I wanted to share a slightly abridged extract from Adyashanti’s book ‘Emptiness Dancing’, for it is something that had a profound effect on me and afterward I will explain how.
“Everything is consciousness. Everything is God. Everything is One. Seeing that everything is One shoots a hole in trying to pin the pendulum swing of experience in any particular place. If it’s all One; it’s no more One when the pendulum is in the high state than when the pendulum is over in some other state.
Zen teachers don’t explain anything in an abstract way, which is both the beauty and the terror of it. My teacher’s way of explaining this would be to hold up his staff and say, “This is Buddha.” Then he would bang it on the ground and everyone would think, “Wow! That’s really wild Zen stuff. I wish I knew what he was talking about.” Then he would go -- bang, bang, bang, bang -- and he would say, “This is Zen. This is it!” And everyone would react, “Oh, wow!” People would wonder, “What? Where?” but nobody would say that. “It couldn’t be THAT because he’s just beating a stick on the ground.”
Since it’s not all One to the mind, the mind keeps looking for it, “Where is it? What state is it?” Because the me references everything to its own emotional state, that’s what it uses to decide what is true. It thinks that what is true is always a spiritually high emotional state, but this stick pounding is not a very spiritually high emotional state. Then, to make it worse, to make it more horrifying, he would say, “This is a concrete description of the truth. This is Buddha. This is not abstract.” Then we would really be defeated.
It’s a real blessing to have a teaching that insists upon being concrete, because he could just have said, as I sometimes do, “Everything is consciousness. It’s all One.” Then the mind thinks, “I got it. I’ll buy that. I know what that means.” But when a stick bangs on the ground and the teacher says, “That’s it!” you can’t wrap your mind around it. The banging of the stick is as much God as you’re ever going to get. Everything else after that is an abstraction, a movement away from the fact.
[...] There is no experience that is more the truth than any other experience, because in the centre of it all, there is no seeker. Right here, there is nothing. All is One.
You will discover there is no little “me” in the centre occupying the space. Without this me in the centre, there is nobody to judge whether a given experience is the right experience or whether it is spiritual. Do you get it? This is it! When my teacher banged his stick on the ground, he showed that everything was arising out of the centre where nothing is. All is an expression of that centre and is not separate from that centre. If you don’t see it HERE, you’re not going to see it anywhere. This is the Great Release -- the release from having to change anything to get to the Promised Land or to search for the enlightened experience. The enlightenment experience is that nothing needs to change. In fact, you can see from here that enlightenment itself is not an experience. And it’s not a spiritual high.”
I found, and continue to find, an extraordinary power in these words. They cut through one of the most pervasive and tragic lies which sits at the very heart of most forms of spirituality: that enlightenment is an end-state that we must strive toward, some experience or state of consciousness that we have to acquire, something that we can ‘add’ to ourselves. That is the mind’s concept of enlightenment and it is rooted in our culture’s prevailing mindset of subject and object, acquire and accumulate. This could not be further from the truth. As long as you seek enlightenment, you’ll never find it. Because you ARE it. Not in some distant time in a mind-projected future, but HERE...and NOW.
“This is it!”
I will never forget those words. Whenever I find myself buying into the delusion that I need anything to be any different to the way it it is, that I can’t be at peace with a certain situation, that something is ‘wrong’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be happening, I remind myself that “This is it!”
Experiences come and go -- our emotional state rises and falls, for no experience can sustain itself indefinitely, or even necessarily for very long. And that’s OK. But the delusion is that when things aren’t going the way the mind thinks they ought to be, that when we aren’t feeling as good as we might like on an emotional or physical level, that this is somehow an experience that isn’t ‘right’ or isn’t ‘spiritual’ and that we cannot be at peace or happy until we’ve changed it.
We might intellectually understand that all things are One, and yet until we actually move into the full realisation of this, our minds and egos continue to cut reality into chunks and label them ‘good’ and ‘bad’. We’re happy when we experience the ‘good’ and unhappy when we experience the ‘bad’. But this isn’t wholeness; it’s divisiveness. With the mind we’re created both God and Satan, heaven and hell.
But when we truly realise that “This is it!” -- This! Here! NOW! -- the mind loses its power to dissect and divide. If it truly is all One, then it’s ALL One, not just the bits we deem desirable and pleasant. No experience can be MORE part of the Unity than any other. Sitting on the toilet is just as spiritual as sitting on a cushion chanting mantras. If it’s all One, then how can it ever not be One?
And similarly dawns the realisation that, if it’s all One, then at this very moment you are as ‘spiritual’ as you will ever be. You cannot be ‘more’ or ‘less’ spiritual...you ARE what are. You cannot add anything to yourself, for you ARE already everything! Of course, paradoxically, the mind may obscure this fact -- so maybe the spiritual journey, if it can be called that, is simply a means of removing the blinders and realising that you ALREADY ARE that which you seek. It’s not about adding anything to yourself in any way, it’s maybe more about subtracting whatever obscures your direct realisation that “This is it!” As Joseph Campbell once said; “Eternity is not the hereafter. This is it. If you don’t get it now, you won’t get it anywhere.”
I happened to be reading those profoundly insightful words by Adyashanti while sitting in the waiting room of a hospital dermatology clinic. I was going to get a strange lesion on my ribs checked out. Incredibly struck by the great ‘Aha!’ realisation sparked by the words, I went in and was told that it appeared to be a form of skin cancer. I just nodded, interested and almost bemused. I wasn’t bothered in the slightest. Why should I have been? “This is it!” This experience was no more or less Divine than any other.
Now, fortunately it was a relatively minor form of skin cancer, but I wasn’t really bothered in the slightest. It was interesting watching other people’s reactions: the ‘c-word’ has a profound affect on people. But I knew that everything would be taken care of, as it always is...or it wouldn’t be and I’d just have to accept it, and that was fine as well.
It’s the tendency of the mind to cut in and start freaking out about things, but I think my mind was stunned into submission by my astonishing realisation that “This is it!” Everything was taken care of. I admit that the most arduous part of the whole incident was the pain of the wound after the operation (it was an awkward place) and that kind of knocked my spirits for a while, but that soon passed as well. No part of the experience was any “less Divine” than any other experience I’ve ever had.
Now, I’m not saying that this realisation sticks with me 24/7. The mind has such tremendous gravity and before long it was up to its old tricks again, attempting to divide and conquer its perception of reality. But, even now, the moment I recall those three powerful words: “This is it!”, the mind usually recoils and crawls back under its rock, immediately letting go of whatever it’s been grasping onto. An immediate sensation of letting go happens. Tension dissolves and resistance diminishes. Life seems simpler and more peaceful again.
So that’s what I wanted to share. Remember the stick being banged upon the ground and the words “This is it!” (Hey, maybe I should get a t-shirt printed!) The experience that you’re having RIGHT NOW, whether the mind deems it good or bad, pleasing or displeasing, spiritual or unspiritual, is an experience of the Oneness...and is as much “God” as you will ever get, for there is ‘more than’ or ‘less than’ when it comes to One (it’s either ALL One, or none of it is).
That can be very sobering, especially when you’re not feeling so great physically or emotionally, but usually I find that whenever I make this recognition -- “This is it!” -- striving begins to diminish and the need to seek and acquire or make myself or my experience somehow ‘better’ or ‘more holy’ falls away. A great space opens up and in that space, all things are right. I see that everything is already perfect as it is, for it is all part of the Oneness and can never NOT be part of the Oneness, beyond our mental misperception that it isn’t.
And why would that be the case? Because, altogether now: “THIS IS IT!”