Seeking self-esteem is like trekking through the Himalayas hoping to find a Yeti. We tell ourselves: “Just keep scaling the slopes—looking, achieving, producing, accumulating—and eventually I will get there. I will feel good about myself.” But when have we ever found the mythical creature? When have we ever found a self that is good enough?
The illusion of an externally existent world rests largely on the sense of sight. When the eyes are open, there are no “gaps” in the visual field, which is primarily why the world appears to be so absolutely solid and independent.
The call to “know thyself” seems to reside deep in the human psyche—this maxim was inscribed in the ancient Temple of Apollo in Delphi, and we have been experimenting with ways to gain self-knowledge for thousands of years. Many of us engage in practices—mindfulness, meditation, yoga, contemplation, and an array of therapies—that have grown out of this collective search for self.
Once I saw mountains as mountains, and rivers as rivers. Then I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and rivers are not rivers. But now… I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and rivers once again as rivers.
Adapted from a translation by D.T. Suzuki in his Essays in Zen Buddhism
People often have the impression that a non-dual teaching is telling them to stop participating in life.
They hear someone describe the fact that if you rest, and make no attempt to do anything, you may discover that everything is happening spontaneously. From this, they get the impression it’s saying you should always attempt to do nothing.