Most people seem to spend most of their lives seeking fulfillment in illusory alternative circumstances. Even if it’s only subtle, or held unconsciously, there is a belief that when the home is right, or the relationship is right, or the job is right, then fulfillment will finally be experienced.
Some people realize that any brief satisfaction that might come from external circumstances will quickly be lost either when the external circumstances change or when what is desired changes. This often starts another kind of seeking, an “inner” seeking, which has been called spiritual materialism. The idea is to attain some kind of internal state of fulfillment regardless of the external circumstances.
Both of these kinds of seeking are essentially the same thing. Both are attempts to attain something in the future by changing something. One way is focused on changing the world that seems to be outside the self and the other is focused on changing the world that seems to be inside the self.
There is a strong belief in “materialist” circles that when you have enough wealth and power then you will be fulfilled. Exactly the same belief pervades “spiritual” circles: when you attain the state of liberation or enlightenment then you will be fulfilled. Both paths are characterized by striving for something.
Materialists believe that if you put in enough effort, if you hustle hard enough, then you will attain freedom. Spritualists believe that if you put in enough effort, if you hustle hard enough, then you will attain freedom.
There is a pervasive myth in spiritual circles that people who are “awake” or “liberated” are like that because of decades of effort; even though they might not admit it, or realize it, they actually benefitted from all the meditation and other practices.
In reality, liberation is recognized in spite of all the efforting. It’s recognized when the search fails, when it’s clear that nothing could work and that all the striving was actually perpetuating the myth that liberation is not all there is.
Both the person seeking material wealth and the person seeking spiritual wealth necessarily overlook what seems to be happening, which is all there is. What is overlooked is not “the now” or “the simple pleasures.” What is overlooked is everything, just as it is.
This, just as it is, not viewed through some special state, not with anything added or taken away, is wholeness. To the extent that you have been seeking, this is what you have been seeking. It’s exactly this, always.
This wholeness is being recognized all the time, even when you don’t think it is. Even as you search for wealth and peace, it is recognized that what is happening, just as it is, is wholeness. It’s not possible to escape or avoid liberation.
The search ends when you quit looking. Then it’s clear that there never was a you and there never was a search. There is only this.