To be grounded in “reality” is to be fully cognizant of what the experience of “Now” really is like. Take a few minutes to really gauge your experience of your present moment while you read these words. There are thoughts fleeting through the mind and there are feelings in the body – this is what appears as the “surface” experience of your present moment. But what happens when you look just below this surface, what is present below the surface layer of feelings and thoughts?
Your awareness is so mesmerized by the “moving” parts (like thoughts and feelings), that it becomes completely oblivious to the vast space of stillness which is permanently present around these moving parts. Just like your senses pick out the various objects and noises in your surrounding but always fail to see the silence, and space, in which all these objects and noises arise – until you consciously shift your awareness from the “movements” to the “stillness”. (Just like when someone puts a few black dots on a wide white screen out attention immediately goes to the black dots while being oblivious to the vast white screen)
Thoughts create an illusion of extra-ordinariness
The space of life is very “ordinary” because it’s always still, it has no movements – but it’s not a dead space, it’s a very alive space even if it’s still. Since your awareness is so habituated to being enamored by the thoughts and feelings that are constantly flowing on the surface (as soon as you wake up from sleep), it’s hardly ever interested when it’s told to move its attention to the “stillness” present below, and around, the movements. But anyone who spends time accessing this stillness, will soon realize the aliveness which is present in this space. It’s not “dull” or dead, it’s life itself, full of aliveness and fullness, though it’s still. This “fullness” is what you’ve been seeking all your life through your “pursuits” (through your relationships, achievements and desires) but you finally find it as who you are in this stillness.
The reason your “mind’s awareness” does not rest, or give attention, to this “stillness” is because it appears very boring and ordinary, compared to the “extra ordinary”, and dramatic, imaginations and projections of the mind. The mind constantly keeps feeding you stories about how all your problems will be solved if you just meet the right person, if you just make enough money, if you just had the best government, if you had great friends, if you had the right looks etc. Your mind also imagines that some rich people and celebrities are living ideal lives, the media projects these personalities as being “larger than life” and the mind believes these stories and imagines that somehow these people have elevated levels of happiness and fulfillment, owing to their fame, looks, lifestyle and money, which you don’t have access to. So the mind keeps constantly waiting for that “extra ordinary” experience to come about that will make it happy permanently – and such an experience never comes about, because it’s an illusion of the mind about reality – in truth “reality” is always ordinary, because the “Now” moment is always simple, it’s only the projections/imaginations of the mind that seem to give “extra-ordinary” interpretations to what happens in the Now.
Craving experiences like a drug
Have you noticed how your reality is never what your mind imagines it to be. The mind which imagined that finding the right partner would solve all its problems and would make it feel “blissed out” in love, soon finds that relationship has its own responsibilities and it’s not always about looking into each other’s eyes in love and wonder. There is an “ordinariness” which comes into all relationships as time passes, and the “deluded” mind interprets it in a very “negative” way thinking that the “music” is lost and tries to recreate the music by getting rid of the present relationship and hunting up a new relationship, trying to re-live its “extra ordinary” imaginations of love only to find that everything comes back to ordinariness quite soon. Just like how taking some drugs can create an illusion of extra-ordinariness but its effects, when they fade, brings you back to the ordinariness of life, and anyone who doesn’t want to rest in the ordinariness of life becomes addicted to drugs only to reach a fatal end.
Everything can become a “drug” that you use to avoid having to bring awareness the ordinariness of life/reality – your relationships, parties, luxuries, sex, shopping, achievements, make-up, status, spirituality, anything can be used as a drug in a movement to perpetuate the illusion of “extra ordinariness”. But as we “grow up”, and become insightful, we see through all these “illusions” of extra-ordinariness and finally realize that the fullness that we have always wanted to experience was always present in the one place we never looked at – the “ordinary” stillness within, which reveals its aliveness only when you bring your awareness to it. (That’s why there are so many parables, written by enlightened people, which talk about how a person seeks riches outside only to come to home to find it – because in their own life experience they’ve seen how the fullness they were seeking outside was always within them).
Enjoy the surface but rest in your depth
As a physical being, you are here to enjoy physical experiences. But these experiences can become “addictive” causing you to become a prisoner to them, causing you to “crave” them, causing you to create “illusions” of fulfillment around them. They become addictive because you start looking towards experiences to connect you with your wholeness. And experiences by their very nature are “fleeting”, and something that’s fleeting can never give you a sense of “fullness” – it will always leave you with a feeling of lack when you “depend” on it for your happiness.
The fullness that you are looking for is already who you are in your being, and it will become obvious to you when you shift your awareness from the pull/drama of feelings/thoughts, and allow it to rest in the ordinariness of the “still” space that exists around all these movements. This “space” is eternal, it’s boundary-less, it’s permanently “still” to the core and it’s not affected in anyway by all the experiences that fleet on its surface – this “space” is really who you are, it’s your real body. As long as you keep avoiding this “real you”, you will constantly feel incomplete, with a feeling that something is missing, and you keep looking to fill up this emptiness through your physical indulgences, that just leave you feeling even more confused and lackful.
The journey back home
Having spent years being enamored with your feelings and thoughts, being addicted to the drama of experiences, being disillusioned into looking for “extra ordinariness” – it can take a while before your awareness can really start resting in the space of your being, in the stillness, and start sensing the deep aliveness which is present in this space constantly on permanent basis. When you find rest in this space, the surface can be enjoyed without any attachment, there is no craving, there is no disillusion that something or someone is going to make you fulfilled.
This end of craving, or seeking, brings an end to 99.9% suffering (what is basically the psychological suffering) and all that remains is the 0.1% suffering of being physical (created through thirst, hunger, aches & pains as a part of physical degeneration, physical movements etc). It’s quite a revelation to know that 99.9 % of our suffering is created through the thoughts in our mind which have no base in reality, and only 0.1% of our suffering really comes from the actual physical limitations. Imagine the immense lightness you will feel in your being when you let go of all the psychological suffering created by your own thoughts of misinterpreting reality.
Shift your awareness to the stillness that is present below all the movements of your mind. This stillness will start revealing its aliveness as your awareness keeps resting in this place. Initially, when you move your attention to this stillness, the mind will label it as “boring”, dull, inconsequential, waste of time or dead space – since the mind is more interested in the feelings/thoughts (which supply its dose of drama). But if you don’t take the mind’s initial resistance as your guiding principle, and allow yourself to keep bringing awareness to this still space, and resting there, you will start noticing the “aliveness” and fullness which is present here. You will sense that this aliveness/fullness is permanent, it’s not going anywhere, it’s “free” and it can’t be taken away from you by anything that happens on the surface – this is when you finally return home (Jesus, while talking to some fishermen, explained this process excellently in his parable about “the prodigal son” who returns to his father).