A story of seeking.
Tried a range of things: Para-Psychology, Meditation, Buddhism, Yoga, Tai Chi, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Scientology, Power of Nowism, Advaita, Neo-Advaita, Non-duality.
An interesting ride, to be sure. But there was always certainty that what was being looked for had to be absolutely simple and accessible. To everyone. Otherwise it was exclusive, and couldn't be true. If it was true it had to be true in all circumstances and for everyone and everything. So I worked my way through the 'isms' one by one - rejecting them when their limitations and rules became apparent. To whit:
The hypocrisy of namaste and bowing only to fellow Buddhists and watching the wallowing in suffering of some devotees!
The frustrations of trying to meditate; trying to watch the thoughts, still the thoughts, transcend the thoughts, be the gap between the bloody thoughts; just to end up with cramp in the legs and again that feeling of not being able to DO IT RIGHT.
Trying to 'get' Zen koans - eh? What? Either they were obtuse or I was.
Taoism - The Tao Te Ching - that which is the Tao cannot be spoken: didn't stop the bugger going on about it interminably though, did it! And all that kidney rubbing - WTF!
Scientology - sheesh; that's some wacko, out-there, scary shit - Close-call that one....
Ole Eckhart's 'Be, Here, Now'. All very well - until I realised that I couldn't be anything but here, now. You can't be last Saturday at midnight or May 5th in 2030. So, that was a relief; I didn't have to try to be exactly where it appeared I already was!
Yoga - All those contortions and trying to get the Sun Salutation right, downward dog... crazy cat, hungry hippo (;-]) and the only benefit turned out to be the 10 minute nap at the end when the teacher said and . ... relaaaaaaaaaaax.
Tai Chi - Spending 2 years just to learn the 11 short form version and standing in tree pose for 10 minutes, hearing all the other students proclaim how amazing the energy was, rushing round their meridians.... and I just ended up with aching thighs. More inadequacy.
I couldn't get it from any of the things I tried - Too complicated. Too difficult. Too many rules and regulations, conditions to be met, standards to live up to.
I'm not saying that all and any of these religions/cults/methods aren't useful for many people - but I felt like an outsider who was at the party, but didn't know how to dance.
Then one day I followed a link to a youtube vid by U.G. Krishnamurti - and he barked in his unequivocal way: "There's no such thing as enlightment".
That was a wack in the face! WHAT!! ......But I pulled myself together and thought "hmmm.... that's an interesting concept" and ....... off I went again.
Attendance at non-satsangs with non-dual, non-teachers followed, and even more, that frustration of NOT BEING ABLE TO BLOODY GET IT! Except now they were propounding that there was nothing to do because there was no-one there TO get it! I thought they meant that nothing existed (they did and still do, some of them - and perhaps they're right). All there is, is this, but that doesn't include you. And I'd look down and see this body and feel these sensations and thoughts and feel even more that they saw things in a different way to me. (and perhaps they do.) And slowly I thought that I got what they were saying... sometimes... Through a process of elimination it became obvious... sometimes.... that there IS only this and there can't be anything other than this, but I still couldn't get this no-me idea. Because I was looking for my own non-existence*. Like trying to see a ghost that you've been told doesn't exist. Crazy.
And those words! Consciousness, Awareness, Presence, Being. A state to recognise, to 'be in'. Perhaps there are people who DO abide in a state of blissful non-dual awareness. But it just sets up the belief that there's something to be understood or 'got'.
To be fair, a lot of the non-duality crowd do stress that there's nothing to get which isn't already apparent. But when they start bandying labels around, the frustrated seeker latches on and tries to make something extraordinary and other-worldly out of the total ordinariness and obviousness of life, living. I know that they're trying to point. But you can't point at something that isn't a thing. It's like trying to herd cats.
The pointing, and seeking, and latching on, and being frustrated, is what's trying to be pointed to or described. That interminable, unstoppable, morphing, unrepeatable movement.
And then one day (following a pretty brutal conversation) it was obvious that there's nothing doing this. There never was, there is not, nor will there ever be. What this is, what life is, isn't being done by anything. There are no conditions or rules. And that means that nothing is excluded - the very fact that there IS life (all this) is ordinary and astounding. Obvious and unknowable.
WHAT is it? Don't know. HOW is it? Don't care.
I spent 15 years searching for an end to the search.
And it's a bloody relief to know that there IS nothing to find.
* when I was grammar and spellchecking this post the programme highlighted these words: "my own non-existence" as a redundant expression. Just about sums it up!