We measure progress on the way to The Way, which is the way to finding our life and living it, by the quality and amount of emptiness, stillness and silence we can tolerate in a day. And by the number of times we get up and do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, where it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done. That is the standard of a life well-lived. Right emptiness, right stillness, right silence, right action. It has nothing to do with acquisition, achievement, accomplishment, etc. It has everything to do with the spirit, attitude, demeanor that we exhibit in living to serve our original nature and the virtues that came with us from the womb, in each situation as it arises, all our life long. We live to be who we are and to do what needs to be done when and where it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done with the gifts that are ours to offer the time and place of our living. Anything else is beside the point.
The way to the Way, and the Way itself, is not linear, straight, sequential, measurable, timed, graded, regular, steady, dependable... It is an aimless, rambling, wandering through the outback, replete with starts and stops, hitches and gallops, missed turns and dead-ends-- and it is all a part of the way. "The path that can be discerned as a path is not a reliable path" (Martin Palmer). It is all just what it is, as a way "thus come." Like the Buddha and all those who tread upon it. We are always waking up, never fully, completely, awakened. We are being enlightened, to the extent that we are gradually maturing. When we see, we see only what's what and what is called for by it-- in response to it-- in each situation as it arises. How well we do what is needed, when it is needed, where it is needed, how it is needed, moment by moment, day by day, is a testimony to how enlightened we are. It has nothing to do with what we know, in the sense of intellectual knowledge, but what we know in the sense of what needs to be done, when, where and how. That is the knowing that rocks. All other kinds/types of knowing is Meh. If you are going to know anything worth knowing, know what to do when, where and how. And do it! That is the only way of knowing how well you are doing on the way to the Way, or on the Way itself.
Ogi Overman said, "None of the alcoholics I've ever known wanted anything more than smooth and easy." And being drunk or high, or drunk and high, were the only things that came close. Growing up is taking it as it comes. One day at a time. And doing what needs to be done with it. This is the work of maturation, how well we handle getting up and doing what needs to be done again in every damn situation that arises, for as long as there are situations. Getting that down, so that there isn't even a pause or a hesitation between seeing/hearing/knowing what needs to be done and doing it is the Way seekers seek. The Way is smoothly, easily, going about the tasks that need to be done, day in and day out-- because they need to be done, and not because of what we will get when we do it. We get to do it again is what we get, in the next situation that comes along, and one situation always follows another! Waking up is waking up to that. Being enlightened is realizing that. Becoming a sage is doing that. It isn't what we know and can explain that sets us apart on the path, but knowing what needs to be done and doing it. That is what we are about here, seeking to know what needs to be done and doing it. But everyone thinks it is about seeing the link-- making the connections-- that causes everything to fall into place, and life becomes smooth and easy like that (snaps fingers). It's only about the smoothness with which we easily get up and do what needs to be done. Making the mental shift regarding the meaning of "smooth and easy," turns the light around and steps through the Gateless Gate into Beulah Land in the midst of life here and now. And that is enlightenment. Smooth and easy.