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December 29, 2015

Seeking is the Cause of Suffering

This week I’ve had a great time watching a high school holiday basketball tournament.  One of the men I coach coaches one of the best teams in the state and I like watching him work with his players.  What’s also fun is that I played in the same holiday tournament in the same field house forty-five years ago.  In fact, we won the tournament and went on to win the state championship.  Basketball was a big part of my life.  I was an OK player on a really great team but most of the time I was playing I was suffering.

Sometimes I didn’t feel the suffering.  Sometimes life felt great but underneath the suffering was always there. (By the way, suffering is a big word and maybe you don’t relate to it so I could also use words like lonely, aching, longing, sad, hurting, hoping, wanting, missing, needing.)

I was suffering because I was seeking and seeking always leads to suffering.  I didn’t know that back then … that seeking leads to suffering.  In fact, I went on to spend the next thirty years of my life seeking in one way or another.  I knew I was suffering and I was sure that if I just kept seeking I’d find the solution to the suffering.  My seeking led me to religion and to believing that if I really connected with God the suffering would end.  Seeking led me to a career as a minister and spiritual leader, to marriage and parenting, then to another marriage and step parenting and to countless teachers, therapists, coaches and guides.  I believed so deeply that the solution was out there and if I just kept seeking I’d find it.

What was I seeking?  What are most people seeking?  There are many words that could describe what it is we seek; words like peace, happiness, love, meaning and intimacy.   Some of the words I’ve come to use are approval, control, security and oneness.  I learned these words from Hale Dwoskin and the Sedona Mehtod and they resonate with me.

We seek security, which means safety and most importantly survival.  We believe that if we have approval, love, and are liked and wanted we’ll be secure.  If we can’t get approval we try to control the world so that it can’t threaten our survival.  All this because we have lost touch with the oneness. We are desperately seeking to reconnect with what we believe we lost.  This is what I was looking for as an athlete, a spiritual seeker, a leader, a partner, parent, teacher and guide.

As a high school basketball player I was seeking approval or it’s opposite the avoidance of disapproval.  I tried to get this by controlling myself, my game, my coach, teammates and opponents.  Throughout the rest of my life I changed what it was that I believed would give me approval, control, security and oneness. But I kept seeking.

About ten years ago I stopped seeking.  Not totally, but largely.  What I realized, not as a belief but as a direct experience is that seeking takes me in the wrong direction.  It takes me away from what it is I most deeply want.  Seeking is rooted in a belief in lack, something is missing.

But what if nothing is missing?  What if the very thing I’m seeking is actually right here right now? What if there is no where to go to get what I already have and nothing to do to become what I already am? What if, as Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is within?”  What if approval, control, security and oneness are always here and all I have to do is realize it?

These questions are the big questions of life.  In my experience they are game changers.  Truly conscious leaders experience on a regular basis that these deep wants can not be found by one more promotion, one more zero on our net worth, one more relationship, one more accomplishment or one more spiritual experience.  They experience that they are actually always here in this now moment.

The practice of Commitment 11 of The Fifteen Commitments of Conscious Leadership is the practice of actually checking to see if anything is really missing.  Through direct examination conscious leaders experience that the answer is no.

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