Being a spiritual aspirant seems to involve a tremendous amount of striving. People are always going to retreats, searching for peak experiences, extending and expanding their practices, and lamenting about falling short of their own expectations. Many get frustrated about their lack of progress and wonder why it is not happening to them. People want instant enlightenment.
If we can sit with an enlightened master, usually expecting this instant enlightenment to be bestowed up on us, they may ask where we are. This usually sets us off on a history of our spiritual development and all of the experiences perhaps sprinkled with pride or frustration. They may ask what we want, and again we set off on a lyrical expedition of the heights we want to attain. We totally miss the question. It is a subtle question… Where are you? Where do you want to be? The answer is the same.
The answer is, I am here. I want to be in the now. This is presence. This is home.
No matter what state of spiritual evolution we may be in, how far or little we may have traveled, and how rigorous our practices are, we can always simply come home. It takes no effort, we simply take a deep breath and bask in the presence that is now. A million sensations are happening in the body to which we are oblivious. And everything around us is unfolding in a billion ways to which we are completely ignorant. Coming home means opening up to all of this here now and taking a rest from a monkey mind that is constantly in the past or future.
So then, why all the practice? Why bother? It’s really quite simple. Leading an embodied spiritual life builds a foundation to stabilize the ability to stay in the presence. At first it is fleeting but after all of the sadhana, it begins to become more and more steady. Equanimity in any situation becomes the experience, and the description that fits is being rather than doing.
In peaceful moments, it’s easy to come home but it’s very hard to stay there. Any disturbance sweeps us away into attachment, preferences, identifications. Spiritual practice enables us to build a house where home is, so that we may rest there more persistently.
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