I met up with a fairly new friend for lunch, who I met through a spirituality group, I used to attend. I asked her how long she’s been a seeker. After giving it a bit of thought she replied, “probably most of my life”. She went on to explain that she wasn’t necessarily a spiritual seeker, but a seeker all the same. This made perfect sense to me, because for me too, I’d probably been a seeker most of my life. Searching for happiness in different places.
Early on in my life when the relationships I had with my family didn’t provide me with the love and happiness I needed, I went looking for it elsewhere. It was mainly through friendships and relationships, but also through many other pursuits like knowledge, experiences, travelling, success etc. The search started outwardly with worldly things and even though it was fun for a period of time, it didn’t seem to provide lasting satisfaction, and eventually that empty hollow feeling would return. When all avenues were explored and I was exhausted, the search went from external things in the world to the subtle internal world. I started looking inwardly at self improvement, with the hope of achieving certain feelings through the self help scene, hypnotherapy, buddhism with the aim of being positive, peaceful happy. But this didn’t seem to work either as inevitably the perceived “negative feelings” would ultimately follow.
Eventually, after the teaching of non-duality seemed to serendipitously come into my life, and after a couple of year of going weekly meetings and hanging out with a friend/teacher, the realisation came that seeking happiness was pointless. Nothing could provide lasting happiness. Things could provide a temporary hit of happiness, but eventually this would fade. With this realisation, the only thing left was what was here and now. The understanding of why happiness was sought as a way of escaping painful feelings was also seen.
Escaping pain, in pursuit of happiness.
How many of us do this? We do it all the time. It’s probably one of the biggest causes of addiction. Addiction to food, alcohol, sex, money, exercise, work, relationships, doing, thinking and even spirituality. Just because we want to escape uncomfortable feelings.
Once I acknowledged this and allowed the pain to be, I got insights into the thoughts behind the pain. For me, these thoughts had a lot to do with my fear of rejection, being unworthy, being misunderstood. Thoughts that I really didn’t have conscious knowledge of before, but were causing so much mischief. There was a complete denial of these thoughts, and instead a pretence of being fine and not needing anyone. This in turn caused me to experience the very thought I was trying to escape from. Pushing people away, isolating myself leading to more pain and feelings of worthlessness and being misunderstood. It was a self fulfilling prophecy. This was creating a chasm between what I was portraying on the outside and feeling on the inside causing suffering and depression. When these thoughts were seen for what they were, the accompanying pain could also to be felt and acknowledged. With this there was great healing. This for the first time was honesty, authenticity and vulnerability. The ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ matched. In fact, the was no inside or outside. There was just thought causing separation.
There was no longer the need to seek escape from these uncomfortable feeling in search of something else. Slowly my confidence grew and there was a trust in allowing the truth of things to be as they are. Whatever comes up, it’s fine.