spiritual seekers are really seeking themselves

Vic Shayne
6 min readDec 16, 2022

Vic Shayne
13 Pillars of Enlightenment: How to realize your true nature and end suffering

Guidance is different from answers. The spiritual seeker needs guidance, and the only true guidance is from a teacher who has found the ineffable stateless state that is the source of all existence. It’s a teacher who is beyond fashionable statements such as “we are all one,” “my followers have a higher consciousness than other people,” and so on. The right teacher, or guru if you will, does nothing more than offer a rare type of guidance leading you back to your own self. When it comes to knowing what you really are there is no answer to be found in a book, a prayer, or a belief system.

what are we seeking?
What is an earnest spiritual seeker seeking? The answer seems simple. People are trying to find universal truth, the source of what they are, the purpose of life, a reason why life seems so intolerable, a way to be happy, and so on. Science, the field of spirituality, and religion seem to satisfy most people, because they supply a one-size-fits-all belief system; just accept what they say without question and you can go on your way. But there are still those who need more than a a ready-made box of answers and they are willing to spend a lifetime seeking what they feel must be “out there.” And this is the problem. No answer is “out there.”

psychological conditioning makes searching difficult
Ultimately, the spiritual seeker is seeking herself. But she does not know this, because her mind and emotions have been conditioned to look outside of herself for answers to life’s most pressing questions about existence. So enamored and fixated are we on the outside world that we have come to believe that this is where our answers must be found. And it is nearly inconceivable for most people to appreciate that the seeker is the opposite side of the coin of that which is sought. The seeker and the sought are the same.

you are the one asking the question
The question: “Who am I?” is easily answered: Quite simply, you are the one who is asking who you are. This alone seems quite obvious, because who else is asking the question? But at the same time the answer is unsatisfactory. It may temporarily stun the mind in its simple logic, but the implications of being that which you seek is really the problem for the conditioned mind.

we are not fragments, we are the whole
We have been trained to believe we are fragments of reality. Religion, spirituality, and science have all fomented the false separation between the seeker and what is sought, between the seer and the seen, between the thinker and the thought, and so on. This is an absurdity because religion, spirituality, and science promise to bring the seeker into alignment with the source of life. However, the seeker cannot be brought anywhere, because that which is already unified cannot be aligned.

It is the belief of fragmentation that must be eradicated, and nothing more. Just the false belief that separates the seeker from the sought. The ultimate secret to life is not the life force, God, psychic phenomena, the power of now, reincarnation, karma, lovingkindness, duty, relationships or any other concept or object of attention. The secret is that we are already whole. To realize this means that the seeker’s attention cannot be on the object (that which is sought); it must be on the subject, which is the seeker itself.

the seeker is already whole
To truly know yourself is to know that you are whole, unbroken, and a representation, or reflection, of the totality of consciousness. The myriad expressions of life fool the mind into believing that there is a you, a me, a them, and a she or he. With this perspective, the mind says, “I am right here and you are over there. Therefore, if I am to find an answer for my woes then it must also be over there.” The senses tell us that we are different and apart, but nevertheless the essence, the source, the centerless center, is one singular entity right here at all times.

who seeks the truth and who can offer it?
So often the seeker proclaims that she wants to know the truth. Where is the teacher to lead her onto the right path to achieve this goal? When the teacher has not realized who he is, he too considers himself apart from the seeker. No one who is of such mind is capable of pointing the seeker back to her own self.

the seeker takes a tortuous route
I spent the better part of my life in search of who I am at my core. I just wanted to know what the truth is about life — why it seems so mean, cruel, confusing, painful, and full of people whose selfishness so often makes life violent and stressful. What, I wondered, did I have to do with any of this? I sought out Buddhism, Taoism, philosophy, psychology, Indian teachings, and more. I even belonged to a cult for 12 years. I didn’t know it was a cult at the time, but that’s what it was. I also read countless books on spirituality and dove into the works of the “best” authors in the New Age movement of the 1980s and 90s — Chopra, Dyer, Bach, Myss, and the rest of the gang. I read the works of experts in the world of spirit and psychic phenomena as well. I studied past lives, reincarnation, channelling, and the like. Fed up with it all, I became an avid atheist and a materialist. None of these avenues suited me; none satisfied me; none provided any real answers about me.

enlightened gurus
It wasn’t until my mid-50s that I stumbled upon the teachings of a few so-called enlightened gurus — Jiddu Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Papaji, Ramana, Siddharameshwar, Joseph Campbell, Douglas Harding, and Anandamayi-ma. Unlike any other teachers, these people were all saying the same thing in their own way. It’s the same message Socrates said thousands of years ago: Know thyself.

None of my gurus sought to provide answers; only guidance. At first their words remained mysterious and senseless to my psychologically conditioned mind. This is because they were not to be figured out by the same mind that had brought me into a state of confusion, wandering, seeking, depression, and disassociation. I needed to take a different tact. And then I discovered self-enquiry.

enquiring into the seeker
Only through persistent enquiry into my own self did I at long last wake up to reality, to me and everyone else. Because the individual self is a microcosm for the whole — a fractal, if you will — to know the self is to know all else. In this waking up I had discovered for myself that, yes, the seeker is the sought.

When you engage in sincere self-enquiry something magical happens. The mind is set free, because it realizes it is unified, so it becomes clarified in its perception and intent. It loses its misbelief that it is separate from all that it actually is. And this is because the seeker has been turned around from paying attention to, and looking into, the world of objects and phenomena to focus on the subject, which is the source of such things — the thing that has been sought all along, which is the seeker itself.

turning the attention around
In simpler terms, the sense of self — who we think we are due to psychological conditioning —stops attending to the world “out there” in favor of focusing right here on the source. The seeker is not out there, it is right here at its own core.

We are the source and have always been the source, even throughout the twists, turns, hills, and valleys of our search. And this makes us that which we are seeking. It’s a grand and wondrous idea, but to move it from idea to realization the seeker must attend to himself above all else.

Vic Shayne

NY Times bestselling author writing about reality beyond thought, philosophy, psychology, and the self to alleviate suffering; vicshayne.com

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