The seeds of where I now stand were sown in my mid-teens. All those years ago I talked to people about how we are products of our environment and the parents and teachers who influenced our lives. It followed that if we could take control of the development process, we could be whoever we want to be. People’s sole response was that, ‘You can’t change who you are.’
At the same time I was reading about enlightenment – a captivating, inviting subject, which I found difficult to understand and felt was almost completely out of reach. I eventually lost interest in any kind of enlightenment, reasoning that the best I could do is to make some progress in this lifetime so that – maybe – I might make it easier for myself in the next one.
I turned away from the esoteric and unrealistic, and towards the obvious, the tangible and the available – namely, worldly existence and worldly satisfaction. It was only when I met Karaj that things changed again. But I did not recapture the fascination for the spiritual I’d had as a teenager. Instead, my focus became all about sorting myself out, and for the four years I spent with him, that’s exactly what I did. When I left, it was uncertain whether I would ever see him again.
Thankfully, ten years later, Karaj and I met again and spent time going over the experiences of the earlier years. I remember telling him how inspiring I found his commitment to his journey, and that our in-depth conversations had reignited my interest for enlightenment.
A year later I finished my book and wondered where I might go next with my development. I was directed to various voices on the internet, all of whom drew me back to the original material from my childhood. This time it was accessible, comprehensible, and felt satisfyingly within reach. That was the birth of what would eventually become Tile 9.
My conclusion is that although, 35 years ago, I had stood on the outskirts of where I am now, I needed the intensive work with Karaj to realise just how attached we are to our worldly existence and the identity in which we are so heavily invested. I had to see myself as clearly as possible in order to have any chance of being free.
That’s why the first eight Tiles (of The Instruction Manual) encourage us to see ourselves clearly. Tile 9 is about letting go of our attachment to what we find, and allowing the silence and the emptiness to exist, so that we may discover what lies beyond the veneer.
The great masters encourage us to look because they know what’s there. They assure us that if we let go and remain open, we will see the truth. It has taken decades to get back to where I once was. The detour was a fascinating one. And a necessary one. Maybe now I can live up to the times when Karaj used to reassure us that we were all truth seekers.