THE BLOG
07/09/2013 06:04 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2013

Meditation: Finding The Pearl In the Hay Stack

Under our pile of mental details, all the thought and feelings, memory is a pearl of innocence -- a brilliant light, the reality of our soul. How to find our way through the hay stack is the question. The mystery does not need to be such a mystery. The answers are not so complex. Most people suffer living in the hay of life missing the pearl. There is a path to the inner most self, the jewel of all jewels, the pearl within.

There is an odyssey waiting for all of us, an inner pilgrimage through the hay of life to the sacred. As we understand what we are looking for, the path is more clear. This seems to be one of the important keys to the exploration. When inner explorers do not know what they are looking for, they find themselves lost in the search. Many wander in mental realms which yield theory, judgments, difficulty, the limits of human personality. Meanwhile, others who understand that the pilgrimage is one in the heart, they find a brightness within, a well of pure being, inner peace, a treasure that keeps yielding more treasure. Beyond the limitation of words, there is a commonly found profound silent experience in the heart of each of us.

There is a perfect pearl within everyone which is independent of how good or bad, giving or selfish we are. The kind of life we lead only supports or hinders the journey. There is an incredible, bright pearl within us all. If our life has been mostly good deeds, joyful, the journey of the heart is more smooth, gentle, and direct. If our life has been with much inner conflict and complicated, the inner journey is more challenging. However, the pearl is waiting within each of us. No matter how difficult or blessed our lives, we can find the pearl in the haystack of life.

There are steps along the way that we all share. First, most people make the inner journey to better their outer life. They seek more abundance, healing, new work or partner with mixed results. Of course there is nothing wrong with seeking these things. However, when seeking inner treasure to build our outer life, we judge and limit the pearl by what is achieved or not achieved. Those who make the inner journey for its own sake are more likely to find the pearl brushing the haystack off to the side. When we seek the pearl for itself, we find an inner wonder beyond what we could imagine. Most have a large worldly self and small inner self. The pearl finder builds a strong inner self and our worldly self changes, our goals and desires change as we grow and change inside. A big inner life gives us the capacity for compassion, simplicity, joy in all circumstances that we all would like to possess. Most important a large inner life allows us to open to the vastness of our inner treasure.

Secondly, discovering the pearl does not call for us to give up worldly life. We are not called to a life as a beggar with no belongings, nothing to our name. However, the pearl finder embraces a special humility. It is not a question of saying yes or no to the world but a matter of saying a big yes to something great within us. We are beggars for God, fools for the pearl of life, carrying more about the heart in life and caring less what others may or may not think.

Third, our journey has common experiences. In our culture of constant entertainment, the inner journey is frankly at times boring. There is action only of a different sorts. Meanwhile we are confronted with impatience, particularly those of us who are intensely busy and wanting results for our efforts. The inner passage of the heart includes an emptiness which we normally fill with thought, feeling, possessions, food, internet, activity of all kinds. To make friends with boredom, impatience, and emptiness are important. This is not a superficial friendship but a listening, giving, sticking to our inner self as if everything depends upon it. The commitment is changing how we think, feel, live and most important transforms our hunt for inner treasure.

Boredom softens to interest in the moment. Impatience opens us to tolerance. Emptiness becomes an inner vastness where our awareness stretches out to its true dimension. Instead of being focused on worldly things, we are entering a growing inner world, the world of our heart. Instead of our minds bouncing from past to future, one thought than another, there is an experience of being in the beautiful nakedness of each moment. Awareness has thickness and thinness, shades of light, depth and width, many variations of peace. There is so much to who we are besides what we are doing, how much we have, and all the details we juggle in our busy lives. The pilgrim of inner treasure knows life is too precious to waste in debates about God, who is right, and what is true. The good fight is not among ideas. It is not a struggle between mind and heart. There is a challenge of will. It is choosing a life of great heart, risking to be available in the vast unknown universe of the Divine, of love.

Getting through the hay stack can become fun. The thought, feeling, worldly details we routinely carry can be put aside. The hay is moved as we concentrate and receive our inner peace, lightness of being, grand room or vastness in our heart. This is the beginning of the pearl opening. Our awareness and the presence in our heart are merging. There is much more to come! Most people spend their meditation watching their thoughts, struggling with themselves hoping the distractions will go away. They have moments of seeing a brightness, sensing a well of peace. Is this the elusive pearl, the beginning of the skin of our soul? The secret is to not think about thinking or non thinking. This only separates us more from what is unfolding. We don't want to focus on the hay. We want to focus, concentrate, stay in the stillness of the heart. Here the pearl is coming forward, long buried in the hay of worldly life. Our emptiness is the treasure box. Everything good is seemingly present.

The hay is swept away as our awareness absorbs the lightness of the pearl of our heart. The disturbances of life, the distractions maybe still here but our awareness, like a sponge, is soaking the presence that is more good than good, more love than love. Meditation is an act of receiving. Our busy mind like a stack of hay is falling to the side as our awareness opens to its pure state. This realm of heart is our natural essence, our home, and a gift larger than life.

Soon something changes. Normally when we meditate, we take the boat of our awareness away from the shore of our worldly life. We row out a ways and sit in our boat, meditate for a half hour or longer, sitting with everything inside, knowing our daily world will be there when we return. Soon we will be returning to the shore and continue our day. But one day when we are ready, we leave shore of daily life for our meditation. We get out into the waters of the awareness of our heart. We sit. We realize in fact there is no boat. There are no oars. There is no shore to return to. We are. Here is the pearl, unfolding, magnificent, illuminating. There is a wholeness within ourselves independent of worldly life. We are deeply nourished, embraced in the pearl of our heart. We have found our way through the stack of hay. The pearl is no longer hidden but shining brightly. Once found within, we see the heart of life in everyone.

We invite you to join us on retreat. Give yourself the gift of some days away from the stack of hay and enjoy the inner jewels of life at our silent retreat center near Napa, California and Assisi, Italy.

For more by Bruce Davis, Ph.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.