Imagine that whatever you are looking for – let’s call it ‘The Answer’ – is in the middle of a toy snow globe (you know, a clear glass globe with some sort of picture or figure in the middle and filled with tiny, white flakes). Now, imagine that thoughts and experiences, all objects, are like the flakes in the globe.
We believe that if we can just get a better view of the flakes, they will finally reveal to us The Answer. Most of the techniques we learn when we begin searching, deal with the flakes, the contents of the globe. We learn practices to help us in our attempt to take a look at every flake. We mindfully describe them all, often with the subtle belief that we will be able to control each flake and its thousands of siblings.
We try to get the flakes to arrange themselves in a particular order. We share with others the patterns we imagine that we see; and, we imagine meanings in their swirling, floating, fleeting dance. We decide that some of the flakes are “positive” and some are “negative” and we do our level best to make them ALL positive.
We introduce New Age flakes. We criticize some of the flakes. We worship some of the flakes. We think that by focusing more and more on the flakes, we’ll finally “get it.”
We investigate each flake because we think The Answer must be hidden on one of them, maybe written in some secret code. We search online and read what others are saying about their flakes. We join flake discussion groups.
Some claim to have found very special flakes; they describe these special flakes and suggest that only if we are able to remake our flakes into flakes like theirs will we enjoy the infinite, unending, bliss that they enjoy. Some sell their very valuable, bliss-producing flakes as well as their techniques for creating or finding the Right Flake.
Others suggest that only with – until now, secret – physical, mental, and emotional techniques, will we be able to get our flakes into shape so that we will be more available to receive The Answer. Ancient and revered teachers tell us that, if we are lucky, our flakes might evolve to the necessarily sublime level of existence after hundreds or thousands of reincarnations. We secretly hope that, if we really work at it, others will envy our flakes and want their flakes to look the same as ours. Then, we’ll be able to write a book about flake-improvement, getting your flakes into shape, improving your flakes, reshaping your flakes, working with your flakes so they manifest even more interesting flakes and, yes, living as enlightened flakes.
Working with the flakes to find The Answer, the end of suffering, is folly. We keep shaking and shaking the globe in the hope of finding just the right flake at just the right time. We shake and shake in order to see every flake from every angle. The answer must be there, we think. More flakes. Shake harder. Change the rhythm of the shaking. Get up early in the morning and shake. Shake at least twice a day for 20 minutes. Get together with other people and shake and then talk about the shaking. Write about the shaking. Draw images of the shaking. Worship particular forms of shaking. The Answer must be there – we just need to try harder. Shake more. Take a seminar on shaking. Wear flowing clothes and crystal jewelry that opens our energy centers to create better, more loving, more creative shaking and flaking. Go on retreat to shake with expert shakers. We think, ‘I know if I just keep shaking it will become clear’ – that is what the flakes themselves tell us, after all.
Finally, perhaps, we tire; we are at the end of our rope. We’ve tried it all and to no avail. No flake, no matter how profound or sublime, is The Answer. We are ready to hear a simple suggestion: Just Rest. Quit shaking the globe. What you are looking for is already what you are. It surrounds you and interpenetrates you. In fact, the flakes themselves exist within what you are searching for – they are inseparable from that for which you are looking. Peace is already here. Clarity is revealed when we STOP shaking, not when we shake harder or longer or with better technique.
Someone tells us, ‘Put the snow globe down.’ We put it down. The flakes settle. We leave them alone. They no longer interest us. We realize that there is no end to the amount of shaking that can be done. As the flakes settle, we discover that there is no answer waiting inside the globe. Instead, we find a pristine clarity in which all of life is reflected. We enjoy looking at all of the shapes and colors and movement reflected in the globe’s clear, open space. Now and again, flakes are stirred up. No matter. We enjoy watching them, too. Even snow can be beautiful. We no longer focus on the flakes; they are just part of the entire scene. We rest. Clarity and silence shyly shine forth. We disappear.
Quit shaking the globe.
Put it down.