" The seeker should not stop until he finds "...

There was a saying attributed to Jesus in The Gospel of Thomas, written shortly after Jesus’s death, in which he says: “The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After being disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.” This was the first quote by Jesus in this gospel and, in many ways, it’s the most shocking teaching in the whole collection of writings. “The seeker should not stop until he finds.” What is the seeker seeking? What are you seeking? What are human beings really seeking? We all have many names for what we’re seeking, but really, whether we call it God, whether we call it money, whether we call it approval, whether we call it power, whether we call it control, what we’re really seeking is to be happy. We’re only seeking these outward forms because we think if we attain them, we’ll be happy. So really, no matter what we say we’re seeking—God, money, power, prestige—what we’re really seeking is happiness. If we didn’t think that what we are seeking would give us happiness, we wouldn’t seek it.

In this quote, Jesus begins with encouragement and direction by saying that the seeker should not stop until he finds—until he finds happiness, peace, or reality itself.. And the truth is that until reality is seen clearly, as it is, there will be no lasting peace or happiness, so we must first find out what is real, who we are, and what life is at its core. We’re encouraged to keep at it, going further and further, until we find. The challenge is that most of us have no idea how to seek. For most of us, seeking is just another form of grasping and attainment. But this isn’t the kind of seeking that Jesus is referring to here.

Jesus is pointing to a way to seek that was revealed long, long ago: to seek within. If we really look at it, anything we can acquire from the outside will eventually fade away. This is the law of impermanence that the Buddha taught about thousands of years ago. Whether it is power, control, money, people, or health, everything that you see around you is in a process of arising and then decaying. Just as your lungs breathe in and then breathe out, it’s necessary for things to fall away so that life can breathe new again. This is one of the laws of the universe: that everything you see, taste, touch, and feel will eventually disappear back into the source from which it came, only to be reborn and appear yet again, receding again back into the source.

In the second line of this saying, the power of this gospel is revealed: “When he does find, he will be disturbed.” This line is pointing to why most people don’t find lasting happiness—because most people don’t want to be disturbed. Most of us don’t want to be bothered. We don’t want our search for happiness to have any difficulty in it. What we really want is to be given happiness on a platter. But to find what true happiness is, we must actually be willing to be disturbed, surprised, wrong in our assumptions—and cast into a very deep well of unknowing.

What does it mean to be disturbed, and why would we possibly open to this or desire it on any level? To understand this, we must look closely at our own minds, at those things we believe in, at the thoughts onto which we grasp. We must investigate our addiction to control, power, praise, and approval—all of the things that ultimately cause us to suffer. These things out in the world, which are external to us, may bring a certain temporary happiness and enjoyment, but they do not bring the deepest fulfillment for which we are all longing. They are incapable of addressing the question of why we suffer, and they are ultimately unable to bring the deepest relief to the human dilemma.

If someone said to you, “You can stop suffering. You can really stop suffering completely, right here and right now. All you have to do is to give up everything you think. You have to give up your opinions, you have to give up your beliefs, you have to even give up believing in your own name. You have to give all this up, but that’s all you have to do. Give all of that up, and you can be happy, completely happy, free of suffering forever.” For most people, this would be an unacceptable bargain.

“Give up my thoughts? Give up my opinions? If I did that, I’d be giving up who I am! No! I won’t do that! I’d rather suffer than give up what I think, what I believe, what I’m holding on to. I’d rather suffer than give up my opinions!” This may sound ridiculous, but it’s exactly the place that most people are in. This is the mind-state that most of us come from. When we’re not willing to be disturbed, which means when we’re not willing to find out that what we thought was real in fact wasn’t real, we can never be happy. If we’re not willing to find out that what we believe in really isn’t the truth, then we can never be happy. If we’re not honestly willing to look at the whole structure of who we think we are and be open to the idea that maybe we’ve been completely wrong about ourselves—maybe we’re not who we thought we were at all—if we’re not open to that idea, at least that possibility, there’s no way we can find our way out of suffering.

This is why Jesus said that when you begin to find, you will be disturbed. When you begin to become conscious, more aware, when your eyes begin to open, the first thing you see is how deluded you are and how much you’re holding onto that which makes you suffer. This is, in many ways, the most important step: Are you willing to be aware? Are you willing to open your eyes? Are you willing to be wrong? Are you willing to see that you may not be living from a standpoint of truth, from a standpoint of reality? This is what it means to be disturbed. But to be disturbed isn’t a negative thing, not in the context in which I’m using the word here. To be disturbed means you’re willing to see truth, you’re willing to see that maybe things aren’t the way you thought they were....

“Falling Into Grace”

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