by Nick Andrea
I have lived my entire adult life looking for some idea or practice that would guarantee my enlightenment. Naturally, I have been drawn to practices like Buddhist meditation, Taoist internal alchemy, and 8-limbed Raja Yoga as foolproof formulas to get me there. After all, the Buddha said we need a raft to cross the river to the shore of enlightenment.
Yet, practicing these things over the years never seemed to get me any closer, though, it did intensify my neurotic need to be other than I was. It also separated me more and more from the present moment and those around me. It wasn’t until I met my teacher that this obsession began to break down.
It began with reading an Eckhart Tolle interview where he is asked, “Does your spiritual practice involve prayer and meditation, or is it more a state of being?,” and replies, “It is more a state of being.” (Reference http://www.eckharttolle.com/article/Spiritual-Awakening-Of-Eckhart-Tolle). It was then that I realized that this great artist of life doesn’t “do” anything to be who he is, he just is. That began a cascade of realizations that culminated with my meeting with my meditation teacher this morning, As I sat with my meditation teacher, Bill Walz. He asked, “What are you when you’re drumming?” I replied, “Being like a child.” He responded, “Then that’s a powerful spiritual practice for you,” because children are not worried about the past, the future, or something outside of this. They are masters of the here and now, and the here and now is where enlightenment is found.
It is walking the dog, cooking dinner, taking a shower. It is being with friends, driving my car, and also sitting quietly breathing and holding root lock. Sitting meditation, hatha yoga, and qigong are not bad practices. After all, they do wonders for the mind and body just like eating well and having a low stress work environment. But these are expressions of enlightenment, not paths to them. We do them because we ARE enlightened, not because we’re not.
Enlightenment is not a thing that can be gained in the future. It can only be found in satisfaction with this moment. It is taking joy in making curried potatoes for a potluck I’m going to, tonight. It is the lush green trees outside my window. It is the cool kangen water I’m drinking out of my mason jar.
What, if not this, are we looking for, and if we’re obsessed with a practice – with one particular expression of enlightenment – how can we be here and now?