We get this idea that we can find bliss, peace, love and spiritual enlightenment the way we find other things in our life. If we’re seeking a new car, we go to a car dealership. If we’re seeking a new house, we go to a Realtor. If we’re seeking an education we go to a university. If we’re seeking a meal, we go to a restaurant. We’ve been conditioned to believe that seeking and finding are connected. As long as we keep seeking eventually we’ll find.
Teachers and Retreats
So if we’re seeking enlightenment, why shouldn’t we go to a spiritual teacher, an ashram or monastery? Why shouldn’t we pay a thousand dollars for a week-long enlightenment retreat? Surely for a thousand dollars we should be able to get enlightenment. Unfortunately the only thing lighter after this retreat will be our wallet.
Seekers Remain Seekers
When it comes to bliss, peace, love and spiritual enlightenment, that’s not how it works. Seekers do not become finders. They simply remain seekers. You may have noticed this already in your own seeking. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s only by giving up seeking, by giving up what is being sought and by giving up the one who is seeking that you actually find what you’re seeking.
Enlightenment Is Not a New Car
If you want a new car, you can find a variety of cars at a car dealership. But bliss, peace, love and spiritual enlightenment are not cars. You cannot simply go to a spiritual teacher or attend an enlightenment retreat and get enlightenment. You may get a very superficial and temporary taste of peace, love, bliss or enlightenment. And that’s usually what’s being sold. That keeps you coming back for more. It’s a good business practice. But you won’t get the real thing. You can’t get the real thing in this way. If you got the real thing, you wouldn’t need to come back again. Your seeking would be over.
Your Car Is the Only Car That Exists
Imagine that you want a new car, but the only car that exists is the very one you’re driving. There are no other cars. No other car exists. You have the only car in all existence. Your desire for this imaginary non-existent car is your seeking. Can you imagine the suffering and frustration that comes from seeking this non-existent car? It doesn’t exist. How can you find what doesn’t exist?
And yet, thanks to your illusion, you fail to realize that you’re driving the only car that actually does exist. So you have an existing car, but you’re seeking a car that doesn’t exist. That’s exactly the situation of spiritual seekers.
You’re seeking something imaginary that doesn’t exist. Your idea of bliss, peace, love and spiritual enlightenment are just ideas. They are not reality. And yet true bliss, peace, love and spiritual enlightenment are always right here. They’re not what you imagine them to be, nor can they be what you imagine them to be. That’s because they’re not thoughts; they’re real.
When you let go of all thoughts about peace, bliss, love and enlightenment, when you let go of all thoughts about you and what you are, when you empty your mind of all illusion, you realize that peace, bliss, love and enlightenment are right here and have always been right here. You have never for a single moment ever been apart form them. Even in the depths of your greatest suffering, everything you were seeking has always been here. Your illusions and all that seeking have simply hidden it from you. That realization is the end of seeking. You are now a finder. You have returned to a Home you never could have left.
You didn’t do this through seeking. You did it through the end of seeking. You did it through the surrender of illusion and openness to what is always right here now. You not only found enlightenment, but you saved a thousand dollars in the bargain.