The Illuminated Rumi is a beautiful compilation of poetry, translated by Coleman Barks and illustrated by Michael Greene. Below is one of the translated poems by thirteenth century ecstatic poet, Jelaluddin Rumi:
I have lived on the lip of insanity,
Wanting to know reasons,
Knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!
As Rumi so poetically pointed out in the above poem, you are already on the inside. You are what you are seeking. There isn't even a door to open, so there is no need for knocking. You are Awake and the Forever Now is timeless. One step into time and you are captivated by conditioned thought.
Practices require a practitioner and a practitioner requires time. Time is the past ego, which is the practitioner. You do not need to practice being present. You can be no other. Awareness is in spite of all appearances in Consciousness. Is it not true that you are aware when you are conscious and you are aware when you are unconscious? You are conscious Awareness and That is Awake. Effort to be aware is only the mind. The practitioner's effort protects the ego. Surrender all ideas of becoming and simply be. In the stopping, you see that everything is happening by itself. You are flowering into Presence and a beautiful flower does not need to practice in order to bloom. There is no place to go and there is nothing to do, but to realize and be who you really are, not who you think or desire yourself to be. ‘Thinking’ and ‘desiring’ are activities of the ego. Instead, be true to effortless Being, with a willingness to ‘not know’ who you are. Awareness then discerns impermanence.
For example and by analogy, if you were to imagine that you were identified with being a wave on the surface of the ocean, you would notice that the wave is temporary and impermanent. The wave moves as it comes and goes. In the recognition of impermanence, your identification with being a wave would be realized as false. By surrendering change, your realization would bring you closer to who you really are. In your willingness to not know who you are, you would remain present and watchful for change. Continuing our analogy, perhaps you would then observe that you were really the ocean, until you felt the push and pull of the tides. By relinquishing the tides, you would dissolve into the stillness of the ocean's depth. The nuances of mind become evermore subtle and perhaps even the depth of the ocean would seem to come and go, to be impermanent, and therefore you would further surrender. Maybe, you would recognize that the essence of both ocean and wave seems to be water, so you would diffuse into being water. However, even water changes form, so it would be recognized as impermanent, as you would realize vapor. All the while, you rest as the cutting edge of Presence, which is the permanence of still attention.
And so it is with awakening. By being present and unchanging, you are able to discern that which changes. When changing is noticed, the surrender spontaneously occurs. Then, you remain still to discern deeper change. This discernment is the permanence of living Truth within you. One could say that it is a process of elimination, in constant recognition of what you are not. Immovable permanence easily recognizes and eliminates as false the moving and changing. You surrender all coming and going, all becoming and escaping, and all moving toward and pushing away.
When you assume a practice, you are essentially agreeing to the becoming process. You practice in order to become who you want to be in the future. You cannot become the now-ness of Self Being. You are not in the future and neither is now. You and Now are here already, is it not so? When you are involved in the becoming process, you cannot be present to realize who you are. Practicing is maintaining the belief that you can attain in the future, what you are not now. Becoming is avoidance of now. Only the ego practices and thereby maintains and prolongs its survival as the imaginary doer. In Truth, there is no practitioner. Practicing is ego's strategy of postponement. It is a moving away from who you are. Why do you need to practice to be who you already are? A mountain doesn't practice to be a mountain for the future. A mountain is a mountain now. By practicing, you conceal the infinite treasure for which you are searching. Even searching is too much doing. There is no seeker. This is the same delusion. You do not need to search for inherent Being. Furthermore, if there is an expectation of finding a treasure, that is too much. Expectation is future and you cannot be present, when you are in expectation. Essentially, you release all obstacles that cause you to believe that you are not the now-ness of Self Being.
Who searches? "I." Who expects? "I." Who tries? "I." Who practices? "I.'' The image of ‘I’ is the ego. To remove the knot of obstruction, ‘I’ ask the question, "Who am I?" Follow the ‘I’ thought back to its Source within you. Ask the question and then listen intensely. This question removes the idea of the practitioner, who is a figment of imagination. The one making the effort is the problem, so to speak. You have only to recognize what is here now by sitting quietly and patiently Being. Through observation, you discover what is real and what is not. Like a magnet, Grace draws ‘you’ in. Be here now, as you truly are. "Is Presence here?" Yes, and you are That.
For most activities, you can practice, but not for enlightenment. You can practice in order to learn to ice skate, to ride a bike, or to paint a picture. However, why practice being quiet, when your very nature is quietude? Instead of seeking to attain, you seek the one who attains. Follow that one back to its Source. Practices can sometimes provide a temporary ‘fix’ but the result is not permanent. It is through Presence, not practice that you discover that which is permanent within you. Self-realization is not something that you can attain. You cannot become an enlightened Being. Self Being is who you already are. Through Presence, you cut through the layers of conditioning, in order to reveal what is really here. So, practices are pointless postponements. Your salvation is the revelation of the Self, which is obscured by the practitioner and its practices.
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