These words are rendered from the transcript of a dialogue with Mooji that occurred in the spring of 2011.
There are clearly some people whose intellect can readily grasp Advaita Vedanta teachings, and even though the grasping is merely at an intellectual level, behind that there will already have been a subconscious search for something deeper. When this search first opens up through the intellect so that there is a looking for oneself as a separate, private, autonomous entity, and then nothing is found, that seeing or discovery can be the first taste liberating at some level, it's not enough, it's not quite there.
It will maybe be the first perforation through the screen or personal facade, but it has to continue deepening and refining itself in the heart. It must do this. Otherwise, you find people who are quite content to push Advaita about with words - the 'talk school' folks. Conversation with them will not feel in harmony with what is actually present in your heart. You may even find such an interaction irritating, because it doesn't feel like it is coming from authentic seeing; but rather it appears like a boasting or a kind of subtle superiority.
There are many banana skins on this way, you know, because it's not like a snap of the fingers - one day I am like this and then suddenly, I am the Buddha, absolutely perfect! It's not like that. It takes time for the mind to stabilize, to settle into this final understanding. There will continue to be a pushing up of 'weeds' because most often, after the impact of real seeing occurs, what are called i/asanas come up to the surface of mind. Vasanas are deep rooted tendencies that have been dormant, or at least lay hidden from our conscious knowing. Through the power of enquiring into the Self, these tendencies are brought to the surface so they can by grace be expelled.
Very often there arises in the personalized consciousness, or ego, fierce resistance to feeling the force and presence of these vasanas, for they arise with much emotional charge and personal discomfort. Because of this, it is not uncommon for many seekers to suppress, create distractions from or cynically dismiss them as the mere play of consciousness/mind stuff, rather than bringing them fully into the light of enquiry. Subsequently, at a deeper level, identity often remains in the form of a personal self, and the chance to move beyond ego fixation is missed. In such cases, the 'person' will continue to seem more real than ‘Presence-Self'
Initially, if one steps fully into all of this, there is a breaking open, a liberation from the influence and grip of the mindset, the mind state or mind culture. Now, even the body-mind is felt as a phenomenon that is observable; it's no longer the mind-self that is witnessing me, it is the 'formless', the 'V/hat Is', that is witnessing the mind.
We are troubled mostly by thoughts that are personal. Many thought movements happen that don't register, they don't linger, because we don't have any real interest in them. And if you don't have any interest in a thing, you don't need to transcend it. It's only if something is 'biting-in' that a struggle ensues and the question 'who am / and what is this?' can come to life for a genuine seeker of truth. Only then will the process of transcendence begin and be experienced.
So mostly we are not troubled by thoughts we have no interest in; it is only when there is interest and desire that we become troubled. So therein lies the secret: finding the one to whom the thoughts are occurring, who has some relationship with those thoughts, a belief that there is some reality to them. Such cannot be said of the pure observer, who must be impersonal, beyond all content. So if and when that is seen, it will be a very important point of seeing because it releases one from the sense that there is a 'me' as an actual, tangible entity being attacked by life, memory, thought, or emotion.
That 'me', although it feels intimate, is now recognized to be a phenomenon because it is observable. When this is recognized profoundly, what remains as the observing is non-personal, a sort of impersonal beingness/state. And it's that place of the impersonal observing that is called the state of liberation.
However, even after a state of awakening occurs, there often continues to linger the habit of identifying oneself as a person. If this delusion is not checked it will tend to sprout seeds that distract or hypnotize the beingness back into the state of mortality. The only way out of that is to abide as the witness-Self rather than the 'I-me'. Like this, those seeds will reduce in power for lack of fuel and will wither and pass way.
So, after the first stage where one comes to an understanding that I am not this phenomenal body, the vasana energies are released with heightened power. Prior to that, it is almost as if the vasanas themselves don't need to release their power, because we are already co-operating nicely under a spell, the sleep-waking state. It is as if the conditioning, the belief that I am a person, I am this body-mind, is sufficient to keep us unaware of the Self, and in a state of sludge-like delusion. It is only when you are waking up out of the sleep of the body-mind identity that you begin to feel the glue and contractions of the body-mind state in its play as vasanas.
So when we are coming out of that sleep state (ignorance), through the grace and power of satsang, we start to feel, discern and recognize the dormant, egoic energies and impressions that were hidden while we remained identified as persons. As they come into the light of recognition, they will create the sense of a tsunami inside the body mind.
But even then, there is the power within you to keep observing them, to know that they too are phenomenal. It will not be easy, initially, because here is where the stored power of identity has fermented and they will arise with much force.
It will take some effort In the beginning to observe them with detachment, without being pulled into the spell of identity with them. But that season also passes.
At a certain point everything comes and goes in the field of perception. Their apparent presence is dependent on your being able to witness them. All of them are reporting to you at some level and are only in accordance with what your consciousness accepts.
There is a sense of the seeing or perceiving of the phenomenal world - both the personal and the outer world - which is being reported to some intelligence that is right here, which is synonymous with the feeling 7 am'. So the information can keep on appearing, from one to ten thousand sensations a day, but the perceiver is still only one.
If I am the perceiver of all this, then ask another question: can this perceiver itself be perceived? This is really the question we want to arrive at, genuinely: VZho i am? Who is perceiving this sense I am,' this storyteller of the world that is 'having' experiences and reporting them. With this question, 'Who is perceiving even this?', something may occur.
This question when it is put merely in a verbal or mental way will be seen immediately to be insufficient, that it is just having the effect of another concept. So if the question cannot be answered by a mental or intellectual answer to any satisfaction, what is the purpose of the question? The question must be to trigger a genuine introspection that brings you to seeing/being, if you actually clarify, verify and grasp its intention. You must become fully inside your seeing and trust your observing and discerning power.
So that is the question. In fact, this is putting Self-Enquiry in a nutshell. To find out if the seer is seeable - is it only another phenomenon and if it is another phenomenon, what is witnessing that phenomenon? This is not an endless riddle or an infinite regress, which is one way the mind may present it in order to avoid the impact of real finding, real discovery.
When you know who you are, you are no longer full of desires; you begin to see that without personal intention, there is an order, there is a spontaneous and benevolent power behind the unfolding play of the world. There is a recognition of the Supreme power that cares for life and is life.
You will see that whatever you were pushing against flows in an effortless harmony, a harmony unrecognized by most, who, out of fear and ignorance pull their ‘parachute' cords too soon. You begin to see: 'My God, look at that!' It's still the same Earth - the sky, the flowers, the trees, the cars, the people - and that the perceiver who was reacting from a personal standpoint was getting in the way of a deeper seeing, which is full of grace, full of beauty, and full of harmony and peace.
The very nature of the person/personal is full of angst, impatience, desire, and a compulsion to acquire things to suit their projections. But it just doesn't work. It never really worked.
Having a teacher is vital. It's only arrogance to feel one is not needed. Make use of a teacher until you go beyond the need for help, until you are helpfulness itself. A true teacher doesn't want anything from you, even your devotion. They are just satisfied that you come with an authentic attitude or approach and are searching only for what is true.
In that way, they have power and are fully available because there is sheer joy in imparting true guidance to an authentic seeker. To believe a teacher is not necessary is a mistake a lot of people in the West make, because they have so many ill-conceived ideas about teachers and gurus. But this is often the posing of arrogance.
There is a lot of 'non-genuineness' on the part of some teachers just as there is a lot of 'non-genuineness' on the part of some students. If you want to have a great answer you need to have a great question. People have a lot of hidden agendas. They come very sheepishly, appear very humbly, but in many there is a wolf behind such appearances. So life will take them to that guru who reflects a little bit of 'who' they are, until they eventually step onto the true path of recognition.
It's perfect, actually. One gets the exact guru you need in that moment. If there's a lot of funny business going on in your ego mind, you're going to find a guru with at least little funny business going on in them too.
Papaji was so great, his presence and dharma, so unsparing. Many Westerners would come with full-on egos and somehow, in his presence, they got crushed, vaporized. I don't think he saw egos. Beings with the clean, clear eyes do not see impurity, they just see that you are the Self. But in their light, because there is a sense of impurity in your own mind, that impurity is pulled out into view, and this exposure can make you feel very vulnerable.
In the presence of a true teacher the process of healing is enabled by the sheer power and presence of their clarity, which will allow what is hidden to be brought into the light and burnt. A true teacher has real love for you; not a personal love, but an impersonal intimacy because he knows you are the Self.
Questioner: Some teachers say that there is nothing you can do to become enlightened or awake. That there is no choice and no one there to make choice. Is this true ?
Mooji: On hearing this, what was your response ?
Q: actually it was mixed. On one side it felt deeply freeing, simple and natural, followed by a sense of real frustration and anger. Honestly, I felt quite irritated and oppressed by the thought of having no free will. It was very strange.
M: Which of these two responses have remained the strongest with you ?
Q: Well, as I said before, initially the feeling of freedom was strong, beautiful and expansive but short-lived, while the frustration, doubt and confusion have been more lingering.
M: And these feelings have again brought you to satsang, is that right ?
Q: You could say that. Actually, I don’t feel I took any decision to come here. I feel like I was drawn here by some force. When I’m here with you it all feels fine; your words and presence makes me feel secure in this truth. The problem starts when I’m outside in the world. Then I doubt myself. I feel weak, unfocused and lack that conviction I’m feeling now. I need help.
M: Thank you. ‘ I need help’ is the important statement here. It is wise to seek help, until you go beyond the need for help. Not the arrogance which claims ‘There’s no one to be helped, no I, no you. No one exist, only that which Is’, which though true when spoken through the mouth of the sage, is completely false when uttered from the ego mind- the ego rising through the intellect posing as some kind of spiritual hero. This understanding cannot be grafted onto the ego-centred mind, for true understanding dissolves the seeker-ego. There is no one left to claim freedom as an achievement. The one unicity alone exist, manifesting through and as consciousness, it expresses as the cosmic play. It is consciousness expressing itself in the role of the humble seeker who ultimately, through grace, attains ultimate understanding, thus realising itself as the Impersonal Awareness/Being. Your seeking help opens the floodgate of grace which manifest in the form of the ‘teacher’, who is a reflection of your true self, whose authority and presence assists by pushing the externalised mind into its heart source, resulting in final understanding. This grace comes from your own Self and is your Self. You’ve heard the saying ‘ We’re called by our own self’, and yet all this takes place as a mere play in consciousness. The Absolute, One’s real Being- The sat-guru within, does not benefit from, or undergo any change at all, it remains the unalterable substratum or background. This is the truth.
Q: There is joy again, at being reminded of this, perhaps this is the pull of satsang. But I must say, I’m still a little confused about…
M: No ! Stop right there. Actually, ‘you’, what you truly are, cannot be confused. Confusion is a state of mind. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that you feel or notice confusion arising in you ? And that both confusion feeling and comfort feeling are perceived by you, including their effect in the body and the subsequent thoughts and judgements accompanying these feelings. That these are states which come and go in the presence of some background ‘field’ of impersonal intelligence or natural witnessing ?
Q: Yes. There seems more distance in this way of looking. Feels more detached and spacious somehow.
M: Let’s return to your original question ?
Q: Yes, but I would like you to speak more on this point.
M: Ok. Ok, we’ll come back if necessary. In the statement ‘ there’s nothing you or anyone can do to gain ‘enlightenment’ or ‘awakening’. Who or what is it that hears this ? and who or what is the ‘you’ in the statement ?
Q: Myself ! What I am.
M: And what is that ? ( pause.. ) Now you’re wearing ‘thinking eyes’, Don’t think ! Observe !
Q: My mind.. My individuality. My sense of self, I suppose. My intellect ?
M Musn’t there be something behind which sees the mind, the individuality, the intellect ? From where these very statements are arising, and which remains unaffected, untouched by the functioning of mind, intellect. Are these not phenomena being observed ? Can you confirm ?
Q: Yes, ( nodding slowly) I can confirm this as so.
M: Leaving aside whatever noticeable phenomena arising, turn your attention to the observing itself. What exactly is it that observes ? Is it a person, a thing ? Does it have a form, characteristic or quality ? Is it personal ?
Q: No. No one’s there. Nothing.
M: Are you there ?
Q Yes. No. I must be. I am in it.
M: What sees or knows this ?
Q: I don’t know. I just know but I don’t know how I know. I am nothing here exactly. I mean no form. Here comes that feeling again. This is what I felt, what I experienced the last time.
M: Don’t cling to this feeling now, let it be. Don’t go to the past, Stay behind. Don’t identify, don’t touch. Observe only, but remain neutral, so that if and when this joyful state subsides, there will be just this noticing remaining. You cannot ‘have’ this or ‘become’ this. No ownership, no achievement, only thoughts and sensations arising spontaneously in consciousness being perceived. You see ?
Q: But I don’t want this to go. Why push it away ? I wish to stay in this always. Isn’t that the point ?
M: That’s precisely what you must do. If it was not here before, it’s not permanent, it belongs to the changeful. It will go. Let it come and go, this is natural and this is freedom itself. Recognise the ‘ I don’t want to push this away’ is also a thought feeling arising, being noticed by something which is beyond coming or going. Be one with that. Don’t chase anything, stay as neutral awareness only. That’s all . What can awareness want ? What does it lack ? What to keep or lose ?
Q: My mind’s gone blank. Sorry, could you repeat ?
M: What is witnessing the blank ?
Q: (pause..) I am. Here again !
M: And again, who or what are you here ?
Q: Just this. There are no words to convey or describe it. Nothing-ness. Emptiness.
M: Is there some sadness ?
M: Happy ?
M Free ?
Q: No. I wouldn’t use the word ‘free’ even. ( Pause ). No words…
M Aha ! Very good ! Well done ! That is it ! that’s all, you’ve done it, Excellent ! The exercise is over. Now step out of this and return to your former state so that we may continue with your important questions.
Q: Mmm… That’s impossible ! It doesn’t make sense anymore. Step out and go where ?
M Here !
Q: There’s not even here !
M Really ? And what about Now ?
Q: No, not Now either( long pause&hellip I see clearly now that these are concepts only. There is no doubt about this- The indescribable is behind.
M: This alone is freedom, beyond any concept of freedom. The natural and supreme state of one’s true being.
( The questioner appears to have slipped into a meditative state, his face is motionless, but tranquil…Mooji chuckles.. ).
M: I wanted to talk along the lines of what happens when this ‘enlightenment’ experience fades away, but now it’s impossible to discuss this with him while he’s in samadhi. ( Laughter.. ).
Another questioner: I’ve also experienced this state which he seems to be in right now, that sort of non-experience experience, which lasted for about three or four weeks. I felt totally empty, clear, present, at one with all that Is. Everything was just going on by itself, it was really indescribable and beautiful, but after a while my mind came back, in my case I think even stronger than before. Actually I went into a kind of heavy depression and felt lost for some time. I feel afraid of repeating that experience.
M: Which experience ?
Q: The crazy one.
( Laughter.. ).
M: The real self is the changeless background underlying the changeful phenomena world. It is impersonal Awareness only; Immutable and blissful. In the experiential state it shines as the pure subjective awareness sense ‘I am’. This ‘I am-ness’ is impersonal and synonymous with consciousness- the field of perceiving. It is the direct expression of pure subjectivity. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the great sage, describes it as like a door which swings one way into the manifestation and the other way into infinity. This expresses it beautifully. All events occur as movements in consciousness and are cognised in and by this conscious presence ‘I am’; this is the ‘witness’ or witnessing principle, which we are, while the body is here.
Q: So are we the body or ‘in’ the body or something separate ? Because…
( The questioner began recalling some experiences and observations&hellip
M: Leave all this alone for now; just stay open, allowing what is being said to simply be heard in the consciousness without taking hold of any particular thought or idea such as what to do with what’s being heard; let the listening just ‘happen’, as it were. You are there behind the listening mind. Watch the ‘I’- thought, it is not the true ‘I am’. It comes when the impersonal ‘I am’ gets identified with the body, which is merely the instrument through which it is expressing itself, with the aid of the vital force- the animating power. This association gives rise to the ego or individuality- the sense ‘me’. So you see, the individuality sense cannot exist without the supporting impersonal consciousness, and must itself be the changeful expression of that creative consciousness. Only now it operates as conditioned consciousness, believing itself to be the body-mind. Now arises the knowledge of ‘other-ness’ and the basic urge to protect itself; likes and dislikes arise, along with judgements, fear, desires, attachments and the entire play of inter-related opposites. We, as individual/being are fascinated and addicted to experiencing, which is natural and nothing ‘wrong’ in itself, when seen as the play or expression of the manifest consciousness we are. But when seen from the perspective of the individual identity, with its private agenda- Big trouble ! ( Laughter..).
Now listen, there’s nothing in particular to ‘do’ here and no one to do or undo either. Just a change in understanding must happen and everything will be set right. It’s all One. Let’s take the example of the telescopic car aerial, it is one unit- this represents the Absolute. Extend or Pull once- the impersonal ‘I am’ appears; it is still one unit. Pull again – the ‘I’- thought or ‘me’/ individuality sprouts and simultaneously- the personalised world manifestation comes into play. Like Russian dolls- One inside the other, successively- yet one whole ! One unicity expressing as manifest and unmanifest, two aspects of the one Reality. Such is the play in the theatre of consciousness. You are the ultimate witness; Happy, unaffected and whole. You are That ! It’s nothing personal. It’s not a compliment I’m paying you.
Q: Please could you repeat the point about the ‘theatre of consciousness’.
M: No ! I cannot repeat. For now, be attentive, open and present but neutral here, without letting your attention drift off or land on any particular thing. This position I’m inviting you to take. Trust your intuitive listening. It is your mind, appearing as a vigilant seeker, that strives for exactness then gets caught up with the feeling of missing something vital. At this point it is a subtle form of resistance or avoidance. My advice is; If you miss it, simply let it go. All is well for now. The real you is here and behind it all, effortlessly observing; from where the sense of losing and finding arises, is felt, but discarded as ‘not real’- ‘neti-neti’ as the jnanis say. You, as awareness are not any particular feeling. Thoughts and feelings come and go like waves playing on the surface of the ocean. Let everything come and go by themselves, this is natural for waves. Ocean, water, waves- all the same. Stay as witness only. For awareness, nothing is lost or found, or is good or bad. It is the immaculate substratum against which the shadow mind/world of names and forms dance their apparent existence.
Q: But Mooji, surely it is vigilance to make sure we understand correctly, to avoid misunderstanding; especially as all this is new to me, also many scriptures and teachers point to vigilance as a necessary quality or virtue for spiritual growth.
M: That is true if there really is a ‘someone’ who will make use of this understanding. But if you would really investigate, that ‘someone’; the ‘person’, the ‘individual’, will not be found ! All is consciousness only – the ‘you’, the ‘me’, the speaking, listening, satsang, everyone here, everything- all consciousness; this is the wonderful discovery ! Consciousness conversing with consciousness about consciousness through consciousness. How simple ! Yet how baffling when searched for through the ego-mind. Look, I point you to where you are right now, to stay with that, nothing else, but your mind landed on some point of interest to it. While you were engaged with holding onto that, you miss everything else- this is called the play of ‘maya'( The cosmic illusion). It’s like reading a book on exotic fruits and reggae music while strolling through Brixton market ! ( laughter..). One zen master named Bankei said: ‘it’s like a man losing his sword over the side of a ship at sea, and marking the spot on the railing where it fell in the water. ( Big laughter&hellip.
Q: Just now as you said that, everything stopped. I can’t think. There are no thoughts. ( Raising hand to her mouth ) That is amazing !
M: What seeing all this ?
Q: Nothing… I.
M: ‘I’- nothing, witnessing the stopped mind. When mind is stopped, can it be called mind anymore ?
M: And now ?
Q: Silence and peace.
M: For whom ?
Q: Here.. For me.
M: For you ? Are you sure ? What, where and how are ‘you’ exactly in this ?
Q: Not me; just silence and deep peace and a real feeling of gratitude. Is that right ?
M: You tell me.
Q: Yes. Gratitude for hearing and seeing this so clearly. Thank you.
M: You are welcome. Self thanking Self. Very nice !
Mooji: This is perhaps one of the most seemingly profound questions within the human kingdom. Yet at closer scrutiny it is revealed as one of the most elusive in as far as coming to any one satisfactory answer.
Let’s imagine there is a world cup football match being played. The match can only be what it is and goes how it does. However, if there happen to be one hundred commentators giving commentaries on the game, the listeners will only hear each commentator’s interpretation and each one will be different. Now, which commentator has given the most accurate account of the match? Each one will speak from his or her preference, temperament, conditioning and perspective. It will be a subjective view only and not the complete picture, which is impossible to convey. We could go further and imagine that we, ourselves, are at the match—live. Nevertheless, our view will still be biased and based on whichever team we support, as would be the view of each and every supporter. So, with an attendance of one thousand spectators, there will be a thousand unique views. Perhaps, if any view could be accepted as being most universally objective and genuine, it will come from someone who understands and enjoys the game but is inwardly neutral in terms of the game’s final outcome or score.
It is the same with the question about the meaning of life.
We can use this simple analogy or metaphor and see that it will be the same in the case of the lawyer, the mother, the doctor, the thief, the politician and the religious man. We each perceive what we consciously or unconsciously conceive. Each will perceive and experience life according to his conditioning and the role that he identifies with, but each person will only comprehend and reflect a limited perspective of the whole, shaped by the fearful and unavoidably self-opinionated mind.
Amongst the various types of beings, I feel that a sage is the one who has really grasped life in an all-encompassing and holistic way and this is so because, as an awakened being, his personal mind has merged in his universal consciousness—his source being. Such a one looks from the harmony and vastness of unconditioned consciousness, without personal interpretation or judgment. He feels at one with life in all its varied expressions and even beyond this. His enormous compassion and wisdom arises out of his effortless and natural understanding of the laws of nature, the universal play of existence as time and change and the unbroken recognition of his true Self as the core perceiver of the manifest and functioning world. His mind, free of conditioning, is not caught in the bubble of ego-identity and thus he becomes the true friend of all living beings. Seeing himself within all and all within himself, he lives the complete life. The sage alone opens the door to the Divine.
Mark Nepo: The Meaning of Life and the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart
BY NICOLAE TANASE - 2/26/16
Nicolae Tanase: MARK, WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Mark Nepo: As important as this question is, it’s impossible to answer—as it’s impossible to see your hands while digging or to see your eyes while looking. Instead, let me share a story about meaning.
A troubled widower made his way to ask a wise old woman about his troubles. The old woman received him and they walked along a stream. She could see the pain in his face. He began to tremble as he asked, “What’s the point? Is there any meaning to life?” She invited him to sit on a large stone near the stream. She took a long branch and swirled it in the water, then replied, “It all depends on what it means to you to be alive.” In his sorrow, the man dropped his shoulders and the old woman gave him the branch. “Go on,” she said, “touch the branch to the water.”
As he poked the branch in the running stream, there was something comforting about feeling the movement of the water in his hand through the branch. She touched his hand and said, “You see, that you can feel the water without putting your hand in the water, this is what meaning feels like.” The man grew tender but still seemed puzzled. She said, “Close your eyes and feel your wife now gone. That you can feel her in your heart without being able to touch her, this is how meaning saves us.”
The widower began to cry. The old woman put her arm around him, “No one knows how to live or how to die. We only know how to love and how to lose, and how to pick up branches of meaning along the way.”
Every book and form of art, every keepsake and treasure we pass from generation to generation, every story told—these are the branches of meaning that help us along the way. And though we develop over time, there is no logical progression of steps by which our lives grow. Instead, each life unfolds the way rainwater fills the contours and grooves of the ground it lands on. No two patches of earth are identical and so the rain must fit each particular stretch of soil: trickling, pooling, and settling, as it will. In the same way, meaning fills the particulars of each life.
Two things I’m sure of are that we gather meaning through relationship, and that we understand life by working with what we’re given. And regardless of what you do for a living, the only important vocation is listening to the heart when it says: this is vital, this is alive, this can’t be lost. For me, the vitality and aliveness always precede my understanding of them. Making sense of our experience demands a faith in knowing what matters before we understand what it means. Making sense of life demands a conversation with what we’ve found and with what has found us.
As the wise old woman says in the story above, “No one knows how to live or how to die. We only know how to love and how to lose, and how to pick up branches of meaning along the way.”
Ultimately, meaning comes from inhabiting our gifts. I believe each person is born with a gift. Our call is to find it and care for it. I also believe that the ultimate purpose of the gift is to exercise the heart into inhabiting its aliveness. For the covenant of life is not just to stay alive, but to stay in our aliveness. And staying in aliveness depends on opening the heart and keeping it open.
Our dreams, goals, and ambitions are all kindling, fuel for the heart to exercise its aliveness, to bring our gift into the world, to discover what matters. Like a match, our light is revealed as our gift strikes against the needs of the world. When my sincerity strikes against yours, our gifts can give off their light.
We drift in and out of knowing our aliveness. Pain, worry, fear, and loss can muffle and confuse us. But finding our gift and working it will bring us back alive. It doesn’t matter if we’re skillful or clumsy, if we play our gift well or awkwardly, or if we make great strides or fail. Aliveness is not a judge in a talent show. Aliveness shows itself in response to wholeheartedness, when we can say yes to life, work with what we’re given, and stay in relationship—to everything.
When we come out of hiding and bring up the lights, we begin to discover what it means to be awake. When we’re knocked off our horse, we’re brought closer to life. Then we’re challenged to use our heart to break a path—this is the soul’s work. Finding our way always depends on using the one life we’re given to uncover the story behind the story, so we might find what can last.
So brave your way on. You are a blessing waiting to be discovered by yourself. The wisdom waits in your heart like a buried treasure which only loving your self can bring to the surface. And loving your self is like diving to the bottom of the ocean with nothing but who you are to find your way.
~Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers around the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening. Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time,” “a consummate storyteller,” and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” He has published seventeen books and recorded twelve audio projects and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. The above contains excerpts from his forthcoming book The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart (Atria, July 2016). His most recent book is Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness (Sounds True, 2015). Mark has appeared several times with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday program on OWN TV, and has also been interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. And in 2016, he was named by Watkins: Mind Body Spirit as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.