I came across this quote in the book Quiet Mind Open Heart – Finding Inner Peace through Reflection, Journaling, and Meditation, and it spoke directly to me. Of course, there is a bright pearl within me, and within each of us. It is just a matter of finding our pearl, uncovering it from all the dirt and muck that keeps it hidden, and allowing it to shine.
I never bought into the concept of original sin, that we are somehow inherently evil and require someone else to redeem us, to make up for all the ways in which we are flawed. Rather, I believe that humans are inherently good. We are born as we are meant to be, beautiful creatures full of joy and possibility. Yet, from the moment we begin to engage with the world, the influence of parents, upbringing, society and its customs, and laws and practices converge to slowly turn our hearts and minds from our basic goodness. Over time, our bright pearl is lost somewhere deep inside. We change from being loving and kind to being frustrated and cruel, whether these behaviors directed toward ourselves or toward others.
We live in this state, a mental fog in which we are simply moving through life on autopilot, going through the motions and reacting without truly considering the reasons for or the consequences of our actions. We will remain like this until we wake up and change. We grow dissatisfied with life, with the grasping for material goods, with the competitive win-lose attitude that drives our decisions, with feeling disconnected from our true selves. This is the beginning of awakening.
Awakening is the development of a clarity of consciousness. We rouse from our sleepwalking state. We release pre-conceived notions and expectations about what we think we need in order to be happy or satisfied – a powerful job, a thin body, money, a romantic partner, or approval from others. We let go of our self-focused and reactive, egoic minds, and we develop beginner’s mind. We are open and non-judgmental, and we reconnect with our bright pearl.
But how do you get to this state? How do you undo a lifetime of conditioning, of lazy and bad habit formation, of wanting only what feels good and avoiding what doesn’t feel good? You have to retrain your mind. Cultivate attention toward the present moment. Cultivate attention toward your intentions. Accept life as it is not as how you expect it to be, according to your narrow definition and parameters.
You have a bright pearl within yourself. Find that pearl. Still your mind. Still your whole being. Sit in silence and breathe deeply, just existing in the now. Your bright pearl will emerge, and you will shine.