The desert of our interior
It was many years ago, long before my spiritual journey had become conscious, that someone first suggested that I look within to find out who I truly was.
I took their suggestion and did indeed look within. And I came to the rather panicked conclusion that there was absolutely nothing there. As far as I could see it was just one big fat gaping hole. And so I quickly discarded that line of inquiry and decided that the person who had made the suggestion was probably woefully misguided in some way.
And yet, many years later, I came to the realization that it is this hole, this emptiness within, that is the key to everything …
… for it is this emptiness that we fill when we awaken.
Over the years I have read countless books about adventurers who have trudged across vast unexplored deserts, labored through impenetrable rainforests or set out on a lone journey across ice or sea. And many times I have thought, “Yes, your story is exciting and inspiring and extraordinarily interesting, but here, here, here, closer than here, each of us have within us, a vast realm of unexplored territory that is just ripe for discovery.”
Our inner world really is the empty continent or the vast unexplored ocean that lies behind the all-too-comfortable shores of our civilization, and as we do the shopping or as we sit around flicking through our emails, it is always there, beckoning and begging us to explore.
And when we do have the courage to travel within, set up camp for a while, claim that desert as our own, and then return into our everyday lives, we most probably won’t get a write-up in National Geographic, nor will we get a knighthood to show off to our family and friends (see footnote). But as we take our place in this world, knowing ourselves as the Emptiness that is never empty, as a body that is not a body, as a Self that is not a self … we will almost certainly have on our faces an uncaused, unabashed and utterly contented grin that not only stretches from ear to ear, but extends back back back into the enormity of All that we are.
It is not possible for it to be otherwise. For we are Home.
(Footnote - I think here of Robyn Davidson’s book Tracks, and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s extraordinary journey of survival to South Georgia after his ship Endurance was trapped in pack ice in Antarctica and then sank.)