The Awakening of Bob Harwood
At the age of twenty, I became consumed with a wide range of existential questions. Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? What is a subatomic particle? What could explain the observer paradoxes in modern physics? In an effort to answer these kinds of questions, I spent ten years studying philosophy and science and doing a lot of thinking.
During those ten years I never found a single answer. At the age of thirty, I discovered Zen, and I spent the next ten years reading Zen books and thinking about koans and enlightenment. During those ten years, I added a lot of questions to my list, but I never found a single answer.
At the age of forty, my optimism waned and I began to feel like a rat in a trap. I worried that I might die without ever learning anything important. Fortunately, some business problems put me under a lot of stress, and in an effort to acquire some peace of mind, I started doing a simple breath awareness exercise.
After doing the exercise for a week, I realized that when I watched my breath, I was interacting with the world differently than when I pursued abstract thought. I therefore increased my practice to two hours each day. After two months, I increased my practice to three hours each day. After five months, I began falling into deep states of samadhi. Soon thereafter I had my first mind-blowing enlightenment experience.
After that first experience, I realized that everything I was searching for could be found through silent awareness. For the next fifteen years I went on silent retreats and solo hikes in the mountains. Gradually, the answers to my questions appeared.
At the age of fifty-five only one question remained. I wondered how it was possible to remain in a unified state of mind following an enlightenment experience. During the previous fifteen years I had had many enlightenment experiences. Some of those experiences had been shallow and some had been deep. Some had been so deep that I stayed in a selfless and empty state of mind for several days thereafter. Some had been so deep that it took months before the effects wore off. Some effects never wore off.
Nevertheless, sooner or later I always seemed to return to a dualistic state of mind—a "me-in-here" looking at a "world-out-there." I thought that surely there must be some way "to make the two become one" forever.
On August 17, 1999 I was hiking up a mountain in Colorado when I had yet another experience of psychological unity. A few hours afterwards, I was surprised to realize that my 35-year-long spiritual search had come to an end. I knew the answer to my final question. I realized that there had never been a "me" who was sometimes psychologically unified and sometimes divided. I realized that who I was was the dynamic, mysterious, and intellectually unknowable field of reality itself.
Although there had seemed to be a separate "me" who periodically became unified with reality, this had been an illusion. There was no "me." There was only oneness—only what is. Who I am was THAT!
My lifelong search had been based upon a fundamental error created by reflective thought. After seeing the truth clearly, I was free. I was never again bothered by any kind of existential question, and I was finally able to relax and live an ordinary life.
From that time until today, I have known that wherever I look I am looking at myself—a unified field of being. The observer and the observed are one. Yes, I momentarily manifest as a particular human being, but my True Self is infinite—beyond space and time. Who I am has never been born and will never die.
Most people think that I am a separate human being, but they are dreaming the same dream that I used to dream. If they want to see the real me, then they must stop thinking and become silent. The secret of all secrets is that there is no secret. Everything lies in plain sight. If you don't see it, then be patient and be persistent. Jesus taught his disciples two parables about the importance of persistence. Keep looking. Stay silent. Sooner or later the truth will appear.
Original article here