IMG_8660x

I came into this world restless despite many appearances to the contrary. Does that make me unique? I doubt it. But hear my tale and then decide.

Looking back, I see that I was born with the subtle sense that material treasures alone, no matter how grand, would never be enough to satisfy the longing in my heart to see the light, to know the truth. Indeed, much to my parents’ surprise, the first word I spoke in this lifetime was “light.” Prior to uttering its name, however, I was already searching for light—for my source. Yet despite my preternatural kinship with that spark that lights this and all worlds, for the first two or three decades of my life, I resisted it. I recall justifying my turning away from the path by telling myself that to fully abide in the place of the inner journey, I would have to give up too much. It would be too lonely, too improbable to achieve, and too . . . not sexy. After all, I had a life to live.

Either way, at the time, it felt much more fluid to temper my heart’s call to bask in Spirit’s light. With fingers crossed, I hoped that collecting enough of the good things that you and I see, hear, touch, smell, and taste would cure my soul’s restlessness. So I set out in that direction in pursuit of that which was contrary to what my heart was asking me to seek unabashedly. Despite a persistent voice tapping me on my shoulder, telling me that resistance was futile, I chose instead to follow the path that it seemed everyone else was taking. Yes, the blind leading the blind.

Beautiful women, wealth, sensations, celebrity, substances capable of distorting my perception, and even forcing my body into positions ready for the covers of important yoga magazines—I pursued them all, some wholeheartedly, but none would satisfy my real longing.

I moonlighted through the maze of worldly delights, maintaining a daily ritual devoted to unveiling Spirit’s blossom. I held practice ever close, just in case the outer pursuits left me dissatisfied and still restless in the end—just as that persistent tapping on my shoulder said they would.

Blessedly, my initial and growing dissatisfaction eventually led me to a teacher with sublime knowledge, one who embodied ancient wisdom and so much joy. It was through this connection, to a teacher, that I became fully infected with the germ with only one cure—one which, for those willing to follow it to its end, reveals pleasures not found in this world.

The fire of practice would slowly burn away attachment after attachment, delusion after delusion, layer after layer of all but the essential. Adding fuel to this sacred fire were also many life lessons and the continued presence of the teacher, an intimidating, challenging, generous, kind, authentic, inspiring, real, laughing, and loving teacher. The real thing.

All three—practice, life, and teacher—together became a roiling cauldron which would prove the forging that would eventually reveal me to me.

Yes, much toil and much growth would have to happen before I could taste the soul satisfaction, the divine companionship for which, in part, the great and mysterious creator brought me into this world. In this sense, my journey was not unique: a life marked by a share of disappointments, heartache, and loss and by a ceaseless hunger to unravel the mystery that awaits not just in my heart but in the heart of every living being. The touchstone of the salvation that would eventually come was my willingness to learn, to practice, and to sit quietly every morning for thirty-five years.

Today, decades later, I am grateful for the unending hunger to rest in the mind of Buddha, the heart of Krishna, a domain where all yogis, sages, and saints abide, waiting for those whose real self has emerged from the searing pilgrimage of Spirit’s flames.

The hunger that admittedly would make me feel so alone at times and force me to see the bad and the precious good of who I was in such stark relief was the very thing that led me to the rewards, the gifts given only to the most intrepid and resolute soul seekers who say for all the world to hear: “Only the highest, only providence will do.”

So thank you, restlessness, as challenging a traveling companion as there could be. In the end, my embrace of you was what sent me on the only search that really counts. Responding to you was the stirring that led me to sit every morning and to venture into that invisible terrain where seeker and sought merge and rest together, once and for all eternity.

PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN

Comments are closed.