I have been fortunate to have many mentors in my life, people who have pushed me, prodded me, challenged me and loved me fiercely. One of them is Mike Elser, past president of The Mankind Project USA who is also a Rinzai Zen Priest. We meet online most weeks for one hour and talk about various aspects of my life.
In our conversation earlier this week, he did a piece of “Voice Dialogue” with me. He asked to speak with my “Seeking Mind”. I knew immediately that part of me which is constantly seeking, driven by both curiosity and by an intense desire to push myself to become a deeper and better man.
As I sat in the energy of Seeking Mind, I could feel the pressure in my belly that comes from the belief that I will never know enough or be enough to feel that I am not some kind of fraud. I don’t have any college degrees or certifications as a teacher or facilitator. All I have is 26 years of experience looking into the mirror and challenging myself and 16 years with The Mankind Project where I have participated in the initiation of over 1,000 men into adult manhood and taught hundreds of men how to sit in circle and look deeply into their lives. And now I am developing my own training called “ConneXions” that purports to teach both men and women how to connect more deeply and authentically with themselves, with each other and with a sense of purpose.
As I have developed this training, I find that its structure comes from my engineer’s brain (I have been a computer programmer for over 50 years), but I keep sensing that something is missing. That “something is missing” feeling is what haunts me, what drives me to constantly seek deeper understanding.
As Mike helped me explore Seeking Mind, I realized that it was my Seeking Mind that was both the source of much of my material and the source of my discontent.
Mike then asked to speak with my “Non-Seeking Mind”. Again, I knew immediately that part of me, or more accurately that part of beyond me that he wanted to connect with. I felt a profound sense of peace, of deep knowing and not knowing, of both joy and sadness that were so profoundly intertwined as to be the Yin and Yang of the same feeling. I recognized this transcendent non-place of Non-Seeking mind as something that I have experienced before, but perhaps not in this lifetime.
Somehow I knew that my challenge is to find my way beyond the “me-ness” of Seeking mind to the “we-ness” of Non-Seeking Mind. I have difficulty even describing this place beyond places, this space beyond spaces, this thought beyond thinking, but I can sense that it’s out there.
As Rumi said so many years ago:
“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing
and right-doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense”
So perhaps what I am seeking is already within me, but beyond the idea of “me”. More words feel pretty useless at this point… they just don’t make any sense.