(Concluded from Part 1, yesterday.)
The Present Moment and Reality
It was at this time in my exploration that I saw something else. I saw that there was a vast difference between the reality of this moment – right here, right now – and the thoughts or “stories” I was telling myself. I saw that what we call “reality” is not found in my thoughts.
Reality could be said to be a very pointed, “here-and-now” thing. Reality was found in the present moment. The cool of the orange juice passing down my throat. The sunshine coming through the kitchen window. My partner across from me. Her request to “pass the scones.” This was real life.
Real life was shot with “presence.” And real life was meant to be experienced.
My thoughts and stories were ideas, “descriptions,” interpetations, words after the fact. They were not real life. This was an enormous discovery.
Something shifted in my life when I began to acknowledge and desire only reality. As a practice, to let go, drop into the experience of this moment, this here-and-now.
It was at this point that life gave rise to a delightful simplicity, an ease, a grace of its own.
Living in Inquiry
At this point in my exploration, I met the author Byron Katie through her best selling book Loving What Is.
“Katie,” as she’s called, designed an exciting and powerful way to examine and inquire into our thoughts and their impact on our experience of life.
She proposes that all our stress and suffering is caused whenever we “quarrel with reality.” She suggests it is our quarrel with “what is,” the wanting things to “be some other way” that was the source of our unhappiness.
For Katie, the way to end suffering was to investigate and question our thoughts behind it. To do this, she invented a set of four simple yet profound questions. Questions which, when asked and engaged in authentically, produce release and new perspectives.
The inquiry teaches freedom through the very thoughts that are creating our stress or unhappiness; eg., “My wife doesn’t support me,” “Work is so stressful,” “My boss is controlling,” “My teacher never liked me, “My son never listens.”
Katie promises that, with practice, anyone can do this. This is living openly, not attached to thought, in a state of questioning.
All is Well
My work continued. Using the tools of inquiry, I saw that when I began to watch and question my stressful thoughts, there was an authentic sense of release.
With the practice of falling into this present moment, an ease and joy seemed to awaken in me. I began to experience an exciting new possibility of being happy, being satisfied.
By watching openly, quietly, without believing many of my thoughts, long-held stories of quarrel, judgment, and resistance to life disappeared. Life became lighter and simpler. I was left open, quite empty, and present.
As I learned to become still, I saw that the fact was that I already was free and satisfied! The natural state in my life – in life, period – was free and peaceful. (1)
I saw I had made a mistake: Nothing was wrong.
There may be a real-life situation or challenge to respond to, but nothing was wrong. The truth of my experience was now becoming “All is well,” every moment. The stillness prevailed.
My search into happiness was bearing fruit. I was getting my hands on the magic wand. I was discovering what it took to look after my own satisfaction and well-being.
Today it has become my joy and passion to share this exploration with others.
(1) Steve: The natural state = Sahaja.