August 28, 2007

The Presence Within / Mother Theresa

I wonder if Mother Theresa had a friend whom she allowed to get close to her heart, if she would have felt a holding and mirroring presence... And if so, I wonder if Mother Theresa could have born the weight of revealing her primitive agonies and the pain of betraying her essential presence (God within)… In the light of love, of loving kindness, of holding, and most importantly, of accurate mirroring, I wonder if with this kind of holding Mother Theresa may have drawn closer to realizing her own essential presence, her own authentic connection with God, with Being. If she had this, she may have turned within and realized this Presence right there in her own heart.

I’m speaking of a spiritual friend’s deep capacity for loving-kindness, for holding and accurate mirroring, which is huge and infinite in importance. Each of us has this capacity within, this authentic self that is the touch-point with God, that is the conduit, opening through which God-as-the-Unmanifest is connected with God-as-Manifestation, where the inner sky of emptiness meets the outer sky of form. Suzuki Roshi said we are the swinging door between these two, which are "not-two, not one." Here on this spot is where non-dual Presence is realized.

One could feel as though I were aggrandizing another’s capacity in this regard. However it seems to me that one cannot really inflate the capacity of this authentic Presence within. What is your experience of touching this Presence in others? Is not its capacity for light and love, wisdom and compassion, clarity, accuracy and warmth unfathomable? I see this essential presence in others. I see and feel and sense this touch-point, an access or opening to authentic presence, or God. This is the intimacy that cannot be manufactured. It does not come and go. It is inherent in our very nature. It is already, always present within, only usually covered over, hidden in the open, deep within our primitive agonies and all the subsequent strategies of creating a shell and distraction through preoccupation that we use to deal with our suffering. Being honest with oneself, one cannot pretend to this intimacy.

In her deeply private moments, talking honestly to herself in her journal, Mother Theresa bared the alienation she experienced; she tried to fathom the depths of her emptiness, understand the silence and separation she experienced when she turned her heart to God. She had performed this tremendous selfless work over the course of a lifetime, yet something essential was missing, she was not connected with what she sensed was something essentially important, the most important thing, and she could not fake it. The pretense of sainthood did not feed her. Apparently divine sustenance did not follow from her works or other's conviction and projection that she was the epitome of goodness, love, charity, and benevolence.

Mother Theresa could not pretend to intimacy with God. She had tasted it long ago. She had the marker for it, the bliss and freedom of this connection, so she could not pretend to its sacred intimacy when that connection was missing. She realized the taste of real water, the deep authenticity of it, how it refreshes, enlivens, rejuvenates; how deeply delightful it is. No picture of water, no image, no words, concepts, ideas or representations of water will quench one's thirst. It cannot be faked. Only genuine water will quench her thirst, and she had a deep, deep thirst for communion with the divine. Nothing can take its place. Not all the riches in the world. Not all the philosophical speculation and genius. Not all the asceticism, or all the good works in the world can take the place of realizing one's true nature. And it seems to start with self-realization. It seems to start within, with a return to the vast silence and emptiness of the inner sky. But there is a gate within and that gate seems to be not so easy to storm or take by force or will. It is not responsive to wealth or bribery, or acts of any kind, whether good or bad. It seems somehow indifferent to all of our strategies and manipulations. In fact it seems that we have to go through considerable layers - often involving suffering, facing our unfinished psychological business, exposing our shell, cocoon, and conditioned identity, the primitive agonies of the early wounds, particularly the wound of separation when we turned from our essential presence to get along and survive in the world - to even get close to the gate. Then we still find we are not able to just walk into that intimacy we so deeply thirst for. We have to wait, ripen, inquire, open and uncover more subtle layers of pretense, or resistance, of holding on, before we are, suddenly, spontaneously, pulled through the gate without the use of our hands. It is a mystery, involving grace, not-knowing, humility, suffering, softening of the shell, release, openness. Even then the groove of conditioning revisits us repeatedly, pulling us back into conceptualizing our experience, and rehabilitating the shell.

What impulse has us begin to experience our shell, to seek out our essential presence, to return to the gate, the source? St John of the Cross speaks to this mystery beautifully when he says,

"I always shall be moved to go
largely to something I don't know
that one may come on randomly."
This is really open. This deep openness, not-knowing, is not found in a church or in the teachings of a religion; not found in the tenets of Mother Theresa's foundational faith. There was some point of aliveness and authenticity within her that she was out of touch with. There is a touch-point of vastness in each of us that the mind cannot get itself around. That is a good thing as it holds the possibility that the mind, when it encounters this vastness, might come to rest, fall into silence, giving way to the emergence of intimacy of the soul.

Whoever made the call to release Mother Theresa's journals instead of burning them according to her wishes made a contribution. There are many people sincerely wrestling with their own alienation, and these honest admissions may provide insight and honest encouragement to them as they come to grips with their own loneliness, as they muddle through and discover what their particular suffering, their soft underbelly of tenderness has to teach them; as they explore their primitive agonies, the origins of their own feelings of separation and disconnectedness; as they face the vast emptiness of the unmanifest, and realize within them is the touch-point of their own original face, their true being. In my experience this is the antidote to alienation and the door to love, freedom and bliss.

August 20, 2007


I have a feeling that my boat

has struck, down there in the depths,

against a great thing.

And nothing



----Nothing happens?

Or has everything happened,

and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

Juan Ramon Jimenez

August 16, 2007

Wetness of the River

A river of mystery
flows in each of us,
and in all things.

We feel its wetness
deep in our nature,
fed by hidden springs.

We sense its flow, alive,
breathing in our communion; moving
in the gentle currents of psalms.

I feel the wetness of this river
moving deep within me, flowing
as luminous in the night as in the day.

August 14, 2007

Being Alive

People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what it's all finally about ...

From the Power of the Myth by Joseph Campbell

August 12, 2007

Deep Listening

If you listen deeply for the soul bridge within, you may become aware of an infinite and eternal listening. What is possible with your silent awareness, your wakeful listening and your seeing? If you listen deeply, your listening may invite another person to an awareness of their Essential Presence. In the warm hold of holy listening coming through you - a listening from wholeness - another may experience the presence of holy listening within themselves.

August 11, 2007

Returning Home

In the yard the leaves are turning,
spinning, golden colored honey
pages turning in my mind
leafing through time under
blankets of low-lying fog.

From the underbrush
a rabbit scurries
darting in front of the headlights
of the old car crackling gravel
returning me home

to soft candle light
familiar sounds
aroma of slow cooking
and quiet corners
of my mind
my body
my heart
and beyond.

Love resides in this corner,
in these leaves, in dense fog
moving through the rabbit's nose
over the sepia pages
the glinting candle fragrance,
pure and simple
turning, returning