I've been on what you could call a "spiritual pursuit", "self exploration journey", (insert another random cliche here) for almost 2 years now. I replaced snorting pain killers with searching for meaning and happiness. I researched, compiled data, collected books, recorded progress, you name it.
I've had plenty of "this is it!" moments where I felt I had struck the proverbial meaning of life goldmine... only to find that my new found passion-flame would steadily lose momentum and burn out, every time, usually over the course of a few short days. It felt like I was going around in circles, diving into questions and philosophy, discussion and pondering, only to get jaded and withdraw completely, begin getting lost in mindless distractions again, grow bored of that, rinse and repeat.
I attended my second group meditation meeting Monday evening and the guy leading it used a brilliant metaphor that helped me see these apparent "cycles" as something a little different. He said we're all moving in a spiral motion, as is the motion of the universe (I have definitely noticed and thought on this before: DNA strands, spiral galaxies, the Fibonacci spiral, etc), but every time we reach the same spot in the cycle we are reaching it from a new(higher) perspective and understanding. I felt this to be utterly true.
What I've been realizing lately is that I(and you, and that other guy over there) tend to get caught up in concepts and techniques and end up missing the point.
I can't tell you how many times I've sat down to meditate and had to scold myself for not being able to focus on the method I was using. How many times I have focused so much on knowing my idea thoroughly to ensure that doubting Thomases couldn't throw me off, only to get too stuck on my wealth of "knowledge" to reap benefits of the idea. I cannot possibly relay how many hours I've spent arguing about philosophical concepts... Or how much time and energy and reading I have devoted to trying to find the technique or practice or philosophy that would finally work for me, keep me at that optimum spiritual peak, and out of the seemingly endless cycle.
I've taken psychoactives to aid in meditation(which they do, a lot) and have reached a deep meditative focus, free of mental chatter and ridden with pure awareness of the universe and my consciousness. In other words, the state I am seeking. While in these states I seem to come to a conclusion that "it" is all about simply existing. Just BEING. There is no big secret other than that.
All the intense "need"ing to verbalize the notion, relay it to others, understand it, remember it, etc, are distractions from the pureness of simple being. I have gotten stuck on a feeling that I could only reach this understanding by catalyst or reading about ancient techniques, or a Buddhist retreat, or mastering the idea so that no argument could beat it, when a simply drive with the music on and windows down can be as spiritually enlightening as an Ayahuasca ceremony in the woods.
Although all the chaos and pain and ugliness and inherent "searching" of the human experience is just as much a part of it all, and completely necessary(how could it not be?), the key is simply existing.
"To say yes to one instant, is to say yes to the whole of existence."