my hopelessness. Here was the answer:
“Have you heard the story of the little terrier who was running around with a bone in its mouth? Well, he got to a bridge over a pond, and looking down saw another little terrier reflected in the surface of that pond. And that dog also had a bone in its mouth. Hungering for the other dog’s bone as well as the one he already had, our little doggie began to bark, and as he did, the bone he had been enjoying slipped from his mouth and fell into the stream, lost forever. Have a little chat with that terrier in you. Explain to him that in each moment, things are just as they are, and so there is nothing to seek or to attain.” (1)
I listened, flabbergasted. How could I ever reach a happy life by thinking that what I have, or what happens to me, is not quite enough, by escaping my present, sacred duty and responsibility? What is present here and now is all there is. It is my gift from life, certainly untamed, uncontrolled, but rich and beautiful when I accept its reality, and surrender to its presence. This is not a small affair… This is a love affair! How could I not see it and expect that my path resided in turning my head away from it, and looking in another invented, mind-made direction? How could I think to control something infinite with my own separate, limited ability and self? It is like removing the entire universe with a spade.
I flew high above the highest tower of the Cathedral and headed west, my wings flapping trustfully on the dense, solid air. I recalled these other words from the skylark: “To abide in awareness, which exists prior to any particular experience or another, is freedom.” My nest is my own all given, all important reality. This is it! This is my sacred home! Where my sacred tiddlers are waiting for me to grow stronger, stouter by the day, by the hour, by the second. Here… Now…
“Noticing awareness, and abiding in it requires no effort at all. You do not have to earn it, and you do not have to deserve it. It is here now, always has been, and always will be. Nothing needs to be added to this moment, and nothing can be added to it. But when I tell you this, you doubt it, and so you continue the relentless seeking — which is simply more egoic seeking. Calling it “spiritual seeking” or “practice” changes nothing but the name. Although this very moment is all we ever have, you continue to seek something “better,” something “higher,” something more “evolved,” some accomplishment you will eventually realize by following a supposed path. That fruitless search continues, and will continue until the fantasy of becoming exhausts itself and you find yourself at last, just as you always were.”
~ Robert Saltzman
Text and photo by Alain Joly
The quotes are by Robert Saltzman
(1) This quote is in Robert Saltzman’s book, ‘The Ten Thousand Things’.
The other quotes and the title are excerpted from Robert Saltzman’s interview in non-duality magazine
– ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ – by Robert Saltzman – (Non-duality Press)
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