There is only one way to change the world.
There is only one way to change any other individual.
There is only one way to change any system or address any issue or correct any injustice.
There is only one way and it can happen in an instant or take a lifetime.
The only way to do any of this is to see who we really are.
And I know that sounds demented, delusional and like flat-out denial (the 3D’s instead of the 3P’s?).
Because look at the headlines! Well flick through the first 15 pages about celebrity weddings and breakups and then… look at the headlines!
War. Terrorism. Famine. Bullying. Poverty. Inequality. Violence. Devastation. Greed. Murder. Damage. Harassment…
Obviously things need to change. The world is a mess. What’s the good of me going on some ‘find yourself’ mission? How indulgent can it possibly be to waft around contemplating my navel while the world is burning, choking on plastic, killing itself?
Let’s take it in 3 steps:
Step 1: No awareness
There are violent people who threaten our security. The environment is being destroyed. There are acts of treachery, harassment that limit our freedom. There are evil, confused, misguided people.
It looks like our fears and insecurities and outrage are directly created by these people, systems or events. It looks like our fear, anger mistrust, hatred is the result of the people and the world around us.
It looks like for us to be OK and safe, the world has to change.
Evil out there equals insecurity in here. Cause and effect. There is a right way to live (how we are living) and a wrong way (anyone who causes us unease).
And from this place we might hide ourselves away or go out in the world trying to correct the people who threaten our status quo (not the band. And frankly not so bothered about Status Quo. Queen, on the other hand…. Anyway. Stop. Off topic…).
This doesn’t seem quite right though. Because we are not always insecure. We are not always frightened. Sometimes things look desperate and sometimes they don’t. We seem to be missing something.
Step 2: Some awareness
Ah! Now we see something differently. We realise that there is a middle man: thought. We realise that experience is a creation of thought. Now we see a bit more clearly that when we are fearful or insecure it is not caused by what we see around us. Those emotions are caused by the ebb and flow of mental energy.
We become less reactive. We can notice how our reality shifts and slides. We start to become more peaceful, more at ease.
And armed with that insight we start wondering how can we have wiser thoughts so that we make more impact, earn more money, make the right decision, do the right thing?
This feels a bit off because now we seem to be spending a lot of time analysing thoughts to find the wise one to follow. We seem to be missing something.
Also armed with insight about the nature of thought, we look around us and we see a world of people who seem to be living lives that are less happy, peaceful or loving than ours.
It looks like our mission must be to show these people the nature of thought so that they can behave better, so that they can have wiser thoughts and cause less damage, make the world safer, live better.
It boosts an idea of self as wiser, more insightful, more in touch with reality or more spiritual. But this also feels off. There is something not right in this. We seem to be missing something.
Step 3: Simple, pure, loving awareness
And the reason it feels off is that deep down we know this is not what it is going on.
We know that, if it is true that experience is created in thought, then it follows that experience of anyone else must also be created in thought. That experience, even of our own self, of who we are and what we are doing and why we are doing it, must also be created in thought.
It starts to become apparent that, outside of thought believed from moment to moment, there are no other people, there are no events or circumstances, there are no systems, there is no right or wrong, there is not even an objective self.
And this changes everything. Everything.
Other than thought believed, what is there? There is awareness.
And beyond that awareness? There is nothing.
We realise that all of it exists or does not exist according to momentary perception. The enormity of this is mind-blowing.
This changes our understanding of who we are beyond recognition.
We can no longer believe ourselves to be a fixed, real self that is distinct and separate from the fixed and real things and people that it sees around it. It is impossible that that is who we are.
We are awareness within which an experience of self and other appears. We are the space in which perception of all of it—self, other, flowers, criminals, racists, lovers, gurus, mountains, cars, waste, money, health, life, death, violence, Harry and Meghan, Status Quo, Queen whatever—appears.
All of this is who we are and not who we are.
All of it is brought into existence and taken out of existence according to thought arising in the awareness that somehow we are bringing about.
There is no separation, no distinction other than that believed.
With no one and nothing to judge, judgements disappear, right and wrong disappears.
With nothing that needs to feel secure or right, nothing needs to change and indeed there is nothing even to change or anyone to change it.
With no sense any more of a fixed limited self, there are no limits and nothing to do.
This is us in reality. Pure awareness. Full understanding of the essential nothingness of existence.
And with this realisation, miracles happen.
Because the understanding of the essential nothingness of life, gives rise to the everything. The realisation allows it all in: all experience, all emotion, all thought, all belief. There is nothing to block out. There is nothing that isn’t allowable. All of it is simply reflection of a thought believed.
We realise that somehow the awareness that we are is creating a space for this world to exist. We are simultaneously the creator and the perceiver of that experience.
This ‘I’ of who we are. Such a simple, humble single letter. And yet with true understanding, we see that this ‘I’ is everything. It gives rise to it all and witnesses it all. If that is what you understand God to be, then the ‘I’ is God.
The infinite and the singular meet and explode in this space created by the ‘I’. A world brought into existence by the ‘I’ and a body and senses to immerse itself in that world.
This is the ultimate gift of life.
With this breadth of vision and with this clarity of perception we see all of it, every detail and every detail is magnificent. We are pure love. What we create is pure love. What we perceive is pure love. All of it, who we are.
We move about this world of ours with grace and truth, decision-less and free, knowing that somehow we have summoned it into existence.
We find ourselves unlimited, doing with love what is obvious to do. No reason why.
We see beauty everywhere. It is the exquisite beauty of who we are that has always been reflected back to us. Only now we can see it.
We love and listen to others knowing that we are only ever loving and listening to who we are.
In the Diamond sutras, written over 1100 years ago and one of the most sacred texts of Buddhism, are the words:
“Every living being, whether born from the womb or born in any other way, whether they have perception or none, we should bring toward the boundless freedom of liberation.
And when this vast and immeasurable number of beings has been liberated, we must not believe that any being has been liberated!
Why is this? It is because no compassionate person who is truly compassionate holds to the idea of a self, a being, or a separate individual.”
This is the ultimate paradox at the heart of our existence. This is the understanding that transforms everything.
We are here to liberate knowing there is nothing and no one to liberate.
We are here to end suffering knowing there is no suffering to end.
We are here to change the world, knowing that there is no world to change.