A direct experience of spiritual insight will change your life, a fact which is irrefutable and well documented. But spiritual searching, rather than spiritual insight - well, that's another story.

Most people who embark upon a spiritual quest aren't satisfied with answers that they are getting from their various sources, and therefore, feeling that they are not getting the real, deep information that will satisfy them, they search for that which will resonate with that unique inner thirst.

For example; someone may feel a certain way about spirituality and want to go deeper, yet their friends and relatives may feel differently, satisfied with the status quo and typically so caught up with a busy life that deeper thought seems superfluous. The person who wants to go deeper will then either believe his or her peer's conclusions, accept them as truth and get on with a typical life, or strike out on their own and see if they can find a person, philosophy, or religion that is more in tune with their innermost feelings. They want more; more than making money and having fun. Because they can already see that the fun doesn't last, and they wonder about that.

The fact is; the truth is all around us, very close actually, but we can't always see it. Therefore, the truth is very ordinary, because the truth is all about ourselves. But the actual seeing of this truth, seeing exactly what we are - this is extraordinary, because the mind must be very calm and still for the truth about ourselves to surface. You see, the self or ego taints what we see and experience all the time, and this kind of busy, clouded mind will remain in its deluded state regardless of what it sees. On the other hand, a clear, calm mind will penetrate everything to its core and see the absolute reality of life.

Even though we involve ourselves with different facets of spirituality, it is the actual seeing the truth of things that is at the root of spiritual searching. Lectures, study, practices all may help indirectly to lead one in the direction of direct seeing, but the danger here is when one thinks that talks, books and practices alone can do it. Talks, books, and practices are confined to surface consciousness - thought, memory, emotions, etc. - which is not direct seeing. Direct seeing occurs outside of consciousness; its that infinitesimal split second when something hits the mind like it came out of left field, it's when the mind realizes something very deep for the first time, it's that moment of truth when the light bulb goes off and you say to yourself, "Oh my!"

We have to look no further than this five or six feet of body that we are in. It's more fun to read books and do practices, and these may help still your mind so that you can actually look at your body calmly and without bias, but it's the looking and investigation with a clear insightful mind that counts in the end. Unless you can penetrate into the delusion of the body and your perceived ownership of it, the world will continue to be the puppeteer, yanking on your strings which are your attachments, and the number one attachment is your own body and mind.

The reason that we are so susceptible to lightning is because our bodies are basically a big bag of salt water, which conducts electricity very well! Our bodies are made of the elements of the earth, and when it dies, it will again melt into the earth. We actually are the earth, and not something special living upon it.

Then there is the mind, that which puts all its mental and physical inputs together; mental inputs such as when our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, brain contacts a sense object and records it, then mind will either be neutral to the object, reject the object by pushing it away which leads to emotions of anger, hatred, etc., or embrace the object by attaching to it and thinking of ways to own it, which lead to emotions of love, avarice, lust, jealousy, anger, hatred, etc.

And out of all these mental inputs, such as memory and discursive thought, arises our idea of a self. It seems more than just a body and mind, it becomes our personality that we have to defend, and a body that we have to protect. This is our constant burden of stress, and regardless of how attractive our religions depict the next world, without direct insight into what the body and mind is now , we will never have the authentic freedom to let go of them. Instead, we will be caught up in an endless web of fear and uncertainty lifetime after lifetime as we, without insight, ignorantly cling to and search out bodies and minds which we believe to be our security.

Without insight one will see their personal world as unchanging from what it is now, as if it will go on indefinitely, and consider any stress in their lives as temporary, just until they get things together. They will also insist that this body and mind is theirs, that they are behind it all as an individual spirit of some kind that is indestructible.

True insight sees it differently. There is no personal world, only a psycho-physical existence that changes moment to moment, and is under stress without let up. There is no owner of this psycho-physical phenomena; it was born, will grow to maturity, decline, and change from its present form into elements, no different from all other bodies in the entire physical, materiel universe.

Did I mention that true insight requires courage? To hear these things without the protection of the flash of insight that discards materiality and self-belief is like pulling the rug out from everything that one holds dear. And this is the point; everything that one holds dear, holds one imprisoned . Its a dichotomy to be sure, but true. Because unbounded freedom has nothing to do with the material world with which we are familiar. We are not that body or mind. These things are too fragile. What we are was never born, has always been, will never die - it is eternal.

What we truly are can be touched by direct insight, and when it is, your world will be changed irrevocably.

Author's Bio: 

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary
www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk. He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.