“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” ~ Barack Obama
We hear a lot about ‘the path’;
Follow the path.
Are you on the right path?
You’ve veered from the path.
Okay, so don’t be afraid to admit this; do you know what this mysterious path that everyone is talking about is? Where do we find this golden yellow brick road?
For some, the path might be lined with smiling daisies and appear perfectly straight and smooth. While for others the path might be lined with snapping turtles; rocky and full of potholes, mud and detours.
Although we are all on different paths, there are two things I can assure you:
- Despite appearances all paths are lined with good and bad.
- Ultimately we are all trying to get to the same place.
And what place is that exactly? The magical Land of Oz?
Although there is not a final destination, the path leads us to freedom and happiness. That’s what ‘they’ are referring to when speaking of the path, are you on the right path to true happiness?
You and I have the same desire, to be happy and free from suffering and if you check everything we do is motivated by this wish.
You might get married to be happy, or get divorced to avoid suffering. You might eat healthy to avoid future suffering or change careers to prevent stress.
Sometimes our decisions are not accomplishing our desires in the way in which we hope, so we become confused, and this is where we stumble off the path. As long as we look outside of ourselves for happiness we have fallen off the path. Our clinging, attachments and fixations are like dark clouds, hiding the sun.
Okay so we know that the path leads to happiness, but we need to be able to find the path in the first place. Where is the starting line?
Can you see the start of the path on the tip of the horizon; maybe you think the path starts once you’re married or travel to that exotic destination? That’s not the path; ignore that view, that’s just an illusion.
If we click our red shoes three times, we will find ourselves at home, and this is where the path starts, because the truth is you are already on the path, right now. Your feet are already touching the gravel; your legs are carrying you forward. It’s right in front of you, not around the corner or 10 miles down the road, but right here, right now.
“It’s so close we don’t recognize it and because it’s so easy we don’t believe it and we go looking for it everywhere else.” ~ Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpouche
What we need to do is bring our current experiences onto the path. Experiences come from the mind and body and our path is based upon our current experiences.
The path is the way to discovering and practicing our natural, true nature; some call this our Buddha nature. This practice is important because our Buddha nature is in essence our soul, consciousness, energy – whatever you want to call it, we all possess it. When this life comes to an end and our physical body is cast aside, what remains is our soul, our energy, our life force. We no longer have a physical body to conceal who we are; our true nature is revealed in its entirety.
Every experience we have, on the spot, is an opportunity to and opportunity for an AHA moment or what we might call an opportunity for awakening.
Okay so we’ve found the path, we are already on the path, and we are trying to make our best effort to transform our experiences into wisdom, compassion, kindness, love, and generosity, but then we realize that we are making mistakes; we might be caught up in a fit of emotion or greed. Listen: Don’t beat yourself up and think you have to start the path all over; you are still progressing on the path.
The path is about recognizing your thoughts, emotions and fears, and making a commitment to try to avoid negative, harmful actions. If you are making an effort then you are progressing. Whether your opinion is you have passed or failed this is irrelevant. By making the effort it will naturally lead you to happiness. Wisdom, compassions, kindness, love and generosity are the very causes of happiness. (not worldly possessions)
Please don’t mistaken me for saying that once you recognize the path you are on that life will be all beautiful roses and playful puppies. Life is not perfect and just because you have found that path does not mean that you won’t have turbulent states of mind or situations. This would be completely boring anyways, like a feel good movie where you can always predict the ending.
This isn’t reality and this isn’t going to happen. In life anything can and does happen. It’s the truth of impermanence and change and this is what makes life an adventure. Stop chasing impossible ideals and connect instead to the present moment.
It’s your path, it’s your journey, how it goes and what it looks like is up to you. Be patient, results come in time; you will not see minute by minute changes to your mind and behaviors. But it’s there and it’s happening right now. The fact that you are even interested in learning about your path means that something has awakened inside of you; many causes and conditions have brought you to this point – be thankful.