How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun. - Thomas Merton
There is a zen story that goes something like this:
One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?
The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.
For years I identified as a broken self, somehow fractured off from life and intent on reparation. By the time I was seventeen I had become an avid seeker; seeking beauty, degrees, intelligence, safety, security, stability, lovability, health, youth, style, enlightenment and much, much more. I fashioned brilliant plans to accomplish wholeness and regain imagined perfection: some included academia, others personal growth, psychology, therapy, self work/reflection, ongoing study, service, selfishness, selflessness, arduous meditation practices, yoga and more. Unfortunately the-one-who-seeks is certain there is something out there, something to be attained, some escape from this pain or these feelings or the unknown mystery of this moment. I am fairly confident that if "enlightenment" could be taken by storm or through an act of will alone, I'd be in "possession" of it. But the one who seeks can never believe that NOW is exactly what is sought. And like an apple I can no sooner ripen through austerities, impatience, positive mantras, resistance, strong will, good behaviors, tantrums and the like. We are already on the other side, ripening in the sun of this moment, as it is.
I am grateful for the seed of trust that continues to emerge in the busy cacophony of me.