THE BEST PLACE TO BE IS WITHIN YOURSELF

By Swami Chetanananda

Within and around us, Life is. Life is self-organizing, self-motivating, self-knowing, self-expressing. It is not that I am anything; this body is only a reflection of the creative capacity that is present in Life Itself. To begin to live from this understanding gives rise within us to a state of total well-being that is beyond the stresses and strains of ordinary living. Our whole understanding of time and space is completely rearranged, because no longer are we limited by the superficial boundaries that arise and subside through the action of the creative power implicit in Life.

            To give you an analogy, the ocean has lots of different currents and pressures functioning in it, but is itself a consistent medium. It’s all water, all the way through, but because of the various pressures functioning within and around that event, all kinds of different wave patterns and current patterns and tide patterns are articulated. Those boundaries--current boundaries, tidal boundaries, wave patterns--are all superficial. We can notice them and think they’re interesting, but we understand that fundamentally it is all water, it is all one.

            Life is also One. That understanding changes our concern for our own material and physical well-being; we don’t have the same paranoia about it. We can allow for the natural creative power of Life Itself to flow within us and around us. In this we discover an extended benefit which totally transcends our human idea of desires and wants and needs. We understand even in the beginning of this experience that Life Itself has no problem.

            It’s only because of our limited understanding and our attachment to the forms of experience that we have no access to the substance of experience--the vast creative vitality that is implicit in all experience and the universal power from which experience itself arises. Consequently we worry, we suffer, we strain, we anguish, and we die. We must, in earnest and with great dedication, pursue our understanding of and our direct connection to authentic living, and do this through the process of growing. We must make the effort to take down the walls, to dissolve the tensions, break the patterns, extend our awareness throughout the whole field of our creative awareness. Only then do we begin to live and die for a real reason.

            That reason is the experience of authenticity and an understanding of the vastness of Life Itself, which removes us immediately from the realm of suffering. If we understand that Life is infinite, that what is alive is alive and that things that are alive don’t die--by definition--then fear, insecurity, and suffering no longer have any hold on us. We are able to completely relax and, with virtue and generosity and patience and sustained effort, cultivate within ourselves the capacity for contemplative attention and discriminative awareness. These allow us to recognize, extend, and dissolve the superficial boundaries that are limitations to our awareness; further, they allow us to participate completely in the experience of authentic living.

Whatever we’re doing in this world is only fulfilling, ultimately, within the context of our effort to grow and to connect to the infinite creative capacity implicit in authentic living. Any work we do, any form of life we have, is meaningful and enriching. Don’t think you need any other kind of life than the life you have, and don’t think there’s any possibility someplace else that does not exist where you are at this moment. Though the process of growing may take you through many different types of scenery, though you may play many different roles and have many different jobs, the place to be is within yourself. Participate in the total flow of creative energy available to you in each moment; watch, with discrimination and careful attention, the process by which this creative energy structures itself as a pattern and is expressed in the field of your everyday experience. In this way you are structuring, layer-by-layer and stage-by-stage, the endless possibility for renewal and recreativity that is possible in life, sharing that recreativity with all the different people you interact with.