This week I decided to re-name my website, changing the name from Nothing Saying This to Heart of Presence. Seven years ago, I began writing about awakening experiences on this blog and titled it ‘Nothing Saying This’. To me at the time, nothing was not merely an empty void or a person-less place but a vibrantly alive field of pure consciousness, out of which springs all life. In 2010, that emptiness, that nothing began to awaken within me. What I called ‘nothing’ actually felt more like me than any other identity I might have settled on before.
Over the last two years however, I have felt a new shift in this journey. This shift feels much more inclusive of a personal sense of self. There is a huge difference between the conceptual and intellectual understanding of a whole self that is pure being embracing all of our personal suffering and all of our individuality and the direct, lived experience of it.
My experience of this shift feels so much more alive, connected and involved than the pointer of ‘nothing’ seems capable of. In the book ‘The End of Your World’ spiritual teacher Adyashanti talks of awakening on the level of the mind, the heart and the gut. In my personal life with my family, friends and co-workers I feel that awakening on the level of heart and gut is a good way to describe how this journey of an awakened life is now unfolding.
Returning to the Heart of Presence
My dear friend and teacher Francis Bennett speaks of the return movement in awakening, where pure being moves from the level of detached, objective and free witness consciousness into the sacred and open heart. Teacher Loch Kelly writes very clearly about this in his book ‘Shift into Freedom’, pointing to what he calls ‘open hearted awareness’. It is this return movement, to the heart of pure awareness or the heart of presence that I feel is a much more accurate pointer to what is unfolding in my own direct experience.
Living in the Heart of Presence feels to me now like a return to my true self. That phrase, ‘your true self’ often comes with some baggage for many on the spiritual path or those of us who have spent time with what we might call new age teachings.
To me, our true self is one way to point to a whole sense of self that transcends and includes the personal sense of self. In this transcendent and inclusive movement, deep and profound healing is possible. For the first time, it is possible to truly meet the pain and suffering of the past or the present. Seated in the Heart of Presence, one can meet past and present suffering because it is no longer I alone who faces it (which is just so immensely terrifying and paralysing) but it is pure, eternal being AS me that meets the pain or dysfunction or suffering.
In my own life, this is the fruit that waking up has produced. Instead of escaping FROM the pain and suffering that sparked the spiritual search, awakening has provided the strength and courage to awaken and escape INTO it. I am waking up TO my life, not FROM it.
For a number or years, it is clear to me now that I had been avoiding dealing with the mess of my life simply by escaping to the transcendent realm of witness consciousness. There is deep freedom in the realm of the witness but one cannot cling to enlightenment in this way. Life doesn’t let us. Sooner or later, life insists that we come down from the mountain to live and speak and move in the world of the relative with the wisdom of the absolute.
So, for readers who have been following the blog for the past seven years.. welcome to its new incarnation! And for new visitors and readers, welcome also! I look forward to sharing with you from this new perspective.