When I asked my spiritual teacher to guide me towards freedom from thinking too much, he responded with the most important question I’d ever been asked. He compassionately challenged me: “Are you willing to let go of everything you think you know in order to be free?” In that moment he helped me to see that all the knowledge I’d gathered from countless books and courses had not brought me peace. On the contrary – in some ways I was more stressed and confused than ever!
Before being asked this question, I had assumed that the answer to my heart’s yearning for peace was going to be found by finding the lost secret that had somehow eluded me my entire life; an enlightening piece of information that, when I read or heard it, would, as if by magic, make everything make sense and catapult me into nirvana. So I’d been searching high and low, reading ancient and modern texts from far and wide and asking every clever person who would listen, waiting and hoping that one day the missing piece of my peace-of-mind puzzle would nally fall into place. But that ‘aha’ moment had never come and my quiet frustration had only grown into an inner ache that I carried with me everywhere I went. So when I was invited to let go of everything I thought I knew, I was ripe to revel in such a delightful possibility. Could it be true that all of my concepts and ideas about how peace can be experienced were the very thing standing in my way to experiencing it now?
What if, perhaps ironically, letting go of what I knew by returning to innocence, I could finally experience first-hand the peace-filled liberation that I’d been learning about for so long?
Be Like Children
Ever looked into the eyes of a baby? It’s lovely, isn’t it? One of the reasons why you enjoy it so much is that you recognize something. Something you’ve known but perhaps forgotten. What you see is undiluted consciousness aware of the present moment. the baby’s mind is empty. It has no beliefs. It isn’t judging. It isn’t thinking to itself, ”Jeez, she needs to get her roots redone!” or, “Wow, he’s put on a few kilos”. Nope, nothing like that. It’s not thinking. Instead, it is just observing.
Innocent, with absolutely zero expectations, it is fully experiencing whatever it is aware of right now. Fully connected to unbounded awareness, it holds nothing and is completely open to whatever happens next. And because the baby hasn’t yet learnt beliefs about how life should look, it is able to be open and fully experience the fullness of each moment.
Learning to be Innocent Again
For you to get what’s on offer here, you need to see beyond your conditioned mind by being completely innocent with me now. Leave any opinions, ideas and past experiences at the door. There is no place for them in this entirely new moment.
Explore what it is like to bring nothing into this moment with you. Start to innocently observe what’s happening now as if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Because in reality you don’t know what’s going to happen. You just think you do. And thinking stops you from directly experiencing what is actually happening in reality. Thinking acts as a veil that stands between what you think you are and the true wonders of what you really are and what life is.
There is a world of difference between knowing about peace and actually experiencing peace.
Play with having no preconceived ideas about how peace of mind is achieved. Knowledge knows about what you want, but where you’re headed is the direct experience of what you want. Get the difference? Would you prefer to know about your favorite food or do you want to taste it? Do you want to know about the present moment or do you want to be present? Do you want to know about peace or do you want to experience it?
You could have memorized an entire library of books about peace, but still not be experiencing peace. (Trust me, I tried!) Knowledge can only take you so far. There is always a point where you must be willing to let go of what you think you know in order to actually experience.
Trust that nothing in the past is worth thinking about and nothing in the future could possibly be any better than what you are experiencing right now. Be with me now as if you don’t know anything of value to help you to experience this moment any better. Let go of expectations of how things should be. Let go of the notion that you know how life works. Free yourself from future expectations. they only dull your experience of the magnificent moment you’re in.
Innocence is fresh. It is utterly open, holds nothing and is completely empty. If you are full of concepts and ideas about life then there is no space for you to experience truth. And the truth is that the kingdom of heaven, whatever your personal idea of what that is, is at hand. You arrived the day you were born, and you were born with peace, love and joy built in, but have been led to believe you have to wait until things are di erent before you can experience what is actually your birthright to enjoy right now. Letting go of what you think you know helps you to step beyond the concepts of the mind to directly experience the truth and peace that is already present.
Remember the innocent baby whose mind is empty of judgments, beliefs and expectation? Over the next few days you are going to explore and play with what it is like to be innocent again.
GAME #1 - Fresh Eyes
Explore what it is like to be completely fresh and innocent with the people in your life. See them with fresh eyes. Let go of any pre-conceived ideas you may have about your partner, parent(s), family members and friends, colleagues and even strangers. Just be with them fully, giving them your 100 per cent attention, as if this is the first and last time you will get to be in their company. Don’t try to manipulate your interactions to gain any specific outcome. Instead, be open to whatever naturally wants to occur. Pretend there is no past and you have no history with anyone. Pretend the people in your life are perfect exactly as they are. that they just want to be happy, experience peace and know they are loved. Your ‘soul task’ is to interact with other people with no expectations. Just be open and curious as to what might happen. Look with fresh eyes and notice how much better life becomes.
GAME #2 - Making the Mundane Magical
Play with what it is like to be completely fresh and innocent with any mundane tasks that you do over the next few days: doing the dishes, the daily commute to work, having a shower, putting your make-up on, tying your tie etc. Pretend these activities are your favourite pastimes and give them your full attention. You are playing with forgetting that something is boring, a person is difficult or anything should happen in any particular way. You are letting go of the notion that you think you’ve gured out this thing called Life. Be innocent like a child, curious and open to whatever happens.
Extract from THUNK (Findhorn Press, 2012)
(Picture of Sandy when he was very young! :-)