Question: Is practice required?
The idea of needing a practice in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment is based on a couple of faulty assumptions: 1) That you are an entity separate from life, and 2) that you are not yet free (and therefore need a practice in order to get free). For most seekers, these assumptions drive the whole seeking process and its activities (including spiritual practices). Through these activities, attention is largely focused on doing, analyzing, and thinking. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. In terms of self realization, it causes you to overlook the ever present aware beingness that is already established as your true nature. It’s here, but you’re looking elsewhere.
Normally we keep pursing the activities in an attempt to get enlightened. This keeps us looking away from the very thing we are seeking. Let’s call this approach Plan A. I invite you to stop and consider that, despite years (or even decades) of Plan A, enlightenment is still elusive. I know, I can hear it from here, the mind immediately comes up with protests in response to that. I have made progress. I have more peace now and less suffering. Uh huh. Maybe so, but that ain’t the point. The point is total freedom. Now. The gradual path cannot deliver the goods. I know this from my own experience. I admit, until I faced this fact fully, I was still seduced into believing “it” (path, practice, technique) would work. This belief ensured that I continued to suffer, and struggle, which led me to continue with spiritual practices. The seduction of the gradual path is that it seems like you are getting “there”. What isn’t usually seen is that it will go on forever; there is no end to the process. There can’t be because the goal is in the future. Freedom can only be known now. If you take an unflinching look at your experience, you will likely find that this is true for you also – what you were hoping to get has not yet arrived. Seeing this is a turning point. It becomes impossible to continue committing yourself to something that you’ve admitted isn’t working. It’s a bummer to the mind, but it’s THE turning point for you. If you’re not convinced, and this doesn’t resonate with you, carry on with Plan A.
If you can already see that Plan A is not producing the desired results, perhaps consider Plan B. I will warn you, though, Plan B is so simple and effortless that the mind won’t believe it’s for real. Hint: the mind will never get it, so instead of listening to it yet again, ignore it and check out Plan B. You’ve got nothing to lose.
So, here’s Plan B: Do nothing. That’s it. Truly. Stop pursuing enlightenment for a moment. I mean, really stop. When the seeking activities of thinking, analyzing, and practicing stop what remains? Stop and see what is here, now.
See that before any practice begins/continues, you already are. Look into your own beingness here and now. See that in this quiet space that is you, there is peace; awareness is present. If you take a moment to linger in this pause, it becomes clear that nothing is lacking here and now. Aware beingness, your true nature, is already established. This is the goal of all practice and is in fact your starting place. You already are the free aware beingness. Now. Before anything else is studied, practiced or understood.