We suffer because we have forgotten who we are and our identity has become confined to the sense of a separate, usually deficient self. All difficult emotions-fear and anger, shame and depression-arise out of this trance of what I call false self.
I’ve found that whenever I am really suffering, on some level I am believing and feeling that “something is wrong with me.” Over the years I’ve been drawn to three primary gateways for awakening from this trance. In the Buddhist tradition they are referred to as the three refuges:
One (called “sangha”) is loving relationship-both live contact with loved ones and also meditation on the love that’s in my life. In the moments of remembering love, there is an opening out of the sense of separate self. For me, reflecting on love has included prayer to the beloved, to what I experience as the loving awareness that is my source. When I feel separate and stuck, that loving presence might seem like it’s apart from me and “out there.” But by reaching out in longing and prayer, I’m carried home to the loving presence that is intrinsic to my Being.
A second gateway (“dharma” or truth) is taking refuge in the present moment. The training of meditation is a gift as it has helped me to pause, wake up out of thoughts and contact my moment to moment experience. When I am no longer running away or resisting what is happening inside me, I reconnect with the space and compassion that has room for whatever is going on.
A third gateway (“buddha” or “buddha nature”) is turning towards awareness itself. Most of the time we are paying attention to the foreground of experience-to our thoughts, feelings and sensations. What we are missing out on is the background of experience, the formless dimension of Being itself. By asking questions like “What is aware right now?” or “What is knowing these sounds?” or “Who am I?” we begin to intuit our own presence or Beingness. The signs of this presence are space, stillness and silence.
For myself and so many I’ve worked with, becoming familiar with this formless dimension of who we are makes it possible to open with love to the changing expressions of life within and around us. It allows us to make peace with living and dying, and to live our moments fully.
Wishing everyone connection with your own Beingness today and every day. Much love to you all - you are all Buddhas!