If we’ve been attending spiritual groups for some time we may have noticed a frustrating pattern beginning to emerge. In the meetings we might experience all sorts of peaceful, loving, happy and expansive feelings. But as soon as we return to our busy lives it all seems to disappear without a trace and we’re left feeling frustrated and confused; often with a growing sense of futility and hopelessness, as to hold onto ‘it’ seems like such an impossible task. So what is going on?
Whenever we associate our true nature with a particular experience – such as a peaceful, happy, loving feeling – then, since the nature of all experiences are that they come and go, when those feelings inevitably go we immediately imagine we’ve lost ‘it’, and off we go in search again. That’s the cycle of seeking.
But if the feeling of peace or happiness really is what we truly are, then when that feeling goes we should disappear along with it. But is that what happens, do we suddenly vanish from existence?! No! What we are remains exactly as it is, aware of whatever new feeling is now arising. So we cannot be made of a particular feeling.
In fact it’s not just feelings that come and go. So too do all the sensations, thoughts, images, sounds, smells and tastes that make up our entire experience, whilst what we are remains the same throughout. So we cannot be made of any particular experience.
Since all we can know with our rational mind is experience, and what we truly are is not an experience, then if we continue to look in this way it is futile and hopeless! Round and round the seeking cycle we go, trying harder and harder to cling onto a particular feeling or sensation, maybe even trying to cultivate a ‘blank state’ – the mind’s version of a non experience! – which, like all states, comes and goes too, until we become so utterly frustrated that we’re finally ready to give up completely.
This is an exciting place to be! For in that giving up we relax the grasping of our 2+2=4 intellectual knowing, and maybe we’re ready to courageously free fall beyond the edge of thought; to fully face whatever fear and anxiety may come, and dis-cover an entirely different kind of knowing: a pure, wordless knowing, beyond all descriptions, beyond all understanding, that we can only realise by being.
So why do teachers often say that we are love, peace and happiness?
The peace that is talked about is not the feeling of peace, it’s much deeper than that. It’s the peace that comes from the recognition that this pure knowing that we are is utterly imperturbable, even when our life situation may be totally chaotic. The happiness is born of the realisation that what we are needs nothing, is already complete, however much we may seem to lack in our conventional life. And love is the name given to the understanding that what we are is utterly inseparable from every feature of the entire manifest world.
It’s that deep love, peace and happiness, that radiance of pure knowing, shining in all its glory, that is the ‘one taste’ equally present in both our most blissful and most painful moments; that cannot be lost or found even, since it is the very source and nature of what we always already are.