This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
(An excerpt Published from Catherine Ingram's Book with the Author's Passionate glad Presence) consent
Catherine Ingram is a compelling force in the western spiritual arena. She is a renowned ¶Dharma¶ teacher. Since 1992 she has led Dharma Dialogues, which are public events of inquiry into the nature of Awakened Awareness and its benefits in life. She also leads numerous Silence Retreats each year and is the founder- president of LIVING DHARMA, and educational organization dedicated to spiritual inquiry and service. She is also the author of In the Footsteps of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual / Social Activists (1990). Her writing clearly flows out of her realization.Editor. In the deepest recesses of ourselves there is most familiar quietude. It has been through all our seeking and craving, as well as all the other events of our lives. It is a point of peace, a silent witnessing awareness that is fundamentally unperturbed no matter what happens. Stepping in this awareness, one is at ease in the present, fully welcoming what comes and fully releasing what goes, feeling alive throughout. This awareness is not something far away and in another time. It is already occurring here and right now. For instance, while watching a movie, we may swirl in a sea of emotions - fearful, romantic, humorous or tragic. If the story is especially potent, we might feel all these emotions in a single film. Yet no matter how swept away we might be by the movie or how gripped by emotions of the experience, there is within us a quiet witnessing awareness that knows perfectly well that we are sitting in a theatre all the while. If that were not so, we would surely flee the room as soon as any frightening situation occurred on the screen. We would run for our lives upon seeing the first weapon or firestorms coming at us, were it not for some part of our awareness knowing that the visions on the screen are not our fundamental reality. In a similar way, there is a field of silent awareness containing all the events of our days. Although we may sometimes be gripped by emotion or lost in a particular story, there is throughout each of our dramas a deeper reality of silent presence. This is a silence of the heart rather than an imposed cessation of speech or activity. It is a silence that is, we could say, the background of all activity. We don¶t need to find it because it is not lost. If this is so, why is there so much searching and craving? Seeking is compelling because it produces a way for the mind to have a job. It seems that we are almost genetically programmed toward restless mental occupation with desire and avoidance, a desperate squirming out of now. Perhaps nature has demanded that we keep on the move in order to stay alive, but this is becoming detrimental to life. We have evolutionarily outgrown the usefulness of being in a prevailing state of fear and greed in order to compete and survive. We can no longer afford it. It is driving us to disaster. Nevertheless, it is strange how much we resist the inherent peace and quiet that is always possible. Perhaps this is because resting in simple presence is so foreign to a lifelong habit of mental complication, and we may have confused complication with sense of aliveness. We might assume that having no particular mental object would result in boredom. Or we may be overwhelmed by how vast and free life suddenly feels when our minds are not on the hunt. As the prisoner who, upon being released, quickly finds a way to land himself back in jail, or the bird who resists the flight out when its cage door is opened, we are sometimes daunted by freedom and retreat into cramped but familiar closet of a busy mind. Yet in the awakened awareness the mind acclimates itself into an expansion in silence. It gets used to letting neurotic thoughts drift and fade into nothingness, and it gradually loses interest in them even as they continue to arise. Disinterest in neurotic thoughts limits their power. What becomes interesting is the open expanse of awareness through which all thoughts and
everything else emerge and dissolve. And because this is ongoing, the perception of it can sneak up on you at any moment. Right now, as you read these words, you might sense the seamless field of presence in which you, the words, and all the things around you are floating. This silent witnessing awareness brings with it a quality of brilliance, alert yet at ease. It is not the brilliance of thought but the brilliance of pure perception, an impersonal intelligence. It pays no particular attention to thoughts that would tempt it from tranquility but does not mind that they come and go. There is no sense that something is more needed for contentment, and therefore a deep contentment prevails. And suddenly the search is over. We have nowhere we need to go because all is in its place as is, ourselves included. We have nothing we need do to belong here because we feel no separation from existence. We still, more than ever, enjoy and passionately care about life, but we are no longer the beggar at its door, looking for love instead of being love. We realize that what we really wanted was not something that comes from seeking but that which comes from being found. In becoming refuges of peace, we have likely had to go through our journeys of confusion. This enables us to understand those who do not sense their simple presence, searching everywhere else for it, like "the musk deer who searches the world over for the source of its own scent" as Ramakrishna said. Hoping to find something to make it all okay or to feel good about ourselves, we will try anything, and we often end up on only making matters worse. Our hunger for finding treasure or any other circumstances that we think will bring us peace inhibits our resting in peace that we are. In awakened awareness there is no notion that peace in found anywhere but in one¶s being. Much of our world is in chaos and has been so for as long as we know. Even in times of relative peace the daily events of life can go haywire at any moment: trouble with spouse, children or friends; difficulties with one¶s job; loved ones having accident or falling ill; one¶s own health becoming precarious; relatives and friends dying. When we read and listen to the news, this world can truly seem like hell. War, environmental devastation, starvation of millions, random violence, terrorism, torture, children being kidnapped and murdered are reported daily with steadiness of a drumbeat. How can any of us find peace in such a world? The answer is we cannot. There is no lasting peace to be found in circumstances of the world. If humans don¶t get you, nature will. And there is a sanctuary. It is not in the circumstances of the world but in recognition of the silence that contains it. This silence is our own deep and true nature, and we can visit it or live in it any time we remember to do so. In Dharma dialogues, people sometimes wonder what they can do for the world. I speak of the necessity of knowing the treasure of being itself and finding there the peace that is not dependent on anything else. This understanding brings calm to everyone who encounters it. It decreases the violence and fear in the world, and it reminds others of the gift that is more precious than all the riches ever known.