How Long Will It Take?
There is a wonderful story about a young man who checks into the monastery, full of juice and ready to be enlightened yesterday. He asks the abbot, "How long will it take me to be enlightened?" To which the abbot answers, "About ten years." The young man says, "Ten years! Why ten years?" The abbot replies, "Oh, twenty years in your case." The man asks, "Why do you say twenty years?" The abbot says, "Oh, Iím sorry. I was mistakenÖthirty years."
If you really get it, you realize that to even ask the question gets you ten years. As soon as the thought, "When will I really be free?" comes up, time has just birthed itself into existence. And with this birth of time you have to think, "Probably at least ten years, maybe forever." Where can you go in order to get here? Any step takes you somewhere else.
This is surprising to the mind because the mind always thinks of freedom, or enlightenment, as some sort of accumulation, and of course there is nothing to accumulate. Itís about realizing what you are, what you have always been. This realization is outside of time because itís now or never.
As soon as your idea of enlightenment becomes time-bound, itís always about the next moment. You may have a deep spiritual experience and then ask, "How long will I sustain this experience?" As long as you insist on the question, you remain time-bound. If you are still interested in time and the spiritual accumulations you can have in time, you will get a time-bound experience. The mind is acting as if what you are looking for isnít already present right now. Now is outside of time. There is no time, and the paradox is that the only thing that keeps you from seeing the eternal is that your mind is stuck in time. So you miss whatís actually here.
Have you ever felt that you really didnít like being here very much and that you wanted some wonderful eternal experience? Thatís what is often thought but not said when the teacher says, "Be here right now." Inside you are feeling, "I am here, and I donít like being here. I want to be there, where enlightenment is." If you have a really true teacher, you will be told that you are mistaken, that you have never been here. Youíve always been in time, therefore, you have never actually shown up here. Your body was here, but the rest of you went somewhere else.
Your body has been going through this thing called "life," but your head has been going through this thing called "my fantasy about life" or "my big story about life." You have been caught in an interpretation about life, so you have never really been here.
Here is the Promised Land. The eternal is here. Have you ever noticed that you have never left here, except in your mind? When you remember the past, you are not actually in the past. Your remembering is happening here. When you think about the future, that future projection is completely here. And when you get to the future, itís here. Itís no longer the future.
To be here, all you have to do is let go of who you think you are. Thatís all! And then you realize, "Iím here." Here is where thoughts arenít believed. Every time you come here, you are nothing. Radiantly nothing. Absolutely and eternally zero. Emptiness that is awake. Emptiness that is full. Emptiness that is everything.
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