Saturday, 28 April 2012

On Looking

It seems to me that there are two kinds of looking. We can look for, and we can look at, into or through.

Looking for something – especially a thing that we perceive to be outside ourselves - can be an exhausting business. Towards the end of 2010, I expressed my deep frustration with the seemingly never-ending search for something better or different, something other than this-here-now:

I want to stop looking!
I want to stop looking!

I want to stop looking for the right remedy or the right supplement.
I want to stop looking for the right doctor or the right therapist.

I want to stop looking for the right medication or the right herb or the right acupuncturist or the right healer.

I want to stop looking for clarity or peace or wellness or good health or enlightenment or awareness or my true nature or my natural state.

I want to stop looking for the right man or the right relationship or the right body weight or the right look or the right job or the right activity or the right achievement.

I want to stop looking for change in my mum or my sisters or my friends or anyone else, even Jack.
I want to stop looking for change in my symptoms or lower blood pressure or more energy or different emotions or no headaches or any other changes in me.

I want to stop looking for being better or being well or being different to how I am now.
I want to stop looking for God or The Underlying Cause To All This or anything else.

I want to stop looking and I want to just be me, Whatever, However, Whenever and Wherever with no apologies or caveats or wishes or hopes or longings or missings, just me, as I am, here and now.


Of course, the idea that anything needs to be changed is just that – an idea. However, when we take our thoughts at face value, they seem to present us with compelling evidence that things do indeed need to change, that we are deficient in some way, that we are incomplete. So off we go, looking for whatever it is that we believe we lack. I need a partner. She should be more helpful. I should lose weight. I’m not awakened and I want to be. I should be a much better version of myself. There are an infinite number of things that we can go looking for; there is no end to the merry-go-round of seeking, unless we look in a different way.

When we begin to inquire into the validity of our beliefs, into the truth – or lack of it – behind our assertions, it is astonishing to realise that what we’ve taken to be factual, objective, hard truth is actually nothing of the sort. Today, I’ve had yet another experience of the freedom that can be found when we put our minds to looking into rather than looking for. Together with four others, I’ve spent the day doing The Work of Byron Katie. One by one, we dismantled our stories. We witnessed each other’s insights and realisations. In examining my story, compassion (as well as laughter) spontaneously arose, and I saw through that particular dream of separation.

The act of inquiring sheds light into previously dark corners, and exposes both the lies that we’ve been believing, and our pay-offs for believing them. If I continue to believe that you’ve caused my pain, I get to keep my identity intact, and I avoid feeling the pain that resides deep within. If I continue to look for what I think I want – as if it were separate from me – I can keep my focus away from the disturbing truth that my story is not true. However terrible our stories seem to be, we also have to admit that they are comforting in their familiarity, and we ferociously defend them when provoked.

As we draw closer to the most painful stories, the ones that form the innermost part of our identities, we frequently experience extreme discomfort, and it is tempting to run. But...there really is nowhere to run to. We may as well stay, and face what Scott Kiloby calls the core wound. For therein lies both our pain and our salvation. When we look deeply, we discover that we are not at all what we’ve taken ourselves to be. We are not deficient in any way. We are not imperfect, and there is nothing that we need to change. Recently, I used Scott’s Unfindable Inquiry to see if I could find the self that wants – the part of me that wants it all to be another way. I discovered that what is most wanted is the end of wanting. And beyond that, I couldn’t find a self that wanted. Peace.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 

T. S Eliot


  1. LOVE!!!! Thank you... this has given me insight into some thoughts and feelings I have been struggling with... ~blessings~

  2. Thank you so much. I'm really glad it's resonated with you. Sending love.

  3. I think I love you

  4. Beautifully said. Thanks Fiona.

  5. Thanks Jeff. Lovely to see you here.

  6. Fine words of wisdom. THX!