The Aware Space of Immediate Presence
by Bob O' Hearn
All mental constructs are a superimposition on immediate presence. When we refrain from identification with these constructs, which arise in the form of judgments, opinions, beliefs, and fantasies of interpretation on perception, but instead grant attention to this immediate presence, the mind becomes quiescent.
Of course, the usual tendency is to jump right back into the compelling neural stream, and thus true meditation consists of allowing this immediate presence to outshine the habitual activity of obsessive thought, rather than employing the futile strategy of attempting to stop thought forms from arising by the application of willful effort.
By persisting sincerely in such practice, the classical questions of purpose, meaning, and identity which the mind raises dissolve, or as some say, self-liberate, and we are left, not with answers, not with some kind of special knowledge, not with a triumphant enlightenment, but with the original innocence of our true nature — pristine aware space — prior to the deluding adventure of separation and confusion that constitutes the typical human experience.
Here’s something to notice: nearly simultaneous with the appearance of anything, mind fabricates an interpretation while projecting the experienced reality. The objective part of the equation is that something appears. Whatever the phenomenon, it is compounded of other also-compounded phenomena, empty of any self-existence or non-existence, like a tree made of soil, seed, sun, and rain, which are themselves composed of countless things. The reason for the present appearance/experience can be traced back infinitely, even prior to the inception of that energy of which consciousness is its manifestation.
Time is only at the point of contact, immediate. Otherwise it becomes another conception. The sea of conceptuality is inky black. There is no direction. Every direction is unfathomable, except at this immediate time, as this immediate presence. Here awareness and experience are naturally indistinguishable — they are one thing, prior to any mental superimpositions: clear light, if seen as it is, pure love, natural presence.
Just so, there is a pithy formula of the well-meaning Tibetans that may ring a bell:
“Vision is Mind. Mind is Empty. Emptiness is Clear Light. Clear Light is Union. Union is Great Bliss.”
Paradoxically, although it is the natural default fragrance, we rarely imbibe even a brief and fleeting aroma of that supreme perfume. Rather, we remain fixated or fused in identification with the ceaseless parade of experiences, superimposing a limited and conflicted story of me and mine onto the mystery, and consequently can’t readily access and enjoy the more refined frequencies of vibration of which our construct is capable, beyond the delerious frenzy of this collective mindscape we are currently touring. It is only the clear light of love, this natural presence, which breaks the personal trance, awakens compassion, and sets us free. Said another way: “Experience is mind; mind is empty; emptiness is freedom; freedom is natural presence.”
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