The journey of awakening is the journey of self-discovery. John Calvin said, “Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God. Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1536).” To know thyself: is this the ultimate journey? Is it to know God? Or is it the journey to understand all beings and our connection? Perhaps all three journeys are one in the same – you cannot embark on one without discovering the others along the way. The deeper you go, the more is revealed that all three are the same: you as a “Self”, God, and all beings everywhere.
Only after stripping ourselves of the philosophical, religious and spiritual premises of our upbringing and culture, can we quiet ourselves in order to hear – for perhaps the first time – the small inner voice of truth. For me and for many, this is a journey that began in my early 20s, at a liberal arts college that challenged me to question everything I’d ever been told. I “came out” to my conservative Christian parents as a spiritual pluralist at 20. Seven years later, the discovery of mindfulness meditation cracked my journey open and transformed it into a whole new spiritual experience. The longing to authentically document this journey in the hopes that it might help others along the path is what led me to create this blog.
This series focuses on the 6 basic truths I’ve gathered on this journey so far through meditation and quiet contemplation. A practice of pure presence and a desire to peel away the ego reveals a pure light just below the surface, that I believe is identical within each and every one of us. Any escape that takes us away from the present moment – obsessively replaying the “movie” of the past in our minds over and over, or anxiously turning over the possibilities of the future and what is lurking right around the corner – can inhibit us from basking in this light. Eckhart Tolle isn’t wrong to call non-presence insanity (The Power of Now, 1997), which he equates with sin and unconsciousness. Only by stripping down my incessant identification with my thoughts and pain did the clouds of suffering part long enough for me to hear the quiet voice whispering to me these 6 basic truths or “noticings” I now consider foundational to my spiritual practice:
- All beings long for connection.
- Fear is the opposite of love, and the cause of our suffering.
- Presence is our true home and the cure for our suffering.
- Everything is impermanent, and that is a reason for joy.
- We long for connection because we are all one. I am you, you are me.
- All will be well.
In this series, we’ll delve into each learning, its manifestation in spiritual traditions, and the connection between them.