Material seekers are motivated by the ambition to satisfy desires, such as the desire for money, honor, or fame. Dogmatic religious seekers strive to achieve God, paradise, or enlightenment. The person whom I consider to be a true spiritual seeker questions everything, including the search and the essence of the one who searches.
Material seekers’ life is governed by the yearning to satiate their desire for wealth, position, respect, power, and many other things. They live striving to obtain pleasure, enjoyment, and happiness. This pursuit disconnects them from reality because their existence revolves around a constant projection of dreams. Their ambitions pull them in multiple directions and condemn them to a state of conflict. This inner struggle also reflects in their relationship with the world and other people. For this reason, spiritual seekers are interested not in satisfying but in understanding desires. They do not attempt to fulfil nor to repress desires, because even the intention to eliminate them is still a desire. Knowing that it is impossible to transcend what one does not understand, they commit to observe and examine their desires.
Spiritual search begins when we understand that desires bring about frustration. We realize that no matter how successful we might become, at the end, our achievements will need to be abandoned. We see that as long as desire is present, we will keep projecting selfish longings upon life. We notice that our ambitions inhibit observation, obstruct access to reality, and prevent us from being in the now. Spiritual inquiry is to seek reality, or Truth. Instead of running after the satisfaction of demands and selfish needs, spiritual seekers investigate themselves, their own ambitions and yearnings, and even the motivations behind their search.
Material seekers dream of achieving the distant, whatever that which they lack. Their search starts from a feeling of deficiency. Spiritual seekers, on the other hand, aspire to recognize what they have; they want to become aware of what already is… and perceive it as it is: a subtle yet an abysmal difference. They understand that superficial life is meaningless and realize the futility of reducing life to being born, sleeping, protecting oneself, eating, procreating, and dying. They refuse to see it as a passage from cradle to grave, without any kind of evolution. When they become aware of this inconstant reality, they discover that their life is nothing but an illusory phenomenon.
The search can begin only when one faces life’s miseries. Three walks around the city were enough for Buddha to become aware of the earthly suffering that had been hidden from him behind the closed walls of the palace. It was during these walks that he realized that worldly enjoyment and pleasures are trivial. Having recognized the negative, he began the search for the positive. It is then that Buddha left the palace in pursuit of real happiness or absolute bliss.
Throughout history, little has made us more passionate than the search for Truth. From this passion, works like the Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads, the Zend Avesta, the Tao Te Ching, and the Dhamapada were born. Deep theologies and philosophies emerged from these scriptures, but also dogmatic religions, blind beliefs, and fanaticisms. Religious seekers wish to experience God or enlightenment; they go through life with yearning for lights, opening of chakras, and paradises. But any attempt to satisfy desires is material. As long as they strive to fulfil their dreams, there will be greed and they will remain entangled in illusion. In the tenacity to satisfy their ambitions, they resemble dogs chasing their own tails: the faster they run, the quicker their tails get away. Instead of seeking personal ideas about God, it is better to try to have a direct experience. A true spiritual search is existential, not dogmatic.
If our efforts are aimed at attaining God and enlightenment, we will remain with nothing but myths and dogmas in our hands. The search should begin by exploring exactly where we are. If you are a mind, observe and study it. Start by investigating the ego. Instead of condemning thoughts, question them. Rather than suppress desires, get to know them. Inquire not if God exists; question your own existence. If you start from the beginning and not from the end, you shall embark on a true evolutionary process of transformation.
When the pursuit of desires is overcome, the spiritual search becomes much simpler. Any difficulty in meditation is a sign that we still have to go beyond the first phase. Only when we are free from desires, do we cease to be directed toward the future, and situate ourselves in the present. Desires are in the future, while Truth is the now. It is impossible to awaken to reality without overcoming desires. To transcend them is to go beyond thought, and that is meditation. Only in the absence of desires does every mental and emotional activity cease, and we can immerse ourselves in the depths of our interior. To situate ourselves in the here and now is to wake up to what is, as it is. In the present, enlightenment is revealed as a natural consequence.
Enlightenment is not to satisfy a longing, but the inevitable consequence of having gone beyond the mind. The spiritual path is not about adding what we lack, but about getting rid of what we have in excess. Fulfilling desires, we achieve more, get, acquire, and possess more. Only by undertaking the inner search shall we ease our heavy egoic load.
The ego is a lack of consciousness, while the spiritual search is a process of expanding consciousness. Instead of struggling to eradicate the ego, we should strive to broaden awareness. Transcending the ego is synonymous with full consciousness.
Only by looking for ourselves is it possible to get lost, dissolve, and empty ourselves. The wave is the individual aspect of the sea; the sea is the oceanic aspect of the wave. Examining the components of a drop, we shall understand the ocean. Likewise, if we begin by analyzing our individual aspect, we will end up accessing the divine one. When inquiring into the personal, we access the universal. Observing the part, we will understand the Whole. The spiritual quest is just an effort to create the proper situation. When conditions are favorable, we shall notice that Truth, enlightenment, and God are already there… exactly where we are.