Whenever you see a door, do you automatically wonder what is behind it? The smaller, older and more discreet it is, the greater is my curiosity, and as for a secret, hidden door, well that is just an open invitation to investigate. Apparently this is not the same for everyone, there are people who can pay absolutely no attention to doors just because they are closed, and I am perfectly willing to concede that these may be the healthy, happy, well-adjusted people I hear so much about, that it is normal not to notice the small details and concentrate on much more important things, whatever they might happen to be. However I seem to possess a need to know, a desire for knowledge that I do not possess and understanding that I lack, and maybe my favourite doors of all are those hidden doors in books, lectures and abstract conversations. Doors that lead to a new perspective or thoughts that I never knew were possible to have, ones that make you see the world in an entirely new ways.
The problem is once you know something, you cannot un-know it, you possess the knowledge but it also possesses you, it changes your perceptions. If you suddenly find out a flaw about your partner, it might be forgiven but it can not be forgotten, we swap our simple illusions for the depth of complication, it can be innocent, enlightening or disgusting, you can be charmed by simple act of love, by something surprising and out of character, or horrified by a confession. The range is only limited by human experience and the amount of fascination someone has with finding out more, for many it is the fuel that sustains a relationship, and others fear that too much curiosity will end it, and that the less they know the better off they are. Perhaps that is a defining quality of the relationship, whether you want to go deeper into it or you have found your comfortable position within it and are happy to float along with what it is at the moment.
However perhaps the most important relationship where this is a defining quality, is in the relationship with yourself, and before this sounds too self-indulgent remember that the quality of your relationships with others is entirely dependent on your relationship with yourself. If you can never be your best version of yourself, you can never turn up for other people as that version, you only ever get to give them half of yourself and the poor unformed half at that. As the airline say put on your own air mask first before helping others, and if it motivates you to do work, do not worry about feeling greedy and self-interested, it will probably turn out to be the kindest thing you have ever done for anyone else. As turning up as your best version is exponentially better than your worst version.
And once you start poking about in the mind, there are so many doors that have interesting secrets behind them, but to explore these doors, you need more than just a lock pick and a lot of nerves. Instead you have to go out equipped with the three disciplines of morality, concentration and wisdom, which puts a lot of people off immediately as discipline sounds like a difficult and boring thing and that is a shame. Buddhists are sadly not good at selling things, morality is really just trying to be a decent person, concentration enables you to enjoy things more intensely and wisdom in this case is the opening of doors that leads to insight. You get to explore reality as it is, and to truly have the human experience of being exactly who you are within your life situation, you get to play more rather than suffer.
Buddhists use the word wisdom to refer to a very predictable set of human experiences that leads to specific insights about the world. The most important of which are the three characteristics of reality, that is impermanence, dissatisfaction and no self, and apparently once you have the experience of reality as it is, it makes your human experience better because it frees you of the partnering illusions of permanence, satisfaction and self. Or at least the illusion that you are the sum of only those illusions, they are real sensate experiences, it is just that they are not the limit of what you are.
Which naturally leads to the question why do these illusions seem so real to the majority of people who are unenlightened, why is this the default starting position. Perhaps the most elegant reason I have come across is that we are comparing machine, and our childhood is our practice at using that machine, we start off with comparing what we want, then move on to comparing how we act to other people and as we become adults we start comparing how we are currently acting with how we want to act for ourselves, and that this is all a warm up for the truly enlightening comparisons between our illusions and actual reality. Our lives give us the opportunity and tools to be able to become enlightened, however it is up to us to use them and failing that, it also allows us to give that chance to others throughout biological urges to have children which gives them the same opportunities to explore the world and have adventures.
Though even if you do not have the time to live in a cave for ten years, enlightenment is worth at least been curious about, having the framework within you with which you can understand the experience to some limited degree even if you never have it. At least then you have an idea about why it might be important and its implications for our actions. Knowing that nothing lasts forever, that everything changes, one season turns into another, it means at least we can be less attach to our expectations, that making someone promise to love you forever is unreasonable and it frees you up to make the promise that you love them now, you get to make that promise truthfully. When you realise that discomfort is a part of life, you get to give up your angry reactions when someone is less than perfect, and when you have the understanding that there is no self, then nothing is personal, there is nothing to defend or attack, there is just a game being played between you, where two human experiences get to connect and co-create together. Which sounds like the most delightful thing in the world and is worth opening a few doors to find.
However this is just one of the many doorways that are available to you, and everyone is worth pursuing and nudging open. Whether it is in understanding yourself through psychology, meditation, reflections on your memories, observing the energy passing through your body-mind, there are so many way to be curious about the world and your place in it. There are histories to be explored, experiences to be had, emotions to be felt, you get to decide on the adventure you have and what training you need to do to be able to embrace it. Though all this practice is really for the most important door to open in your life is the one to love, and for those who do not know the secret code is, “I love you”, even if sometimes it turns out to be a false door, you have to chose to keep on knocking, which is the same for every other door in your life.