How Has This Practice Enriched My Life?
A Personal Report
I view this website and what is written here as a personal testimony. I offer it as a data-point, not a source of universal truths. My goal is not to convince you, Dear Reader, of anything. But, to simply offer as truthfully and honestly as I can a case study, or report, in the hope that it will serve some good purpose.
The Liberation of Experiencing Divine Presence
Here’s what I mean by the “liberation” I experienced and continue to experience when I do this practice.
Liberation was and is the strong, clear sense that the personal ego-space in which I exist, my consciousness, is not encased in this finite body, but is in a larger space, the space of The Divine. I don’t mean that it’s floating outside of me, but that I am in that space, aware of it, and the consciousness of The Divine is liberating.
This is not some weird out-of-body experience, but simply the sense that I’m liberated. Perhaps it’s the feeling one has of living in a jail cell for one’s life and then finding oneself out of prison and free. Liberated.
Consciousness of The Divine, God, is not the “imaginary friend” that comedian Bill Maher pokes fun at. I don’t have conversations with or play poker, for that matter, with an imaginary friend. I don’t hear voices or see manifestations or anything that seems at all unnatural.
Rather, I typically experience a consciousness during this practice that I am not alone in my deepest personal struggles, but that there is a “Presence” (a word that I used before finding out that others had used the same word for centuries) that is unlike typical daily awareness.
(I’m not trying to brag although it may sound like that. I’m simply trying to report accurately.)
Here's What I Think Happens
Liberation is ego's experience — my ego’s experience — and subsequent acceptance that the space in which it exists is not limited to itself. Ego learns that it is not alone. That its burden is not carried solely on its / my shoulders.
Survival — in all of its major and minor forms — is no longer so central to my life.
The small tight space of ego, can open and become a big open space. And, that big open space is good and includes what I can only call The Presence, The Divine, yes, God.
I exist within the larger space, the space of The Divine. The ancient Hebrews spoke of “the peace of shalom.” Perhaps that’s what I have learned I can experience: the peace of shalom. But, I don’t want to dwell on labels and words.
Over time I have realized that liberation has taken on different meanings to me. Initially, it was astonishment. (“This is not like anything I have experienced before.”) More recently, I experience this as a sense of personal authenticity. Who I am is not someone struggling to become someone or something else. I am who I am.
This “liberation” is not a permanent state, but is more like a haven I can go to. It’s more like a spring I can step into and experience.
This liberation is not about getting better at ego striving: building a bigger wall of protection; arranging all the furniture of life to make things just right; being such a good person that I never do anything wrong or harmful or am somehow magically impervious to life’s nitty-gritty challenges.
The liberation I am writing to you about Dear Reader has nothing to do, it seems to me, with striving to be better. It’s also, to the best of my knowledge, not about being transformed toward anything more holy or worthwhile.
It’s about being freed, at least partially and temporarily, from “the twin masters of praise and criticism.“
This opening to God’s presence does not seem to me making something happen. It’s about allowing something to happen.
It's about being open to The Divine Presence and giving myself the freedom to simply be with that Presence in the consciousness of the moment.
And, paradoxically, it’s not about me and it is about being me. Being who I am. Now. Not the “me” I am striving for. Not "perfect" me. Not "imperfect" me. Simply me existing in the space of The Divine.
The phrase in what Christians call “The Lord’s Prayer” that jumps out at me is this one: “…Thy Kingdom Come…” “Thy” Kingdom Come. Not “My” (wished for) Kingdom Come.
And, for you, dear reader, I think it’s about being you. Being who you are. Now. Not the “you” you are striving for. Not "perfect" you. Not "imperfect" you. Simply you existing in the space and present moment of The Divine.
It’s about finding out what that is. It’s about allowing the experience of “that moment” and those moments. It’s about experience. It’s not about belief except the belief you may hold after experience.
Ego Wants the Magic of “Happily Ever After”
It seems to me that ego not only wants survival, it works really hard trying to get everything arranged so that it can live safely and happily ever after. As adults, it seems to me that most of us know intellectually and even by experience that "happily ever after" isn’t going to happen. But, really, left to our own devices, we don’t know any other game, but the ego-struggle game.
Awareness of God's Presence, for me, is the consciousness that there is another way; that we are not limited to only the ego-struggle game, but that there is a deeper, broader, more free and even joyful way.
Perhaps awareness of God’s Presence and “liberation” is simply the consciousness of Divine Grace. Not magic, but Grace. Perhaps it is the experiential education of little ego finding out that it is not alone. That it and you exist in the Presence of The Divine, God.
It seems to me that the “god” ego wants is the god of magic; the one that fulfills our script for “happily ever after.” It's a script that keeps pushing us to get things right so that our near and distant futures can be OK.
And, it is my hunch that we cling to this script because we don’t know, really know, in our bones, an alternative.
Perhaps we are like the homeless person struggling for another morsel to live on while an inheritance waits.
The inheritance is The Divine Presence, "grace." It is here now.
Not magic. But, grace.
Not to be earned. But, present.
Maybe that is the most astonishing thing. Grace is present. You don’t have to earn it.
How Has This Practice Enriched My Life? (This page.)