At the beach in the summer, a glorious hot morning, the sunshine on my shoulders reminds me the universe is benign and warm. The soft crunch of hot sand oozing up through my toes reminds me of the connectedness of everything, bringing me right down to mother earth. Everyone at the beach is always happy, open and playing and right here and now. The dogs running around are happy and saying it. The water is warm, but the initial dive is a cold slap in the chest, and even this feeling is important, this two-second scolding, reminding of the fragility and mortality and brevity of life. I wonder why it is that people like us who never have to worry about food or shelter, are not celebrating every moment of their existence? Why is that? The strong waves are exhilarating. Floating on my back, eyes closed, buoyant and swaying, I can feel warmth of sun and water. The past is surrendered so it’s dim and distant, and the future is abstract. Only the present thoughts and feelings count, and those are mostly quiet, like bubbles in the froth, forming and popping, quickly gone, the calm depths unaffected. In this quiet, gentle, unoccupied, awareness, there is only the sensation of floating and swaying and warmth. This is contentedness. This is playing.
Why don’t we play all the time?
We have forgotten to play because we live unconsciously.
The point of living is to live consciously rather than live from unconscious reaction. Most of us are asleep, living only as a reaction to conditioning and the past. Even the seemingly willful actions we take, such as making decisions or choosing a certain path or adapting a new set of beliefs, rise from confused conditioning.
We feel, think, sense, do and say everything for the “me” and it doesn’t exist except as a story in thought. Most of us are identified with thought so deeply that we are enslaved by the mind. And we find out quickly, that the thinking mind, capricious and tangled, is not a compassionate or effective or wise guide.
This delusional model of reality is guaranteed to cause unhappiness.
There is great freedom in living consciously. It is simply being aware, in this quiet, gentle, unoccupied spaciousness, so that we are no longer limited by any model of reality. It is clear seeing. It is natural and effortless. It is highly intelligent, intuitive, compassionate, paradoxically still and flowing at the same time, but there is nobody here to take credit for it. It just is.
Many of things we do in life are pretty straightforward. We set a goal and we figure out what needs to be done, and we struggle and work until it’s done. Or it’s not done, but we’re sure we understand how the process of achieving and accumulating works.
Awakening is different. We’re not trying to achieve or accumulate. We could say it is more about letting go of what is false in us.
What I try to do here is to give very practical methods of allowing this insight. I stay away from spiritual concepts and fluff and complicated theories.
I recognize that awakening is not easy. My experience was not easy. I came to it from misery, having hit bottom. And since then there have been wild swings between confusion and clarity, high and low energy, detachment and engagement, interest and apathy, recidivism and recovery. It seems to go in a big circle, coming back to where I was, but I am different somehow.
It’s a process. It continues and deepens. At some point, I was able to release the effort, so that it moves along on its own. At another point, I realized it is not about practice or method, it is just living.
Try it. Decide you want to live consciously. The making of this decision is important because the ego resists. Fear comes up. You might dismiss all of this as mumbo jumbo. Or, you will say I am not ready, I need to understand more, this is self-indulgent, this will be hard work, I don’t have time… We are quite addicted to our miserable patterns.
Develop Awareness. Watching yourself think, without interfering, is a good way to start.
Release pent-up emotions. This is immediately helpful.
You might not be ready and if you believe that, it’s fine. I suggest then that reading is a pretty easy thing to do. Here, there are many free articles and also premium books. If you want external resources, Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now and Hale Dwoskin’s The Sedona Method are excellent and simple.
Don’t get hung up on any particular method or brand of spirituality or goal. Forget about the big-bang event of enlightenment that many traditions love to talk about. This is simpler than simplicity. This isn’t about Karma or reincarnation or God or what the Universe should do for us. This is about you, right here and right now, being, just being, being free of the burdens you’ve accumulated.
It’s not easy, and it’s not difficult—but it’s a little delicate, because you will think this is an achievement, to be had by knowledge and struggle and self-discipline and beliefs and effort, when really it is just the relaxing of all of that.
And then, more and more, you find yourself playing.
When was the last time you were playing?