In the world, but not of it. What an interest phrase. Do you know what it means, how it actually plays out in this world? Not one of us is of this world. It only seems that way. To realize that truth is awakening from the dream, the illusion of materiality.
It’s not something reserved for the special, the blessed or the lucky. It is what we all are. The only difference, and I do mean only, is that some of us have been convinced beyond doubt, that what everyone believes to be true, the consensus reality, is actually a sham.
In the world, but not of it seems to be a pretty demanding phrase. It seems to ask for a level of abstinence, of purity, and disengagement that few would entertain. After all, we are in the world. That’s what incarnating as a human is, being in the world. That’s where it stops for most people, even spiritual folk who think they’ve figured it out, because to recognize the reality of not being of the world is beyond what the mind can figure out, let alone comprehend … literally.
Practice, practice, practice … ugh
Every single spiritual practice, every tool and technique, every lifestyle choice, is in the world, every. single. one. It’s not that they are bad or that they have no value. Not at all. Do what you desire to do, what pulls you into expression. How could you not? Life is the doing, the unwinding, the revealing, and it reveals itself to us through its myriad expressions. It winds around the mountain passes of belief until it reaches a dead-end, a dead stop. Only then, it seems, does it reveal what it really is, that you were always in the world but not of it, and to get there, to find that brick wall, you must make the journey.
There was a time when I thought I’d figured it out, or at least was making progress. It’s actually quite funny now. I was never so wrong as when I talked about spirituality and awakening with such knowing. I was in the world and still believed myself to be of it even though it is impossible. It’s the impossibility that we discover when we awaken, the reality that we were never, could never be of the world. Believing that we are is where the pain and suffering come from, that one basic fallacy.
It’s a lie …
We remain tied to the lie until it comes undone, an undoing that we are incapable of, and yet, when we have been bloodied sufficiently, the undoing appears. Even then, after the seeing, it seems to take a while for the seemingly endless unwinding to stop its spin. At least, it did for me. Heck … it still is unwinding. I just don’t care that it is.
I remember the moment the knot broke open as if it was a breath ago. I was sitting on the couch meditating … in the world and very convinced I was of it, fancying that I was doing the work. I actually had no choice. My body was rebelling in a very end times sort of way. I had nothing left in me to fight what was … life had exhausted all my strategies. At that time, I looked at my interactions in the world - how well my body was doing, whether or not I had friends or a lover, enough money in the bank to stay afloat, the ability to function in this world - as my measuring stick.
Sitting quietly, my hands wrapped around my knees, intently meditating, something happened that shocked the seeker. The only words that come close were, “Oh my God … that’s what they meant. Good lord. I would never have guessed.”
It’s impossible to name but not impossible to experience
To tell you what I saw is impossible. It would be like telling you how chocolate tastes when you have never had a bite of it in your mouth. I can only tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t anything I could put into words, anything a mind can understand, anything that means anything at all in this material world. It knocked the foundation out from under this silly human, while not changing a thing in the visible world. My heart was still glitchy. My karma was still playing out. Amaya was still in the world. She will always be in the world - she is the world - but seeing through the fallacy of what this is, left me, the me I truly am - fully aware of not being of this world.
It seems to take a while for the understanding to integrate, all the way in, into the habitual hold-out places within. I don’t know if it ever fully integrates. Perhaps it will. Perhaps it is not intended to do so. I do not know. I don’t know much it seems. I don’t know if I will take my last breath in two minutes, or if I have a little longer left in the game. I don’t know if the sun will rise tomorrow, or some unknown will end it all. I don’t know if it will rain or snow, or if I’ll be standing outside in my yard while the earth quakes. I don’t even know if the grocery store will have what I want the next time I go. I really don’t know anything at all, not for sure. If I don’t know things that simple, how could I know what might or might not integrate?
If you are honest with yourself, you realize that you don’t know either. The only reason I bring it up is that it’s kind of important, the not knowing, that is. Not knowing, leaves you open to see what you believe you know. Sitting on the couch, I knew nothing. Everything I thought I knew had failed me. Not knowing what the heck was going on, left me open, an empty canvas to be shown what this is. It’s not like this we are sits back and waits for an opening. It’s always present, always available. We just don’t see it because we already think we know what it is, and that knowing focuses our full attention on the false notions we put our trust in.
You are the invitation
It’s clear to me that what we call life is the opportunity to experience this apparently separate experience, to be in the world, and to be consciously aware that we are not of it. That’s the exact opposite experience of 99.9% of earth’s population. It’s definitely the path less traveled.
Not being of it, doesn’t change the experience, other than enrichening it. Consciously not being of it, frees you to operate under a different set of rules, although it’s not you that’s operating, even though it seems to be the case. It is the you who was always overseeing the show, even though you thought your avatar, the one that goes by your name, was in charge.
Once you’ve seen what you are, you are irrevocably changed in the way you look at life. It becomes easier to abide as awareness, as what you are, right in the middle of life’s earthquakes. The named self still experiences life. She rides the rollercoaster, tastes the delights, feels the pain and sorrow, love and happiness, is the invitation and the opportunity. Without her, nothing could be known. She is a miracle.
Regardless of whether you know it - balls to the bones to quote The Matrix - you are it. You are in the world but not of it, no matter how much you think it isn’t so.