The Mind Chases Its Tail

I set out to write what I see and know as simply and clearly as
possible. Instead out poured all these words, wrapped in
contradiction. And more words to try to sort out the contradiction,
creating more contradiction. Here it is anyway. I think I may soon
have to stop trying to talk about this.

I have used the word “enlightenment” below but I am not easy about
that, or any other word. At home we call it “scrumny” — the
realization beyond time and words and experiences of that which
always is and always has been. Any familiar word I might use to
describe this will inevitably run up against the rocks of someone
else’s understanding or interpretation of the word, and probably
cause confusion. I am not pretending to know what “enlightenment” is,
in any sense that anyone else might use that word. I only know what I
know, and that is common to us all, to everything. Call it “scrumny”
if that clears up any confusion.

Or call it being alive. Try substituting “being alive” for
“enlightenment” and see how absurd it is to think you can “get” it,
or don’t already “have” it. Because what this all amounts to is this:
being alive (with all that that actually means) is all there is. The
trouble starts when the mind thinks it is anything less than that, or
that it can get something more…

Enlightenment, as I understand it, isn’t something you get. It isn’t
even something that happens to you. It is the realization of what you
already are. Or, even worse, the realization of what you are not. It
is seeing things as they are, or as they are not. The mind, however,
thinks enlightenment is something it can get. And if you tell the
mind it is not something it can get, then it goes about trying to get
it by trying not to get it. This is the way the mind works. It will
go on trying to get it, or trying to get trying not to get it, until
it finally, actually realizes it can’t get it. Until it finally gives
up entirely. Not trying to give up. Not adopting an attitude of
giving up. Actually giving up. Exhausting all avenues of seeking.
Then it realizes it had it all along.

When the mind finally, actually gives up trying to get somewhere
other than 100% here (which is where it is anyway), when it finally
stops thrashing around trying with total futility to avoid the
obvious and inevitable (which is what it has been doing pretty much
all the time), then the truth dawns. The living truth that has
obviously always been the only truth, encompassing even the mind’s
futile, gymnastic attempts to escape it. You (the mind) can think
about this. You (the mind) can try to see it. You (the mind) can try
and try and try to get it. And you (the mind) can even become
resigned to not getting it (with which the mind will soon become
bored, and it will pick it up and try and try again).

And you (the mind) will fail utterly. And that utter failure is the
realization of what has been hanging around all this time waiting for
you (the mind) to really, truly, utterly fail to get it. That is the
simple realization that while the mind was busy living in its own
made-up world of getting that and getting rid of this, life has been
ticking along quite nicely, quite happy even to be a mind that thinks
it can somehow get what it already is.

It’s a joke. The mind gets the idea that it is separate from
everything else, that it is what it calls a “self.” And then
(predictably) it feels rather separated from everything, so it goes
looking for the unity it thinks it lost. Or else it goes about trying
to augment the feeling of separation in a way that makes it feel
temporarily better. We call that “achievement.”

It forgets that it is the one that created the thought of separation
in the first place, so it doesn’t quite know where to look for this
no-separation thing which it sort of remembers as if it were a long
ago dream. And it creates dramatic stories about being kicked out of
paradise, or living in samsara, so it can commiserate with all the
other minds that think they are separate, and that makes it feel
better for a while. And then it takes up the search again. And it
searches and searches, until the search finally ends in total
failure. And then the unity that never left gets to reappear. And you
(the mind) realize that there never was any separation. Only an idea
of separation. And that little idea caused all this trouble. And the
failure of the search, the total failure, is the “return” to what was
never left. This total failure is sometimes called “surrender.”

There’s no faking it. The mind is constantly attempting to escape
from “this that is.” It will continue to attempt to escape until it
finally realizes absolutely that it can not. Until that realization
comes, “this that is” will primarily consist of attempting to escape
from “this that is,” with all its apparent misery. At some point, the
realization comes that escape from “this that is” is absurdly
impossible. What happens then is anybody’s guess, but the mind’s
primary activity just lost its fuel, so it is likely to turn things
to jelly for a while.

In any event, there is nothing “you” can do about this, because
“you,” that feeling of being a separate self, is only this
impossible, absurdly heroic attempt to escape from “this that is.” An
attempt that is absolutely bound to begin, continue, and end in
failure. Which is homecoming. The attempt to escape. The failure of
the attempt. It’s all homecoming. There never, ever, ever, is
anything other than being home. There never, ever, ever was anything
but being home. Only the thought that there could be something
“else,” made it appear, all too vividly, that there was.

“This that is” is so utterly extraordinary, if you stop and look at
it, that it is crushingly sad that we waste so much effort trying to
escape from it, or trying to “better” it (which is another form of
escape). But we do. And we will. Until we realize we can’t. Until we
realize that we (along with everything) are the very thing we are
seeking, and the very thing we are trying to escape.