On the surface of the ocean, a huge tanker is crashing through the waves, disturbing the ocean’s surface. 7 miles down, the ocean is still and quiescent. A few interesting things to notice:
1. The disturbed water on the surface, and the quiescent, still water deep below are the same water.
2. The disturbed water on the surface has no effect on the water deep below.
3. Taking the ocean as how it appears on the surface in the wake of the tanker, it appears that the ocean is a rough and raging reality. And though this same ocean is quiescent and still deep below, that part remains hidden from our eyes and ears.
The surface of life appears to be like a huge tanker crashing through ocean waves. On the surface, life is not a smooth, placid surface. Right? There’s difficulty, disturbance, friction, the unexpected, conflict, change – in any given day there are all kinds of situations, conditions, and circumstances that makes life a rough ride. You have a body and mind (both of which change and are characterized by impermanence) interacting with a world that is characterized by change and impermanence, which means waves… lots of them. That’s never going to change. When there is a body and mind interacting in the human world… there will be waves!
However, what you don’t see is that 7 miles down… at the center of yourself, at the center of life, at the center of the world, at the center of all things… is a deep, still and quiescent reality. It’s not an object, or something you can point to, or put in a bottle. It is inconceivable and inexpressible. Many people use the word “God” to identify that reality. It is the underlying, unchanging and fundamental essence of all things, including yourself.
The important thing to see is that the water disturbed on the surface is the same quiescent water that is deep below. Right? Thinking of the ocean, the water in the surface waves is no different than the quiescent water deep below. It’s all the same water.
People are wanting to find peace and happiness in life by trying to make the surface of their lives smooth, placid, and undisturbed. We seek pleasure, and avoid pain. We try to engineer some set of life circumstances that we imagine will being peace and happiness. We attend conferences and seminars, and read books, in hopes of finding some new and improved way of eliminating the waves and achieving a smooth, disturbance-free life. Ain’t gonna happen. Ever! There will be waves. That’s just what happens. That’s the way it is.
But here’s the good news. It’s not necessary to have a wave-less life to have peace and happiness. Why? Because true peace and well-being is not the result of achieving a smooth, placid, wave-less surface. True peace and happiness stems from understanding how it works or recognizing the way things really are. Things are not as they appear. It appears that life is one crashing wave after another. But that’s not really the way things are. The way it really is involves recognizing that this same water is actually still and quiescent at the deepest level.
The surface is always going to manifest in waves because that’s just what happens when a body and mind encounters a world of change and impermanence. And yet beneath the surface, reality is still and quiescent. You don’t have to quiet the waves on the surface to create the stillness and quiescence. It is already there.
Jesus did not say, “Leave this world and find the Kingdom of God.” He did not say, “When you die and go to Heaven, you will enter the Kingdom of God.” Jesus said the Kingdom of God has come and is here now. How can that be true? It’s true because one does not have to calm the waves on the surface in order to know the still and quiescent reality below. Life is not separate from God. God is not separate from life… this life… now. It’s the same water. The only problem is that we take the appearance of things as the way they really are.