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Never Anywhere Else
If you’re a seeker looking for your true nature, here’s a very important clue.
What you’re looking for can only be found in this moment, in the direct experience you are having right now.
Understanding this is crucial because if you’re not looking in the right place you won’t find it. And the very nature of looking for something implies that it must not be here, it must be elsewhere. That is obviously true on the level of things in the world. If you’re looking for your favorite coffee cup, it means it’s not right here, so you have to look elsewhere. That formula is the only thing we know when it comes to searching for something .
But when you’re looking for yourself, which is simply the ordinary, obvious, everyday awareness that you always know yourself to be, it is never anywhere else – it is only right here and right now.
Although the mind is not capable of understanding this, it is true that every moment of your life is actually what you are looking for. Be clear. Every moment of your life does not contain what you are looking for, every moment literally is the you that you are looking for.
So why is that an important clue for searchers of the self?
The mind will endlessly and superficially think around and around any Vedantic inquiry because that’s what minds do. See for yourself. I’m going to give you a specific inquiry, and you are to think deeply on it. After you read the inquiry, begin contemplating it and at the same time notice what your mind does. Ready? Think deeply on this: if I can observe my feelings, I cannot be my feelings.
Very shortly after reading those words, you ll see the mind throws out all sorts of stuff: “That’s interesting,” or “That can’t be true,” or “Yes, I already know this one.” Always an endless stream of thoughts, and each thought that pops out can lead down a whole storyline. That’s how the mind works; it immediately starts looking elsewhere, into the vast land of thoughts that it is.
But if the self is nowhere to be found other than right here in this moment and experience, then following the mind as it rambles on and on is looking elsewhere. It’s a diversion. It will never give you what you want.
Having identified this tendency, you are now ready to catch it when it happens and correct it. How do you correct it? Very simple: you use your current experience, exactly what is happening right now, to test the inquiry. Nothing else.
Is that the same as saying bring the mind to the present moment? No. When the mind is superficially going on and on with pointless thoughts, it only happens in this present moment. So it’s not about getting present or centering into this moment. It’s just about what you use to try to prove or disprove the inquiry. If you use the realm of the wandering mind, you are looking elsewhere. If you use this experience right now, then you’re already looking at yourself, and the inquiry will work.
Do this with me right now. Become aware of what you are feeling, any feeling you may have, right now, while you’re reading these words. Boom, you’re observing this moment, not random thoughts. First look for whatever feeling may be there. Whatever is, right now, is exactly what you want to notice. Let the mind throw out its thoughts – no problem as long as you stay with this feeling you’ve found. Now, are you noticing that feeling? Yes, that’s very obvious, but it’s part of the inquiry so let’s slow down and get into it. Are you observing the feeling? If you are observing that feeling right now, doesn’t that mean there is a you who’s observing and there’s a separate thing called the feeling that is being observed? You can absolutely verify the meaning of what you are observing because you know this to be true, right now, from your direct experience. There is a you that is watching and there is a feeling. Again, back to the inquiry, it says that if you are observing a feeling you cannot be it. Now let’s think deeply on that, relative to this experience right now. You’re clearly observing the feeling, right? So the Vedanta says you can’t be that feeling. Using this clear moment of direct experience, work this out for yourself. Can you be that feeling or not?
Make no mistake, all Vedanta inquiries can be answered definitively. Stay with the essence of the inquiry and your mind will catch reflections of the obvious awareness that you are. Do it all of the time and always base your investigations on this moment because that’s the only place you ever are.