If you prefer to watch a video, here is an earlier version of the blog. It's a talk given during one of the online sangha meetings.
We have an idea of what the end of the search looks like, permanent bliss, permanent happiness, or permanent peace. While we’re still searching, we think there’s something that we get, or that we attain, like a permanent state. But that’s not the end of the search, that’s the idea that gets you searching.
The search often takes off from unhappiness or suffering. There may also have been glimpses of love, happiness, bliss, or peace.
But the end of the search is not getting what you’re looking for, because you’re searching from a perspective that’s slightly off. It’s a shift in perception and perspective.
Some teachers say what you’re looking for is yourself: Who am I, truly, really? Another way of talking about what you’re looking for is finding what has always been there, what you couldn’t possibly lose. While you’re searching, it may feel like there’s something missing, and that’s what you’re looking for. So the end of the search is realizing that you couldn’t possibly ever lose this, you couldn’t not be that.
This is huge, and yet it’s also such a tiny shift. It’s a shift that takes you out of an inner misalignment into alignment: yes, that’s what is here, that’s who I am, truly.
Another way of conceiving of it is to think of it as a taste: of peace, of love, of bliss, of truth, of stillness. If you taste this, you know that it’s real. And maybe your perception is still slightly off, because you’ve tasted it and then you think you’ve lost it. But when you let yourself experience that taste, over and over, you will come to know that it can’t be lost.
The shift is like the difference between two ways of tasting. One is tasting and thinking, wow, that was a special experience, I have to have that again, and I want it to be permanent. That’s the perspective of searching. The other is tasting and realizing this is real. I’ve always known this, and it’s always available. That’s when the search stops.
And even after this shift, there may be a back and forth between the two perspectives. Sometimes you may feel like yes, I’ve really stopped looking, I know what it is. And even then you might seemingly lose it again. The point is you can always come back, because it’s always here. It’s who and what you are. It’s what shines in and as us. It cannot be lost.
The true end of the search is realizing, ever more deeply and fully, that I couldn’t have lost this in the first place. It’s just that I thought I lost it, I thought it wasn’t available to me. But here you are, and it is available. You can taste it any time you let yourself be still enough to taste it. Any time you let go of the distractions of thoughts or feelings, the events happening, the people around you. Any time you let go of that, here it is, that same taste, that same beauty, that simple essence of who you are.