At first, everything is an adventure. There is so much to explore and see and listen to and do and make and learn and take apart and experience. You reach and crawl and pull yourself up and toddle, investigating your world, awed by the miracles of light and sound and texture around you.
Sometimes you cry and sometimes you laugh. Sometimes you are cross and sometimes you are not. Sometimes you are tired and you sleep and sometimes you are wide awake and ready for adventure. All of life is in you. The world is there for you. You do what is in front of you to do. It is your playground.
Then one day someone gives you a box. It is heavy and you try to put it down but it seems you cannot. “Carry this at all times,” says a voice. “It contains the secret to who you really are.”
That sounds important. Like something you should know. You try to look in the box but it won’t open.
Then another box is put in your hands and the voice says, “This box tells you the secret to finding love.”
You realise this secret is important too but that box won’t open either.
Then another box is thrust on you. “The secret to happiness.” You need to know that secret. Again, the box will not open.
All of a sudden, life appears difficult and complicated. There is a way that you must be in order to have a good life but you can’t get into the boxes to find out how. You feel trapped, limited and stuck. You realise it is vital you discover how to open these boxes and find out these secrets. Otherwise, what will happen to you? What sort of life will you have?
A final box is handed to you and a voice says,
“This has the secret of freedom.”
“Thank goodness,” you think, weighed down and worried. “I really need freedom right now”. And you try so hard to open that box but the lid is stuck fast.
Now you are fully loaded with the boxes that are getting heavier by the minute.
In the distance you see four huge doors. You hear people laughing and talking behind the doors. Everything sounds amazing, fun and exciting. You want to be part of it.
You try to walk over to the doors but the boxes weigh you down. You know that the secrets to unlocking the doors are in the boxes. You try but the boxes will not open. The life behind the doors sounds like something you will never be part of.
You slump down. You are desperate. “Please help me someone” you cry. And a genie appears before you.
“I can help you,” he says. “But first you need to tell me what you know to be true.”
You are so confused and low and bewildered. For a long time, it has seemed that you don’t know anything.
You look in the depths of your being, it seems there is only one thing you know.
“I know these secrets are heavy.”
He smiles. “Let me take them from you.”
You clutch the boxes tightly to your chest, thinking of Life behind those doors and you shake your head, “I need them.”
“Then tell me something else that is true.”
There is nothing else. It is hopeless.
He prompts you, “Tell me – have you always had these boxes?”
You look down at one of the boxes. The label on the top says, ‘The secret of who you are’. You remember a time when you didn’t even know there was a secret. In fact, you didn’t even think there was a you. You just did what you did and were how you were. There was no trying. There was just being and doing. You realise the simple, unique, perfection of this. The indescribable perfection of you. The lid of the box flies open and in front of you appears a display of the immeasurable diversity of nature. Rainbows, snowflakes, oak trees, daisies, clouds, sunshine, ants, elephants, mountains, diamonds, lions and lambs… all of it glowing with the same shining light. You smile. You get it.
You look at the next box, ‘The secret of finding love’. You think back to a time, long ago, when it didn’t occur to you that you had to do anything to be loved. You knew you were love. The awareness of this sinks deeper and, as it does, the box gets lighter in your hands. You realise you don’t need that secret, have never needed it. There is no secret. The box disappears, and you feel the profound love that you are, have always been.
“What else?” asks the genie.
You look at the box with the secret of happiness. You remember a time when all of life flowed through you, sometimes sad and sometimes happy, sometimes scared and sometimes bold. All of it to be welcomed. All of it to be lived. You realise you are only here to experience life, all of it. You know you don’t need that secret. The box turns into a light that bathes you and the ground beneath you feels beyond secure. You feel a profound sense of well-being as you look out towards the horizon with curiosity and peacefulness.
You look at the final box: ‘The secret to freedom.’ You think back to when you were a small child running, laughing, crying, playing. Pure openness. Pure potential. “I used to be free,” you say to the genie, shaking your head sadly. You look at the box expecting it to disappear but it remains as it is. You give it a shake but it stays stuck to your hands.
You frown and look at the genie. He shrugs his shoulders.
You remember the other boxes and you suddenly realise that they were only ever heavy or light, there or not there according to your understanding of who you are. As you saw more clearly, they transformed, disappeared, became something else altogether. You realise with amazement that you have always been free to see this. That you always have been and always will be.
As this insight deepens, you look at the doors again and you can see through them. You see all of life to live, all experience to experience and you realise that somehow you are all of it.
You are the doors, the people, the genie, the boxes and you are no doors, no people, no genie, no boxes.
You are the space in which all of this takes place and does not take place.
There is no line where you end and another begins.
There is nothing and everything.
There is no you and only you.
You are limitless, weightless, infinite.
You are free.