Saint Teresa of Avila goes to great lengths to remind us that there is such a thing as inner light. ‘We are conditioned,’ she says, ‘to perceive only external light. We forget that there is such a thing as inner light, illuminating our soul, and we mistake that radiance for darkness. Saint Hesychios says our practice will dawn with yet a new brilliance, a ‘continuous seeing into the heart’s depths, stillness of mind unbroken even by thoughts which appear to be good and the capacity to be empty of thoughts.’ With the training in silent prayer that we have learnt by torchlight and then by moonlight, our inner gaze is stilled and steadied in such a way that this inner light begins to dawn as brightly as the sun: ‘Just as those who look at the sun cannot but fill their eyes with light, so they who always have a steady gaze into their heart cannot fail to be illumined.’ The luminous simplicity of this grounding awareness is beyond the reach of doubt. When certain inner conditions are ready and ripe, the ground of awareness opens up from within; the sun dawns, and we are utterly free of shackles. We cannot pull this off ourselves, because what we usually take to be this ‘self’ that likes to accomplish such spiritual feats as ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’ has fallen away, lost, like a crystal in sunlight. Something ‘ever ancient ever new’ dawns in awareness, not as an object of awareness, for it is too close to us for that, but as a ‘sunlit absence,’ interior to awareness itself, ‘more intimate to me than my inmost self as St. Augustine famously phrased it……Martin Laird
do we ever really know? do we ever really see what we have been given? where grace invites us? this pure ground from which we can witness an inner break sees the world of sorrow as sacred……how do we know?
The most amazing and strange thing about awakening to the truth of oneness is that there is no such thing as oneness as an isolated phenomenon. It is just the absence of an illusory separation between oneself and the rest of the world. When we wake up spiritually, nothing really changes. We are still breathing; trees and mountains are still there. The only thing that changed was the disappearance of all delusions of duality and the suffering generated by them. After that, we are able to find joy in even the smallest things. It seems like we won the whole universe in the lottery…..Anam Thubten