Years ago, there was lots and lots of vigilance in my life. Before and during spiritual seeking, I wasn’t badly suffering or in pain or unhappy with circumstances in life or stuck in dysfunctional patterns. Instead, I felt a deep sense of loneliness, alienation, lack of fulfillment, and a strong yearning from the heart and mind to know “What is it all about? What is the purpose of life? What happens after? What are all these mystical truths that are spoken of? Where is fulfillment to be found?” I was very vigilant about it.
Going back 30+ years, I tried many, many different paths, from Ayn Rand’s icy “Rational Selfishness” to the strictness and ecstasy of Born-Again Pentacostal Christianity. Years later, this all settled down to an intense inquiry.
For about 5 years, one question kept itself rooted in front of me. “What is the core of me?” I couldn’t help it – I’d ponder this in every spare moment the mind wasn’t engaged in something else. It was a sweet and relentless yearning. I really wanted to burrow into the deepest secrets of this. After a few years, the question refined itself. “What or where is this choosing, willing entity that seems to be in evidence?” “Is that the me?” “But where is it?”
The answer came one day while I was reading a book about consciousness. I was standing on the Grand Central subway platform during the evening rush hour, and the answer came. It didn’t come as a conceptual statement like “It is ABC.” Rather, it came by way of the world and the body imploding into a brilliant light, and the willing, phenomenal self thinning out, disappearing in a blaze of the same light. No separation was experienced; no time or space was experienced, yet I knew myself as the seeing itself. All “willings,” “desirings,” “thoughts” and other mentations were deeply experienced as spontaneous arisings in awareness, happening around no fixed point or location. And it wasn’t personal. Not only the entity “Greg,” but all apparent personal entities dissolved.
Out of nowhere, lightness, sweetness, brightness, and a fluidity of the world became qualities of everything, and became one with all experiences. My long-standing question had vanished along with what I had believed was “me.” There arose resiliency, joy, and an untouchable happiness.
This experience uncovered the realization that without the conceptual structures that make things seem real, there is no presumption of a separate center. There is no suffering and no basis for suffering. There is no feeling that things should be different than they are. This is a sense of peace far beyond what happens when we get what we dream about.