After an intensive and productive session of self-inquiry and exposing the ego with a client, as she was leaving, she noticed, “I’m missing a button on my coat.” We both looked around, to see if it was on the floor. “I’ll have to look in the car and at home.” As we reached the car, she looked again, but this time really looked. “Hmmm, there’s no mark where the button was sewed on.” “That is strange,” I said.
Then she looked at the bottom of the coat, and it was out of alignment, so she looked at the rest of the coat, up around the collar, and saw it was also out of alignment, “Oh! I’m not missing a button–it’s just not buttoned correctly!” We both had a good laugh, and remarked on that is how it is, when you look for yourself in self-inquiry, and do not find any “I.”
It only appeared there was a missing button, like it only appears there is a separate individual “you” with a problem. What is assumed to be true, is not true, and that assumption veils the Truth from being known, in the same way. That is the value of truly looking, via questioning or inquiry, into the ego (or problematic “I”), and of self-inquiry. Truth is veiled as long as the false is believed. Because it is believed, it is not questioned, and because it is not questioned, it is believed. It is usually the assumed obvious that is not questioned, and that is why there’s so much laughter when it is finally seen. You can do deep inquiry on your own, or be guided by someone who does not see through a veil.
After she got home I called and asked, “So, what are you going to do about the missing button?”
We just roared!
Nothing. What is there to do about something that never was?
Really look. What does that mean? Look without mind. Question what you see, question what you think you see, because seeing is not about thinking. When you see a thought, a thought is all you see. Thoughts are not what is. Discern what is a thought, and what is not.
PS–This reminds me of an ancient story called “The Ten Foolish Men”… Check out the MindPodNetwork post on this parable.