I had a dream the other night, of which I remember only part… I was an explorer, an adventurer, in a foreign city, in some exotic and tropical land. I was planning an expedition into uncharted wilderness, searching for a mysterious and legendary place – some sort of Shangri-La in the jungle. I was saying my goodbyes to a woman that I loved dearly, who was afraid of losing me, afraid that I might never return. What I remember most vividly is my last words to her before I awoke:
“To go where I am going, to find what it is I seek, I will have to lose myself completely.”
These words have lingered in my mind as an enduring truth, a message from the hazy world of dreams with an obvious relevance to my waking life. The spiritual path is much like this journey into the wilderness; all is uncertain. No map there, no guide – just one’s faith and intuition, and the soul’s powerful longing to return to God.
Sure, there are a lot of books out there… many prophets and sages have gone before, and left behind their stories and teachings to show us the way. But the experiences of others can only take you so far. All of the sacred writings of every culture in the world are still in the world – the world of form, that is. Tradition and ritual can never take you beyond form, to that which is formless and eternal.
To go back to the dream analogy: as long as you are abiding in a system of set beliefs, a strict code of conduct – as long as you are following the rules and teachings of someone else – you are still inside the city limits. If we wish to find Shangri-La (i.e. the kingdom of heaven, the abode of everlasting peace and happiness) then we must one day leave behind the familiar and the comfortable and go where there are no well-worn paths. When we are no longer content with second-hand accounts of God, we must each set out to find our own way, and as the Buddha advised, “work out our own salvation.”
An ancient yogic saying goes, “That which the mind cannot think, but by which the mind is able to think – this is Brahman.” In other words, God is unknowable, inconceivable. So anything that you can think of, put into words, and understand clearly is not it! So if you really want to experience God directly, you must delve into the realm of the unknown – whatever ultimate reality lies beyond form, beyond thought, beyond emptiness… To reach that place of mystic Oneness, you must ultimately lose yourself – you must cease to be a separate being searching for God, and merge completely with the Infinite.
In the immortal words of Lao-Tzu, “All a fish needs is to get lost in water. All a man needs is to get lost in Tao.“
So get lost! Leave behind all that is certain. Question your beliefs, the traditions of your family, your religion and culture. Question who and what you are, and all that seems to define you, and limit you. Learn to be comfortable with mystery, with uncertainty. Learn to rest in the place of not-knowing – because that is the place where God is found. That openness of heart and mind is how we experience the Presence.
The spiritual path is one of constant transformation and ongoing revelation – surrendering to Spirit, moment by moment, and opening to love, and to the mystery of the universe. It is an incredible journey, one that I am truly grateful to share with each of you. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Light.
Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas!