At home in our natural presence | Weekly Worship

By Sal Barba, A local Buddhist | Nov 06, 2013

“Whatever came from being is caught up in being, drunkenly forgetting the way back” –Rumi (quoted from Tara Brach in “True Refuge”)

Where is it that we go to rest from the turbulent waves of our daily life?

Many of us make numerous attempts to control our life seeking wealth, sex, love or recognition.

But really, when it comes to the realities of change, loss and mortality, we lose all of our bargaining chips when we gamble with impermanence.

We seem to arrive at a point of clarity primarily when we are jolted by a crisis: a heart that has been betrayed, a death of a significant one, our own terminal diagnosis.

What we pursue as a refuge from our fears does not provide us with the security we long for, or safeguard us from our greatest fear, the agony of loss and separation.

Crisis shatters our illusions about any ground that we might secure ourselves to. In truth, we discover that there is really no ground that we can stand on or hold on to.

In these moments, when our lives appear to be crumbling, and many of us have been there, our longing for help can become a conscious journey back into our home of presence.

As Tara Brach has said, “Presence is the essence of true refuge!”

What many of us are intolerant of is letting go of controlling our experiences.

How can we see clearly what is happening in our life if we ignore or bypass the turbulence living within or around us?

Presence is not some exotic commodity we can purchase at a retail store. Simply described, Presence is our felt sense of wakefulness, openness and tenderness that comes when we decide to be fully here and now with whatever we are experiencing.

Presence is immediate, embodied and perceived through all of our senses. “Presence is intrinsic to our nature.”

What might be some examples of these three that would give us something that we can practice in our daily life?

Basic consciousness is aware of all phenomenon that arises in the continuum of our wakefulness: sounds, sights, bodily sensations and thoughts. The space of our awareness is what life opens from. This is our openness.

Awareness doesn’t oppose or evaluate our experiences—even when feeling, and thought and emotion become painfully turbulent, awareness realizes and allows everything in our life to be as it is.

Awareness is like the open sky holding on to nothing. The open space of awareness is always unconstrained by the constant flow of change that moves through us.

The beauty about awareness is that it has an innate propensity for natural sensitivity and the agility to express a large range of states of mind, including the expression of warmth.

You could identify the expression of warmth as “tenderness.”

Therefore, our tenderness enables us to respond to the world in all of its beauty and tragedy with love, compassion and wonder.

These three qualities of presence are inseparable; somewhat like the sunlit sky. It’s impossible to separate light from sky nor from the space that is illuminated by it.

We cannot separate the warmth we experience from the space and light around us, even though when I hold a beautiful tea cup and mistakenly think that the space on the inside of the cup is different somehow from the space that surrounds it—it’s not!

Light, space and warmth are inextricably expressed as a whole. We need not fear that when we experience chaos that whole is not within it.

We have extraordinary capacity to flow from chaos to integration vis-à-vis. We are called to return to our home that is our natural presence, and our realization of whatever our truth is can appear from the lucidity of our presence.

Love, creativity, compassion, care, tenderness surround us when we take refuge in our presence, and can keep us from perpetual recycling into irritation, anxiety and chronic tension.

What inhibits us from taking refuge in our presence has to do with “the trance of small self.”

Let’s pause for a moment and meditate together. Sit in a comfortable position, and softening your eyes, either close them or point them slightly downward.

Inhale consciously a few times, letting go of your body’s tensions as you allow your mind to calm and relax, gently sweeping through each area of your body and relaxing it.

Invite your awareness to occupy your whole body, imagining your physical form as a cacophony of sensations.

Allow yourself to experience the full range of sensations from tingling, temperature changes, vibration, heat or cool, soft or hard, tight or loose.

Imagine the symphony of sounds, images and light that dance upon your eyelids. Feeling your breath and sensing the space that is around you, open and receptively allow the scents that arise in the air that you are breathing.

Let your body and mind be receptive, relaxed and flowing freely through you. Let awareness expand and deepen, listening and experiencing the continual flow of change and aliveness that emerges as the background of presence is here.

Allow yourself to appreciate the awake, inner space of presence gratefully bring to your attention an alert, open relaxed acceptance and refuge from the chaos of your day.

Good. Nice to be here.

As you continue to practice, you will become increasingly comfortable inside with your natural presence.

Until the next time, welcome to home sweet home!

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