There is only what’s happening, and everything else fades into the background. In this, it’s already complete. It’s seen that life is already complete.
How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:
Put aside everything you think you already know.
Open your mind and heart to receive something new.
Take your time going through each point.
Return to any points that particularly touch you.
In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.
* All quotes by Jeff Foster, An Extraordinary Absence
1. No More Searching
"It’s because I feel separate that I begin to seek. And in the material world, it’s the search for money, fame, better relationships, a stronger sense of self. In the spiritual world, it’s the search for awakening, enlightenment, liberation.
But really it’s all the same search. It’s the search for completion. The search for home.
What I try to communicate is that you never left home in the first place. That Oneness is all there is. And it’s here, and it’s now, and we’re not separate from it.
And in the seeing of that, the whole search for something more falls away."
What have you been searching for?
What are you convinced will satisfy and complete you?
What is your ultimate goal?
Are you willing to let it all go?
2. No More Identity
"Well, thoughts still arise. Thoughts are allowed to arise. But they aren’t a problem anymore, because there’s no longer anyone there using thoughts to build up an identity.
We grow up in the world, and we grasp at things. We try to make ourselves into something. That’s really the human condition, you could say: the attempt to be someone, to be something, to possess, to grasp.
When all of that falls away, everything is released, so that it can finally be itself, without the grasping. And in that, anything can arise, of course. Thoughts, sounds, smells, feelings in the body. But there’s no sense that any of it is mine, no sense that I’m a separate entity in the control of any of this.
In the seeing of this, in the seeing that there is no ‘me’ at the centre of my life - and this is the foundation on which our whole lives are built - in this falling away, yes, the mind, or thought, or personality, whatever you want to call it, can still seem to have a momentum to it. All the mind has known is seeking. So that can come back in. It’s like, the moment you think you’re awakened, you’re not. Because the mind is going to come back in.
As long as you think you’re awakened or enlightened, or liberated, there’s a ‘you’ there who thinks that. That idea of personal achievement is the hardest thing to let go of.
For a long time, I thought that I was enlightened. And you know, that was just a belief. That was separation. “I’m enlightened, you’re not!” Separation. And there was a sense of superiority there. I thought I had something special. The ego loves to feel that it’s enlightened. Then it can go round the world telling everyone it’s enlightened!
And what was seen over here is that there is no ‘I’ who can be enlightened or not."
Consider the words: "there is no 'me' at the centre of my life." Jeff Foster has both a blog and a book called 'Life Without a Centre,' where he shares his experience of an enlightened life.
We know very well what life WITH a centre looks and feels like - the big ME to whom everything is happening and around which life revolves. But perhaps there have been times when you have lost yourself and enjoyed the oneness of being, without the burden of an identity that needs to be protected and improved.
3. No More Distraction
"There is only what’s happening, and everything else fades into the background. In this, it’s already complete. It’s seen that life is already complete.
And in that seeing, the stuff that isn’t real just falls away, it burns up. And that can appear to take time. But what’s seen in clarity is that there is only now, there is only this.
Babies see this. Newborn babies see this. There’s just what’s happening. There’s nobody there who says “I feel connected, I feel at one with everything”. No, there’s just the spontaneity, just what’s happening.
And as adults we seem to move so far away from that spontaneity, that sense of aliveness, that simplicity.
In our search to be someone, we become very heavy, very serious. We miss this - what’s happening - because we’re so busy looking for something more, something for me."
We are so accustomed to living in our conceptual minds that we don't realize the freedom of being present with what is here now. Being present with what's happening doesn't mean thinking about what's happening; it means taking a glorious break from giving thoughts our attention and simply noticing what's here with us now.
It's as though the background becomes the foreground and the foreground becomes the background. This gives you a completely fresh view of life! "And as adults we seem to move so far away from that spontaneity, that sense of aliveness, that simplicity." But we have only moved away from it in our experience. The ability to experience life in this way is always there - as close as our next breath.
4. No More Effort
"There seemed to be this incessant movement into a future. This constant looking for something I thought I’d lost.
And it’s seen so clearly now: as long as there was a separate person there looking for awakening, there was a separate person there! And that’s what I couldn’t seem to shake off: the separate person. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get rid of this ‘me’, this separate ‘me’.
At one point, I’d seen it so clearly: as long as the ‘I’ was there, I couldn’t awaken. So then the focus became getting rid of this ‘I’. Getting rid of the self at the root of it all.
What I couldn’t see, then, was that it was a self trying to get rid of a self. Such vicious circles of thought!"
It's something most of us end up doing on our journey of self-realization. We try to get rid of our ego, the false sense of self - we try to eliminate that which we see is getting in the way of our liberation, awakening, enlightenment - whatever name you want to give to it.
However, as Jeff so clearly points out here, the self cannot get rid of the self. This is thought trying to figure out an answer to something that is beyond thought.
So then, how can we get out of our own way? Each one of us must discover the answer for ourselves. And all of us, without exception, have the answer within us. Listen to the wisdom within.
5. No More Missing the Miracle
"What was seen so clearly was that it was already here, already complete. The awakening, Oneness, whatever you want to call it, was already here. But it wasn’t something that I could have. It couldn’t be possessed, it couldn’t be grasped. And it was in the grasping, in the attempt to possess it, that I’d apparently lost it.
I remember when I first saw it in a chair. I was in my bedroom at home, looking at a chair, and I realised that I’d never seen a chair before. I’d been too busy looking for something more! Something for ‘me’. Something so much more than the chair. I’d been looking for enlightenment, liberation, awakening. Always in the future. And so I’d missed the chair.
And something funny happened. It was like the chair revealed its secrets. In the falling away of the seeking, the chair revealed its secrets. It was Oneness disguised as a chair! It wasn’t a chair at all!
We call it a chair so we don’t have to see it. “Oh, I know it’s a chair, I know it’s a table…” But when all of that falls away, it’s like nothing can be known about it. It’s not a chair. It is what it is. Everything becomes very alive.
And yet we can still call it a chair. We can still use ordinary language. We can still function as if we were leading a very ordinary life. And yet, underneath, it’s all the miracle. It’s nothing like you thought it would be.
The moment you have an idea of what this is, it’s just an idea. This is too alive to ever be captured, to ever be known."
Jeff Foster says he learns everything from chairs, so let's give our attention to what he's saying here. There are so many accounts of people who "became enlightened" and saw everything as if for the first time. What changed? Only their perspective.
Imagine being so empty and open that the miracle of life reveals itself to you in the most ordinary things of daily life.
6. No More Story, No More You
"It’s the hardest thing to hear, for someone who’s so attached to their teachings, to their games of becoming, to hear that you are irrelevant, that you are absent.
And yet, it’s not a cold, dead, detached absence. It’s a very alive, very full absence. It’s an absence that’s full of everything that’s happening.
Actually, that absence is a perfect presence. So we talk about being present, being in the now. But when you’re fully present, ‘you’ are not there. So really ‘you’ cannot be present. It’s not something that ‘you’ can do. Presence is there in the absence of ‘you’.
The only thing that separates us, apparently, is the story of ‘me’. A story which is so fragile it can fall away just like that, leaving only presence.
It’s the miracle that’s right at the heart of things, right there in the midst of the messiness of human life. And when that’s seen it’s shocking because it destroys all seeking, leaving you here, totally present and totally absent."
We get so attached to our teachings, our beliefs, our preferences and our complicated stories, that we miss the fullness of being alive. The truth of life in this moment is lost in the story of 'me' - a story of lack, limitation, struggle and separation.
I, for one, would gladly be absent from this story and present in the truth of life. "It’s a very alive, very full absence. It’s an absence that’s full of everything that’s happening."
Notice if there is something in you that feels threatened or afraid by this idea of being absent. Do you want to keep protecting that part of you, the part that wants to continue struggling and striving through life in search of freedom? Or are you ready to enter into the freedom that you are now?