Loving The Real: The Nature, Desire and Love of Being Real
by bryan maynard
What, asks A. H. Almaas, would it mean to have an authentic, deeply satisfying life? What fulfills the deepest desires of the heart, without which we cannot be fully human? And, where do we begin the search to find answers to these questions? For many people, the raising of these questions only happens when the pain forces the need for answers.
If we wish to know the answers, we must first ask ourselves the why question: why have we become interested in the search in the first place? What are we looking for on this journey? Is it to feel better? To experience a new state of consciousness? To escape the ordinary events of everyday experience? Do we want to be free of the pressures and difficulties of this world? Or, are we looking for what brings a lasting richness that deepens the meaning of the lives we are living now, here, on this earth?
What the Heart Desires Most
When we look inside our hearts to discover what connects our hearts to a deeply satisfying life, we find that we want something quite simple: We want peace.
We want rest, ease, and quiet. We want to stop our constant doing. We want space from all the struggle, conflict, desire, fear, and hatred. We are drawn to peaceful people, to situations where we can have peace and quiet…In some very deep sense, this desire leads to greater fulfillment than our urges for pleasure, happiness, and freedom, for without ease of simply being, none of the other things we pursue will satisfy us.
Most of us have learned to look for this peace in unhelpful places and ways. We try, for example, to change our physical surroundings. The search for peace in this manner takes us outside of ourselves to find this rest of simply being. The world is big and noisy and distracting but getting away from the TV’s and ipods and the daily demands does not mean we are getting away from the noise inside. If we stop and think about it, we find the noise on the inside is equal to the noise on the outside and we learn to live with the noise and activity. You are probably having a hard time reading this blog because your mind is always explaining, comparing, desiring, associating, planning and reacting. This is happening to us because…
We think noise is what reality is.
And, we no longer recognize what is truly real.
All our ideals, our ideas, our projects, our worries, and our fears become noise that overwhelms our immediate experience and the subtle sense of what we are. The preciousness of just simply being here in the moment is forgotten, lost in the shuffle , lost in the noise.
If we are to live an authentic, deeply satisfying life, we have no choice but to look this monster in the face and to begin the inner practice of learning to settle and quiet. The heart wants us to be our real selves and to simply feel and experience our realness instead of the echoes of reality.
The Nature of Being Real
The question concerning the nature of the real goes like this: What does my experience with the reality of this big, loud world tell me about what is real? It tells me that ‘the real’ is filled with all kinds of sounds, images, attitudes, thoughts and expectations and I have to focus on what the noise is saying so I know how to respond, how to live. The nature of reality in our minds, then, becomes the outer noise and our inner defending, remembering, planning, thinking, judging etc.,. This ‘feels’ like we are being real. But all these activities have nothing to do with what is real.
The nature of being real is much simpler and cleaner. Being real happens when the inner noise has subsided and the complexities dissolve and we are experiencing ourselves just as we are in our true condition writes Almaas. Being real is what we are, what we truly are, and what we experience in the moment…Being real is more about the WAY we are being, rather than WHAT we are being. Almaas says this is like the difference between hearing one thousand loud noises and hearing one single note, simple and gentle, which makes us feel closer to who and what we are. This brings us closer to our heart! The heart wants this experience of being present with tenderness brought about by noticing and appreciating and feeling what is real. The heart feels alive and tender when we notice the one single note of self and experience of one thing in this one moment. Being real means being here, completely here, in as real a way as possible.
The Desire for Being Real
We can learn to be real and we can learn how to connect with our realness through awareness. Almaas says that we will notice that there is nothing like the simplicity of being oneself. We like being real and we are attracted to it! And our desire for being real is increased because we know the difference between being real and much of what our usual experience is.
It is true that some people can get caught up in having certain emotional or spiritual experiences with being real, and this can be uplifting, but the deeper wisdom says that all spiritual and inner practice boils comes down to this–that we are able to be genuinely what we are, where we are. It is deeply satisfying to be able to be with yourself the way you are when you are quiet and stilled from your inner noise, where you can say, I know this is me and I know what being me is like and I am comfortable being it. I have no conflict about it. And when I am interacting with someone, it is that reality of who I am that is interacting. I recall being in the presence of a man who spent many years doing inner work and brought his realness to the interaction with me. He nearly glowed with unpretentious love and tenderness. There was no hint of being real in order to get somewhere, to make an impression, to be seen or to make us feel seen. He was living each moment with himself and with his experience of me for its own sake. I felt truly loved. And, I felt real.
Almaas writes that:
We don’t love ‘being real’ because it makes us feel good or is good for us…We love it because we know that we we are real, we are home–no matter the sensation or the flavor. Sometimes being real means allowing pain or accepting a painful truth. Yet something in us aligns with an inner ground of authenticity when we are real. We love it because of its inherent rightness in our soul, the sense of “Aha, here I am and there is nothing to do but be.”
The Love of Being Real
Moving toward being real is an act of lovingkindness toward oneself. It means we recognize already that our consciousness, our soul, our realness of being, is appreciated and worth enriching. Almaas says that it is a precious moment when we recognize this love, this appreciation for being real–when we know that we are not practicing to accomplish something…when we see that we are only interested in learning these things because we love being genuine, being real for its own sake. He says that this heart attitude of love toward realness is very subtle and difficult to explain. It means many things.
1. It means I know why I am doing this work of meditating and working on myself. I am not doing this so that I will become as as good as the next person or because I had an idea or some ideal that I developed and decided it was a good thing. There is no going after anything in particular: It is just a matter of settling down with myself.
2. It means learning to recognize noise inside ourselves and how to not go with it. It means settling and being. But, this is more than mere meditation and relaxation skills. Meditation is something we practice, but ultimately…being real, learning to be real, is our practice in every moment; it becomes the living of our real life.
3. We must have some kind of practice and this practice must be about learning reality, about learning to recognize realness and about learning to be ourselves in our realness.
The first step is to recognize that love and appreciation are what draws us to reality. We recognize that we just like being near reality, we love being comfortable with it…and we like being as intimate as possible with it.
We want to become so intimate that we simply are what is real..and that is what we love.