“I am a humble but very earnest seeker after truth.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
“What do you want?” I asked.
“What do you really, truly want?”
“To stop being a seeker,” she replied. “To finally be at rest.”
I had been talking to an acquaintance about the pursuit of insights and awareness — often referred to as the seeker’s path.
Initially surprised by her admission, I asked her to explain further.
She told me she’d been looking for answers to deeply personal questions for years and though she had read countless books, attended innumerable workshops and spoken with dozens of so-called gurus, the answers still eluded her — she felt as lost today as she had been the day she had begun her journey.
With this admission, she broke down and started sobbing.
It was my sense that she was not a seeker but rather a collector.
On the surface, both appear similar — an individual in search of answers.
While the seeker strives to gain wisdom and insights into life’s deeper questions, the collector simply collects: information, insights, techniques and approaches. Seldom is this data integrated or pondered at any deep level.
I understood her frustration and disappointment because I had felt it too.
For years, I had fancied myself as a seeker when — in reality — I has been nothing more than a collector.
Like my acquaintance, I had collected dozens upon dozens of ideas, insights and strategies for self-discovery. I could spout facts, figures and fallacies.
I could espouse great truths but found applying them to my life nearly impossible.
I had become an indiscriminate gatherer of information.
My metaphorical storehouse was crammed to the rafters with stuff.
Someone told me once that acquiring knowledge indiscriminately (being a collector) is like going into the unisex clothing store and buying everything off the shelves, racks and walls and then getting home and finding that very little of it fits or is even appropriate to wear.
So how can you tell if you’re a seeker or a collector?
The seeker looks to grow his awareness and ultimately, his self-esteem. It’s an inside job as each new insight is pondered, evaluated, accepted or rejected. There is discernment.
The collector looks to others for answers.
It’s an outside job and, because the information is seldom evaluated or internalized, answers are rarely forthcoming or satisfying over the long term. The collector moves from book to book, workshop to workshop, guru to guru in an exhaustive and futile search for answers.
To me, enlightenment is the final destination of one’s spiritual evolution — the end of the path, so to speak.
The path to this state-of-being has been travelled by some of the greatest teachers of all time.
This destination has many names derived from different cultures and origins of teaching: Bodhi, kensho, satori, illumination, kenosis, enlightenment and transcendence.
If I were to assign a purpose for travelling the path, I might choose the phrase “to evolve” — that is to say, reaching a point where we transcend our early programming, false beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviours.
Advocates of self-esteem-building and personal empowerment would call this process connecting with our authentic self and I, of course, agree.
So the question becomes how to move from being a collector to a seeker.
Admittedly, I still do my share of collecting.
But I think I’ve reached the point where some of what I’ve learned and collected has begun to integrate.
These suggestions may help you as they’ve helped me.
— Meditation. Meditation for the seeker is a necessity, though it needn’t take the form of sitting cross-legged on the floor and repeating a mantra.
It certainly can, but I have found that meditation can occur while going for a stroll or walking the dog, relaxing in nature or stopping at a traffic light.
I think, with practice, life itself can become a form of meditation — an ongoing process of watching, listening and learning — a calm and natural process of evolution.
— Reflection. A crucial aspect of the integration process is time spent in reflection.
The seeker will ponder past choices and consequences looking for connections.
Through reflection the seeker gains a deeper understanding of choice and consequence, motivation and inspiration.
— Reading. Most seekers read constantly.
I enjoy reading books on the topic of self-esteem and personal empowerment but I also enjoy reading poetry, history and biographies of inspiring people.
I also love to read and memorize quotes from wise and insightful individuals.
— Writing. I find journalling to be a powerful way to capture thoughts and ideas.
I think something magical happens when we commit pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
As the journal is written solely for and by the author, it’s easy to be completely honest and transparent.
Seeker carefully examine each experience, every observation and all the pieces of information acquired with the intent of gaining a deeper understanding of life and of course, of themselves.
Perhaps we all start out as collectors but realize one day that the answers we seek are not contained within the stuff we’ve collected.
The real answers lie within.
“If you would be a real seeker after truth,” wrote French philosopher, Rene Descartes, “it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
If you’re ready to stop collecting and to start evolving physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, then I encourage you to walk the seeker’s path.
It’s not always straight nor is it free from obstacles and obstructions, detours and diversions, but it is the only route that will lead you to discover what you really, truly want and to the answers you so desperately desire.
Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.