The other day my friend quipped: “ I love an adventure, as long as I know where I’m going!” Ain’t that the truth? The whole truth of the matter is that an adventure both repels us and attracts us. In either case- repulsion or attraction, there’s always this underlying reluctance –let’s call it what it is –fear. Fear is always about the future and the unknown. It’s something vague but definitely there. Something intangible but really…felt. We could call this apprehension the spirit of adventure, but it’s really the fear of it!
How often have we said, or heard it said, that “life is an adventure?” Well, live long enough, and experience enough personal 9/11’s, and all our sense of adventure gets worn thin as our relationships. And one day we come to the crossroads.
Looking back, down the roads we think we’ve travelled, we see mostly pot holes, smoke and rubble, and ahead, we smell more of the same! All the ideas and ideals that we thought would bring us a kind of comfort, no longer please, no longer ease. And in those quiet, reflective moments, our knowledge, our core concepts, are seen for what they are: the pitted surface map of a scorched territory, but not the territory itself. Fortunately, (and we might add, gracefully) it dawns on us that nothing real is lost with that usually painful recognition that something really, intensely, important, has gone missing! In fact, we’ve finally found our built-in GPS!
Our navigation system is this inherent Truth. Not our concepts about it, but the thing itself. Beyond words – even those beautifully sacred four – letter words that ring “True” for us, like “Hope” and “Love”. Way, way beyond! To, and directly through, “Fear”. We step, fall and are pushed ( often with some kicking and screaming! ) into that clear, open space of Unknowing everything. There is then nothing to believe in, no road to take, or side to take; no person to be, no person to become.
Being now fearless and personless, we lose all our connections with the man or woman we thought we were. We’re rendered “I”less. How “I” feel, what “I” think about what’s happening, even what was revered as “Good”, is now seen and known to be simply irrelevant.
We discover that the only place we were ever comfortable, is in fidelity to the truth of this impersonal being. The personal fortress of our beliefs, begins to come down all around us. Those miles of perimeter fencing our ego erected to protect its territory, are breached by the cold hard wire cutting shears of Reality. And those impenetrable, towering inner walls surrounded by deep moats? They’re simply overflown by Love! And now we take comfort in being what we always are- fully, intimately, human and divine. Both are seen and recognized as One.
It’s a kind of not-twoness that’s hard to describe, but plainly obvious. For instance, let’s take this old Indian saying Ramana Maharshi used in 1939:
“Dog seen, stone is not seen.
Stone seen, dog is not seen.”
This saying was commonly mis-understood and thought to mean: “ whenever I see that mangy dog, I can’t find a stone to throw at it!” And vice versa! But what the saying really means relates to a story about two stone dogs guarding a doorway. They’re carved and painted so exceptionally well that they look like they are real dogs with sharp teeth; that is until you see the stone they’re made of – then the vicious “dogs” are no longer seen!
Well, it’s kinda like that with us! We’re both human and divine, and when we focus on one aspect only we lose sight of the other! Similarly, with our ideas; when we believe them and take them to be real and true, rather than representations of what is real and true, we lose sight of the actual reality. Our believed thoughts isolate and seemingly create a separate and distinct “Me” from “You”, when in truth, there is no such critter, stone or otherwise!
In reality, the stone dogs in our mind, have no bark and no bite. Or as they might say in the South: “ them dogs won’t hunt!” It’s our ideas about them that create the fear. All ideas that comfort are grounded in fear; they themselves have no foundation, no base, in reality, except to speculate, ruminate and recreate our false world-views.
That which knows what is true is not this bundle of ideas that are strung together to produce this “I “called “me”. That which knows without knowing, is what we are – all one fearless Self. And that Self, ultimately, is an immense comfort –a wordless joy!