The End of the Seeker

boy and bird

“Letting everything end means to stand in the moment completely naked of attachment to any and all ideas, concepts, hopes, preferences, and experiences. Simply put, it means to stop strategizing, controlling, manipulating, and running away from yourself — and to simply be. Finally you must let everything end and be still. In letting everything end, all seeking and striving stops. All effort to be someone or to find some extraordinary state of being ceases. This ceasing is essential. It is true spiritual maturity. By ceasing to follow the mind’s tendency to always want ‘more’, ‘different’, or ‘better’, one encounters the opportunity to be still. In being still, a perspective is revealed which is free from all ignorance and bondage to suffering.”


For as many people as are appearing in this psycho-physical realm we call “the world”, there are at least as many reasons for incarnating in these particular forms to play the human game. What just about all of these players have in common, regardless of make and model, is that they are here seeking for something – some “thing” that they believe will increase their happiness, peace, and contentment once it’s found. This “something” will obviously be specific to each individual seeker, but commonly will revolve around some desired modification of consciousness, necessitating an effort to acquire greater material, social, or so-called “spiritual” benefits, enhancements, or attainments in the process.

Moreover, with very little variation, these efforts are prompted and thus characterized by the belief in oneself as a separate and substantial person, an individual somebody appearing in the midst of many others, others with whom one must invariably compete for the desired goals. In any case, the belief that we are somehow separate from Happiness, in need of Salvation, and at odds with Existence itself are the common assumptions that in turn motivate the search for things to be other than they are.

These types of beliefs are inculcated by the conditioning of a culture which is firmly committed to convincing us that what we need is outside of ourselves, that we were cast out of Eden via some kind of original sin or delusion, and consequently that we must initiate and commit to some kind of special life strategy in order to return “home”. For each person, this strategy will take its own unique form, but all such schemes are generally founded on the same premise: a simple case of mistaken identity, derived from amnesia about who and what we truly are.

Just so, how do we wake up from the dreamy trance of false identification and realize that we already are what we seek? How do we come to understand that any effort to manipulate causes and circumstances in order to grasp happiness, salvation, and existence is the very thing that obstructs the recognition of the truth of our original nature, which is Happiness itself, beyond any need for salvation, and never threatened by the alternations of existence and non-existence?

Well, we can start by dedicating ourselves to the conscious process of investigating the nature of the seeker we have taken ourselves to be. Are we really that one, or is this whole narrative that we have been telling ourselves actually more in the nature of a fictional creation? Perhaps we have relied so much on others to define who we are, and what we need to be doing while we are here, that we never were moved to question otherwise. After all, our parents and school teachers provided us with our identity cards right from the beginning.

These cards came encoded with all sorts of information which we were supposed to accept without challenge – information about our name, our gender, our age, our nationality, our religious affiliation, and our body’s various characteristics. Our whole story was detailed right there on the card of personhood we carried around with us everywhere. Of course, as children, we naively believed that all of the statistics were true, and that they totally accounted for who and what we were.

Our personal identity was thus firmly established, and as we gained some experience, we learned that we needed to polish that identity in order to make it loveable and employable. Consequently, we followed the advice of helpful advertisers and marketing specialists, refining our costumes and hair styles, employing the preferred personal hygiene products, customizing our presentation before the mirror, and attending the right indoctrination facilities where we discovered how to best present a convincing and effective persona in a world populated by other actors such as ourselves.

All along, the goal was to survive and prosper, even if that meant jumping through hoops at others’ commands. These commands were not always verbal, moreover, but instead consisted of the peer pressure that comes from being a herd animal, the pressure to conform to a consensus description of reality.

Primary within this description was the tacit and sometimes not so tacit encouragement to improve oneself, in order to be a better player and accumulate more points in the game. Such improvements take many forms, but all rely on us buying into the story of “me and mine”, and all require that we take our given identities seriously.

Furthermore, this me-story demands constant work, in response to the vagaries of existence. For example, we must make career adjustments here and fine tune our relationships there, all of which implies a perpetual search for satisfaction. Such a search is indeed never-ending, because any accomplishment or acquisition that we can claim as “mine” is always impermanent, and so we become like a hamster on a wheel.

We are always moving, but not really getting to where we really want to be, and never really arriving at a state of rest. Nevertheless, we persist, because, after all, that is what is expected of us, and we are unable to imagine any viable alternative that is not merely another variation of treading along on the same spinning wheel.

At a certain point in life, the search itself might begin to lose both its fascination and inherent imperative. Some might say that this is a moment of Grace. The seeker just can’t seem to generate the same old “juice”, or enthusiasm, for the game, whether it be the pursuit of money, food, sex, power, bliss, knowledge, God, or whatever object of acquisition that once promised happiness and peace.

Here the former seeker may fall into a kind of dark night, where the primal afflictions of boredom, doubt, discomfort may come to dominate one’s attention, now that the search is winding down. As the great adept Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche points out: “Once you have been struck by the pointlessness of letting yourself be forever influenced and conditioned by your habitual tendencies, you will become sick of it.”

Paradoxically, there can be a unique opportunity at this juncture, a kind of open space that presents itself, in which true inquiry finally becomes possible. While the search was on, this was not the case. All the bets were placed, and the payoff was just around the corner. That is, there was the assumption that, if I only do this, then I will get what I really want. If I only work hard and pay my taxes, if I only take these vitamin supplements and eat vegan foods, have this career, marry this lover, find the right guru, chant to the Lord and do no harm, then I will find peace and freedom.

In other words, happiness is envisioned as some future reward for following the arbitrary rules borrowed from somebody else’s experience. As such, it can never be a present event. Consequently, when that whole artificial game and its accompanying stressful effort is eventually recognized for the futility that it is, there arises in that conscious process the possibility for true realization to replace the chronic amnesia with which we arrived here. In other words, we become available to a transformative grace. When the seeker really sees how the dog has been chasing the tail, a shift can occur, and in this shift the seeds of awakening can really take root. As they do, the potential for free attention to the ever-deepening inquiry finally comes alive.

And what does such an inquiry reveal? When we begin to intuit that the seeker we have taken ourselves to be is nothing but a bundle of thoughts and impulses, memories and emotions, sensations and perceptions, all packaged together like a customized software program and conditioned by arbitrary factors which have no ultimate reality, then the façade of our carefully constructed identity begins to wobble and crumble. No independent self nor existing independent object can be found, given their essential impermanence. Now what?

As the Dzogchen master, Anam Thubten, writes: “When all the layers of false identity have been stripped off, there is no longer any version of that old self. What is left behind is pure consciousness. That is our original being. That is our true identity. Our true nature is indestructible. No matter whether we are sick or healthy, poor or wealthy, it always remains divine and perfect as it is. When we realize our true nature, our life is transformed in a way we could not have imagined before. We realize the very meaning of our life and it puts an end to all searching right there.”

All seeking begins with a thought, a thought of lack. After all, if it is already the case, no thought of its lack will arise. For example, a thought arises of some lack of peace, which initiates a search to acquire it, to gain peace. This process can be verified by paying attention to our mind. What we can notice, if we are thorough in our exploration, is that there is a reality prior to thought. We discover this by returning attention to the root of thought, and observing how it arises and disappears. In doing so, we can recognize that we are not the thought, whether it is a thought of peace or a thought of peace lacking.

Indeed, it is thought which tries to name that prior reality, the reality which is before thought. Using the mind in an effort to grasp mind is like using one’s eyes to find the back of one’s head. In other words, it is an exercise in futility. However, by refraining from identifying with that thought, or any thought, the prior reality automatically comes to the forefront. It did not require a search, since it is always already the case. It’s just that we get seduced by various thoughts, various searches, and so miss the simplest thing, our own true nature.

As we finally begin to see through the illusion we once took to be “me”, there is a simultaneous emergence of our true nature from the background, where it has been waiting patiently for us to sober up from the intoxication of seeking. What was never lost need not be sought. When we realize directly that we have been like a wave searching for the ocean, the momentum of the search is undermined. With the ensuing collapse of that struggle, we can relax and exhale.

In that blossoming ripeness we can welcome life’s embrace, and also see what it is that we are still unwilling to allow in. In doing so, we begin to feel the Mystery at the heart, rather than relying solely on the thought energy which constitutes the mind. Moreover, in seeing through and discarding any lingering struggle and recoil, it at last becomes obvious that this Mystery, this Life, is who we are, have always been, and will always be. Indeed, there is no longer any motive or movement to have it be anything other than what it is. The war with ourselves is over, the seeker has disappeared, and all the relatives rejoice!

Q: The search will come to an end. The seeker will remain.

Nisargadatta: No, the seeker will dissolve, the search will remain. The search is the ultimate and timeless reality.

Q: Search means lacking, wanting, incompleteness and imperfection.

Nisargadatta: No, it means refusal and rejection of the incomplete and the imperfect. The search for reality is itself the movement of reality. In a way, all search is for the real bliss, or the bliss of the real. By search we mean the search for oneself as the root of being conscious, as the light beyond the mind. This search will never end, as long as there remains a restless craving for anything else, and only then can real progress take place.
~I Am That, Nisargadatta Maharaj


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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26 Responses to The End of the Seeker

  1. marcel says:

    Of the many earnest, and how earnest, people we may observe reading, attending lectures, studying and practising disciplines, devoting their energies to the attainment of a liberation which is by definition unattainable, how many are not striving via the ego-concept which is itself the only barrier between what they think they are and that which they wish to become but always have been and always will be? ~Wei Wu Wei

  2. jencistory says:

    While the seeker is seeking you cannot see the wood for the trees, so the end of the seeker is necessary to provide the opportunity for deeper enquiry.

    As you point out, the seeking can get replaced by a feeling of boredom or disinterest as the energy which fuels the seeking is fading. There is space and quiet in this place, a clearing in that forest of wood and trees. It’s not the end though.

    As the layers peel away though, the deception gets more subtle . The end of the seeker has been replaced with ‘the one who has stopped seeking’, or ‘the one who is just being’ or ‘the one who must never allow the seeker to return’ or, dare I say it, ‘the one who has awakened’.

    Identification has shifted but it still remains, albeit on a much more subtle layer. The idea of the person may have been seen through but the sense of being remains and this identification will remain in place until it is seen through and so on and so on, through the subtle layers.

    The arising of the seeker and the dissolving of the seeker are both illusions in consciousness and neither is relevant. They are just reflections in a mirror ( the mirror being consciousness).

    It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing your hair is a mess and fixing it. The image in the mirror changes but both ‘before’ and ‘after’ image still only remain a reflection in a mirror; they don’t become the real.

    So whether there is a seeker or there is the end of the seeker, there is a person or there is the end of the person, unless the mirror is seen which is allowing for this appearance and disappearance, then identification with the illusion will remain.

    Few ever speak about this. I guess what they meant in the Tao about those who know don’t speak. I have come to understand why the subtleties of these deeper layers of illusion have historically been taught on an individual basis rather than a public one. Words are fairly ineffective as conveying what is meant.

    Nisargadatta is one teacher who allowed for these final teachings to be put into writing. Both his books Prior to Consciousness and Beyond Consciousness are meant for those who have done their homework and are ready to push beyond all that they ever believed to be true. They are spiritual fire to be handled with caution and not what you are likely to hear from our contemporary satsang stars.

    Much love to you Bob as ever. 🙂

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Greetings, Jeanette, and nice to hear from you again!

      It’s fine to ponder concepts such as “final teachings”, but that strategy usually ends up in some variation of spiritual by-pass. We can’t skip steps, and so I would respectfully disagree that recognizing the emptiness of the seeker is, as you seem to claim, irrelevant.

      Moreover, I would also suggest that there is no such thing as a “final teaching”. Just as enlightenment has no beginning, so too, practice has no end. Whatever happens in consciousness is indeed a hallucination, but that also includes the belief that one can, as you suggest above, “see the mirror”.

      Mind itself is the mirror, and you cannot use mind to see mind (although mind can recognize its empty nature, perhaps that’s what you meant). In any case, this is why Sri Nisargadatta notes that, “any knowledge of any kind that you think you have can only be in the consciousness. How can the consciousness which came later give you any knowledge about that state which exists prior to consciousness’ arrival? Any thought that you have reached, or are going to reach that state which exists prior, is false.”

      Of course, he is pointing to Awareness, which is that which shines forth when the illusion of the seeker is seen through. It is not an acquisition, since it is always already the case, and only obstructed by the activity of (mis)identification, such as taking oneself to be the seeker.

      The great Thai Forest master Ajahn Maha Boowa uses this analogy:
      “Try imagining yourself standing in an empty room. You look around and see only empty space — everywhere. Absolutely nothing occupies that space — except you, standing in the middle of the room. Admiring its emptiness, you forget about yourself. You forget that you occupy a central position in that space. How then can the room be empty? As long as someone remains in the room, it is not truly empty. When you finally realize that the room can never be truly empty until you depart, that is the moment when that fundamental delusion about your true self disintegrates, and the pure, delusion-free mind arises.”

      He goes on to elaborate:
      “Once the mind has let go of phenomena of every sort, the mind appears supremely empty; but the one who admires the emptiness, who is awestruck by the emptiness, that one still survives. The self as reference point which is the essence of all false knowing, remains integrated into the mind’s knowing essence. This self-perspective is the primary delusion. Its presence represents the difference between the subtle emptiness of the radiant mind and the transcendent emptiness of the pure mind, free of all forms of delusion. Self is the real impediment. As soon as it disintegrates and disappears, no more impediments remain. Transcendent emptiness appears. As in the case of a person in an empty room, we can say that the mind is truly empty only when the self leaves for good. This transcendent emptiness is a total and permanent disengagement that requires no further effort to maintain.”

      Thus, penetrating that illusion (of being the seeker, the person, the self) is indeed a victory, relieving one of a heavy burden. Is it “the end”? No — beginnings and endings are ultimately just part of the human imagination. However, it is a necessary step in the process of liberation from the stress and suffering born from our case of mistaken identity. Is there a danger that one will simply latch onto a new “awakened” identity? Certainly, but if the inquiry stays focused and true, any false landing will be seen through and abandoned.

      I wish you the best in your continued sincere efforts and recognitions, Sister!

      Love and Blessings!

  3. “…we have been like a wave searching for the ocean.”

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    Thank you, Jane, for your kind appreciation!


  5. Alisha says:

    i agree that search will never as long as there remains a restless craving for anything else, thank you brother for such an inspiring post.

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    “This hope that is hidden deep in the innermost layers of your heart and mind is only Illusion.”

    – Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    “Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

    – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “The most difficult thing for spiritual seekers to do is to stop struggling, striving, seeking, and searching. Why? Because in the absence of struggle you don’t know who you are; you lose your boundaries, you lose your separateness, you lose your specialness, you lose the dream you have lived all your life. Eventually you lose everything that your mind has created and awaken to who you truly are: the fullness of freedom, unbound by any identifications, identities, or boundaries.”

    ~ Adyashanti

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    “The present moment has always been available to spiritual seekers, but as long as you are seeking you are not available to the present moment. “Seeking” implies that you are looking to the future for some answer, or for some achievement, spiritual or otherwise. Everybody is in the seeking mode, seeking to add something to who they are, whether it be money, relationships, possessions, knowledge, status.. or spiritual attainment.”

    ~ Eckhart Tolle

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    “But there is no remedy — except one — the search for remedies must cease.”

    “If you want to make real progress, you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous. A man’s desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting after an everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.”

    ~Nisargadatta Maharaj

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    “But if, through fundamental misperception of reality, the individual enters into the confusion of dualism, primordial consciousness, which is in fact the source of all manifestation (even of dualistic consciousness and, in fact, of all phenomena), itself becomes obscured. The individual’s deluded mind then mistakes the manifestations of its own pure, innate primordial awareness for an external reality existing separately from itself, which it endlessly, and ultimately unsuccessfully, attempts to manipulate, trying in vain to bring an end to the continual underlying sense of dissatisfaction and unease which is the inevitable experience of the obscuration of pure awareness. The experience of underlying dissatisfaction (or ‘dukha’ in Sanskrit) that unavoidably arises with a deluded mind, continues, no matter how ‘successful’ the individual becomes in dealing with his or her world in materialistic terms, until the individual regains the experience of the primordial state.”

    ~Namkai Norbu Rinpoche

  12. Bob OHearn says:

    I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty. You wander restlessly from forest to forest while the Reality is within your own dwelling.

    ~ Kabir

  13. Bob OHearn says:

    “The worst thing you can ever do is to search for enlightenment, for liberation. This keeps you back. It keeps you back because there is a self that is searching. There is an “I” that is searching. There is a “me” that is trying to become something, and the whole idea is to remove something from your consciousness… Removing all concepts and all preconceived ideas… ”

    “There is no cause, there is no birth of anything. So there are no explanations, you’re wasting time trying to explain. People write voluminous texts about nonsense, about existence. And we read and we get involved and we try to be intelligent about it and we suffer. All suffering stops when you stop searching and you stop fighting.”

    ~ Robert Adams

  14. Bob OHearn says:

    “In fact if everything arises from pure and total consciousness, then pure and total consciousness has no need of a path to tread to reach itself.”

    ~ Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

  15. Bob OHearn says:

    “Don’t seek a Buddha, don’t seek a teaching, don’t seek a community. Don’t seek virtue, knowledge, intellectual understanding, and so on. When feelings of defilement and purity are ended, still don’t hold to this nonseeking and consider it right. Don’t dwell at the point of ending, and don’t long for heavens or fear hells. When you are unhindered by bondage or freedom, then this is called liberation of mind and body in all places.”


  16. Bob OHearn says:

    “We’re not bringing struggle to an end. We’re not trying to not struggle anymore. We’re just noticing that there is a whole other dimension to consciousness that, in this very moment, isn’t struggling, isn’t resentful, isn’t trying to get somewhere. You can literally feel it in your body. You can’t think your way to not struggling. There isn’t a three-point plan of how not to struggle. It’s really a one-point plan: Notice that the peace, this end of struggling, is actually already present.”

    ~ Adyashanti

  17. Bob OHearn says:

    “You people come here wanting something. What you want may be knowledge with a capital ‘K’ – the highest Truth – but nonetheless you do want something. Most of you have been coming here for quite some time. Why? If there had been apperception of what I have been saying, you should have stopped coming here long ago! But what actually has been happening is that you have been coming here day after day, identified as individual beings, male or female, with several persons and things you call ‘mine’. Also, you think you have been coming here, of your own volition, to see another individual – a Guru – who, you expect, will give you ‘liberation’ from your ‘bondage’.

    Do you not see how ridiculous all this is ? Your coming here day after day only shows that you are not prepared to accept my word that there is no such thing as an ‘individual’; that the ‘individual’ is nothing but an appearance; that an appearance cannot have any ‘bondage’ and, therefore, there is no question of any ‘liberation’ for an appearance.

    Do you even now realize that if the very basis of your seeking is wrong, what can you achieve ? Indeed, is there anything to be achieved ? By whom ? By an appearance ?

    This is not all. Whatever I say is being tape-recorded by some people; some others take down their own notes. For what purpose? To make the conditioning even more powerful ? Do you not realize that there never has been any question of ‘who’ ? Whatever has happened (if at all anything has happened) has been spontaneous. There never has been any room for an individual in the totality of manifestation; all the functioning is at the level of the conceptual physical space (Mahadakash), which is contained in a conceptual speck of consciousness the mental space of time, perception and cognition (Chidakash). This totality of the known finally merges in the infinite potentiality that is the timeless, spaceless Reality (Paramakash). In this conceptual manifestation, innumerable forms get created and destroyed, the Absolute being immanent in all phenomenal forms. Where do the individuals figure as individuals ? Nowhere. And yet everywhere, because we are the manifestation. We are the functioning. We are the life being lived. We are the living of the dream. But not as individuals.

    The apperception of this truth demolishes the individual seeker; the seeker becomes the sought and the sought is the apperception.”

    ~Nisargadatta’s last teachings

  18. Bob OHearn says:

    “Look into the awakened mind of your own awareness! It has neither form nor color, neither center nor edge. At first, it has no origin but is empty. Next, it has no dwelling place but is empty. At the end, it has no destination but is empty. This emptiness is not made of anything and is clear and cognizant. When you see this and recognize it, you know your natural face. You understand the nature of things. You have then seen the nature of mind, resolved the basic state of reality and cut through doubts about topics of knowledge.

    This awakened mind of awareness is not made out of any material substance; it is self-existing and inherent in yourself. This is the nature of things that is easy to realize because it is not to be sought for elsewhere. This is the nature of mind that does not consist of a concrete perceiver and something perceived to fixate on. It defies the limitations of permanence and annihilation. In it there is no thing to awaken; the awakened state of enlightenment is your own awareness that is naturally awake. In it there is no thing that goes to the hells; awareness is naturally pure. In it there is no practice to carry out; its nature is naturally cognizant. This great view of the natural state is present in yourself: resolve that it is not to be sought for elsewhere.”

    ~ Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)

  19. Pingback: The Conscious Process – Bob O’Hearn | Creative by Nature

  20. Bob OHearn says:


    “Anything that appears in your life you regard as something to consume. If you see a beautiful autumn leaf falling, you regard it as your prey. You take it home or photograph it or paint a picture of it or write in your memoirs how beautiful it was. If you buy a bottle of Coke, it is exciting to hear the rattlings of the paper bag as you unpack it. The sound of the Coke spilling out of the bottle gives a delightful sense of thirst. Then you self-consciously taste it and swallow it. You have finally managed to consume it—such an achievement. It was fantastic; you brought the dream into reality. But after a while you become restless again and look for something else to consume. You are constantly hungering for new entertainment—spiritual, intellectual, sensual, and so on. Intellectually you may feel inadequate and decide to pull up your socks by studying and listening to juicy, thoughtful answers, profound, mystical words. You consume one idea after another, trying to record them, trying to make them solid and real. Whenever you feel hunger, you open your notebook or scrapbook or a book of satisfying ideas. When you experience boredom or insomnia or depression, you open your books, read your notes and clippings and ponder over them, draw comfort from them. But this becomes repetitive at some point. You would like to re-meet your teachers or find new ones. And another journey to the restaurant or the supermarket or the delicatessen is not a bad idea…”

    ~from “The Myth Of Freedom”, CHOGYAM TRUNGPA

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