We often hear that there is no alternative to this. But I realize I had diluted that message in a subtle way, interpreting it to mean that there is no alternative available to me—as if there were all sorts of wonderful realities out there, but for me, these are the cards I’ve been dealt, and this unit is stuck with what it has, here and now. This left me with a good measure of acceptance, but still room to lament that I didn’t have those better options available. But the full truth is that there is no alternative to this because there is nothing other than this...period. It’s all included in the here and now, even my fantasy realities. This is because all realities, even this seemingly solid one I believe myself to inhabit, are all fantasy realities.
Any dream I want or imagine is right here because there is nothing other than this. There is nowhere else for those fantasy realities to be, to hide—not in the future or the past, or “over there” in someone else’s life. Any conceivable reality is only arising in my mind, and my mind is only arising in Mind. It’s all manifesting in Mind. There is only Me, and only Here and only Now. And if there is love to give, if I have any love to give, it must be given to This. There is no other time or place to give it.
There is no alternative to this. And yet I kept imagining there was. It seemed other people didn't have my problems, and that my past was easier. I also would hope that my future would be better. These all seemed like alternatives to my current situation. Give me another life, more like what I see others enjoying. Or take me back to a time when things were easier, or please just get me past this current problem!
But looking more closely, I have to ask, what other people? There are no others; there is only a sense of friends, family, community arising in Kathleen's mind. And Kathleen and her mind, too, are only an arising in consciousness. Kathleen’s mind, which imagines others’ minds and lives is simply an arising of Mind. There's only one thing going on! There is awakeness, bright and clear, but the people I perceive, including me, are only manifestations of the dream.
Were things different in the past, and will they be different in the future? Past memories and future imaginings are both arising right here and now. The content of this moment seems to have changed, but that perception depends upon giving credence to an actual past. It's all happening now. The apparent memories of the past are a present arising. The past is only "real" if I believe there is something other than this moment. And I don't believe that because, upon simple inquiry, I discover that I have been in this moment forever, as far as I can tell.
There is no future waiting to unfold. What happens, will happen now. It will seem to arise from the seeds of present circumstances. But there is no way to manifest that now. Now can only be now. The future is not a viable alternative to now.
There is no escape from this here and now. I am completely boxed in, compressed into this tiny little point in time and space. But this is not bad news; it is not a problem. On the contrary, it makes the answer crystal clear: Everything I wish for, love and desire must be here and now. I see no other place for it to be. It cannot be at a friend's house; my friend and her abode are simply arising in my mind. They, too, are here and now. It cannot be in the past or future, as these play out only in my mind, which happens to be here and now.
The character counters, "But I’m distressed by my present problems." But who labels them as problems? The character. Label them instead "What Is." Would I really want to give up What Is? Keep in mind, Kathleen, that there is no alternative to What Is. If you really gave it up (assuming you could), what would remain? Nothing. Because what is is everything: all of creation, all countries, people, life. It's all arising right here in this little pinpoint of light. There is no way to give it up, to reject it, but if you could (what fearsome power that would be!), then you would be giving up everything for nothing.
Any by resistance, by dreaming that I should or would like to be in "What Isn't," that is what I am continually striving to do—to exchange everything for nothing. Never successfully, mind you; reality protects me from myself! But the yearning and striving for what isn’t distracts me from seeing what is, from seeing that it’s all right here. It’s all right here around me, within me, and for me. It’s all Me!
Return to what is (though we never really left), and reclaim everything. There is only this. Don't wander away from it. It's all you have to work with, but it's all you need, as it's all right here. If you seem not to have what you want, don't look elsewhere, look through this vast treasure house before you more thoroughly. It's all right here, for it has nowhere else to be. And how fortuitous it is that you find yourself here, too, able to love and revel in this abundance.