The point of this writing is not to make a rational argument or assert truth-claims, but to bring you into a state of presence. I invite you to read the following sentences without agreeing or disagreeing with anything I say and let the words lead you into presence:
Be awake. Be alert. Or you’ll miss it.
Be like a cat watching a mouse-hole. Be like a servant waiting for the master to return.
You never know when “God” will appear. So be alert. Watch for it.
And if you are totally present, you’ll start to notice that God is appearing now, at every moment.
Now and now and now.
Ram Dass’s teacher, Maharaj-ji, would write in his journal the significant events of each day. And on every page he’d write: “Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram…” which means “God, God, God, God…” He filled notebooks this way.
Look up. It is happening now, all around you. The wind in the tree. The light and shadow on the asphalt. That man on the street.
We may see the tree, but fail to notice that it is the tree of life. We may see the light and shadows on the sidewalk, but fail to see the yin yang at play. We may see the man and fail to see that he is a king.
Death is a great teacher of presence. Death brings the world into focus. When the house is on fire, there is no future, there is no past, there is only the present moment. If we can look death in the eyes and keep our focus, we are ushered immediately into the presence of God.
God is not an Abrahamic deity. Neither is it an Indian one. God is Reality. Reality is that which Is.
To be present is to see the Is-ness of what’s in front of you. To be present is to be fully awake to the present moment. This is easy to do for 2-5 seconds at a time.
Do it now: Take a deep breath and relax. Let go of all thoughts and judgements. And notice that, when the thoughts depart, you remain. You exist. You Are.
After a few seconds, the thoughts may return. Take another deep breath and relax for another 2-5 seconds — enter the silence.
Meditation is just a series of breaths followed by 2-5 seconds of presence. Enlightenment is simply a state of presence as we go about our lives.
You do not have to force yourself awake. In fact, you can’t. Just like you can’t flatten a choppy lake with an iron. Instead, relax. The lake will quiet on its own.
Your thoughts will pass like clouds in the sky. The thoughts are not the enemy. The thoughts are themselves sky. Just like waves on the lake are themselves made out of lake.
In just the same way, everything we perceive is made of the same Is-ness. Just like gold can be molded into countless forms of jewelry. The Is-ness of reality takes on countless, priceless forms around us.
Some descriptions of Nirvana illustrate it as a realm of lotus flowers, some as large as planets, covered in priceless jewels. These writers describe Nirvana as a paradise of wealth and beauty so immense that the mind has trouble keeping up—which is exactly the point.
Zen and Dzogchen masters sometimes like to ambush their students with surprise attacks using brooms or wooden swords. Or they may pull the chair out from under them and send them crashing to the floor. In that moment of pain, surprise, and shock: the mind goes blank. You are totally present. You are totally here.
Let go of the mind. Let go of your thoughts. Let go of your emotions. Don’t worry, they won’t disappear. More will come. But more importantly: you won’t disappear. You will remain: because you are the sky. You are the ocean. You are the consciousness in which all things appear and disappear.
Be awake. Be alert. Or you’ll miss it. All trees are the tree of life. All men are kings, all women are queens. And every day is a holy day.
Ram. Ram. Ram. Ram. Ram… Everything. Everywhere. All of it.
The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.
SNS strives to include diverse voices within the spectrum of naturalistic spirituality. Authors will vary in their opinions, terms, and outlook. The views of no single author therefore necessarily reflect those of all Spiritual Naturalists or of SNS.