Day in and day out, our minds are literally swamped -- socially, culturally, economically -- with new ideas, fail-proof programs, promises of special places... things that, if we could only acquire them, would quiet our restless minds and hearts. So it goes that most of us are always running after something to quiet that nagging sense of feeling as though we're incomplete. But repeated experience indicates this race has no finish line; all we reach is one more starting place, another task to complete before we can rest.
Here's the surprising reason why we've been running, but getting nowhere fast: we are not created to fulfill ourselves. To understand how we became convinced otherwise is the first step in winning the lasting sense of attainment we seek. This brings us to the importance of discovering the truth about our present level of being, as the following makes evident.
The mind asleep to itself is a "divided" mind. One part of us wants what another part of us feels guilty about wanting; or we can't stop thinking about something that we hoped -- by coming to possess it -- would grant us peace. This divided mind believes that the pleasure it derives from what it imagines is the same as the reality of what it has just imagined. This is like believing that the powerful feeling you get from watching an eagle in flight is the same as your ability to fly. Such a mind "sees" a possession or power it wants, and experiences in that moment what it gives itself to feel about that thing. Then this same mind wants to own whatever it has imagined in order to possess the pleasure it associates with that object.
Of course there's only one problem with this process: both the object imagined, and the "self" pleased by it are illusions -- as is soon discovered when the mind can no longer sustain its own self-induced sensation. So, the feeling is real. But its cause is a creation of a mind that first stimulates itself, and then wants to own what it has imagined. That's how it is; we are born into this world with this level of mind as our first guide.
From simple immature beginnings, when the mind instinctually seeks what will satisfy itself, the activity of this divided mind slowly evolves into more subtle forms of psychological sophistry until, without knowing it, we become image eaters -- feeding ourselves with passing sensations produced by an imaginary self.
Within these images produced by the mind there is no power to transcend, no real nourishment to help us grow, and never any true respite from our problems. Nothing that thought can create from itself can liberate or heal itself. No divided mind can give itself the wholeness it seeks. We must seek elsewhere!
We already live in the deep, silent, and restful "waters" of the present moment, and yet... we don't know its abiding fulfillment. We can't find the unlimited freedom for which we search because each time the divided mind tells us where to look for it we become, in that instant, a captive of thought, a virtual prisoner of promise.
If we are ever to attain the fulfillment of ourselves, with its attending freedom, then we need to see for ourselves what is unthinkable to our present level of mind: self-wholeness appears by itself within us once we stop searching for it.