MICHAEL HALL PhD
A large part of a true spiritual quest is to 'return home'. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we believe we are a very long way from home, when in fact Auntie Em is in the next room! Where else could she be? In the beautiful and deeply alive hymn Amazing Grace, the narrator reports:"For I was lost, but now am found, by grace, amazing grace!" Like the Prodigal Son, it seems we need to wander in 'foreign lands' until our wandering releases us. This release is nothing that we can actually accomplish ourselves. That's why it is termed 'grace'. What appears to be true is that we must struggle and strive for spiritual realization, knowing that our own efforts will never be sufficient. St. Thomas Aquinas acknowledges this peculiar truth when he says: "We have to work as if it's all up to us; and pray as if it's all up to God".
So I will use the word 'God' in the same way that I would say: Buddha Mind, no mind, the Mind of Christ, your original face before your parents were born, the 'you' that isn't born and doesn't die, your True Nature, etc. I'm not saying that all these and similar terms mean exactly the same thing, but they all do point to a shapeless, formless reality that is outside of and yet not separate from space and time. I particularly like the phrase "presence awareness", and this term can readily be substituted if the word 'God' doesn't work for you. As we will see, naming our experience, while important and useful sometimes, is also one of the primary limitations to the expansion of our awareness. At issue here is no less than who and what we think we are.