by Chris Grosso
You don’t get explanations in real life.
You just get moments that are absolutely,
utterly, inexplicably odd.
– Neil Gaiman
This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 46.
So here’s the thing: I didn’t go to school for any of this spirituality stuff. I’m not a yogi from the Himalayas, a preacher in a pulpit, or a “spiritual teacher” with dollar signs in my eyes. The truth is, early in life my curiosity got the better of me and led me down some roads that resulted in years of heavy drug and alcohol addiction. These dark places ultimately brought me to a very real life-or-death search for something more. That search is what this book is about: finding deeper meaning in life and waking up to the spiritual essence that imbues it all—from monasteries to stadiums, meditation to stage dives, skateboarding to serving food in a soup kitchen, and everything in between.
Wait . . . so by “everything,” do I actually mean every single thing? Why, yes—yes, I do.
So, what is Everything Mind? Well, I think a better question would be, “What isn’t Everything Mind?” We could start by saying that Everything Mind considers every-thing in our lives as part of the spiritual path. Our triumphs and heartbreaks, joys and suffering, the light and the dark—all are equally suitable teachers and lessons. Zen Buddhist teacher and poet Thich Nhat Hanh is famously quoted as saying, “No mud, no lotus,” which means that our best selves grow out of our darkest places—our pain and suffering. Experiencing life from the place of Everything Mind allows us to lay aside our fears of right or wrong thoughts and emotions. Then, we can begin to compassionately, and even humorously (at times), work with and through all of them with open and courageous hearts and minds.
That’s just the beginning. As we start to understand and engage our lives in a spiritual way, we realize that all that we think we are—our stories, hopes, experiences, fears, loves, and terrors—are just components of Everything Mind. This Everything Mind, this perfectly precise and inclusive stillness, holds each brilliant moment of who we are and who everyone is. It’s like losing yourself so completely in your favorite song that everything else fades away, leaving you—intentionally or not—in a state of nonself. The song has penetrated your being so deeply that you forget about your material self—your thoughts, judgments, opinions, and labels—allowing that moment to simply be as it is. That’s all there needs to be, and it’s perfect.
The good news is, to begin awakening to Everything Mind, you don’t have to be in a crisis of addiction (like I was), a religious scholar, or a renunciant. The tools for making positive changes and waking up to the deeper reality of life and of our human experience are, in this very moment, already inside of you. The celebrated, yet controversial, Buddhist teacher, poet, and artist Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said, “Everything is a footprint of Buddha, anything that goes on, whether we regard it as sublime or ridiculous. Everything we do—breathing, farting, getting mosquito bites, having fantastic ideas about reality, thinking clever thoughts, flushing the toilet—whatever occurs is a footprint.”1 Looking through a Christian lens, the theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “To be spiritual is to be awake and alive.”2 I believe it’s important to note from the outset that being fully “awake and alive” isn’t something we can learn from a book. So think of everything you read in these pages as nothing more than suggestions to guide you back within yourself to the place where the deeper truth of who you really are is already “awake and alive.” This is the place where everything is a “footprint of Buddha”—the place of Everything Mind.
Adapted from Everything Mind: What I’ve Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening, and the Mind-Blowing Truth of It All by Chris Grosso, published by Sounds True.
Meet the Author: Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict, spiritual director, and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (2014). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Mantra Yoga & Health Magazine, and The Huffington Post, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, and more. A self-taught musician, Chris has been writing, recording, and touring since the mid-90s.
Everything Mind: What I’ve Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening, and the Mind-Blowing Truth of It All
£12.99, available from Watkins Books