For thirty-eight years, I searched desperately to find something that felt truly and deeply sacred. Convinced that I would recognize this something when it showed up, I prayed, meditated, chanted, and tried to be the very best person that I could. I read deep books, and struggled to learn.
If only I were good enough. There must be something inherently wrong with me. Clearly, I wasn’t worthy.
But-this-that-we-are could not possibly be an object. Objects, or the multitudes of manifested stuff that the Buddhists call “the ten thousand things,” come and go. The truly sacred could not possibly show up and dissolve–I knew in my heart that it must be what I imagined as permanent ground.
But even “permanent ground” is a misunderstanding, because permanent must imply the opposite, impermanent. That which is truly sacred–that which is beyond names–has no opposites, and is outside of time; it is both eternal and infinite.
I have never met Nirmala, but he set me straight one afternoon in Boulder, Colorado, August, 2009. I was resting in a motel room and picked his book, Nothing Personal, out of my back pack. I started at the beginning. Around page five, I read this sentence, and it brought me to a full stop: “So, what else is present right here, right now, besides sensations, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and ‘you’–that doesn’t come and go?”
Thirty eight years on a spiritual path, and I had never questioned this before. I reread the sentence four or five times. Then I put the book down on the bed, and turned inward to examine my experience. The best description of my state is beginner’s mind–I looked freshly, without anticipating what I might find.
And… there “it” was. Alive, naked presence. Untouchable, unfindable as an object. But it seemed obvious that naked presence has always been my constant companion. This thought arose, “Really?!” Chuckling erupted.
For months, I checked tens of times a day. Still here? Still with me? And finally, the checking, the questioning, stopped. Naked presence cannot be lost. Certain states of mind may veil this-that-isn’t-an-it, but presence is wholly dependable.
I couldn’t lose this if I tried. It is both unfindable and unloseable.
I remain an unnamed vessel of vast grateful-ing.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: the beautiful blog, Barnstorming. Check it out.