every moment: “… to somehow become one with the universe, we can start by being one with this moment, this ordinary moment, this sacred moment …” ~ Mike Kewley
Whatever be the means adopted, you must at last return to the Self, so why not abide as the Self here and now? ~ Ramana Maharshi
Know everything in this moment and you will know the Eternal Tao ~ Lao Tzu
Indeed, both Ramana Maharshi and Lao Tzu are expressing the profound truth inherent … in this moment … in the here and now …
Truth that is so simple that we brush it aside … why? … because as Mike Kewley says: “… The truth is simple, but we don’t like simple …”
Mike went looking for awakening thinking and believing – like countless others – that it is “out there” … he went searching for “something” that is/was already and always here. Turns out, he had a powerful, life transforming “event” at age 29 in the library that (his words): “… The veil of duality had disappeared and I understood that I was home. In fact, I had always been home, resting in my true nature, sitting in the timeless, nondual now. My mind had been searching for something that was always here. It was all so simple: Mike had never really existed. He had never really been in the way. There was only God—knowing itself, being itself, acting through itself …”
He goes on to discover that “… The path to enlightenment leads nowhere. It’s a journey back into the silent depths of who we fundamentally are, not a step away. Wisdom traditions agree that if you want to wake up, above all things, be present …”
In his recent, and 1st book, The Treasure House: Discovering Enlightenment Exactly Where You Are, he shares “… how we can all learn and remember that our own ordinary lives, the lives we try to avoid, suppress and fix, are themselves the living treasures we seek. We will wander through the ever-changing landscape of each moment and discover how to fall in love with the ordinariness we find there, an ordinariness which is always none other than the divine mystery dancing in front of us, oozing its sensory glory …”
This topic, this theme has been written about ad nauseum these days … so an easy response could be “oh no! .. yet another book … on this moment … on mindfulness … and so on …” … but Joan Tollifson’s testimonial about it says it all:
“In this lean, distilled, very readable book, Mike offers an enlightening brew of mindfulness, radical nonduality, and Zen simplicity, all pointing us to the ordinary wonder that is right here, right now, just exactly as it is. A very clear, wise book that invites the reader to discover enlightenment exactly where you are. Very highly recommended.”
So, like our usual substantive book reviews, we offer an excerpt of the entire chapter titled Every Moment is Best … where Mike shares – in a simple and relatable manner – how and why … every moment is indeed the best …
All italicized text above and below (except where noted otherwise) is from Mike’s book and is published here with the publisher New Sarum Press’ generous permission. Scroll to the bottom for a free downloadable Table of Contents.
Every Moment Is Best
We often romanticise our search for truth and meaning by imagining that they can only be found in a Himalayan cave or deep in the Amazonian jungle. We feel that we are somehow different, special, and that our journey towards cosmic consciousness shouldn’t really involve the monotony of a nine-to-five job, family responsibilities or petty chores. We might even believe that it’s this daily drudge that keeps us from realising our true potential.
But the reality is that if you can’t find the truth in your kitchen, you’re not going to find it anywhere else.
The spiritual life is essentially a simple affair. We develop our capacity to be with every moment as it presents itself, merging into it, rather than reacting to it. Meditation is not just something we do on a cushion with our eyes closed but concerns our active relationship to life itself, to people and places, food, money, sex and responsibility. What is that relationship like? Do some moments count and others don’t? Because until everything counts, we are still living from fear and reactivity. A Zen story illustrates this:
Banzan was walking through the marketplace when he overheard a conversation between the butcher and his customer. “Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer. “Everything in my shop is the best!” replied the butcher, “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best!”
Upon hearing these words Banzan became enlightened.
Every moment is the best. It’s always the best because it’s the only moment happening. You cannot find another moment in this moment. If we miss that, then we miss everything.
Through practice, we can transform our relationship with any activity by making it an active meditation. This is how the tedious can become transcendent. By focusing into the task at hand, we can enter the flow state, an optimum state of mind coined by positive psychologist, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, in which we become so immersed in an activity that there is an accompanying sense of timelessness, effortlessness and selflessness.
I’ve met many people in my workshops and courses who have entered deep states of flow whilst kayaking through rapids, bungee jumping, running a marathon or practising martial arts. But it’s not only these more intense activities that can shift us into a radical state of presence. Recently a friend described an experience of walking in her field at sunrise, picking up horseshit. “There’s nothing else happening,” she explained, “Just me and the poop.”
I’m fascinated by these reports because they show us that whenever we become fully absorbed in an activity—any activity—our messy and complicated lives are suddenly reduced to an expansive moment of sheer simplicity.
But what does picking up horseshit have to do with enlightenment? Everything. Transformation happens when we stop running away from our ordinary lives and merge with them. Running away to temples and ashrams can be helpful, but the real test is always when we return to our families, jobs and responsibilities. Have we realised that they too are an act of meditation?
We may be able to find deep inner peace in the structured silence of a meditation retreat, but can we find it in the maelstrom of parenting, marriage and mundane chores? The daily grind of washing-up, hoovering and sweeping need never been an obstacle to rush through with gritted teeth, but a secret invitation to an expanded way of living. Your house, apartment, garage, shed or couch is holy ground and all tasks are sacred.
Every moment is best.
Reflect upon which jobs you have an aversion to. Which tasks trigger resistance or apathy? Which activities do you hurry through absentmindedly because you believe that they are simply not worthy of your time and energy?
Once you have found this tension you can consciously work with it. The resistance comes from imagining that there is another moment to get to, and that mopping the floor is an obstacle. But it’s not. It’s the best. Each moment is always the best.
Instead of indulging the thoughts and judgements about mopping the floor, try to purposefully focus into the activity of mopping itself, treating it as an act of meditation. This is no longer a chore, there are no chores, there is only the practice of presence. Can you hoover the house and become the hoovering? Can you wash the dishes and realise that you are washing your own mind?
We often fail to see that our spiritual practice is not special at all, it’s just life. Cleaning the bin or changing a nappy may not be obvious opportunities for awakening, yet when done with full commitment and focus, they hold the same value—perhaps more.
But it’s not just the spiritual life that we romanticise, it’s our teachers too. We like to imagine these Enlightened Masters as extraordinary figures, exotic and otherworldly, bathed in an aura of light with flowing robes, soft voices and a holy twinkle in their eye, rather than as factory workers or taxi drivers.
But if we keep our eyes open we can find our teachers in the most unlikely of places, often hidden in plain sight. A friend of mine works for the local council as a street cleaner and just this morning I stopped to talk with him. He told me that he’d been watching a heron standing motionless in the harbour and had become deeply absorbed in its beauty.
“It’s all so simple,” he said as crowds of office workers jostled past, their eyes screened and their ears plugged, “There’s nothing we need to do. This is the heavenly moment.”
We don’t need to travel the world to somehow become one with the universe, we can start by being one with this moment, this ordinary moment, this sacred moment.
Now, go and clean the toilet.
~ Mike Kewley
Stay tuned for … more from New Sarum Press …
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