A friend’s been taking tiny bits of my course whenever he gets lost, and last night he had the huge epiphany he’s been waiting for; the one where he understands deeply enough that he knows he’s always fine from here on in. And how’s this one different? Why’s he fine? Because he knows now that he can be fine even when he’s not fine. He can live that seeming paradox because now he’s got more dimensions to his universe.
How’d that happen? Hey, that’s a wonderful kind of magic I’d rather not even try to explain. From my perspective I just say the same simple thing a million times in different ways and eventually people hear enough parts of it that they realise I’m describing a diamond that they are only allowed to see a few facets of at a time. Later they realise that their entire life is just them travelling in no particular order around that infinite diamond and they’ll never see all of anyway so they might as well surrender.
Today my friend learned how to close the final gap through a surrendering in his understanding. He was clinging to an ego-tree in the forest of life. He was asking me what tree was his tree? What tree was the right tree for his spirit? I told him his spirit was something in motion. It could cling to an ego and sit still. It takes a lot of energy to avoid experiences by trying to cling to certainty.
Our choices ultimately are that we can swing through the jungle on vines of belief in an area of the forest we know as our territory, or we can can try to own the territory by stopping our motion and by clinging to individual stationary trees. Our egos latch onto an attachment and we wonder what to do about it because suddenly we’ve lost the swinging motion and gravity feels heavier. So that was him. He’s cling to this tree saying, Scott, it really hurts holding onto this tree. How do you hold one so that it doesn’t hurt?
Hurting is holding. There’s no answer to his silly question. The answer is to start swinging again. He needs to stop sitting still trying to figure out why swinging felt better than clinging, he just needs to know from his experience that it’s true and then swing. His reality is just as good as anyone else’s. The rest is just churning around in our consciousness when we could be having fun.
Last night he said, what if I go the wrong way? I tell him there is no wrong way with swinging. You just swing. He says, what about the tension on the vine if I swing too far? I remind him that’s just the universe telling him not to swing so far. He shouldn’t get greedy about an experience. He must be willing to move from moment to moment fluidly, without an attachment to the current vine nor an expectation of the coming one.
You can sit and worry about what’s happened. You can sit and worry about what might happen. Or, you can place your attention on the present moment and actually manage what is happening. One creates a rewarding life, the rest is clinging. You can pay attention to the vine or the tree. It’s always up to you. Heaven and hell.
What my friend did wasn’t amazing, although it felt so amazing he cried. It was just like I told him it was gonna be. It was like he realised that the keys he was looking for were in his hand already. He had trouble believing it it was so easy in the end. He realised everything I had told him was literally true if he just would have gone with me and made the leap. But he found his way the way everyone does; he found his own way and that was just perfect.
I can’t claim I was worried about him. I always knew he was fine. It’s like watching the sky worry about the weather. You wonder, why? You’re so huge, those clouds are so temporary. But thinking is clinging, so he sure thought he wasn’t fine for a while. He still will occasionally feel lost. But at least now he knows that even if I’m not around, he’ll always be able to get himself off the tree and back swinging forward on a vine. And that’s all you could ever really want for someone you love.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.