I talk a lot about openness. My whole teaching is about openness. My whole life is about openness.
Openness is our essential nature. It’s what was here before the story of your life got created. And it’s what remains when the story of you ends. It’s the canvas upon which your experience appears .. and disappears. It’s the space within which you appear .. and disappear. It’s what is always here, come heaven or hell.
You cannot get rid of it, you cannot taint it or harm it, neither add to it nor take away from it. It has no boundary, no edge, no beginning, no end. It has no substance, no weight, no position, no conclusion.
Openness is simply itself. It is not a valve that opens and closes. It is not a sea anemone that opens and retracts. It is not a faucet you turn on and then turn off. It is simply here, as presence itself.
Openness underlies the whole of your existence, like the paper on which history is written, like the sky in which the universe hangs, like the emptiness that contains fullness. It is the “I” that sees, that senses, that knows its own experience .. and yet it is not experience itself. It is the awareness that recognizes itself .. and yet is not identified by itself. It is the consciousness that is always here, come what may.
And yet openness is so often missed, overlooked, unrecognized. It’s as if we look in the other direction, focussed on the content of our experience, on the endless narratives that rise and fall like waves on the surface of the ocean. We are so concerned with finding our identity in our doing and having, in our feeling and thinking, that we get ourselves snarled up in the world of vicissitudes.
Often, when I speak about openness there’s a fear that if we open, we’ll be taken advantage of, abused, harmed. There’s a tendency to believe that we can’t be vulnerable or tender, we can’t feel the excruciating depths of our feelings, we can’t allow ourselves to be pierced by the horrors of the world .. because it all hurts too much. And so we employ some clever acrobatics to bypass our experience, numb out, stay asleep. These clever strategies are short-term medicine, but it doesn’t work in the long run. Eventually we get so contorted and the internal pressure of keeping ourselves together builds up to such an extent that we fear we might burst and collapse into a worthless heap of jelly. And now the fear of falling open is so huge that we refuse to let go of our need to control and resist that which is uncomfortable and unwelcome. What a problem life is, from this perspective!
My friend, my invitation is openness. You can still have your healthy boundaries, you can still say “no” when someone is out to harm or hurt you, you can still walk away from abuse, you can still be human and know where you start and where you end in the world of form. It is necessary to have healthy boundaries on a physical and psychological level in order to navigate the earthly world.
But friend, none of this has anything to do with the openness that is your essential nature, that which is here prior to your “yes” and your “no”, beyond where you start and where you end. When you know this openness as your foundation, then even your most vociferous “no” will not come from reactivity .. it will come from love. It will be right action. It will be intelligent response.
Friend, openness is the willingness to end the war within, to end all argument with what is .. and to fall into grace. A grace that includes it all, the whole bloody mess of being human and the excruciating inevitability of life’s movement. This grace is the end of resistance, and the beginning of an infinite openness that was always here.
The invitation of openness is to fall into the infinity of your true nature .. it is from here that true freedom can begin.
– Amoda Maa
(photo by Dorota Kudyba)