Understand Myself as a Key to Awakening

Dear Friends,
Some of you may remember this post from the beginning of the year, however many new readers have joined Heartflow since then. One dear friend, Eleanor, mentioned how much she appreciates this post and that moved me to re-read it myself and to post it today again.


When I can understand myself I have the key that will help me to understand the world. To understand myself I enter into an exploration of what it is that I understand unconditionally and unequivocally. I also want to be clear about what I mean when I say that I understand.

I invite you into an exploration of understanding together with me. I start by listening deeply to my inner voice and so I leave other voices to echo out into space. Soon I am alone in vast space.

Space is what allows me to hear; in it my inner ear opens to most subtle tones.

I listen to what I don’t know and allow it to pull me towards it.

Drawn towards it now like on a tractor beam through space all thoughts are jettisoned because their existence depends on the known like a fish depends on water.

In this rarefied space without knowing my spirit breathes free and my senses all are crystal clear, on high alert, but tranquil and relaxed.

I understand what it means to understand: stand under. Not standing surrounded by and in the midst of phenomena, words, thoughts, and feelings but in a very subtle way apart, beneath, below, under.

This point of perspective takes possession of all that it sees, for it is clear that all has emerged from this point or principle. I stand under all phenomena as the source point of it all. From here I see the underbelly and understand it because all about it is visible, nothing hidden. This is deep understanding and yet is not within the realm of the known. This is deeply calming.

The following passage talks about this source point and how it is that we give reality to all that is in our life.

“Break the bonds of memory and self-identification and the shell [of the person] will break by itself. There is a center that imparts reality to whatever it perceives. All you need is to understand that you are the source of reality, that you give reality instead of getting it, that you need no support and no confirmation. Things are as they are because you accept them as they are. Stop accepting them and they will dissolve. Whatever you think about with desire or fear appears before you as real. Look at it without desire or fear and it does lose substance. Pleasure and pain are momentary. It is simpler and easier to disregard them than to act on them.”  (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj: I Am That)

This way of looking does present riddles to the mind, and therefore I say that it is an understanding that is not of the known. It might also be appropriate to say that it is a “knowing” that is not of the mind, and therefore not of the “known”, of memory and of the center of self-identification.

“There is no greater absurdity, no more fundamental or damaging a madness than to imagine one is centrally what one looks like. … Only cure that one basic disease – mistaken identity – and all is exactly as it should be. … All the troubles that afflict humans reduce to one trouble – mistaken identity.”  (Douglas E. Harding)

How to respond to this? Let us continue the journey inwards towards the Inner Effulgence, inquiring about my true identity.

Underneath my emotions and mental projections I stand now, and from here I understand how these elements of my consciousness cloud my view and how they are so loud that I do not hear the subtle voice of the Heart which is Inner Effulgence.

Too much static and interference to hone in on that homing beacon that leads me to my Heart so that I may listen with my Heart, see with my Heart and understand from my Heart.

If I had fallen into a deep earth crevice and been caught up in an underground stream, I would be terrified. When I, however, decide to venture into the stream equipped with a safety line and breathing equipment, it is a completely different matter.

In the same way, I anchor myself in my knowing that I am loved, that this is a deeply benevolent universe and that it embraces me in all I do at all times. Then I venture into my inner caverns and labyrinths.

I let myself sink down below the thought to the emotion underlying it. For example, thinking of money: the mental projection of looking for a source of income unrolls before my mind’s eye like a movie. If I believe this mental projection is the truth, I will remain on the surface of the phenomenon, and will be caught up in its current. Instead I let go of that projection as I cease to feed it with my attention and feel myself sink below it to the emotion it swims on.

All of these thoughts swim on the underlying current of fear. I let my consciousness sink into the current of fear like into a cold stream in the subterranean cavern. However my awareness as the witness, grounded in the deep inner knowing that Love is the ultimate reality, is my lifeline and the fear doesn’t possess me.

As I sink into the fear, I feel how my senses contract and my whole being feels constricted and very narrow. I see myself as an explorer and a scientist entering a subterranean stream to see where it leads me and what I can learn about it. It becomes clear from this point of perception that this stream of fear is but an energy stream like all others, and that it has a particular consistency and quality.

In the stream of fear I experience constriction which is a narrowing of my field of vision. I only see the object within the fear, in this case the need for money. There is contraction of my logic, a shortening of what my intelligence brings in to the equation. I reduce the question to finding a source of income and nothing else matters. This dynamic of my consciousness is accompanied by a psychological/emotional/physical sense of cold, of nausea and of exhaustion as caused by a strong loss of energy.

Sinking now below this stream of fear, after having merged with it in order to understand it, I now stand under the fear. I have owned it and taken it into my embrace and have become one with it: it is mine. I now understand the fear. It is one of many streams of energy that tend to surface in my consciousness depending on the conditioned responses of my particular biography.

I can experiment now, and chose a stream of energy that I wish to connect with: envy, greed, or victimhood but also joy, appreciation, gratitude, or forgiveness. I see what happens, what my experience is when I connect with the stream of joy. It as well has a particular consistency and texture. It as well produces certain physical sensations that are vastly different than those of fear or anxiety. In this way I achieve a certain beneficial detachment from the streams of mentation and emotion that I am susceptible to. I can now choose to continue into a deeper level of understanding.

Having allowed my consciousness to sink below any particular stream of thoughts and emotions, I can now choose to continue into an even deeper level of understanding myself.

I connect more strongly with the homing beacon to my Heart, the Inner Effulgence. There is nothing attracting me more strongly than the scent of that Inner Effulgence. No scent known to us in this physical world is like it and so I have no words to describe it. Each of us finds our own scent trail to that Inner Effulgence.

It is the primordial Mother frequency, and also the primordial Father frequency. When I am able to tune into It, to attune myself to It, I receive all the motherly love that I perhaps was deprived of as a child and my mother-wounding is dissolved, completely healed. I experience the Father of us all as the strong, affectionate, and loving masculine energy that many of us never experienced as children. This Inner Effulgence is the loyal Friend that I yearned for all my life. It is also the Sibling that always stands by me and supports me through thick and thin. It is the source of the knowing and gives me the sense that I am rich. It is, in short, my Light of Lights.

“Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.” Eckhart Tolle

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9 thoughts on “Understand Myself as a Key to Awakening

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  6. Most likely shared before, but so comes in again when I read the wisdom shared again here with the eyes and ears in the heart:


    What is the deep listening? Sama is
    a greeeting from the secret ones inside

    the heart, a letter. The branches of
    your intelligence grow new leaves in

    the wind of this listening. The body
    reaches a peace. Rooster sound comes,

    reminding you of your love for dawn.
    The reed flute and the singer’s lips:

    the knack of how spirit breathes into
    us becomes as simple and ordinary as

    eating and drinking. The dead rise with
    the pleasure of listening. If someone

    can’t hear a trumpet melody, sprinkle
    dirt on his head and declare him dead.

    Listen, and feel the beauty of your
    separation, the unsayable absence.

    There’s a moon inside every human being.
    Learn to be companions with it. Give

    more of your life to this listening. As
    brightness is to time, so you are to

    the one who talks to the deep ear in
    your chest. I should sell my tongue

    and buy a thousand ears when that
    one steps near and begins to speak.

    — Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273)


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