You have the answer!

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Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time
it will turn out.

This is it.
No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.
There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.
Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

— Lao Tzu

This poem was read by Mark Coleman at the end of the first sit of the third morning of the Mindfulness Facilitators retreat I recently attended at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. The poem filled me with such a shiver of delight. It’s true! It’s true! No one has my answers! Yet I am chasing here and there looking for permission and approval, looking for the green light, instead of trusting my own inner wisdom.

And yes, how often have I thought a change of location might be a solution to some perceived problem, as if it is this place and not the patterns of my thinking mind that are causing my current my unhappiness.

And wanting to get past this difficult time into some other future time when it will ‘all turn out.’ Oh yes, I’ve been there. I have lived whole portions of my life, especially my younger years, almost completely in the future, daydreaming about when things will all work out.

I’m guessing by the request of co-retreatants for Mark to please please please post this quote, that it touched them too, and is a common human experience, this reaching out for answers from other people, other places and other times.

So I share this quote with you in case it also speaks to you, addressing some deep-seated yearning you may or may not have noticed before.

The poem takes us back again and again to this moment, this one and only moment, this point of reality where all the power resides. We see how the practice of meditation strengthens our ability to be present, to live fully right now. We can notice how we want things to be different, but we are less likely to be deluded to believe that someone else has our answer, somewhere else is the solution, some other time things will be better than they are right here right now.

We carry our patterns with us. If we have a pattern of discounting our own ability to access wisdom through quieting down, centering in and opening up to the infinite clarity of being, then we will always feel the need for others’ confirmation before we trust what we know.

If we have a pattern of believing that another location will miraculously resolve all that is restless and disgruntled within us, then we will always be daydreaming about other houses in other cities, other jobs, other partners — and we will never deepen our connections right where we are. We won’t plant our garden and then we’ll tell ourselves how ugly it is.

If we have a pattern of believing that someday we will be happy, then we won’t bother to notice the joy possible in this very moment, if only we would open our senses to it.

This poem truly captures the heart of what we learn from meditation practice. And when it was read at 7 AM in the meditation hall at Spirit Rock after 45 minutes of sitting, it was like a rock dropping into a still pond, creating a huge impact and lots of ripples within me. Ah!

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