Q. For my entire life searching for my "true nature" has driven much of my interests and values. I've read and studied many teachings and have practised long periods of meditation all of which have been satisfying to a degree. However; I remain somewhat short of awakened, I feel "stuck" and running out of time.
A. I understand all too well that frustration of not achieving the assumed goal! And it didn't help much that one of the core principles of the meditation in which I was trained was: 'don't look for results' (cf. descriptions of achievement states such as 'enlightenment' or 'union with ...' which are presented as key motivators in so many traditions.) While it's true that the motivation provided by having an aim like this can go a long way, especially in the beginning, in the longer term the mental imagery created by the concomitant expectations is self-limiting. What happens when that motivation (expectations not achieved) runs out?
It's not a problem for everyone, but our infinite Individuality means that some of us are left with the principle of "there's always further to go" but no apparent means of going further….
I was warned a long time ago that there would come a time when I would reach the end of my own motivation. Looks like you've reached it too!
It can be helpful at this stage to include the 'left-of-field' approach of working with symbols, because they bypass educated, organising mind and stir some of the roots hidden in the darkness of your unknowing. These roots make new connections, and stimulate fresh seeing when the mind is tired or the spirit disconsolate. Deep questions contemplated in quiet, noting what arises without analysing, editing or organising --staying with images or metaphors if possible, as they conceal more than they reveal. A Metaphor (Greek metaphora: to carry over) holds significance under the surface. In other words, you catch the tail of the tiger, and if you hold it long enough and gently enough, more may be revealed. Images, associations, fragments of response--it doesn't matter -- it will be just one layer.
How many layers? You will only know by going further.....