naked presence

bridge and bright skyWhat is it that is so compelling about the spiritual journey? It dragged me further and further from the root of myself.

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.

8 thoughts on “naked presence

  1. jimrich

    re: “So, what else is present right here, right now, besides sensations, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and ‘you’–that doesn’t come and go?”
    …That’s a terrific concept/teaching. I experience it as me (not the temporary ego) that doesn’t come and go but I can see how holding it as an object or otherness (like god) that doesn’t come or go could also work. Seeing what actually is permanent or eternal seems to be the whole point of seeking.


  2. The line from NOTHING PERSONAL that did for me was the one that asked ” What is it that knows thought ? Whatever it is, it cannot be a thought. Thoughts are objects, not capable of knowing anything.” ( or some such – it was from page 12) The pebble that started an avalanche ! 😉
    Enjoyed hearing of your experiences. _/\_


  3. brian

    Ha, Now I know why you recommended Nirmala’s book to me. Thank you yet again for helping (on this most uncommodius Monday) to redirect my attention to the wide open space within.


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