We live in a troubled world but our own pure, pristine presence is not troubled at all.
It is your own authentic self and it is exactly the same now as it was five years ago or 50 years ago – unchanged and untroubled by any of the external events of your life.
I have a picture of myself when I was about a year old in my mother's arms. She is smiling proudly, a beautiful young woman for sure. And in her arms is this adorable little child -- I admit it -- face and eyes filled with joy as I beam ecstatically at the world around me.
I realized, as I looked at the picture just now, that fundamentally who I was 78 years ago is who I am now and exactly the same is true for all of us. Try it, if you like. Take out an old picture of yourself and look at it for a moment. The form has changed, of course. But as you look at the picture for just a moment don’t you get a fleeting sense that “You” have not changed at all?
Difficult feelings are like a Colorado thunderstorm
I find – particularly in recent months -- that as I deliberately slow down every now and again and listen to the presence of what is timeless in myself a remarkable joy fills me. Difficult feelings such as fear or restlessness still arise, but they don’t last. They’re like the thunderstorms I’ve become used to since moving to Colorado.
Denver is on the front range of the Rocky Mountains and our thunderstorms usually roll in on a nice summer afternoon from the mountains. But here’s the thing. With all their noise and bluster, their thundering and rain, they often only last 15 minutes or the like – and the sunshine that is endemic in this part of the country shines again as if nothing had happened. Sometimes it's even shining in the middle of a storm:-)
John Sherman, founder of a nonprofit group called the River Ganga Foundation, in Ojai, California, describes this process of connecting with our authentic self so well in his great little book, Look at Yourself:
Making contact with the reality of your nature
Writes Sherman: “Right now, in this moment, just look at yourself briefly with your mind's eye. See if it is not possible, even as you are reading this, to catch just a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of the feeling of you, the you-ness of you, the profound and primal ordinariness of you. See how certain, how literally unquestionable it is that you are here, and how that presence of you here is certain in a way nothing else could ever be.
"If you do this once knowingly, you will without fail do it again... and again... and again... And the day will certainly come, without regard to anything else you are doing or not doing, without regard to anything else that is being done or not being done to you, when you will notice that the underlying fear of life is dead -- an old and false notion about your nature snuffed out by contact with the reality of your nature."
Some last words from my wife
My sweet wife, JoAnn, who is a down-to-earth soul, puts all this in a little different way.
“I’ve learned that what works for me, if something negative or troubling comes up in me is to stop and give thanks and focus on something more creative and positive. It was hard to put this into practice in the beginning but I’ve been doing it long enough now to know that it really works. But I have to be very deliberate about it.”
I have to tell you now that whatever JoAnn’s secret is, it sure works. A more caring, even-tempered, loving friend and partner I could never wish to meet.
How about you? How do you deal with difficult feelings? What gives you fulfillment and joy? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.
My love and blessings to you.
Picture credit: Nanda Sunu