I was reading about mysticism a couple of days ago. It was an excerpt about someone describing the excruciating pain of coming out of a mystical state, when he realized the horror of having had an experience of ‘God’ or ultimate Union and then coming back to ordinary life. He expressed how such moments continued to come sporadically, but he wanted them constantly.
I knew so well the satisfaction of losing self in a perception of supreme power and love, that I was unhappy because that perception is not constant.
[NOTE: I apologize for not being able to offer the source of this quote, since it belongs in the footnotes of a handout I received and the origin is not clear].
Reading this, I wondered…
What if the pervasive notion that we are not enough, is really a reflection (projection?) of a sense that this (this life, this right here, this moment) is not enough for us?
It’s so addictive, isn’t it? Once we experienced something that massive and pleasurable, whether it’s the high of Union, orgasm, a drug, the chemistry of falling in love… We want more, and we want it all the time.
We are constantly seeking feeling better, only sporadically being satisfied with life as it is in the moment. Always looking forward to the time when X or Y happens, or when we are finally perfect or enlightened or achieve whatever goal we have in mind.
Perhaps it is not us that are not enough but that life as it is (with its ups and downs, highs and lows, pain and ecstasy) is less than what we think it should be. It should be easier, it should be happier, it should be smoother.
Should it, really?
We then turn those shoulds around and point them to ourselves.
If life is not easier, happier, smoother, it must be because we’re not enough. We’re not doing it right. We just haven’t figured it out. Right?
But there is nothing to figure out.
This is most beautifully and succinctly illustrated by the Buddha’s Flower Sermon.
One day, Buddha sat down in front of all his followers holding a flower, smiling slightly but without saying a word. Everyone was trying to figure out the significance. What was Buddha saying, without saying anything? Why was he holding that flower?
One of his longtime students, Mahakasyapa, kept looking at Buddha and wondering. What was going on??
And then it struck him… and he started laughing. Buddha turned and smiled at him, knowing he got it:
There is nothing to get.
It was just a flower, beautiful/fragrant/’etc adjective’ for being a flower and nothing else.
Life is this flower.
There is nothing to figure out. There is just living it.
But how could that be??
We run away from this realization because it’s so ridiculously uncomfortable.
It’s inevitable conclusion is that there is no rhyme or reason to things, and we have no real basis on which to make choices about how we live our lives. (‘Is this path better than the other?’)
When there is nothing to get, we are left with the complete arbitrariness of our options and that makes us come face to face with not being in control. There must be a reason to pick this over that, otherwise, how can I choose?? How do I know I got it right?
We still try to figure it out.
And around and around we go, in our quest to make life something other than what it is. In our quest to get it right, make it better, grasp the ever elusive prize of a ‘life well-lived’.
Yet it’s the striving for living a life well lived that fills us with the anxiety of us, and/or it, not being enough.
This anxious striving out of a sense of Life not being what we think it should be, of Life not being enough for us, is exactly what prevents us from being at peace with the moment and feeling content (and maybe even happy) with our lives as they are.
The search prevents the arrival.
When will we learn?
What if we let Life have it’s ups and downs? What if we let go of trying to make it something that it’s not, and lived it on its own terms? What if we forgave it its craziness and unpredictability?
What if we stopped chasing and let Life, and ourselves, be enough?
What if we searched, not out of ‘not enoughness,’ but out of a sense playing this game we call Life?