There is a secret that none of the schools seem to teach. Perhaps they don’t know it. I had to discover it for myself.
It is hard to speak of myself this way. I am near the end of my life and I no longer see that there is much to accomplish in life, not like my younger days when I was going to change the universe and touch the face of God. But the fact is, now in retrospect, and despite the fact it wasn’t as I imagined, I did discover certain things and I perhaps did touch His Hem.
So what is this secret? Our senses, which are forms of perception, are the outer shell of our experience. They become a preoccupation for our attention but they need not. At the same time that you see, and that you have something you see, you can also see that you see, hear that you hear, sense that you sense. We can be wordlessly conscious of experience while we have it. That’s it.
March 20, 2022
There is a secret that none of the schools seem to teach. Perhaps they don’t know it. I had to discover it for myself.
December 28, 2018
Perhaps you think that to have a heart means to experience emotion and to sympathize with others…to be an emotional person. Can you consider another view?
In this work, heart is a faculty, not a metaphor and not a temporary emotional state. Heart is a mirror-like organ of perception able to reflect the finest qualities…of humility, honour, beauty, glorification and truth to name a few…which exist continuously in the realm that is proper to them. Heart makes these qualities directly available to us in their essential formlessness unlike thoughts which stand for and represent something or sensations which vibrate the nervous system in response to a stimulus. Feeling is the nature of the thing itself.
Sensation, thought and feeling…body, mind and heart…interacting together, make a real human being. Thought and sensation are freely given to each of us but feeling…what some call higher emotion…is not so easily accessed because the heart required for it must be uncovered.
What covers the heart? The counterfeit of feeling….sentiment. Sentiment, literally sensing-mind, is, like all ordinary emotion, a combination of thinking and sensing. Both are valuable but they cannot substitute for the perceptions of the heart. The thought of love is not love. The sensation of sadness is not deep sorrow. The sentiment of friendship is not the mutual reflection of two open hearts.
We have learned to indulge in the easy satisfactions of ordinary emotion, seduced by its habit-forming cycle of charging and discharging our biological organism. The undesirable must be relinquished before the desirable can be attained.
The heart is traditionally thought to be in the center of the chest and is often experienced as if it is located there. But higher emotions are not produced in the body. Feelings are frequencies outside body and mind, although they may be describable in words and gestures which can be used objectively to invoke them if the heart is open. Sometimes the heart reflects the cold clear light of truth, sometimes the exquisite fire of love. For the heart, there is no right or wrong.
December 8, 2017
A ruler is a measure for the physical world. Logic is a measure for the mind world. Are these the only worlds you live in?
Where is the world which contains love and beauty? Where is truth to be found? Are these qualities simply a manifestation of the physical and mental worlds?
Each of these qualities has a physical and a mental expression. Love is attraction in the physical. Perhaps beauty for you is perfect symmetry in the mental realm. Truth is a repeatable observation in the material realm, an axiom of geometry in the mind. But the essence of these qualities is not found in these spheres alone.
Each of these qualities is whole and complete, more than an expression. Each feeling is itself a phenomenon of another kind, which exists in a third realm of existence. This third realm is different from the other two. A ruler is a measure of dimension but it is not dimension itself. Thought is the content of the mind but it is not the mind itself. Feeling is itself the third realm; it is its own measure and its content is itself. Thus it has an immediacy which announces itself as…itself.
The feeling of truth cannot be separated from falsehood because they were never intertwined; they exist in different and separate universes. Falsehood is in the physical and mental realms where the expressions of truth can be contradicted, where opposites exist. In the realm of feeling, truth always rings the same note. And feelings are like notes, each with its own vibration or frequency but in a continuum of varieties…hundreds of types of roses but all roses just the same…such as love, sympathy, compassion, fidelity, admiration, glorification, honour…
It is remarkable that we have so many different words, each with subtle shadings of meaning, for qualities that have no factual existence. It is disturbing to see so many of these words disappear from common use.
How is feeling perceived? Who enters this third realm of existence? The organ of perception is the heart. It is the heart that enters. If you cannot see in the physical world, you are blind. If you cannot follow the laws of logic, you are unintelligent. If you cannot feel then your heart is asleep.
We have talked about the awakening of the heart. We can do so again. But first, let us be clear. The yardstick of one world is not suitable for another. Do not take a ruler to measure the mind. Do not use logic to measure feeling. Inquire of the heart.
December 3, 2017
You have heard me say that sensing has immense importance in this work. Obviously sensing is the means by which we know and interact with our world. Our physical bodies are exquisitely sensitive displays of information about our environment. Sensing also tells us about our own physical state. Sensations are data. Can you accept this data or do you reject it?
Sensing puts us in touch with the present and anchors the attention, which counterbalances the tendency of the thinking apparatus to steal attention and suppress perception and inhabit the past or the future.
You have (hopefully) also heard me say that sensing enables us to monitor and transform the energies of the body, a process that enables us to waken higher faculties. Sensations are food. Are you able to digest this food?
Sensing is a real experience…at its most basic, the movement of electrical and chemical processes through the nervous system. Sensing is the physiological capacity of organisms to provide data for perception. Being 21st century humans, we allow the thinking machine to structure this experience and even replace it. We like to think that we are sensing when really we are thinking about sensing. When I ask you to place attention on sensation, how many of you think about a part of the body you have decided to sense and then try to sense it through the medium of your thinking?
Can you make use of thought to place attention and then withdraw thinking, allowing attention to penetrate sensation directly? Attention can then read many sensations at once and its unmediated interaction with sensation leads to most interesting energetic effects.
Sensations are not emotions but thinking often associates sensations with past events which have emotional content. A sensory reaction then becomes an emotion. Can you take every sensation simply as data, impartially?
The questions I am posing point to the use of sensations as the basis for our work on self. Without them at the center, we are just another philosophical school indulging in useless mental gymnastics.
The bonus for impartial sensing is that you may discover that you have many more sensations than you thought. Have you considered this? You should be able to find more than a dozen different senses, not just the standard five. There is a sense organ, or sensor, dedicated to each sense. There is vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch, the five traditionally recognized ones. Our external sensory capacities also include temperature, movement or kinesthetic sense, pain, balance and vibration.
Perhaps there are still more…the sensation of floating or weightlessness, claustrophobia or suffocation. Pulse and breathing. There are also internal sensations such as hunger, thirst and organic fear. Some people say we can sense abnormal salt and carbon dioxide concentrations in the blood. Some of us are able to sense electrical and magnetic fields. And what about the sensations that do not seem to depend upon a specific organ such as time, familiarity, perhaps even the sense of initiating an action?
Can you get out of your head and into your sensations? My guess is that you will find that some of these sensations are operating in you just beyond your noticing but nonetheless having a significant impact on your experience of the world and self. It’s not that you need to name them. But if you allow them into your consciousness, integrate them into your experience, you may be able to be more voluntary, even harmonious.
Perhaps certain places or circumstances give rise to the sensations of suffocating. Can you bring this impartially to awareness so you can deal with it?
The early stages of zikr are about integrating sensations and bringing them into alignment with each other, especially pulse and breath together with hearing, the vibrations of sound in the body and making subtle rhythmic movements. Attention fully engages with sensing and the effect is cleansing…inharmonious sensations are pacified and made compatible with prayer and invocation. This is one of the meanings of remembering self.
November 25, 2017
Do you know that you spend most of your time and energy being lost?
I have a menu of lost enterprises. I can get lost in my thinking, lost in my business, lost in conversation, lost in watching television.
When I find myself, I experience a moment of irrational joy and a surge of energy. Ah yes, here I am in the real world. Emaho, as the Tibetans say, absolutely amazing.
Finding myself is spontaneous. In that moment, I have no agenda, nothing to change. I see it as complete agreement, no reservations.
Now, I am going to suggest to you another feature of this state of finding. I mention it hesitatingly because, although I wish for you to look for it and recognize it, I do not want you to adopt this as a goal. Because the irrational joy of the state is intimately connected to its spontaneity. What do I wish you to see? That this state has an immediate sense of orientation; it is this which accounts for the experience of finding which is so different from being lost.
By orientation I do not mean the points of the compass or the four directions. I mean an inner sense of orientation, as if you are facing something. If you are able to sense this quality of facing, and stay with it for a few moments, it may reveal something to you. First, what you are facing is indefinable, mysterious, but this lack of form is not at all uncomfortable.
Second, the irrational joy of finding yourself, there and then, clearly and exactly arises from contact with this indefinable something. So, the moment of finding contains you, this other and a wonderful connection which expresses joy.
Now, you could say that you have remembered yourself and that would be partly true. But it would be just as true to say you have been remembered. There are two sides meeting, acknowledging and completing each other. In no time at all, without words.
I think it is very likely you have had this experience. Perhaps you can even recall it. Being human, we quickly forget and become lost again.
Many times over the years I have challenged you to find evidence of God in your life. Thoughts and theories are not evidence. You may reject the very idea. That doesn’t matter either. The existence of God does not depend on your acceptance of it. The evidence is in the subtlety of human experience without any required reference to religion or theology. All it requires is to enter your own experience and perceive it, with fresh eyes and fewer preconceived ideas.
December 22, 2016
I have fleeting moments of presence but it never seems to stabilize. Is it possible to maintain a state of presence?
This is a fundamental question for our work. To inquire into this I am going to start with the assumption that you are able to invoke presence into the present. Now, what is the process that causes you to fall out of presence?
I become interested in something and my attention pulls me into whatever that is, I start thinking about it or interacting with it in some habitual way and then I’m deep into sleep again.
Yes, that’s it. Attention involuntarily attaches to something and triggers a fall from presence into identification. Identification with what? Usually you become the thinker but it could also be your body sense or some idea or image you have about yourself. This process of falling can be observed as a seizure of attention which has become involuntary, followed by the assumption of an identity.
In presence, attention remains connected to home base… it moves out to attend to things but at the same time remains attentive to being present and to itself. This understanding was once known as ‘nigah dasht’, knowing where your attention is. Of course, only attention is sufficiently quick and accurate to know where it is. Attention must therefore be free to operate without interference. This is a great discovery.
Is it possible to think while being present?
That seems possible. In presence, thoughts seem to arise and fall away as a kind of after-image of perception. Sometimes I can even speak these thoughts while remaining in a state of perception but usually I end up becoming the thinker and then I’m asleep again.
What kind of thinking takes you out of presence?
Anything that has a sense of compulsion like having to plan something or defend a point of view or get something I want. Or disagreeing with where I am and what I’m doing.
So, to remain present attention must remain voluntary, which includes being in basic agreement with the present. Attention can temporarily be captured or become attached to something but then it must rediscover itself, free itself, before presence is lost. Presence, which is the source of voluntary attention, operates in the same way. Presence knows directly and immediately that it is present. It does not need to have this verified by another. In fact, it cannot be verified by another, including the thinker or one of your personalities, because then you are not present in the present, you are identified. Also, once again, these entities outside presence are too slow to be relevant.
To remain present, there must therefore be confidence that presence can immediately know itself to be present and therefore remain present without my personal effort or control, except to re-invoke if need be, to renew the descent of presence into the present. If I try to be present, some identity is probably reinforcing its own existence by making counter-productive efforts.
It is difficult not to think of presence as an entity.
That is true. It would be easier to think of it as a thing. But as soon as you give it some sort of conceptual form, your thinking is likely to begin constructing a substitute for the experience of being present. Presence is our true self, our real ‘I’, and it has a definite sense of existing, but it is not like any other self we know.
Then what is presence?
Presence is perception and a temporary absence of identification which is always a construction made from past experience.
Presence gives us the capacity to enter the present. Without it, the present is a flow of moments that have no duration, too fleeting to enter. Ordinary time is time passing, succession without constancy, without being. To be in the present requires ‘something’ that is constant; it is necessary simultaneously to be in a dimension of time which does not flow from moment to moment. This other dimension is the eternal and when it intersects with time passing, ‘I’ have entered the present.
And who is this constant ‘I’? The ‘I’ of presence is rooted in the eternal present, a dimension of time which is unchanging. This ‘I’ is not a construct of the psyche, not an identity or personality fabricated from experience. This ‘I’ is my original face, my form from before I entered into time passing. It is who I am when I remember myself as the voyager. It is the passageway to those qualities originally bequeathed to ‘me’ from the Universe’s Treasury of all possibilities.
When I am not present, I have forgotten who I am; I have entered a world of illusion.
Invocation of Presence – August 10, 2015