Are we nearly there yet?
Remember when you were a kid and you went on a journey in the back of the car with the family and almost the instance you left you asked "are we nearly there yet?" I have memories of rolling around on the back seat (no seat belts required back in the day), arguing with my sisters, sunshine glaring though the window, games of "eye spy" and dad having to stop the car when my sister was choking on a boiled sweet to fling her upside down and shake it out.
Do you have a feeling that all through life you are still "not quite there"? Perhaps its an impatient nature that insists there is always further to go, more to do and harder to strive. Certainly impatience has played a major starring role in my life. That feeling of nothing being quite complete. That niggling voice that insists, we are not quite enough and if we just keep on keeping on then one day, honestly one day, we might just get somewhere. But where? And when? And how? And there we go with the questions and needing some kind of time limit imposed on being somewhere and having achieved something.
In work we have deadlines to meet - time precious dates somewhere in the future that all work must be complete and be perfect by, Heavens, what would happen if not? Certainly when working for a boss we know how work (whatever work it is) can be judged and monitored and appraised into some ideal and if we do not meet that deadline, that ideal, those guidelines then we are left in no doubt that we must be lacking. Those guidelines can make us feel very narrow. We feel constricted, forced into an expected set of behaviour of cause and effects. And the fear of failure can give cause for anxiety and so begins a stressful existence. We could do better. We should do better. What a shame. If you are someone self-employed this can be even more tangible. As we are often our own worst critics - I mean how many people walk around with a big fat smile on the face thinking "I am bloody great!". Not many of us. Congratulations if your ego has expanded into that particular individual. As someone running my own business, there is always an inner feeling of doubt, or that question - did I do enough? Working for myself is absolutely the best thing for me and I have never worked harder for anyone other than me. My income, reputation, life and self-esteem (aka ego) depend on me (mostly). But I can be quite a cruel boss. Have I performed as well as I could as a teacher? Did I manage to market that retreat well enough to get people in? Is my place the best sort of environment to bring guests? Is the food good enough? (I can answer that one as generally this is out of my control and in the hands of my partner - so I think it is.) Are the rooms comfortable? Is the bathroom clean enough? Tricky that one. AM I GOOD ENOUGH???? Usually the answer is - must try harder.
So the constant striving to be something else, in a better place, as a better person is always set somewhere ahead of us. Reaching out with child-like hands to grasp at the balloon that is floating away. And the judgement of oneself to be not at that place already comes from conditioning from the past. We are almost there, but not quite. If we could only....
What if I suggest to you as many spiritual leader, or guide has insisted, that we are already there? Sri Ramana Maharshi said that we do not need to do anything to be enlightened, to be happy. We already have everything within us. We simply just need to know that. Many gurus and guides have talked about the same. Osho quoted "The search is not going to help you to reach the goal, because the goal has never been lost. The search is only going to help to drop the greed, fear, possessiveness, jealousy, hatred, anger. The search is only going to help you drop the hindrances, and once the hindrances are not there, suddenly one becomes aware: I have always been here, I have never gone anywhere else." Of course Eckhart Tolle also teaches about the removal of time to understand that we have already everything we need. "Time is the horizontal dimension of life, the surface layer of reality. Then there is the vertical dimension of depth, accessible to you only through the portal of the present moment. So instead of adding time to yourself, remove time. The elimination of time from your consciousness is the elimination of ego. It is the only true spiritual practice."
What all these, and many more, great teachers are explaining to us, is that it is us ourselves that get in our own way. How ironic, that if we could just move that mountainous blockage of the ego (the bundle of self-doubting, judgemental neurotic, critical voices that also become part of our identity) out of our view, we would see vistas of iridescent green valleys, perfect still oceans of great depth and unending hues, timeless forests of unswaying, unquestioning trees reaching open branches into the heavens. If we could just summon up the strength to accept that everything is as it should be right now and that we are already there. And there, here, now, is perfect.
One yoga teacher told me that the reason why childbirth is so incredibly powerful (and for those few souls lucky enough to feel this - joyful) is because it forces you into the present moment. I have never given birth, so thankfully the other tool for this can be a yoga and/or meditation practice. In the time we are moving our body into shapes that release latent energy with breath and focus as our tools or when we are sitting in stillness with awareness, we are present. We sense a oneness. And in that moment - sometimes a fleeting one - we accept ourselves fully that it is all "just so" and right and as it is. We are not "nearly there" because we are "always there".
Wendy Buttery - Yoga Teacher, retreat centre facilitator, cat lover, sun worshipper, nature loving meditator.