A friend emailed me the below excerpt from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. The closer we get to the core of all being, the more synonymous the effort and its reward.
So often we anticipate a reward for the uncovering of truth. For effort, we expect money and recognition. For sacrifice and kindness, we secretly expect acceptance and love. For honesty, we expect justice. Yet as we all know the life of experience unfolds with a logic all its own. And very often, effort is seen, and kindness is embraced, and the risk of truth is held as the foundation of how humans relate. However, the reward for breathing is not applause but air, and the reward for climbing is not a promotion but new sight, and the reward for kindness is not being seen as kind, but the electricity of giving that keeps us alive.
It seems the closer we get to the core of all being, the more synonymous the effort and its reward. Who could have guessed? The reward for uncovering the truth is the experience of honest being. The reward for understanding is the peace of knowing. The reward for loving is being the carrier of love. It all becomes elusively simple. The river’s sole purpose is to carry water, and as the force of the water deepens and widens the riverbed, the river fulfills its purpose more. Likewise, the riverbed of the heart is worn open over time to carry what is living.
All this tells us that no amount of thinking can eliminate the wonder and pain of living. No wall or avoidance or denial – no cause or excuse – can keep the rawness of life from running through us. While this may at times seem devastating, it is actually reassuring, because while the impermanence of life, if fixed on, can be terrifying, leaving us preoccupied with death, the very same impermanence, if allowed its infinite frame, can soothe us with the understanding that even the deepest pain will pass.