Tag Archives: Loving Awareness

Your Refuge – A Heart That Is Ready for Anything

A dark heart silhouetteWhen the Buddha was dying, he gave a final message to his beloved attendant Ananda, and to generations to come:

“Be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge.”

In his last words, the Buddha was urging us to see this truth: although you may search the world over trying to find it, your ultimate refuge is none other than your own being.

There’s a bright light of awareness that shines through each of us and guides us home, and we’re never separated from this luminous awareness, any more than waves are separated from the ocean. Even when we feel most ashamed or lonely, reactive or confused, we’re never actually apart from the awakened state of our heart-mind.

This is a powerful and beautiful teaching. The Buddha was essentially saying: I’m not the only one with this light; all ordinary humans have this essential wakefulness, too. In fact, this open, loving awareness is our deepest nature. We don’t need to get somewhere or change ourselves: our true refuge is what we are. Trusting this opens us to the blessings of freedom.

Buddhist monk Sayadaw U. Pandita describes these blessings in a wonderful way: A heart that is ready for anything. When we trust that we are the ocean, we are not afraid of the waves. We have confidence that whatever arises is workable. We don’t have to lose our life in preparation. We don’t have to defend against what’s next. We are free to live fully with what is here, and to respond wisely.

You might ask yourself: “Can I imagine what it would be like, in this moment, to have a heart that is ready for anything?”

If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses, and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life. As we bring a courageous presence to the truth of loss, we stay available to the immeasurable ways that love springs forth in our life.

If our hearts are ready for anything, we will spontaneously reach out when others are hurting. Living in an ethical way can attune us to the pain and needs of others, but when our hearts are open and awake, we care instinctively. This caring is unconditional—it extends outward and inward wherever there is fear and suffering.

If our hearts are ready for anything, we are free to be ourselves. There’s room for the wildness of our animal selves, for passion and play. There’s room for our human selves, for intimacy and understanding, creativity and productivity. There’s room for spirit, for the light of awareness to suffuse our moments. The Tibetans describe this confidence to be who we are as “the lion’s roar.”

If our hearts are ready for anything, we are touched by the beauty and poetry and mystery that fill our world.

When Munindraji, a vipassana meditation teacher, was asked why he practiced, his response was, “So I will see the tiny purple flowers by the side of the road as I walk to town each day.”

With an undefended heart, we can fall in love with life over and over every day. We can become children of wonder, grateful to be walking on earth, grateful to belong with each other and to all of creation. We can find our true refuge in every moment, in every breath.

Adapted from True Refuge (2013)

Enjoy this video on The World in Our Heart:

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Guest Blog: I Am Loving Awareness By Ram Dass

The following is excerpted from Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart by Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das. Reprinted with Permission of HarperCollins. Copyright ©2010 by Love Serve Remember Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

 
I have a practice in which I say to myself, I am loving awareness. To begin, I focus my attention in the middle of my chest, on the heart-mind. I may take a few deep breaths into my diaphragm to help me identify with it. I breathe in love and breathe out love. I watch all of the thoughts that create the stuff of my mind, and I love everything, love everything I can be aware of. I just love, just love, just love. 
 
I love you. No matter how rotten you are, I love you because you are part of the manifestation of God. In that heart-mind I’m not Richard Alpert, I’m not Ram Dass— those are both roles. I look at those roles from that deeper “I.” In the heart-mind I’m not identified with my roles. They’re like costumes or uniforms hanging in a closet. “I am a reader,” “I am a father,” “I am a yogi,” “I am a man,” “I am a driver”—those are all roles.
 
All I am is loving awareness. I am loving awareness. It means that wherever I look, anything that touches my awareness will be loved by me. That loving awareness is the most fundamental “I.” Loving awareness witnesses the incarnation from a plane of consciousness different from the plane that we live on as egos, though it completely contains and interpenetrates everyday experience. 
 
When I wake up in the morning, I’m aware of the air, the fan on my ceiling, I’ve got to love them. I am loving awareness. But if I’m an ego, I’m judging everything as it relates to my own survival. The air might give me a cold that will turn into pneumonia. I’m always afraid of something in the world that I have to defend myself against. If I’m identified with my ego, the ego is frightened silly, because the ego knows that it’s going to end at death. But if I merge with love, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Love neutralizes fear.
 
Awareness and love, loving awareness, is the soul. This practice of I am loving awareness turns you inward toward the soul. If you dive deep enough into your soul, you will come to God. In Greek it’s called agape, God love. Martin Luther King, Jr., said about this agape, this higher love: “It’s an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative . . . the love of God operating in the human heart.”
 
It’s the love Maharaj-ji spreads around, the unconditional love. He loves you just because, just because. Spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless. He’s not going to love you because you’re an achiever or a devotee or a yogi, or because you’re on the path. He loves you just because. Can you accept it? Can you accept unconditional love? 
 
When you can accept that kind of love, you can give that love. You can give love to all you perceive, all the time. I am loving awareness. You can be aware of your eyes seeing, your ears hearing, your skin feeling, and your mind producing thoughts, thought after thought after thought. Thoughts are terribly seductive, but you don’t have to identify with them. You identify not with the thoughts, but with the awareness of the thoughts. To bring loving awareness to everything you turn your awareness to is to be love. This
moment is love. I am loving awareness.
 
If you put out love, then you immerse yourself in the sea of love. You don’t put out love in order to get back love. It’s not a transaction. You just become a beacon of love for those around you. That’s what Maharaj-ji is. Then from the moment you wake until the moment you go to sleep, and maybe in dreams too, you’re in a loving environment.
 
Try using I am loving awareness to become aware of your thought forms and to practice not identifying with them. Then you can identify with your soul, not your fears and anxieties. Once you identify with your spiritual being, you can’t help but be love.
 
It’s simple. I start with the fact that I’m aware, and then I love everything. But that’s all in the mind, that’s a thought, and loving awareness is not a thought. Or if it’s a thought, it’s pointing to a place that’s not a thought. It’s pointing at a state of being the way the concept of emptiness is pointing at emptiness, which is really fullness.
 
Souls love. That’s what souls do. Egos don’t, but souls do. Become a soul, look around, and you’ll be amazed—all the beings around you are souls. Be one, see one. When many people have this heart connection, then we will know that we are all one, we human beings all over the planet. We will be one. One love.
 
And don’t leave out the animals, and trees, and clouds, and galaxies—it’s all one. It’s one energy. It comes through in individual ways, but it’s one energy. You can call it energy, or you can call it love. I like to look at a tree and see that it’s love. Don’t you?
 
♥♥♥
 
Ram Dass first travelled to India in 1967 as Dr. Richard Alpert, an eminent Harvard psychologist. There he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba (affectionately known as Maharaj-ji), who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Upon his return from India, Ram Dass became a pivotal cultural influence and has served as a guiding light for over forty years, carrying millions along on the journey. He is the co- founder of the Seva Foundation and lives in Maui, Hawaii. www.Ramdass.org
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