I recently heard this very down to earth, modern version of an ancient parable that has been told in many ways, by many ‘spiritual’ teachers.
When we are born, we come in as a pristine pure, flawless, diamond, and through the course of life we dump a lot of mental conditioning and emotional ‘shit’ on top of it, and obscure its natural brilliance and radiance.
Then, when we become adults, we paint varnish over it, to make it appear shiny and presentable. All we’ve done is put a shiny veneer over the crap, but when we present it to the world saying ‘This is who I am’, we wonder why no one ‘buys it’ and why we don’t feel authentic or at ease within ourselves.
Then one day, if we’re very lucky, through some act of grace, or through a transformative seminar, a book, a crisis, a disease, or some other gift of life, we might have the great good fortune to break through and crack this brittle surface.
Then for a while it might seem as if all we’re doing is shovelling through the brown stuff. But eventually, underneath it all, we unearth the priceless diamond that has always been there – shining, pristine, pure and exquisitely beautiful.
We eventually realize that we’ve always been this flawless diamond, only we’d spent the whole of our lives thinking we were the stuff that obscured it.
This simple parable illustrates the core teaching of every single wisdom tradition.
What is that core teaching?
You are the pure unconditioned awareness that exists prior to thinking.
To lose touch with knowing that creates suffering. You’ll never feel quite whole no matter what pleasures you may have in your life.
To be in touch with that knowing, on the other hand, is to be in touch with yourself at the deepest level. This knowing is the true source of lasting happiness, peace, wholeness and fulfillment
The word often used to point to that state of ‘self-knowing’ is mindfulness.
The wise sages and saints have always told similar parables about a ‘hidden treasure’ that is right under your nose.
They tell stories of beggars unknowingly sitting on boxes of gold. They talk about the lion who forgets his power and greatness after being raised by lambs and they talk of kingdoms of heaven hidden within our very selves.
In each of these parables, the wealth, power or bliss is unveiled (usually aided by a helpful stranger). It is always revealed to be hidden in plain sight – the utter simplicity of discovering this incredible treasure is always stressed.
And it is simple. So incredibly simple that it’s easy to overlook.
What I have discovered, through mindfulness, is that there is no striving, struggling or doing needed in order to have deep lasting happiness. Radiant unshakable peace was always right here inside me – underneath all the stories I told myself about what I needed to do to get it!
All I had to do – all you need to do, is stop overlooking yourself. That is, stop attending to all your pre-occupations, your striving for more, your ruminating and your regrets. Stop giving them all your attention.
Like that beggar sitting on a box of gold, all that’s needed is to stop looking ‘out there’ for scraps of pleasure, worthiness and love – and turn attention within to discover the ineffable, unfathomable reservoir of love and wholeness that is already there.
You don’t need to fix all of your problems first. You don’t need to perfect your personality or reach some higher state of mind. You don’t need to learn something new.
You don’t need to wait for anything at all. Simply shift your attention to the pure awareness that exists underneath every thought, emotion, and life situation.
You can do that now. There is nothing more you need.
Have you unearthed the ‘diamond’ in your life? Or are you still searching, striving and struggling –looking for it where it can’t be found? Will you take up the ancient invitation to simply stop and turn your attention within?
Will you stop frantic doing and simply relax into being?
Share your answers, questions and your own wisdom in the comments section below.
Ps. Modern psychology concurs with these ancient wisdom teachings. Research repeatedly reveals that humans are happiest in the state of mindfulness. Check out this great TED talk for more on that.