I often say to customers: “The tank tank will give you what you need.” And i often think to myself before I go in: “So then tank, what are you going to show me today.” And I’m sure for anyone who floats regularly, these remarks will resonate. However I had to pause the other day to realise that it’s not the tank in and of itself that is capable of doing these things…
… How could it, the flotation tank itself is a totally inanimate object. Just fibreglass, plastic and some water with a whole lot of salt in. Even if you travel to the very deepest level of its existence it is just vibrating atoms, a matrix of energy. The Buddhist tradition argues that we need to stop projecting labels onto all objects of existence, all manifestation, as essentially everything is at its deepest level just vibrating atoms, a matrix of energy – anything beyond this come from our side – it’s ability to be “good” or “bad” or in the case of the flotation tank to be some kind of teacher, well that is just a layer of perception that we have put on it.
So, if indeed the tank doesn’t have this ability, in and of itself to be teaching us something each time we go into her, then how is that we have this experience of learning and of growth after we leave her? Because, my friend, that experience of learning and growth is coming from you! There can be no other option, either it is the tank or it is you and we have already discounted the tank.
This is, at least to me quite an amazing thought, that everything you experience in the tank is achieved through you and only you.
Many eastern philosophies, including yoga philosophy and Buddhism can help us unravel this amazing conclusion. The view underlying these philosophies is that you already know everything, that you already have everything that you need, that you are already complete, that you are already at the destination of your spiritual journey. So the experience, the insight that you have the tank is already within you and the tank is just allowing you to access that part of you that already knows.
“The greatest obstacle to enlightenment is getting past your delusion that you are not already enlightened.” – Ramana Maharshi
So how is the tank able to do this? Again, the philosophies of the east can help us answer this: the reason that we cannot, in this moment experience that we are already there is because of a kind of “interference” in the form of a tangle of attention grabbing thoughts which constantly flood our awareness stopping us from being able to see what lies behind them. Perhaps the most quoted sutra from yoga philosophy states:
“Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha” – Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.2)
The tank has a unique ability to bring the body and mind into a state of such ease and stillness that we can “thin” these fluctuations or interference’s and gain glimpses of the wisdom innate in all of us that lies beneath.
So next time you find yourself thinking the tank gave me such an amazing experience today, pause and remember that the tank is not giving you anything that you do not already have. You gave yourself that experience because you are already complete.