Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

I Am the Cake!

A meditation teacher was describing two approaches to attaining enlightenment. One, he said, is like showing someone a picture of a cake and telling them “Go make this.” The other is like giving someone a recipe. I understood what he meant. He was suggesting that the instructions in the recipe would be more helpful than a photo with no directions. But something kept lurking at the edge of my consciousness, something that seemed a bit off.

So I sat on my cushion and contemplated this whole cake metaphor. And suddenly I knew what was bothering me. Both approaches describe a way to attain or produce something, something you don’t already have.

What if, instead, I don’t think in terms of making a cake, but rather in terms of realizing that I am the cake? I don’t need to make anything, produce anything, attain anything. I only need to remember who I am. I only need to allow my true nature to manifest and be expressed.

Does that mean that there is no purpose to practice or process? No, I don’t think so. Our practice is not so much about attaining enlightenment as it is about releasing everything that blocks our awareness of our natural enlightened state. I don’t need to get from here to there. I need to remember that I’m already where I want to be. I always have been. I never left.

In a temple in Thailand, there is a solid gold Buddha that was encased in a plaster statue for so long that its true nature was forgotten. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, its priceless truth was only rediscovered when it fell from a crane moving it and some plaster chipped off. When all the plaster was then removed, the brilliance and magnificent beauty of the golden Buddha shone forth.

Some speculate that the Buddha was covered in plaster to protect it from invaders. We do that too. We encase ourselves in layers of what we think of as protection, so many layers that we forget what is underneath. We pretend that we are in control. Safe. Until life drops us and some of that protection is chipped away. And if we dare to look, we see something shimmering in the darkness.

What then? Here is our choice. We can cover it back up, or we can begin to loosen the protection and strip it away, freeing ourselves from all our false imaginings. Until we see that there was nothing that needed protecting in the first place. For as A Course in Miracles teaches:

Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists
Herein lies the peace of God

13 thoughts on “I Am the Cake!”

  1. Oh, how we can go through so many unneeded contortions in order to hide the truth residing within. Guilty as charged, but am, through prayer, hoping to unload this burden, with God's help. I want to be real, in every sense and facet of the word. God has made me unique, and that, I want to celebrate. There is gold in "them thar hills!"
    Blessings, Galen!

  2. Gold indeed, Martha! I have always loved that story of the golden Buddha and went to see it when I lived in Bangkok. It is magnificent. Such a fluke occurrence that led them to discover the gold underneath the plaster. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I built a turret, brick by brick, around myself and was not even aware of becoming a master stone mason. Only now, in my 50’s, do I see the protective walls were stopping me from enjoying life in the richest, most abundant way. I have a long way to go but I am removing bricks slowly.

  4. That's how it's done, Linda, brick by brick. When we see, as you did, how our self made prisons confine us, our urge for freedom gives us courage to start chipping away. Good for you!! And thanks for commenting.

  5. I've been trying, in the last few days, to remember a state of being which you have discussed in the past which resonated with me. We had some kind of brief convo about it here, where it had a name, but I can't remember what it was or what we said. This post seems to be getting close to that, Galen.

    Anyway,after the emotional turmoil of my midlife crisis about 7 years ago now, where my bricks fell away fast, i remember going for walks feeling nothing – just nothing, all exposed, and also as if I wasn't me anymore.But I had no choice but to feel this emptiness, after what were probably illusions and attachements that weren't working anymore falling away. Slowly, as i got used to this emptiness, it began to feel more comfortable,and these days,I feel it as a place of peace and strength beneath my many surface concerns. There's a me of the surface, and a me of 'beneath' and this seems to fit so well with your post! (You might say,I was already the cake, but trying to find the right recipe to make it!) Cheers, Galen

  6. Hidden beneath an outer shell of earthen clay hides an image of great value, its true nature lost to the sands of time. This treasure of such great value was alluded to in the ancient spiritual texts; the pearl of great worth, the portal to the kingdom of heaven. As above, so below. The clay image is but a low resolution likeness of a greater inner image, patterned as a fractal of the universal Self. This Self is the treasure we all seek and once its found the search is over.

    Another good post… good thoughts Galen.

  7. Gosh, Lynne, now you have me wondering what it was too. Hmm….

    Yes, a me on the surface, and a me underneath. Sometimes when I'm meditating, I have a sense of just sinking out of my head, which is full of busy thoughts, into the quiet expanse of stillness underneath. I'm aware of all the activity above, but I'm not engaged with it.

    That's interesting that you describe your experience as not feeling like yourself anymore. I think I've mentioned that I got an intuition last year that came to me in these words — "You are grieving the end of thinking, of thinking that you know who you are." Your comment reminded me of that.

  8. I have been a way from reading blog posts for a while. Again I loved reading this one; it was enlightening. I always see parallels with faith.
    I do enjoy your poetry and this last one is a good one.
    sending loving thoughts and hugs!

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