At age thirty, while on a three month Buddhist retreat, many deep insights arose in my practice. In my weekly interviews with teacher Joseph Goldstein, I would proclaim my new “this is it” version of life. Then of course the “this is it” would change, and I’d start seeking again, until the next “this is it” arose, which would change again, and so forth. Joseph compassionately listened to all my insights, and eventually gave me this mantra; “This is it, is not it.” I kept that mantra for many years. His simple wisdom stopped me from clinging to any insight as the final stopping point. It allowed more flow with the process of discovery, rather than the illusion of finding a final resting place. As human beings, it’s a natural tendency to want to find the “it.” The “it” is our imagined perfect balance of mind and body and spirit. It’s our human sweet spot, and enlightenment is the ultimate sweet spot.
This is it, is not it.
If you let this be true, it unhooks the endless game of “I’ve got it, I’ve lost it.” It unhooks the exhausting pattern of seeking and guarding. My teacher U Pandita told me, “You will always be seeking or guarding experiences. When you find what you seek, then you will try to guard it. In this way, your mind will always be disturbed. Know what is neither guarding nor seeking.” And of course this doesn’t mean we eschew insights. Simply let them come and go, as they will on their own, like the weather.
This is it, is not it.
If you let this be true, it unhooks the game of “you.” You don’t have to seek the perfect truth. You don’t have to wait for a stay-tuned-for-later version of life. And if you’ve had a life changing experience, you don’t have to maintain it. You don’t have to keep checking over your shoulder to make sure you still know it. Let yourself just be how you are, right now. In your natural state, there is no state to maintain.
One meditation student remembered how as a child everywhere he would go, he would joyously and loudly exclaim, “I am here!” This is such a natural expression of our essence; “I am here.” That is enough. You are here. You didn’t need to be thinner, richer, wiser, or more enlightened to be here. You are here. And that is always enough. Enjoy.