There is, in general, a “thing”. A person, relationship, situation, or health issue. A thing that is crucially important to fix, resolve or manage before we’re OK.
If we’re honest, most of us have got one. The thing that keeps us awake at night. The thing that dominates our thoughts. The thing that we constantly barter with the universe for. The thing that, once settled, will be the foundation of our happiness. The thing we can’t live without (or with). The thing no spiritual understanding can touch.
What is the thing for you? Is it your partner, your finances, your job, your boss, your health? Or even your own expectations of yourself?
But . . . (you knew there was a “but”, right?)
But, the thing is, the “thing” is never the thing.
Which sounds faintly ridiculous, until we bring it closer.
The person, relationship, situation, or health issue is real. The reaction to it, also real. Those deep feelings of need, regret, unfairness or indignation, most definitely real. And here’s our clue. The strength of those feelings. None of the gentleness of desire, or the clarity of passion. The thing brings with it sticky, unpleasant feelings.
Yet that stickiness does not indicate how important it is for the thing to be resolved. It points to an underlying resistance. A nameless, deeply held resistance. Because long after unhelpful beliefs have disappeared, feelings linger in dark corners.
This all adds up to the fact that if this thing were no longer the thing, another thing would take its place. How many of those widely considered to be rich, famous and successful are still deeply unhappy?
Absent of the thing, what does the feeling look like? What texture does it have? What flavour? Where does it sit? In the pit of your stomach, in your heart, behind your eyes? Does it suck you in like quicksand, or does your attention deflect off it so fast you almost don’t notice it?
Bring that feeling closer. Ask this: on whose behalf is this feeling held? The honest answer will always be “on behalf of who I am not”. You might not be ready for the answer yet. And that’s OK.
What is this feeling made of?
First, it is made of the idea of separation. An island of independent tension in the vast open space of awareness. And the idea of separation will always spawn complexity, the quest for meaning, and a sense of need. The need to be whole, complete, unlimited, free, abundant and unbroken.
And this sense of need is real. It springs from a deep echo, the echo of our true nature, which is eternally whole, complete, unlimited, free, abundant and unbroken. But with the idea of separation, we feel distant from this essence.
Second, the idea of separation is a thought. And the thought itself an appearance within awareness. And anything appearing in unlimited awareness is made of awareness*.
Tend to the feeling. Pour care into it. Offer it up as a prayer for love, to love. Allow the feeling to roll over you like the tide, to take your knees from under you, to knock the breath out of you, to leave you reeling.
Is it any wonder the “thing” was so enticing a distraction?
Until that feeling is brought, gently but firmly, to the light, there will always be a thing. One addiction, one distraction, replacing the previous thing. Bring it to the light. Nothing more is required. A shadow vanishes when brought to the light. If there is the willingness to explore, to stay with it, the light will penetrate even the darkest corner.
To turn to the feeling is to turn inward. To explore the nature of the feeling, the nature of experience. And to see, only and always, that the answers are never in the thing.
(* if you need help with this one, let me know)