We know when it's not working; it's like a slap in the face. We thought that it was working but then something happens to remind us that nothing has fundamentally changed at all, and we find ourselves back at square one after all these years.

We were smug for awhile, even bragging to friends about what we found and how wonderful it was, but now we see that it was only an act and we were actually better off before we became so smug and self assured. This is difficult to face for anyone, and it's understandable if we continue to play-act and not be true to our feelings or reveal them regardless of how strong those feeling become. We know in our heart of hearts that it's over, and that a fundamental longing in the deepest part of our being just never became satisfied.

Sometimes in life we luck out on the other side of an unexpected trauma. We might recover from the deep shock of separation, accident, or an illness, and find ourselves dramatically transformed where our old, confused self has somehow evaporated into coolness and composure. The baseless and overstated uncertainties that had previously suffocated us now disappear, and all we feel is a baffling sense of affection toward not just one or two, but everyone.

These shifts in consciousness don't happen by reading words in a self-help book, or by following someone's well-intentioned advice; these shifts take place when logic and cunning can't quite keep up with the stark reality of a desperate situation. In that brief interval where everything falls apart and powerful events override our every thought, opinion, and emotion, something ineffable floods our momentarily empty being as our destiny changes forever.

We can't shift our basic being by reading about how to shift it, or studying about how or what we should or shouldn't be. Our own, personal, powerful experiences are what creates permanent shifts in our perception, and not cramming our heads with words and ideas of what should be

When these shifts authentically take place, we know it. We suddenly see our situation clearly, and what we had previously thought to be truth now becomes just so many words, because now we know for sure in our hearts.

So, should we wait for a bus to hit us before we improve our lives, or should we become proactive and embark upon a pursuit of the deepest of human experiences, that mysterious state of mind coveted by prophets and seers throughout the ages? But how do we do it? How will it change us? Are we capable of doing it at all? How will it help us throughout our lifetime. And most importantly, where can we find someone we can trust to teach us?

Unfortunately, teachers ruin the student as well as themselves, because teachers become caught up in imparting second or third-hand knowledge thereby wasting their time and their student's time. This is fine if you're taking college courses, but to emotionally and intelligently make your way in the world, and if you truly seek that which you have not yet found, (that which is rare for anybody to find), then the teacher can only be you . . . and the path can only be your own.

Direct experience is all that will satisfy you; you must know for yourself. You personally must experience those liberating shifts in consciousness that free you from all conflict. Look for nothing less than the real deal this time, and the real deal is . . . Freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from authority outside of yourself, and freedom from your destructive self.

The teacher must ultimately be no one other than you. You are the one who must make it happen. Someone who has been there before can offer a road map of the hills and valleys that they have climbed and tumbled down, indicating scenic spots as well as dangers, but you are now the traveler who must make his or her own path through the forest.

You must create that shift of consciousness within yourself. If you simply read books as you have in the past, you will gain nothing but facts, and facts are nothing but road maps. The profound answers you seek are not in books and lectures but within yourself, where they have been waiting for you since the beginning of time.

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.