We do not see the world as it is, but as we believe it to be. When we first come into this world there is a freshness to our experience. Every feeling, sensation, and movement of energy is new. Without words, concepts, or memories, we meet this uncharted territory with totality. We see things as they really are. Everything is created equal in our eyes. The division between good and bad, right and wrong has not yet started.
With time, however, the original, transparent lens of innocent seeing is inevitably tainted. We learn that some things physically and emotionally hurt and the ancient survival mechanism kicks in. We label what hurts as “not love,” and we turn away to find the image of love we have created elsewhere. We feel scared, alone, vulnerable, incomplete, and we seek the safety and security of wholeness outside of ourselves. We forget that we are this love and that we are already whole. We manufacture an elaborate theory of who we think we are based on a mistaken identity. We forget that life is an expression of this love, that it is always perfectly whole as it is. Instead, we paint a picture of life based on an erroneous perception.
Our likes, dislikes, hopes, and fears are shaped by the unique story of our individual incarnation on earth. Our story includes the stories of our parents and family members, the story of our education, class, and religion, the planetary alignments at the moment we were born, and the historical era we are born into. All these stories weave a tapestry of beliefs that color the world we see, yet we claim that what we see is reality. This is the inevitability of personal and cultural conditioning.
The projection of this reality onto the world is the dream most people live in. Whether this dream is a nightmare or a fairy tale, it is of our own making. The dream is what happens when you are lost in the identification with physical and psychological form and claim ownership of your thoughts and feelings. When you believe your story to be the truth, even if the story is a fairy tale with a happy ending, it is still a dream. It’s a dream because anything that can be clutched by the ego is destined to die, and this includes every form, idea, imagination, and hope. Unless you recognize the luminosity of what remains when everything dies, you will still be caught in the dream.
Awakening out of this dream is a recognition that your beliefs about the world are not the truth, but rather a series of conditioned mental and emotional responses based on the past and projected into the future. This is the beginning of clear seeing. When this recognition first takes place, there is a tendency to turn away from these thoughts and emotions. Paradoxically, it’s the turning around to meet these thoughts and emotions that offers the genuine possibility of liberation.
This meeting, when executed with a gracious openness, is a sincere inquiry into what is really here. It’s a laser-beam sword of awareness that cuts the cord of suffering. This opening to present-moment experience, when conducted with the conscious surrender of a wave-surfer, leads you into the nakedness of absolute reality. It’s a vertical investigation (a movement of consciousness as it moves away from linear thinking) into the nature of thinking and feeling that reveals the truth that all thoughts, feelings, and sensations are temporary. Much as you try, you cannot hold on to them, control them, or even stop them.
Each day, each hour, and each minute is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. If you take a pause and bring your attention gently into the present moment, you may notice that every thought, feeling, and sensation rises and falls, just like a wave on the ocean. If you are very still and silent inside, you may notice the space in between all the waves.
Awakening is the discovery of that which is still here and unchanging even when thoughts and feelings change.