Looking for Paul

I tried finding Paul today. I couldn’t – just a bunch of words, images, sensations and emotions. I guess I’ve done enough of these Inquiries to not be altogether surprised by my failure to find Paul, but what I was surprised about was finding how much Paul still cared about being the one who got “there.” How much he cared about being the one to achieve enlightenment, how much Paul mourned not being the one who eventually succeeded on this search for the Truth. Many tears were shed, and it felt like a death.

As much as I knew that there was no “I” here, no Paul here, and that was really the first step to seeing the Truth, I hadn’t realized until today how much my fictional character Paul cared about being the one who found what he had spent so much time looking for. That it ain’t going to happen that way was of no consolation to him.

So I felt the mourning happen, let the crying happen, and felt the heartbreak of not being able to finish this task to completion. Paul wanted so badly to finish this quest, and heroically arrive at the final destination. But Paul cannot be found, and I never left the final destination.

Paul’s quest was the very definition of a fool’s errand – a task which ultimately has no likelihood of success. However, I can only admire and appreciate the dedication of this particular fool!

Appreciating Fear

I was looking underneath the need to be right. Why on earth would I even care about being right? Why would I want to argue with anyone with the goal of being proven right? It was amazing to me that I could care that much. So I took a good look underneath that need, and what I felt was fear – fear of a feeling that seemed to be lurking in my gut.

So all this posturing and arguing for my point of view, with someone I deeply love, was all to avoid a feeling that I had hidden away so that I would never have to feel it. Not surprising, really, I just wasn’t expecting this dynamic to be there; I assumed the need to be right was a bottom line position for my sense of self.

So I stopped, and faced the feeling that the fear was covering up, which was that I was a failure. At this point I allowed myself to feel that feeling without labeling it, and once that energy was allowed, it could dissipate.

But that’s not really what I’m writing about this evening. Seeing the role of fear in this dynamic, I was suddenly struck with appreciation for fear as the motor of this human drama. Fear seems to be the prime mover and motivator for all of us actors here; as actors, we certainly need motivation in order to play our roles. I could see fear motivating and underscoring so much of what takes place here on this planet, but instead of judging it as bad, I was able to see that without it, we would all probably be lying around feeding each other grapes or something. (This would not be so good, as grapes are very high on the glycemic index.)

There wouldn’t be a dynamic play of the opposites without fear, working behind the scenes, and also overtly, providing us with the motivation and the impetus to create what plays out here every day. That’s not to say people’s desire to alleviate suffering is somehow false, but when I checked that out for myself, there was definitely a fear-factor at work as well.

It’s the very nature of this play to have the opposites in conflict, with each side thinking they are right, but being afraid of either losing the fight or having to face the fear of what it might be like to lose. And underneath the fear is a feeling we simply don’t want to feel. What I can suggest is using the Unfindable Inquiry to see if that fear, or any feeling that might seem to be present, can even be found.

Having seen this in my own life, I now have a new appreciation for the role of fear. I am much more likely now to recognize and to try and find the fear wherever it seems to be lurking. Using the Unfindable Inquiries, we also get to see the emptiness of the fear dynamic, and also get to experience the lie of the deficient self that we have been believing. In this way, we can actually experience the truth of our infinite awareness.

Enlightened Expectations

I read somewhere that it might be useful to write down my expectations of what the so-called enlightened state would be like. I wasn’t sure how useful it would actually be, until I started focusing on it, that is.

So here is what I can only assume is a partial list of what I expected when, after so many years of searching, I finally reached the enlightened state:

My life would be forever peaceful;
I would be in a perpetual state of bliss, calmness, equanimity and love;
I would no longer desire anything outside of my present experience – in other words, I would be beyond desire;
My physical health would no longer be an issue, either because my health would become perfect, or I would no longer be disturbed by its imperfection;
I would grok the nature of existence, as life’s mammoth list of mysteries would dissolve in an explosion of deep understanding;
The world would become a better place, as the reality I am projecting would become clearer, more pure, more peaceful, non-violent;
I would directly perceive the true nature of reality, down to the very movement of atomic particles;
My personal issues would either disappear or become a source of amusement;
I would be available to gift my sage advice to all those who might benefit from it (uh oh, sarcasm is starting to leak in here as the list grows);
I would be totally OK with anything that might occur in my life or the life of the world, as my understanding of all occurrences would be complete;
Fear of death would vanish, as I would possess a full understanding of its meaning;

Remember, this is only a partial list, and if I sat here long enough, I’m sure more expectations would make themselves known. Therefore, I reserve the right to add to this list from time to time.

Did you notice the one common element in all those expectations? They are all happening to an “I.” What a huge disappointment it is to discover that I can’t find that “I” when I look for it! Could it be that this “I” doesn’t even exist, that it is just a thought and nothing more, that the illusion of its existence is simply evidence of deep conditioning?

This therefore renders every one of those expectations null and void, not to mention pretty humorous. I never realized until yesterday the full extent of this list, and as I said, I’m sure more items will emerge.

Actually, change that word, “disappointment,” to “release.” The mythical “I” might be disappointed, but the feeling being experienced right now is one of having shed 50 pounds of sludge from my being.

It reminds me of the definition of “expectations” that I heard some years ago: “Expectations are preconceived resentments.” I have yet to find any evidence of that definition being in any way untrue.