Spiritual practice sometimes can be approached like a diet. You have a set goal ‘I want to lose 20 pounds’ or ‘I want to obtain inner peace’…
The goal is useful in that it provides direction, it can help define the path we take to get there.
However, this approach has a major flaw. If we use the goal as the basis of actions, then even if we meet the goal, what do we do afterwards? Say we wanted to lose 20 pounds. We focus on that and we decide that to achieve this, we will track how much we eat every day and make sure it doesn’t exceed a certain amount. After a couple of months, let’s say, we reach our goal… we are 20 pounds lighter! Awesome. So what now? Do we revert back to how we ate before the diet? If so, then we will gain those 20 pounds back. Do we continue to track what we eat? Do we set a new goal of maintaining the new weight? It can never end with this approach. We will always feel incomplete, if you will.
Now, the same is true with spiritual practice. This is why in Zen, it is said that seeking Enlightenment is already a mistake. Now, without seeking it, we would never find it though! So what do we do? lol!
We must understand that we are already Enlightened, so there is nothing to seek. Understanding this truth will help us live in such a way that one day we may realize this truth, not simply understand it. So, there is a process of sorts, yes. People do not randomly obtain Enlightenment. Equally, people do not obtain Enlightenment through desiring it, seeking it or working towards it. That is the frustrating part! Lol. ‘I didn’t meditate for 30 years for nothing!’
So, like dieting, the best way forward is to change, in an instant, our understanding, our approach. A fundamental change must occur. Wanting to lose 20 lbs is not enough! Losing 20 lbs is not even enough! (and I don’t mean we need to lose 30 or 40 lbs either! lol) We must change something for a real change to blossom.
So, the person who loses 20lbs… they lost those 20lbs before even the first lb was shed… because the change happened already, and it was simply the effect of time passing that allowed it to blossom. So, when we make these fundamental changes, the effects may take weeks, months, years or lifetimes to blossom, but they will blossom… the wheels are in motion.
So it is with Enlightenment. We are already there, but to allow it to blossom, we must change something, and in a flash, we become Enlightened. Then when we brush our teeth, walk the dog, and sweep the floor… .These actions.. they help blossom our Enlightened nature … but without that flash of insight, of change, these actions are like poison, not nourishment and we may detest sweeping the floor!
So, sweeping the floor has the power to poison us or to enlighten us!
Let’s change our approach to things and let’s make our actions be nourishment and not poison.