1. I am searching for something. I do not know what is true, what is real, and what is only my perception or the perceptions of others. I have so much to learn and my time is short.
2. I have found something. I donít know if I trust it, it seems to be saying things that donít match up with what Iíve been taught for most of my life. I am wary. The abandonment of self is difficult, the inter-being of all things, hard to comprehend.
3. I know something now. I feel like I have gained great insight into life, reality, and existence. I will share this so that others will know what I know. I have abandoned the self, I have experienced Samadhi.
4. I am less sure that I know anything at all. What I have found has left me with questions, but many of the answers donít make sense. Was I mistaken in taking this path, or is this the beginnings of an understanding? I think that my Ďselfí tricked me into thinking I had abandoned it. I will have to be mindful.
5. I understand that what I thought I knew before was incomplete. I know now that I donít know as much as I thought I knew, and that knowledge is strangely comforting. I share what little I know with everyone, in my actions, in my speech, and in my daily life.
6. I am no longer searching. I have come back to where I started; understanding now that what I thought was missing was there the whole time. I have the basics of an idea of what is perception and what is not, what is real and what is delusion. The uncertainty of life is part of its beauty, the rain necessary for the rainbow, the sadness essential for the joy. The teachings of this path are all around us, in the words of sages from different countries, in the breeze that frees the cherry blossoms from their branches. I have so much to learn, and for that among many things, I am thankful.
I was thinking about this because it seems to be the pattern that many follow, at least those I have talked to, who find this path. It's interesting because it mirrors the full circle symbol of Zen and the Ox Herding Pictures. I wonder if it almost has to go this way. These stages are like spiritual "growing pains". It seems that you have to find yourself in a possition where you question your entire paradigm of thought and understanding before you can really appreciate all the things you don't know and all the things yet to learn.
This is likely incomplete in the extreme, but that's ok, I know that I still have much to learn.