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Excerpts about Feeling

Feeling Free from the Conceptualizing Mind

But what is feeling free from the conceptualizing mind? If we suspend our conceptualizing minds for a moment, we realize that the only thing we know for sure about our inner experience is that sensations arise. If, for a moment, we do not use the mind and do not say this sensation is anger or hurt or fear, if we just forget about these names for a while, we will have the chance to see what “annihilate mind in heart” means. To see what heart without mind is, we need to be willing to let go of our sense of being an entity. When we do that and simply look at our feelings, what we actually experience is nothing but sensations. The conceptualizing mind singles out certain intense sensations and labels them as various emotions. This is the ordinary way our experience happens, and there is nothing wrong with it. This is how human beings have always operated, what we have always known. However, if we want to meet the guest, if we want to leave the realm of the day and have a glimpse of the true night, we need to go beyond this normal experience of things. We need to see the mental quality of what we call our feelings and emotions, and allow ourselves to suspend the conceptualizing mind that distinguishes and labels them.

Feeling that Deepens as if It Were Miles Deep

Presence also can be sensed at times of intense and deep emotion, when a person is fully feeling an emotional state, not controlling or inhibiting it, when he is involved wholeheartedly in the feeling, totally immersed in it in a free and spontaneous way without judgment or holding back. This usually happens only when the person feels totally justified in feeling the emotions. For example, an individual might experience a great loss, like the death of a loved one, and so feels justified in feeling the grief and the sadness. He might get so involved in the sadness, so immersed in it, that the feeling deepens as if it were miles deep, going to greater depths and profundity. This state might become so deep and profound that it feels thicker and denser as he gets more deeply immersed in it, so deep and profound that he experiences himself permeated by a kind of presence. It is as if the profundity and the depth are an actual presence, palpable and quite clearly there.

Grounding Awareness in Bodily Experience is Important

Inner support implies that we need to be in touch with our experience. Inquiry is not a mental exercise, disconnected from ordinary reality. We have to be rooted in our everyday personal experience and in touch with our own thoughts, feelings, body, and behavior. Inquiry does not require us to leave our body or try to reach unusual transcended heights of perception—and we will not feel our inner support by doing so. Instead, we need to become more concrete, more down to earth, by delving into our own everyday experience. It is the embodied soul that is the entry to all the treasures of Being. When you are inquiring, it is important to keep sensing your body—to stay in direct touch with its movements and sensations. This includes the numbness, the dullness, or the tensions you may feel. To ground your awareness in your bodily experience is important because your essential qualities are going to arise in the same place where you experience your feelings, emotions, and reactions. They are not going to appear above your head, they are going to arise within you. So your body is actually your entry into the mystery.

In Absence there is no Awareness that You are not Feeling Anything

Usually some dullness or opaqueness, some thickness or heaviness, is attached to sensation. Because our normal inner experience is that of sensation, it is difficult for us to understand the fineness that is absence. We know how to contrast mild sensation with intense sensation, subtle sensation with dull sensation, but we do not know how to contrast sensation with absence of sensation. As I mentioned earlier, absence does not mean the usual absence of sensation in the sense of being blocked, numb, or not feeling anything. In each of these cases, you might be aware that you are not feeling anything, whereas in absence, there is no awareness that you are not feeling anything. Absence is absolutely clear, transparent, light, and empty. Absence is so complete that it is not possible to reflect on it, even if only to confirm that there is nothing there.


Usually, people are totally taken over by the experience of jealousy, but it is actually possible for jealousy to arise without it influencing you in a way that hooks you. If you pay attention, you will see that jealousy can arise as an image, as a thought, as a feeling, or as certain physiological responses in the body. So you could recognize jealousy to be simply the arising of a particular state that you are experiencing. It is possible to be aware of whatever manifestations of jealousy are arising and choose to experience them fully, allowing your awareness to make them transparent. If you could be present in the awareness pervading it, jealousy would transform itself, naturally and spontaneously, to reveal its underlying nature. However, we usually end up using these experiences in a way that traps us; we get stuck not because of the feeling itself but because of how we are relating to it. We are not just experiencing jealousy; we are burying ourselves in it. We define ourselves by it: “I am a jealous person and I know that is who I am.” Sometimes we recognize that jealousy is controlling us and determining our feelings and actions, and other times we are taken over so much by it we don’t even know that we are jealous. We just express it in our behavior, words, and actions.
We call this identification.

Mixing Our Consciousness with Our Experience

The nature of the soul is such that when a feeling arises, we can experience that feeling from within the feeling itself. We can intimately mix our consciousness with the specifics of our experience and recognize directly what the experience is. This is the ground of knowingness, which is direct knowing, and it is necessary in the process of understanding. Without this kind of knowingness, this gnosis, there is no possibility of real understanding; understanding remains only a mental operation, which is good for mathematics but is not enough for spiritual transformation.

Pure Feeling

Pure feeling turns out to be something like nondifferentiated sensation, just an ocean of sensations. We can be aware of the differences within this ocean but, if the conceptualizing mind is not operative, we simply experience the waves as inseparable from the ocean. We experience an expanse, a field with no boundaries and no content. We experience the sensation of sensation, the feeling of feeling, the consciousness of the expanse itself as an expanse of feeling or sensation. We are then experiencing pure consciousness, a field of presence that is self-aware. It is awareness of the presence of the field, with this presence being nothing but the ocean of sensation. The awareness of the field is identical to the field, for it is a field of awareness. There is no duality in the awareness or pure consciousness that is an expanse of sensation.

Sensitization of the Body is Needed to Bring Awareness of Essence

Emotions and feelings are primarily sensations, and these are sensations of the body. If the body is insensitive, there will be no awareness of these sensations and hence no awareness of feelings. This will preclude the possibility of understanding. So sensitization of the body is required via the dissolution of muscular armor and its tension patterns. But the sensitization of the body is not just for the awareness of sensations and feelings. These are the first to be encountered by the expanding awareness. But the sensitivity, in time, needs to get deeper, and the perceptions need to get finer so that the organism can be aware of the subtler presence of essence itself. Essence is an embodied existence and will be experienced in the body, not somewhere else or abstractly.

Soul's Arrival at Her Absolute Home

When the soul arrives at her absolute home, recognizes her true beloved, and realizes it as her ipseity, many insights, realizations, and feelings spontaneously arise. One’s life begins to show its overall pattern, seen from the perspective of the inner journey home. This culminates in the
personalization of the absolute ipseity, where we learn to be a human being, a person, and to still abide in the absolute. This is an unusual and rarely known realization, where the vastness of the mystery, without ceasing to be the mystery, finds itself walking with two legs, touching with human hands, speaking with a mouth, and so on. (For the details of this process of personalization, see The Pearl Beyond Price, chapter 38.) At this point the soul is surprised by new feelings and realizations that occur spontaneously, as if brought home by the power of the self-realization. What spontaneously arises, without self-reflection or reasoning, is the feeling that the soul is at the end of a certain phase of life and work. She feels she has accomplished the task she had set for herself, or is in the last stages of finishing it. She recognizes her worldly accomplishments and her realization of her true nature. But the feeling is more general than the specific accomplishments. It is a sense of finishing something. There is a feeling of space or room left, open for new possibilities. She begins to feel completely relaxed and settled. Upon inquiry she feels she has reached her destination, even though she did not know it was the absolute that she was looking for. There results a sense of having lots of time, energy, and space to spare. She may feel willing and happy to give her time and energy to others. She feels at home now; her search is ended. It is as if she has been on a journey, searching for her beloved and her true home, but she did not know it consciously, at least she did not think of it in these terms. She does not have to decide to stop the search; the seeking ceases on its own, for the drive for seeking is spent.

The Origin of All Feeling is Love

We’re vulnerable because we feel, and more than anything, we try to cut off the depth of our capacity to feel. Now, complete openness to feeling means openness to love, because ultimately feeling is love. The origin of all feeling is love. The first feeling is love. If you follow your feelings all the way back, what will you come to finally? You can go on and on through many feelings, and eventually you find that the basic feeling is love. You’re most vulnerable when you’re experiencing love. Beyond love is unity, where vulnerability and invulnerability become one. Love is the first emanation, the first particularization of the supreme reality, which is unity. The first expression, the first breath of the unity is divine universal love, with its sweetness and delicacy. That is where you are the most vulnerable, before your vulnerability becomes invulnerability. When you’re loving, you still feel at the mercy of everything. The step beyond that is to become even more vulnerable, and then you’re completely invulnerable. So we’re seeing how love can lead all the way to complete vulnerability and thus to invulnerability. Love is the highest, the deepest, the most intense, the most expansive possibility of feeling. Love is the heart. Beyond love is the supreme reality, which is beyond feeling or no feeling. So vulnerability is vulnerability to love, and extremely deep vulnerability is love. If you really are vulnerable, you’re loving. You can’t help but be loving. And if you’re very loving, you can’t help but feel vulnerable. If you allow yourself to feel, your heart is completely open.

When the Soul's Unfoldment Outshines Any Feeling External Reality Alone Can Generate

When our unfoldment is spontaneous and has its own momentum—what I call runaway unfoldment—an interesting thing occurs: What happens to us in the world, though it may be beautiful and interesting, begins to pale in relation to the experience of inner unfoldment. The inner dynamic is what you’re in touch with; it’s what you feel, it’s your own experience. So what you do and where you are externally becomes less important than the nature and quality of this inner life. The activities of life become secondary to the atmosphere of presence. You begin to realize that the inner experience doesn’t change that much whether you’re in Paris or Boulder, Kathmandu or Berkeley, whether you’re eating dinner, seeing a movie, or being the first person to land on Mars. The sense of yourself becomes so profound, so deep, so substantial, so significant, that the whole external situation—the environment and what’s happening in it—feels somewhat ephemeral. External changes now feel like little things that may or may not affect the inner unfolding. They may be interesting or exciting, dramatic or challenging, but the interest and the excitement arising from the soul’s unfoldment outshine any feelings that external reality alone can generate. The sense of presence and contentment, with its unlimited possibilities, is so much more beautiful, so much more vivid, so much more interesting and exciting than seeing the most exotic places on Earth or succeeding at the most challenging tasks. What this means is that life events tend not to disappoint you that much, because they are not what truly nourishes your soul. You find you are less often looking forward to specific situations and less often getting disappointed by what takes place. Even when you are eating the most delicious food, how you feel inside is one hundred times more interesting—it is the richest food there is.

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