The desire to realize the deepest truth of your being is not your ordinary kind of desire. We are familiar with ordinary desires; they are part of the perpetuation of a life form. The desire to survive serves the continuance of the organism. It is a natural desire found in all kingdoms. But the desire for true freedom, for real fulfillment, that appears from deep inside, has nothing to do with survival and paradoxically can only be realized if you don’t do anything for its realization.
Spiritual institutions arise in all cultures to address this deep desire for fulfillment. Many prescribe study or meditation practices as a means to this end. Most meditation practices are concentration practices that teach you how to focus your mind or body. What those practices eventually point to is that when the mind’s activity is at rest, there is peace; there is fulfillment. You are no longer obsessing on whatever object or body of knowledge you think is needed to resolve your deepest longing for truth.
When I met my teacher, I had attempted many forms of meditation. I’d had moments of beauty, moments of transcendence, moments of true knowing; yet the underlying sense of longing remained, the sense of How do I get that again? How do I keep it? What do I need to do? So I prayed fervently, earnestly, for a teacher, a true teacher, a final teacher. Not long after that, I met my teacher, Sri H.W.L Poonja (Papaji) and, as I’ve mentioned many times, Papaji told me to stop. He invited me to open my mind by stopping following any thought. He extended to me an invitation that I am always happy to extend to you, because each time you hear it, it has a chance to penetrate deeper.
One Instant of Stopping
In this moment, right now, stop where you are. Stop all effort to get whatever it is you think will give you fulfillment, whatever it is you think will give you truth.
All that is required is one instant of truly stopping. This one instant is elusive to most people because in approaching the instant of stopping, there usually arises an enormous upwelling of fear. “If I stop, if I really stop, I will slide back. I will lose the ground I have gained through my efforts, through my studies, through my practices. Even though I am still not fully satisfied, I am more satisfied than I was before. It is a better life, my mind is calmer, my circumstances are better, and if I stop everything, I might lose all of that.”
This is the risk that must be taken. You will never discover the truth of who you are unless you take one pure moment of absolute stopping. Sooner or later all will be lost anyway. That is the truth. That is the reality. This whole lifetime will be lost, and every accumulation of this lifetime will be lost. If you are willing to lose everything now, just for this present moment, you discover what is free. If you are willing to lose everything in the next moment, you are this freedom. Being willing does not mean wanting to lose everything. It is natural to want to keep what we love and only lose what we hate. Being willing means to open to losing both what we love and what we hate.
It was quite extraordinary for me to hear Papaji say, “Stop.” I was certain that he was going to give me some kind of secret knowledge, and he did; the secret lies in its simplicity. I was certain that he would whisper some magical formula in my ear, and he did; he said, “Stop.” It was such a simple command that it stopped my mind, and when the mind stops, an infinite expanse of pure, unadulterated peace and freedom is revealed. The deepest fulfillment is discovered and more, more than can ever be imagined. What we imagine to be fulfillment usually has to do with lack of pain or more pleasure, lack of conflict or more peace, more acknowledgment, more love. All of this can be imagined, but true fulfillment cannot be imagined; it can only be realized.
I have spoken with many people all over the world, and the excuses are the same all over the world. I speak to people in prison and the excuses are the same. When the excuses are dropped, when the justification stops, when there is a willingness to let go for one instant everything you have learned about what you need to do to get fulfillment, fulfillment is here.
I have watched so-called spiritual seekers with their tightly knit categories refuse to surrender for one instant. I have met with big, burley, hard-looking men doing life in prison, and I have watched them weep in the fulfillment of their own hearts. Whether in prison or out, the capacity to realize the truth of one’s being is the same. Truthfully, it may be harder for some outside prison than inside. There are many in prison who feel absolutely disillusioned with how their lives have turned out. They are very aware of all the schemes and grandiose ideas that didn’t work. In that recognition there is a spiritual ripeness, a willingness to bear the horror that goes with disillusionment. And in that bearing there is an opening to the most profound inquiry of a lifetime:
What is real? Who am I? What is life? What is free, this moment? What do I really want? What is it I truly want, finally, so that with the last breath of this lifetime I can honestly say I received what it was I wanted?
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Gangaji is the author of The Diamond in Your Pocket, Freedom & Resolve: Finding Your True Home in the Universe, You Are That, and Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story.