Well, as we wrote in our opening post for this week, the question in the title was sparked by a recent article from Andrew Cohen. It’s a really fundamental question, but one I hadn’t really considered until I read his article. After reading it, however, I realized this question had been at the heart of my journey for a very long time because if you had asked me (until not that long ago) if I was a seeker, I would have said yes. Ever since I abandoned my Catholic upbringing at around age 12 I’d begun looking for something to replace it, and that journey has taken me to all kinds of different places. This quote from Seth would sum up my journey fairly well:
“Creativity is always discontent – and always about new surprises. Therefore, the entity itself is never completed. You are learning to be conscious co-creators. But you do not always know what the creation, in your terms, will be. ~ ESP Class, March 17, 1970.
In other words, I always worked from the basis that the more I learned, the more I realized how little I knew. I sometimes wondered if I would ever reach the point where I had learned so much I realized I knew nothing at all. That may sound like a Zen koan, but it wasn’t intended to be cryptic. Rather, it was simply my overall viewpoint on life. In some ways it might be considered an allegory for what people consider to be the ills of our society – people always wanting ‘more’ – not only because they’re not happy with what they have, but because they’ve been raised to be ‘seekers’. It’s just that nobody’s ever described what it is we’re supposed to be looking for. For some people this seeking has been for wealth or power or fulfillment of a physical nature, and for some it has been spiritual understanding or love or simply a sense of self. For several years my greatest desire was simply to feel ‘whole’.
I was taught when I was younger that physical reality is essentially an ‘earth school’, and using that as a paradigm I worked my way through the grades, accumulating knowledge as I went. Like Jumping Mouse (by Hyemeyohsts Storm), I had this ‘roaring’ in my ears that I had to discover. And so off I went, looking here and there and making discoveries along the way, but I was never ‘done’, never satisfied with what I had but always driven to find more. In Seth’s terms, I was always discontented.
As I said, it wasn’t that long ago that this changed for me. It’s been some years since I first realized that I am ‘whole’ and always have been. But one day, not that long ago, I decided to ‘stop’ for a minute. I remembered an incident from a number of years ago – a coworker and I were driving from Toronto to Ottawa in separate vehicles, but we both had errands to complete before we left. We agreed to meet at a certain location at a certain time and when I finished my errands I went there to wait. I waited, and waited, and waited, and finally realized I was in the wrong spot! Oops. I drove to the ‘correct’ location, only to discover he wasn’t there. Feeling a little foolish, I hurried off down the highway to catch up with him. I drove all the way to Ottawa at a fairly high speed trying to catch up, and when I finally arrived at our hotel I still hadn’t located him. Truth was, I had passed him (unseen) on my way to meet him, and while I had been chasing him all of the way to Ottawa… he was behind me.
So when I decided to stop and take a look at who I was and where I’d been, I realized that I am not a ‘spiritual beginner’; I have no ‘catching up’ to do, in part because everyone’s path is individual. And when I stopped to consider this, all of the knowledge and wisdom I had been accumulating over the years finally caught up with me instead. Does that make me ‘enlightened’? Perhaps. Who knows? As the saying goes, “Before enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water”. In ‘Sacred Fire‘ magazine (issue 11) there’s an article by Zan Jarvis where she makes an attempt to sit quietly by herself for four straight hours. One of the comments she makes is, “We ask each other, ‘What do you do?’ No one ever asks, ‘Can you sit by yourself for two hours?'”
Am I a seeker or a finder? Well, in a way I’m both. The difference for me now is that I’m actually allowing myself to find things. To me a seeker is someone who looks and looks and looks but doesn’t see. A finder is someone who sees, always. In seeing, s/he comes to know and appreciate what’s there, what has been, and what’s coming – content with the knowledge of what is and what will be.
Today’s Tut quote is:
“Ask not for what is already yours.
Instead, celebrate it… in advance of its inevitable arrival if necessary.”
Therein lies the difference. As a finder I continue to learn, but I’m not driven to do so. I’ve slowed myself down, mentally at least (although Marcia says I can’t sit still for very long). I still seek knowledge, but I’m equally willing to allow what I’m searching for to find me instead. And in being a Finder I have more time to celebrate who I am and what I have learned, while still anticipating what is yet to come.
P.S. Andrew’s article focuses a lot on ‘spiritual practice’, and it reminded me of ‘Hsing I’. In the martial arts world Hsing I is one style of internal martial arts from China, sometimes known as five-pattern form. ‘Hsing’ means to form something and ‘I’ means to project a thought or to create something in the mind, so the style is about using mental processes to actuate physical movement. It’s said that a beginner would have neither the Hsing nor the I, and a practitioner would first develop the Hsing (the movements) but not the I (the intention). A master would display neither the Hsing nor the I because both would become integrated within. Similarly, in t’ai chi it’s said that one goes through three stages of learning: the hands move the body; the body moves the hands; the mind moves the body.
Follow this link to read Marcia’s View.