“People who fit don’t seek.
The seekers are those that don’t fit.”
— Shannon L. Alder
Billions of people seem content to live from day to day without much thought about meaning and purpose. But millions of others remain discontent, regardless of comforts, distractions, success, and even love. They want something more.
Seekers seek. But there’s a paradox here: as long as we’re seeking, we clearly haven’t found what we’re looking for. Hence the popularity of teachers and programs that promise answers and the tendency for seeking to become an identity. People sometimes describe themselves as a seeker of truth but how many actually find it? One might say this is a spiritual corollary to the pursuit of the American Dream. Both are hard to catch up with!
On the other hand, if we never start looking, we’ve no chance of finding “it,” whatever we conceive “it” to be (enlightenment, fulfillment, happiness, etc.).
Like all decent riddles, there’s an obvious answer hidden in the rhetoric (which means that we likely can’t see it). After all, we humans have become expert at missing the obvious. For instance, how difficult, really, is it to imagine using the sun for an energy source. Duh… Perhaps we’re missing something just as obvious with our seeking.
“Seek and ye shall find,” is the ancient injunction and it certainly sounds wise, as common sense a piece of advice as you could ever give or get. Except, it doesn’t work exactly that way relative to the deeper search for personal meaning.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Perhaps the clue we need to unravel the paradox lies here, in these words. Eliot points to a return to where we began, rather than a distant destination. In other words, here and now is the what and when we are seeking. Our explorations are meant to bring us back to our starting point which we will experience differently, because of our journeying.
Sages down through the ages have advised us to “be here now.” Ram Dass, who wrote the book by that name in 1971, also said, “The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back.”
Here’s another vital clue to guide us along our way. It’s true that the mind complicates our seeking. We hear it chatter about how we need to change this and that, about what’s lacking in ourselves and in the world. All these judgements contribute to us holding back and hesitating. “Surely I’m not there yet,” seems to be a valid observation and it seems to be true. If the point is to swim in a river and we’re still standing on the bank… we’re not swimming in the river.
Of course, the simple remedy is to dive in! And that’s exactly what our hearts urge us to do, when they surrender everything to the moment. The mind says, “What moment?” and has a list of requirements for the perfect moment.
BTW, if it’s not obvious, this is the moment. There can be no other. This is the moment for your heart to surrender everything, for your mind to be still, for you to have the experience you have been seeking. And I certainly need to be having this exact experience as I write; how hypocritical it would be to merely write and instruct and remain stuck somewhere on the path myself!
So, does it seem arrogant to speak from this place of experience?
It may help to translate the concept of enlightenment, a noun, into “enlightening,” which is verb. Buckminster Fuller, an American inventor, architect, and global systems visionary, wrote a book entitled, I Seem to Be a Verb.” He wrote, “I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing – a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.”
Imagine that. What if, as “an integral function of the universe,” we fit in the most sublime way possible, as an irreplaceably unique ingredient in the unimaginable complexity of the living, breathing reality that includes absolutely everything? In fact, here is our enduring truth and this explains why we became seekers in the first place, because we simply could not fit in a human context divorced from this context. We always knew…
And so, our explorations cease. We return to the place from which we began and we know it for the first time. Our journey is over … and it is also just beginning. We are enlightening … shining our lights, illuminating our way. Here is the paradox of living on the path, a journey the mind will never understand but one all hearts hunger for.