Beyond No Self
How can that be—empty space that is full of everything that matters? The mind cannot grasp it fully, as
presence exists beyond concepts and even beyond its own forms; and yet, that is what you are. You can
experience it with more subtle senses than the physical senses and the mind. Ultimately, you "sense" it by
being it. You just are this full empty presence.
It is this second movement of realization of essence, presence, and fullness of Being that counteracts the belief
that since I (as ego) do not exist, therefore nothing exists and all is illusion. It gives a heartfelt sense of
meaning and purpose back to this relative life of the body and mind, not as a means of gratification to your
idea of yourself, but as a pure expression of the wonder and beauty of this deeper reality. Instead of living a
life in service to the ego's wants and needs, you can find yourself fulfilling the deepest purposes of a human
life: to serve and express freedom, joy, beauty, peace and love. By itself the realization of no-self can end up
dry and lifeless, but when the heart opens wide to the bigger truth of the true Self, life is anything but dry and
It is also worth mentioning that the opposite can occur: At any time, your awareness can move directly into
pure presence and be filled with a sense of the essential limitless goodness of your true nature. And while any
experience of true nature does to some extent loosen the identification with the limited idea of yourself we call
the ego, since it doesn't compute to think of yourself as a limited body and mind when you are experiencing
the bigger underlying reality, an experience of true nature by itself doesn't always dissolve the ego
completely. Having a direct experience of deeper truth doesn't take away your inherent capacity to identify. It
doesn't render you incapable of thought, so you can still return to thinking of yourself as a limited self, even if
it is now a limited self that has tasted your true nature.
So if the habit of identification with the body and mind does continue, it can still be necessary to deconstruct
the mistaken beliefs related to ego identification. There is a place for questioning and inquiring into the false
beliefs and assumptions of our identification with the body and mind, and a place for questioning and
inquiring into the underlying reality. The difference is that the inquiry into true nature is not a purely mental
activity. Because of the subtle nature of presence, the inquiry itself has to be subtle and whole hearted. To
discover what is really here in the truest sense requires subtlety, patience, persistence, courage, tenderness,
compassion, curiosity, and ultimately everything you've got! The momentum of our usual identification with
physical reality and with our purely mental thought forms shapes our perception to such a great degree, that it
is a challenge to break through to the more subtle dimensions of perception.
It helps to pursue the inquiry into true nature both with the heart and also with the body. The mind's view is so
easily distorted by belief and conditioning that the experience beneath the shoulders is often a more direct and
open doorway into presence. What are you experiencing right now in your shoulders? In your heart? In your
belly? What is the space around your arms and legs like right now? Is there energy flowing in your body right
now? Questions like these can direct you to a more fruitful exploration, especially if you ask them with your
whole heart and not just with your mind.
It is a saving grace that this deeper reality is always present. Sometimes it just touches us in an unguarded
moment of deep loss or profound beauty. In the end, there is no escaping from the truth. Illusions come and
go, beliefs come and go, and yet the underlying presence remains.
In words it can seem overly simple. Just stop believing in your thoughts and sense your being. It really is that
simple, although it is not always easy. One of the things that make it a challenge is the sense of identity we
naturally have. Inherent in our existence as true nature is a sense that we exist or that "I am." We do exist as
true nature, and so of course, we sense that existence. While many might be confused about who or what they
are, not very many doubt their own existence. In fact, existence and identity are aspects of our true nature.
So, even when we are caught in the mental world of thoughts, there is still this underlying sense of identity.
We still feel like we exist. And since we are so strongly imprinted onto our physical bodies and our thoughts