by Rui Pedro
This book started with my own interest in these matters. What matters? – you may ask. Essentially, the end of suffering. How can something so intrinsic to human culture, suffering and discontentment, that is, be overcome? It is a staple of human life.
Throughout life, my observations led me to believe that psychological suffering, whatever intensity it takes, is a given in the human birth. A necessary requirement that everyone unwillingly takes to wear the human costume on Earth. This struggle can take many forms, and sure, some have it worse than others, but it is the overarching principle we would find if we were to speak plainly about each of our life’s stories.
This always seemed too heavy of a verdict to accept. If that was absolutely true, if this search was a lost cause, why were the 7 billion of us always seeking happiness? Or peace? Or whatever term describes the absence of this innate discomfort that I talk about. Even for a brief moment, even for a slight suspension, people keep going after it.
Throughout the millennia of our recorded history, we made it a priority to ease this discomfort, whether through mundane activities – acquiring wealth, power, growing a garden with beautiful flowers, making art, cherishing the relationships with our loved ones, or more esoteric – finding seclusion and introspection in a temple, pilgrimaging Camino de Santiago, finding grace in a Guru, or just sitting in a forest, under a Bodhi tree, committed to do it for years on end.
I don’t think one is more noble than the other. Whether you are a drug addict and that is your way to cope with grief and loss, or you decide to join a spiritual group and give your life to it, the common thread is there. In both.
Thus, somewhere at around 20 years old, this seeking process ignited. Furiously. Then there was the intuitive sense that there could be a resolution. This resolution, or a solution to the most important problem, has been laid out in books for thousands of years, quite literally. If you come across Hindu, Buddhist texts or even less traditional christian texts, what is suggested is very akin to what contemporary teachers say today. Even teachers that are not tied to any particular spiritual tradition or religion essentially repeat the same pointers. Finding this information, at first, had an immense appeal to it. It made sense! It served as a kind of meditation – the words led to a pause and allowed me to dive into my own experience and confirm what was being described. A constant internal “Yes!” resonated sympathetically with the words that were read.
After this important discovery, after being open to the implications of such discovery, and most importantly, after having a taste that what I essentially am is not limited to the confines of the body, these teachings became dry. At some point I felt that I was only coming back to get a hit of relief. Either through books, or YouTube videos, as those were my main source of consuming this type of content. And at this time it dawned on me that nothing can help me. Nothing can help me. This sense of impending doom sounds daunting. Haunting. But, in fact, after this initial shock it tasted like freedom. In the sense that it became clear that what I was searching for, truth, if it was indeed true, had to be found within. It had to be present and readily available at all times. There’s no learning curve in truth. Sure, books can point to it and provoke an initial awakening – the awakening that you’ve been living your life under a big assumption. But if truth is indeed sovereign and evident, if it is the very fabric of reality, the heart of everything and more, we must be knee deep in it. Right? So, with this realization, another kind of process kickstarted. Being in solitude was my teacher. And in this solitude there was a wavelength of patience. Not patience to wait for something. Patience in contrast to the previous agitation of seeking. A content rest and childlike curiosity in what experience is. What is this existence? This is the mystery and the most interesting question.
As I was more interested in the direct, actual thing, I started thinking that I would really love to meet someone who lived this understanding. Not to serve as another book but to see how life is lived. I don’t want to discredit how important the previous process was, but the hunger shifted to something more practical. Now I wanted to know how to live. How does the truth shine in the most simple things? I felt I could get more simply by being friends with someone who exudes this understanding, than to talk about the philosophy. What is it like hanging out with a sage? How does such a figure move in the world? Is there some element of transmission in that?
Then, it happened that I met Amit. And we became friends. He told me one thing that definitely happened: “When you are close to the fire, you get warm.” That described exactly my experience. Peace is contagious. It really is.