As regular readers of these blogs will know, I love a good analogy. While facts and figures can be the key to a deeper understanding of some things, I find that in conversations about our deeper spiritual nature, metaphors and analogies seem to be more helpful to more people more of the time.
So when one of the participants on this year’s Advanced Course 4.0 asked a question last week about what she could do to stay more present to this deeper self in daily life, I was delighted with the analogy that came to mind:
I’m sitting in a chair right now. If I want to, I can put my attention on the chair and really feel it supporting me. I can feel the smoothness of the arms of the chair, the comfort of the padded seat, the support of the back. In fact, in this particular chair, I can even lean back, close my eyes, and relax even more deeply in any moment.
But the beauty of a chair is that I don’t have to be paying attention to it to be supported by it. I don’t have to even notice it’s there for it to hold me up and allow me to not only write but be present to the words I’m writing.
And knowing that I’m being supported at all times by the chair whether I know it or not or even notice it or not is incredibly comforting. Because I don’t have to think about it in order for it to support me. I don’t even have to know it’s there. I’m already sitting in it. It’s already holding me. It’s got me. I don’t have to “get it”.
Whatever the nature of life is, we are already in it. It’s already got us.And for at least as long as we are alive, we are always already supported by it.
Taking the time to notice that can be reassuring and comforting; obsessing and arguing about the details of it does nothing to improve the experience of resting in it.
Now like any analogy, we can try to stretch it too far and it will cease to be helpful. Thoughts like “Well, what if my chair is broken?” or “What happens if I stand up?” or even “Who is it that’s sitting in the chair?” reveal the limitations of language and metaphor, not any inherent limitation in the nature of the universe.
But just for the moment, stay with the feeling of it….
- What if you really knew that you are already being taken care of by life?
- What if you really didn’t have to do anything in order to be supported?
- What if in any given moment you could become more aware of the deeper nature of life and enjoy its comfort and support, and you didn’t have to give it a second’s thought the rest of the time?
One of my favorite stories about the Scottish mystic Syd Banks came from one of his long-time students who shared that a group of them were hanging out in Syd’s backyard debating the spiritual nature of life while Syd quietly tended the barbecue.
After a time, Syd suddenly spoke up.
“For goodness sakes, stop talking about this all the time!”
When they expressed their surprise, he pointed to the fact that while seeing our deeper nature allows us to relax into it more fully, talking about it all the time made no more sense than (in my analogy) spending your days discussing the nature of chairs instead of just sitting in them and doing whatever it is that you do.
Whatever is already is. We don’t need to do anything for it to be so.
Nothing we think, say, or do can make the truth any more true; nothing we do, say, or think will make it any less true. But there is, at least in my mind, a real gift in first noticing and ultimately coming to know the truth of who and what we are. And the more we notice it, the more we see how miraculous that deeper nature really is.
With all my love,