last month

The many things I could be doing

No matter how much I do, there always remains so much more that I have not done.

Compared to all that is possible – which appears to be infinite (or at least practically infinite) – all that I will ever do or accomplish or experience is so infinitesimally small that it is insignificant.

And more importantly, the more I crave to do more or experience more, the more unpleasant my experience seems to be.

For me, this is a very significant insight. For me, this is a liberating insight.

At least, it is potentially liberating.

Whether I recognize and actually experience that liberation seems to depend on what I do with that insight.

If I try to do something with the insight, I am back on the vicious cycle of craving and suffering. Craving for more or different but running up against my complete inability to ever succeed in generating satisfaction.

I crave more and different, but that more and different is wrong-minded. I am ignorant when I crave more and different because more and different are not what I truly want.

What I truly want is satisfaction, contentment, peace. What I actually want is non-craving.

So clearly, when I believe that my craving can give me what I want (non-craving), I am delusional.

But good news! When I recognize this delusion I am instantly freed.

When I see this, I am freed of the delusional pursuit of what won’t satisfy. At least, I am freed from the entirely unconscious and compulsive pursuit of what won’t satisfy.

I am conditioned to wrongly believe that I can accumulate enough of some kind of experience to achieve satisfaction. But when I see clearly here and now that no matter how much experience I accumulate, none of it truly satisfies, my blinders are momentarily removed.

And in this clear moment I have a choice. Before this moment, I did not have a choice. I was compulsively reacting out of ignorance. But in this moment here now, seeing clearly that I cannot succeed in my delusional pursuit because it is entirely wrong-minded, I am free to choose.

I am free here now to choose to remain with this open clarity, this non-grasping, non-craving that reveals itself in the light of clear seeing.

Still, that conditioning screams that remaining with this open clarity is impossible, that it is strenuous, that it requires great effort, that it is conditional, that I have to maintain it, that I have to earn it.

Hence the choice. I can choose to indulge the wrong-mindedness and drift back into delusion-land, wrongly thinking that if only I can get enough of the right kind of experience I will finally be satisfied.

Or I can choose to remain in the clarity of powerlessness and failure.

I am powerless to help myself. When I try to help myself, I am operating from delusion and I only experience pain and suffering as a result. Every attempt I make to get it right is a failure.

Everything I have mistakenly identified as depends upon my success. My entire identity is made up only of the delusion that I can succeed.

When I rest in this open clarity presently, all that I have identified as is destroyed. It cannot stand up to the light of truth. The light of truth here now reveals it is all a lie. I will never win. I will never achieve happiness. I will never generate satisfaction.

When I look honestly at my life to see if I have ever experienced satisfaction, I can see that I have had glimpses, tastes of satisfaction in spite of my compulsive wrong-minded attempts. And I become curious to see if there is a thread that runs throughout all those glimpses.

The thread that I notice is this: those momentary tastes of satisfaction occur in moments when my compulsive striving for satisfaction falls away. It is not my doing that resulted in a taste of satisfaction. Rather, it is the absence of craving that reveals satisfaction.

When I acknowledge the truth of that here now and surrender to this great unknowing, every metaphorical boogieman, every reaction, every so-called negative emotion reveals satisfaction.

Even more to the point: when I remain quiet and still enough to see the actual nature of what I call craving, the craving itself is revealed to be satisfaction. I discover through direct experience here now that I cannot grasp satisfaction successfully, but I can surrender the grasping now and know satisfaction intimately.

For me, this is a great blessing. This is available to a compulsive, impulsive, slow-witted, mean-spirited, spiteful person like me. I don’t have to sit on a meditation cushion for thousands of hours to gain the benefits of this. I don’t have to be really smart.

All I have to do is look honestly at what is actually happening. I just have to be willing to tell the truth. I just have to see that all of my efforts have been complete failures when it comes to delivering true satisfaction. In fact, all my efforts have produced only suffering.

And then in the light and clarity of that truth, I need do nothing. I don’t need to understand anything. I don’t need to practice anything. I don’t need to earn anything. I need only to remain truthful.

For me, especially at first when I start to receive the deeper truth of this, I need to choose restful stillness. If I move too quickly mentally, physically, emotionally, or otherwise, I tend to start grasping and craving without even recognizing it.

So I often remain still and silent to remain in the clear light of truth. From this stillness and silence, I find it easier to see and recognize craving as it arises. And I can choose wisely and do nothing.

I sincerely hope these words are helpful pointers for you to look in this way and see if you too might discover this possibility in your life.

P.S. – Since I’m delivering this message to you, let me take a moment to mention that I’ve started a new video series called “Weekday Somatics”. These are 30(ish)-minute-long somatic inquiries that I’m offering for anyone who is interested. You can find them on my YouTube channel. The first of them is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v00RqYRH9u8 I find these inquiries to be valuable. I hope you do too.

Joey Lott

Joey Lott is the author of numerous books, including The Best Thing That Never Happened and The Little Book of Big Healing. He lives in southern Vermont with his wife and children.

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