FOR MANY YEARS I fluctuated between feeling somewhat contracted and out-of-balance, and feeling expanded and really in sync with the universe. All my spiritual techniques and practices were focused on doing whatever it took to move from the experience of conflict into a state of ease.
Yet, even as my overall feeling of well-being and confidence improved and became more stable, there was still the feeling that something — the true freedom I sought — was eluding me. I was still stuck at the first and second levels of enlightenment. There was still a “me” holding on to something. I’d still have periods of dissatisfaction, yearning, of something missing. I still hadn’t quite “got” it. I went back and forth between feeling spiritually tuned in and on top of things, and feeling like a victim. I was still holding on to an image of myself as a “seeker,” as someone who was still looking for something.
Then, a few years ago, during a time when I was going through some particularly challenging personal circumstances, I woke up one spring morning feeling depressed. My normal pattern would have been to get out of bed feeling somewhat low, and then go and sit on my meditation cushion and just breathe, center myself, open to spirit, and wait for the negative energy to clear.
But this morning I lay in bed and faced myself in a way I never quite had before. I was sick of saying “I feel this” or “I feel that” and remaining trapped in some cycle, however minor, of conflict and unfulfillment. I had been listening to my spiritual guide, Jean Klein, say for years that I was not the person I took myself to be. His teaching had taken root in me. Perhaps it was just that I was now ready to face whatever this last vestige of “me” was.
As I lay in bed I got really present, and put the question to myself, “So, who is depressed?” and probed deep into the interior of my own consciousness to find this “me” who insisted he felt depressed.
Of course, I couldn’t find it. “I” and “me” don’t exist, except as concepts, appearances, in the mind. As my awareness opened and expanded, the three thought-forms — “I-feel-depressed” — dissolved, and “I” (as awareness, as consciousness) felt perfectly okay! I got out of bed, sat for a while in meditation, and reflected upon this sense of ease and expansion I now felt, and the process of self-inquiry that had led me to it. Then I went happily about my day.
The same thing happened the next two mornings in a row. I woke, felt depressed, and lay there with the same deep inquiry into “who” was depressed. Each time, the self-concept of “I” or “me” dissolved, the energy in my body and mind reharmonized itself, and “I” felt fine.
In the months following that third morning, it became increasingly evident that I was no longer seeking anything spiritually. I was no longer able to take my personal sense of “self” seriously. Indeed, whenever I stopped to look inside my own consciousness, I couldn’t find that old, solid sense of “me” — the person I’d believed myself to be for the previous forty plus years — anywhere. It had evaporated like the illusion it always was. In its place there was just a feeling of inner clarity and freedom that was constant and stable, and that nothing seemed to shake.
Occasionally something would happen to cause upset (and, once in a while —inevitably — still does). But then I, as awareness, the consciousness that expresses through this body/mind/ego, would quickly remember that I was neither the circumstance nor the story about it, and the sense of being a “somebody” with a problem would dissolve, to be replaced by a feeling of openness, relaxation, well-being.
About a year after that spring morning, I wrote in my journal, “I’ve found the way Home, now I’m learning to find my way in the world.” Once we have seen that we are not the “person,” the psychological/emotional entity we used to think we were, all seeking falls away (who is there to seek?) and there is no going back. This is the core insight in a nutshell.
Residues of the past, the old ego patterns, will arise from time-to-time — especially during periods of stress or illness — but they are quickly seen through and released. You still have an identity at a personal level, and you still play certain roles in life, but you know now that these are not who you really are. This knowing is accompanied by a profound feeling of inner joy, gratitude, and humility.
What a gift it is to be born as this consciousness, this awareness, manifesting through this particular body/mind!
Text copyright © 2000 Jim Dreaver. Reprinted with permission from The Way of Harmony.
Jim Dreaver is a former student of Jean Klein’s and the author of several books. To learn more about him, take a look at his website.
By Jim Dreaver
Using simple language and stories from his own life, Jim Dreaver offers a modern guide to waking up out of pain and suffering. According to a customer review on Amazon.com, "This book is particularly useful for beginners because it is so straightforward and comprehensible, free of jargon and far-fetched theories… the exercises are practical and uncomplicated. On the other hand, experienced seekers may sometimes be startled at the depth and profundity of some of Jim’s insights… I appreciated Jim’s willingness — and ability — to tackle practical issues including money, relationships, and careers.”
This page was published on November 27, 2000 and last revised on June 15, 2017.