Open-hearted awareness begins with awareness of awareness. It is an essence approach, also called the direct approach. The open-hearted awareness approach focuses on uncovering or discovering our essential nature and then shifting our level of mind to live from open-hearted awareness. Because awake awareness is already here, there is no need to strive to earn it, create it, or develop it; nor is it effective to adopt the passive attitude of waiting for it to find us. Awake awareness, the ground of being, is equally available within each of us, as our essence. However, simply believing this — or intellectually understanding it — is not enough.
One new student lamented, “I don’t get it; this is too intellectual for me!” I replied, “It may be hard to grasp because you don’t need to use your intellect at all; it’s not known through our usual, conceptual way of knowing.” This approach is not intellectual, conceptual, or linear, so it may seem unusual, paradoxical, or initially hard to grasp. When this student directly glimpsed awake awareness, she remarked, “Now I see! This isn’t too intellectual. It’s so simple. How could I have missed it?”
Awakening means thought-based knowing no longer dominates our perception. We are shifting into an awareness-based way of knowing and being. There may a period of disorientation before we become reoriented at our new level of mind. We begin by glimpsing the end goal, which is already here. Rather than doing any technique to calm our chattering mind, we start with a direct glimpse of awake awareness, which is already calm, intelligent, loving, and inclusive. The open-hearted awareness approach begins with methods designed to bring about a direct recognition of awake awareness. After direct recognition, there is a gradual unfolding as we reintegrate our emotions, thoughts, and ordinary functioning from awake awareness.
Once we’ve shifted to an awareness–based way of knowing, an entirely new phase of growth begins — one that was impossible before. Each of us has different knots or types of resistance, so we each need to use different ways of preparation before we let go. As we awaken, it’s important to continue our development in physical, emotional, mental, and relational areas. Growing up in other areas of life supports our unfolding. However, we can only mature to a certain level of development without the shift that identity awakening provides. From our new sense of identity, many of the problems and emotional binds we’ve been experiencing loosen spontaneously, and we open to a fresh perspective.
For more information, see Loch’s book and audio of meditations, Shift Into Freedom.