“What is to give light must endure burning.” Victor E. Frankl
The appearance of the sun prompts a period of outdoor activity in the Highlands. The blanket of cloud that so often covers us is burned away to reveal pristine, blue skies and a landscape illuminated by a source not of this world.
To walk into the light is to be recharged; yet the glare blinds me and obscures my path. I place one foot in front of the other, focusing on one step, then the next; performing a mime of the present moment focus, which is so sought after within modern spirituality.
Yet to live fully in the present runs counter to our everyday existence, as our lives are run by the imposition of time. When we transcend this construct through an altered state of consciousness we catch a glimpse of our emancipated self; but this freedom comes at a price.
To truly live in “The Now” requires us to become comfortable with not knowing what the next moment will bring, even if that is nothing at all. Emptiness, silence and stillness are entry points into what Eckhart Tolle calls “The Presence”; where we can bask in nothingness before the next moment of knowing materialises.
In the beginning of our mindfulness practice, access to “The Presence” is blocked by our thoughts and desire for activity; we must be doing something otherwise we feel we are wasting time. We may become agitated during our meditation, but the discomfort comes not from our inability to master a new skill.
When we embrace stillness we bring more light into our awareness, which illuminates whatever we have buried in the recesses of our mind. Most of us flinch at the contents of our personal Pandora’s Box, yet if we allow the light to blind us and slow our pace we will ultimately find new clarity.
The discomfort we feel while we endure, delaying gratification and feeling our feelings, is not for the faint-hearted and often makes no logical sense. If we are to succeed and achieve we need to know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. But the path of illumination is not about achievement. It is about surrender and allowing, yet so many seekers are pushing themselves towards enlightenment using the futile methods of the ego.
Often when we cease stubbornly forcing ourselves down a preconceived route we gain new inspiration from an unexpected source. Creative solutions abound and alternate doorways open giving us the necessary resources to keep going. The frustration, the delays and uncertainty help us to develop patience and we finally learn that our suffering comes from wanting things to be different.
Spiritual concepts like surrender, detachment and acceptance are not easy to grasp, even though they appear transparent. Our superficial interpretation leads us to decry them as nebulous because we prefer clear instruction and shy away from self-determined discovery. Yet these teachings are as complex as a kaleidoscope that shifts with every person’s perception. We each have a choice in how we apply them to our lives.
To have a multifaceted view of life allows us to eventually see the beauty of any situation, even if it is at first obscured. Finding the diamond in the rough is a skill we learn once our indignation, pain or disappointment has been expended. It allows us to walk on unburdened, invigorated by the wisdom that accompanies any new discovery.