In a recent discussion with a friend about books we found insightful, I mentioned three by Adyashanti – Falling into Grace, The End of Your World, and Emptiness Dancing. Then I realized that these three book titles are a perfect description of awakening.
Falling into Grace
When I was growing up, we used to go to a recreational area on the Tennessee River called Pickwick. There was a cove with a waterfall accessible only by boat. From the boat you could swim over to the base of the cliff to the side of the waterfall, where there was a knotted rope you could use to climb up to the top. It was not an easy climb over slippery rocks and mossy footholds.
Once at the top, you could look out over the boats floating below. From this ledge, the cliff seemed much taller than it did from water level. This was the “oh s- – t” moment when you would realize what you had done. There was only one way down and that was not climbing back down the way you had come up. The only way down was to jump.
So you stood at the top of the cliff wondering why you had wanted to do this in the first place. What looked so enticing from below now was terrifying. You worked so hard to get to this point and now all you had to do to get where you wanted was to step off solid ground. Gravity would do the rest.
This is where we sometimes find ourselves when all our practice and effort gets us to the point when there is nothing left to do except let go. And that becomes the hardest thing of all. We read books, meditate for hours, go to workshops, chant and beat drums. We call ourselves seekers and embrace the journey. But when life says, “You are here! You have arrived. Seek no more. Just let go,” we balk.
Because on some level, you know that if you just let go and fall into grace, it will be …
The End of Your World
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly.
We are so afraid that if we let go, our world will not be the same, we will not be the same. We will not be in control. We will be in free fall. And that is the key word – free. Here is the secret: you were never in control. Once you step off the cliff in surrender, the fear is immediately gone and you know that everything is all right, no matter what. You realize that you haven’t lost anything but delusion and the fear that goes with it. And that changes everything.
Nothing is the same. You are not the same. It is extraordinary. And immensely ordinary. It is everything. And nothing. You feel exhilarated, and relieved. It is liberating, and you are …
You plunge into the water and come up laughing and sputtering. You look around at the boats and the waterfall and the people. Can they tell that everything has changed, that you have changed? No one seems to notice that everything seems fresher, the colors brighter, the water cooler. You have released everything that you held onto, emptied yourself of all your fears and stories and limitations. Life is exquisite. Every moment is a gift, an invitation to dance the divine dance.
You climb back onto the boat. Your mother wraps you in a towel and slathers sun screen on your face over your protests. Dad opens the cooler and everyone reaches for sodas and fried chicken.
It is all so deliciously normal, in a way you have never noticed before.
Nearby there is a splash. A face pops up out of the water. Eyes full of wonder search until they meet yours. You smile.