Most people love to explore. They hear of a place they want to see and then make some kind of plan that will take them there. It might be a nature walk or a trip to the beach, but whatever it is, it is something that excites the heart and makes life fun and interesting.
One of the things I’ve heard a lot about and that stimulates my own curiosity is “concepts”. I wanted to find out if I could find a concept and maybe take one home with me and place in a special place in our home.
One of the concepts that sounded especially appealing was the one called Freedom. Wouldn’t it be great if I could find this concept in the actual world of experience, take it home and show it off to my friends and family? I couldn’t wait to get started on my new journey.
But before I began my trip, I wanted to do a little research to help me find this concept. So I googled: “Where can I find freedom” and my computer came up with about 2.35 billion possibilities. It turns out that Freedom is all over the place. You can find it anywhere!
But as I started to go over the list of 2.35 billion possibilities, what seemed so easy started to feel a little murky. This Freedom thing was something that people describe and talk about all the time, but it is not nearly so easily found and possessed. I really wanted my own little piece of freedom and it was beginning to feel like getting even a very small piece of Freedom was going to be a little more tricky than what I first thought.
I decided to consult with an expert. So I called my local university and asked to be connected to their Department of Travel and Leisure Studies. But when I was told that there are not actual fields of study with that name, I asked the friendly person on the line, where I could get some help in finding Freedom. I could tell that person on the other side was sounding a little confused about a question that seemed very simple and straight-forward to me. With a growing sense of frustration, she asked me, “What are you searching for?”. I said, “I just need a little direction in finding Freedom.” I could hear a little anger seeping into her voice when she demanded, “Is this a prank call?” I said “No, I’m sorry you have that impression. I just wanted to find out if I could locate a common concept in the actual world and was looking for a little help with that.”
She hung up on me. Maybe I should have called the Philosophy Department directly or maybe the Department of Hospitality.
It occurred to me that maybe I’m not asking the right question. So I went back to the drawing boards.
Freedom, even with its 2.35 billion Google hits had proved to be an elusive target. So I decided to lower the bar a little. Goodness seemed to be a simpler concept to find. I wanted just a little piece of goodness to place in my still completely empty Concept Collection.
I decided to skip the whole computer thing and just got into my car and ventured out into the country in search of goodness. First I ventured South to the land of cotton and gracious plantation houses where kindly gentlemen and ladies reclined in their woven settees and imbibed in colorful highballs. I did manage to see many men and women in towns that grew very dark as the sun descended just as the hard lights of hundreds of fast food dining establishments turned themselves on, as if to fight the night … so I did find hamburgers a’plenty, along with motels, highways, piney woods, and gas stations, but goodness eluded me.
So I went North to the land of ice and snow and then I went East to the land of great cities and finally I ventured West to the mountains and valleys. I saw a world filled with sights. I saw parents walking their children hand-in-hand accompanying them to their school bus stop, I saw millions staring into bright blue screens inside tight, little cubicles, I saw old folks wandering the brightly lit aisles of vast, palatial discount stores. I saw paper and plastic blowing across the roads, I saw deserts and mountains, I saw seabirds flying and seemingly laughing their way across blue skies, I saw millions of cows marching through black, fecal fields to their slaughter to make product for the hamburger stores. I saw all of this, but I could never find any actual goodness.
It had also occurred to me, that I could not locate any actual badness either. As confused as ever, I decided to end my grand search.
I sat on the edge of a canyon and pondered my many questions.
Above me lay a great field of stars twinkled in a crystal clear, cold Vermont night-sky. I saw everything around me, everything, seemingly, inside of me.
And then this question happened onto me, “Can I find myself in this great world?”
I looked around and something stirred from deep within.
Just to my right, in the bright sunlight of a Pennsylvania mid-July stood my deceased father. I was a very little boy and I looked up to him as I might look up to a God. He looked straight ahead with a smile on his face. He was holding a golf club, for he loved golf. I could feel him next to me.
I lowered myself to the living ground and felt it in my hands as I sensed the story of me, of my dad, of my mom, of my brother, of my relatives, of this world. Many of them are dead and yet here all of them were assembling in the clouds of memory, need, and exploration.
Was this me?
As I saw all of this around me I sought to obtain just a very small piece of this me, something I could keep and hold, something I could place, with reverence, on our mantel. This too eluded me.
Who was it that is so eluded?
Who was it that could not possess anything? Who was it that could find only nothing … yet everything?
I went home.
I could conjure these concepts in this mind. I could conjure up those old memories, the world seemed to conjure itself before me, but this “thing” that resided in the middle of it all, this thing I have long referred to as “me”, what was that? I had to wonder if “me” was the right word that could describe this sense of being in the middle of everything.
There was a man who called himself a Guru who said that human beings need to realize the power of love in this life to usher in what he called an Age of Aquarius. This thing he called love was, to my level of understanding, no different from freedom, goodness,badness, or even me. Each is only a concept.
But before you draw any conclusions, please consider this.
You are the first person to ever have been. You are surrounded by the wild world. Can you find badness as opposed to goodness? Can you see freedom in contrast with enslavement?
In this world no such entities exist. These words, these concepts are just stuff of a psyche cut-off from its own direct experience.
What is there then?
In this wild world there is just this free from of any projected concept, judgment, preference or evaluation. There is just the world itself. Is the world enough?
So if you get into your car and take a ride to find yourself, I can tell you what you’ll find, no matter how carefully you look. You’ll find what is already here.
One day a young man named Eric went out in search for enlightenment. He read all the guide books. He spoke to people who claimed that they had found this elusive place those same people who claimed that they new that pathway there.
Eric was given many instructions on how to find enlightenment and he followed them all. And just like the search for freedom, goodness and love, there was no where in the whole universe where enlightenment could be found, for a concept can never be found. It is just a passing thought, a non-thing, an echo of a need, a odd-knocking about from the land of Lack.
As a seeker, this “me” was on the periphery looking at this world, as if from the outside looking in. Now, with the seeking put aside, it is the world itself that is like a vast periphery with me in its elusive center.
And then I found it all.
I found it in the one place where I had never searched. In this place I found enslavement, freedom, hate, love, badness and goodness and everything else.
And so it is said:
We had to take the journey that starts here and ends here.
As long as we on the circular road, the truth was everywhere but everywhere was way too easy for us hard-working seekers. We knew better. Life is a poor substitute for the “me”!
Goodness, love, caring and patience exist in two places; they exist as ugly shadows produced by fearful egos who demand that they appear better than what they believe they are and … they exist free in this moment when all seeking, when all concepts, when all beliefs are seen as the phantasms they truly are.
The greatest and most perplexing phantasm is the “me” itself. The lost soul in search for itself.
The seeker is inspired by concepts and he will find none. Until that is seen, the seeking will continue. The search for what exists exclusively in the mind is an infinite search. Both the seeker and that which he seeks are concepts … mind stuff. The seeking for happiness, security or enlightenment … they are the veils. Forget the phantoms and find out what is real.
If you have to, imagine a world free of all concepts, including love and happiness. What is that world like? This is the actual world, but the world of concepts is the fiction. There are no winners or losers … there are NO CONCEPTS. Your seeking is done.
Do you truly want to “go with the flow”? I can tell you where that stream is, but you need to abandon all your dream and hopes to find the one true stream, you need to realize that every concept, no matter how beautiful and spiritual it might sound to your ego-brain, is a phantom … especially the one that goes by the false name of Me.
It is here and its name is This.
Ponder deeply this post and all questions will have been answered.