Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Being in the Present
Katie Davis

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Katie Davis

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The following is an extract from the forthcoming book ‘Awake Joy: The Essence of Spiritual Enlightenment ’.

The revealing Presence of Nature is everywhere. Approached humbly and honorably, its pointers are extraordinary. Nature as teacher is approachable and available for everyone. It welcomes and embraces you. Simply walking in Nature's Presence is an extraordinary movement meditation. Sitting in its power. Nature resonates deeply with the frequency of Beingness within you. Beingness is the teacher to both Nature and you. Self-observation begins by observing ‘externally’ but you also listen to the accompanying inner dialogue and you are aware of the sensations within the body.

For instance, you may be witnessing a tall fir, gently blowing in the strong wind. The inner dialogue might be something like this:
“Without resistance, its branches sway in welcoming and in forgiveness of the kinetic movement of the wind. The trunk of the tree remains steadfast and still. Its roots are firmly rooted in the Earth.”

When you listen to the mind's dialogue, while observing this fir, Nature is reflecting your teaching. In the above example, the lesson could be to bend and yield to life, rather than resisting. Another lesson could be one of welcoming kinetic life changes, while remaining still and deeply rooted within, as the Beloved. The flying birds, the activities of bees, the stillness of a mountain, the river that gently flows to the ocean and the still reflecting lake are only a few of the magnificent teachers. The key is to remain fully present in the body and aware of your inner energy field. This assists you to be present with the appearances. Simultaneously, you are fully present with the teachings observed in the inner dialogue. This begins leading you toward Freedom.

I am not referring to mind association, where an appearance in Nature elicits a memory of a past experience or the worry of a future circumstance. It is not about sitting alone in the marvel of Nature and processing ‘me and my story’. If you are reflecting on the past grievances of ego or future desires and fears, you are not present with Nature. Instead, you are in relationship with the false sense of self and its narcissistic self-study. To be open to Nature’s teaching, you must be aware of how Nature is acting upon the inner body. You observe the feeling realization. The secret is to recognize that the mirror of Nature is reflecting and resonating with the Beloved within you. In the beginning, you observe your inner dialogue of thought in understanding that Nature is reflecting the true Teacher within. Subsequently, you are inwardly silent to sense the inner resonation with the Beloved. Nature is pointing to you as the answer to every question.

The Presence of Nature is an opportunity to be present and spacious. For example, on a mountain walk, you might discover a lone trillium, hidden in the middle of an alpine meadow. Perhaps, you would stop in honor of its dignity, beauty and aloneness. You might notice that the flower is displaying within a spacious field of silence. Be the silence within which the flower is emerging. You listen to silence while being present with the inner body. What is the feeling impact? How does the silence feel within and without? Being present with the delicate trillium in this manner, you will notice a suspension of mind activity. Focus on this suspension as a gateway to the Joy of Being. You simply listen and remain open to Joy, as the aliveness emerges. This is not a ‘doing’. It is the exact opposite of doing. Through becoming aware of the silence and space in Nature, you notice an ever-increasing silent expansiveness within.

You can use the senses to move deeper. For instance, in touching the alpine grass of a meadow, you are aware of how the feeling acts upon you. As you eat a blueberry from the forest, you are aware of how the tasting takes effect. As you approach an alpine lake, you smell the dampness of the marsh. The fragrance of the lake invisibly appears as you draw nearer. You hear the alpine birds far in the distance, announcing your arrival in the wilderness. You notice that the birdsong arrives on the wings of silence. You are aware of the feeling impact of hearing the birdsong but you are also aware of the silence out of which it arises. You see a fawn peacefully stepping toward the cool alpine lake to drink, as you are aware of the spaciousness within which it appears. You remain conscious of the feeling impact. Eventually, awareness withdraws from the object of perception to only the sensing. Awareness is one in Being the listening or the seeing. By using sensing in this manner, the separation of the perceiver from the perception disappears into the oneness of perceiving.

A Buddhist scholar and philosopher, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, who was instrumental in spreading Zen in the West, once wrote: “To point at the moon, a finger is needed, but woe to those who take the finger for the moon”. Nature is only a finger and it is pointing toward you. Identification with the perceiver reinforces identification with Nature. In this identification the perceiver moves into the delusion of time and space, the requirements for conditioned thought. Then the mind does what the dual mind does. The separate perceiver objectifies Nature, categorizes and stores the perception in memory according to its emotional relationship with the sensation and its former knowledge of the object of perception. When this identification occurs, the perceiver no longer perceives the true appearance. They perceive their past knowledge of the concept and that is all.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012