Failure to Recognize

Most of us come to a spiritual path after failing in the search for happiness and fulfillment in our lives. Unintentionally, we create a habit of searching outside ourselves for pleasant experiences. Once we experience that pleasantness, we try to find another one and another one. We think we need that “thing” to make us happy and start to become conditioned to the searching, seeking, and grasping of it all along with the expectation and disappointment living like this brings.

Some people spend their entire lives dependent on the chase – the success or failure of finding an object to feed on. Some of us get so accustomed to the pattern of our own behavior or perhaps the habit is too ingrained that we miss the opportunity for personal freedom and continue to suffer. It’s as if the mind gets so extroverted that it loses track of its home.


If we can recognize this chase in our own habitual patterns of behavior, it is then that we become interested in finding another way of being and seek a spiritual path.

The good news is that confusion is the first sign that you are on the path.

Your spiritual path is not about producing or finding something new. Awakening, Enlightenment or Consciousness, whatever you want to label it, has nothing to do with getting something. Using our habitual patterns of behavior to “attain” spiritual freedom won’t work.

Why not?

Because who you are is already enlightened, awakened. Who you are at your ground state of being is your true essence.

One of my most influential teachers, Deepak Chopra, used to say “it’s like we have spiritual Alzheimers” as if we have forgotten that we are spiritual beings living this human existence. We’ve allowed our spiritual selves to be clouded over by life’s circumstances, our personal experiences and our unending quest for happiness.

Another of my favorite teachers, Trungpa Rinpoche, describes it beautifully. Imagine that your ground state (your essence identity, your soul) is a white piece of paper. Then imagine a blue piece of paper covering over that white piece of paper so that you aren’t able to see the white any longer. The blue piece of paper is all of life’s events and circumstances which are literally on top of your spiritual essence.

The cause of our confusion in essence, comes down to our failure to recognize our ground state of being as being just what it is.

That’s where confusion comes in; the failure to recognize what is as being what is. So this effort to “attain” enlightenment is misrepresented. We are in fact attempting to return to our Enlightened state of being, not find it “out there” somewhere.

The good news is that we ALL have the capacity to return to our ground state of being, our essence identity, our true Self. In Buddhist terms, they call it our “buddha nature.” The word Buddha comes from the root Budhi which means to awaken. We are capable of removing that blue piece of paper that’s covering it over. But because we fail to recognize this as a possibility, that’s where we become deluded and confused.

This constant search for happiness anywhere but inside us is what actually keeps our suffering in existence.

The Practice

See if you can catch yourself in the midst of your search, i.e. are you spending an inordinate amount of time online watching video after video or searching Amazon for your next purchase? Do you feel stuck or deadened even though you “have it all”? Do you head to the snack drawer countless times a day even though you aren’t even really hungry?

Just notice the times when you habitually search outside of yourself for fulfillment. Stop to inquire within about just what it is that you are really looking for.

Turn this into your newest daily habit and watch yourself begin to awaken to who you really are.

If you are just beginning along the path, are wanting to deepen your spiritual practice, or are seeking a spiritual guide, mentor, and coach to help you navigate your spiritual path, I’d love to support you on your journey. I offer a Complimentary 30-Minute Zoom Coaching Session to help you get started. Click HERE to schedule a session.