Grace is always present.
You imagine it as something high in the sky that descends.
Yet it is really inside you, as your Heart.
The moment you merge the mind into its source
Grace rushes forth,
Sprouting as if from a spring within you.
– Ramana Maharshi
I am often asked, “What exactly is grace?” One definition is that grace is the direct experience of divine love, in which we know our existence as profoundly blessed.
When I say love, I mean the oceanic fullness that lies within the depth of our heart – that wants to open and connect with all that is real and meaningful in life; that healing presence that is naturally generous, compassionate and joyful; and most exquisite of all – wants to share it with another, with the world.
Vast Heart deeper than Emotion
When this presence of love arises, it is so much deeper than emotion. It brings a delicacy that gives my heart eyes to perceive differently. Judgment, harshness, criticism, fear no longer blinkers my awareness. Loving eyes bring vision that penetrates through my limited opinions to perceive profound beauty that want to reflect back to another who they truly are, that their existence matters, that I see them. Seeing through the eyes of love, understanding and acceptance of our humanity shines, and forgiveness pours healing balm through my mind. Everyone and everything is exquisitely acceptable as it is.
In this vision of love, we taste an undivided reality. Unity is no longer a concept, but now an experience of unfolding majesty in which, together, we are IN grace – palpably aware that this moment is sacred, that we are sacred, and that life is such a gift, whatever way it is flowing. It literally stops the world.
A Transmission beyond ‘You’ or ‘I’
Real love does not even need words. We can say “I love you”but not really be engaged in and as love, and then the actions that follow lack real gravity. I know love more deeply in the spaces beyond words. A transmission that pours like healing rain from beyond the mind whenever I sit with someone and I am completely present – not trying to protect anything or make anything particular happen. Likewise, whenever anyone in front of me is willing to be totally honest, totally undefended. In our lack of protection grace IS and we are that.
When such love pervades my awareness, a profound generosity abounds that would joyfully do anything to support the full flourishing of the beauty I am beholding. When a client opens up in sessions, the love pours through of itself. I do not feel any self-sacrifice in my response. There is no self. Just an effortless concentration, a heart awake to the privilege of witnessing the way the sacred mystery is revealing itself in this particular moment. My daily experience of love whether unfolding personally, professionally and trans-personally is the greatest evidence I have that God exists, that there is something living us that is utterly profound and so full of hope.
The Grace of personal love
My husband walks in the door after a long day, and such sweet joy arises just for his arrival into the room. The sight of his face, the sound of his voice, the depth of his presence is so touching it defies the need for logical justification. This love genuinely cares about his wellbeing, about how his life is going independent of mine. It naturally moves to all kinds of actions, like making his morning coffee, rubbing his shoulders as he perseverates on a problem at his desk, laughing together over the daily quirks of life. Love inspires me to grow beyond my own shortcomings, and show up in whatever way would truly bless his life. There is something so profound and yet everyday that lives my heart, wants to give, share, grow, and see another thrive, and it is utterly natural. It is the depth of all hearts.
I feel this realm of love pouring through with friends too. A fountain of empathy arrives in response to a friend coming out of major heart surgery. Although I am busy about to head overseas for a month, and it is pouring with torrential rain, I want to visit my friend in the hospital 20 miles away. A caring warmth inside wants to find time to cook comforting pumpkin soup, vanilla almond milk and smoked salmon morsels to nourish and delight him. I want to sit by his bed, and hold his hand as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Just be there, contact-full – a simple presence of love. This impetus has no concern for anything other than extending the mystery that it is, aware that nothing else is truly that important.
Love expresses sympathetic joy
This love celebrates another’s good fortune as it if is one’s own. I find myself so joyful when visiting the new home of a girlfriend. She is nearing 70 and has been through a handful of painful disappointments in the last few years. Now she has landed on her feet in a luxurious dream home with postcard views across majestic Lake Tahoe. The struggle in her practical life has been lifted. Its so sweet to feel her purring happiness as she prepares sensual meals in the kitchen. Her delight in our visit expressed by so many thoughtful details, like the amber scented candles she has placed in our bathroom, the fresh robes on the back of the door, the softness of brand new bed linen. Her expression of love inspires ours, and we take her skiing on “Heavenly” mountain the next day.
I pair off with her beloved who is an intermediate skier, and show him around my favorite runs as he gets his skiing confidence back. My husband Bob, who is so touched by the love he has received, takes our friend on the beginner slopes. His nurturing so palpable as he patiently, expertly guides her into skiing with greater capacity. Such a cycle of love expressing itself and inspiring more of itself. We drive home that night, feeling so fulfilled we hardly need to utter a word. Love does that.
Drinking from the fountain of pure love
This morning I drank deeply from the source of love as silence. I found myself both dissolved and enlivened, and yet completely at rest. Like a never-ending nectar that contains every nutrient we could possibly need to break free of all bondage and to thrive in every aspect of our life. We can drink directly from the source of love and be spiritually hydrated. We can be stop and be still, drinking deep of the love within, and move into this day with the nourishment of the entire universe within us, if only we would make the space for it.
So much of our human troubles exist because we feel separate from love. Denied love. Closed down from love. Feel unworthy of love. Sometimes even frightened of love and actively rejecting what we most want and need.
This is the nexus of the spiritual path: liberating our blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. Peeling back the veils of hurt that have caused us to close down, play safe and hide out in habits of protection. For any of us this is no small task. Identifying, forgiving and surrendering the hurts and the conclusions we have arrived at that concretize our fear is daily work. But nothing is ever more pressing than uprooting whatever blocks the nectars of our heart to flow freely.
Form changes, but real love is indestructible
Although love is often shrouded by the blows and disappointments that cause us to close off, the real miracle is that the love within us cannot be destroyed. I believe this is the true meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection. It is ironic to me how religions have turned this into a teaching about sin and guilt. Instead, we could view Christ’s passion as an archetype of the human hearts’s journey – and the redemptive power of unalterable love.
Consider this version: a human being can go through the most unjust, horrendous treatment, be betrayed, wrongly accused, tortured and brutally murdered for no good reason. Suffer greatly in the process, and yet somehow the essential core remains, and in fact is liberated into a whole new dimension. We see this in the story of Jesus. We also see this in the lives of beings such as Nelson Mandela, survivors of the Holocaust such as Victor Frankl, who have gone on to express love and hope for humanity out of great suffering. Although forms of relationships may change, we go through many blessings and disappointments, our bodies decay and eventually die, something within us is deeper. An indestructible presence shines at our core.
Being the Presence of love
That is really what all spiritual practice is for in the end.
Can we open into love, not knowing where it will take us? Trust it to dissolve whatever we have accrued that is not fundamentally who we are, let it take us out on a limb and mould us into full embodiment – so we literally become what we are here to be – the presence of love in human flesh upon this earth?